9325.33 kilometres. That’s the distance between Kutchan and Nice, France, but step out of the snow and into this cute little 12 seat bistro and you could be in either. French wall hangings, water served out of Ricard bottles, beautifully hand written menus and food that’s timelessly classic and yet at the same time Japanese modern. It’s all thanks to former auto mechanic, Kazuhiko who decided one day it wasn't quite for him, put down his wrench, picked up a knife and hasn't looked back since. Working extensively in Tokyo he also travelled to Nice where despite being unable to speak English he was taught a lot of the classic skills he now so deftly wields.
We first wandered in for lunch which is an amazing value ¥900 for the pasta set or ¥1000 for the main set. Both come with a starter, bread and tea or coffee. We started off with a generous slice of pork terrine with nicely dressed and seasoned mixed leaf. We then moved on to the pasta (which changes daily depending on ingredients and whim) today’s was a fantastic spaghetti with braised lamb ragu, a rich tomato lamb sauce clinging to the perfectly cooked pasta, very hard to share. We then shifted our attention to the main from the other set a very clever tongue in cheek dish of braised pork cheek and tongue.
The cheek just falling apart at the approach of our fork and the tongues offaly flavour cooked away, with the addition of a few textbook turned vegatables this was a superb, witty dish. After such a great meal we want just a smidgen of something sweet to round it off, asking about dessert we are rewarded with a blancmange with champagne sauce, wow, again the classic style shows in a perfectly cooked and set pudding sweetened just so with the sauce. All this and a couple of drinks for under 4000 yen for two people, amazing. So amazing in fact we returned for dinner that very night only to find the place full (with only twelve seats we shouldn't have been surprised).
Another night we shall return we said, and have many times… Dinner is a mere ¥2800 for 3 courses. Recently we’ve had pate; rich, smooth and creamy with a rich prune jelly and pickled local veg. Fromage de tete - pigs head terrine, rustic and full of flavour. Pan roasted organic pork, sweet and juicy and slow braised beef cheeks with a rich red wine sauce. The desserts make you want to visit just for them.. Banana frangipane tart, dense rich chocolate cake, wild mountain grape tart and a wildly flavoursome lavender and honey ice-cream.
With food this good, and polished serviced delivered by Kazuhiko’s wife, Tomoko is there any wonder we can’t keep away?
Have we mentioned that there’s only 12 seats? You need to book early!
Bistrot le Cochon, closed Tuesdays
1-9, nishi 1 cyo-me, kita 3jyo
Ph: 050 3549 0034
Mob: 080 5494 0966