This 14-seat “sushi-bar” styled restaurant is the territory of Chef Jeff Ramsey, formerly of Minibar in Washington D.C., and his team of what can only be described as the coolest chefs in town. Piggybacking on the increasingly popular trend of molecular gastronomy, this squad of young chefs is cutting edge from head to toe. Even their chef coats are designed to resemble stylistic motorcycle jackets.
If you are lucky enough to score a seat, the two hour long session serves up more than 20 courses, all personally introduced and meticulously plated by two chefs in the front and one in the back kitchen. In this small space, you’ll witness sizeable culinary miracles.
Nothing is what it seems. The beer is not just beer, but the foam on top is made from a yoghurt-y Yakult drink pumped through a sifone. The miso soup comes in a skinless ravioli sprinkled with dried seaweed powder. The sizzling beef is not hot, but blasted with shot of nitrous oxide that coats the tender flesh with bubbles as it hits your mouth. Even regular ole lemon wedges don’t end up tasting sour with the help of a little “red pill”.
The food here demands that you pay attention to it, and somehow manages to catch you off guard every time. The best part is that the skilled magicians behind the counter reveal their secrets and educate you about what it is they’re doing every step of the way. They explain that they use an algae that immediately solidifies when it touches calcium to create small tapioca balls. They show how the liquid nitrogen “cooks” the mousse by dramatically dropping its temperature. It is dinner and a show, all in one go.
There is much humor and experimentation behind what they are doing. “We take big risks and sometimes it’s successful, sometimes it’s not,” says Ramsey. But the dedication and passion behind it is unmistakable. No doubt volunteer yourself to be their next test subject.
Tapas Molecular Bar
38/F Mandarin Oriental Tokyo, 2-1-1, Nihonbashi Muromachi, Chuo-ku, Tokyo 103-8328 Japan