...an expat libertine with a penchant for sparkly dining partners, jazz bars and izakaya.
Opinions here expressed are not necessarily shared by any with whom I associate. Fault for errors and any offense caused is entirely my own.

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Entries in Shibuya-ku (16)


Lapaz, Jingumae  ラパズ、神宮前

We chanced upon Lapaz while sitting outside One’s Diner, supping on one of the worst G&Ts we’ve ever had the displeasure to be served. Oh well… that will be the one and only visit.

Lapaz, however, proved to be far more welcoming. A spacious, and curiously appointed interior provided separate smoking and non-smoking areas, a pleasant open frontage for street-side dining, a long, somewhat post-industrial bar dominating the mid-section of the space and a somehow outdoors-y feeling space to the rear. 

As well as the food and drink (robust G&Ts here!), Lapaz also serves as a shop (wares ranging from stationary to apparel) and a kind of drop in office (free Wi-Fi as well as public-use printers and copiers). The atmosphere was kind of artsy, the styling and décor positioning Lepaz as a designer café-bar/ dining space, and overall provided a peaceful spot for a late lunch.

The lunch menu was a little too limited, and the portions could have been more generous (after being offered – and accepting – the omori rice one expects to get a supersized serving, after all), but these were minor niggles. The green curry was delicious, while the taco rice, despite being tasty, didn’t really make much of in an impression.

Lapaz is probably best as a drinking spot, and provides reason enough to visit a little explored neighbourhood.

Bar - domintates the mid-section of the space

Lunch sets - good value, seemingly healthy, but portions could be more generous

Interesting decor - I'll have Audrey, please

Jellied chicken and vegetables - a tad bland

Soup - chicken stock, pleasantly salty

Green curry - delicious, chicken pieces a bit scarce

Taco rice - okay, but failed to excite

Interior - relaxing, with a touch of green





Es, Ebisu  エス、恵比寿

Es enjoys pretty good, and generally consistent, reviews online, and I have it on good authority that the dining experience on the main floor is enjoyable. On this particular visit we ended up seated outside on the small terrace in front of the restaurant, huddled under a gas heater willing ourselves to be warm. The staff were pleasant, the open kitchen with pizza kiln to the rear of the terrace a nice touch, and the food reasonable in terms of both quality and price. 

The lunch menu provided all the Italian staples, and baskets of bread helped fill the corners. The tuna salad was about as dull as they come, but the corn and potato soup and prosciutto-topped margherita made up for it. Although no longer on the menu, my dining partner mentioned to the staff that she’d once enjoyed a cheese risotto there and had hoped to repeat the experience; the request was speedily accommodated, but the risotto didn’t live up to expectations. 

Obviously better visited once the weather improves if dining al fresco, but I’m curious to try the restaurant proper of an evening.

Tuna salad - dull, limp, uninspired 

Corn and potato soup - smooth and creamy 

Bread and olive oil - a simple pleasure, and replenished if asked for

Cheese risotto - somewhat bland

Margherita topped with prosciutto - moreish





Uncle Tom, Ebisu  ウンクルトム、恵比寿

Tokyo is dotted with these old-style Western/ spaghetti “restaurants” serving up antiquated Japanese takes on Italian staples and domestic creations utilizing all manner of seemingly incompatible ingredients.

Uncle Tom, situated a short jog from Ebisu station’s East exit, is one of the better known and loved of the genre.

Usually busy, especially of a lunchtime, the portions are pretty good, the prices extremely reasonable, and the pints of Yebisu beer very cheap. 

The atmosphere is redolent of a rāman-ya, and the interior rather 1970s/ 80s, complete with a collection of prints by John Lennon. 

The salads, although sizable, aren't prizewinners, but the spaghetti is strangely compelling. The asparagus, bacon and egg pasta was certainly moreish, and I have it on good authority that the cod roe and nattō variety is equally tasty…


03 3442 1934

Uncle Tom


Komatsuan, Shibuya  小松庵、渋谷

Komatsuan is a small chain of soba restaurants serving up “Tokyo Soba,” based on the traditions of Edo Soba, which is to say they claim to adhere to tradition while adding something contemporary to the mix, too. 

