For years, the Japanese have held the notion that French cooking represents the ultimate romantic cuisine, the perfect choice of nourishment for a special dinner date. And yet, a common perception also exists that many French restaurants on Japanese shores fail to live up to their billing. This is emphatically not the case for Igrek, the Tokyo branch of which is located on the fifth floor of the sparkling Shin-Marunouchi Building outside Tokyo Central station.
The Igrek franchise is part of the Kobe Kitano Hotel Group, which has long prided itself on a reputation for high standards in service. Thus does Igrek Marunouchi show only too well that its customers expect style to match the impressive setting (for example: the giant, crescent-shaped bay window beautifully illuminated by the capital’s neon-framed nightlife). Waiting staff are clad in dark suits and bow-ties and seem well-versed in the French dining style – only infinitely more polite! Rare is the occasion in Japan on which one finds staff able to explain the composition of dishes as well as Parisien waiters, and also offer the occasional wine suggestion. The comfortably-sized tables, meanwhile, are draped in lavish shining golden cloths, which add subtle brightness and color when the lights are dimmed
The famous foie gras pate, made from exceptionally well-fed geese, also goes down well with a white house wine. Full marks are also conferred upon the bread which, in true French fashion, is light, melts in the mouth, comes in many styles and is replaced throughout the meal at no extra charge.
Among the main courses, the grilled prawns are most eye-catching, their tails rising from a mouthwatering sauce and some elegantly arranged green vegetables. In typical French fashion, the restaurant serves a sumptuous array of vegetables, with the crunchy roasted carrots and parsnips particularly appetizing. Igrek offers lunch (11:00-14:30) and dinner (17:30-22:00) menus for prices between ¥4,500 and ¥13,000, with a la carte options also available. Diners should note that several of the dishes offered on course meals carry extra surcharges, although the sheer quality of succulent beef and juicy lobster meat is well worth the extra ¥1,000.
The restaurant’s stylish website rightly highlights its potential as an attractive wedding venue, promising to ‘impress guests’ with ‘overflowing hospitality and popular food.’ If the evidence from the evening meals is anything to go by, it certainly will.