Everytime I bump into someone in the street they ask me about Tokyo. Well The Apollo is going well. It’s a high-end, beautiful 180-seater restaurant. It’s in a corporate, shopping area and when I was there in October, I saw some very flash looking Greek business men eating lunch, a few models with their agents and the ladies who lunch in Ginza. You know the kind?
The freaky thing is that The Apollo Ginza smells the same as Potts Point. The playlists are from Sydney and most of key people there have spent time at the Mothership.
The young staff create the same vibrancy. But the Japanese generally drink less and talk in a softer voice, so it’s still not an Izakaya. Because it is on the 11th floor of a brand new Tokyu Plaza, it's also more gentrified than the original. It's not tucked in an alley under a train track with loads of workers doing late night dining and smoking at the tables. It is more high-end.
Longrain Tokyo is not open yet. It opens in the first week of August 2017. It also probably will open in the first week of August, because the Japanese are so precise!
It is currently being designed by Stuart Krelle from Luchetti Krelle and the restaurant is very similar in size. It will be on the 39th floor of Ebisu Gardens in Tokyo. Yes there is a glass elevator and 270 degree view of Tokyo. It's a bit like Star Wars looking out there. Ebisu (恵比寿) is major district of Shibuya-ku, Tokyo.
I love Ebisu because it is an old dining and entertainment district. Many young upwardly mobile professionals love going out there after work. It has a vibe. The palate of upwardly mobile professionals in Tokyo is sophisticated and adventurous.
There has always been Thai food in Japan and some Thai influence, but not really at the fine dining end of the spectrum. So it is exciting and experimental. Places like Mango Tree and Coci in Ebisu are good, but they aren’t edgy. They play it pretty safe and to me they feel a bit 80’s.
I’m excited for Longrain Tokyo because our food is quite bombastic. The style of Thai we do at Longrain rests on several signature dishes - but the menu also has seasonality and will benefit from Japan’s incredible culture of seafood. More on that later. Also with Thai there is such a huge breadth of flavours, it really feels like a new beginning!
Certain amendments will be made for the Tokyo market to feed their love of Instagrammable desserts and their addiction to rice and noodle sets. But this is Japan after all, you can’t break tradition overnight. What’s more interesting, is that Japanese people are becoming more daring. They want new things and new influences. Australia is cool, as is clean, green eating.
Tokyo is sophisticated and nuanced, but I think contemporary twists on old cuisines like Greek and Thai really challenge them. To find out more about the soulful blend of hot, sour, sweet and salt taking shape at Longrain Tokyo follow this blog.