This simply named shop sells freshly made Vietnamese banh mi sandwiches in several enticing varieties, including roast pork (our current favorite), grilled chicken with honey and lemongrass, ham and liver paste, shrimp avocado, and vegetable-cheese, all served on fresh-baked bread with crunchy, not-too-sour pickled vegetables. This simply named shop sells freshly made Vietnamese banh mi sandwiches in several enticing varieties, including roast pork (our current favorite), grilled chicken with honey and lemongrass, ham and liver paste, shrimp avocado, and vegetable-cheese, all served on fresh-baked bread with crunchy, not-too-sour pickled vegetables.
Sandwiches are Y500, and you can spring for extra coriander, liver paste, etc. for a little more. They also sell fresh-baked rolls in various flavors for Y130. There's a tiny open-air seating area out front, but most customers are here for take-out. [Show more] [Show less]
Takadanobaba 4-9-18. Open 11am-7pm (Sat -6pm). Closed Sundays, Mondays.
Good, modern Vietnamese cooking from the "Iron Chef" who founded the Queen Alice chain. Their basket of assorted spring rolls is especially recommended. Budget around Y3000 at dinnertime. During the afternoon you can stop in for Vietnamese desserts or a late lunch.
Nishi-Shinjuku 1-1-5, Shinjuku Lumine 1, 6F. Open 11am-10:30pm (LO) daily.
These days you can find pho in many a hip Japanese cafe, but you have to venture further out of your way for good, authentic bahn xeo, those wafer-thin, crepe-like pancakes that are the eponymous specialty here. The banh xeo at Banh Xeo Saigon come in several enticing varieties - shrimp and pork (the standard at most places); mixed seafood; four-mushroom; sakura shrimp; cabbage and pork with mayonnaise; and spicy potato, bacon and cheese. Each order comes with a bowl full of foliage - romaine lettuce, mint leaves, various greens - in which to wrap your crepe. These days you can find pho in many a hip Japanese cafe, but you have to venture further out of your way for good, authentic bahn xeo, those wafer-thin, crepe-like pancakes that are the eponymous specialty here. The banh xeo at Banh Xeo Saigon come in several enticing varieties - shrimp and pork (the standard at most places); mixed seafood; four-mushroom; sakura shrimp; cabbage and pork with mayonnaise; and spicy potato, bacon and cheese. Each order comes with a bowl full of foliage - romaine lettuce, mint leaves, various greens - in which to wrap your crepe.
Lunchtime combination sets with pho or spring rolls are quite reasonable, and you can top things off with a very sweet Vietnamese iced coffee with condensed milk if your afternoon needs an extra boost. If you want to explore the a la carte menu at dinnertime the enthusiastically spiced yellow and green curries are well worth a try. The special Vietnam beefsteak, on the other hand, with its Chinese-inspired seasonings and accompanying thick-cut fries, might be a more of an acquired taste. Budget around Y1000 for lunch (served until fairly late in the afternoon) or Y3000 for dinner with a couple of drinks. [Show more] [Show less]
Nishi-Shinjuku 1-1-3, Odakyu Shinjuku My Lord 9F. Open 11am-10:30pm (LO) daily.
Good, basic Vietnamese fare in the basement of an old office building. The lunch menu, served until 5pm, is pretty good for the price, with five lunch sets averaging around Y1000. Budget around Y4000 in the evening.
Minami-Aoyama 5-7-17, Ohara Kaikan B1F. Open 11am-11pm. Closed Sundays.
Simple, down-home Vietnamese food prepared extremely well. Their deep-fried ichiba harumaki (market spring rolls) are crunchy and flavorful; other highlights are fried tofu stuffed with beef and an excellent pho noodle soup, listed on the menu as gyuniku udon. They serve 333 and Saigon beers, but don't miss trying a bottle of the eye-opening Chang beer from Thailand. The final bill comes in at a very modest Y2,000-Y2,500 per person.
Yotsuya 3-11. (on the north side of Shinjuku-dori, one block west of the Yotsuya 3-chome station, just past the koban) Open 11am-3, 5-11pm. Closed Sundays.
