Luxury Hotels

JAPAN – 3 FOOD

Food day, here at the three-month old Janu Tokyo.  The hotel only has 122 rooms but it has a plethora of marvellous restaurants.  Girlahead arrived at 12 noon to find the lobby lounge completely full of elegant ladies in the 25-35 year age group. They were having traditional English afternoon tea, complete with three-tiered curate stands: they were (are) apparently having leisurely networking before going to pick up their kids from the nearby British school and various nurseries in the Azabudai Hills area.

Hu Jing’s specialty is Pekin duck. This high-ceilinged space is broken up into lots of semi-private areas. Janu Mercato, with 151 seats, stretches outside, and specialises in Italian. Janu Grill pays homage to Manhattan, has Shimane Prefecture Matsunaga as a signature beef and over 2,300 bottles in its wine cellar. Add to the alternatives a paatisserie and a couple of bars – and Japanese.

Girlahead dined in one of these, Igura, up at the six-seat counter. The head chef wears no hat. His deputies have flat white midshipmen’s caps, and shirts and ties under long white jackets. The trainees have blue-edged white jackets (impossible to see if they sport shirts and ties, probably not). Our deputy did nearly all his preparation, all in front of us, with his spotless and well-scrubbed bare hands.

Places were set with white napkins folded as if shirt collars, on  sage green ceramic plates with brown wood spoons and mid-brown chopsticks, and small glasses of brown bean tea (we also drank 2021 Dr Konstantin Frank Sauvignon Blanc Finger Lakes NY). We had about 10 dishes, each put on black china dishes in front of us. The dishes were wiped clean by our ‘artist’ after each mouthful. He, the deputy, chose what we had. He took most of the protein from a box stored under the counter (he treated each bit of fish as a mediaeval ecclestical relic with saintly certainty).

In fact most of the dishes were eaten with fingers – as well as a moistened rolled terry towels miniscule navy ‘sculptures’ on black wood retainers turned out to be folded cotton towels for prior cleaning of fingers after eating each mouthful. One of our dishes was a wrapped cone of seaweed, held in a clear glass: the wrap held abalone. The other dishes were all one-bites of fish on rice. There was a red snapper but most of the others were tuna, prepared uniquely. The whole was completed by fruit – citrus, pineapple and watermelon, in small bowls, with a side cup, handleless, of green tea.

And then, after a no-dream, no-qualm night, it was breakfast. Richard Ginori white, Sambonet silver on wood, brown, tables, with grey wrought-iron legs. Dark brown Peugeot and fresh rosemary in plum glass containers. The large all-Gen Z cooks working the central open kitchen have big flat white caps. The set breakfasts are American, Japanese and vegan.  The American, see below, started with juice (your choice), fruit and yoghurt, with a your-choice main. An omelette came with sausage, hash-browns and tomatoes. Perhaps next time if could be vegan, with chia pudding and tofu steak. But perhaps not.

Suffice to say that Janu is taste-delicious in absolutely adorable ambiences. Back to that midday tea. Some of the ladies were sitting under giant patterned-interior lampshades large enough to swallow up four of their tasteful Tokyo selves with ease.