Enter the delightful world of Chez Lui, a formal French brasserie where soup is served in espresso cups and herbal tea is accompanied by silver honey pots. Silverware and vintage glamour are the norm at this restaurant located where it would be least expected—in hipster Daikanyama, nestled between trendy, upmarket fashion boutiques and unassuming cafés.
The venue is striking and elegant, with polite waiters donning black-and-white uniforms, the old-school French restaurant “feel” and a subtle air of sophistication, which is reflected in all the details. The interior—a color scheme combining cream and chocolate—is reminiscent of Parisian eclairs.
There are three weekday lunch sets available, ranging from ¥1,500 to ¥2,900. The ¥1,500 lunch set includes soup, fish or meat, dessert, coffee and tea.
The first dish served in this set is somewhat surprising and sets the stage for what’s to be expected for the whole course in terms of style, quality and portion. A tiny and regal bone china espresso cup is brought out at the start of the course, but it’s not a ploy to cause confusion. Rather it’s the first dish of the day: The humble “soupe du jour”—a warm sweet potato and chestnut soup that’s smooth, nutty and sweet. It’s easy to be taken over with giddiness when considering the amount of effort taken to roast, crack and puree the chestnuts and bake the sweet potatoes. The portion is minuscule—just a few sips—but the flavors are extraordinary and the texture oh-so-silky.
The main dish is up next: A grilled white fish likened to sea bass, with a scallop and vegetables. The fish and ginormous scallop sit proudly on a petite bed of mashed potatoes, surrounded by firm, steamed cauliflower and a cherry tomato, all enveloped in a creamy white-wine sauce done to perfection.
Dessert is a cream cheese mousse topped with mango and presented in a transparent, cylindrical glass cup replete with wooden spoon. Soon the herbal tea arrives, accompanied by a silver pot of honey.
This restaurant’s appeal is multifaceted—the unique soup combinations, its presentation, the synergy of the dishes and the extremely professional staff, who are attentive without being overbearing. The prices are very reasonable considering the high quality of food and service.
A bit of sophistication and old-school glamour on an ordinary day?
“Oui, oui, Monsieur!”