A gem of a restaurant, with authentic food and good prices. There's also a good stock of Vietnamese beer and French wines. The shop is run by a Vietnamese family, and the chef used to teach Vietnamese cooking in Tokyo.
Tamagawa 3-5-7, Kurokawa Bldg. 3F. Open 5-10:30pm. Closed Mondays.
The second branch of this popular ethnic restaurant, located just above Higashi-Ikebukuro station, serves up Malay and Malay-Chinese dishes at very reasonable prices. Some specialties include their satay skewers, chicken rice, nasi goreng and Chinese braised pork. Open all afternoon on Sundays.
Higashi-Ikebukuro 4-6-12. Open 11am-2:15, 5-10:15 (LO) daily.
You can sample a wide selection of authentic Malaysian, Chinese-Malay and Singaporean dishes, including Chinese steamboat (a Hainanese version of shabu-shabu with lots of different seafood and meats). Seating is at small noodle-shop tables, but the decor is pleasant and modern. Budget around Y3500 at dinnertime.
Ginza 5-8-13, Ginza Five Star Bldg 8F. Open 11am-2:30, 5-10pm (LO) daily.
Inexpensive Chinese-Singaporean cuisine in a brightly lit noodle-shop setting. Dumplings seem to be the specialty here, with especially good sui-gyoza. Interesting original dishes include a flavorful and crunchy Singapore lemon chicken and fantastic ebi-yuba harumaki (shrimp and tofu-skin spring rolls). And the Coca-cola-stewed chicken has its own special charm.
Takadanobaba 2-14-16. Open 11:30am-2, 5-11pm. Closed Sundays.
Singapore-style chicken and rice is the specialty here, either steamed or deep-fried with a crispy skin (Y850-900). Other options include Bak Kut Teh (pork spareribs in soup) and Malaysian-style chicken sate on skewers.
Jingumae 1-15-4, Barbazon #76, 1F-B. Open 11:30am-2:30, 6-10pm (LO) daily.
Singaporean-style Hokkien Mee seafood noodles are the specialty here; Y990 to eat in, or Y800 to take out, but the wide-ranging menu includes many other dishes, including daikon radish cakes (called "carrot cake" in Japanese for some reason), oyster cakes, laksa soup noodles and fried prawn balls. Beers are Y300 during happy hour, and Spanish wines are Y2000 per bottle all the time; there's also a big selection of non-alcoholic fruit-juice cocktails.
Jingumae 4-29-9, Square Jingumae Bldg 1F. Open noon-11pm (LO) daily.
A "hawker-style SE Asian canteen" in a pretty cafe setting; they specialize in very authentic Singapore-style Hainanese Chicken Rice (steamed chicken served with jasmine rice and various sauces). They also have a good selection of curries and seafood stir-fries. [See FULL REVIEW.]
Roppongi 6-11-16. Open 11:30am-1:30, 6-10pm (LO). Closed 3rd Monday.
A comfortable smoke-free cafe that serves good Singapore-style chicken rice, although unfortunately they only serve it with fragrant jasmine rice on the 10th, 20th and 30th of each month; you get regular rice the rest of the time. Other dishes include very good Malaysian curries with excellent fried roti (bread), and other Malaysian/Singaporean specialties. There's a tiny art gallery located right next door.
Nishi-Ogi-Kita 3-21-2. Open 11am-9:30pm. Closed Tuesdays.
This laid-back restaurant, located in what feels like a cinderblock bunker, serves up tasty, reasonable Singaporean and Malaysian fare. Lunch (11:30-3) is a steal, with classics such as Hainan chicken rice and Malaysian black curry, flavored with shrimp paste and coconut milk, available for Y880. More unusual items, like paper-wrapped chicken appetizers, soft-shell crab in chili sauce, and claypot-steamed rice with chicken and Chinese sausages, can be found on the dinner menu. After 1pm dogs are also welcome.
Kami-Meguro 3-12-4. Open 11:30am-3, 5:30-10:30pm (LO). Closed Sundays.
