The flavor artist
Claim to fame: Plated perfectionism
Reason to go: High-impact cuisine from a huge young talent
To look out for: Don’t let the name fool you: it’s not a beer bar.
What do you get when you cross the youthful brio of an artist with the mathematical precision of an architect? The answer, we assume, looks and tastes a lot like the food at Craftale. Shinya Otsuchihashi uses avant-garde techniques to create exquisite edible still lifes that draw upon his childhood in Japan and coming-of-age in France. Craftale opened a year ago, and the fact that Otsuchihashi is only 32 means that great things are yet to come from this prodigious new talent.
A picture-perfect amuse bouche of edamame blancmange, hidden beneath a bouquet of edible flowers and uni, sets the tone for the meal. Elderflower dressing, which comes in a miniature dropper (Over the top, we know), provides the finishing touch. Otsuchihashi cooks in Technicolor – literally and figuratively. A dish of Hokkaido veal, its crimson slices garnished with consommé jelly amid a magenta pool of hibiscus sauce, is a symphony in red. The fish taco, a kale tortilla filled with sardine sashimi, guacamole, and green beans, pulled together with with a smoky foam of bitter melon and tuna dashi, was inspired by salade Niçoise but is really a meditation on the color green. Chicken from Ehime Prefecture, stuffed with mushrooms and served alongside a crispy nest of purple potato cradling a salt-cured egg yolk, references Japanese oyakodon, the classic “parent and child” pairing of chicken and egg. Sprinkled with homemade bacon, the combination is a veritable umami bomb.
The wine list favors France, but manager Akira Kawakami mixes things up in the pairing course with surprises such as Oloroso sherry and red wine from Croatia. Located along the Meguro River, the space is spare and studiously informal. But when the cherry blossoms bloom in spring, the view is marvelous.