When the original Palace Hotel opened in Tokyo in the 1960s, its fine dining restaurant Crown played an important role in bringing French cuisine to Tokyo. Now, the hotel is ushering in a new era with Ducasse Paris, the renowned restaurant group run by chef Alain Ducasse. The luxury hotel, which relaunched in 2012 after being entirely rebuilt from scratch, recently unveiled a brand new restaurant called Esterre. The name means “mother earth” in the Occitan dialect spoken in Ducasse’s native region of southwest France, and the culinary philosophy is grounded in nature and the local sourcing of ingredients.
Esterre Exterior // Photo by Daisuke Shima
It’s back to terroir at Esterre, showcasing ingredients like grains and vegetables rather than limiting them to side dishes. French culinary techniques are applied to create haute cuisine out of Japan’s best seasonal ingredients, whether it’s line-caught fish provided by independent fishermen, wagyu beef from Tochigi and produce from small, eco-friendly farms (think avocados from Wakayama and mikan mandarins from Ehime).
Blue Lobster with Cabbage and Mikan
The Chef de Cuisine is Martin Pitarque, previously sous chef at Michelin-starred Alain Ducasse at The Dorchester, while the chef pâtissier is Thomas Moulin, formerly pastry chef at Rech by Alain Ducasse in Hong Kong. In addition to the restaurant menus, this culinary duo will also design the popular afternoon tea at Lounge Bar Privé. In recent years, French patisserie has reached fashionable new heights in Paris, and Moulin taps into the trends.
Esterre was designed by the Simplicity design studio, founded by interior designer Shinichiro Ogata. Nature was the inspiration in creating an elegant space decorated with natural, tactile materials like washi (traditional Japanese paper).