Tokyo's best new restaurant
Chef Michi Takahashi moved a long way to bring his skills back to Japan.
He was running a popular French-Japanese restaurant in Manhattan Beach, California, when he decided it was time for an about-turn.
His first Tokyo venture, recommended by author and manager of Bento.com Robb Satterwhite, is a tiny cafe specializing in opulent burgers and other American foods.
What Eat lacks in size it makes up for with zealous flavors.
“The Cajun lamb burger with roast paprika is quite compelling, and the asparagus salad, with radicchio, currants and lots of blue cheese, is a real treat," says Satterwhite.
The Kobe beef burger is addictive. The chicken tacos, served with heaps of avocado, are a winner.
Crunchy Cajun chicken steak (with greens, bean sprouts and salsa), cold pea and potato soup and an appetizing duck confit each allow Takahashi to show off the skills that endeared him to Californians.
There are plenty of specials on the blackboard every day. Everything on the menu is ready to take out.
Open Monday - Saturday, 11:30 a.m.-3 p.m., 6-10:30 p.m. Sunday, 11:30 a.m.-3 p.m. Eat, 2-12-27 Kita-Aoyama, Minato-ku, tel. + 81 (0) 3 6459 2432
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Recommended: Restaurant Hiromichi
Like a cat toying with a mouse, safe in the knowledge he's the one in control, chef Hiromichi Kodama applies a playfulness to his dishes and his restaurant, a tiny spot among the offices of southern Ebisu.
You may have never seen butter decorated with Okinawan sea grapes before. It's not unknown for Kodama to play Christmas songs, on repeat, during the summer.
Those are signs of Kodama's confidence.
“He doesn't need to show off," says Satterwhite. "Many of his creations are surprisingly restrained, like his understated tomato gelee with scallops and an extremely subtle cheese amuse-bouche.
“He's not afraid of serving fare like blood sausage and ris de veau to his appreciative customers."
Kodama trained in France and developed his skills at a Michelin-starred kitchen in Akasaka.
“Most spectacular of all is the smoked lamb component of the lamb-duo main course. It's his show-stopper,” says Satterwhite.
Open Tuesday - Sunday, 11:30 a.m.-1:30 p.m., 6-9:30 p.m. Restaurant Hiromichi, 1/F, MT3 Bldg, 1-12-24 Mita, Meguro-ku, +81 (0) 3 5768 0722, www.restaurant-hiromichi.com
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Emilia is relaxed, casual and a first-class kitchen -- a combination our experts heartily approve of.
“The chef spent several years in northern Italy's Emilia region perfecting his pasta-making techniques, " says Bento.com's Robb Satterwhite. "The menu focuses on that region and nearby Piedmont, with a smattering of dishes from other parts of the country.”
Depending on the day, the mixed appetizer platter offers bite-sized portions of polenta, liver pate and marinated sardines.
The smoked gizzard is tender and delightful, and the ratatouille and marinated fish are suitably restrained, not veering into tartness.
The wine list offers ample options under ¥7,000, along with more expensive bottles.
“The tortellini stuffed with spinach and ricotta is a good demonstration of the chef's pasta prowess, and the homemade focaccia doesn't disappoint,” Satterwhite says.
The pride of the Emilia menu is the range of game birds -- guinea fowl, Barbary duck and squab -- from a small farm in Ibaraki prefecture.
“The birds all are skillfully prepared,” says Satterwhite. “The roast squab, served very rare, is small in size but packs intense flavor in every bite.”
Game birds come with accompanying vegetables -- turnips, roasted baby corn, baked onion -- all cooked without a hint of dryness.
Open daily, 11:30 a.m.-10 p.m. Emilia, 2-25-4 Jingumae, Shibuya-ku, + 81 (0) 3 3402 5517, www.ciao-emilia.com