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Friday, Sept. 19, 2008
TOKYO FOOD FILE
Had enough of the bistro? Then head on to the bouchon
Kagurazaka already has a remarkable concentration of French bistros, brasseries, wine bars, and at least one authentic Breton creperie. Since last September we have been able to add to that list a full-fledged bouchon, a bistro-style restaurant specializing in the distinctive cuisine of Lyon, the region at the culinary heart of French gastronomy.
Lugdunum (the ancient Latin name for Lyon) is a bright, new two-story building that stands out among its modest Japanese neighbors on Honda Yokocho (the main side street off Kagurazaka) like an Hermes bag at a flea market. Inside, it sports an authentic zinc counter, along with fixtures, fittings and floor tiles that were brought over from a dismantled old-style Lyon eatery.
Ditto with the cooking. The menu features plenty of charcuterie and hearty regional dishes — quenelles (dumplings); salade Lyonnaise (with bacon and a poached egg), fromage de te^te (pork head cheese) — presented with a delicacy and sophistication well above the norm for this kind of French soul food. Nothing we have tried has disappointed, and the boudin noir (blood sausage served with warm apple) in particular is excellent.
Do not arrive expecting generous portions or budget bistro-level prices (figure ¥6,000 for a three-course meal from the a la carte-only menu). The wine list may offer a good selection of Rhone bottles, but it too is priced at a premium. Also on the minus side, tables are small and crammed very close together, especially at the back of the dining room. (Robbie Swinnerton)
4-3-7 Kagurazaka, Shinjuku-ku; nearest stations: Iidabashi, Ushigomi Kagurazaka, Kagurazaka; open 11:30 a.m.-2:30 p.m. and 6-10 p.m. (closed Mon.); (03) 6426-1201; www.lyondelyon.com