We knew that a visit to the Grand Hyatt would get our taste buds jumping, but we didn't expect to get a feast for the eyes as well. It seems that there are open kitchens, and then there is The French Kitchen. Dispensing with the facade that usually separates diners from the chefs, this contemporary French brasserie divides the two with some simple serving tables, allowing customers a full view of who's making dinner. We'd heard that getting a table would be difficult-even though the restaurant seats 219 and serves around 700 covers a day-so after pulling some strings we were pleased to find ourselves with a good view of the culinary spectacle.
Torn between perusing the menu and eavesdropping on the frenetic Franais in the kitchen, we took the easy option of settling on the ¥10,000 prix fixe (a ¥6,000 dinner course and a la carte menu are also available), while our companion picked out a suitably Gallic bottle of Chateau Neuf du Pape (¥9,000).
The degustation kicked of with a foie gras terrine with port-wine apples and toasted brioche-a diminutive piece of decadence that would put the Sun King to shame. The green-pea soup that followed deserves a much more glamorous name to live up to its rich yet subtle flavor. Neither heavily creamy nor watery, it was a surprisingly simple but wonderful dish. Just when we thought things couldn't be topped, the "grantinated" lobster and asparagus arrived. Mon Dieu was it good-succulent lobster and asparagus buried under a rich gratin blanket infused with champagne and fresh truffles. There was no resistance when it came to this piece of culinary magic.
During a lull, we took the opportunity to enjoy some more action in the kitchen and appraise our fellow well-to-do diners-a good mix of business-minded bons vivants and an odd pack of femmes fatales. Apparently, front-row seats are the preserve of French-speaking locals out to brush up their language while they eat, but our banquette was set back so we could comfortably converse en Anglais. Our entree of veal tenderloin distracted our attention from the bright surroundings. The tenderloin was artfully arranged with baby vegetables and a good morel sauce that complemented the veal nicely. Between that and the crusty bread, we began to feel a little on the grande side.
We rounded things out with the selection of French cheeses, which gave our palate a pungent workout before we tried to find room for dessert. The light passion-fruit mousse with chocolate macaroon and strawberry jelly provided a tangy and fruity finalé before coffee. While we couldn't find fault with the meal, which was of the highest standard, we're afraid that the service was not quite as polished. We're sure with a little more time, things will get slicker and we're more than happy to overlook a minor faux pas for the star of the show-the superb food.