Hakushima’s French star, Mille, is unpretentious fine dining at its best. Located on a side-street in the sleepy, quiet suburb of Hakushima- not far from Hiroshima castle, an old Japanese house has been renovated into a high quality French restaurant. The chef-owner had been running Mille in the Asa-minami-ku area, and moved to this location almost 2 years ago.
Luck followed the move as they were positively reviewed by the anonymous Michelin guide diners and ranked a full star in Hiroshima’s first Michelin guide book published in May, 2013. This now puts Mille at the top of quality French cuisine rankings in Hiroshima city. The chef came out to chat with us in English at the end of our meal. He said he had done his training in Paris, and then worked in Sydney before opening his own shop in Hakushima.
When I made the booking for lunch, a month in advance, I felt a bit nervous as I expected a newly Michelin starred French restaurant might be overly proper, even stuffy. And would I know how to use the proper cutlery, do I make noise while eating soup or not- jeez I can never remember. However, it wasn’t necessary to fret, the atmosphere was very comfortable and welcoming from the moment we walked in.
Our table of 4 was one of the five tables at the lunchtime seating. We were sat in the dining room which was adjacent to a semi-open kitchen. While we ate, none of the tables turned over, it seemed like there was only one seating per mealtime. This was great as we were not at all pressured to eat quickly or move on. Two of the tables were celebrating birthdays, but there was no singing or clapping as you might find in other places. Very quietly, a decorated dessert or cake with candles would appear and the couple would quietly appreciate it and start eating, a very civilized celebration.
The first course was supposed to be a pork and vegetable Terrine, the pig was on a diet rich in Kinako to make the meat tender. Kinako, roasted soybean flour, is a slightly sweet, beige powder often used on Mochi rice cakes. For non-meat eaters, the dish was a marinated sardine that was battered and fried. For the next course, a crispy, savory risotto and smoked eel. This was simply delightful. Next came a beautiful bowl of carrot & cumin soup, it was so light and full of flavor without being overly sweet.
The main dish was a choice of either meat (beef) or fish, we chose fish and were presented with an artistic offering of Hiroshima seabream with crispy skin garnished with local steamed vegetables in a green pea sauce and savory foam. It was wonderful, and like every dish seemed effortlessly balanced in spice and cooked perfectly. The dessert was in a delicate glass filled with coconut cream, mango and crushed mint-ice topping. What a perfect summer dessert.
Lunch sets run from ¥2,700~¥5,400. We enjoyed the basic set, but if you have the budget for the chef set, I am sure he will bedazzle you with an even more amazing selection of dishes. Dinner sets: ¥5,400~¥12,600. Wine by the glass is ¥700, bottle for ¥3,800.
No English menu, but it is easy to simply book your course by price and leave it up to the chef – as long as you don’t have any special requests. As we found out, the chef can speak a bit of English, although the wait staff speak only Japanese, ordering glasses of wine or drinks shouldn’t be a problem. Bookings for larger groups in the evening, may require an added booking charge. Late cancellation fees apply.
- Lunch: 11:30-13:30
- Dinner: 18:00- 20:00
Address: 12-16 Hakushima-cho, Naka-ku, Hiroshima-shi
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