Total posts: 72
Le Loisir - French *****
Address - Shinjuku-ku, Kagurazaka 3-2 Yamanouchi Bldg 1F
Opening hours - Open every day lunch (12:00 to 16:00) and dinner (18:00 to 24:00)
Telephone - 03-3266-0633
Menu - In Japanese and French
Credit Cards - OK
One of the many sins I must confess to is a marked preference for reasonably priced restaurants. Call me cheap, but I hate to spend more than 5000 yen (including drinks) for a meal. I can already hear the howls of those who think 5000 yen is a fortune (and it is) ...
Please compare the ephemerality of labial pleasures with the permanence of so many other ways of investing. That much money spent in food goes literally down the tubes with no lasting pleasure and on average 24 hours later it ends in the toilet, whereas if you use the same amount for a book, a video or another such vehicle of learning, the acquired wisdom will accompany you until the day you die.
Given the situation, me and budget-French restaurants are a natural pair, and in fact we get along fine.
Of the restaurant chains I know in my beloved Tokyo, none offers more for less than that including Pas-a-Pas, La Dinette, Metro De Paris, Le Mouton Blanc, and Le Loisir.
Le Loisir is a restaurant that offers a little more elegance and decor, but practically the same food of cheaper choices like La Dinette. I chose a 3500 yen set and found it OK. The real diffence, apart from the neckties on the waiters, is the wine and liquor list.
I had for example a splendid glass of old Port that cost me half as much as the meal.
In the end, I prefer La Dinette or L'Amitie. Their very simplicity make them dear to me: no neckties required.
Rubaiyat - French ***
Address - Tokyo-to, Shinjuku-ku, Wakamiyacho 10-7
Opening hours - 11:30 to 14:00 and 17:30 to 22:00. On Fridays, open until 23:00. Closed on Sundays and holidays
Telephone - 03-5228-3903
Menu - In Japanese
Credit Cards - No
Rubaiyat is not an easy restaurant to find. Hidden in a side street next to Iidabashi station, it's hardly the sort of place you bump into, but a friend of mine did. He suggested we go there, so one Tuesday we all went.
I was attracted by its beautiful name, taken from a famous book of Arab poetry written by a certain Omar Khayyam and which promised a certain sophistication. If you don't know it, click here. Along the wall near the entrance there were many copies of the book in several languages. The guys there obviously like it. When I asked why they chose the name, they said that the restaurant is new, but the family owns a winery also called Rubaiyat (check their site), whose wine is on sale here, and that somebody there liked the book.
It was immediately obvious that foreign customers are the exception rather than the rule: we were warmly welcomed by the owner, who seemed nonetheless surprised to see us. No English or French anywhere.
The interior was elegantly nondescript, just like the menu: the few item in it, not particularly well chosen, seemed almost an afterthought of the wine list, which I am told is very good but has some obvious holes. I ended up ordering a 3500 yen set including appetizer, main dish and dessert to get at least the benefit of a price reduction.
I must point out right away a couple of Rubaiyat's cardinal sins. First of all, here if you want bread you have to order it and, when you do, you get just two lonely slices reheated in an oven. Now, this is unforgivable in any French restaurant, let alone a not-particularly-cheap one like Rubaiyat. Second, the duck in the appetizer didn't even try to hide its provenience (a plastic vacuum pack).
As for the venial sins, we had ordered a salad as a side dish, and both the dressing and the presentation were unconvincing. I ended the meal with a beef stew that was at least OK, if not delicious. The dessert was just a slice of fruit cake that looked like it had just been bought at Little Mermaid. Such a meal and a beer for 5000 yen ... I am afraid it's not enough, and this, as far as I am concerned, settles it.
Wine might be another story, however. The owner is clearly very serious about enology, and as I said I have the impression that Rubaiyat is mostly about drinking, and not eating. My friend Claus, who is a wine lover and connoisseur, soon started talking to the sommelier and in no time had him eating out of his hand. He says their collection is quite comprehensive, especially for such a small place. It includes several famous bottles, some of which were however sold out. As is often the case in Tokyo French restaurants, prices are 15, 20% too high.
Conclusion: Rubaiyat is a place where an Iidabashi resident who doesn't mind spending 2000 yen more than he should might want to go to drink on a full stomach.
How to get there: From Iidabashi station, walk towards Kagurazaka, turn left at the temple and walk straight for about 300 meters until you see Rubaiyat's sign.
Tokyo Paris Shokudo - French ****
Address - Tokyo-to, Chiyoda-ku, Iidabashi 3-7-3 Okada Bldg 1F
Opening hours - Open from 11:30 to 22:30. Closes half an hour earlier on holidays. Closed on Mondays.
