Le Sputnik (ル・スプートニク) was the first Tokyo restaurant that we decided on for our recent trip. It was easy to decide on this modern French restaurant in Roppongi, Tokyo. It has a one Michelin Star rating, good reviews and most importantly, a user-friendly website. While the online booking sites of some other highly rated restaurants were more intent on ensuring we do not default on our booking by securing credit card and hotel details, le Sputnik asked questions about our dietary preferences and whether it was our first visit. Apparently they maintain a database of customers and try to serve different dishes for repeat customers.
Le Sputnik is a small restaurant serving French cuisine. It is conveniently located in a house on a quiet lane opposite the Tokyo Midtown mall that is served by the Roppongi subway station. Finding the right exit is important as Roppongi Station is a sprawling place. Use exit 7 and the restaurant is only a few minutes walk away.
The name of the restaurant “Sputnik” is a Russian word meaning “travelling companion”, which fits in with their concept that the cooking done at the restaurant is like a creative journey. The 6,000 Yen lunch course is a Chef’s Omakase Eight Course Tasting Menu with no fixed items. Dinner courses are more substantial and cost from 10 to 16,000 yen. They will cook what is suitable for the day and taking into consideration the profile of the diner.
First impressions on entering Le Sputnik were good. It was small and cozy with seating for less than 20 people but the tables were set reasonably apart. There was a small glass-enclosed wine cellar and behind that, a tight and bustling kitchen. The manager- sommelier was knowledgeable, attentive and courteous.
The meal started with small white balls on sticks. Each contained a raw scallop covered in a white rice foam. The scallops were wonderfully fresh and the rice bubble ball was an unexpected and playful way of presenting them
Next were deep-fried smelt perched on top of a burdock pile that looked like a bird’s nest. The crispy nest made of deep-fried burdock root was edible and tasted like fine tapioca crisps. Very tasty, but too much to finish. The whole fish could be eaten, head tails and fins. A great dish to go with beer.
The next dish looked like a small soft cheese but it was actually a cylinder shaped mushroom mousse containing egg yolk. The mushroom flavour of the mousse went well with the egg yolk. it reminded us of brunch food.
The smoky saury fish was presented in dramatic fashion. The smoke-filled glass domes were mysteriously opaque at first. They were simultaneously lifted up for the great reveal. A piece of grilled saury fish was presented with slices of charcoal meringue and onion sauce.
The next dish was one of the two best dishes of the day at Le Sputnik – foie gras with orange compote and espresso jelly. The foie gras was very good by itself, soft and flavourful without being overpowering. The orange compote and espresso jelly with a bit of the crunchy vegetable made each mouthful a delightful combination of tastes.
The next dish was a type of sword shaped fish that was in season in Japan. This was grilled and presented with a citrusy sauce. A light tasting dish by contrast to the preceding one.
The main course of the day was a fillet of venison in a sauce we were told was made with pork blood and a touch of blue cheese. The description sounds worse than the sauce really was. It tasted like a meat sauce that is served with steak. Some sun-dried grapes were provided on the side to break the meaty monotony.
Everything counts, even in small amounts, we were full by this time but the dessert made us hungry again. The Mont Blanc cake was made with chestnuts that were in season. The taste of chestnuts was wonderful. Some cassis shavings provided contrast. Embedded inside this mountain were blobs of cool milk sherbet. This was our other favourite dish at LeSputnik.
Finally some petite fours to seal the end of our happy meal at Le Sputnik, a friendly French restaurant in Roppongi, Tokyo. It was fun eating at a place with no menu and without knowing what will turn up next on the table. At 6,000 yen (not including service charge and tax), this was also one of the best value meals that we had on this trip to Tokyo, Japan.
Overall Rating: 5 TOPs
7-9-9 Roppongi, Minato-ku, Tokyo