Best French Food in Tokyo for the budget minded
Some of the best French food in Tokyo can be had for less than 30 USD. It also comes with a Michelin star. One of my nearest and dearest here in Japan is a guy from Wales. Him and his missus came to Tokyo to stay for the weekend. Drinks happened, too much was eaten and then suddenly it was Sunday morning and it was time for them to head back to Osaka. They were hoping for one more good meal before they left, something French. SO off to Kagurazaka we went. Kagurazakais an area with several French schools nearby and has had a strong French presence for about 100 years now. Tokyo’s little Paris. Tiny wine shops, bakeries and a ton of tiny French, Spanish and Italian restaurants hidden amongst Japanese temples. It’s an interesting area. You can sit and have coffee served to you by a French exchange student across from a bright red Buddhist Temple while accordion music wafts out of speakers that run along the street. On this particular morning, I simply typed “French Food” into Google maps, this place came up with some shockingly good google reviews, I called, I booked, we arrived. Little did I know…
|Those floor tiles though.|
As soon as we got in we were a little taken back as it was much nicer inside than we had expected. None of the places in Kagurazaka are particularly divey but this place seemed to make an extra special effort to feel French. Then we noticed the Michelin certificates behind the bar and realized we might be in for some fo the best French food in Tokyo. At a price range that’s not too panic inducing. Tokyo has more Michelin stars than any other city and those stars are spread across everything from Ramen to French food. They can also be quite affordable. I’m not sure about the dinner menu but for 25 USD you can order a 3 course lunch meal that ends in dessert and coffee. I don’t know where else you can eat Michelin starred French for that cheap. They even offer an express menu on the weekdays for 18 USD.
|French Bac’n Bits|
Course by Course
In fancy French fashion lunch will come in 3, 4 or 5 sections and there are several choices available for each section. The menu is structured so that the price doesn’t change, you just pay the lunch price and then choose what you want from each section. Oui oui. We went for the menu that includes entree, soup, main plate, cheese and then dessert with coffee for about 45 USD. First up, the entree. Which is French for Appetizer. Up top we have Takao’s salad which is covered in crispy fried pork belly bacon with a half cooked egg on top, just to keep it rich.
I love my deli meat plates and since this place refills your bread basket (rare in Tokyo) I had no choice but to go for the salty meats. Everything on this plate was made in house and it was fantastic. Quick note about the menu, if a dish is from Lyon it will have a small Lyon symbol next to it. We ordered everything with that mark next to it. Chef Christophe Pacoud is from Lyon and his goal here is to provide a glimpse into a Lyon Eatery (Bouchon).
I’m big on soups. Always have been. I’d never had French food from Lyon before so I was keen to check out their soup game. Holy crap. This is a garbanzo and cream soup with bits of roasted almond cooked into it. It was incredible. Resist the urge to pick the bowl up and start licking. Like I mentioned though, refillable bread basket got your back.
Here we have Takao’s potato and diced pork belly soup. I am no wiz in the kitchen. I can feed myself. Sometimes when I eat something I think I could possibly recreate it or I can kind of guess what the ingredients are. That is not the case with this soup. How the hell do you make potatoes frothy? Sorcery? This soup will solve all of your problems. Again, bread basket.
|Wine pairs nicely with French Food 🙂|
Don’t forget to take a wine break. The wine menu isn’t the cheapest I’ve seen in Tokyo but this place has to make money somewhere. I cant imagine they make much selling the lunches as cheap as they do.
Which is French for entree…hmm. Translation issues aside here we have Takao’s main course, blood sausage served on a bed of mashed potatoes and covered in roasted apples. Don’t let the name Blood Sausage scare you though it’s more of a pudding than a sausage, blood pudding.
I went for the Lobster Risotto. To be fair, I could throw cream, butter and lobster in the microwave and it would be good because its cream, butter and lobster. However, when chef Christophe Pacoud does it things come out even better than you can imagine. Once again the refillable bread basket saves they day when your fork ceases to collect the remaining morsels of food.
Another Plat Principal that my friend ordered. Veggies and thick cuts of pork in a broth served with thick, spicy mustard. C’est bon! This was the Meat of the Season entree.
The fun never ends at this place. You’re pretty damn full by the end of your Plat Principal and then all of a sudden there is a plate of cheese and more bread on the table. Today’s cheese was a fresh whipped cheese covered in chives, garlic and parsley. It was nice and light and got you in the mood for dessert.
Takao went with the Pink Praline Tart and Oeuf a la neige (pink thing) It’s egg whites that are whipped with vanilla and sugar then poached and left to cool in a puddle of creme anglaise. Yum!
I was feeling pretty good from the wine and was thinking I wanted just one more drink. In dessert form. I ordered the Baba au Rhum which is a small yeast cake that comes saturated in a sweetened rum sauce. By rum sauce they just handed me a caraffe filled with Appleton Estate that I poured all over the cake and ate along with the whipped cream you see in the picture. It was incredible.
The rum was such a nice treat that I even added a wee splash to the coffee.
And then I was officially in the zone.
And then I was officially in the zone.
The best French food in Tokyo can’t skimp on decor
I dont usually talk about the decor of places too much. This place was special though. Our waitress was awesome, she spoke English, French and is currently learning Japanese. She told us that the chef has been in Japan since the 90s and after managing several big hotel kitchens he decided he’d had enough and wanted to bring a piece of home to Tokyo. The entire point of the restaruant is to make the guest feel that they are in an actual Bouchon Lyonnais (Lyon Eatery). Nothing pretentious, just a slice of home. Everything from the wrought iron staircase leading to the second floor to the handles on the sink in the restroom are serving Lyon realness. The dining room is decorated with painitngs of Lyon and every inch of the place seemed to have been lovingly set up. It’s really cool and totally worth the 45 USD price tag. You can choose the express menu on the weekdays and get the same michelin experience for 18 USD, making this place extremely special in my opinion.
Tuesday – Sunday
11:30AM – 3:30 PM
6:00PM – 11:30PM
Iidabashi Station (JR and Metro)
Kagurazaka Station (Metro Tozai Line)
Kagurazaka Neighborhood (Little Paris)
Tokyo Dome City