This longstanding Nishi-Azabu brasserie could hardly be more Parisian. OK, you could dress the waiters in berets and cravats and get them to serenade every customer who walks through the door with Serge Gainsbourg’s ‘Je t'aime... moi non plus’, but by Tokyo standards the place does a pretty unbeatable impression of Paris circa 1967. Bottles of Pernod, Campari and Cointreau are dotted around the room, French chansons sing through the speakers, and a shelf in the corner carries every edition of the Michelin guide to France from 1973 to 2016, arranged in chronological order.
Apart from a lick of paint on one wall, the decor at Bistro de la Cité hasn’t changed a jot since it opened in 1973; owner Susumu Sekine is determined to preserve things as they always were because his customers, some of whom have been eating at the bistro for decades, appreciate being able to occasionally retreat to a quiet corner of the hyper-modern city – one that’s impervious to the 21st century. Largely inspired by legendary eatery Chez l'Ami Louis in Paris’ third arrondissement, the bistro offers spot-on renditions of the classics. There’s ratatouille, coq au vin, foie gras terrine, moules and beef bourguignon, although we’re fond of one of the more leftfield options – jet-black, crumbly and gamey venison blood sausages served with a rich lentil stew.
We also like their take on lamb couscous, a French bistro dish originating in North Africa, which sees fall-from-the-bone lamb paired with stewed vegetables and harissa (hot chilli paste). ‘Cité’ is unsurprisingly popular with staff from the nearby French embassy, but non-French customers will surely fall for its joie de vivre too.
|Venue name:||Bistro de la Cité|
4-2-10 Nishi-Azabu, Minato-ku
|Opening hours:||12noon-2pm, 6pm-10pm / closed Mon, 2nd Tue of every month|
|Transport:||Hiroo Station (Hibiya line), exit 3|