Sakaeya
Takadanobaba: Izakaya
Sakaeya (Takadanobaba: Izakaya)
Sakaeya
Open 5pm-11:30pm (LO; -12:30am Fri, Sat) daily.
Sun: Open Sundays

Located in the middle of Takadanobaba's bustling "izakaya alley," Sakaeya is by far the fanciest drinking spot in this budget-conscious, student-filled neighborhood. It delivers excellent value for money, serving top-quality charcoal-grilled meats, creative seasonal dishes and decent sake for a very reasonable budget of around Y4000 per person.

Pretty much everything on the menu that we tried was outstanding, but if we had to pick one "don't miss" dish it would probably be the charcoal-grilled beef topped with toasted garlic - tender, amazingly flavorful, and definitely a bargain at just Y500 a plate. The grilled chicken dishes (made with heirloom-breed birds from Miyazaki) are also quite extraordinary, with the crisp-skinned wings and the richly flavored shiro-reba ("white liver") particularly memorable.

Even a simple dish like our starter salad was inspired - chopped cucumbers, tart ume paste, chunks of cabbage and sesame salt, all perfectly fresh and perfectly balanced. And our grilled asparagus and shiitake mushrooms were a revelation - top-grade specimens that were much finer than anything we've seen in our local supermarket.

The sake selection is reliably good - certainly above average, although this isn't a sake specialty shop. Service is friendly and competent, and the counter seating is comfortable; they also have private rooms upstairs, and can accommodate large parties.

Takadanobaba
Shinjuku-ku, Takadanobaba 3-4-16, Dai-ni Futaba Bldg 1-2F.
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Charcoal-grilled pork on skewers, udon noodles in curry-flavored soup, octopus dumplings, deep-fried beef cutlet -- there's a whole world of exciting food in Tokyo that food-loving visitors often miss out on.

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Venue listing from Bento.com5 Star Rating: highly recommended