Not having visited Nishi-Ogikubo for several years, I was delighted when Uminekoya, a small, neat and beautifully executed restaurant a brief stroll from the station's south exit, was suggested as a dining venue.
The shop’s façade and interior were modest; the latter dominated by a long dining counter and open kitchen, and the bustle of activity therein. The proprietors, two gentleman in their late-middle years, ran the whole show, from taking orders, preparing and cooking a host of excellent dishes to serving them all – along with sturdy pints of heartland beer or crisp white wines – with a smile.
If one complaint could be raised, it would be that this two man show sometimes struggled to keep pace with countless re-orders and requests from a crowd of diners (a pleasant mix of families, smart young ladies and couples) clearly intent on enjoying as much of the varied and interesting menu as their stomachs could handle.
Not only was the menu varied – ranging from South East Asian through Japanese to European dishes – but every dish was also extremely well proportioned, nicely presented and undoubtedly lovingly created with high quality, fresh produce. The prices were very reasonable, with some being criminally cheap considering the volume and quality of cooking. For example, the thick, juicy slabs of roast pork with garlic roast potatoes, or the huge, mouthwatering pile of steamed vegetables that the diners on the neighbouring table ordered after (sadly) my dining partners and I had already eaten more than our fill.
Carpaccio of sole (delicate flavour, melted in the mouth)
Spring herring marinade (perfect combination with oil and black olives)
Thai-style spicy spring noodle salad (surprisingly spicy)
Marburu dofu (even spicier)
Succulent roast pork, with roast potatoes, garlic and herbs (perfection; and a zillion times better than that I recently had at Le Lion)
Quattro formaggio (very good, but not a patch on da Isa’s take on this classic pizza)
Cheese plate (the weakest of entire meal, but not unexpected)
Uminekoya is a praiseworthy restaurant, of which the gentlemen in the kitchen can be proud. Not recommended for raucous piss-ups, but perfect for a peaceful (smoke-free), stimulating meal with favourite dining companions. Very much looking forward to visiting again.