Food & Drink | TOKYO FOOD FILE

Innsyoutei: Where to wander for a springtime sakura snack

The pink mist descends and sakura fever sets in. Resistance is futile: Get out there under the petals, gaze, imbibe, revel and cavort. And then, as the evening chill sets in — as it inevitably does at this time of year — adjourn for dinner. Here are a few places close to key hanami (blossom-viewing) areas.

In Ueno Park, the hanami is hard-core. But that just makes it more of a pleasure to step out of the riotous hubbub and into the genteel, old-style calm of Innsyoutei. Slap in the center of the park, this venerable eatery looks like it’s been there for centuries. In fact it was refurbished less than a decade ago, and now serves classy sukiyaki and meals of classic multi-course kaiseki cuisine. While the blossoms are out, Innsyoutei (it’s pronounced “In-sho-tay”) also serves special seasonal bentō-style meals in tiered boxes that are elegant and exquisite.

The banks of the Meguro-gawa creek as it threads through Naka-Meguro offer some of the most scenic blossom in town. There’s no flat space to sit down, so you stroll rather than sprawl. There are plenty of street stalls covering a gamut of Japanese, Western and Asian snacks. Better yet, though, is dinner at Hashidaya (pictured), with its great location giving views of the petals from its second-floor window. The focus here is on chicken: teppanyaki, yakitori, great tebasaki wings and even nabe hot-pots, in case it gets really chilly.

Out in Kichijoji, Kin-no-Saru boasts a perfect location, right by the entrance to Inokashira Park and with views of the trees from its wonderful open-air terrace. There’s plenty of inventive modern Japanese food to go with the smart, contemporary-casual decor, and good sake to help it all down. Be warned, though: It’s a popular spot and reservations are at a premium on weekends.

Innsyoutei: 4-59 Ueno-Koen, Taito-ku, Tokyo; (03) 3821-8126; Hashidaya: 1-15-8 Kami-Meguro, Meguro-ku; (03) 6278-8248; Kin-no-Saru: Inokashira Parkside Bldg., 1-21-1 Minami-cho, Kichijoji, Musashino-shi; (0422) 72-8757;

In line with the nationwide state of emergency declared on April 16, the government is strongly requesting that residents stay at home whenever possible and refrain from visiting bars, restaurants, music venues and other public spaces.
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