Food & Drink | TOKYO FOOD FILE

Out: One dish, one wine, one band and an abundance of style

by Robbie Swinnerton

Special To The Japan Times

With its gleaming glass frontage and punchy name in purple neon beaming into the Shibuya night, you can tell straight away Out is going to be a bit special. But it’s only when you’re inside and ensconced at the elegant little horseshoe-shaped counter that you realize how out there it is.

First, there’s no menu, because you have no choice. Out serves one thing and one thing only, year-round and without exception. But what a great dish it is.

Tagliolini al tartufo: rich, eggy strands prepared fresh by hand each day from premium ingredients. Cooked to order and ready within minutes, they are then covered with a generous amount of truffle shaved in front of your eyes. Pasta has never looked or smelled so alluring.

The provenance of the truffles will vary with the season — currently they’re beautiful black tubers from Australia — and so will the wine. Needless to say, there’s only one bottle to choose from. Right now it’s a lovely red from a small-batch artisan winery in Queensland.

The all-in price for this is ¥4,000 (separately, it’s ¥2,900 for the pasta and ¥1,300 per glass for the wine), which is much the same as you’d pay at a decent Italian restaurant here. But it’s better to think of Out as a beautifully designed, slightly decadent, Westernized version of a ramen counter — complete with a ticket machine and first-come-first-served policy.

There’s one other idiosyncrasy. Out only plays one kind of music: Led Zeppelin. On vinyl. Why? Because that’s the way owner/curator Sarah Crago wants it. Want to know more? Ask her yourself when you get there.

Open 6 p.m.-late; closed Mon.; pasta from ¥2,900; set menu with wine ¥4,000; English menu; English spoken

In line with COVID-19 guidelines, the government is strongly requesting that residents and visitors exercise caution if they choose to visit bars, restaurants, music venues and other public spaces.
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