Food & Drink | TOKYO FOOD FILE

Riverside restaurants in season for cherry blossom views

The Meguro River is one of Tokyo’s most popular blossom-viewing venues, especially the section running through Naka-Meguro. Maybe that’s because once you’ve had your fill of the crowds and street food, there are plenty of restaurants at hand where you can gaze out at the ethereal blooms and the fresh young foliage that follows. Be sure to book well in advance, though.

At the far end of this scenic stretch of river, in fact closer to Ikejiri-Ohashi than to Naka-Meguro, lies Kan (2-1-1 Higashiyama, Meguro-ku, Tokyo; 03-3792-5282). This classy restaurant/sake bar has been an oasis of quality Japanese cuisine for over 15 years, and remains as stylish and popular as ever.

At the other end (in every sense), you find Otaru (1-5-15 Kami-Meguro, Meguro-ku, Tokyo; 03-3710-7439). A holdover from before this neighborhood started gentrifying, it flies the flag for down-home decor and cheap, brash izakaya tavern fare with a Hokkaido bent to the menu.

Occupying the middle ground is the sparkling new Nanbantei (1-22-3 Aobadai, Meguro-ku, Tokyo; 03-3710-8955). As at other branches of this small but reliable restaurant group, the specialty is upmarket yakitori. The chicken is good — flavorful Daisen-jidori fowl from Tottori Prefecture — and so is the setting, with windows looking onto the river.

Through April 21, a special Sakura fixed menu (¥5,350 plus tax and service) is offered, and until April 12 this is available from noon each day.

Insomniacs will be interested to know that from midnight Nanbantei’s second floor morphs into a bar that stays open until 5 a.m.

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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