Telephone - 03-3222-5400
Menu - In Japanese and French
Credit Cards - OK
The two words "humble bistrot" describe very well this cute restaurant, which therefore earns itself four stars in spite of the fact that the food, although good, lacks a certain elegance. It more than makes up for it in terms of atmosphere, friendliness and price. A set costs 2800 yen, and it certainly is worth more than that. Very pleasant, and the very first French restaurant I found that served fresh baguettes.
Get out of the Iidabashi Station on the Tozai Line, exit A-1. You will see a MOS BURGER in front of you. Turn left and you will find Tokyo Paris Shokudo after less than a minute walk. They have a lunch set for 1200 yen. The dinner set, including a first, a second dish, dessert, coffee and bread, is 2800 yen.
The other branches, which I presume is just as enjoyable, is in Suidobashi (Tokyo-to, Chiyoda-ku, Mitsuzakicho 2-1-8 Sanko Bdg 2F, Tel. 3265-1006. One minute from the JR Suidobashi Station)
Pauke - German
Address - Tokyo, Chiyoda-ku, Yonban-cho 4-8, Nomura Bldg.
Opening hours - From Monday to Saturday from 5:00 pm to 2:00 am
Telephone - 03-3264-7890
Menu - In Japanese and German
Credit Cards - OK
Reader Werner Ebenauer sends the following message:
"I think you do not know the best German Restaurant, at least in terms of food. 'Pauke', near Ichigaya Station, next to Nippon TV.
Best regards, Werner"
First of all, my thanks to Werner. Well, I do know Pauke, but I usually avoid going there because of the band. Food is very good, however, although fish is strangely missing from the menu. Anyway, I will review the place one of these days but, for the time being, here are its data. By the way, there's a site
with the addresses of practically all German restaurants in Tokyo.
Total posts: 72
La Tourelle - French ***
Address - Tokyo-to, Shinjuku-ku, Kagurazaka 6-8
Opening hours - 11:30 to 14:30 and 18:00 to 22:00. Closed on Monday
Telephone - 03-3267-2120
Menu - In Japanese and French
Credit Cards - OK
In the "About" section of my personal site I say:
"Over the years I have developed a pet theory according to which restaurants serve good food only as long as the bill remains below a certain figure, variable according to the city and the nation and which in the case of Tokyo is about 5000 yen. This, again according to my theory, because to the common man what counts is the food, whereas to the rich or to the poor in disguise what counts is status and power. This rule of thumb has so far rarely betrayed me: if you want to eat mediocre food and spend a fortune to impress your squeeze, Sabatini di Roma and La Ranarita are the places you are looking for." As you can see, I may be extreme, but I do know what I like.
No better example of my pet theory could be found than La Tourelle. Expensive as shit: the cheapest dessert costs 1700 (sic) yen, exclusive of taxes and table charges. Stuckup as anything I've seen so far: for example, you got six implements of various nature and design on each side of the plate. One looked, if you ask me, as a fairly typical spoon: it was, I was told, a highly stylized fish knife. And the food! seven different dishes in diminutive, and I mean really diminutive, portions served at generous intervals so that you can fully enjoy the smiling sommellier at you side talking all the time. If the food had been superlative, I could have still conceived the idea of giving the place a neutral review. It was mediocre, rich in ornamentation and poor in flavor. In the curried quail I could hardly find the quail: it looked and tasted like ham. Regardless of price, I'd rather eat at La Dinette paying just 2500 yen, with the added bonus of not having to worry about whether my elbows are on the table. Having spent 9000 yen without drinks, must I add that wines were overpriced? Of course they were. Read on.
Another opinion on La Tourelle by Claus Regge :
We were a group of five that evening at La Tourelle. Four ordered the set dinner for Yen 7000 plus plus..., only I ordered a la carte, for reasons explained below. My generous portion of foie gras heated in a slightly herby butter sauce was truly excellent, a memorable treat and certainly worth the Yen 3600 it cost. Fortunately, no chef had tried to hide or manipulate the natural taste of the high-quality ingredient that went into this dish -- a prime example of non-interference paying off handsomely. My main dish, something with duck, was pleasing but so eminently forgettable that I've already forgotten what exactly it was. Although those two courses cost about the same as the seven included in the full course, I believe I got the better deal.
