Mandarin Oriental Tokyo is a luxury hotel that has oozed style ever since its 2005 opening – it was the first time, for instance, the gal saw Grohe’s bright orange translucent tap levers, making something utilitarian into a work of art. Style has continued ever since. Arrive as a returnee and a bike might be ready-and-waiting with your name professionally signed on the front. The bonsai in your room, from Seikoen Bonsai, going strong since 1853, might have factual details, personalised for you. Thanks to GM Paul Jones, everyone seems to know your preferences, from time of using the fitness centre through to favourite fruits.
Ah, food. I was lucky enough to dine with Tetsu Uchisaka, a chef’s son who has always immersed himself in the world of food (he is now the hotel’s Director of F&B). Surrounded by Japanese couples ranging from near-mature down to early-20s pairs of young ladies enjoying ‘Michelin meal’ with girl friends, we ate at Signature, which has had its star for 11 years. This is an event. From the 28th floor lobby you go down 30 mottled-grey marble stairs to the 37th floor, tiptoe around a couple of decorative pools and into an area set with white tables – Raynaud china, Casa Rovea linens – and either look out, at the view, or in at chef Nicolas Boujéma and his team in crisp-whites at work in the open kitchen.
My meal was exquisite, highlighted by the Kagoshima Prefecture filet that he used for his signature beef Rossini. Interestingly, we drank a very enjoyable Japanese Pinot, KisVin 2011 Chateau Sakaori, in Yamanashi: KrisVin is led by Yasuhiro Ogihara, one of a trio of scientists working as KisVin Science, working on technology of improving both sap flow and moisture of the soil. Yes, I thought, technology is certainly coming into Japan’s food production. Take strawberries, which are now all grown inside. As a video below shows, my welcome included pairs of five kinds of strawberries, Amaou, from Fukuoka Prefecture, named for “amai” sweet + “marui” round + “ookii” large + and “umai” tasty-delicious; Tochiotome, the best-known from Tochigi Prefecture; Saga Honoka, a conical berry developed in Aichi Prefecture in 1998; Benihoppe, ‘red cheeks’, developed in Shizuoka Prefecture in 2002 and, my favourite, the big and sweet Sky Berry, also from Tochigi Prefecture.
As an eggophile, I could not wait for breakfast. Condé Nast Traveler‘s 2018 Gold List says of this luxuryhotel, ‘breakfast eggs from Yamanashi chickens fed on rice husks and hibiscus. Could things get better? Absolutely, evidently not’. I thought I had seen dark-yolked eggs before but look at these, on the right. I love the way the breakfast buffet labels many ingredients – see a video, below – and also identifies the provenance, say honey from Iwate Prefecture, Koshinihikari rice from Nilgata Prefecture and Ochiado cheese from Hokkaido. It is worth commenting that reading material in suite 3601, by the way, seems to be limited to Mandarin Oriental’s own group magazine, plus a book on Piaget, and three foodie tomes from Réne Redzepi, who famously did his first-ever Noma pop-up here exactly three years ago (3,456 meals were served in all during the six-week stint, with a waitlist of over 58,000 worldwide). NOW SEE VIDEOS OF BREAKFAST INGREDIENTS, AND THEN SUITE 3601