We continue today on our search for a suitable restaurant for dinner near the Akasaka Mitsuke subway station in Tokyo. We had previously stumbled upon a gem of a restaurant serving Western food – the Ore-no French Italian restaurant in the vicinity, so we decided to look for something that is traditionally Japanese. There are many Japanese restaurants in this area where office workers from the nearby office buildings go for their drinks and dinner after work. The izakaya type of restaurant is perfect for this purpose. These are very casual pub-like places but with very good local food. We stopped at the Izakaya An An. It looks as traditional as you can imagine with all the signages only in Japanese. We hesitated but decided to try it after we saw a few groups of locals streaming in. Go with the flow!
We were greeted by friendly staff members when we entered. It was a tiny place with counter seating for about eight and a few small private rooms inside. We were seated at the counter where we can see the yakitori chef in action. The restaurant staff only spoke Japanese but fortunately there was a basic menu in English. It does not however list all the food that they serve. Fortunately we had very hospitable fellow diners that spoke some English. They were quite happy to let us know what they were having. Using sign language, we managed to order some times from the menu and the rest by pointing at the other people’s food. As in a pub, you make friends quite easily at the izakaya bar, especially after some sake.
We gathered that the speciality of this izakaya was tofu and so we ordered a few soy bean based items. The home-made tofu (840 yen) was made by the restaurant chef. It was large in terms of volume but light and refreshing. The various condiments added flavour to the smooth natural taste. We tried the raw “yuba” sashimi (620 yen). We think it is some sort of tofu skin, very fresh and creamy. The fried chicken and vegetable dish seemed to be a local favourite and we tried it. It had a Chinese dish feel and made us think of a tze char stall in Singapore. We had the ginger wrapped with pork yakitori sticks (420 yen each). We think that was the dish of the day. The tender stalks of ginger plant was wrapped with pork. Eating pork with the ginger shoot was an unusual but delicious combination. Our meal ended with ramen cooked in soy milk. This was our first time having ramen in soy milk (740 yen). The taste was very balanced and fine. No feeling of oiliness at all. Our bill for the dinner, including sake drinks, was 7,600 yen. We thought that it was quite a reasonable charge for a very enjoyable experience.
This is a place we would like to re-visit sometime in the future. It is hard to reproduce its Japanese address, so its best to navigate using the Centurion Hotel Grand (which is just across the street from the restaurant) as a reference. As an extra aid to navigation and also to help with finding other restaurants around the area generally, we have posted below a map that we obtained during this trip. It is a bit outdated but should be useful to give some general guidance to restaurants near Akasaka Mitsuke and places to eat near Hotel New Otani. An An Izakaya is location #24 on the map.