Argento Aso is technically an Italian restaurant, but the kind of Italian restaurant that serves steamed sweet potato and tsukemono - pickled vegetables (albeit a fancy version) with your meat course and deconstructs traditional Japanese "curry rice" into an Italian-esque risotto with curry foam. It's modern Italian influenced by Japan, with a flair of molecular gastronomy. And for its innovative take on Italian cuisine, the 2010 Michelin guide awarded Argento Aso 2 stars, which they clearly worked very hard for, evidenced by the flawless service, well-executed dishes and creative presentation.
Argento Aso is the kind of place you take a date you really want to impress, or celebrate a special occasion. It's the kind of place that brings you a cart with a choice of fancy bottled waters - everything from Voss to Aqua Panna to San Pellegrino. It's a teeny bit pretentious, but the 2- and 3-starred Michelin restaurants often tend to be so. All in all, it works. From the initial bread offering, consisting of 6 different types of breads baked on the premises to the post-dessert sweets offering, presented like a bouquet of flowers in a vase, Argento Aso definitely impresses. Be warned - you may feel like you don't want to eat for another week afterward!
Assorted breads, served with a trio of butters (plain whipped, olive oil and smoked - each person gets their own set of butters!)
Amuse bouche - salmon trio: baked salmon toast, salmon mousse (in the bottom of the cup, suspended upside down), salmon tartare
Foie gras terrine with flower petals and honey foam
Seared foie gras with balsamic reduction
Pasta with scallops and dried fish shavings - sounds funny but tasted delicious
Spaghetti with mushrooms - you pour the pasta yourself over the mushrooms and sauce
"Curry rice" - creamy risotto with a perfectly pan-roasted fish with delicious crispy skin and curry foam
Roasted duck breast, served with a side dish of the duck's liver (not pictured)
Delicious charred medium rare steak with polenta cake and mascarpone filled pasta shell
Pickled vegetables and mushroom tempura
The sweetest steamed sweet potatoes ever - steamed over rocks
Tiramisu with freshly ground coffee bean dust - delicious!
Millefoglie with berries and vanilla bean gelato
Post-dessert sweets: fruit jellies, berries, marshmallows and tiny financiers
Food rating: **** and a half
Bang for buck rating: 3 (VERY pricey!)
Location: on the 8th and 9th floors of the ZOE Ginza building, a block from Yurakucho station
Average price of meal for two (dinner): 36,000 yen (~$400)