On our last night in Tokyo we were looking for a traditionally Japanese, delicious dinner experience, relaxed with no frills. What could be better than an izakaya? For those of you not in the know (I wasn’t), an izakaya is a type of informal Japanese gastropub, casual places for after-work drinking. After some review sifting we settled on ‘Bistro 35 Steps’ in Shibuya. And boy are we glad we did.
It wasn’t a totally easy find. We had a quick pit-stop at Goodbeer Faucets nearby (which we can also highly recommend – an amazing selection of different beers from around the world, with counter style seating at the windows looking down onto the Tokyo streets) and then set off down a small street in bustling Shibuya; the entrance is to the side of the Shibuya Hotel. There is not an obvious sign, just a little wooden plaque. But the steps give it away. I did actually count and as the name suggests…it’s 35 steps down. I knew we’d found the right place.
Arriving at the bottom was an assault on the senses, but in absolutely the best possible way. It was a Saturday night and absolutely buzzing (luckily we had booked, which is highly recommended ) – a hive of activity with jovial diners, waiters rushing around and an open central kitchen with chefs hard at work. Noise and aroma and atmosphere, we couldn’t wait to get stuck in. We padded around barefoot to our seats at the edge of the open kitchen, ordered a drink and perused the menu.
The menu is not extensive, but with more than enough interesting dishes to excite our tastebuds we immediately ordered. A complimentary starter salad appeared which was a delight – a tangy yuzu dressing and crispy topping transformed the simple leaves.
A stand-out dish for me was the tuna tartar with green onion and avocado – soft and creamy and yet fresh, and served with delicious toasted bread rubbed with garlic.
Chris sang the praises of the beef stew, topped with a soft egg, deep and rich flavours.
But the highlight was probably the house speciality; mackerel seared before your eyes at the table with a blowtorch and charming theatre from the waiters. The fish was melt-in-your mouth, with just the right amount of subtle charring on the outside.
We left Bistro 35 steps full to the brim (we added another 2 dishes to our original order as we wanted to try more – it took considerable willpower not to order the whole menu) not just with the delicious food but with energy and enthusiasm at this wonderful little izakaya gem.