All About Japan

This Restaurant Got a Star in 2 Months

| Michelin , Tokyo

Tirpse is a French restaurant in Shirokanedai, Tokyo, that was renewed by Naotaka Ohashi, taking over from Shuzo Kishida of Quintessence. Opening on September 18th, 2013, it gained a Michelin one-star rating in as little as two months!

Ohashi works collaboratively with bright young Japanese chefs from Paris restaurants such as Vivant and Sola, or Yoji Tokuyoshi, who was sous-chef at the Italian restaurant Osteria Francescana. He also organizes engaging events, such as dinners that bring together young chefs from distinguished French restaurants of the likes of Quintessence and Esquisse.

Tirpse is the French word esprit, or spirit, spelled backwards. The name is imbued with the restaurant’s desire to quietly uphold the French spirit; to re-engage with local cuisines and things local, not only from Japan and France but from around the world; to look back over world history and culture; and to create new values and messages.

The Chef

Tirpse's chef is Kei’ichi Terada, who trained at De Roanne before heading to France. After returning to Japan, he became Shuzo Kishida's right-hand man at Quintessence. With the opening of Tirpse, he was appointed chef.

Terada’s philosophy is highly original while also emphasizing balance. “I value aroma as an element in food,” he explains. “I value what’s been around since the old days while also adding what I'm passionate about, and I try to match these two together. I work freely, without being constricted by the framework of French cuisine.”

The Ambiance

The restaurant has seating for 18, arranged with a generous amount of room between tables. It's an elegant space with subdued lighting and a dignified mood.

Tirpse has a large collection of plates and bowls that are original works owned by Ohashi. In the quest for traditional techniques and new forms, he commissioned their production from Kanjiro Aoyama, a young ceramic artist working at the kilns in Koishiwara, Fukuoka Prefecture.

Both lunch and dinner are exclusively omakase dining, meaning the chef chooses your meal and brings out dishes to match your tastes. Ten dishes are served altogether, each in dainty amounts, and you'll see a large number of plates arriving at your table that will delight both your eyes and your taste buds, from the first plate to the last.

The Finger Food

A dish that became a classic right from the days when the restaurant opened is this onion mousse on an onion chip, fragrant with the aroma of Earl Grey. The onions have a natural sweetness, and it's only later that you notice the delicate Earl Grey fragrance. The dish is served with a baguette made using onion yeast, together with Mascarpone cheese and homemade brown butter.

Brown butter has a rich flavor and a caramel-like aroma. It also has 30 percent fewer calories than regular butter. The restaurant decided to make its own, original butter, as high-quality butters such as Échiré are hard to come by in Japan. Tirpse's brown butter is also sold exclusively to patrons who have dined at the restaurant.

Amuse-Bouches

These are two amuse-bouches on a hat-shaped plate that’s an original design.

The pineapple cake contains black pepper and is topped with Guérande salt. Neither the black pepper nor the salt gets in the way of the essential pineapple flavor; they're merely accents.

The other amuse-bouche is inspired by kibi-dango sticky rice dumplings. It represents the concept of acquaintance, as in the children’s story Momotaro, who used the gift of kibi-dango to draw his friends together. For this latter treat, goat cheese is coated with black olive paste. Neither flavor dominates, which makes the dish quite intriguing.

Autumn Salad

A diverse range of ingredients is combined harmoniously to create this cold appetizer: yogurt, couscous, Chinese lanterns, figs, ginkgo nuts and smoked mackerel. The yogurt adds a gentle acidity, the Chinese lanterns add freshness, and the figs sweetness. The couscous provides a rustic quality while the ginkgo nuts add points of texture. The wood sorrel’s spirited acidity is particularly impressive.

White Squid Boudin Noir

White Squid Boudin Noir

Inspired by Basque cuisine, this dish combines ingredients from the sea with ingredients from the mountains. The contrast of colors is beautiful—the black and white created by pureed navy beans and boudin noir sauce, and the black and gold of chanterelles and trumpet mushrooms.

White squid with bush clover from Yamaguchi Prefecture is wrapped in the umami flavors of chanterelles and trumpet mushrooms. The red pepper pickles and wild rocket offer a piquant edge.

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