This all-night Peking duck restaurant is one of the best Chinese-food bargains in Tokyo. They attract a crowd of young Japanese club-goers and Chinese patrons of all ages, with the mix varying depending on the time (they're open 24 hours a day). The food and service are very Chinese in style, and this place offers quite a contrast to the more serene confines of Roppongi Hills just across the street.
Let's start with the Peking duck - they charge just Y3680 for a whole duck, enough for three or four people - and that price also includes soup (a standard but tasty chicken broth with cabbage), a stir-fry, and the usual pancakes and condiments. Your chef wheels a roast duck out on a cart, then slices it up at your table. The pancakes may not be the most delicate we've encountered, but the duck itself is very good - juicy and tender, with flavorful meat and crispy skin.
Since this is a Chinese restaurant of course they offer a huge menu of dishes to go with your duck. Of particular interest are the more than fifty small-plate dishes priced at just Y200 a plate - items like stir-fried garlic (surprisingly spicy) and pickled lotus roots (surprisingly vinegar-y). At these prices you can try whatever looks interesting. Then there's the amazing sui-gyoza (steamed dumplings) priced at just Y100 for a plate of three. These come in 26 different varieties, but we had a bit of trouble telling the flavors apart - they all incorporate the same basic meaty filling and a dollop of hot broth inside the dumpling skin. Be careful biting into them.
There are more substantial side dishes as well - noodles, clay pot items, sauteed vegetables and so on, most priced well under Y1000. The dining room is huge, with some big communal tables, smaller tables in the front windows, and additional small tables in a back dining room. Some of the erotic artwork decorating the dining rooms is a bit unusual for a restaurant - perhaps not for the prudish, although there's certainly nothing racier than what you'd find at a Japanese fertility festival.
Lunches (11am-3pm) start at Y735, with free (self-service) refills for rice, dessert and drinks. Various party and banquet menus are available, and two-hour open bar service is Y1500. Most of the menu is in English, Chinese and Japanese. Chinese Cafe Eight also has a branch in Ontario, Canada.
by Pam Castle