Away from the usual tourist areas, the Akasaka area of Tokyo hosts many interesting restaurants waiting to be discovered by visitors. We focused, in particular, on the area where there are many restaurants near the Akasaka Mitsuke subway station. The best exit to emerge from the station is exit 10. When you leave the station, you are in the heart of the area which is full of small restaurants. As this is not a usual tourist area and the main clientele are the office workers in the area, only a few restaurants have English menus and have staff that can communicate with you. But therein lies the charm of this place as you can feel the authentic atmosphere of Tokyo here. We were unsure of what to eat at Akasaka, when we came across this restaurant – Ore-no French and Italian Restaurant (there is no English name on the signboard – we only found it when we googled for it). There was only a Japanese signboard. What caught our attention was the big photographs of its chefs at the entrance and when we peeked inside, the fully packed dining room was bursting at its seams. There were even more surprises in store when we entered the restaurant.
The first surprise was that there was standing room only. All the tables in the main dining area were bar-counter high with all the patrons eating standing up. Only a few tables along the side had bar stools for seating. The next surprise came when we were told that we had to finish our meal within two hours. That was not a problem as we had no intention of hanging around on our feet. The final surprise came with the menu. The very reasonable pricing on the menu was indeed a pleasant surprise! A grilled lobster costs 1,480 yen (about S$20). It is no wonder that there are so many ordinary patrons at this restaurant despite the stringent dining conditions. We later found out that one of the guiding philosophies of the founder was to keep prices low by maximizing the turnover at the tables. Sounds like a good idea we thought. We ordered the grilled lobster, porcini mushroom with spaetzle (580 yen) and escargot with mushroom (580 yen).
The appetizers came in big portions. The escargots were really good and are comparable to those you find at a good French bistro. The spaetzle dish was however lacklustre. The good point was the strong porcini taste of the dish. Other than that it was just starchy. The dish that was the highlight was the lobster. For that price we thought maybe a very small appetizer-sized specimen might be introduced. Instead, we had a good-sized lobster, grilled to perfection. We had thought of ordering the main courses after the appetizers. But by the time we were done with our three dishes, there was no more room. Our total bill for the dinner with beer and sake (which they serve in a wine glass) was about 5,000 yen. We would certainly return to this restaurant again just to have the lobster and try the other items on the menu. We finished our dinner in about 70 minutes, well within their two-hour limit. The food gets prepared quite quickly and the two-hour provision is more than quite adequate without the feeling of being rushed.
Ore-no French & Italian Restaurant
1F, 3-10-1, Akasaka, Minato-ku, Tokyo
+81 3 6441 3346