Thursday, December 11, 2008

Zen, Roppongi (膳, 芋洗坂)

In troubled times, nothing comforts like soul food. Thus on a difficult day like today, suffering through bizarre work orders from various sides, trepidation about the future of the team, and existential angst about life, it was a pleasure to be turned away from two other establishments on Imoraizaka and find ourselves in Zen. (The Swedish place next to the pet shop and the Japanese place across thre street advertising crab-don and fried oysters. Damn their eyes! Arrrr!)

Tiny, cluttered, and not especially clean, but in a homey way, describe both the restaurant and chef. A small counter leads to a single table in the back, where we sat once the chef had cleared the newspapers and other objects. Fortunately several large plant leaves remained, so we could admire some greenery during our meal.

Your choice of lunch - grilled salmon or grilled mackrel! The mind boggles at the possibilities. However the fish was preceded by a steady stream of small plates: some boiled vegetables (including konnyaku and chikuwa) and a warm, moist unohana. Fried tofu in broth with an unusual boiled green leaf on top - I think morning glory leaves, but I should really learn the names of more greens. Several bowls of rice. Thick, strong miso soup with clams. And the salmon was excellent - strong and salty with crisped skin. From the dark color I figured it was something special, and the chef confirmed happily as we were leaving that it was from Hokkaido. All that puzzled me was the omission of grated daikon to go with it (Y1260).

Very comforting. All is right with the world, and it's time for a nap. Hard to imagine what Zen is like for dinner, but might actually be worth a shot considering the effort obaa-san seems to put into picking food for lunch.

Phew, hard to find a site for this one...
03-3405-1369

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