Restaurant Review: Le Pot Aux Roses, Azabu Juban

The wine was so great that it even went well with the dessert!

When walking from Roppongi Hills, past Tsutaya and toward Azabu Juban Shotengai, there’s a  corner building that has huge windows on the fifth floor.  It’s more noticeable at night when the darkness highlights the window, but it can easily be seen during the day as well.  After talking about it and seeing people sitting in the window for months, my husband and I decided to see what was up there.  What we found was a delectable feast of the senses called Le Pot Aux Roses. (They don’t have a website, but you can see a few things here)

My husband and I took the elevator up on a random Saturday night on the early side, before 7pm.  We were greeted in Japanese by a lovely young woman who was the server, and then in English, by a man who was clearly the head chef, based on his outfit and demeanor.  What struck us as funny – and then delightful – was that the chef spoke English with a thick French accent, not a Japanese one.  He later told us that he spent many years in France, but many years ago.

The menu was a nice size, with many items on it, but we have found that in most places when the chef offers a course menu, it is generally the best he has to offer and we should just take that.  He even came over to us with a basket of raw mushrooms, showing us what he had and what was special for the season, and promising us a warm, sauteed mushroom salad that we wouldn’t forget.  He was right.

As in most restaurants, we were given the drinks menu first and we decided to skip the cocktail and go right for the wine.  The wine list was extensive but not overwhelming, and we chose a light, but dry white from Sancerre.  The chef approved of our pairing, and I really do think that he was the type to correct us if we didn’t chose well.

But the salad wasn’t the first course – we had mussels first.  The mussels were in a slightly thickened sauce of garlic, butter and wine.  It was a healthy serving, large by Japanese standards, but we couldn’t help mopping up a little of the broth with the fresh crusty bread served on the side for that purpose.  The salad was second, and as promised, it was wonderful.  There were three or four varieties of mushroom lightly sauteed and served over mixed greens.


Following the salad, we had a fish course of cod broiled in a lemon-butter sauce, which melted in the mouth.  Served in a bowl, this was the only course of the evening that was a small size; everything else was fairly large.  Our main course was a duck leg stewed in a red wine sauce.  It fell off the bone in a red mass of sweet and savory combination that I have never tasted before.

Dessert was a lovely slice of French apple pie with a side of vanilla ice cream, but the flavors were complicated by the caramel sauce on the plate underneath the pie, and chocolate sauce on the plate under the dollop of whipped cream.  It was quite the combination.
While our idea of a reasonably priced dinner is arguably skewed since living in Tokyo, for the city, this dinner was indeed a good deal.  The set menu was Y6300 per person, with the wine at another Y7000, which means we had a very full dinner including drinks at under Y20,000.  Just trust me – it’s reasonable for Tokyo.  Don’t covert to another currency.

It was a wonderful evening out with my husband and a delicious meal to boot.  Special occasion or regular Saturday night, Le Pot Aux Roses is bound to be a hit.

My Bicycle is Illegal in Japan

Yesterday I had a flat tire on my bike so I brought it to the closest shop, pictured here.  It is at the bottom of Sendai Zaka in the Azabu area of Tokyo.  I wasn’t really upset about the tire since I had wanted someone to check out my noisy gears anyway.   They told me they could fix the tire, but that that was all they could do since my bike was “illegal” in Japan.  This was the third time I had been told that I had an illegal bike – the first two were by this and one other bike shop who would not help us put together the bike when it first arrived.  I assumed the problem was the motor, but I was mistaken.

Please bear in mind as you continue reading, that I bought the bike here in Japan from one of Japan’s largest online retailers, a website called Rakuten.  They are Amazon’s main competition in Japan and sell everything from books to clothes to jewelery to food to bikes – all at discount prices.

Bikes, similar to mine, with motors, were in the front of the Le Cyc store.  “Those are bikes just like mine.  Why aren’t those illegal?” I asked, trying to keep the “whine” out of my voice.

The clerk replied simply and clearly: “Those are Japanese bikes.  Yours is made in China.”

It took me a moment to recover my senses.  Under my breath I muttered something that I refuse to put into writing, and walked away from her.  My bike cannot be repaired in Japan because it is a Chinese brand, yet I bought it from a Japanese company. I am so angry I am seeing white. Luckily my repair is very minor, and I think I can do it myself, but that doesn’t change the fact that I am going to have this problem for the rest of the bike’s life.

Suggestions anyone?  Ideas for what to do for maintenance on this bike?  Ideas for how to remedy this terrible societal problem?  I seem to be coming up with nothing.

A Hidden Treasure – the Azabu Haus Restaurant

copyright Iwamoto and Associates - showing the beautiful interior

In Tokyo, one of my favorite things to do is happen upon a new restaurant.  There are so many gems to discover in this city that it’s almost a shame to go to the same place twice.  In this case, though, I hope to become a regular customer.

The Azabu Haus is located in Azabu Juban and has been open for six or seven years.  (No official website listed, unfortunately)  It’s off the main road on a street perpendicular to a second main shopping street parallel to the Shotengai.  It’s owned and run by a man calling himself simply Jo and his English and mannerisms are simply exquisite.  Every server in the restaurant treats customers like they were the most

The appetizer plate

important person in the place.

The design of the restaurant, done by Iwamoto and Associates architects, marries light wood and stone to create an ambiance of warmth.  The ceiling is curved inward next to the window so it makes diners feel enclosed in the unique world of the water view and cozy table.  There are two private rooms that can be closed off to the rest of the restaurant which would make a great spot for a business meeting or private function.

We found the restaurant because I have a friend who is an explorer.  He likes to walk down the side streets – he says it is the only way to really see what’s going on.  He noticed the large, flat-front building with lights directly set into the walls.  There’s also a long man-made stream running alongside the building, with some greenery surrounding it.  The affect is very soothing.

Sea Bream in basil over greens

The food is Japanese-style French and Italian, with a wine list that is exclusively European. We chose the set menu for dinner and it was nearly more food than we could eat.  Priced at about 7500 JPY, it’s pricey, but not unreasonable for Tokyo and the plentiful portions we received. The appetizer plate had four different types of dishes in one – a terrine, tomato-mozzarella, a vegetable combination and a bit of sashimi.  The next course, pasta, we picked off the menu.  I had a cream sauce, one friend had a fish sauce, another friend had a meat sauce, and my husband had a wine and mushroom sauce.  Each tasted distinct, a neat trick with pasta sauces.

The fish course was a beautiful displayed, light, flaky piece of Sea Bream in basil sauce.  Then the main course was a perfectly roasted pork.  We shared desserts – hand-made gelatto, pear tart, fruit cup and tiramisu.  The cappuccino really

The main course

finished off the set beautifully and didn’t even need sugar.

The atmosphere, food, and service all deserve a gold star for their excellence.

Azabu Juban [Map] 2-7-14, azabu275 Building, 1F; Tel: 03-5439-6671