Tokyo and Yokohama Restaurant Guide


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If you were a creative chef who had read about burritos and seen pictures, but had no idea how to make them, this is what you might come up with. Tandoori lamb, sloppy joe filling, brown rice, curry-flavored sauce - these are just some of the surprises in store, along with dessert burritos and soy-milk smoothies. All in all a novel experience for Y750, although we would have preferred a much bigger portion of meat filling.
Conveniently located just above Ningyocho station, Wanchan serves good, original Thai cuisine, prepared by a former chef for the Thai ambassador. In addition to the usual curries and other crowd pleasers, the menu offers some unusual dishes that are rarely found in Tokyo, and all the dishes we've tried have been distinctively flavored.

On a recent visit we enjoyed tasty Isan-style raw sausages, quite piquant and nicely spiced, as well as very good curry-flavored sausages. The whole fish we ordered was smothered in garlic and a spicy sauce and was wonderfully crisp and crunchy - several levels up from the street-stall fare generally found in Tokyo's Thai spots.

Our only complaint at Wanchan was the lack of a non-smoking section - the ventilation could use some improvement. Budget around Y2000-3500 for dinner with drinks; lunches start at Y800.
Extreme beers are the speciaty at this cozy little beer bar - heavy on the hops, and generally higher in alcohol content than your average mainstream lager. Many of the beers are made by Thrash Zone itself, with names like "Speed Kills IPA" (7.8% ABV), although on our most recent visit we also saw offerings from serious US and Japanese craft breweries like Coronado, Lagunitas, Scuttlebutt and North Coast. Prices start at Y500 for a medium-sized glass.

The food menu is limited to frites (Y500), but these come with your choice of four sauces, such as Thrash Zone's original coriander mayonnaise. While you're sipping your beer you can enjoy an energetic soundtrack of thrash metal (hence the bar's name) played at a reasonable volume that doesn't impede conversation. The service here is friendly and the crowd is quite fluid, with many people stopping in for a quick drink and then moving on.
This LA-based Cali-Mex eatery specializes in fish tacos, but also serves a range of burritos, salads and bowls. The "wet burrito" (Y890-1050) is a pleasingly hefty regular burrito, which here comes with a very simple filling of mostly meat and shredded lettuce, topped with melted cheese and spicy red and green sauces.

For those who prefer lower carbs, Wahoo's salads come with cheese, guacamole, salsa, tortilla chips, and your choice of "protein" - fish, chicken, pork, beef or shrimp. Rice bowl options include Kahlua pig as well as the usual chicken, beef and fish.

The restaurant is located next to the HLNA skate park atop DiverCity, which supplies many of their customers. Take the elevators at the south end of the mall and follow the signs to the skate park.
This lively after-work drinking spot is called "Queen of Chickens" - and what more do you need to know? Well, if you must have details, they serve a lovely roast chicken, flavored with rosemary, garlic and various secret herbs (so we were told), for just Y1880. Wines start at Y2700 per bottle. Your Y680 (per person) table charge sounds hefty, but it entitles you to a bottomless serving of bagna calda, with refills of both seasonal vegetables and the warm anchovy-infused sauce, which doubles as a tasty dip for the roast potatoes that arrive alongside your chicken.

The only downside - Queen of Chickens' very attractive prices mean that reservations are a must, as both the ground-floor main shop and the second-floor "guest house" fill to capacity most weeknights. Budget around Y3000 for ample food and drink.
A relaxed neighborhood hangout spot, Miu serves an interesting original cocktail made from home-made limoncello and home-made ginger ale, as well as the usual wine, beer and snacks. The soundtrack features a lot of Enya, if you like that sort of thing.
Seating at this old-school izakaya may be a bit tight and the air smoky, but the grilled meats are quite tasty, the drinks are cheap and the hours are very, very late.
Modern, upscale bistro fare served in a casual setting is the draw at this neighborhood French spot. The owner-chef trained at La Regalade, the original Paris "neo-bistro," and Parisian bistronomic appreciation of top-quality, high-end ingredients is certainly reflected here. For example, our dinner menu offered Iberico as well as domestic roast pork, along with four different dishes featuring foie gras.

