Nogizaka: Yakitori
Hachibei (Nogizaka: Yakitori)
Open 6pm-12:30am (LO). Closed Sundays.

Despite its prime location one minute from Tokyo Midtown, this stylish, relaxed basement izakaya feels far removed from the hubbub of Roppongi nightlife. Kyushu-style yakitori is the centerpiece of the menu, but there's much more - beautiful charcoal-grilled seasonal vegetables, exotic regional dishes like horse sashimi, and a surprisingly big wine list.

The first thing you notice about yakitori from Hakata (the old name for Fukuoka, the Kyushu capital) is that it's served over a bed of vinegared cabbage, which also serves as a refreshing, high-fiber palate cleanser between skewers. The chicken is artfully grilled over the finest binchotan charcoal, and the results are tender, moist and very flavorful. The sasami umeshiso (chicken breast fillets with plum and shiso) was particularly good, and our chicken wings had pleasingly crunchy skin without being dry.

The rather fatty grilled pork belly is another standout, and vegetable highlights included bamboo shoots (livened up by a spicy miso paste) and crisp gingko nuts. The horse sashimi came in two different cuts, one quite tender and the other a bit more chewy. Another notable side dish is the endomame kushiage - deep-fried green-pea fritters on skewers. The Caesar salad, topped with very nice home-cured bacon, is also worth a try.

The drinks menu features more than two dozen wines, priced from Y3400-12,800 per bottle. There are also six kinds of shochu, two umeshu, and four well-chosen sakes, two from Fukuoka and two from next-door neighbor Saga Prefecture. Budget around Y4000 for food and drink - a very reasonable price for this quality level in Roppongi.

Minato-ku, Roppongi 7-4-5, B1F.
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Venue listing from Bento.com5 Star Rating: highly recommended