Ambiance, food, value for money: These are universal factors when deciding where to eat. But when it comes to Japanese cuisine here in Japan, there's another criterion: Accessibility. How well do you fare if you don't speak or read Japanese?

Shokkan ticks the boxes on just about all counts. It's got the look; the food is put together well; and there's no sudden shock at the end your meal. Best of all, it's a place you can take out-of-town guests — or even send them on their own — in full confidence they will feel they've discovered somewhere rather special.

The entrance is suitably inscrutable: A flight of wood-clad stairs leading down to an unmarked door in the basement of an unremarkable building on the side of a busy highway on the outskirts of Shibuya. But there should be no cause for doubt. Alongside the two kanji characters on the illuminated sign, the name Shokkan is also spelled out clearly in letters of the Roman alphabet.