Ever had a favourite restaurant that, despite serving consistently great food, couldn’t survive?
In 2001, my wife and I tried a new restaurant in Sydney called Restaurant VII. We were very excited to go—the two young Japanese chefs, Harunobu Inukai and Noriyuki Sugie, we were told, had been trained by Robuchon (Haru), and Trotter and Tetsuya (Nori). That weekend had already been pretty indulgent. We had dined at Tetsuya already, as well as at the always fabulous Buon Ricordo (whose Truffled Egg Pasta deserves a whole blog onto itself).
VII was a real treat. The food was fantastic, more French than Tetsuya and equally inventive. We also got to spend some time chatting with Haru and Nori, who we also saw when they came to Singapore the following year to cook in the World Gourmet Summit.
Sadly, only two years after opening, and despite consistently rave reviews from all the critics, VII closed its doors in 2003. In memoriam, pictured below is one of my favourite dishes, Haru and Nori’s egg cocotte, served chilled and topped with gold leaf (it’s also one of my favourite food photos—that is, that I have taken).
Fortunately, both Haru and Nori have gone on to good positions. Haru is executive chef at Galileo in the Observatory Hotel in Sydney. Nori, more famously, helms the much talked-about Asiate in the Mandarin Oriental in New York City. It’s nice to know, even though VII is closed, these two are still whipping up great things, albeit in separate kitchens.