We were lucky to get a booking in Fujiya 1935, for a night that fell on our 2 year wedding anniversary. I was browsing Michelin guide for a somewhat ‘molecular’ restaurant in Osaka, and Fujiya 1935 jumped out at me. Chef Tetsuya Fujiwara opened his restaurant in 2003, after extensive training in Spain and Italy and, according to the Michelin guide, displayed latest techniques and ‘once felt moods’ in this cooking . We came with an anticipation of avant-garde cuisine, and a little hope of being blown away. Did we? Well, read on, fellow gourmands!
Upon our arrival, we were asked to sit down at the low table in a dimly lit room. Silly me, I actually thought that was where we were going to have dinner! It was just an incredibly stylish waiting area, with aromatic herbal tea on offer, to boot.
Soon enough, we were led upstairs and seated in a room off the main dining area, with just 2 other diners. Polite half-nods of acknowledgment were exchanged.
We were presented with an English menu but were warned that the staff only spoke Japanese and Spanish. Perhaps, that explains the cute verse on the menu: “In autumn, for the egg laying and passing the winter that starts from the mountain”. All course names below are copied from the menu:
1. Paper that dries and is yellow; Snack of Chestnut; Marshmallow of Pistachio; Fresh Vegetable [Tomatei-ryo].
You cannot see the ‘paper that dries and is yellow’, but inside the white envelopes were edible sheets of dehydrated vegetables (I don’t remember which), and the Fresh Vegetable was green tomato.
2. Ginkgo fumigated by Hus, Bread of Truffle.
Glazes ginkgo nuts seemed to be a popular item on autumnal menus in Japan. The spongy bread sandwiching the truffled cream was as squishy and delectable as one could hope.
3. Hot bread with smoked butter.
Ok, this was not a course listed on the menu, but would it be sacrilegious to say it was my favourite item? Just two piping hot rustic bread rolls, served in a beautifully crafted wooden box with a hot stone at the bottom, so that the bread would keep warm throughout the entire meal. As soon as we smothered the hot bread with densely smoky-flavoured butter, we were suddenly elevated to a new plane of gastronomic experience. The buzz, you know?
4. Pumpkin and Caviar.
From the favourite bread experience of my life and onto the caviar? I liked the place more and more.
5. Saute of Consomme milt of potato.
Read – fried fish sperm in a potato soup with fried potato shavings. Yes, I ate fish sperm and I liked it. A popular dish in Russian far east.
6. Black Truffle and Vegetable
The oven-hot little pot held roasted chestnuts, beetroot, other autumn vegetables and speck. The waitress shaved a generous knob of truffle into each pot and we were asked to give it a minute before eating. The result (note the delirious happiness on my husband’s face!):
7. Fish is Pomfret.
OK, the fish is Pomfret, but what did that mean for us? The fish was managatsuo (harvest fish?) and was accompanied by a 3 mushroom consomme as well as fresh mushrooms. It seems that the play on varied textures of one ingredient in a single dish was something our Michelin chef liked to do.
8. Pasta is Maccheroni. With Wild Boar’s Meat.
The pasta was beyond reproach, although my husband would have liked a great deal more of the rich, full flavoured meaty sauce. Those peppercorns are baked pepper, by the way. Baked pepper!? The chef kept surprising.
9. The Main Dish Venison.
Ahh, the main dish venison. Venison is cooked to perfection and served with several textures of the humble onion – as crunchy layers of shallot, charred stalks of spring onion, creamy sauce infused with chives, and a pool of intense green onion sauce in the middle of venison jus. So clever.
10. Pudding of chestnut.
Smoldering coals, roasted chestnut on a little ‘hay stack’….The art of atmospheric seasonal kaiseki cooking shone through the nouvelle cuisine. Creamy chestnut pudding with what I remember was coffee jelly very morish.
11. The Grape, Tree Branch.
Here’s the textbook trick of infusing grapes with CO2 to make them fuzzy and fun. Tree branch was made of chocolate. The branch was ‘planted’ in raw cocoa nibs.
This was the last but unfortunately the least interesting dish. Here, the chocolate powder, sugar and gooey caramel are mixed with dried fruit and sorbet. I found it a bit too sugary, especially after so many courses. A divine tea service followed. Scott had espresso.
Finally, a few words on the interior. This was perhaps the most stylish place I’ve dined in. Everything was finished in luxurious wood, and furnished with minimalist restrain. A few sneak peeks at the ladies’ restroom and the holy grail, the kitchen! We were the last ones to leave and I was lucky to get a shot of the gleaming kitchen that was already spotlessly clean.
As far as Osaka Michelin restaurants go, Fujiya 1935 is definitely not to be missed. Having visited only two Michelin restaurants in Osaka, I might not be qualified to make such a statement, but I hope to have you convinced of the specialness of this place.
Tell me, reader, what dish caught your attention the most?