Saturday, October 4, 2008

Hawaiian Tsunami

Name: Dining Cafe Tsunami
Style: Asian Fusion
Neighborhood: Ebisu

Determined to find somewhere new to eat one night, I explored the streets to the east of Ebisu-eki and found Tsunami because they serve a little later than the other restuarants there (last order is 24:00). Tsunami is a Hawaiian-themed Asian Fusion restaurant (there's another Hawaii-themed bar on the same street... not sure what the connection between Hawaii and Ebisu is though). Normally, I don't consider that kind of strong theme a real recommendation, but in August I ate at the new Roy's in Los Angeles and they're not only Hawaiian-themed but a chain, and they were still great, so Tsunami got a test.

Unfortunately, I'm been slow about posting, so I don't remember exactly what I ate at Tsunami, however I remember that they lived up to billing. I avoided some of the overly themed items on the menu (Spam Omeraisu) and got a salad and some sort of fish entree. Both were well-executed, and the place had a good complement of beers from stateside as well, which was a plus. Tsunami is well set-up for parties or groups, and it does have a mellow atmosphere (as oyu'd hope with a Hawaiian theme!). The entree was around 1500 yen, and beers were 800 yen or so.

Sweating out Tuk Tuk

Name: Tuk Tuk Italian Thai Restaurant
Style: Thai
Neighborhood: Meguro

In general, Japanese people don't like spicy food. This can kind of get in the way when it comes to Mexican, definitely affects the relative paucity of Szechuan places here, and takes some of the enjoyment out of Indian food; but the time it totally changes the eating experience is with Thai food. If you can't get spicy Thai food, it can't be real, can it?

Last week I tried out Meguro's "Tuk Tuk Italian Thai Restaurant." I have no idea how a half-Italian, half-Thai restaurant came to be, but it's the first place I've eaten since coming to Japan where I actually had food that was so hot, I took the first bite and went, "Uh-oh."

Tuk Tuk is 3-4 minutes east of Meguro-eki's east gate towards Shirokanedai. It's actually next door to Meguro Kitchen Bar, a place I've been meaning to try for awhile, which is why I went there. But I saw Tuk Tuk's menu and concept and couldn't resist checking it out. It is, indeed, a half-Italian, half-Thai resturant; there are full Italian and Thai menus with daily specials off both sides.

I got Spring Rolls (the o-susume salad was sold out), and a green curry. The spring rolls were fine, but didn't prepare me for the green curry. Literally the moment I put the first spoonful in my mouth, my lips puckered, my heartrate increased, I flushed, and I instantly ordered a beer because I knew I would need it! The curry was really good, but what caused the reaction is that, unexpectedly, it was just as hot as I wold expect at a Thai restaurant in the Bay Area. Most Tokyo restaurants are a very much mild experience by comparison.

I don't know whether the Tuk Tuk staff sized me up and brought me the extra-spicy or whether everything they serve is like that, but it was a joyous experience. I ate slowly, used lots of rice, and cooled down with the beer when needed. Ah, the sweat of a good Thai meal! If you're looking for that, give Tuk Tuk a try.

Prices are moderate, I think the curry was 1200 yen and the spring rolls 700 or so.

Harajuku's Mexican Hangout

Name: Tacos del Amigo
Style: Mexican (if you couldn't tell from the name)
Neighborhood: Harajuku/Omotesando
Website: n/a

Yoichi introduced Earl and I to Tacos del Amigo a year or two ago with the introduction, "There's this really cheap Mexican place along Omotesando..." That highly improbable leadoff took us to a B1 restuarant which was indeed just off the tony shopping area but sported affordable prices and a character-filled, disjoint interior. Unfortunately, we learned they were losing their lease and not likely to be there for long.

That building has since been demolished, but Tacos del Amigo managed to find another B1 storefront to operate out of (right now, there's a sign at the old place -- aka the construction site -- but it probably won't survive the winter). They're now downstairs on Takeshita-dori (they're on the part farther away from Harajuku station, not the intense shopping street part). They're still pretty cheap! Most dishes are 780yen and Mexican beers are 550yen. I wouldn't say this is the most authentic Mexican in Tokyo but it certainly will do if you're looking for a pile of cheap Mexican food. They even have Machaca!

I couldn't find any traces of a website, but you can call 03-3405-9996 if you're lost. They're open 7 days from 17:00, last order is at 23:00.