Although we'd heard some positive whispers about Fujiya1935, nobody we know in Tokyo had actually been there, so we really didn't know what to expect. In other words, it was a stab in the dark (apologies, but that's the way Osaka often looks from the lofty distance of the eastern capital). An adventure.
So our appetite was well whetted with great anticipation as we entered...
From the ground floor reception area — still laden with flowers celebrating the annointment of the 3rd Michelin star — you look into the small, bright, pristine-clean kitchen area as you are shown upstairs. Chef Tetsuya Fujiwara and his wife work together here, occasionally emerging to help their friendly serving staff.
The dining area (no photos, sorry) is split into two separate rooms, has a modern Scandanavian feel, with birch wood beams and virtually no decoration. We had booked online, and hadn't specified which menu we wanted. So there was an element of surprise there too. Fortunately, we were given the upper of the two lunch menu options (¥6,500). This is what it comprised...
The first appetizers: "Snack of chestnut; a bite-size truffe".
The snack of chestnut was a crisp, savory (but slightly sweetened) cookie, incorporating plenty of fresh chestnut puree...
The bite-size "truffle" was a delightful trompe l'oeuil, wonderfully presented in a black lacquerware box, laid on a bed of cacao nut shavings. Beautiful. And yes, they weren't whole truffles — though they were of course deeply imbued with that wonderful aroma.
The truffle theme continued in the second appetizer plate. "Bread of truffe a lot of bubbles" was the menu description. An alternative name might well have been "chou a la creme aux truffes". Sandwiched inside the "bread" — which was indeed full of sponge-like cavities — was a gorgeous truffle-infused cream.
Next up: "slow-roast foie gras". A morsel of smoked foie gras, presented on a large handsome platter, with a fragrant sauce poured over it. The foie was not in the least bit gras, just super-concentrated in flavour, perfectly complemented by the slivers of ginger root (raw but blanched, with only a mild heat)...
To follow: "turnip". It sounds simple; it was anything but. A quarter of delicate kabura, lightly seared on its inner surfaces; served with fine, translucent slivers of a different variety of turnip...
The bread is served warm in a hand-made wooden box, with the butter tray, side plates and butter knives also made of wood — the same fine-grained keyaki (zelkova).
At the bottom of the bread box there was a very hot slab of slate, to keep the bread rolls warm throughout the meal. They're not baked in-house, but custom-made each day by Le Sucré Coeur one of Osaka's premier boulangeries. The butter was scattered with shreds of roasted onion.
"Fish is Kinmedai, Chikurinu."
A perfectly cooked fillet of alphonsino, crisped skin, soft flesh; garlicky swooshes; chicory-sharp leaves; floral accents for extra color.
The pasta course: "Wild boar, hand made pasta; big black pepper". Delicate hand-made pasta, described to us as "somen" but only to convey the fineness of the gauge. The wild-boar ragu was outstanding: the meat was cooked down in freshly squeezed carrot juice. And there was a delightful sense of playfulness in the black "peppercorns" that were scattered over the top.
Surely we can't eat those peppers whole like that, we asked. Just try it and see, was the answer from Madame Fujiwara as she served it. And of course, they aren't what they seem: they turned out to be crumbly balls of black olive tapenade with just a hint of pepper spiciness. This was outstanding.
The last main course: "Cow cheek meat, Red sauce". That description sums it up perfectly. Plenty of beetroot in that vivid sauce. And garnished with dried raspberries and tiny amaranth leaves.
A work of art. Delectable.
Desssert: "pudding of a chestnut, Jelly of coffee and rum". Again beautifully presented...
Coffee jelly is a popular old-style dessert, often served in traditional kisaten coffee shops. This was the best I've ever tried — the strong coffee flavor only lightly sweetened, and with plenty of booze to add a deep counternote.
The box — made of kiri (paulownia) wood — contained whole chestnuts from Okayama, simply dry-roasted ("iburi " in Japanese) and peeled, sweet, mealy, and tasting wonderfully of autumn, laid on a bed of chestnut shells.
The final dessert, to go with our tea: "cold souffle of white chocolate" on a thin layer of thick citrus sauce, and sitting on a bed of crunchy chocolate "dirt".
One of the best meals of the year, and most definitely worth the shinkansen journey. Next time, though, we're planning to go there for dinner.
Big thanks to Chef Tetsuya Fujiwara and his wife and team!
There's plenty of information in English on the Fujiya1935 website.
PS: There was some enigmatic prose inscribed on the back of our menus. Feel free to interpret it any way you like:
It begins from a mountain in autumn. It turns to laying eggs or hibernation.
It moves about in search of food. The body is attached firmly.
We eat he power which burns.