A visit to the Shibuya Tokyu Honten store for a late lunch found the place practically deserted, and lacking in character, as are most department store restaurants.

The menu offered range of set lunches, reasonable priced, with the soba and tempura set being well proportioned and tasty.





Le Lion, Ebisu  ル・リオン、恵比寿

Being both shocked and dismayed by the queue outside L’Antica Pizzeria da Michele, my dining partner and I trundled on over to Le Lion, a small Lyonnaise bouchon-styled French restaurant, in the Ebisu backstreets between Meiji Dori and the station, not far from the excellent Hainan Jeefan Shokudo.

Not large, the restaurant interior looked inviting enough, and the covered terrace area provided for a nice atmosphere (surrounded by surprisingly well behaved pet dogs) on a warm and admirably rain free afternoon.

Although both Tokyoeater and Terry thought well of Le Lion a few years ago, this particular lunch excursion found it somewhat wanting. Either time has taken its toll, or the lunchtime business doesn't do that later in the day justice.   

An amuse of dry bread proceeded our mains; steak and roast beef, respectively, both propped up with a miserly splash of mashed potato and over-cooked, under-represented, vegetables. The steak came with mustard puree that served to moisten the bread a little. Both pieces of meat were of the fatty persuasion so beloved of Japanese diners, and thus too oily and soft-textured for my liking.

For dessert, lemon tart and a delicious, sickly-sweet chocolate mousse that would have faired better after an evening meal.



Le Lion


Kagomi, Ebisu  籠女、恵比寿

Kagomi is an enjoyable izakaya some ten minutes walk from Ebisu station in the direction of Hiroo – near Ebisu 4-chome, to be precise.

Part of a chain, which belongs to a group running a handful of restaurant/ izakaya brands, the emphasis is on good portions, a broad menu – regional okonomiyaki to fusion salads – and drawing female customers, as demonstrated by their ladies’ party plans and, perhaps, the tone the menu strikes. 

If this izakaya has a claim to fame, then it must be the otoshi – all-you-can-eat salad, and a surprisingly good one at that, stuffed full of beans, peppers, radish, lettuce and other leaves. 

The erengi in chives and butter were great, as was the cheese and asparagus bacon roll, although it didn't come anywhere near the molten cheese heaven of Kushiwakamaru’s cheese-stuffed peppers. 

Although tasty, and providing ballast to offset the beer guzzling, the okonomiyaki was somewhat disappointing. This only reinforces my belief that good okonomiyaki are only to found at dedicated okonomiyaki-ya.

Kagomi get’s the mid-range budget izakaya positioning just right, and provides a welcome excuse to visit the side of Ebisu that I tend to neglect.





Sakura, Jingumae  神宮前

Not far from where Volantaire used to perch, Sakura is a tastefully appointed modern izakaya/ dining bar in Jingumae’s B6 building, more or less opposite the many faceted Audi showroom.

Dark interior, stylish yet simple furnishings and a decking veranda that must be great when it’s not raining (a rare chance of late!) combine with brisk, friendly service, quality cooking and an intimate, quietly convivial atmosphere to create a pleasant dining experience. 

The menu covers the gamut of izakaya staples, with each seemingly prepared from quality ingredients with an equal focus on presentation and volume.

Although my dining companion and I were too absorbed in conversation to delve deeply, those dishes we did enjoy were delicious, although, and as others have noted, the sashimi is okay rather than great, despite looking pretty.

The salad was plentiful, possessed of a delicious sesame-enfused dressing and both soft and crunchy textures. The takenoko, being in season, was very good, too.

The best, or at least most memorable, dish of the evening was the otoshi. Served on elongated platter, at least half a meter in length, it presented us (to our glad surprise) with an array of different flavours, textures and cooking styles, from simmered to deep fried, with pickles and chewy snails in between. 

Good stuff, and deserves further investigation. There’s another Sakura in Shibuya’s Sakuragaoka district, too.