In the words of a famous movie, Salt “had us at ‘hello’.” Or, rather, it had us at the amuse bouche: a semi-hard-boiled quail’s egg crusted with celery, parsley and brown sugar—one of the most perfect morsels of food we’ve ever tasted. Australian chef Luke Mangan’s debut Tokyo eatery lives up to its billing, with an eye-grabbing interior and a prime location in the snazzy new Shin-Marunouchi Building. But it’s the food that deserves all the attention. Headed up by Mangan protégé Shannon Binnie, the kitchen entices diners with flavor combinations that are as exuberant as they are unusual: venison seared in sumac, poached sea bass with foie gras-mustard crust, quail tempura, licorice parfait with lime syrup. After the delightful starter, our lunch (¥1,500) continued with a fillet of an Australian whitefish known as barramundi. Perfectly cooked and gorgeously presented in a lemon-thyme broth atop a bed of curried pumpkin, the dish was elegant and satisfying. Though we would have wished for a bit more separation between the fish and the pumpkin, whose flavor overmatched the more subtle broth, that’s just a quibble, and we look forward to returning for dinner, when we can have at the 1,000-strong list of Australian wines. Degustation menus start at ¥8,000 for five courses, and for an extra ¥5,000, diners can pair each serving with a glass of wine chosen by Salt’s sommelier. We can’t wait.
1-5-1 Marunouchi, Chuo-ku. Tel: 03-5288-7828. Open daily 11am-3:30pm and 5:30pm-midnight. Nearest stn: Tokyo. www.pjgroup.jp/salt.