Tokyo: Tapas Molecular Bar

This is the eighth post on my eating adventures to Tokyo. All other posts can be found here

J enjoys molecular gastronomy meals, as our previous visit to Labyrinth attests. While researching on places to eat in Tokyo, I came across Tapas Molecular Bar, which has received 1 michelin star in the last two years. After reading a few blog posts, I was convinced that J would love this place. As it turns out, this turned out to be the most entertaining meal we had in Tokyo, and also the most expensive 🙂

Like most hotels, reservations were relatively easy to make and I was able to make one quickly through the online reservation system. There are two seating times, one at 6pm and the other is at 8.30pm. It is a two and a half hour experience, and usually there would be one English speaking and Japanese speaking chef available. The night we were there, both chefs were able to speak English. Out of the 8 guests at the seating (including us), 6 were foreigners.

From the get go, the chef, Ping, told us that this was going to be a very exciting and interactive experience. As such, he encouraged us to ask questions, and most of all, have fun.

In front of us was a petri dish with a small round disc. This was actually a compressed towel which would return to its original state once we poured some hot water on it. Physics and science geeks, are you listening? In the ‘bento box’ in front of us was the utensils that we would be using for the night. It included a cutter, hammer and pounder among others things. It also had a measuring tape which had the menu spelled out for us.
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First course: Forest

This comprised of crudites (vegetable sticks) with a spinach and mascarpone dip.
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Second course: Prawn cocktail

We were first instructed to eat the seaweed and then pull the prawn out of the ‘sand’ and in one bite, eat the prawn while simultaneously squeezing the tube with thousand island sauce. What it did was to invoke an explosion of thousand island sauce in our mouth while we chewed on the prawn. Pretty fun!
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Third course: Penne

Pasta tubes made from dashi, filled with three types of caviar and served with potato foam on the side. We were instructed to start with the orange (fish eggs) and finish with the ‘good’ caviar (the black colour ones)
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Fourth course: Benedict

Of course, we all thought that this was going to be an eggs benedict, but this dish had no egg in it at all. Instead, this comprised of iberico ham, poached fig on brioche with eggless benedict espuma. The figs were from Japan, which had been steamed. Very interesting combination which turned out to be really good.
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Fifth course: Cigar

Probably one of our favourites of the night. BBQ iberico pork wrapped in a potato skin with apple and cucumber, black sesame paste and peking duck sauce. The pork ‘cigar’ was smoked in front us and after a few minutes, we were told to dip it in the sesame ‘ash’ and peking duck sauce. Really enjoyed the pork and apple combination.
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Sixth course: Foie Gras

This was the chef’s interpretation of curry. We were presented with stewed persimmons which we were then instructed to pound up for our ‘chutney’. Following which, we were to eat the foie gras together with a bit of naan and persimmon chutney. Me, being a Singaporean, the curry interpretation sought of fell flat because I would have liked some spice to complete the curry metaphor. Nevertheless, the combination of foie gras and persimmon was very interesting and went well.
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Seventh course: Onsen Tamago

Again, another trick of the eye. This was not an egg, but a tofu “egg white” and pumpkin “yolk”, served with truffle and mushrooms.

“Trust your tongue” The chef said to us with a wink as he walked away.
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Eighth course: Cappuccino

My favourite of the night. We were presented with a tray of what looked like a cocktail mix. Lobster bisque and some ingredients I can’t remember. We mixed a few and were told to shake really hard. Following which, we were told to pour into the cup which ‘voila’! created a image of us pouring cappuccino into a coffee glass. In reality, this was our lobster bisque which tasted all so good.
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Ninth course: Grouper

Next up, the chefs presented a plate of freshly sliced fish to us to be cooked over a pot of hot stones. It was pretty amazing.They just placed some seaweed in the middle for flavour and after pouring some water over the hot stones to create steam, they placed the lid over the pot and within a few minutes, the lid was removed to reveal the fish perfectly cooked.
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Tenth course: Guinea Fowl

At this point of the course, I was feeling quite full and was getting quite worried. Somehow, the chefs must have known that this was the point where people start to struggle since he asked us whether we wanted a smaller piece, to which J and I both nodded in relief.

We were served guinea fowl with puried tomato and bechamel sauce (another fake egg) with truffle and corn paper which we were meant to use for our last bite.
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Eleventh course: Wagyu

48 hr beef cheek with purple carrot. This was well executed and tasted very good, though perhaps, lacking some of the dramatic flair that the previous dishes had.
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Twelfth course: Japanese breakfast

Finally! Time for dessert. We were served a trio of dishes which was supposed to look like Japanese rice and natto. However, this was actually vanilla ice cream with rice crispies. The “natto” was actually pistachio nuts with melted marshmallows. The seaweed was a crisp blackcurrant. The idea was just to mixed the ice cream with the pistachio and enjoy together with the blackcurrant crisp.
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Thirteenth course: Walnut

Candied walnuts served with chocolate and mandarins. Using our tools (the hammer) we were told to crack open the walnut shell which would enabled us to enjoy the chocolate mousse inside. The chef had also inserted “sparkles” inside the candied walnut shell. Such that when we bit into it, one would feel popping sounds inside our mouth. So so fun!
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Fourteenth course: Cheesecake

Nope, this was not an expanding trick. Just a normal dot sized cheesecake to be enjoyed with elderflower syrup.IMG_4599

And just before the last course, surprise! The hotel presented me with a birthday compliment. Well… first, there was the trick of where the chefs placed this white egg in front of me and told me to lift it up slowly. As I did so, Ping (the chef) smashed my hand down on the egg, cracking it, to reveal a really pretty paper crane inside. Now, that really gave me a good fright which had me jumping out of my chair. A SURPRISE well done.
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Fifteenth course: After Eight

Perhaps, the most fun course out of all and the one to really end the night with lots of laughter. Two words: liquid nitrogen. We were presented with chocolate meringue mints which had been spiked with liquid nitrogen. If you ate it properly, which was to put into your mouth and chew immediately without opening your mouth, you would be puffing out liquid nitrogen like the chef in this picture. We all had loads of fun trying it out and as the birthday girl, I got to do it twice. Chefs said that I was a natural – haha!
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All in all, this was a fantastic and very enjoyable experience. It was clear that the ingredients were of top quality and the chefs were all very engaging and a delight to interact with. Notwithstanding the wonderful experience we had, the hotel toilet also provides one of the best city views that I saw in Tokyo
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Add: 2-1-1 Nihonbashi-Muromachi, Chuo, Tokyo 103-8328, Japan (Mandarin Oriental Hotel)

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