Will I go back to La Tourelle, then? Probably not, and that's because of our miserable experience with their wine list and the fussy but clueless waiter who doubles as a sommelier. A rather haphazard collection of this and that, all French, all overpriced. We started with a bottle of Chateauneuf du Pape from an unfamiliar (to me) estate, a '97 that totally lacked the depth and fruity richness that wines from that area on the Southern Rhone can (and should) possess. At around Yen 7000, a waste of money. Then, I ordered a bottle of '93 Chateau Grand-Puy-Ducasse, a Pauillac 5th growth in the 1855 classification of Medoc wines. Not often seen on wine lists in Japan, Grand-Puy-Ducasse is capable of elegant, fruity, not overly tannic wines in a good year. Ninety-three, as it turned out, was not a good year for Ducasse (although other chateaux made thoroughly enjoyable wines in that year). Thin, drying out, lacking fruit, not a hint of the leather and cigar notes on the nose and the black currant on the palate that one expects from a Pauillac. Probably badly cellared, too. Served much too cold, until I convinced the waiter that no full-bodied red should be served at under 18 degrees.
The price? Almost Yen 10,000; that is, in my opinion, 40 to 50 percent more than it could possibly be worth. A few wines on the list looked more promising, such as an '88 Pichon-Lalande, but at around Yen 30,000 temptation evaporates quickly. La Tourelle still seems to follow the bubble-economy era rule that wine is a status-laden luxury, not an integral and necessary part of a French meal.
If I ever do go back to La Tourelle, I'll order the foie gras, perhaps a double portion, and maybe a glass of the house wine or a beer.
Carmine - Italian *****
Address - Shinjuku-ku, Saikucho 1-19 Mishikawa Bdg.
Opening hours - from 12:00 am to 2:00 pm and from 6:00 pm to 11:00 pm
Telephone - 03-3260-5066
Menu - In Italian and Japanese
Credit Cards - Yes
For honesty, I will say right away that Carmine Cozzolino is an old acquaintance of mine, but he is not paying for this review. Some years ago I ate for the first time at his restaurant, which has moved to new premises just across the street from the old. Former "Carmine" is now a pizzeria called "La Volpaia". My companion and I ordered a 3500 yen set apiece and shared the whole thing. Impolite, perhaps, but convenient. We both got assorted appetizers; I ordered linguine in octopus and tomato sauce, spring chicken "alla diavola", and tiramisu, while she had penne in mushroom and gorgonzola sauce, swordfish steak with mashed potatoes, and panna cotta. Everything was truly excellent, including the home-made bread and service. Since then I have eaten several times at Carmine's, which has sort of become my yardstick for judging Italian restaurants. My only complaint is the crowding, which could bother some people (not me, though).
January 2000 : I am sorry to say my opinion of Carmine's other restaurants isn't equally good. La Volpaia and Carmine Edochiano are in fact deservedly part of my shit list.
La Volpaia - Italian
Kagurazaka and Mejiro
Kagurazaka : Tokyo-to, Shinjuku-ku, Nakamachi 2-1
Mejiro : Yutaka Bdg. 1Fl, Shimo Ochiai 3-12-23, Shinjuku-ku, Tokyo
Opening hours - From 11:00am to 11:00 pm
Kagurazaka : 03-3260-8767
Mejiro : 03-5982-2258
Menu - In Japanese and Italian
Credit Cards - OK
As I mentioned elsewhere, old Carmine has become an Italian style pizzeria called La Volpaia. Curious to see how good it was, I went to eat there and here is my report.
La Volpaia is not just a pizzeria: it also serves some appetizers and pasta, which I have not tried as yet. The menu includes 10 different types of pizza, among which I tasted two. My opinion: OK, but no more than that. They are real Italian pizzas, but there is something missing in the flavor, perhaps watered down for Japanese palates. For example, you could barely taste the anchovies in the Napoletana. Anchovies are the heart of a Napoli! The pizza with rucola and raw ham was also good without being brilliant. For real Italian pizza, go to "La Befana" or give it up and eat at Carmine's, just across the street.
Note : In March, Carmine opened opened a new branch of La Volpaia in Mejiro. I have no reason to believe it is better than the Kagurazaka branch. To find it, turn left at the station and walk for some hundred meters. It's on the left side of the street.
Total posts: 107
Iidabashi & Ichigaya - European food
Last edited by secret-japan on Fri Dec 01, 2006 4:47 am; edited 1 time in total
Total posts: 72
Those two French restaurants have already been reviews by sanji earlier in this topic. I had here my own comments...
L'Habitude - French ****
Address - 3-5 Minami Yamabushicho, Shinjuku-ku, Tokyo
Opening hours - From 11:30 to 2:00, and from 6:00 to 10:00 (LO). Closed on Mondays.
