Neighborhoods are like microclimates, each with its own ecology of dining opportunities. Some are arid desserts with barely a ramen shop in sight. Others are lush and fertile, with a rich range of cuisines and styles. And then there are the hidden corners, seemingly overlooked, that sprout an improbably eclectic choice of eateries and drinking holes.
A case in point: the narrow slice of real estate where Uehara drops to meet the looming shadow of the hulking Yamate-dori overpass. Over a span of barely 100 meters, you pass a smart little Okinawan diner, a greasy Chinese kitchen, an artisan pizzeria complete with wood-fired oven, a funky fish-centric izakaya, a couple of cool bars and one of the friendliest little Thai restaurants in the whole ward.
Soi 7 — pronounced Soi Nana, and named after one of Bangkok’s most colorful nightlife streets — serves the standard gamut of curries, stir-fries and hawker foods. But everything is prepared with a hands-on, home-cooking feel. Set in a standalone wood-clad two-story house, the dining room is simple but spacious, with none of the ethnic tourist tat that clutters most Thai eateries here.
Just around the corner, on an alley that’s even less well trod, the latest, brightest and smallest addition to this area is San-Sun. This hole-in-the-wall bar is run by a young couple from western Japan who focus almost entirely on Japanese wine. Every evening they uncork half a dozen bottles, serving them by the glass (¥600-950). It’s all no-smoking; there are tasty homemade snacks; and if all eight seats at the counter are taken, there are a couple of tables along the back wall where you can prop yourself up.
Soi 7: 1-3-7 Uehara, Shibuya-ku, Tokyo; (03) 5454-1028. Open daily 11:45 a.m.- 2:45 p.m.; 6 p.m.-midnight. San-Sun: 1-2-1 Uehara, Shibuya-ku, Tokyo; (03) 6407-0333; www.3sunjp.net. Open 6 p.m.-midnight; closed Sun., 1st and 3rd Mon. Nearest stations: Yoyogi-Hachiman (Odakyu Line) and Yoyogi-Uehara (Chiyoda and Odakyu lines).