Food & Drink | TOKYO FOOD FILE

Know by Moto: Sake finds a chic haven below Shinjuku

by Robbie Swinnerton

Contributing Writer

So you’ve rendezvoused beneath the huge video screen at Studio Alta. You’ve explored Shinjuku, maybe caught a movie or trawled for treats in the gleaming depachika (basement food floor) of the Isetan department store. Now you’re ready for sustenance. Somewhere cool, with good food and premium sake. No problem at all for those in The Know.

That’s the nickname given to the excellent Know by Moto, which opened last November in the basement of the new Tsutaya building. Spacious, calm, stylish but casual, it is nothing like a typical izakaya tavern, more a chic cafe devoted to high-end nihonshu.

As the name indicates, this is a sister operation to the brilliant Gem by Moto in Ebisu. It has the same friendly vibe that makes first-timers feel welcome. And, like Gem, it boasts a superior kitchen that reinterprets traditional dishes and serves them with a dash of extra flair and inventiveness.

Among the current seafood specials, look for the namerō (chopped sashimi seasoned with spicy miso) and the spring hotaru-ika (firefly squid) with nanohana field mustard greens.

After you’re done with the snacking and sipping, close the session with a “burger” — either menchi (ground pork) or better yet ebi-katsu (breaded shrimp).

Lunch menu (till 6 p.m.) from ¥980; sake from ¥570, snacks from ¥480; partial English menu; a little English spoken