Food & Drink | TOKYO FOOD FILE

Sanagi Shinjuku: pan-Asian fare with an upbeat beer garden vibe

by Robbie Swinnerton

Special To The Japan Times

Time was when dining out under Tokyo’s train tracks and expressways meant slumming it with dodgy yakitori and rotgut sake. These days the arches are gentrifying fast — just look at Sanagi Shinjuku.

Squeezed in under the Koshu Kaido overpass just a short stroll from JR Shinjuku Station’s South Exit, this bright, colorful food court (plus event and exhibition area) offers a pan-Asian food selection with outdoor seating — some of it on tatami — that’s in big demand now that the hot weather has set in.

The kitchen is divided into four parts. One specializes in gai yaang, grilled chicken with Thai spices. Another serves ten shin (dim sum) and a selection of noodles. The Tokyo Calling area puts together oden and sushi rolls. And there’s a miscellaneous section where you can get fries, salads and the like.

The food isn’t fancy — basically this is beer garden provender — but it’s all put together conscientiously. The dim sum and gai yaang do their job in helping the drinks go down. And craft beer aficionados will be pleased to see at least one option on the menu, currently from Coedo (earlier it was Captain Crow IPA).

Be warned: the line for seats here can be long if you don’t book ahead or arrive early. At least the waiting area is by the bar, and if all else fails, Sanagi has its own dedicated food truck out front, dispensing bao (steamed buns) and drinks. Just the ticket for a snack at any time of night.

Figure around ¥7,000 for two.; Robbie Swinnerton blogs at tokyofoodfile.com.