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Florilege

Review excerpt: For the past five years, the creative modern-French cuisine of owner-chef Hiroyasu Kawate has been one of Tokyo’s best-kept culinary secrets.

At his bijou restaurant, hidden deep in the residential backstreets of Aoyama, he has built up a devoted following among local gourmets while remaining largely ignored by out-of-towners.

That now looks set to change. Not only has he moved to a more accessible location, in the basement of a new development in Jingumae, the restaurant has a totally different layout and he’s reworked his menu substantially.

What is striking about the new Florilege is how spacious but sparse it feels, and how theatrical. In place of a plush, intimate dining room with classic tables and linen cloths, you sit at a bare metallic counter running three sides of a huge open kitchen. Now you get to see Kawate and his crew preparing dinner, and smell it, too.

He has always offered substantial multicourse meals. But he has evolved that concept here into a heavyweight three-hour-plus dinner tasting menu comprising 13 dishes (six at lunch), all beautifully presented, many outstandingly inventive and some brilliantly memorable.