Tokyo Food Page
ššAquavit/
Gaienmae: Swedish
₯5413-3300
€Data
Chef Marcus Samuels-
son is known for his
highly acclaimed
Aquavit restaurant
in New York City,
which has been serv-
ing top-level con-
temporary Swedish
cuisine for more
than twenty years.
We're happy to re-
port that his first
venture in Japan
measures up to that
same impressive
standard. The cook-
ing is superb -
fresh, inspired and
provocative. And
Aquavit's modern
Scandinavian outlook
adds a welcome note
of culinary diver-
sity to the French-
and Italian-dominat-
ed top ranks of
Tokyo's internation-
al restaurant scene.


The dining room is
bright and energet-
ic, hung with art-
work and decorated
in a fusion of con-
temporary Japanese
and Scandinavian
styles. The sleek
design is warmed by
homey touches like
the antique pepper-
mills on the tables
and the grove of
newly planted trees
in the pocket garden
in back. Aquavit's
setting is also a
cut above the
typical-for-Tokyo
office building or
shopping mall; after
your meal you emerge
onto an attractive
little plaza with a
fountain, overlooked
by a fashionable
Aoyama flower shop.

One of the unique
charms of Aquavit
New York has been
recreated here - a
large menu of home-
made aquavits, in
surprising flavors
like horseradish and
pear-vanilla-black
pepper (two of our
favorites). They
make a refreshing
aperitif, either at
your table or in the
stylish bar-lounge
area. Thrill-seekers
can try the offbeat
aquavit-based cock-
tails like the Aqua-
politan or the Spicy
Mango Martini.

The starter menu
gets things going
with enticing flavor
combinations like
venison carpaccio
with cheese, celery
root, radish and
black truffle; and
foie gras ganache
with cured and dried
duck and apple com-
pote. In a nod to
Swedish tradition,
there's a four-her-
ring assortment
which includes
vodka-lime and
curry-apple varia-
tions along with
boiled potatoes and
cheese, and what the
menu refers to as
"necessary accesso-
ries" - an ice-cold
shot of aquavit and
a glass of beer.

First-timers might
go with the smorgas-
bord starter - ours
was a big square
plate topped by a
grid of nine differ-
ent appetizers in
bite-size portions.
Even before the
starters, our pal-
ates were properly
awakened by a deli-
ciously creamy
potato-leek-anchovy
soup, just salty
enough to activate
the taste buds, and
a tiny amuse of
cheese flan and
salmon with a dot of
smoked egg yolk.
Excellent potato
bread and crispbread
are served with
herb-flavored but-
ter.

The main dishes tend
toward multi-element
assemblages with a
balance of comple-
mentary flavors and
textures. For exam-
ple a succulent
seared duck breast
was paired with a
marvelously crisp
confit - the thigh
meat lightly accent-
ed with tarragon and
playfully shaped
into a cube - and
served alongside
soft parley spaet-
zel. Then there was
the roast lamb -
tender, flavorful
top-quality meat
cooked to perfection
- paired with a
spice-infused ragout
of lamb wrapped in
crunchy kohlrabi.
From the fish side
of the menu we can
recommend the richly
flavored hot-smoked
trout, served in
apple-horseradish
broth with celery-
root puree and mush-
rooms.

The fresh and in-
spired flavor combi-
nations continue
through dessert.
Aquavit's Swedish
pancakes are perhaps
the most entertain-
ing - you assemble
them yourself with
dollops of whipped
cream, ginger confit
and raspberries.
Then there's the
"Arctic Circle"
(goat cheese parfait
with cassis sorbet),
and a rich, brownie-
like chocolate-cus-
tard cake with salty
caramel ice cream
and diced cherries.
Unfortunately they
didn't have herb tea
on the menu (but
that was really our
only complaint).
They do, however,
have after-dinner-
style aquavits in
flavors like
pineapple-basil.

The extensive wine
list covers the
globe, with Bur-
gundy, Bordeaux and
California well
represented; you can
find a decent number
of bottles under
Y10,000, but many
more in the next-
higher price brack-
et. The dinnertime
prix-fixe menu is
three courses for
Y6800, and a special
Chef's menu for
Y9250 (+ 10%sc).
Lunches are Y1500-
4500, and they in-
clude Samuelsson's
interpretations of
more traditional
Swedish dishes like
Toast Skagen
(shrimp-salad sand-
wich), Beef Rydberg
and Swedish meat-
balls. [Prices up-
dated June 2009.]
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Minato-ku, Kita-
Aoyama 2-5-8, Aoyama
OM Square 1F. 
Open 11:30am-2, 6-
10pm (LO) daily.
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