Aug 14, 2017
A trio of Australians are behind Out, a new restaurant in Tokyo serving one kind of truffle pasta and one red wine to a single soundtrack – Led Zeppelin on vinyl. By Sofia Levin
Every winter restaurateur David Mackintosh cooks a seasonal feast for his friends. Handmade tagliatelle was on the menu four years ago, piled high with black truffle and accompanied by a robust nebbiolo. But something clicked in Mackintosh – responsible for Melbourne’s Lee Ho Fook, Ides, SPQR, Rosa’s Kitchen and soon-to-open The Mayfair – when future business partner Tom Crago switched the stereo to Led Zeppelin.
“This vibe settled over the table,” says Mackintosh. “That intense flavour of truffle is a very arousing aroma and with a great glass of wine and – frankly – the world’s greatest rock-and-roll band wailing away in the background, I just thought, ‘Man, other people should experience this.’” Both Mackintosh and Crago agreed that if it were to ever work, it could only work in Tokyo. Alongside writer and restaurant consultant Sarah Crago (Tom’s sister), Out opened on July 1.
Named after Led Zeppelin’s final album, In through the Out Door, Out is on the first floor of a small office building in Ayoama. It’s just 38 square metres and sits 13 people: 10 around a curved timber bar and three more at a table. There are no bookings and no official menu, but there is a vending machine at the entrance where you can order 150 grams of fresh pasta shrouded by truffle shavings and a glass of red wine for ¥4000 (about $45). Diners receive a ticket and take a seat at the bar or the single separate table and await their singular meal. From there you can add extra truffle, extra pasta and another glass or bottle of wine or Pol Roger champagne.
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“It’s a little like a haiku,” says Mackintosh, “There are lots of rules and restrictions, but within it, endless creativity. We can make 100 different shapes of pasta with the machine that we have; so long as there’s truffle and pasta, the world’s a very happy place.”
So far the crowd has been mixed: locals, tourists, people singing along to Kashmir and Stairway to Heaven, truffle virgins and what Mackintosh calls “truffle monsters” – customers who splurge an extra $100 on opulent upgrades. Truffles are sourced worldwide and diners can look forward to the prized white variety from Alba, northern Italy, later this year. Ideas are on the table for when the truffle dry season hits in April; perhaps starring a different luxury ingredient or a pop-up oyster and martini bar.
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“What we’re offering people is this very refined and luxurious ingredient served in a really friendly way. It’s not part of a long dégustation, it’s not part of a three-star Michelin dining experience and it’s not terribly expensive,” says Mackintosh.
“There’s a post-luxury shift that’s happening globally: people are becoming more interested in spending money on an experience that in some way adds to their life, that adds something really special. So when you think about fresh pasta, truffle, a glass of wine and Led Zeppelin in Tokyo, it’s actually just an hour’s experience that becomes a lingering, fun memory of a city that you’ve been to.”
150-0002 Tokyo-to, Shibuya-ku, Shibuya, 2 Chome−7−14, Aoyama