Omotesando: Mediterranean
Cicada (Omotesando: Mediterranean)
Open 11:30am-2:30, 5:30pm-2am (LO) daily.
late: Open late
Sun: Open Sundays
decor: Notable decor

First-rate Mediterranean cuisine from Chef David Chiddo and the TY Harbor group (Ivy Place, Smokehouse). Located in the heart of Aoyama, the spacious quarters are evocative of a luxury tropical resort, with comfortable terrace seating, pools of water and an appealing open-air bar. The complex also houses a branch of TY Harbor's excellent bakery, Breadworks, and a casual cafe space called Crisscross.

The organization of the menu is the first sign of Cicada's ambitious agenda - it starts with small tapas-sized dishes to nibble on, followed by salamis, hams, and an impressive selection of cheeses (of the goat, cow and sheep varieties). In addition to the usual salads you'll find a selection of vegetable-centered (but not necessarily vegetarian) dishes, including an expanded mezze selection with tempting dips like roast cauliflower-tahini puree and spinach-almond puree with sour cream.

The rest of the menu runs the gamut from Spanish and Portuguese to Moroccan, Greek and southern Italian. One thing many of the dishes share is a natural spiciness - something that's too often toned down in Tokyo restaurants. The Moroccan spicy crab cakes are some of the best we've ever had, moist and richly flavored with cilantro and other herbs and a very piquant sauce. Morocco is also represented by a spicy tajine-style fish stew, and grilled Moroccan swordfish with fennel salad.

Hearty, robust flavors call for equally assertive wines, and the list here doesn't disappoint. It's big - some 20 wines by the glass, over 100 by the bottle - and there are some great finds in the Y5000-and-under range. The selection is entirely Old World - knowledegable choices from Rioja and Langedoc-Roussillon, Sicily and Tuscany, plus over a dozen sherries (almost all available by the glass). The wine cellar itself is an architectural focal point, and the liberal by-the-glass policy means that you can take your time plumbing its depths.

Minato-ku, Minami-Aoyama 5-7-28.
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Venue listing from Bento.com5 Star Rating: highly recommended