Since its opening in March of 2009, TWO ROOMS GRILL | BAR has made a name for itself as one of Tokyo’s most popular spots for accessible fine dining. The restaurant boasts high-caliber cuisine from Australian Chef Owner Matthew Crabbe, previously of the Park Hyatt Tokyo’s famed New York Grill, and a stunning view of Aoyama from its terrace bar. Despite a solid reputation among steak lovers, the restaurant has jumped into new waters with an original Two Rooms vegetarian meal. Crabbe says the move was motivated by vegetarianism’s recent growth in Japan and the opportunity to showcase Japan’s finest produce. Metropolis recently visited Two Rooms to experience this new five-course dinner.
The meal begins with a delicate salad paired with whipped yogurt and brown rice furikake (Japanese dried seasoning). A streak of Kyoto black vinegar syrup glazes the side of the dish. The pairing of a flavor-packed furikake and creamy yogurt elevate a simple dish of leaves and sprouts.
The salad is followed by salt-baked beet tartare. Topped with lily, kale and black truffle, the hidden surprise of the dish is a Phoenix hen yolk tucked beneath the pyramid.
Following the meal’s lighter fare is a starch—Danshaku potato croquette—and a dome of whipped avocado. The dish’s rich black garlic aioli is made from garlic cloves that have been aged at high heat for several weeks.
The star of the menu, however, is the Kyoto carrot, which is known for its large size and deep red hue. Crabbe spent three and a half years in Kyoto, where he opened the city’s Hyatt Regency as Executive Chef. He’s brought back to the eastern capital a love for Kyoto’s ingredients and often incorporates them into his dishes.
Glazed in caraway and soba honey, the Kyoto carrot is caramelized, contributing an irresistible sweetness and charred flavor to the dish that will remind diners of annou imo (roasted orange-fleshed sweet potato). Dried Yanagi Matsutake mushrooms, shishito peppers and chimichurri are layered on top of the carrot.
For the final course, a daily seasonal dessert, we were treated to an assorted platter of fresh fruit with sorbet and white wine jelly. Throughout the meal Crabbe’s team produces elegant plate presentations. But what is most impressive is that Crabbe has a concocted a vegetarian meal that will satisfy the most ardent meat lovers.
While some may be skeptical when the first dish of sprouts is placed in front of them, there is a balance of textures and flavors that progress through the five courses. Crabbe follows light and leafy starters with heartier starches and root vegetables.
Although the course meal is a full dinner experience, dishes on the vegetarian menu are also available a la carte at all dining hours. Keep in mind that the specifics of these dishes are likely to change in the coming months, as Two Rooms constantly evolves its menu to take advantage of the best seasonal produce.
For those with dietary restrictions or preferences, the chefs at Two Rooms are quick on their feet and ready to adapt the menu to individual diners’ needs. Gluten-free options are available, as well as a vegan version of the set meal.
Tokyo continues to lag behind other international cities when it comes to vegetarian restaurant offerings. Two Rooms’ vegetarian meal is an example of how to best incorporate vegetarianism into a fine dining experience without sacrificing quality or creativity.
TWO ROOMS GRILL | BAR
5F AO Building, 3-11-7 Kita-Aoyama, Minato-ku, Tokyo
Lunch: 11:30 – 14:30 (L.O.)
Dinner: 18:00 – 22:00 (L.O.) (21:00 L.O. Sundays and Holidays)
Lounge & Bar: 11:30 – 02:00 (22:00 L.O. Sundays & Public Holidays)