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Los Barbados: Eclectic African cuisine on the fringe of Shibuya

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From African chicken to Zanzibar pizza, the menu at Los Barbados runs the full gamut of eclectic. Push through the door of this eight-seat diner and you’re in a parallel continent where Tokyo meets Kinshasa, with lashings of Middle Eastern flavors, too.

Daisuke Uekawa, who runs the place with his wife Mayumi, spent a lot of time in central Africa back in the day. He has never lost his love for the sounds — especially the soukous music of then-Zaire — and the food he found on his travels.

Start with a plate of mixed matzah, Uekawa’s version of Lebanese mezze. Follow up with falafels or Turkish spring rolls stuffed with minced lamb. Don’t overlook the Tunisian brik a l’oeuf, egg mixed with tuna, potato and cheese, deep-fried in triangles of filo pastry. And round things off with hearty mafe (Senegalese chicken stew) or yassa (similar, but from Cameroon) served with brown rice or fufu, the classic West African cassava porridge.

Uekawa’s lunch sets are great value, with a healthy range of vegetarian and vegan options. No wonder that for the past seven years, Los Barbados has enjoyed almost cult status among those who have managed to track it down on the far fringe of Shibuya.

Set dinner ¥4,500 (2 people), also a la carte; English menu; some English and Lingala spoken