After Hours: Sakuratei is a hidden treasure in Harajuku
September 25, 2008
TOKYO — In the trendy fashion center of Harajuku is a hidden secret: an unassuming Japanese-style house with a stone sidewalk that leads to the entrance of Sakuratei.
But inside, Sakuratei represents its fashionable address with colorful walls painted by artists from the gallery next to the restaurant.
On each table at Sakuratei is a heated metal plate, or teppan, where customers cook their own food. Sakuratei mainly offers okonomi yaki, monja yaki and teppan yaki.
Okonomi yaki is a Japanese-style pancake that consists of batter made out of flour, water, egg and fish broth. Various vegetables, meat or seafood is then mixed into the batter. Sakuratei offers Kansai-style okonomi yaki, which is made by mixing all the ingredients before the pancake is cooked on the teppan. It is eaten with thick sauce and some shredded dried tuna and seaweed sprinkled on top.
Monja yaki is similar to okonomi yaki, also cooked with batter, meat and vegetables. Monja yaki, mostly found in Tokyo, uses no egg and has more watery batter that turns thicker when cooked. It is eaten directly off the hot plate using a small metal spatula.
Teppan yaki refers to any vegetables or meat cooked on teppan. Sakuratei offers various ingredients including spare ribs, mushrooms, corn and scallops.
For okonomi yaki, we chose Sakura-yaki, which consisted of pork, squid, shrimp, onion, green onion, mushrooms and eggs for 1,000 yen (about $9.30). Our friend, who is known to be a great okonomi yaki cook, made it for us. But don’t worry if you don’t know how, because directions with pictures are available.
We also tried monja yaki. We had curry monja yaki with curry spices, pork and onion for 900 yen ($8.40). The mixture of dashi, sauce and curry was unique but very tasty. We also tried the restaurant-recommended beef and baby star, a flavored crispy noodle snack that added crunchiness to the monja yaki.
For just $28 each, we had three kinds of monja yaki, an okonomi yaki, teppan yaki with corn, mushrooms, salmon, french fries and spicy sausages, a salad and drinks.
You can definitely have a fun time at Sakuratei cooking by yourself as well as looking at the art.
To see previous After Hours reviews, go to:legacy.stripes.com/afterhours
Know & goHours: 11:30 a.m. to 11 p.m.
Prices: Okonomi yaki ranges from 750 yen (about $7) to 1,200 yen ($11); monja yaki from 700 yen ($6.50) to 1,300 yen (about $12); teppan yaki from 300 yen (about $2.80) to 1,300 yen (about $12); draft beer is 500 yen (about $4.60); soda 300 yen (about $2.80).
Specialties: Okonomi yaki, monja yaki and teppan yaki
English menu: Yes, with detailed explanation of each dish
Clientele: Mix of Japanese and foreigners
Location: 3-20-1 Jingu-mae, Shibuya-ku, Tokyo. Ten-minute walk from JR Harajuku Station on Yamanote line or four-minute walk from Meiji-jingumae station on Tokyo Metro’s Chiyoda and Fukutoshin lines (exit 5).