Akabanebashi: Steak house
Phone: 03-4588-0675
Open 6-10pm. Closed Sundays.
decor: Notable decor
no smoking: No smoking

Decanter is an international steakhouse with a distinctly modern sensibility. Chef David Ueno's menu is smart and engaging, with entertaining appetizers and first-rate steaks and chops. The gorgeous setting feels more like a stylish lounge or club than a tradtional stuffy dining room - there's sophisticated lighting, cool music on a professional sound system, and a very impressive city view.

The foie gras bonbons are the first sign that this isn't your dad's steakhouse. Basically they're pieces of foie gras dipped in various types of chocolate and served with dabs of rhubarb culis and artisanal salt - an inspired mix of flavors and textures. Another nice surprise is the bone-marrow flan, served in the bone with an outstanding oxtail marmalade.

Beets and goat cheese are always a pleasing combination, and Chef Ueno's version is a well-balanced construction of heirloom beets, seasonal greens, hazelnuts and a goat-cheese brulee. That old steakhouse standby, shrimp cocktail, is supersized here in the form of the "Raw Bar for 2 On Ice," a sumptuous collection of market-fresh lobster tails, snow crab, scallops crudo and king shrimp.

Decanter's beef is all sourced from the US and New Zealand. The US steaks are Certified Angus Beef (a rather exclusive designation), grain-fed and wet-aged for a more intense flavor, while the New Zealand beef is 100% grass-fed wagyu from Hawkes Bay. Both are excellent, each with its own special character. Steaks are served with bone-marrow butter and a lovely salsa verde, and they also come with assorted side dishes, unlike many steakhouses where you have to order everything a la carte.

Other mains include a delectable Berkshire pork belly, lamb chops, beef short ribs, grilled Iwate baby chicken, some seafood dishes and a seasonal vegetarian option. There's no dessert menu, just a plate of a few light items that Pastry Chef Daisuke Yuki feels inspired to prepare that day - ours included a deconstructed tiramisu.

The wine program at Decanter is perhaps one of the restaurant's most impressive features. The cellar stands ready with some ten thousand bottles, ranging in price from Y4,000 to Y500,000. It's one of the best selections in Tokyo, especially strong in vertical offerings from the same producer.

Rather than a phonebook-sized wine list, you're presented with a customized tablet computer when you arrive at your table. This is your menu (for food as well as wine), and you can browse by grape or region, or search the full collection by winery. The bar also mixes original cocktails and pours a nice US microbrew from Ballast Point in San Diego.

In addition to the main dining room there's a separate bar space, an outdoor terrace lounge area, various private dining spaces, and a Chef's Table located inside the kitchen. Budget around Y8,000-16,000 per person before drinks; there are also prix-fixe menus ranging from Y11,000-22,000. Patrons must be twenty or older.

by Robb Satterwhite
Venue location
Azabudai 2-1-2.