Mar 4, 2013

Garlic dining at its finest: Top 5

Garlic ice cream at Hajime no Ippo

Garlic ice cream at Hajime no Ippo. Photo by Brandi Goode


Hajime No Ippo is one of Tokyo’s original ninniku restaurants, located in the entertainment district of yore, Kagurazaka. Established in 1995, nearly all of its dishes contain “white fukuchi” garlic, an esteemed varietal from Tenmabayashi, Aomori Prefecture.  Standout dishes include the grilled tuna neck with balsamic butter (¥1,480), the angel-shrimp garlic cream linguine (¥1,380) and the garlic ice cream (¥580), which is studded with chips of caramelised garlic and comes topped with a whole braised clove. 4-5 Kagurazaka, Shinjuku-ku. Tel: 03-3260-3500. Nearest stn: Iidabashi.


With mounds of garlic in every dish, this restaurant lives up to its robust reputation. Their towering garlic toast is actually a vertically standing baguette with a heap of roasted garlic smothered on top. Tuck in to some oysters with garlic sauce to turn your date on—and off, at the same time. Garlic clove and chili icons on the menu indicate each dish’s power (the toast clocks in at four cloves). 1-26-12 Ebisu, Shibuya-ku. Tel: 03-3446-5887. Nearest stn: Ebisu.


So nice, they named it twice—and serve it with rice. Specialties include whole roasted cloves of garlic, garlic toast with baked cloves served on a baguette (horizontal, this time), garlic rice and gourmet sautéed garlic mustard pork. 1-26-2 Shoto, Shibuya-ku. Tel: 03-5478-2029. Nearest stn: Shibuya.


This popular chain of garlicky restaurants was first opened in Yokohama’s Motomachi area in 1993 and has since spread to 18 other locations across Japan. They offer typically tasty, but not too drastic, ninniku-filled renditions of Western-style dishes like garlic rib-eye steaks, pan-sautéed shrimp in garlic lemon butter sauce, jambalaya rice and garlic pizza. Station Core B1F Queen’s Square, 2-3–8 Minato Mirai, Nishi-ku, Yokohama. Tel: 045-682-2870. Nearest stn: Minato Mirai.


The name is the same, but this version of Ninniku-ya is a chain scattered about the Tokyo department store landscape. Shoo the shopping queues with only a breath after breaking for some garlic ishiyaki bibimbap, hanba-gu with garlic sauce and a garlic-shaped white sesame cake with sorbet to sweeten you up. Various locations: Shinjuku Takashimaya Times Square, Lalaport Tokyo Bay, Mona Shin-Urayasu, Lumine


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