These days Tokyo has plenty of Southeast Asian restaurants, but few are as charming and satisfying as Ayung Teras in Shibuya. The decor is decidedly Indonesian, quite dense with handicrafts and art, but done in a tasteful and restrained manner. It doesn't feel at all touristy, or overly "ethnic." Rather, Ayung Teras seems more like a casual restaurant you might run across in one of the finer international hotels of Jakarta. [See FULL REVIEW.]
Sakuragaokacho 20-12. Open 11:30am-2:30, 6-10pm (LO). Closed Sundays.
Surabaya serves up a big menu of authentic-tasting Indonesian dishes, along with a huge selection of cocktails. Portions are small but prices are low, so you can try many different dishes if you wish. Most tables have a view of Fuji TV and Aomi beyond. Dinner for two starts at Y4900.
Daiba 1-7-1, Aqua City 5F. Open 11am-10pm (LO) daily.
Good, authentic home-style Burmese cuisine is served at this very casual restaurant on Takadanobaba's lively shotengai. Lunches start from Y650, and at dinnertime curries start at Y600, with rice an extra Y200.
Takadanobaba 3-5-7. Open 11:30am-2:30, 5-10:30pm (LO) daily.
The only restaurant in Japan serving Kachin-style cooking from northern Myanmar, Malihka has home-style dishes like fish steamed in banana leaves, tripe stew, and chicken and bean curry. Open to 5am Saturday and Sunday.
Takedanobaba 1-25-29, Sankoru Bldg 3F. Open 11:30am-2:30, 5pm-midnight. Closed Mondays.
A hole-in-the-wall bar serving Shan-style cuisine, which draws on influences from neighboring Yunnan and Sichuan in China. The adventurous may want to try the Shan-Iei (Y400) - a reddish-brown-colored Shan-style liquor that's about 25% alcohol, with a sweet flavor reminiscent of some kind of herbal remedy. Nong Inlay is truly a hole-in-the-wall patronized mostly by young Burmese men who all seem to know each other. Decor is very minimal, with folding chairs and wall-bench seating. Named after a lake in Burma's northeastern Shan state, Nong Inlay specializes in Shan cooking, which draws on influences from neighboring Yunnan and Sichuan in China.
Only a part of the menu is in Japanese, and descriptions are short and limited, so it is best to ask what's what. The Shan Chicken (Y800) was small chunks of chicken and vegetables stir-fried with hot peppers in a tangy miso-based sauce, and was a lot like Kung Pao chicken. The adventurous may want to try the Shan-Iei (Y400) - a reddish-brown-colored Shan-style liquor that's about 25% alcohol, with a sweet flavor reminiscent of some kind of herbal remedy. [Show more] [Show less]
Good Burmese food and ambitiously multi-lingual karaoke in Burmese, Japanese, English, Chinese and Korean. Highly recommended is the Tofu-joh (Y550), a Burmese style tofu made from yellow lentils and spice, and deep fried in small squares. The menu also includes Malaysian-style dishes like satay. Ruby is a friendly place that attracts a lively crowd of drinkers and eaters. It's in a long and narrow basement space, clean and brightly lit, with video monitors for karaoke at each end. (The shop card boasts they have karaoke in Burmese, Japanese, English, Chinese and Korean!)
They have a complete Japanese-language menu, listing some Malaysian-style dishes like satay in addition to a full range of Burmese food. Highly recommended is the Tofu-joh (Y550), a Burmese style tofu made from yellow lentils and spice, and deep fried in small squares. Served with a thick, sweet-hot-savory dipping sauce, it has a crunchy exterior and an interior texture like the corn masa in a Mexican tamale, but with a flavor closer to Indian papad.
The A-Soh-Na-Hin (Y780) consists of long-simmered chunks of stringy beef in a richly flavored sauce similar to a Northern Indian curry, garnished with a large sprig of spearmint leaves. Both rice and paratha (a thin bread) are also on the menu. Ruby can get very crowded on weekends, so call in advance. [Show more] [Show less]
A very casual, home-style restaurant with many Burmese customers. You can assemble a hearty meal or a light snack from the extensive menu of small dishes - some 50 appetizers, salads, meat dishes, noodle items and desserts, most priced in the Y500-900 range. The food is nicely seasoned without being too fiery, with very distinctive flavors - coconut cream sauces, lots of garlic, northern Burmese pickles, and plenty of spices. Lunch is Y750, dinner in the Y1,700-3,000 range. Mingalaba is fairly spacious, with a standard decor of plain tables, bright lighting and video monitor mounted high in a corner. It seems to attract families and those looking for a simple evening meal. The Japanese menu is fairly complete, and the staff is eager to offer advice on what to order. Like Nagani nearby, Mingalaba gets a lot of non-Burmese customers.