Telephone - 03-3260-8784
Menu - In French and Japanese
What a pleasant name for a restaurant ... to me at least, it carries a trace of stability, warmth and good, familiar smells.
In this case, the name is apt, for this is just another venue of a chain of homely but excellent budget French restaurants including such gems as La Dinette, Pas-a-Pas, L'Amitie, Metro de Paris and Le Loisir. Like the others, it's a place of chequered tableclothes and reasonable prices, although it's more expensive than for example La Dinette.
Their main set is 3900 yen, almost twice what you pay there. What you get in return is a little more attention to details and some elbow room. Being small, it's usually relaxing even when crowded.
Those who know any other name of the chain will find no surprises here. The style is the same. The food is mainly classics here too. if you are like me, you will enjoy the lack of pretensions and the quiet atmosphere of the place. The rillette and the terrines are bought already made? Who cares: they are good.
Brasserie Gus - French ****
Address - 82 Yarai-cho, Shinjuku-ku, Tokyo 162-0805
Opening hours - Open Mon. to Sat. 11:30am to 13:30pm (L.O.) and from 18:00 to 21:00 (L.O.)
Telephone - 03-3268-0805
Menu - In French and English
Credit Cards - No
Take the Tozai line, get off at Kagurazaka, Waseda exit, go up the stairs, cross the street, walk straight on the left side of the street for about three hundred meters and you will be at Brasserie Gus.
Obviously a neighborhood restaurant catering mostly to regular customers and unused to big numbers of noisy intruders, BG has just 14 seats, the mandatory chequered table-cloths in a dark, cozy interior, a diminutive staff of just two, and the sort of set menu we have half come to expect. For 2800 yen you can in fact have a very good meal, complete of appetizer, main dish, bread, butter, and dessert. The menu includes many classics in each of these categories: terrine maison, terrine de volaille, salade de jambon et homard, confit de canard, agneau roti au vin, tarte tatin, gateau au chocolat, and the like. Quality was uniformly high, so that the vegetables were boiled to the correct texture, the meat tender, the dressings just right. My sweethart, usually bolder or luckier than I, ordered something unusual that I recommend to everybody: ris-de-boeuf (veal) in ginger sauce, juicy, slightly spicy morsels of soft veal and a joy to the palate.
In short: while hardly an adventure, Brasserie Gus is a good place to relax and have a quiet meal in peace without spending a fortune. Just one criticism: a French or Italian restaurant should always serve fresh bread. I for one cannot accept anything else.
And the wines? I don't like wine.
But hey! I went with Claus Regge, my personal enologist, who will assist me as well as usual in this case too.
This is one restaurant that you will want to visit for the quality and good value of their food, not for their wine list. Wine at Brasserie Gus appears to be more of an afterthought than an attraction in itself. The wine list gives no vintages, which is always a danger sign, and the waiter didn't even know the word 'vintage.' The glasses are those tiny 'Paris goblets' that serious wine lovers hate because they don't provide the volume and air that a wine needs to develop its bouquet in the glass.
There are seven whites, one rose, and fifteen reds including eight from Bordeaux. The red house wine was a '98 'Figaro,' a vin de pays from Herault. Hardly any nose (the glasses?), very little fruit on the palate, pretty dull. But then you can't expect much for Yen 2400 a full bottle. We next tried a '95 Chateau Loudenne (Medoc), nuts and raspberries on the nose, pleasant enough on the palate but without much sweet fruit, long but slightly bitter finish.
The most expensive wine on the list is a '94 'Connotable de Talbot,' rather overpriced at Yen 6300 for a second wine from a poor vintage. There are also one champagne (Yen 8000, no name listed) and one other sparkling wine at Yen 4000.
Verdict: Enjoy the food. Drink beer.
Total posts: 715
Alberata - Italian *****
Address - 新宿区神楽坂5－30 TAKAMURA ＫＭビル3Ｆ
Opening hours - 11:30 - 14:30 & 18:00 - 23:00 (fermé lundi)
Telephone - 03-5225-3033
Une des meilleures adresses de Tokyo. Restaurant italien fantastique, offrant un mariage de la nourriture et des vins (tous italiens) parfaitement réussi. Utilisation intelligente de truffes - provenant elles aussi d'Italie. Menu de 5000 à 10'000 yens (le dernier incluant une sélection de vins au verre). Nous avons eu le plaisir d'y goûter d'excellents crus de Quintarelli. Tenue correcte exigée.
