CHECK OTHER REVIEWS FOR THIS PLACE:
Table Fine: A Mediterranean Fine Dining Spot in Keserwan
La Table Fine: Mediterranean Cuisine at its Finest
The Night Before Valentine's at La Table Fine Restaurant
Table Fine Jounieh: Mediterranean with Style
Jap: Excellent Japanese Food (Restaurant Closed)
Dinner at La Table Fine: Tagliatelle and Chocolate Ball
On my last visit to La Table Fine, Jounieh, I met a Japanese chef, Masato Okamoto, who had just landed in Lebanon, straight from Japan, and was preparing to open a new Asian fine diner: A one-of-a-kind restaurant, serving fine dishes straight from the land of the samurai.
This time, six days after the soft opening, I was there to meet chef Masato again and taste his fine delicacies.
Table Fine restaurant is set in an old renovated Lebanese house, where turquoise and Oriental patterns are harmoniously married. Full height French windows offer a panoramic view over the Mediterranean Sea, and give guests the opportunity to dine al fresco.
Up on the roof of La Table Fine, or the U-Bay complex of restaurants, is The Roof, a lounge area offering a selection of drinks, high-end, imported sake and sushi, served the Japanese way.
Good to know: "The Japanese restaurant will officially open in December on the first floor. Meanwhile, the chef and his team are warming up before the big day."
Take the elevator to the second floor where you will be welcomed into a square space divided into two levels. In the middle is the bar, lit with blue, indirect light. Every seat in The Roof has a breathtaking view of Jounieh Bay, starting at the ATCL and ending at the Aqua Marina, and overseen by Our Lady of Lebanon.
The place's little details:
- Enter the square space where indirect blue lighting paints the walls and corners
- A clean and clear music plays in background. Though it’s a little loud, it allows you to hear each other
- An exceptional, breathtaking view of the bay relaxes all your senses
- The overall space has a white touch of simplicity: A white floor, white walls, and a white bar, for a guaranteed, luxurious experience.
- On both sides of the restaurant, two covered areas block nature’s elements, while some decorative curtains add some warm touches
- White wooden tables fill the space and are surrounded by white designer chairs
- In the middle area is the bar, a square bar surrounded by high stools for a drink and a chit-chat
This is a great place for drinks, so we started with a bottle of sake, a signature sake called Shira Junmai with a savory, dry and creamy character. UBay’s lounge has a wide selection of sake bottles which will make you change your preconceptions about the drink, the selection of bottles is impressive and reaches $400 and above.
- Sashimi and cold dishes
- Warm dishes
- Tartar dishes
- Vegetables and salads
A fine dining experience:
- Dinner started with edamame, served warm and al dente. They are as good as you’d expect them to be, topped with salt. LBP10,000.
- Thinly sliced local Hamachi served with sea salt, green chili, yuzu juice and soy sauce. Hamachi is a local fish also known as “jaro”. A simple plate yet strongly bodied, fresh and enjoyable. The lemon aftertaste stays around your palate for a long time. LBP28,000
- Scottish salmon seared sashimi, served with chives, julienne cut ginger and sesame ponzu sauce. At first it may look a little soaked in sauce until you take the first bite. A tender salmon, soft like labneh, alongside a lemony and enjoyable sauce. LBP22,000.
- Torched Kobe beef Tataki. Beautifully marinated, thinly sliced Kobe beef seared at your tableside. Tataki Kobe beef with ponzu sauce and reduction of vinaigrette. Ouf! I've never seen such a marbling in Lebanon. Lively torched, prepare yourself for the ultimate experience when the fires get going. I’ve rarely had a meat that’s so tender and so soft. I loved the torching ritual, as you really have the time to appreciate and contemplate the marbling of the meat before it’s cooked. Top! LBP38,000.
- Oyster on a half shell served with scallions, mild red chili and ponzu sauce. LBP12,000/piece. Just so you know how good they are, I had all six pieces to by myself. A large platter of crushed ice, toped with those beautifully decorated oyster shells. Exquisite to say the least.
- Pan-fried gyoza dumplings. Filled with shrimp and served with spicy sesame ponzu LBP25,000.
- Steamed Shumai. Shrimp dumplings with mustard soy sauce LBP25,000. If you’re not into raw food, this one is for you.
- Sweet miso deeply marinated boiled Alaskan black cod fish LBP55,000. The Zuma way, if I might say. I would have imagined it differently. It should be wrapped in a banana leaf to preserve its heat and maybe have more sauce to add flavor and eliminate dryness.
- U Bay roll. A classic California roll made with local blue crab and cucumber, with avocado and red crunchy bits atop. LBP22,000. This one is exquisite. Yes, local crab from our shores in some redesigned California rolls. I loved their freshness, their texture, their taste and surely the perfectly cooked rice.
- Spicy crunchy shrimp salad. Fresh Atlantic pink shrimp, red crunchy bits with sweet and spicy sesame aioli LBP32,000. I’ve had salads and I’ve had shrimp, but never something like this. Big pieces of crunchy shrimp mixed in a crispy salad, blending premium flavors and aromas. Two thumbs up chef!
- Bonfire roll. BBQ’d fresh water eel, avocado and asparagus roll served in a bonfire plate. LBP22,000. This plate is a ritual all by itself. The plate is fired with vodka in front of you, giving the inner rolls a smoky flavor. A must try.
The best of all, the main plus tonight, were the crisps. You know those tempura crisps we call “crispy”. For the first time ever, I saw red crisps. They’re marinated in beetroot, giving them a red color and a more enjoyable taste. Look for them.
- The place is styled like a lounge and not a restaurant. The chairs are too high for the tables, making it a bit unpleasant to eat. I am sure that the restaurant down on the first floor is going to be a piece of art.
Now for the desserts. Since The Roof doesn’t offer desserts, I asked for some from below. When we arrived, we met a chef standing at the bar. Chef Maroun is the pastry master and believe me, he is an artist. The chocolate surprise ball is exquisite, the pain perdu, or if I may call it “The Baba Retrouve”, is a fine French toast with a baba au rhum flavor. The ice cream cup with strawberry and biscuit crumble is mouthwatering. As for the mille feuille: A fine piece of art on a plate. Dozen of layers filled with pastry cream and whipped cream, offering freshness, crunchiness and flavor.
Tonight’s experience was unique. Good service, great food, awesome desserts and a reasonable price for such a fine dining experience. An average of $90 for all of the above is good.
I’m not sure if you still have time to try it before summer ends, but stay tuned, as the Japanese restaurant will be open in December.