Recommended are the many curry-like stewed dishes, particularly the Sei-Tah-Hin (Y900) made with chunks of lamb. The Che-Aie-Kun-Joh (Y600) is strips of chicken skin, lightly breaded and deep fried, very crispy and less greasy than one might imagine. [Show more] [Show less]
Takadanobaba 2-14-8, NT Bldg. 3F. Open 11:30am-3, 5-11pm (LO) daily.
A charming, unassuming converted coffee shop where every surface is covered by bric-a-brac - spice jars, tea-making equipment, musical instruments, wooden carvings of horses, and the like. The food menu here is dominated by lamb dishes, such as nicely seasoned, spicy kebabs (Y1000 for 3); a richly flavored lamb and vegetable stew; garlicky lamb dumplings; and a shabu-shabu hotpot dish. There's a live performance of traditional Mongolian music every night at 8pm. [See FULL REVIEW.]
The lamb-heavy menu at Ulaan Baatar attracts a good portion of the local Mongolian community, including the occasional sumo wrestler. (One of the chefs here is in fact the mother of a Mongolian sumo wrestler.) Recommended dishes include banshtai tsai (Mongolian milk soup with meat dumplings) and buuz dumplings (ground lamb, onions and garlic in a flour shell).
Ryogoku 3-22-11. Open 4pm-midnight. Closed Tuesdays.
Billing themselves as an "Oriental Bistro," this late-night drinking spot serves Vietnamese and other Southeast Asian fare at very reasonable prices. The front of the restaurant is open to the street during the warmer months of the year, adding to the festive atmosphere. Open until 8am (Sunday nights until 5am). Budget around Y2000-3000 for food and drink.
Ikebukuro 2-10-6. Open 6pm-8am daily.
Mae Yao (Waseda - Misc. Southeast Asian). 5273-3770
This popular Waseda student hangout serves various Thai and Indian-style curries. The two-curry set includes a yogurt drink and runs about Y1000.
Babashitacho 18-9, Akiyama Bldg 2F. Open 11-3:30, 4:30-9 (Sat. to 8). Closed Sundays.
At Tokyo's original Tiki lounge, wooden masks glower, faux torches blaze, and hula dancers shake it, shake it, baby. The kitsch is ubiquitous, self-aware, and executed with formidable slickness. If you're in the right mood, the bar at Tiki Tiki is a fun and convenient spot to meet for a drink with friends. [See FULL REVIEW.]
Shinjuku 3-4-8, Frente Shinjuku 3-chome 4F. Open 5-11pm (LO) daily.
Bali Lax (Nishi-Shinjuku - Misc. Southeast Asian). 5321-6688
Balinese and other Asian foods plus extravagant tropical decor in this fun party space. Lunch from Y900, dinner from Y1600. It's a good idea to call ahead for reservations.
Nishi-Shinjuku 1-26-2, Shinjuku Nomura Bldg. B1F. Open 11:30am-3, 5:30pm-midnight daily.
A very relaxed, funky bohemian hangout, Saigon offers a tasty Japanese-ethnic menu with various Asian influences - Vietnamese, Thai, and Indian in particular. Drinks include a big shochu menu and various Asian liquors, beers and exotic cocktails.
Setagaya-ku, Setagaya 3-3-5. (near Kamimachi station on the Setagaya streetcar) Open 11:30am-2:45, 5-11:30pm daily.
From the owners of the Zest Mexican chain, a lively, fun place serving Southeast Asian dishes. The food is tasty (although not extremely authentic), there's a big bar, and service is friendly and competent.
Jinnan 1-6-8, Campari Bldg. 4F. Open 11:30-3am (LO) daily.