This Review of L'Atelier de Joel Robuchon in Tokyo, Japan is from our recent visit as part of a Tokyo site inspection trip that included JAL First Class, ANA First Class, and Tokyo luxury hotel stays. Having had a great experience some years ago at L'Atelier de Joel Robuchon in Las Vegas, and a superb lunch even longer ago in Paris at Joel Robuchon's Jamin, I was looking forward to our lunch.
L'Atelier de Joel Robuchon Tokyo Location, Hours and Reservations
L'Atelier de Joel Robuchon Tokyo is located in the Roppongi Hills shopping center on the 2nd floor. If you're walking from the Ritz-Carlton Tokyo, as we were, it's about a 15 minute walk. Lunch is served daily 12noon-2pm, and dinner is served 6-9pm. You can reserve a counter seat online, although if you want a table seat you'll need to call to reserve.
During our Monday lunch, there were a number of Japanese couples and solo diners, mostly in their 30s-50s, sitting at the counter, and a couple of French expats, chatting away in French with the French chefs. While the restaurant's Web site mentions the conviviality of sitting at the counter and freely speaking with the chefs and service staff behind the counter, most of the interaction I saw was between French speaking staff and customers.
L'Atelier de Joel Robuchon Tokyo Set Lunch and A La Carte Lunch
We arrived promptly for our 12:30pm lunch reservation, and were seated at a table, as we'd requested. Our server brought us menus and asked what we wanted to drink. My first request for tap water went unheeded, as the server attempted to pour Evian, until I repeated our request for regular water.
The menu offers a number of choices, and at first glance a set menu seemed a good idea, until I realized how limited the set menu choices were for main courses.
The a la carte menu had many more interesting choices, but of course was far more expensive.
The bread basket of fresh bread made by the adjoining Joel Robuchon bakery was good, although to my husband's dismay, no butter was offered. I tried to explain to him that the French generally don't butter their bread, except at breakfast, but he wasn't buying it, so I flagged a server and requested butter, which arrived promptly.
The amuse bouche was pork rillettes: good, but not memorable.
My husband chose the lamb confit as his set menu main course. It was nicely plated and tender, but nothing that special and rather small for a lunch main course.
Our son liked his mini burgers, although my husband thought the best part of the dish was the house-made ketchup.
The highlight of the meal for me was my tasting size portion of quail stuffed with duck liver. This was a very small tasting portion for the JPY 2700 (~$26) but is one of the better quail dishes I've had.
Given the small portion sizes, we rounded out our meal by sharing a cheese plate. It was nice to be able to select our own cheeses, although there was nothing there that we can't also get in NYC.
The passionfruit souffle looked beautiful, but the true highlight taste-wise was the passionfruit sorbet, which had a good, intense passionfruit flavor. The souffle itself was overly sweet and lacked sufficient passionfruit flavor; it was so poor that I didn't bother finishing it. The Passionfruit Alaska we had at The Grove Restaurant in Auckland had much better passionfruit flavor.
Overall I was pretty disappointed by L'Atelier de Joel Robuchon, particularly for a 2 Michelin star restaurant. We were expecting to be wowed more by the dishes, and while I loved my quail dish, it was the only thing I really liked–my husband's lamb dish and my son's burgers were forgettable, and the passionfruit souffle, while pretty and presented well, was quite tasteless–only the sorbet had a deep passionfruit flavor.
While perhaps we'd have had a different experience had we ordered differently, in my book a 2 Michelin star restaurant should consistently deliver great dishes across the board. I wouldn't waste a meal in Tokyo here, based on our experience. And if you do go, I'd skip the set menus and exclusively go a la carte, as the best dishes appear to be there and not on the set menus.
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