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Friday, June 4, 2010

TOKYO FOOD FILE

Change is not always for the better


Hidden away just up the side street from Incanto, the bijou wine bar formerly known (and extolled in this column) as Terauchi has gone through two name changes in the past couple of years. First it became Magazzino; now, since April of this year, it is simply known as Itabar.

News photo
Moving on: Lastricato's new two-story home in Kagurazaka ROBBIE SWINNERTON PHOTO

The look is little different — a small inner sanctum lined to the ceiling with shelves of wine bottles and an outer area looking onto a matchbox-size garden. The menu is much the same as well. But the feel now is as sterile as the generic and unimaginative name — and the customers are staying away in droves. Unless it's given another makeover (and better name) fast, its future does not look bright.

Itabar, 4-12-6 Minami-Azabu, Minato-ku; (03) 5420-2525.

Open 5:30-11 p.m. (closed Sun. and 3rd Mon. of the month). Nearest station Hiroo

Another Food File favorite of a few years back, Lastricato, has also recently undergone major changes. No longer at its modest digs in Ushigome, it has moved down the road to Kagurazaka, where it now boasts its own dedicated two-story building. Chef Masakazu Hasumi presides over the main restaurant upstairs, while a young crew turn out simpler victuals in the modest ground-floor osteria.

Hasumi has a deserved reputation for the integrity of his cuisine, with its strong focus on organic vegetables. He's also known for his literal approach to slow-food dining.

We haven't eaten at the upstairs restaurant yet. But judging from the pasta lunch we had in the osteria last week, the opposite attitude prevails — fast service and pretty average quality. We weren't impressed by the wine selection by the glass either — Indian plonk may be cheap but at ¥500 it's still overpriced. We'll be waiting for the dust to settle properly before we go back.

Lastricato, 4-6 Kagurazaka, Shinjuku-ku; (03) 5261-4226; www.r-lastricato.com

Open: Osteria 11:30 a.m.-2:30 p.m. & 6 p.m.-2 a.m.; restaurant 6 p.m.-11:30 p.m. (closed Mon.). Nearest station Iidabashi



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