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Winehall Glamour Shinjuku
Homemade pizza and over 70 different wines from all over the globe come together at this dazzlingly named restaurant a stone's throw from Shinjuku-Sanchome Station and Hanazono Shrine. On the pizza side of things, they have everything from a classic Margherita to more Japanese-style adventures such as the 'Genovese-style' Salmon and Avocado, the Pakchee and Spicy Mexican Meat, and the most inventive one yet: the 'Bismarck-style' soft-boiled egg and natto cheese combo. The good thing is that all 15 types of pizzas go for a mere ¥500, so if you end up finding one you particularly fancy or quite the opposite, it's not the end of the world even if you order another one. To keep non-pizza eaters happy, they also have meat- and pasta-based offerings; come with a group and share away. Open February 28, 2017
Le Poulet Brasserie Ukai
Directly accessible from Otemachi Station through the Otemachi Park Building, this brasserie makes you feel as if you're having a drink or a nibble in a lot calmer, greener environment than the city's central business district. Their speciality is the rotisserie chicken, which is slow-roasted to perfection and hence takes about 40 minutes to arrive after you've ordered – the wait probably adds to the chilled-out atmosphere. From the juicy breast meat to the firm thighs, each bite carries a slightly different taste sensation, and there are enough different sauces on offer for you to find the perfect match for each piece. Less patient diners may want to opt for the rotisserie chicken sandwich or one of the salads, which can all be enjoyed on the sunny terrace. Perfect for a (somewhat) lazy lunch.
Anniversary Garden Restaurant
Located inside Shirokane's Happo-en garden, the Anniversary Garden restaurant reopens in early March 2017 with a new focus on organic eats. This also means they're very particular about telling people where their food comes from; take the green salad made with veggies from Nishita farm in Ishikawa prefecture, potage made with turnip from Shibakai farm in Chiba, organic chicken curry with herbs from Shizuoka's Ochiai Herb Garden, sauteed Tsukuba chicken from Haneishi farm in Ibaraki prefecture and so on. If that doesn't get you thinking about what you put in your mouth, we don't know what will. Reopening March 1, 2017
Azur et Masa Ueki
Nishi-Azabu is getting an interesting-looking, semi-new French eatery in March, when chef Masahito Ueki is moving his signature restaurant from flashy Ginza to a somewhat less notable back street just off the Nishi-Azabu crossing. The basic recipe – haute cuisine crafted from the finest Japanese ingredients – will remain the same, but a few new features will be introduced as well. Notable among these is the designer cutlery and tableware, which fuses traditional arts such as Arita and Kasama pottery, Aizu lacquerware and Tsubame-Sanjo metalcrafts with cutting-edge shapes and décor. Ueki hasn't yet been able to break through into the very top layer of Tokyo's French restaurants, but perhaps this fresh start will provide the impetus he's looking for. Open March 1, 2017
Upcoming food events
Ramen Girls Festival
Once upon a time, most ladies wouldn't be caught dead in a ramen shop, smartly staying away from the greasy smell, artery-clogging grub and ultra-masculine atmosphere. Luckily enough, those days are long gone, and this Yokohama festival celebrates the fact over one very long weekend. In addition to slurping up delicious noodles served by the likes of Hakata Ikkosha, Menya Itto and Kanda Katsumoto, visitors can sip all kinds of beauty-bringing drinks at the stalls set up on the Red Brick Warehouse's main plaza. Oh, and before you ask: men are allowed to come inside, too.
Shimada Green Ci-Tea Japan at Shibuya Loft
Shibuya has many things, but one feature it was lacking was a proper tea field. Enter the Shimada Green Ci-Tea Japan event, which will see a real tea crop set up on the ground floor of Loft, where you can stop by to enjoy a serene cuppa – a temporary oasis for those tired from shopping, if you will. The collaboration with Shizuoka's Shimada is no accident either, as the city is famed for its tea production. Lightly steamed, deep-steamed and roasted teas will all be on offer, alongside Ibuki, the 2016 winner of the World Green Tea Contest. Plenty of stuff to pour over, in other words.
Gyoza Fes Tokyo
It's looking like a real dumpling dust-up at Komazawa Park in March, when 19 gyoza shops from all over Japan will be treating hungry attendees to copious amounts of beer-compatible bites over the long weekend. In addition to standard pan-fried gyoza, you'll be able to choose from boiled and deep-fried versions or opt for some even more unorthodox creations ('Italian' gyoza, anyone?). The longest queues will probably form in front of the stall run by Danta, the Takanawa eatery known as former PM Junichiro Koizumi's go-to haunt.
Washu Fes in Nakameguro
Sakura and sake are a match made in heaven – at least if you believe the folks behind this annual nihonshu festival in Nakameguro, which is returning for its sixth edition in March. Over 100 varieties of fine sake from all over the country can be sampled over two hours for a flat ¥3,000, while admiring the blossoms that drape the Meguro River in pink and white is of course completely free.
Pan no Fes (Yokohama Bread Festival)
Get ready for three days of extra-pasty fun at Yokohama's Red Brick Warehouse, where more than 50 bakeries from all over the country hawk their wares and show off new creations. Pan no Fes attracted a whopping 120,000 visitors last year, with all the bread selling out in the end, so although the festival area has been expanded for this second edition, we'd recommend preparing for queues.
Craft Sake Week Roppongi
A great opportunity for sampling a wide range of artisanal nihonshu and shochu over the course of ten days, the Craft Sake Week takes over at Roppongi Hills in April, inviting ten different breweries to show off their wares every day. And you won't need to rely on convenience store onigiri for solid nutrition in between sips: the grub comes courtesy of Shinobu Namae's double-Michelin-starred L'Effervescence, Arakicho favourite Sharikimon Chawanbu and so on. The ¥3,500 'starter set' includes a sake cup plus six 'food and drink coins' worth ¥250 each. Once you run out, pick up six more coins for ¥1,500 or 11 for ¥2,500.