TOKYO — Every once in a while, it’s a really good idea to have a plate of creamy, cheesy pasta for dinner. Or just a plate of creamy cheese, for that matter.

In Tokyo, Italian-inspired dishes are readily available, but the restaurants in which they’re served don’t always come with an English-friendly menu or staff.

So thank goodness for Cicada, a restaurant not too far from The New Sanno Hotel that serves up Italian pastas, Greek salads and a smattering of tapas-type cheeses, spreads and cured-meats, all with a friendly, English-speaking staff.

The one drawback of Cicada is its price — dinner with drinks easily can run 5,000 yen or more. But Cicada has a solution for that as well.

On weekdays, set lunches range from 1,000 yen to 1,600 for two courses, and 2,800 yen for three courses. The menu lets you choose from the day’s sandwich, pasta or tagine, a Moroccan-style stew served with couscous. There also are a handful of entrees to consider, each of which comes with soup or a salad.

On a recent trip, the grilled salmon was cooked perfectly atop a bed of green lentils laced with smoky bacon. The spicy chicken salad pita came on homemade bread, and the penne with gorgonzola sauce was so generous we couldn’t finish it.

The cheaper lunch sets include coffee, tea or water. But the lunch drink menu comes with its own lighter lunchtime prices — beer and wine start at about 700 yen per glass.

The lunchtime service is fast, and the waiters don’t mind if you linger over coffee. The main dining room gets loud as it fills, so it might not be the best place for an intimate lunch for two.

Still, for a treat of high-end flavors from around the world, it’s worth the price.

To see previous After Hours reviews, visit

Cicada, Tokyo

Prices: Two-course lunch sets range from 1,000 yen to 1,600 yen. Dinner customers generally order several small dishes to share with companions, usually adding up to about 5,000 yen per person, not including drinks. At lunchtime, wine is 700 yen per glass; at night, a glass can range from around 800 yen to about 1,500 yen.

Specialties: Wine and Mediterranean-style foods from Italy, Greece and North Africa.

English menu: Yes.

Dress: Casual to work attire.

Clientele: A mix of Westerners and Japanese patrons. Children younger than 6 are not allowed unless you’re dining in a private room.

Location: Minami-Azabu 5-2-40, Tokyo. Take Exit No.3 out of Hiro-o station, on the Hibiya line. Turn right out of the station and walk about 10 minutes. Cicada will be on your right.

Hours: Open from noon to 3 p.m. for lunch daily. Dinner is served from 6 p.m. to 2 a.m. Tuesday through Saturday, and 6 p.m. to 10:30 p.m. Sunday, Monday and holidays.


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