Shun - izakaya ****
in Kagurazaka (Iidabashi) & Azabu
Shun are four restaurants located in Tokyo which enter in the upscale izakaya category. All are located in rather posh areas of Tokyo, namely Kagurazaka (Iidabashi), Azabu and Aoyama. Those restaurants are beautiful, and have always been some of my favorite in Tokyo, although they are barely mentionned in English guides.
In Azabu, guests will find the entrance of the izakaya to be just an opening with stairs going underground; it might look uninspiring, but it brings you directly inside the restaurant, in a small stone garden with ikebana. There are several small rooms connected together, some of them with a transparent flooring are directly above the stone garden. Here, the atmosphere is typically Japanese, whith makes it a great place to bring guests from abroad. The food is extremely interesting; as a matter of fact, it is there that I discovered many of my now favorite dishes, including ankimo (liver of the anko fish) or kanimiso (crab brain). The service is perfect, and for 5000-7000 yens per persons with drinks, it offers an excellent quality-price ratio. Interesting menu available, but you need to order them in advance. Note that reservation is mandatory, I don't even count the times when I couldn't book a table there!
Une excellente izakaya servant une nourriture soignée, dans un décor traditionnel japonais. Carte exclusivement en Japonais, j'y ai découvert de nombreux plats tels que kanimiso (cerveau de crabe), basashi (viande de cheval crue), ankimo (foie gras de poisson). Si vous ne parlez pas Japonais, cela peut être difficile de commander tout seul.
Excellente adresse pour faire découvrir de la cuisine japonaise un peu plus raffinée.
Compter 7000 yens par personne, et reservez absolument le week-end, c'est souvent plein.
Two restaurants are located in Kagurazaka, the main one (Honke) serving both menus and à la carte dishes, while the annexe (Bunke) is serving only menus, which have to be ordered 48 hours in advance. Because we wanted to choose our own dishes, we decided to go for the Honke.
The entrance is quite nice, with the usual stone garden found in Shun, but the restaurant itself is more busy and noisy than the one in Azabu. For small groups (2-4 persons), it is often mandatory to share one of the large table. This render the whole experience a little less interesting. Fortunately, the food is really good, and everything from the edamame (served just at the right warm temperature), the mushrooms tempura (a nice selection with a beautiful presentation) or the kujira tare (fantastic whale meat marinated in tare, which you just warm by yourself on a grill) were very tasty. We focused mostly on meat dishes, and had excellent surprises like the pork toro (fatty pork, 880 yen) or the beef harami (900 yen).
Apart of the noisy place, the service itself was not as good as I remembered it in Azabu: some dishes were forgotten and had to be re-ordered, several stuff we wanted to order were not available, so this was a small disappointment. On the other had, the bill reached 4000 yen per person, including a nice selection of excellent nihon-shu.
Address - 東京都新宿区神楽坂3-2-36
Access - JR総武線飯田橋駅西口出口 徒歩４分 or 地下鉄飯田橋駅B３出口 徒歩３分
Opening hours - 17:00-22:30 (LO, 22:00 on week-ends and holidays)
Telephone - 03-3266-0560
Address - 東京都新宿区神楽坂4-2-5
Access - JR総武線飯田橋駅西口出口 徒歩５分 or 地下鉄飯田橋駅B３出口 徒歩４分
Opening hours - 17:00-23:00
Telephone - 03-3266-0089
Address - 東京都港区麻布十番1-3-8 FプラザB1
Access - 地下鉄麻布十番駅５ａ出口 徒歩1分
Opening hours - 17:00-22:30 (LO, 22:00 on Saturdays and holidays, closed on Sundays)
Telephone - 03-3588-0160
[UPDATED September 2007]