Tokyo’s famous cuisine comes at various levels, and predictably there are well-known diners and dives (don’t know about drive-ins…). A little alley exists under this station which is both a surface train and metro stopping-point. Just underneath the old steel bridge that carries the trains, one turns right and immediately there are 15 or so little dives.
I was eating around 6 PM so relatively little crowding, but I went with my “crowd and sniff” criteria: 1) go for a place that is full of locals, especially if there are other comparables nearby not so full 2) stick your head in and sniff.
A girl was barking customers into this place, the first one on the right, and after I walked on down the rest of the alley I was sure it passed the “crowd” criterion, packed as it was with after-work eaters. The smell was definitely positive with a broiled meat predominance, so I let her show me to a small table at the back.
Nothing comes cheap in this town. You might imagine Hanoi prices in a place with steel girders at Japanese head-height and the frequent rumble of heavy rail traffic making conversation even more interesting. But prices for single dishes ran from about $8 to $15 or more. I went for a half-pint draft beer, and started with deep-fried beef tongue. It was a small portion, so than I had deep-fried beef.
The tongue was delicious, crispy and tender, with a wonderful simple beef tongue flavour, accompanied by minimal chopped vegetables and seasoned (by me) with the ubiquitous soy sauce. The deep-fried beef not quite on the same level, a bit tough and chewy but also packed with flavour.
The friendly kid serving was responsive, cheerful, and gave English a game try although most of our communication was in sign language. Around $21 out the door, which might seem like a reasonable deal by Vancouver standards but a place on this level in my home town would have prices a wee bit lower I think.
Food 7.4, service 8.0, ambience (authentic and fun but certainly no Michelinism) 8.0, value 6.3.