Sunday, May 31, 2009

It's Italian, no wait it's European, no wait...

Name: bigote
Neighborhood: Shinjuku Sanchome 新宿三丁目
Style: Well, that's a complicated question

After coming out of Star Trek Saturday night, we were looking for somewhere to eat, and after the usual wander through the entertainment district (in this case through Shinjuku Sanchome) we picked bigote due to its appealling second-story corner location.

Going in we found just as interesting as it looked: a combination of bare concrete and visible fittings, but with unfinished wood tables and a very summer-camp-looking table for six in the far corner.

The menu -- which we initially thought to be Italian due to the pizza and pasta -- was actually quite a bit more interesting than that. We did have a pizza, and they did a good job with the ingredients -- soft salami with mozzarella and ricotta cheese -- but they don't have a pizza oven, so it might be more accurate to call the resulting product flatbread (not that there's anything wrong with warm flatbread with salami and cheese).

However, the next couple dishes we got were non-Italian and extraordinary. The grilled New Zealand lamb was a pair of delicate lamb chops grilled to perfection, topped with a sprig of rosemary and accompanied by a couple slices of braised squash and a healthy dollop of potato... salad? puree? paste? Picking up the chop by the bone and taking a first bite, it was clear this was the hit of the night. Every last piece of meat got gnawed off of those bones, and we seriously considered ordering two more immediately (amazingly, the lamb dish was only 600 yen).

Fortunately, our sense of variety prevailed and instead we checked out the Japanese side of the menu by ordering the Katsuo tataki. Memories of the lamb were greatly dulled as this in turn became the hit of the evening. Raw katsuo grilled oh so slightly and served as sashimi... that's what I was talking about.

Going along with all of that, bigote has not only a very full bar and a set of house cocktails, but a great wine selection by the glass -- seven red wines by the glass, and none of them were refrigerated to boot! (many Japanese restaurants still serve red wine chilled... sigh). After a couple glasses of it, I no longer remember the name of the spicy medium-bodied red I had, but it complemented the pizza and lamb perfectly (it was a bit much for the katsuo, so I had to refrain from having any while the katsuo was on the palette. Of course, the katsuo was so good, that wasn't very long!).

Towards the end of the evening, the owner, Tetsuhiro Ichimura 市村 哲宏 stopped by the table to chat a bit. His other job is a record buyer for DJs, so he makes a trip to New York about once a year to pick up new records, and try a few restaurants while he's there. bigote was specially designed to be hard to categorize: they try to incorporate appropriate dishes from all over the world. I thought they were doing pretty good at it!

So, if you're in Shinjuku Sanchome for a pilgrammae to Sekaido, try stopping by bigote afterwards.

1 comment:

Ingrid said...

Hi Leo

I noticed that back in 2007 you went to Cha Cha Hana. I plan on going there myself in early September. How do you recommend making reservations? Will they understand English?

Your articles are wonderful to read :-) Please keep posting