Tokuyoshi, no ifs, ands and buts

The chef, once Bottura’s, second accepts no compromise: strong aromas, character, upper-class cuisine

03-03-2015

The protagonist of one of the most awaited debuts in Milan, Yoji Tokuyoshi, previously Massimo Bottura’s second, who opened his restaurant (Via San Calocero 3, tel.) in the same rooms where Wicky Priyan’s Wicky's was once located

Here we told you about the upcoming arrival in town of one of the most awaited chefs, Japanese Yoji Tokuyoshi. We dined at his restaurant a few nights ago. What did we write down in our palate reporters’ notebook?

1) Gourmet Milan is today richer: Massimo Bottura’s ex second is a pure talent.

2) His cuisine convinced us. Not in the sense it is flawless. However, it demonstrated a clear signature brand; even borderline choices derive from awareness and personality.

3) Where can you taste, in Milan and the surroundings, an unusual tasting menu, made of original, elegant dishes, the result of a fertile “contamination” (quoting the chef)? Only here, while perhaps waiting for Milone-Iannotti.

4) We appreciate the rigour, the coherence with which Tokuyoshi decided to present his cuisine without compromises. We found dishes that had very strong aromatic peaks, insisting on acid notes, I’m referring tothe Bruschetta with squilla mantis in which the orange zest and the green tomato confer an intense yet not excessive sourness.

Calamari in Italian ceviche returns on the theme of acidity, dominating the first part of the menu

Calamari in Italian ceviche returns on the theme of acidity, dominating the first part of the menu

5) The fact this is a stylistic choice was demonstrated by the first course, that Tears of vegetables which is a caramelised and concentrated broth made with skins (potatoes, celeriac, Jerusalem artichoke). Here too, the taste buds are bombarded unremittingly.

6) So far, after all, we have talked about the dishes that convinced us the less. Ossobuco dressed for the winter takes Milan (ossobuco) and reinvents it: a cabbage broth is poured over the ossobuco, covered with dehydrated seasonal vegetables. It would all be superlative had not the ossobuco been, in our case, sinewy.

7) The rest of the dinner has unquestionable standards. To begin with, it shows a precise stylistic choice which is conducted with assertiveness. While Luca Fantin, best chef according to the 2015 Identità Golose guide, uses great Japanese raw materials to cook “Italian” food, Tokuyoshi appears to be his alter ego in Milan: he thinks about the inspiration in a dish, in an aroma, in an Italian tradition, yet he cooks it with a Japanese approach.

Triglia e triglie, a red mullet-based dish which is clamorous in that it appears to be only materic yet it is the result of an exceptional virtuoso: the fish is enhanced with a triumph of Mediterranean aromas

Triglia e triglie, a red mullet-based dish which is clamorous in that it appears to be only materic yet it is the result of an exceptional virtuoso: the fish is enhanced with a triumph of Mediterranean aromas

8) We refer to two trompe-l'œil dishes such as Potato spaghetti in a carved potato, black truffle and mussels and Rice non rice, Milanese style. They could be Italian: pasta and risotto. They are in fact two mirages: the spaghetti are made with potatoes, the grains with celeriac. This is no idle technical virtuoso, we’ve already have seen plenty of that, even Fabio Abbattista’s spaghetti are made with potatoes and recall Alex Atala’s fettuccine with palmito pupunha; or should we recall the fake risottos, like the vegetable one by Pedro Subijana or the very celeriac one by Salvatore Tassa? It’s not the idea itself but the idea plus the result: which in the case of the risotto is excellent; and in the case of the spaghetti is memorable.

9) Before each of the fake first courses, there were two extraordinary dishes we comment with as many photos. Followed by the Dolce e salato [Sweet and savoury]: pumpkin ravioli with an express broth of prosciutto, a dutiful tribute to Emilia. What strikes, beside the aromatic contrast, is the sensational strength of the broth.

10) We end with the sweet part, which sees no yielding. Cemento e terra [Cement and earth] is extremely elegant, it amplifies the earthy notes with the Jerusalem artichoke ice cream, the cream of mascarpone and herbs, the salty chocolate biscuit, the reduction of Jerusalem artichoke and mushrooms. The cement covering everything is a meringue made with vegetal carbon.


Rubriche - Carlo Mangio

An outdoor trip or a journey to the other side of the planet?
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Carlo Passera

journalist born in 1974, for many years he has covered politics, mostly, and food in his free time. Today he does exactly the opposite and this makes him very happy. As soon as he can, he dives into travels and good food. An early member of Identità Golose