Tribes - French-African ****
Address - 東京都新宿区若宮町10-7
Telephone - 03-3235-9966
Restaurant "afro-français" dans un décor moderne. Seulement trois tables, mais une cuisine vraiment étonnante. Mélange d'ingrédients africains préparés à la française... Crocodile, autruche servis dans un bouquet d'epices exotiques. Quelques vins "raisonnables" d'Afrique du Sud à prix acceptables...
Brasserie Gus - French ***
Address - 新宿区矢来町８２
Telephone - 03-3268-7157
Petit restaurant français dans un quartier calme, la Brasserie Gus propose un menu varié avec une bonne sélection de plats à base de canard. Vraiment bon marché, avec un menu le soir à 2800 yens, et à midi à 1000 yens (sans dessert)! Les tables sont très serrées, et il faut absolument réserver à midi - c'est presque toujours plein.
L'Habitude - French ***
Address - 新宿区南山伏町3-5
Telephone - 03-3260-8784
Restaurant confortable de taille moyenne, avec un menu à 2800 yens. Des plats avec une influence japonaise sensible, bon sans être hors du commun.
Le Bretagne - French Creperie ***
Kagurazaka-Iidabashi et Omote-Sando
Telephone - Kagurazaka 03-3235-3001
Telephone - Omote-Sando 03-3478-7855
Crèperie classique avec le cidre qui va avec. Excellent, mais les prix sont tout de meme assez relevés! Surtout pour le cidre...
Last edited by sanji on Mon Jan 22, 2007 4:04 am; edited 1 time in total
Total posts: 715
Globe du Monde - French *****
Address - 東京都千代田区九段北4-3-17
Opening hours - 11:30 - 14:30 & 18:00 - 23:00 (LO 22:00) (fermé dimanche et jours fériés)
Telephone - 03-3221-6009
This is, in my opinion, the best quality-price ratio for french food in Tokyo! I just love this place... Globe du monde is a very tiny restaurant, with just about 4-5 tables and a counter. To ensure a seat, you absolutely need to reserve - several days in advance.
There are three menus, ranging from 3'200 yens to 4'200 yens (as well as a special 6'500 yens one that we never tried) and offering a selection of starters, main dishes and desserts. The items to choose from change often, so it is always a nice surprise to discover new stuff on the menu. Some of our favorites includes grilled foie gras with strawberries, salmon and hotate tartare and salads for starters, grilled lamb, duck and steak with blue cheese sauce for main dishes. Portions are simply huge.
Another great feature of the place is the wine list: a large selection of very reasonnably priced wines, including an excellent selection of Bordeaux - some of which we couldn't have afforded to drink in a restaurant in France!
And lunches start at 1000 yens (1'500 yens with a starter).
Groups are also welcome: we had there a great party with 11 persons, occupying almost the whole restaurant (menu at 3'400 yens).
Une vrai trouvaille... et notre favori: minuscule restaurant (4-5 petites tables, un comptoir) offrant des menus bon marchés entre 3'200 yens et 4'200 yens (ainsi qu'un menu spécial à 6'500 yens, que nous n'avons jamais essayé). Les clients créent leur menu en choisissant les plats de la carte, qui change très régulièrement. Les plats sont imaginatifs et très généreusement servis. Parmi nos favoris, on retrouve du foie gras grillé avec une sauce aux fraises, un tartare de saumon et coquilles St-Jacques et toutes les salades! Le carré d'agneau, le canard et le steak de boeuf sauce roquefort sont d'excellents choix pour le plat principal.
La carte des vins offrent d'excellents seconds vins (du Bordelais) à des prix défiant toute concurrence. Pour les amateurs, les Bourgognes sont également bien représentés, ainsi que des vins d'autres régions de France.
Un restaurant à essayer absolument - et les lunchs commencent dès 1000 yens seulement!
Total posts: 2
Maison de la Bourgogne
close to Iidabashi station
address : 東京都新宿区神楽坂3-6-5 Via神楽坂1F
phone : 03-3260-7280
A French restaurant I just found it quite nice is called 'Maison de la Bourgogne
' located at the cozy corner on the street just about 5 min. from Iidabashi sta. in Kagurazaka area. The lunch course there chosen among some pasta and soufflé lunch (both were 1200 yen or less) serves an amuse-bouche, an appetizer, a main dish, a dessert and coffee/tea, and costs 1500 yen.
With a tasty, generously served food in a comfortable settings, it became one of my favorite French restaurants in Tokyo. Unfortunately, as I have not checked the wine menu yet, I cannot comment it… although you can guess Bourgogne wine must be mainly kept. Will go next time for dinner.
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