The whole object of travel is not to set foot on foreign land; it is at last to set foot on one’s own country as a foreign land.” – G.K. Chesterton

Thursday, 24 December 2009

Festive lunch @ Cravings, Tokyo

The silence on my blog for the previous week is due to the fact that I've been flat out busy preparing for the Christmas season and our trip to Nagano early on Boxing Day. We did, however, get a chance last Sunday to sit down for a Christmas lunch with a couple of friends at this gorgeous little American eatery called Cravings. This eatery is run almost singlehandedly by one girl, Miri, who is really good at what she does. So good, in fact, that Rob's office (full of Americans) caters their lunches from Cravings at least three times a week. Rob loves most of the things that Miri prepares, especially her desserts, and said that he learnt a lot about American food from his Cravings' lunch orders. Miri has been running Cravings for about four years, and she already has a solid clientele base, as is evident in her busy schedule.

After enviously hearing Rob rave on about Cravings' food for so long, I contacted Miri to arrange a holiday meal for our family and friends. She gave me a list of dishes for each course that I could choose from, and charged a straightforward price per head. I knew that Cravings is a relatively small diner that sits at most 10 people, but neither Rob nor I were actually prepared for how small it actually was! The small size wasn't a bad thing - in fact, it was warm and cozy once we'd strapped little Zak onto the bar stool (using a spiffy compact cloth belt that I purchased online only a few days prior - surprised that it worked on a bar stool!) and settled in ourselves. We had a nice view of the kitchen from the one and only table indoors, and occasionally watched Miri efficiently preparing beautiful and delicious dishes. She only had one helper to help serve the dishes, and to help with delivering catering orders, and it really is admirable how well Miri runs the show on her own.

View of the kitchen from the table:

For appetisers, we enjoyed Crabcakes with Tartare Sauce and Stuffed Mushrooms. Both were delicious. The crabcakes were perfectly crispy on the outside, and moist and flavourful when you bite into it. And of course, the tartare sauce was an excellent accompaniment to the crabcakes. The button mushrooms were stuffed with a cheese filling and topped with a crunchy crumbed coating that was both a delight of flavour and texture for the mouth. And even the humble salad of lettuce and tomatoes was tasty with a slightly sweet dressing - I wonder what ingredients Miri used for the dressing.

Delicious crabcakes and mushrooms:

When the Roast Pork Loin Stuffed with Apples and Chestnuts was served, we knew it was going to be delicious just by looking at it. We weren't disappointed. The pork was bursting with flavour, moist and tender, and contained a very nice stuffing. I'm not usually keen on most stuffings, but this was yummy, sweet with the apples and chestnuts. The pork was served with our side orders of Wild Rice and Chestnut Dressing and Corn Bread, both of which were so good that I could easily have eaten these sides as a main dish. I loved the nutty crunchiness of the wild rice, and the corn bread was slightly sweet with a lovely crust that kept you coming back for more.

The roast pork loin with the wild rice and corn bread:

The other main dish we had was Pan-seared Duck Breast with Berry Sauce. The duck was served with homemade chips which was deliciously crispy in a not-very-healthy way. I loved the berry sauce! I thought it had a good balance between sweet and tart that went really well to complement the gamey taste of the duck.

Close-up of my plate with the first serving of the pork, wild rice and corn bread; and the duck:

For dessert, we enjoyed a gorgeous Bûche de Noël (aka Yule log). The cake itself was quite rich, perfectly finished with a luxurious coating of chocolate ganache. This was a sinfully rich dessert.

The lovely Bûche de Noël:

Miri is really good at what she does, and I'm sure a lot of the gaijin (foreigner) community in Tokyo would agree with me. When asked if she thought of expanding, Miri said that she wouldn't be able to control quality as well if she did expand. I think she will be really successful (in the monetary sense) if she does expand, but I guess she is running this business at Cravings because she has the passion for cooking and not that interested in making money. We all had a great time, enjoying both delicious food and wonderful company. Zak was really well-behaved, which made the experience all the more pleasant.

1 comment:

  1. Salad dressing
    I think the main flavour ingredient in that salad was the dill. I'm sure there was other stuff, but the dill is where the punch really came from I think.
    - Rob