Food & Drink | TOKYO FOOD FILE

Monk: Diminutive ristorante punches well above its weight

by Robbie Swinnerton

Contributing Writer

It’s a long hike to Tsujido Station from the Shonan shoreline. Thankfully, there are some excellent places to revive yourself among the bars and eateries that cluster on the beach side of the railway tracks. Monk is one of the newest and best.

It’s also one of the smallest. Housed in a former sunakku (hostess bar), the original furnishings have been left untouched, including red velvet furniture and a raised alcove complete with a chintzy privacy curtain. The tables are better suited to balancing highballs than platters of pasta, but don’t let that stop you ordering.

Chef Masakatsu Ishii draws on his restaurant training to conjure up some remarkably intricate dishes: Start with some prosciutto and the Parmesan and Gorgonzola mousse; then, move on to his beautifully composed burrata with pear, white peach and basil.

Working on just two small burners, he offers more than half a dozen different types of pasta, two risottos, and a choice of four substantial main dishes. In any setting this is excellent cucina.

To complement Ishii’s cooking, owner-sommelier Dai Tamai has put together a substantial cellar of natural and nonintervention wines. He also stocks brews from local microbrewery Barbaric Works, whose owner runs the classic Bar Pancho, right across the road. It’s that kind of neighborhood: small but top quality.

Antipasti from ¥400, pasta from ¥1,200, mains from ¥1,500; Japanese menu; little English spoken