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.

P1150470

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.

Taro 011

But you head inside and find this wonderful space.

Taro 012

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

Taro 003

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:

Taro 001

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.

Taro 002

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

Taro 004

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

Taro 005

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

Taro 006

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

Taro 007

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

Taro 008

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?

Taro 009

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

Taro 010

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.

Taro 013

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.

Taro 014

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.