August 12th. It had been a very strange day – a day worth remembering, not least because it was my 32nd birthday. It began with alcohol shopping at 7.30am, resulting in a bizarre encounter with the police, followed by organising and filming a sake cocktail competition at a sake brewery, followed by a crazy lightning storm stopping all the trains home. I didn’t think I’d bother going out for dinner by this point, but a little voice said to me that it’d be quite sad if I didn’t. 32 years old and sitting home alone would be tragic and, exhausted though I was, I just didn’t have the energy to carry my self-pity that far.
Fortunately, I have excellent friends and one had anticipated, more than myself, that I might actually want to do something. He quickly booked us dinner at Out, a restaurant he’d suggested taking me to ages ago.
The concept of Out is quirky to say the least. It’s something that perhaps could only work in Tokyo, so I was told on the night, and so I very much believe. The menu – priced at 4000 yen – consists of 150g of fresh pasta with 5g of truffle, and a glass of red wine. Guests around the counter are bathed in purple light while a record player spins Led Zeppelin and Led Zeppelin only.
The concept apparently came about from a dinner party involving – you guessed it – a lot of truffle pasta and a lot of wine. There was a moment when Led Zeppelin was played, and a perfect moment was born… a moment that three friends aimed to encapsulate and serve to others: Melbourne restaurateur David Mackintosh, entrepreneur Tom Crago and Tokyo based gastronomic consultant Sarah Crago,. The website describes it as ” the coming together of a shared affinity for fine food, wine and ambience. All in one mouthful” and that image truly does deserve a bit of savouring.
Once seated, I quickly realised I knew nothing about Led Zeppelin’s music – save for Whole Lotta Love and Stairway To Heaven, neither of which deigned to put in an appearance . But I didn’t care because I quickly found a glass of champagne and some cheese-stuffed shiitake in front of me. Appetite whetted, I sneakily eyed up a couple tucking into a mountain of fresh pasta. An actual mountain. It was as big as their heads – or bigger.
A few queries, and I confirmed that yes, they had upped the portion to 300g and I realised I must fo the same. Sarah, the chef, warned us that 300g of fresh pasta is equivalent to about 600g when cooked. But I was determined and before long, I was ogling my own carb mountain, shimmering with melted butter. I began my hike and immediately realised this was more than a flavour stroll but a texture adventure: with just fresh fettuccine, truffle, butter and a dusting of parmesan, the dish is simply, relying on the slatiness, the gentle eaty umami of the truffle and the springy and tongue-teasing smoothness of the pasta. Admittedly, 150g was probably enough, not just because of the portion-size but because it did get a teeny bit repetitive. Fortunately, we took it slowly alongside our glass of red.
For the maximum experience, we ordered “Truffle Truffles” – yes, those are truffle chocolate truffles – with truffle ice-cream and a roasted almond flavour, which was like pure almond butter in ice-cream form. I would like to tell you more details but I believe much wine was consumed. I’ve just referred to my notes on my phone to merely find some incomplete garbled sentences and the very helpful line: “A slot machine of adjectives spinning by.” I am sort of proud of that, and also face-palming at the same time. I best leave you to make your own conclusions.
I left with a full belly and a full smile, and promptly passed out on my friend’s sofa. I am 32 and I clearly don’t do late nights anymore.
Opening hours: Wed – Sat 18:00 – 22:00, brunch on Sundays (as of Sep. 6th, please check)