I’ve tried so many Chinese restaurants globally and its true you’ll hear that Toronto Canada has a very good standard of Chinese cuisine, yet it’s a mixed bag of either anglo-asian influenced cuisine, serving steaks and Canadian East coast lobsters, or hard-core dim sum with heaps of chicken feet.
One of the pleasures of Chinese cuisine in Japan is the commitment to the Japanese standards. I am not an expert, I cannot detail the nuances of all the sauces, my tongue is not indigenous so I miss many details. I know real Chinese food is partially about “wok hei”, the high scorching heat produced by the wok’s super power. There is something about Chinese food, pheromones or umami of a cuisine that is more sophisticated than most people imagine. Just step into a Chinese kitchen and you’ll realize what I mean.
Power of Wok: https://mesubim.com/2015/04/01/woking-not-walking-video/
After a week in Hong Kong, I had the urge to try some Japaneseque Chinese cuisine, because during our last trip to Hong Kong, I found most of what I ate less than mediocre. I know this sounds pretentious but honestly speaking the Chinese cuisine in Japan is generally better. Perhaps an encounter with a Michelin fraud, a dirty restaurant in Hong Kong didn’t help. It was one of the most bizarre experiences I’ve had in a high-end restaurant: https://mesubim.com/2016/03/24/michelin-fraud-celebrity/
I am brain washed by the cleanliness in Japan, the service in restaurants here is impeccable, and the crisp white table cloths makes a difference. I guess that’s not important for many Chinese food lovers preferring the down and dirty so-called authentic restaurants. But the idea of dogs barking in the basement, means the meat is fresh turns me off. I know it’s not the same domesticated dog, it’s just that I am not keen to eat dogs, or any insects. I recall René Redzepi serving ants at his Tokyo dinner, and I thought to myself, “who wants to eat dead ants or any ants.”
Chinese food in Tokyo is another story with plenty of options including Yokohama, which is said to be most authentic, and then there are a number of Michelin and some other smaller niche restaurants I’ve tried.
If you can believe it, there are more Michelin Chinese restaurants in Tokyo than anywhere else on the food planet, and one with two stars named Momonoki:https://mesubim.com/2016/04/26/blow-your-marbles-sichuan-momonoki/
But one of our favourite Chinese restaurants is Ishingo, a classical Chinese restaurant which serves Cantonese cuisine. The restaurant takes you back in time, and seems old-fashioned because it is. I have been going there for thirty years so not much has changed. The management staff are more or less the same, the service is black jacket with white table cloths covering round tables.
The menu has some nostalgic dishes but its important to know what to order. From my experience any Chinese restaurant is as good as the selection you make. Recently I was at Fureika and it wasn’t nearly as good as my last visit. Fureika no doubt has a high-end kitchen, a very elegant chic atmosphere but avoid the private dinning upstairs.
The peking duck I tried last week (at Fureika) was dark and the bird’s skin greasy encased in a thick pancake. Fureika also has a second restaurant a tapas, its so-so despite being fully booked most nights. I guess it’s the price proposition.
Ishingo’s appetisers include cold chicken with sesame sauce and fresh cucumber, yuba the skin of bean curd thinly slice, yaki-soba with mixed seafood a favourite, and yes they serve shark’s fin braised, or the peking duck that is excellent and not greasy, nor dried out: https://mesubim.com/2012/12/17/peking-duck/
Here are the Michelin restaurants in Tokyo serving Chinese cuisine:
B1F, Akasakadori No.50 Bldg, 5-5-11 Akasaka, Minato-ku, Tokyo
Zuisetsu Cantonese Seafood *Michelin
2F, Dairokuhyuga Bldg, 1-20-13 Umegaoka, Setagaya-ku, Tokyo
Mandarin Oriental Hotel 37F, 2-1-1 Nihonbashimuromachi, Chuo-ku, Tokyo
3-7-5 Higashiazabu, Minato-ku, Tokyo
Masa Kitchen *Michelin
B1F, Comforia Ebisu Bldg, 1-21-13 Ebisu, Shibuya-ku, Tokyo
2-17-29 Mita, Minato-ku, Tokyo
Ishingo Akasaka /near new otani/
1-11 Kioicho, Chiyoda-ku