Experience The Finest French Food in Manila—As Cooked By Two Top Japanese Chefs
On August 16 and 17 only, Chef Yoshiaki Ito of Michelin-starred L’Archeste in Paris will join forces with fellow Japanese chef Hiroyuki Meno to cook a fabulous French-Japanese nine-course feast at Epilogue
For some inexplicable reason, there has always been a mutual fascination going on between Japan and France. One of the most influential films of the French New Wave, directed by Jean-Pierre Melville and starring Alain Delon, is the neo-noir gangster film, Le Samouraï. And conversely, in the Tokyo ward of Kagurazaka, you’ll find the most number of French restaurants per capita, second only to Paris! Even the Tom Cruise film, The Last Samurai, was partially inspired by the 19th century writings of Jules Brunet, a French army captain who fought alongside Enomoto Takeaki during the Boshin War.
So it comes as no surprise that several of the 2019 Michelin-starred restaurants in Paris itself are now owned and run by Japanese chefs cooking classic French cuisine. If in the past, training in France was one of the rites of passage of any Japanese chef worth his toque, nowadays, several have dared to stay on and use their Japanese roots to innovate traditional French dishes with new, subtle flavors. In a recent Michelin feature on 7 French restaurants headed by Asian chefs, 5 of the 7 are run by Japanese chefs.
Yoshiaki Ito, and his L’Archeste on Rue de la Tour in Paris’ 16th Arrondissement, is a sterling example of this Japanese “culinary New Wave.” Having worked for Hiramatsu in France, Chef Yoshiaki decided to branch out on his own in 2016, and in a record five months, Michelin gifted his L’Archeste with its first Michelin star. These photos of the L’Archeste dishes display the inventiveness and playful attitude of Chef Yoshiaki, like how he’ll use clams in his beef dish, or combine cold cuts with edamame and caviar.
Years ago, when Hiramatsu France flew Chef Yoshiaki to Japan, he worked with then Hiramatsu Japan chef Hiroyuki Meno. It so happens that Chef Meno now heads Epilogue at S Maison in Manila, and it’ll be a glorious French cuisine reunion when the two band together for a four hands 9-course degustation dinner on August 16 and 17.
I’ve eaten on several occasions at Epilogue, and it has always been a happy dining experience. Chef Meno has successfully blended local produce and food stock with his basic French training and Japanese background and sensibility. If French cooking is founded on the principle of addition, that more is more, the Japanese culinary philosophy has more to do with subtraction, that less is more. So it’ll be interesting to see how Chefs Yoshiaki and Meno will go about collaborating on these 9 courses.
I’m really excited to be at the dinner on the 16th, placing my trust in these two chefs. In true degustation manner, the menu will be decided on right before the dinner—and I’ll be watching the pair push the envelope as they gift us with French dishes that possess surprising Japanese elements, yet stay true to their foundation as Paul Bocuse-trained chefs (Yoshiaki in Lyon, and Meno in Tokyo).
If this reunion wasn’t in itself glorious culinary news, there’s the added information that the 9-course dinner will only cost P3,900 plus service charge per plate; and P5,200 plus service charge if you want your dinner with wine pairings provided by Philippine Wine Merchants. You can head to firstname.lastname@example.org or text (0917) 525-0813 to reserve seats for either of the two nights. August 16 and 17 are just around the corner, so book your seats now!
Epilogue, S Maison, Conrad Manila, Seaside Boulevard corner Coral Way, Pasay City