Apologies for being a little absent (minded) recently ... not one's first choice, but the result of having to earn one's daily sustenance. At the same time, it is a matter of some joy (and considerable waistline consternation) that Your Humble Correspondent has sampled a range of hostelries which will be blogged in these unremarkable pages over the next few weeks. Try them - it will surely be worth your while, and you may get to spy a culinary vagabond in your travels. A (?) notation signifies one needs to re-visit to confirm the rating.
Aila (LINK): 1-16-3 Ebisu-Minami Shibuya-ku Tokyo (t: 03-5721-6063).
A pleasant little Frenchie, with a deft hand in the kitchen (try the Foie Gras Omelette) but less skill on the floor with slow and uninformed service. YHC spent a week here the other night, ... but the food!.
Rating: 35/50 (?), 3 Forks
Marzac (LINK): 2-2-3 Shibuya, Shibuya-ku, Tokyo (t: 03-6418-5063).
Marzac is not your grandfather's sort of restaurant, and one occasionally feels chronologically challenged amongst the young and boisterous crowd. But it boasts robust and daring variations on standard dishes (try the Amaebi al ajillo or one of the daily confits). An eccentric but delicious wine list, and remarkably economical.
Rating: 36/50, 3 Forks
Saru (LINK): 3-49-1 Ebisu, Shibuya-ku, Tokyo (t: 03-6450-4836)
Thank you Mr Lacoste! Saru focuses on regional ingredients in an extremely serious way, yet manages to sustain a casual and friendly atmosphere that matches its excellent menu and highly original wine list. Chef Muramatsu seems to be having more fun than legally possible (try the Bagna Cauda or the Ezojika), and the staff are remarkably informative and helpful.
Rating: 38/50 (?), 4 Forks
Riva degli Etruschi (LINK): 3-15-12 Minami Aoya, Minato-ku, Tokyo (t: 03-3470-7473)
An elegant and enjoyable Italian that borrows significantly from Enoteca Pinchiorri in Florence, seasoned by more than 15 years of experience in Japan. This is Tuscan cooking at its best (try the Gnocchi with ricotta or the Roast Pork fillet), and although the wine list is a little pricey it does offer some of the best examples of the Italian oenological tradition in Tokyo. Best visited on someone else's credit card or immediately after pay day.
Rating: 38/50 (?), 4 Forks
148_@AzabuJyuban (LINK): 2-18-4 Azabu Juban, Minato-ku, Tokyo (t: 03-5765-2148)
Marcus has moved his 148 conglomerate from Hiroo to the Juban, and YHC for one welcomes the move. A feisty chef who won't allow him (Marcus) in the kitchen, and a much more navigable venue mean you should pay this fine little venue a visit. The wine list is extravagantly fulsome, and the menu retains the favorites from before (try Dad's Prawn Toast and the scrumptious Smoky Chops). And, as ever, Marcus always has something new on the boil (no pun intended)!
Rating: 37/50 (?), 3 Forks
Le Terroir (Link): 3-4-15 Mejiro, Toshima-ku, Tokyo (t: 03 6915-3857)
A beautiful rustic room in a very sophisticated storied area of Tokyo. With an almost maniacal range of French wines, and an interesting menu (try the French Mussels in White Wine Sauce and the Skirt Steak [harami]), this restaurant is seriously worth the journey. And it's delightfully easy on the purse. Yves and his team go out of their way to make you feel at home, and hopelessly inadequate in the face of the wines of the Rhone, Languedoc-Roussillon and Loire vignobles.
Rating: 37/50, 3 Forks
Sourire (Link): 1-15-2 Aobadai, Meguro-ku, Tokyo (t: 03-5784-2036)
Ah, this place is a joy! One leaves the cooking and the portion details to Chef Yuzawa, and concentrates on the company and the conversation. The menu is highly seasonal so it is pointless to make a recommendation, but experiment with full confidence and courage. Be brave.
Rating: 38/50, 4 Forks