We came for the view, but the food got most of our attention. A decision to splurge a little for a meal with a skyscraper view led us to Coucagno in the Cerulean Tower Hotel, perched high above Shibuya. The restaurant is on the south side of the 40th floor, facing southeast and affording a clear, unimpeded view to Tokyo Bay. We'd booked early enough to watch dusk turn to darkness as we ate our meal, and we even managed to get a corner table. Later during our meal, the changing colors of the brilliantly lit ferris wheel in Odaiba provided an fascinating diversion far in the distance.
Although there's an a la carte menu, the prix fixe dinners (priced at around Y8000, Y10,000 and Y14,000) offer substantial savings. We chose the Y10,000 option, and it turned out to include a generous amount of food - starter, appetizer, soup, fish and meat courses, dessert, coffee and cookies - all of it well prepared, with subtly creative touches.
Our small starter plate included a tiny teacup of chilled potato soup - slightly foamy with lots of cream - plus a miniature pizza and a tiny slice of quiche. This was followed by a real show-stopper - a thick slice of organic vegetable terrine with red pimento sauce, containing asparagus, tiny green beans, various mushrooms, crab legs and more. The terrine came with an interesting garnish - a slice of yellow zucchini wrapped around of scoop of creamy lime sherbet. The flavors of this dish were as bright as the colors, and really set our appetites in motion. This terrine was followed by a small cup of beef consomme, which prepared our palates for the next course.
The red sea bream meuniere was a generous dish, with a good-size portion of fish filet very lightly and expertly coated with flour and thyme and sauteed, rendering the skin light and crispy, while leaving the flesh extremely juicy and moist, with just the right amount of firmness. The garnish was a few thin stalks of fresh asparagus, dotted with white baby scallops. Interestingly, the fish filet was anchored to the plate with a fresh paste of bright green paste of fava beans, making it easy to cut, while the beans complemented the buttery flavor of the fish. The final touch was a plump clove of baked garlic.
The high level of culinary skill continued into the next course, which was sauteed breast of duck, honey flavor, served with saffron rice studded with grains of wild rice to achieve an interesting texture. The duck was delicious in every way, with the thin stripe of fat under the crisp skin incredibly soft, while the flesh was firm yet tender.
These and most all dishes in the prix fixe dinners are also available a la carte. The wine list contains an impressive selection of wines in the 10,000 to 15,000 yen range, though a few New World vintages are priced around 6,500 yen.
Following the delightful dessert course, our coffee was accompanied by a generous assortment of tiny cookies, served in a small box. Thankfully, the box was designed to be closed up and taken home, which we did, along with memories of a very fine meal which stole much of our attention from the exciting night view of Tokyo.
by Bryan Harrell
This book will introduce you to more than twenty of Japan's favorite specialty foods that are less well known abroad, along with a guide to the best places in Tokyo to try them and expert tips on what to order. From Bento.com.