Best Restaurants in Kagurazaka – Lamb Duck Tokyo
It’s difficult determining the best restaurants in Kagurazaka. Every corner and alleyway has a wine bar, a bistro or a bakery. There are some pretty interesting fusion places in Kagurazaka as well. In the mood for gyoza and champagne? Yes. Yakiniku and French wines? Sign me up. There are temples, hidden alleyways, craft beer bars, an unspeakably exclusive 3 Star Michelin Japanese restaurant and an Italian food imports store with some of the cheapest, deepest wine pours on this side of the globe. It is one of my top Tokyo date spots as there is conversational fodder everywhere. No awkward silence here.
Kagurazaka – A Taste of Paris
Kagurazaka is located in an area that was once the outer edge of Edo Castle. The river at the bottom of the hill running through Kagurazaka is the former moat of Edo Castle. These days, parts of the moat remain intact and other parts have been drained and used for train lines. If you ever come across stone ramparts in Tokyo, they were most likely a part of Edo Castle or it’s moats. Kagurazaka has always been filled with teahouses and restaurants due to its privileged, castle adjacent address. In the 1900’s France setup a higher learning institute in Kagurazaka which still exists today. Kagurazaka is now the neighborhood with the highest number of French eateries, wine bars and cheese shops in all of Tokyo. They even pump in accordion music on the main thoroughfare. Dont worry about where to eat in Kagurazaka, it’s all amazing.
Lamb Duck Tokyo
As there are hundreds of Kagurazaka restaurants to choose from let’s narrow down the playing field. Let’s imagine you’ve been in Tokyo a few days now and you’re ready to move on from fish and noodles. Maybe you’re also wondering where to eat lamb in Tokyo. Also, since you’re in Tokyo maybe you want that lamb to be almost raw and paired with extremely cheap wine. Well, great news! Lamb Duck Tokyo is one of the best restaurants in Kagurazaka, one of my top Tokyo date spots and has wine for 4.50 USD a glass. By best restaurants in Kagurazaka I mean the ones that aren’t top tier Michelin rated and that you actually stand a chance of getting a table at. You should still probably book though. Reminder, I offer a Tokyo Restaurant Reservation service.
Cheap Bubbles to Start
First up, sort out some drinks. Decent Beer, Red, White and bubbles all start at 4.50USD. I love this country so much. If you’re like me and some of my thirsty friends, it’s almost always cheaper to get the bottle. Check the wine menu. It’s large, has a good mix of Euro and New World wines and starts pretty cheap. All Kagurazaka restaurants will have wine lists locked and loaded.
As Japan is not home to a tipping culture there are a few safeguards in place in the event of people that sit down and spend an hour drinking a single glass of wine for 4 dollars. The table charge, otoshi. An otoshi is a small sampler dish usually served along with your drinks in exchange for the table charge. Which is typically 3-4 dollars. The otoshi served at Lamb Duck Tokyo is Italian pecorino cheese. Which is a sheep’s milk cheese, get it? Between the open kitchen with the lamb covered grill and the “lamb” cheese I was pretty certain I’d found where to eat lamb in Tokyo.
Grapefruit and Coriander Salad
Where I’m from this is cilantro but no one in Tokyo ever knows what I’m talking about. Dinner is about to involve a lot of meat and things slow cooked in oil. So we got the salad out of the way. It’s a massive pile of coriander, chunks of grapefruit and a Thai fish sauce dressing. Douse it in lime and you have one of the best and most unexpected salad combos I’ve ever eaten. As this is one of my favorite Tokyo date spots you can wow your potential future partner with your eclectic tastes by crumbling some of the pecorino cheese on top of this already lush salad.
Duck Mousse and Pork Rillette
Liver mousse and rillette are two of the most decadent things I can think of. Duck mousse is made by sautéing livers in a pan with butter and then blending them with cream and pink peppercorns. For rillette you’ll slow cook some heavily salted, cubed meat (usually pork) in pure fat. Then you simply shred the pork and let it chill in enough fat to form a paste. Spread the rillette on some fresh baguette and wonder how the French come in at number 9 on the World Health Organization’s Life Expectancy list. For reference, Japan is sitting pretty at number one and the US is in the back of the bus at 31. According a 2016 WHO study. Hopefully we’ve moved up a notch or two since 2016.
Where to eat lamb in Tokyo – Tataki Style
Deciding where to eat in Kagurazaka is a tough choice. While you may have burnt out on rice, fish and noodles in Tokyo but think you’ll still feel guilty for eating straight up Western food then then I suggest Lamb Duck Tokyo and their tataki. You can have your lamb with a hint of Japan’s willingness to eat almost anything raw. This platter of lamb tataki was by far my favorite dish of the evening. The lamb was barely seared on the outside and just warmed on the inside and served on a log. Paired with a baby leaf salad and what appeared to be a flower. A flower that upon closer inspection was actually cheese! Of all the Kagurazaka restaurants I was lucky enough to pick one with cheese flowers.
Confit is interesting. It comes from the French word confire which means to preserve. Meat confit dishes are made by cooking salted meat in oil or fat in low temperatures for a very long time. Once cooked it can be stored in a cool, dry place for months. This lamb confit didnt last five minutes, let alone several months. It was served with arugala, potatoes and a spoonful of shredded parmigiano reggiano. Just in case lamb slow cooked in fat was sounding a little too bland. If you’re wondering where to eat in Kagurazaka and also get a week’s worth of calories look no further.
Lamb, cooked this time
We couldn’t leave without a big plate of roast lamb paired with Japanese veggies. At Lamb Duck Tokyo you can order lamb rump, should or rack by the gram. You can also order a full or half sized duck. We were in a lamb mood though. Next time I am absolutely ordering a duck. Here we have a lamb shoulder served with kabocha pumpkin, lotus root and an extremely tasty Japanese eggplant. Now is the time for more wine.
Lamb Meat Pie
Being from the Southwestern US meat pies were never really present at my parent’s dinner table. I remember a few chicken pot pies but nothing involving minced meat. Definitely not minced lamb meat. This dish was our shime. This is a term in Japanese that means the closing dish. It usually involves rice or noodles. At Lamb Duck Tokyo it meant rich, buttery pastry. This was delicious and totally unnecessary. We were so full at this point but couldn’t resist.
Best Restaurants in Kagurazaka
Go walk off that meal. There is so much to see in Kagurazaka. You have wine bars absolutely everywhere for some post dinner drinks. There are bakeries, pastry shops and a temple to go explore. Then on top of that there are bamboo lined cobblestone back alleys with little watering holes just waiting to be discovered. This area is not on the tourist radar. I think people overlook at as it is famous for European food and visitors are not typically here for wine and cheese. So if you’re a tourist looking for some Tokyo date spots or a Tokyo resident wondering where to eat lamb in Tokyo, this is the place for you. Happy dining.
Where to eat in Kagurazaka – Lamb Duck Tokyo