Cyclo - Vietnamese *****
Reviewed by Junko Okabe
Address - Tokyo-to, Minato-ku, Roppongi 6-6-9 Pyramid Building 1 F
Opening hours - 11:30 to 15:00 and 18:00 to 24:00, 17:00 to 23:00 on holidays
Telephone - 03-3478-4964
Menu - In Japanese and English. No pics
Credit cards - OK
A while ago me and seven other wives of gaijn men wanted to go out on our own to be free to gossip at length about our companions. We let Yumi Ahluwalia, long-suffering wife of Bourbon Street’s owner, choose the venue, and she decided to go to Vietnamese Cyclo.
It was a good choice: very chic and relaxing, Cyclo is still comparatively cheap (for Roppongi). All items being priced below 1400 yen, you can expect to spend on average 4000 yen including drinks, but quality is high. I must confess that in general I prefer the more homely, Yatai-type restaurants, the kind where the cook sweats in a T-shirt right in front of you, but one cannot deny the excellence of Cyclo’s stylish offerings. The menu is what you would expect in a place like this: no pictures, the elegance of a French restaurant's, and a long list of interesting dishes to choose from. We had the usual things: raw spring rolls, fried shrimps, noodles, chicken and so forth, but there is more unusual stuff to try.
Frank's note : Groups of at least five people will receive a free bottle of wine presenting the waiter a coupon that can be downloaded and printed out from the following [url= r.gnavi.co.jp/g222004/map1.htm]r.gnavi.co.jp/g222004/map1.htm[/url]. Also, according to a member of a conversation group I also participate to who spent four years in Vietnam and should therefore know what he is talking about, Cyclo is the real thing, true Vietnamese cuisine. He says also that: "The goi ga (spicy chicken salad) and bun bo hue (the beef soup from Hue) are especially recommendable. The ban xeo (Vietnamese pancakes) was too thick and disappointing and the cha gio (spring rolls) maamaa only, but the overall level is, I think, higher than Thien Phuoc in Yotsuya 3-chome or Saigon in Ikebukuro. Masahiro Uchida-san, the chef, is a very nice guy (nihongo dake) and spent several years in Vietnam as well, including some time at the Rex Hotel. As the setting is also really nice and original, it is really worth a try. Cyclo is on the 1st floor of the Pyramide Building (behind the empty WAVE building), in the former location of La Ranarita".
sanji's note : Having traveled in Vietnam several times, and enjoying Vietnamese food, I can confirm what was written above. The food is really, offering a truly exotic taste. Even if, indeed, the ban xeo was not perfect, the rest had the taste of what you can eat in good restaurants in Vietnam. Plus Cyclo is a very comfortable place, unlike most of other Vietnamese restaurants in Tokyo.
Erawan - Thai Brasserie
Address - Tokyo-to, Minato-ku, 5-5-1 Roppongi, Roi Bldg 13 F
Opening hours - 5:00 pm to 11:30 pm
Telephone - 03-3404-5741
Menu - In English and Japanese
Credit cards - OK
To be completely honest, something about Erawan rubbed me and my companion the wrong way right from the beginning. At the entrance an indifferent-looking girl replied in broken English to a question in good Japanese, then she made us sit at a huge table together with two other couples when plenty of smaller tables were free. The waiter forgot one of our dishes.
The food was however the clincher and I think I am objective when I say that, on the whole, it wasn't worth half the money. The best of the lot was the red curry, good but not particularly so. The worst was the fried rice. It contained literally just three ingredients: overcooked rice, an egg and some pieces of boiled (!) chicken, the stuff you throw away after making stock, even though it cost 1400 yen. Never again. Thai Brasserie? Bah!
P.S. Yes, I know the view from the window and the decor is great. But I wouldn't go again if they paid me.
Bangkok - Thai ****
Address - Tokyo-to, Minato-ku, Roppongi Woo Bldg 2F
Opening hours - 11:30 am to 3:00 and 5:00 pm to 11:30 pm. Sunday from 12:00 am to 8:30 pm. Closed third Sunday of the month
Telephone - 03-3408-7353 / 03-3408-8722
Menu - In English and Japanese with pictures
Credit cards - OK
Bangkok is a solid restaurant and the first Thai restaurant I ever tried, probably one of the first to appear here in Tokyo. It is just a tad expensive, but this is Roppongi, and the atmosphere amply makes up for the few extra bucks. Nowadays, with so many excellent Thai restaurants it is difficult to shine, but Bangkok is good. I haven't been there for some time, but I don't remember ever having been let down. Try the usual standards: fried rice, Tord Man Pla, chicken and cashew nuts, squid salads. It is very close to Roppongi crossing, but to find it you will definitely need the map, which is lousy, I know, but I couldn't get a better scan without enlarging the file too much.
Tainantamii – Taiwanese ****
Opening hours - Open every day from 11:00 am to 2:00 pm and from 5:00 to 11:00 (Ikebukuro and Suidobashi), 2:00 or 4:00 am (Shinjuku Kabuki-cho)
Shinjuku Shokuan Dori : 03-3232-8839
Shinjuku Kabuki-cho : 03-3209-5488
Shibuya : 03-3464-7544
Ikebukuro : 03-3988-1158
Suidobashi : 03-3262-4530
Suidobashi Big Egg : 03-3263-4007
Roppongi : 03-3408-2111
Menu - In Japanese and Chinese with pictures
Credit Cards - OK
This is a chain of really good restaurants in convenient neighborhoods. The food is not the Chinese stuff you are used to: fried peanuts with shirasu (tiny white fish), fried balls of squid paste, rotten eggs, red steamed rice and the like in diminutive amounts. You will like it, especially because it is on the cheap side, and really lovely. The menu seems endless, with always something yet to be discovered. In short, even if Tainantamii is always busy and one needs therefore patience (booking is impossible) I cannot recommend it enough. Satisfaction guaranteed.