The wine list - not limited to French labels - is quite reasonably priced, with numerous choices in the Y3000-6000 range. Half a dozen cheeses are on offer to round off your meal, a decent selection for a place this small. The tiny dining room is cozy and intimate, with just thirteen seats (including a five-seat counter).

Budget around Y6000 at dinnertime, and bring cash. Generously portioned weekday lunches (served Tuesday-Friday) are Y1000 (Y1300 with coffee and dessert), and weekend prix-fixe lunches are available if you call ahead to make arrangements.
With a history dating back to the 1960s, Scandia Garden is a casual Danish cafe occupying an ancient-looking ground-floor dining room in front of Osanbashi Pier, with a more formal and much more expensive restaurant upstairs. The downstairs menu offers open-face sandwiches and casual but hearty main dishes like roast beef, veal cordon bleu and fried prawns. A main dish plus rice pilaf or bread plus coffee or tea is priced at Y1300 at lunchtime or just Y1400 at dinnertime, which starts at 4pm.

We enjoyed a selection of three mini-sandwiches - herring, cold meats and a mini-hamburger - served with cake as a lunchtime platter. Everything seemed very Danish in flavor, with decent bread, tasty baby-leaf greens and ripe tomato. If you're here for dinner, drink options include Carlsberg beer, Danish aquavit, and a wide range of time-warp cocktails with names like Moon River, Charlie Chaplin, and White Lady.

An eclectic mix of easy-listening music plays in the background - we quite enjoyed a steel-drum rendition of "La Vie en Rose." If you're after something fancier than simple cafe fare, the upstairs dining room serves full-course steak dinners, or an all-you-can-eat smorgasbord (Y6000 per person; minimum two persons). If you want to live it up like a Danish king at home you can get a mixed-herring platter and an almond cake to go (Y2800 each).
Formerly located in Kagurazaka, this small neighborhood bar serves a menu of African and African-inspired dishes like cous cous, peanut-chicken stew, and tasty boerewors sausage. Thrill seekers can sample sauteed camel, crocodile steaks and fried beef lung.

Drinks include cocktails, African beers, and a decent list of South African and north African wines starting in the range of Y3000 per bottle. Be sure to inspect the "Little Africa" diorama while you're here.
Run by the friendly folks at Tokyo Family Restaurant, Good Meals is most notable for their comfortable second-floor "stand" area, where you can pick out some nice imported craft beers from the refrigerators and either take them home or drink them here. (Don't worry, in spite of the name, there is some seating in addition to the standing bar area.)

The twenty or so beers on sale at any given time are clearly chosen by a beer connoisseur, with bottles you don't see every day such as Tiny Rebel Dirty Stop Out, a smoked oat stout from Wales, and Coronado Mermaid's Red Ale. Both US and European craft brewers are well represented, with stock from four or five different importers regularly available.

Most bottled beers are priced Y530-730 to go, with an extra Y300 charge if you want to drink here. There are also a few Japanese craft beers on draft, served in small glasses. You can accompany your beers with food from the third-floor restaurant (unless the kitchen is very busy) - mostly Middle Eastern fare such as couscous and mezze-style dips in appetizer-size portions. The bar also serves espresso beverages and home-made ice candies.

Up in the third-floor dining room you'll find an impressive menu of cocktails made from small-batch liquors and artisanal mixers, plus a handful of mid-range wines.
We were intrigued by the menu categories at this after-work izakaya - charcoal-grilled meats, charcoal-grilled small fish and charcoal-grilled big fish - all of them prepared over top-grade bincho charcoal. Heirloom breeds of pork, chicken and premium wagyu beef make up the bulk of the meat menu, and the ones we sampled were tender in texture and sufficiently fatty to bring out their full flavor after grilling.

Seeing the cedar ball hanging outside the shop we knew to expect a good selection of sake, and indeed the list of twenty or so labels is filled with reliable and well-known breweries like Tedorigawa and Dewazakura, although we didn't notice any especially unusual bottles or seasonal specials.

If you just want to grab a bite after work rather than spend the evening nibbling, Sanjuro offers several inexpensive teishoku sets built around their grilled specialties; there are also full-course prix-fixe menus if you want to splurge. Budget anywhere from Y2000-4000 at dinnertime, Y800-1000 at lunch.
Craft sake from Akita Prefecture is the specialty at this comfortable counter bar, which stands at the front of a chicken specialty restaurant called Honke Abeya. You can just drop by for a quick glass of sake or two, or you can order some skewers of yakitori or even a full chicken-based meal to accompany your drinks.

