Dinner at レヴォ L’Evo
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New location in the middle of the mountains south of Toyama. A true destination restaurant, it is a hike but worth the journey!
Chef Eiji Taniguchi used to cook in a hyper modern resort south of Toyama. It was easily reachable by taxi, even by bus. However, he decided to loose 15kg of body weight and move deep into the mountains south of Toyama, into the Nanto region. There he rejuvenated an old village which was left 50 years ago when the last inhabitant moved away. He built a main building housing the dining room and the kitchen as well as the storage and drying room and added three cottages where guests can stay overnight and enjoy the Finnish sauna. The old village even has its own shrine, a little bit damaged by 50 years of non maintenance.
The design is very modern, but references the old style common for this part of Japan which has 3 UNESCO world heritage villages, world famous for its reed roofs. The restaurant itself shows its purpose by boasting an open kitchen which is about three times the size of the dining room itself. The dining room only has 3 tables of a maximum of 4 people and two private rooms which also can seat 4 guest each.
His food which he developed in his last place and calls “avant-garde regional cuisine” is now even more refined than it was there. He cooperates with a farmer who grows his vegetables like the asparagus (the first course) and his signature L’Evo Chicken. He sources his seafood from the Toyama bay, one of the best fishing grounds in all of Japan. His boars and bears are hunted nearby, selected by Taniguchi himself, aged in the drying room just below the kitchen, which can be visited.
The 13 course menu contains a few of his signature dishes, but otherwise has completely new dishes which change by the season. His flavors are restraint, almost subtle, but very well calibrated. Two dishes to make a point. The Firefly squid quickly seared over a wood fire and served in their own juices, a small but very delightful dish. The squid is hot on the outside and warm on the inside. When you bite into it, it releases its wonderful juices and creates an enormous taste explosion. The fresh omen noodles in a thick broth made with local goat’s cheese and seasoned with fukinoto (wild butterbur) oil. The goat cheese makes the broth full of umami without making it rich, the fukinoto release a gentle bitterness which balances the richness of the cheese. The noodles are warm, not hot, but perfectly cooked. Exquisite.
The whole places only opened up in December 2020, there is a lot to do. I also think that while the kitchen is already flowing nicely, it will improve. Once Chef Taniguchi goes through all seasons he will push his food further and further.
I cannot wait to go back there.
ps：For those who are lucky enough to score on of the three cottages to stay overnight, the breakfast is served in the dining room and matches the dinner. Bear, boar and local mountain vegetable will give you delight and enough energy for the entire day.