Fusing together a mixture of modern and traditional aesthetics, TRUNK(HOTEL) has gained a reputation for connecting guests to local culture through its ethos of sociability and innovative services which include the popular TRUNK(LOUNGE) and TRUNK(KITCHEN). Situated halfway between Shibuya and Harajuku in a quiet side street off from Meiji-dori, the hotel has another space that aims to fully embrace the history and vibe of its location; the recently refurbished TRUNK(KUSHI) restaurant, conveniently located at street level as an outside extension of the main hotel building. Kushiyaki restaurants boomed during the postwar era around Shibuya and Harajuku, so reflecting this bit of history became an obvious choice when choosing the type of cuisine to be served here.
KUSHI’s motto is “culture”, and was born from the idea of creating a hub to disseminate the local food culture of “skewers”, Shibuya’s soul food, and enhancing this experience with an emphasis on the essence of socializing. In this way they hope to cater for guests of the hotel that perhaps don’t feel confident (or have the time) meandering around back alleys and possibly getting lost, giving them instead a warm and approachable venue in which to get a taste of Japanese cuisine.
The decor does a fantastic job of adding subtle nods to its roots; brushed wood interior walls and steel-topped tables with stools made from upturned bottle crates (modified with soft cushions attached to the top for a bit of extra comfort that also serve as lids for storing personal belongings within). Noren, traditional Japanese restaurant curtains, adorned with menu items line the bar section, providing a touch of privacy for diners seated along this part of the restaurant. One particular feature that this type of establishment is famed for is, of course, outside seating, and part of TRUNK(KUSHI)’s main renovations was the redesign of the covered patio. Having previously housed a 12 seater kotatsu, this has now been removed and replaced with an assortment of chairs and tables, allowing double the number of hungry diners to enjoy the delicately and skillfully prepared offerings.
The menu itself has had a bit of a facelift too, with three new additional set meals being made available, all with names associated with the area — Cat Street ¥3,000, Onden ¥3,500 and Jingu ¥4,000. KUSHI adheres to local resources and the contents of the set meals have been overseen by Mr. Yuji Higuchi, owner of “Yakiniku Yuji” — a well known yakiniku restaurant in the area, who pops in every month to check on the quality of the produce. A free-flow drinks option for ¥1,800 has also been added to the drinks menu. The food is a diverse affair, offering diners plenty of carefully thought-out options, such as stir-fried noodles with “Hachiko sauce,” providing yet another link to the area. There are vegetable options for those who wish to steer clear of meat, but also favorites of the Japanese crowd such as succulent grilled chicken hearts (of which only 20 sticks a day are available) for the more adventurous type who want that real taste of authenticity. The quality and attention to detail really shines through, such as purposely smaller-than-average dango that accentuates the juiciness of the meatballs.
Whether you’re a local or a guest, swinging by TRUNK(KUSHI) for a taste of authentic street dining with a twist will not disappoint.