Thursday, November 13, 2008

Bistro Khamsa, Nakameguro

We were stumbling around Nakame last night, and I was freezing my patooties off. Despite being hungry, tired and cold, I still wasn't willing to compromise on the vittles. We passed some places that looked good, and I wish we had gone to Bacione, but there's usually a next time. So next time!

Along the river there are a bunch of nice little places, including the very famous motsu-nabe that everyone knows (except me). We passed up two Italian places in favor of this medium casual bistro with an Indian-sounding name. Being on the 5th floor is not a great way to draw custom, and I admit I was trepidatious when the elevator opened into the space.

Turns out that the Indian name is actually a North African name. There are tagines on the shelves as well as the menu, and a cute collection of tea implements (silver pots, ornamented glasses). With the tiled floor and short curtains, I felt distinctly like I was in Paris, or Dakar, or at least in Tokyo.

The menu featured slightly odd takes on bistro favorites - a giant store-made sausage (interesting and tasty in a sort of mystery-meat way, as it nestled naughtily among the lentils), a tuna tartare that was really more sashimi covered with herbs and dressing (though not in a bad way), breaded pork cutlet swimming in mashed potato-ey, cheezy sauce (porcine in a yoshoku way) and finally roasted duck with confit turnips (disappointing in almost every way). Things were going well until the duck, which was a disappointing way to end.

Wine was an interesting Loire red made from Cabarnet Franc, and the sandy soil was evident from the bouquet. OK, not really, but the web site is kinda cute. I feel it was adequately priced at exactly 2X the discount price available on Rakuten, or less than 2X MSRP. The wine selections were limited to a single, slightly crowded, page, and seemed to be banded into Y4500, Y5500, and above. Very sensible casual-bistro pricing. In fact, I think these are all directly-imported bio wines, which seems to be gaining a bit of popularity...

Overall I didn't feel hard-done-by at the end, but now that I think about, the wine, atmosphere and company all played a part in that. Khamsa was merely adequate re: value for money and tastitude. Next time, it's definitely going to be Italian down the street.

Ahhhh, you can tell from the web site that it's very conceptual. They've spent a bit more time on the concept than the food. The fact that the sister restaurant is "French-Vietnamese with bio wine" doesn't make me any happier. Next will be Alsatian with bio wine, then Dalmatian with bio wine, and where will the madness end?

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