Originally published on metropolis.co.jp on December 2010
Tokyo tends to wind down around the New Year period, when even the liveliest restaurants shutter their windows for a few days of R&R. But not Chinese Cafe Eight. This Roppongi institution—along with its sister shops in Ebisu, Akasaka, Shinjuku and Osaka—soldiers on indefatigably for 24 hours a day, 365 days a year.
Seldom has a restaurant’s popularity been so well deserved. Whatever the time of day (or year), Cafe Eight remains a dependable source of good times and even better food. Executive chef Wang Wei is a celebrity in his native China, and has picked up numerous culinary awards. Yet there’s nothing stuffy about this place: the interior is a riot of bright colors and exotic artwork with space for 150 people, meaning that it can accommodate groups of just about any size.
Just making it all the way through the food menu is an achievement in itself: there are over 250 dishes on offer, ranging from budget-priced appetizers to sumptuous showstoppers. The house specialty is Peking duck, served whole at your table with sautéed vegetables and soup—all for a mere ¥3,680. Entrée options run from rice and noodle dishes to grilled seafood and fiery Sichuan hotpots (order the latter at your peril), while course meals start at ¥1,800, with a special nijikai after-party spread available for ¥1,575 from 10pm onwards.
Mind you, some diners might not get any further than the appetizer section of the menu, which boasts 50 tapas-style dishes, all priced at just ¥210. And we’re not talking one-bite morsels here—the portions are uniformly generous. Cheaper still are the shuijiao boiled dumplings, which will run you to ¥105 for three. Cafe Eight has 30 varieties available, all of them prepared fresh to order.
Throw in some affordable drinks and nomihodai plans, and you’ve got everything you need to see out 2010 in style—or get the New Year off to a cracking start.
2F, 3-2-13 Nishi-Azabu, Minato-ku. Tel: 03-5414-5708. Open daily 24 hours. www.chinesecafe8.com