Maison Cache-Cache: Yotsuya 3-chome
!Maison Cache-Cache
Yotsuya 3-chome / French
Shinjuku-ku, Wakaba 2-7, Video Focus Bldg 1F. [from Yotsuya 3-chome walk toward Yotsuya station, turn right at the second light (past UFJ), then go to the bottom of the hill (past Bunka Hoso); about 7 min. total]
Open noon-2, 6-10:30pm (LO). Closed Sundays.
no smoking: No smoking

Maison Cache-Cache has a very local, neighborhood feel to it - hidden away on a back street that you might need a map to find - but it's worth seeking out even if you live across town. The smoke-free dining room is big and comfortable and filled with artistic knickknacks - country casual rather than urban elegant - with light stucco and dark wood trim evocative of a provincial French inn. The cooking is first-rate traditional French cuisine with a light touch, and a serious wine list to go with it.

The menu offers good, budget-conscious prix-fixe dinners for Y3600 and Y5200, but the a la carte side offers better variety and more deluxe options. These include a lavish foie gras risotto appetizer - good-sized hunks of beautifully sauteed foie gras perched on a bed of rice. If you're in the mood for something lighter, the smoked trout salad is highly recommended - with its crisp greens beans, juicy ripe tomatoes and exotic greens this is a fantastic salad before you even get to the smoky trout slices at the bottom. Another outstanding starter is the cold, rich cauliflower terrine (served at lunchtime).

Main dishes are mostly meat-oriented, although there is a fish of the day and a tempting scallop-langoustine fricasse. The grilled lamb chops (served with gnocci in lamb ragu) are especially recommended; the excellent roast chicken (with mushrooms and nicely roasted Brussels sprouts) is another good choice. Other mains include classics like supreme de canard and stuffed pig's foot.

If you've still got room, the dessert tray offers a multitude of options, both warm and cold, including a seven-item assortment for those who just can't decide. The melon soup, with mint and chartreuse liqueur, is our favorite so far. The small but interesting cheese selection is also worthy of consideration. Cache-Cache follows through on the little touches too - we greatly enjoyed the first-rate homemade bread and accompanying pork rillette, the toasted fig and date bread served with the cheese course, and the delicate and numerous sweets served with the coffee.

The wine list is all French, with fair selections of champagnes and white Burgundies. Prices start at around Y4500 and climb from there, with a few decent bottles in the lower ranges. Service is professional and helpful - we were impressed that our waitress had remembered the wine we had ordered on a previous visit two months earlier. Budget around Y7000-10,000 for dinner; Y2310 for the three-course lunch. Cache-Cache also has a sister restaurant, Aladdin, located between Ebisu and Hiroo.

by Bjorn Katz
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