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Like many big cities, Tokyo has a lot of different personalities on show in its various neighbourhoods. On our last night in this amazing city for this trip, we headed out to Nishi Azabu, not far from Roppongi and pulled up some seats at Les Vinum.

This is part restaurant, part wine bar. Indeed its own description is ‘world wine and charcoal grill’. We’d been warned that it was tiny – eight counter seats, 20 table settings and one spot for four people on the terrace, which would have been very, very pleasant on this balmy late spring night. We were happy to secure one of the counter seats and had a birds’ eye view of the kitchen – and the grill, which was directly in front of us, separated by a rather strong piece of clear glass.

Independent travel in Japan, even if you don’t have language skills, is still very possible. More restaurants seem to be offering English translations on their websites and this one includes very helpful and detailed directions from the local subway station, Hiroo. Note to my fellow Australians: this is not pronounced ‘Hir-oooh’. The ‘o’ is a short sound, repeated quickly twice – ‘Hir-o-o’.

Nishi Azabu seems relatively quiet, even on a Friday night. Traffic aside, there’s not exactly any hustle and bustle as you walk. The area is noted for being home to a lot of foreign embassies and that probably speaks to why Les Vinum thrives with its menu of European classics and excellent wines.

Having feasted on a range of Japanese delights earlier in the day, especially an amazing traditional breakfast at Flatt’s, followed by some incredible noodles and tempura in the Noto Peninsula town of Nanao, we were in the mood for just a few snack plates and a nice glass of red. While the wine list doesn’t feature them, there are a number of varieties available by the glass. We were shown three reds – two French and a Henschke Keyneton Euphonium from the Barossa.

Figuring we were too far from home to contemplate drinking South Australian wine, we opted to try the other two – Greedy Girl chose a blend, the 2014 Domaine des Espiers Cotes du Rhone while gluttonous husband took the Cote de Nuits-Villages Le Vaucrain 2009 – a pinot noir. Greedy Girl was quite happy with her selection until she sampled the other glass which was like red nectar. Sigh.

We ordered just a few plates and then were treated to a delicious little cup of gazpacho as an amuse bouche. Intense in colour and flavour, it was a delight.

Restaurant reviews Les Vinum Tokyo

Our amuse bouche – gazpacho

First up of our main plates was an assortment of salami, served with a few pieces of crusty bread and some very tangy cornichons. All the meats were quite superb, with varying degrees of texture and spice. An excellent mix.

Restaurant reviews Les Vinum Tokyo

Salami platter

That was followed by a dish Greedy Girl was initially surprised to find was cold – white asparagus with truffle sauce. She referred back to the menu and there it was – listed under cold appetisers. D’Oh! Ne’er mind. We watched, spellbound, as a rather large white truffle was produced in the kitchen and shaved liberally over the top. Now Greedy Girl is prepared to be run out of town as a heretic but she actually much prefers the flavour of black truffles, being very aware of how prized the white ones are. Having said all that, the dish was very pleasant and the plate was still mopped clean. White asparagus, being quite thick, is much more easily split lengthwise than to cut off chunks, so a surgical slice down the middle was in order.

Restaurant reviews Les Vinum Tokyo

White asparagus and truffles

Next up was a plate we both wish we could eat time and again. Economically described as a ‘cheese omelette’, this was the lightest, softest, tastiest omelette we’ve ever experienced. Topped with a decadent bechamel sauce, cracked black pepper and a sprinkling of parsley … OMG. It’s a wonder Greedy Girl and gluttonous husband don’t come to blows at times when they’re sharing plates. If you’re in Tokyo and hankering for an omelette, don’t walk to Les Vinum – run.

Restaurant reviews Les Vinum Tokyo

Cheese omelette

Just one more dish was to come – a hot appetiser described as a grilled mushroom and foie gras dumpling. It was too intriguing a prospect to pass up. Two large mushroom caps were used to sandwich a wedge of foie gras. The dish sat in a pool of a quite garlicky sauce. It wasn’t what we expected given the description but it was perfectly edible. Greedy Girl wouldn’t have said the foie gras was of the highest grade but all the flavours combined well and, of course, nothing was left.

Restaurant reviews Les Vinum Tokyo

Grilled mushroom and foie gras dumpling

And we were done. A perfect amount of food (although we were sorely tempted to have more wine), in a very pleasant environment with friendly and obliging service. The waiters had just enough English to make it extremely comfortable for us. It’s helpful to learn a few words of Japanese – one you’ll use often here is oishii – delicious!

If you’re in Japan for a prolonged period and looking for a comfort fix of western food, it’s hard to go wrong with Les Vinum. The prices are very reasonable (for Tokyo) and it’s a great neighbourhood spot that also has the advantage (if you’re so inclined) of being non-smoking.

It’s not the sort of restaurant you’re likely to find reviews for or on TripAdvisor but it’s very worth seeking out.

The Foodie World star rating


Les Vinum

4-8-5 1F Nishi-Azabu, Minato-ku, Tokyo

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