Teyandai – Okinawan Small Plates

You probably are wondering if these entries about Tokyo will ever end, right?  Well, just a few more, then we’ll be back to Thailand.  Actually, we’ve been back in Thailand since Thursday evening, but it takes a while to sort through pictures and tell all the stories.

During our trip, we were fortunate to have many friends to visit, most of whom are Japanese or Japanese-Americans who have lived in Tokyo for some time.  This gave us an edge in knowing where to go and what to see and eat, because they made the decisions for us.

Taro took us to Teyandai, an izakaya (basically a tapas bar) that specialized in Okinawan cuisine.  Hidden down a small street just a few blocks from the hustle and bustle of Shibuya, Teyandai is a real gem.


You would never notice it.  The sign (in Japanese only) is the small patch of light on the upper left side of the lava stone facade.  Other than that, there’s no indication what the building is.

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But you head inside and find this wonderful space.

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There are several small sections to the restaurant, all crowded and cozy.  Notice the small seating area halfway up the steps!

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There was quite a large group of us: HP, Mark and Kathy from San Francisco, a couple HP and Mark knows from Spain and their son, and then Tawn and I and Taro.  We settled into a tight corner at the back of the room and started drinking and eating.

Compliments to Taro’s Panasonic Lumix LX3, which I borrowed to shoot these shots.  Its low-light performance is incredible, as its macro function.  HP helped by using a white screen function on his iPhone to provide some close-up ambient light.  (Thanks to Taro for letting me snag these pictures from his Facebook site.)

Here’s a look at some of the dishes we enjoyed:

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Recognize it?  Everyone’s favorite: umi-budo (sea grapes), a type of seaweed that is also known as green caviar.  Served with a plum-yuzu dipping sauce.

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Yamaimo no tatsuta-age (fried mountain yam) with tartar sauce.  Lovely.

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Atsuyaki tamago (fried egg) stuffed with unagi (grilled eel).

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Buta-suki corokke (pork sukiyaki croquette) which you dip in raw beaten egg before eating.

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Ebi-mayo (deep-fried prawns with mayonnaise sauce), similar to the walnut prawns dishes you find in many Chinese restaurants, but without the walnuts.

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Don’t have the Japanese name but it is a fried rice dish with pickled takana vegetables.

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Pan-aisu (bread ice cream) – it is actually a very French baguette stuffed with vanilla ice cream.  Can I tell you how wonderful this combination is?

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Fondant chocolat – not a traditional Okinawan dessert, I might add!

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Kokutou purin (brown sugar pudding).  Taro’s favorite, the eggless custard on top hides a rich pool of pudding made from an unrefined, molasses-like sugar.

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Me and Tawn in the entryway of the restaurant.  It contains little counters so if you’re waiting you can go ahead and start eating and drinking… which I guess means you wouldn’t really be waiting.

This was the highlight meal of the trip.  I really enjoy restaurants where I can try many different things and of course a “small plates” restaurant really meets that need.  There is no Japanese menu but if you make it to Tokyo I would encourage you to seek this restaurant out – the map is above.  I’d be happy to get you the name of things in Japanese so you can order.  Or just randomly point at things in the menu.

View Restaurants in Tokyo in a larger map

After dinner we went to Advocates Bar, one of the most inclusive bars in the gay district in East Shinjuku.  Situated on a corner, the bar only has room for about three people, so it inevitably spills out onto the street.

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Left to right: Mark, Christina, HP, Chris, Tawn and Taro.  Kathy took the picture.

Unlike many of the small bars in Tokyo that are geared very much to only Japanese or only men, Advocates welcomes anyone and everyone.  We had a tall Japanese drag queen wandering around, plenty of westerners and women, as well as locals.  All in all, a very “community” watering hole.

Last thing to write about: our trip to Tsukiji fish market.

0 thoughts on “Teyandai – Okinawan Small Plates

  1. That was terrific, Chris. Those photos were fantastic, especially how clear they were in the low lighting. It is always easier when people pick out which places for you to see or eat at. I’ve never been to Japan, but I’ve heard wonderful things about it. You’ve gone a step further in confirming that. Thanks.

  2. Man are you rich?…. I have been looking at all your pictures and most of them looks expensive, not to mention tasty. I wish I could have that luxurious life of traveling and eating all those good food.

  3. @aznboy4p – LOL – not in the least!  This place was surprisingly affordable.  We spent less than $30 per person for a meal that was spectacular.  The key is to get locals to share their favorite places with you.  These places are always a good value so you don’t have to spend a lot in order to eat well.

  4. @stevew918 – Yeah, raw egg.  One of those, “don’t think about the salmonela scare stories on TV” moments.
    @curry69curry – I’ll be sure to share the details with you when you go.  Or, better yet, maybe Tawn and I will fly up and join you for dinner!  Actually, this place reminded me a lot of the place you, Steve, W and I went in Santa Monica.
    @zionlover – I’m of the opinion that there’s no point in visiting a place where you don’t know at least one person.  Otherwise, all you have is the tourist’s perspective.  Tokyo is definitely worth a visit.
    @yang1815 – Sea grapes: a treat you shouldn’t miss out on.

  5. no no  it’s never too much to talk about Tokyo, and Japan….for me at least I like it sooo much……soo many dishes from those entries…….must hv gained some weights?

  6. I almost signed a contract to work in Okinawa in 1977. But the family vetoed it. I liked the the pictures of the Okinawan dishes a lot … but was really intrigued with the vanilla ice cream in french bread. I think I am going to try it.

  7. @agmhkg – Thankfully, I was walking a LOT during this trip so I burned off the calories I ate.
    @Dezinerdreams – Glad you liked it.
    @Wangium – Correct.  Taro was the Assistant Director of the SF Int’l Asisan American Film Festival and we worked together there for eight years or so.  I knew him back when he first started and have watched him grow into increasingly larger roles… very cool to see.  You might also recognize HP (Mendoza) as the director of “Fruit Fly” and “Colma: The Musical”.
    @ZSA_MD – The key is that you have to get really good quality baguettes, not the chewy/tough “French bread” you find in most markets.  Then toast it a little bit so it is a tad dry.  That way, it is the perfect foil for the ice cream.
    @TheCheshireGrins – Crunchy but like any other seaweed you have at a Japanese restaurant.  The texture is very pleasant as the “grapes” pop in your mouth the same way caviar does.

  8. *drool* I so very much want to try sea grapes. All of it looked good. This trip has looked like too much fun. My husband asked me tonight if I wanted to take a vacation this June – now I know where I’ll suggest (but he probably won’t go for it…I suggested San Antonio and he vetoed that).

  9. all those pictures makes me want to go visit Japan…hope i can get a chance to go there once i have a a job with vacation time so i can go play. 🙂

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