After whiling away a few post-dinner hours perfecting our tasting skills at the small wine bar, we finally secured a spot in the sleek and modern multilevel dining room 35 stories above Tokyo Station for what was billed as “dynamic” French fare. The simple menu offered a choice between a five-course dinner (¥7,500) and a nine-course degustation dinner (¥10,000). Wanting to sample a wide variety of tastes, we went with the former because it allowed a choice of one hors d’oeuvre and one entrée.
The wine list wasn’t so simple. Sandwiched between two slabs of wood, it boasted everything from Alsace pinot noir to New Zealand sauvignon blanc. It was tempting to linger over a single bottle, but the thrill of Aux Amis has always been not knowing what the sommeliers will introduce us to next. So we put ourselves in the accommodating hands of director Tanaka-san, who started us off with a dry white, Equinoxe de l’Arjolle, and a hearty red, Cote de Castillion Poupille, both at the low end of the price spectrum at ¥1,200 a glass.
Our first course was a small piece of conch marinated in coriander and served with lightly pickled baby vegetables, a piquant combination of tastes and textures. We enjoyed each bite so deliberately that when the plates were cleared, we were ready for our next wine, this time a fruity white from France’s Condrieu region (¥1,700) and a smoky red from Languedoc (¥1,400).
The rest of the evening offered such a succession of incredible food that we hardly put down our forks—and Lagouile knives—long enough to sip our wine or gaze out the floor-to-ceiling windows at the city lights. From the warm and creamy foie gras hotcake drizzled with truffle sauce to the cast-iron pot filled with slow-roasted guinea fowl in a buttery sauce topped with shaved truffles, it was impossible to choose a favorite. The chefs, who work behind a glass wall near the restaurant’s entrance, even managed to take dessert to another level. Jardin de Maru Biru, the cake, arrived as a scaled-down model of the building itself, complete with chocolate train tracks, an ice-cream shinkansen and mint-sauce Hibiya Park.
As we reluctantly made our way past the small crowd of well-heeled fellow converts, more than one waiter bid us farewell with a friendly “See you tomorrow!” It seemed like a good idea to us proselytes—tomorrow was Sunday after all.