Christmas time in Japan is a time to be shared with your lover over a delicious romantic dinner. So how about taking him/her to a nice French restaurant? Especially since Tokyo is full of great places having in common to combine good cuisine with good price! And as for French, December rhymes with fancy dinner, I've tested for you 12 nice addresses to discover, one for each month of the coming year!
Bouillon de Paris à Vin (Ginza)
Let’s start with one of my favorite place located in he exclusive district of Ginza district. And with all its luxury shops around, from Louis Vuitton to Tiffany, you’ll feel a bit like being in the middle of the Champs Elysees avenue in Paris. However, the restaurant I'm about to introduce you is very far from this luxury image, in the purest tradition of an old-style family restaurants.
Everything from the decoration, with old Vichy-style tablecloths to the food itself, give me the impression of being back to my grandmother's kitchen, enjoying her delicious meal in an old-style and cozy atmosphere. Plus, the staff is very welcomed and will make you feel like home.
Do not expect anything sophisticated, but if you're looking for a truly authentic French cuisine with good quality (and good quantity) this is definitely the place to go.
With hindsight, I don’t think I’ve ever found another place offering large portion and quality food this cheap in Tokyo (I heard also about “L’Amitie” in Takatanobaba, but because it’s very popular it can take between 6 to 8 weeks to get a reservation so I never had a chance to try so far).
Lunch course is ￥1,000 yen (appetizer, main dish and coffee) and dinner course is ￥2,800 (appetizer, main dish and dessert included).
Did I forget to mention that they also serve great wine?
Brasserie Aux Bacchanales (Ginza)
Photo: Yusuke Kawasaki on Flickr
If you’re looking for a more Bistro-style setting and casual dinner with good wine, this place also located in Ginza area is another place I like to go for an afternoon cafe. Lunch menu is served until 3 p.m. and the propose typical “Bistro-style” cuisine featuring sandwiches, quiche, big salads or other less light dishes like steak frites or escargots!
Aux Amis des Vins (Ginza)
A bit more sophisticated than the 2 previous one and another good address to enjoy a delicious glass of wine with great food. They provide a wide-range selection of wine and it’s reasonably priced if you go for lunch time (from ￥1,500 to ￥3,000). The atmosphere is maybe less authentic, but the quality of food and wine make this place definitely in my top list!
Near Shibuya you can also find good addresses, like this little Creperie I discovered one day totally by chance as I was walking in the neighborhood. First thing I was attracted by was the design of the place itself which made me very curious so I wanted to have a closer a look at the menu (no idea it was a Creperie actually). And surprise!! Salty crepes for ￥800 and sweet crepes for only ￥500!
Photo: naoko kawachi on Flickr
And because it's always hard to say "no" to a good crepe (especially at this price average), I've decided to settle down at a table inside. The restaurant's interior is as cute as the exterior, in a typical "Brittany" style atmosphere with its beamed ceiling and many other little cute details.
I finally choose the ￥2,200 menu with the chef special galette, a sweet crepe and a bowl of apple cider (homemade! The chef insists on this point!).
Talking about the Chef, he's Japanese and lived for a while in Brittany and knows perfectly how to combine French taste with its personal Japanese touch, that wouldn't have disapproved my aunt from Brittany!
Bistrot d’Artemis (Yoyogi)
If you’re still near Shibuya there is also this little “Bistro-style” cafe offering traditional Bistrot dishes, but also some nice other food you don’t see often like blood sausage served with chunks and baked apple or red-pimento creme brulee! Don’t miss also their delicious grilled lamb and pork confit. The wine list is also very extensive and average price for dinner is about ￥4,500~￥7,500.
In the same area, there is also this very tiny place, not only interesting because of its funny name, but also for proposing some French style “tapas”. The place is very small and very cozy (only 2 table and 5 counter seats) which makes it perfect for an intimate time with your date! A very impressive little French spot to enjoy some good wine accompanied with some original “on the go” food prepared by the Chef (who used to work as a sous-chef for Lugdunum Bouchon Lyonais in Kagurazaka!). Budget around ￥5,500 at dinner time for food and drink.
Photo: mari on FlickrNever tried so far but I was always Intrigued by their "French colonial" cuisine, plus the place looks very cute! Dinner course starts from ￥3,990 but they also serve a special course during lunch time for only ￥1,500.
Bistrot de la Cite (Nishi-Azabu)
Another small casual “Bistro-style” cafe on Nishi-Azabu's "Bistro-dori". Medium-price for excellent quality food. Sometimes no need to ask for more!
Le Petit Marche (Roppongi)
Managed by a former 3 starred restaurant in France, this is a very unique place offering seasonal food with a particular attention paid to seasonal market-fresh vegetables. Don’t miss their homemade Andouillette or their aged cuts of pork! Absolutely delicious and not always easy to find in Japan! Wines are imported directly from producers and start at just ￥440 per glass (￥300 during happy hour!).
Budget: (￥1,000~￥1,500 for lunch and ￥4,000~￥5,000 for dinner including drinks.
Guinguette la Chevre (Asakusa)
A tiny neighborhood place in the Asakusa area we discovered with my wife very recently. We enjoyed a very well-prepare coq au vin while listening at some old French singers. Also very unique thing about this place is the possibility to bring its own bread!
Average price is ￥4,000～￥4,999 for dinner including wine.
Probably not the most fancy place but definitely one of the cheapest regarding of its location in Azabu-juban. Dinner is only ￥2,100 and lunch course ￥1,200. Food choice is very simple but very well prepared. Plus they have a very nice outdoor terrace which is perfect for summer!
Photo: lazy fri13th on FlickrDifficult to talk about French cuisine in Tokyo without saying a word about Tokyo's famous French district: Iidabashi. Very many nice hidden places like this little cute one called Gus!
Special mention for the duck confit (a French bistro unfailing hit), with a perfect crispy skin and a tender juicy meat. Full course dinner is available with a price average of ￥4,500~￥5,000. Plus, the rounded housing ceiling will even make you feel like eating in a restaurant-car from an old train!
Of course there is still bunch of nice places to try out but I hope this first selection will satisfy your taste buds!