10 September 2007
I spent a very pleasant couple of hours with the Expat at Cicada, not one of my favorites. Greg enjoys this restaurant, for reasons I can easily understand - and to be fair, it's not as bad as I often pretend. I remember going there with David Satterwhite just after it opened, and although the menu probably hasn't changed since that time, the food is still reliable and prices reasonable. It seems the website hasn't been updated in some time - the concept page explains the restaurant as "aaaaaaaaa" [sic].
We were forced to start with a TY Brewery beer (we chose the Organic Lager), a niggle I have railed against before. I understand that ownership wants to promote its other ventures, but restaurants are for customers not owners. Just give me a choice, and you may be surprised by the result! At the very least it would be an interesting experiment in consumer testing.
We had a bottle of forgettable Pinot Gris from Trent (Tiefenbrunner, Pinot Grigio, Trentino Alto Adige '06) to accompany our appetizers of Spicy Moroccan Crab Cakes and Mushrooms stuffed with Chorizo. The wine list strikes me as slightly immature - it tries to express its character through eclectic small label vineyards, much like a teenager looks for something "cool" or a band that no-one else has heard about. TY Brewery is the same, and I guess it's a management policy to be bleeding-edge for unknown wines.
Both of the appetizers were tasty and filling. Chef David Chiddo has chosen a tapas theme for this part of the TY Express operations, and it works well. The restaurant always seems to be buzzing with excited punters, although there were a few too many OL's "wah - ing" in the main dining room.
For mains, we chose Lamb with Anchovies and Rosemary (you can guess this wasn't me) and Ricotta Ravioli. This little number turned my head - ricotta dishes are easy to do badly, but hard to turn out well. Chef Chiddo succeeded in achieving the latter, and my hat's off to him. Perhaps I should re-evaluate this place, as they really do try hard and the bilingual staff make navigating the menu and wine list relatively simple and straightforward. Not to mention pleasant to talk with and about. Last time I scored Cicada at 26.5 (1 Fork), and as you can see below I've upgraded my rating. A little less "talent" on the wine list, and at least one degree of freedom in the beer list, and they'll get to 3 Forks (which means you can take your boss there!).
Try Cicada early in the week, when you're in the mood for something light and an easy dining experience. Take a work-mate or client, rather than a lover.
Food: 7/10; Service: 7/10 ; Wine: 6/10; Ambiance: 7/10; Price: 7/10; Total 34/50 (2 Forks)
Cicada: 5-2-40 Minami-azabu, Minato-ku, Tokyo 106-0047; T: 03-5447-5522 (See the website for a map)