After Hours: Junkadelic, Akasaka, Tokyo, Japan
Stars and Stripes August 16, 2009
Close your eyes and picture this. Corn tortillas. Slow-roasted pork. Cheese enchiladas overflowing with — wait for it — cheese.
If you’ve lived in Japan or South Korea for a while, you may have noticed that cheese, tortilla chips and other things Tex-Mex are a little hard to come by.
So open your eyes and get to Junkadelic, a family-style Mexican restaurant in Akasaka that offers real guacamole, real chimichangas and really strong margaritas, even at happy hour. If you’re wondering if I like this place, I’ll put it this way: I’ve been twice in the past week.
I was slightly skeptical on the first visit when my first margarita — on the rocks, with salt, and only 500 yen at happy hour — arrived. It looked puny, with two little ice cubes floating for good measure. I took a sip. Smart thinking, because these drinks are more like margarita-martinis: strong, tasty and meant to be savored.
The food is the same. The ceviche salad is enough for a light meal, though you’d better like octopus. The fried whitefish in the fresh corn tortillas is moist and never greasy (as least with the three I’ve had so far).
The pork, too, is delicious, though I’d recommend getting it in a burrito or chimichanga rather than in a soft taco like I did. Pork and beef, I think, deserve more substantial neighbors like beans, rice and cheese, rather than the lettuce and pico de gallo that comes in the tacos.
My dining companion, who shares my new-found addiction, is fond of the special chimichanga, a mix of chicken and beef with cheese and beans, wrapped in a tortilla and fried. It comes with sauce and melted cheese on the outside, too. One is plenty for a meal.
The dining area is filled with mismatched chairs, tablecloths and twinkle lights. You might get a plastic table, you might get a wooden one. Either way, I’d call it cozy more than traditionally romantic. The music — sometimes tejano, sometimes hip hop — can be a little loud, depending on where you sit. But the staff is so nice, I’m sure they’d turn it down if you wanted. (We didn’t.)
Still, this is Japan, and I’ve yet to try something at Junkadelic that comes close to being even mildly spicy. Maybe that’s my fault. Next time, chile rellenos. Thank goodness it’s open six days a week.
JunkadelicHours: Weekdays 11:30 a.m. to 2 p.m., 5 p.m. to 11 p.m. Saturdays and holidays noon to 2 p.m., 5 p.m. to 11:30 p.m. Closed Sundays. Happy hour 5 p.m. to 7 p.m. daily.
Prices: Most dinners, with sides included, are under 2,000 yen. Items also available a la carte, usually for 800 to 1,200 yen. Dinner for one with two happy hour drinks runs between 2,000 and 3,000 yen.
Specialties: Mexican foods: burritos, tacos, chimichangas, chicken mole, chile rellenos
English menu: Abbreviated, but with photos and buffets
Dress: Casual to business attire
Clientele: Families, couples, after-work crowd
Location and directions: Two locations, one in Naka-Meguro and one in Akasaka. To get to the Akasaka location, start from Roppongi crossing. Walk down Roppongi-dori, away from Roppongi Hills, on the left side. Walk all the way to the ANA Hotel (about 10 minutes). You’ll see a little gold shop on the left. Turn left at that alley. The restaurant is about two-thirds of the way up the hill on the left. Address is 2-21-2 #102, Akasaka, Minato-ku, Tokyo.