Food of Love

by Catherine Shaw
wifm_winter10_low-83 For young or old, a Valentine’s Day meal is a must

Contemplating the serious business of where to celebrate this Valentine’s Day? Remember the immortal words of the explorer, poet and life-long favorite of Queen Elizabeth I, Sir Walter Raleigh, who wisely noted: “Romance is a love affair in other than domestic surroundings.”

He may not have enjoyed success in winning the hand of his queen, but Raleigh certainly understood the importance of a well-chosen setting in which to woo a loved one. These are some of our favorite romantic dining tables in Tokyo — guaranteed to add a touch of style to Valentine’s Day or any special dining occasion.

wifm_winter10_low-84In the leafy suburbs of Shoto, Chez Matsuo reigns supreme on the romance stakes — famous as the restaurant of choice for the Royal Prince and Princess Masako in their early courting days. Classic French cuisine, an elegant but inviting décor, and flawless service create a suitably refined dining atmosphere. More suited for the very seriously involved or already happily married, Valentine’s Day sees special lunch or dinner set menus served in an impeccable setting.

Looking to make more of a statement with your choice of dining destination? Restaurants don’t come more high profile than Joël Robuchon’s contemporary French 18th Century French-style chateau at Yebisu Garden Place. Black tablecloths, Swarovski crystal and an elaborate Baccarat chandelier set the scene for serious high profile romancing. Luckily, Robuchon’s 3-Star Michelin cuisine lives up to — and exceeds — the rather fabulous décor. The 18-course dinner menu is expensive but quite unforgettable—a perfect choice to anyone planning to pop the big question.

wifm_winter10_low-85Mandarin Oriental Tokyo’s French-inspired Signature restaurant also offers an elegant setting suitable for a special occasion. A popular choice with environmentally conscious diners, the restaurant offers an extensive range of biodynamic and organic wines. Stock up with artisanal chocolates from the Gourmet. The hotel also has a popular accommodation plan that includes special sweets, a bottle of champagne and a champagne glass gift set.

champagne glass gift set. Romantic dining is not necessarily limited to the French. Modern diners looking for the avant-garde in culinary arts would enjoy Chef Albert Tse’s take on modern Chinese cuisine at Conrad Tokyo’s China Blue. The restaurant’s décor is coolly elegant with signature blue lighting, glass and oak décor, a distinctive, eight-meter high, glass-walled, walk-in wine cellar and dramatic views over Tokyo Bay. Enter through a dramatic 7.4-meter blue Mon gate and prepare for glamorous contemporary dining in one of the cozy booths. The Valentine’s Couple Menu includes delicacies such as fresh lobster and shark’s fin.

ANA IntercontinentalFor the artistically inclined, a romantic dinner at the eponymous Brasserie Paul Bocuse Musee within its elevated setting in the National Art Gallery in Nogizaka is sure to impress. A special set menu and à la carte dining featuring classic French cuisine is available for both lunch and dinner on Valentine’s Day.

The private booths at The Peninsula Tokyo’s Michelin-starred Hei Fung Terrace offer those looking for privacy the ultimate discreet hideaway — with elegant Cantonese cuisine. Close the tiny lattice panel windows (the restaurant’s décor recreates an authentic Suzhou Garden setting) to enclose yourselves in a private dining sanctuary and only your waiter will know where you are.

Master chef Alain Ducasse’s joint venture with Chanel, Beige, offers fashionable types modern French cuisine in a minimalist setting. The food is pricy but guaranteed to impress, especially when you present her with one of Chanel’s iconic handbags.

wifm_winter10_low-90Meanwhile, the Italian community flock to BiCE Tokyo, a contemporary Italian restaurant in Shiodome, as much for their stylish interiors designed by KDA as for the guaranteed warm welcome, perfectly chilled champagne and innovative take on regional Italian cuisine. Perfect for a touch of romance mixed with modern style.

Blue Note Tokyo is the ideal location for music-loving couples; there’s nothing quite like the combination of smooth jazz, a cozy atmosphere and excellent food. Don’t miss the foie gras confit and consommé soup, an alltime romantic menu favorite. February 14th sees a special performance by Maceo Parker, not to be missed by funk enthusiasts.

“One must eat Italian food with people whom you care about and love. It is only then that the true flavors come to life,” said Antonio Cancemi, owner of Minami Aoyama’s Antonios. What better excuse to indulge in some old-fashioned romance and authentic Italian cuisine in this high-ceilinged fine dining restaurant. Don’t miss the exceptional grilled long-clawed scampi, perfect for any celebration.

Australians and other meat lovers shouldn’t miss the ANA InterContinental Tokyo’s special Valentine’s menu available from February 1-14 at The Steakhouse. The signature “Cupid’s Couple Course” is very reasonably priced and features plates to share, a glass of Chantecaille Rouge, Heart label wine and a five-course meal culminating in a sublime chocolate fondue with fruits, marshmallows, macaroons and strawberries for dipping.

Chez Matsuo

Chateau Restaurant Joël


China Blue

Brasserie Paul Bocuse Musee

Hei Fung Terrace


BiCE Tokyo

Blue Note Tokyo


The Steakhouse