Molecular gastronomy, the science-based art of cooking, has brought us some mind-blowing edible concoctions over recent years. Rose water balloons, vinegar gels and fruit caviar are some of the dishes pioneered by leaders of the movement, including Ferran Adrià, chef of the famed El Bulli Restaurant, and René Redzepi from Noma, whose restaurants have been named best in the world.

Koichi Hashimoto has worked with both these chefs and is now bringing what he’s learnt from the greats to a 16-seater dining room near Yoyogi Park in Tokyo. His nine-course dinner menu, priced at 6,800 yen, is an absolute bargain in the molecular meal world, and reflects his aim to bring creative gastronomy to casual dining. Come with us as we take you through the menu at Celaravird, with all the delicious photos from our recent visit.

Here we have the 2015 winter menu. The chef uses seasonal produce, which means we’ll have various menus to look forward to throughout the year.


Our appetizers for this evening consist of shaved pieces of cured ham and spheres of olive oil. Showing his ties to Adrià, his former Spanish mentor, chef Hashimoto sources both these ingredients from Spain.


▼ You know the restaurant’s just opened when their leg of cured ham is still this meaty


Spherification is one of the many cooking techniques used in molecular gastronomy. Once olive oil is enriched with alginate and dropped into a bath of calcium, a natural gelling result occurs, coating the drop of olive oil in a thick, jelly-like shell.


The result is a shiny, transparent sphere of olive oil which bursts in your mouth, coating your tongue. Ferran Adrià pioneered these, only they were part of a much more expensive meal at his restaurant.


Accompanying the first course we have the chef’s homemade bread, served up in the cast iron pot it’s baked in. Alongside we have more Spanish olive oil and a drop of balsamic vinegar.



Next up we have a crystal potato chip served with poppy seeds and a konbu (kelp) and kaiso (seaweed) foam.


The potato chip has a paper-thin texture to it, delivering a great crackling crunch with each bite. Remarkably, the salty, oily potato flavour is all there, despite its non-traditional form.


Nothing says molecular like a good foam, especially when it’s green! This tastes lovely and fresh, almost like a good spirulina, and offsets the oil from the potato chip nicely. The tip is to get to it quick as the bubbles in that foam won’t stay around for long!


Plating of each dish is done with delicate precision. This is our next course – a potato of a different sort, the Japanese kiku-imo (“chrysanthemum potato”) which is actually Jerusalem artichoke.



While the outside is not meant to be eaten, it’s delightfully black and crunchy, with a charcoal-like consistency. The inside is starchy and delicious.


The sprig of thyme and the muted flavours of the vegetable jus serve to lighten the flavour of the dish.


And now to one of the most beautiful-looking dishes we’ve ever seen – foie gras with delicate origami cranes.


The wood plate and pine needle garnish suggest there’ll be some earthy tones to this course. It’s like a deconstructed Japanese forest!


The crane is perched on a dollop of thick yuzu sauce. Yuzu, an East Asian citrus fruit, is widely used in Japan, making this a distinctly Japanese dish. The sweetly tart flavour of the citrus compliments the plain taste of the origami, which is actually constructed from an edible paper-like sheet made from celeriac.


A look at the underside of the crane shows the delicate folds used in its construction.


While the fois gras melts in your mouth, the folds of the origami provide varying degrees of texture to the dish, thanks to its thin, light wings and thicker, crunchy body.


Next, we move deeper into the forest with a beautiful course served in a thick glass bowl that picks up the interior light, making it sparkle. Foraging dishes are all the rage in high-class restaurants, and this one is particularly stunning, with a variety of vegetables appearing to push themselves out of an edible soil.



A fern, carrot, and even a baby radish are lightly fried in a tempura batter, giving them an almost frosty appearance, perfect for a winter menu. The vegetables seem even more fresh and crunchy once you’ve plucked them straight out of soil with your chopsticks!


Now we head to the sea, with an inventive dish featuring a blue-tailed prawn that’s both cooked and raw at the same time.


While the body remains raw, giving you the delightful flavour of prawn sashimi, the head has been lightly fried in tempura batter. To eat this dish, you’ll need to hold the tail in your hand and dip it into your mouth, head-first. The textures and flavours are absolutely delicious, making this one of the highlights of the evening.


Continuing with the luxurious ingredients, we move on to a foam that’s as white as the bowl it’s served in.


Sitting on top of the creamy foam are generous slices of French truffles, served with lily bulbs and truffle oil.


Lily bulbs, known as yurine in Japanese, are an elegant winter ingredient in Japan. They provide the crunch to this otherwise creamy dish, and their mild, sweet flavour really lets the truffle stand out as the star.


This course is all about showcasing the high-quality truffle. Remarkably, this was the one dish that quieted conversations in the dining room, as diners savoured the wonderful textures and flavours. A true highlight of the evening.


And now we prepare for a theatrical smoke display.


Ingredients are placed carefully in each jar, piece by piece, before the lids are popped back on.


And out comes the smoker. It takes three people to smoke each jar, with one lighting the wood chips, one inserting the smoke and the other ensuring it’s all tightly sealed with a lid.

As they complete their work, the whole dining room fills with the homely winter aroma of a wood fire.


Served on a wooden board with a kumquat on the side, there’s a minimalism here that fits right in with the Japanese concept of wabi sabi, which emphasizes the beauty of empty space.


Upon opening the lid, a small tuft of smoke rolls away.


The smoky flavour penetrates the turnip and the flesh of the flounder inside. The aroma is heavenly.


Rounding off our savoury courses for the evening is a parsnip and guinea fowl dish. The meat is succulent and flavoursome.



Our first dessert course is called Fuyu no Komen, or Surface of a Winter Lake.



The surface of our lake looks remarkably like the real thing; though we’re pretty sure there won’t be any tiny fish swimming underneath.




After cracking through the sweet surface, we see there are indeed no fish. Instead we have some delicate raspberries inside, giving everything a sweet tartness.


Finally, we have a tray of sweet delights. From left to right, we have a Kyoto carrot macaron,  Fiji chocolate, a raspberry soda disc and an olive oil gummy.


The orange-coloured macaron had the perfect texture, the Fiji chocolate sparkled on our tongue like a spoonful of pop rocks, and the raspberry disc tasted like a concentrated hit of berry. The one that had everyone talking, though, was the olive oil gummy, which had a slight wobble to it and tasted just as you would expect sugar-coated olive oil to taste-absolutely delicious!


If you’ve always wanted to try the wonders of molecular gastronomy but haven’t been in a position to fork out tens of thousands of yen for the experience, Celaravird is definitely the place to go. Enjoying this quality of food in a casual, relaxed environment makes for a wonderful evening. But with only 16 seats available for dinner, you’d better get in quick before the place is booked solid!



Restaurant information
Address: 2-8-10 Uehara, Shibuya-ku, Tokyo
Phone: 03-3465-8471
Hours: Lunch 12:00-2:00pm; Dinner 6:00-11:00pm; reservations necessary. Closed 6 days a month, usually on Mondays

Photos/video: © RocketNews24