Originally published on on July 2008

Photos Courtesy of Silverado

Photos Courtesy of Silverado

Silverado arrives in Tokyo with some serious California pedigree. Consulting chef Hiro Sone established himself as a culinary star with Ame in San Francisco and Terra in the Napa Valley, two restaurants celebrated for their eclectic menus and top-quality, locally sourced ingredients. Sone’s man on the ground in Tokyo is a veteran of Napa’s French Laundry, which is widely considered America’s finest restaurant.

So it’s no surprise that, in true California fashion, Silverado’s menu features a broad mix of flavors, ranging from France (vin de veau) to the Middle East (tabouleh and hummus alongside marinated lamb) to Thailand (green curry “pot au feu”) and Italy (rigatoni in a big-flavored ragout). The common denominators are sparkling presentation and a focus on freshness, two qualities that Californians will recognize as their own.

These traits were much in evidence on a recent visit, when our course menu (¥10,000) began with a perfect summer starter: chunks of togan (green pumpkin) with okra and crab in a chilled, starchy soup. Seasoned with a hint of shiso, the dish offered a bracing preview of the delights to come. The only downside was that it replaced the one appetizer we’d been dying to try: panzanella, an Italian salad of tomato, bread and burrata cheese (à la carte, ¥2,400).

A lesser disappointment came when our à la carte order of rigatoni with
a ragout of pork and maitake mushrooms (¥2,200) seemed almost completely lacking in pecorino—on a previous occasion, the cheese provided the crowning touch to this wonderfully hearty stew. And we must admit that, after twice trying the restaurant’s signature dish—marinated black cod with organic vegetables in green curry (¥3,200)—we’re unsure whether each of the delightful components adds up to a winning whole. But that’s the thing about Silverado: the misses are nearly as compelling as the hits.

Photos Courtesy of Silverado

Photos Courtesy of Silverado

And the hits are many. A “petit ragout” of sweetbreads (¥2,400) has nothing petite about its flavor, bolstered as it is by mushrooms, prosciutto and truffle oil. Corn chowder with Manila clams (¥1,200) proved as hearty as our earlier soup was refreshing, coaxing a smoky flavor out of its fresh vegetables and chewy clams. Perhaps our favorite dish, though, was free-range chicken with yuzu-butter sauce accompanied by pumpkin-stuffed tortelli (¥2,900). We enjoyed our meal with a crisp Matanzas Creek (¥7,500) sauvignon blanc from the California-heavy list.

Silverado sits in the glitzy Royal Crystal Ginza building, whose Bubble era-inspired lobby promises an upscale feel. And the restaurant’s smart interior, with its large windows and plush furniture, does not disappoint.

The crowd on our Friday night visit ranged from a small gokon get-together to couples on dates to a pair of businessmen working over dinner in a corner. At Silverado, both the food and the diners have an appealing diversity.