Thursday, June 24, 2010

Zoogunzoo, Shibuya

You wanna see what a night-in-the-life is like? In addition to having a long and relaxed night on the turps with Swannie, I took pictures along the way. If I haven't mentioned this before, I think of this blog as something I'll be able to look back on with amusement when I'm in my dotage, so writing about the whole evening rather than just the food is fun. Will be fun. Whatever.

Leaving the office, I headed down into the subterranean depths, where strange species hip-shot photos come out well sometimes. I took the Hanzomon line (purple) out to Omotesando.

If you enlarge the picture and look carefully, you'll see that his shirt and hat both bear the legend 'Slight Slappers'. I thought this was hilarious at the time, but now realize it's a Japanese thrash band. According to this review, they play with the 'lethal skill of a professional assassin', thus proving that in the minds of many westerners, Japanese = ninja.

Mr. Zoogunzoo (called 'Mr.' to differentiate it from their online wine shop, Zoogunzoo Wolf, because you might have gotten confused otherwise. Or contused.) is on a traffic-y, semi-dead stretch of 246 as it heads from Omotesando down to Shibooya. It's very close to El Castellano (since 1977, the first Spanish restaurant in Tokyo owned by a Spaniard; a colleague recommended it to me recently. Here's someone that hates it so much they wrote a couple blog posts about how bad it is.). It's like they were reading my mind - in the heat and humidity, I kept thinking on the way over that I wanted to drink sparkling red, and there's the blackboard, at the top of the stairs, proclaiming their current special on the very thing. We started with it.

Actually I think the full name is 'Mr. Zoogunzoo Underground'. They're all-in on that theme, with a deep, dark Australian Outback thing (to match the all-Aussie wine list, which is quite nice). After that bottle of sparkling red, I really thought these cracked-earth walls were moving by themselves.
Let me just run through the food quickly - I think the focus is more on the wine, by which I don't mean to discourage you from going. Starting top left, they give you a bit of bread with an Australian spice mix. I kept saying it tasted like 'lemon wattle', which amused Swannie; in fact I see now that I was thinking of lemon myrtle and wattle seed, two great tastes that go great together when you're trying to cook with indigenous Australian flora.  Oysters were tremendous and meaty, but very very strong-tasting. Past their use-by date?  Madai carpaccio was pretty good, dominated by dressing. Corn mousse was very nice, one of their particular specialties. More or less a light, sweet whip of canned corn and cream, I think. Pasta was average but included some bits of kangaroo (which were gamey and overcooked). The best dish for me was the goulash (Australian goulash, right?), but I have no memory now of the taste.

Well, that was it. I was pretty tired, and even the buildings seemed to be slouching out of sympathy.

Don't let anyone tell you Tokyo is safe and clean. You run into junkies all the time, like this woman on the train who seemed to have been shooting up in her feet.

Speaking of feet, I was dead on mine, and this long escalator made me feel tired since I always walk on escalators, making it look like a long staircase. Come to think of it, I probably could have just stood there and let it take me up, couldn't I?

Climbing the escalator and stairs and finally finding myself back at the office, I was greeted by my old friend the bike, who I still had to ride home. It's a really nice way to finish the night, even if it was touching midnight at this point, and the next day was a workday. I was genuinely happy to see the bike, and that's why I whipped out my camera and squeezed off a quick shot.

My zoogun's loaded and she's in my sights.


  1. Was that Molly Dooker "Goosebumps" red sparkling wine that you had? We liked it when we tasted it some time ago (

    Is it possible that she may have a flea infested small lap dog at home and her feet are all eaten up by the fleas???

  2. No, it was actually Leone,
    It was very simple and fruity, so I don't know if I'd recommend it. They also had the d'Arenberg Peppermint Paddock, which is probably a little better in the same price range.

    I guess the dog-and-flea explanation is possible but I prefer the rude explanation. Another sign that I may not yet be fully Japanese.

  3. Good narative. Liked all the commentary before and after the food and the pictures that went with it. You are getting closer and closer to a book all the time.