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A Diner at Rue d’Or, Osaka, Japan

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Rue d’Or J’Adore

The French gastronomic brasserie of the St Regis hotel Osaka, named after the Golden Street where it is situated, is helmed by Vincent Gadaud, a young chef from Tulle who has a no nonsense approach to traditions. He knows that they are never so interesting than when they are twisted with the inventiveness of culinary talent. He has to deal with the specifics of cooking French in Japan, some of them obvious, like the language barrier, others more treacherous, like the price of butter. He speaks about his cuisine with heart and a great sense of humour: he was happy to speak French with guests and spend a good deal of time at our table, commenting on the dishes and listening to our comments. It was a great diner, even though a couple of things might have been improved, but they were details, really.

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After an amuse-bouche which was rather too sweet to whip up the appetite, we rejoiced at the arrival of hefty slices of good bread, astuciously matched with a red wine salted butter. Now we were talking, and the conversation begun. The first dish, a browned lobster tail with fresh corn, zucchini and vanilla butter was perfectly satisfying and brought some nostalgic memories of the same pairing at Sanderens. With a glass of an honest Orvieto it was a successful debut.

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Followed a smoked haddock fish cake with creamed leeks, a tad too salty, even though haddock was sweetened with the inspired introduction of salmon. Leeks in a Béchamel are always welcome as far as one is concerned. Quickly followed a green pea velouté with crispy lard, that one forgot to photograph, first because it was a bowl of soup, then because it happened to be a tad repetitive on the gustative range. That dish would have fared better after the next one.

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The real treats started with a glazed octopus with green tea tempura, served with a cream of Jerusalem artichokes and chips of sea vegetables. Apart from a couple of carrot slices, bringing color in but adding nothing, the dish was very balanced, including citrus bubbles. Molecular cuisine, used with discretion, enhances very nicely a classic dish.

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The meat dish was the best: a honey roasted duck breast with caramelised endives and cèpes was announced, but it cames… with pork. We joked with the chef about the Alain Passard’s Frankenchicken (reviewed earlier here) but the idea of serving two different types of meat in the same plate was actually great, the duck courting his garniture of spinach and mushrooms and the pork very much in love with endives cooked in orange juice. A glass of a very nice claret and it was heaven.

Another treat was to follow: since dessert was a chocolate fondant, which is nothing to write about, Chef Dannaud made us taste a new dish from the à la carte menu (pictured on top): a pork gently cooked for 13 hours, splendid with green peas, mustard and onion rings. For unorthodox it was a dessert, it made us leave reluctantly. There was a flight the following morning, but as a last supper it must have been better than the one in the Bible.

Obviously service was impeccable and the atmosphere of the brasserie rather comforting, with old French songs played at low volume. Congratulations to Chef Gadaud !

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