The drinks selection here is quite impressive, with limited-edition seasonal specials and "prototype" bottles from many of Akita's small craft sake breweries. More than three dozen varieties are generally available on any given day, mostly priced from Y580-880 per glass, although a few items cost a bit more. There's also a variety of kikizake tasting sets (including a seven-glass flight for Y1600) and all-you-can-drink deals.

The chicken here is an heirloom cross-breed called hinai-jidori, prepared as yakitori, oyakodon and - for the daring - several types of chicken sashimi. Budget around Y2000-3000 in the evening for some skewers and drinks. This shop is located in the second-floor Kitamachi Dining complex at the north end of the Yaesu side of Tokyo Station, above the Kitchen Street and Kurobei Yokocho dining complexes.
Located at the entrance to Andaz Hyatt Hotel, Bebu serves original burger variations such as Andale-Gringo (cheese, beans, avocado, jalapeno) and Bavarian (pork sausage patty, sauerkraut, curry sauce). Their kofta burger (a lamb burger served with tsatziki and hummus) is a particular standout, with perfectly grilled meat and nicely balanced flavors.

Bebu's decor is rather minimalist, and the soundtrack is loud, bouncy pop music from decades past. There's some outdoor terrace seating for when the weather permits.
This huge, garishly lit shop is a veritable supermarket of Hokkaido food and drink. The dairy section is especially well stocked, with a bewildering variety of cheeses, lots of butter, and something called "wild milk." The nearby drinks corner carries around forty types of sake and roughly the same amount of wine. They also stock the excellent North Island craft beer, with four types priced at Y525 per bottle.

Browsing the aisles, you'll run into numerous ramen variations, a surprisingly big assortment of powdered soups, jars of scallops in mayonnaise, pouches of soup curries, pickled melons, lots of dried fish, and of course Hokkaido potatoes in every size and shape.
Novel, fusion-style udon is the specialty here, but what first attracted our attention was the inviting little sake bar standing at the front of the shop. A couple dozen well-chosen craft sakes from around the country are served in taster-size 60ml or full 120ml portions, in your choice of standard sake cups or proper wine glasses (we recommend the latter).

The udon menu features intriguing choices such as udon carbonara and beef-tendon curry udon, with most dishes in the Y1000-1200 range. We enjoyed a very refined, Chinese-inspired tantanmen udon with a satisfyingly spicy sesame sauce, and a compelling Italian-style four-cheese udon that had us scooping up the very last of the sauce from our bowl.

A serving of udon here is filling enough to make a complete meal, but if you're in the mood for starters (or noodle alternatives), you'll find a good selection of charcoal-grilled meats, fish and vegetables that should go nicely with your sake. There are also original dishes like "caprese tempura" - mozzarella, cherry tomatoes and basil tempura-fried with a light, delicate coating. Budget around Y1500-3000 at dinnertime.
Shamo, a type of chicken that was originally bred in Thailand for cockfighting, is prepared here using the traditional "warayaki" cooking method, where meat and fish are quickly seared over burning straw at temperatures of 800-900C. The izakaya-style restaurant also serves warayaki-grilled katsuo (bonito), and plus a nice selection of craft sake from Aomori Prefecture.

If you're just here for a quick and inexpensive meal after shopping, the menu offers various donburi and teishoku options starting at around Y1200 and featuring grilled chicken or fish along with rice, miso soup and side dishes. Or you can treat the place as an izakaya, sampling the excellent grilled wings, sasami (chicken breast) grilled in ume paste, and crunchy tsukune (chicken meatballs) served with a raw shamo egg.

The fast grilling process leaves the center of the chicken meat tender and juicy, and imparts a nice grassy aroma. Crunchy chunks of raw cucumber in garlic dressing make a nice side dish. There are five varieties of Aomori's Mutsu Hassen sake served by the glass or ichigo-sized flask, to go with your food, along with the usual shochu and beer. Budget Y1200-3500 at dinnertime.

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