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Abysse

Review excerpt: For a new, high-end restaurant with a young, unsung chef, Abysse certainly has picked a less-than-obvious location. From the nearest subway station, Gaienmae, the walk takes you down winding backstreets and up a flight of stone steps into the heart of residential Aoyama. Print out a map, open up your GPS or hire a guide — it’s definitely worth the expedition.

Not that the address will be new to Tokyo’s seasoned gastronauts: Abysse has taken over the elegant, comfortable little dining room formerly occupied by Florilege before it decamped to Harajuku. That, however, is a double-edged sword. It means there is already an established and well-heeled customer base who know the space, many of whom live in the area. On the other hand, Florilege is a very hard act to follow.

It is already clear, though, that owner and chef Kotaro Meguro and his front-of-house manager Tatsuhiko Taniguchi are more than up to the task. Despite their tender age — both are still only 29 — they combine the assurance that comes from having worked at high-end restaurants with a youthful enthusiasm that is refreshing in Tokyo’s all-too-serious dining scene.

It also helps that Abysse already has a distinct personality. Both at lunch (five courses; ¥4,500) or dinner (nine courses; ¥9,000), the chef’s special prix-fixe menus contain no meat dishes. Not that Meguro’s recipes are entirely meat-free. He is not shy to draw on the flavor and umami of chicken stock or to add the rich mouthfeel of foie gras to a recipe. But from start to finish, seafood rules.