Malaifu Kobishoku - Malay *****
Takadanobaba and Waseda
Address - Suginami-ku, Amanuma 2-3-7 Sakai Bldg B1
Opening hours - 11:30 to 14:30 (only weekdays) and 18:00 to 1:00. Closed on Mondays
Telephone - 03-5938-8633
Menu - In Japanese and English
Credit Cards - No
At last a good Malaysian restaurant! I had been disappointed so many times before that when my only true love found Malaifu Kobishoku's review on the Net I was skeptical, but in the end we went.
First of all, let me warn you: the sign is small and only in Japanese, so be on the lookout. You can easily miss it. Take the narrow stairs to the basement and you're there. The dark hole on the right is what you're looking for.
The room is so small that if you order a beer the owner must go to the bar next door to get it: she has no tap of her own. Obviously opened on a shoestring, Malaifu Kobishoku is run by a minuscule and cute Malaysian woman of Chinese descent who calls herself Helen, who is an excellent cook and who is one of the attractions of the place. Friendly and kind, when she has the time to relax she is a very enjoyable companion.
But the food is what we are here for, because at long last I have found a good Lakhsa (spicy Malaysian noodles) in Japan. If you go, don't forget to order it, because it's a rarity and it's excellent. Everything else is either good or excellent. The curries, the kushinsai, the nasi goreng, and the rest more than compensate for the lack of light, the small restaurant and untidiness of the place. Highly recommended.
: Get out of Ogikubo station's North exit, cross the Ome-Kaido and turn right. Malaifu Kobishoku is almost on top of the bridge, on the left side of the street. Again, be careful: the sign is in Japanese.
web - allabout.co.jp/gourmet/ethnicfood/closeup/CU20010701A/index3.htm
Hutong 101 - Chinese ****
Address - Tokyo-to, Suginami-ku, Kamiogi 1-6-11
Opening hours - Every day from 11:00 am to 1:00 am
Telephone - 03-3393-7991
Menu - In Japanese
Credit Cards - No
As with Mexican food, there are really two kinds of Chinese restaurants: the real thing and fakes. Hutong 101 definitely belongs to the first kind, from the food down to small details like its pervasive dinginess and the cooks' hair, which has that cut-with-a-lawn-mower kind of look so prevalent in China's countryside. Waitresses, to the contrary, in spite of being also Chinese, look like just about any fashion-conscious Japanese girl.
The menu, as customary in this kind of place, is long and almost illegible if you read Japanese Toyo Kanji, and just like Chinese if you don't, but do not despair, for it deserves some effort. Hutong 101 (incidentally, the name means "Hamlet 101") isn't Chez Maxim's, but it isn't a Gyudonya either.
Great attention deserve the Gyoza, for Hutong 101's menu has a whole page of them, all very tasty. But what I really like best is the assorted appetizers, surprisingly refreshing, tasty and healthy: you can get a dish with five kinds for 1400 yen, and that alone constitutes a good meal. If you have some appetite left, you could try their fried silkworms. If you do, let me know how they are: I won't eat stuff with more than four legs and less than two.
Hakkatei - Taiwanese
Telephone - 03-3393-5123
Taiwanese food is superb stuff, made of thousands of little wonderful morsels that go down so well with beer. At least, this is the case if you are eating at a place like Ajio in Nakano or Tainantamii (see review). Here unfortunately everything is spoiled beyond tolerance in a surprising variety of ways. The deep-fried chicken was dry, the fish with peanuts was oily, the boiled vegetables leathery, the rice hard. If you really want to eat Taiwanese food, make an effort and go to Ajio or to one of Tainantamii's branches.