Bistro Tokyo isn’t some new hidden gem that magically dropped from the sushi heavens. It’s one of those spots that has been quietly off the radar for a few years, favorited by those Japanese food lovers who really know what’s up. Even though I added it long ago to my Buenos Aires restaurant hit list, it’s only until now that I see why all those eaters on team Bistro Tokyo rave so hard. This Belgrano “bistro” serves high quality Japanese food with fresh ingredients and it isn’t crazy expensive. A total winner.
Bistro Tokyo isn’t the easiest place to find. If you didn’t know the location of this semi-secret Japanese restaurant that lies between a barrio wine shop and a children’s clothing store, there wouldn’t be many other reasons you’d walk up their sketchy stairwell. Unless, of course, you are a creeper known for loitering in dark alleys.. or you were on your way to a Tai Chi or Feng Shui class (which shares the same floor).
I knew I struck food gold when I walked into the restaurant and instantly spotted the sushi bar, greeted with a big smile (AHEM..ATTN: Palermo servers, it’s okay to not be a total ass face) by *real* Japanese men artistically and meticulously slicing away fresh cuts of fish.
Look, ma, look! Real life Asians dining!
The restaurant describes itself as both classic and modern Japanese cuisine, and that shows in the menu. The first half is devoted to sushi: think nigiri, sashimi, combinados and rolls — with more of the non traditional stuff going on in some of the roll business. The other part of the menu pays homage to more classic Japanese dishes, like udon noodles, agedashi tofu, yakitori, tendon with some omakase action available. And yes, my batshit crazy ass demanded my eating partner to snap photos of the plastic encased menu, so I could bring it home, study, and prepare for act two. . . .
First up: gyoza starter. After eating this beautiful cast iron skillet version from Niji I had high hopes for BT’s version. A bit disappointing, the 8 gyoza were a little skimpy in filling and girth, especially for the 50+ pesos price tag. Still tasted great, with flavorful pork, ginger, green onion and perfectly pan fried, but I probably would try something else before I ordered this again.
Oh, look at that glorious sushi platter! First off, don’t get your hopes up with fish variety, just like most other sushi houses in the city, these boats have gone salmon crazy. Even so, with such luscious slices of buttery pink fish modeling the plate, it was still a breath of fresh fish in a world of stinkin’ hacked salmon and canned tuna. Warning: while easy avoidable, Bistro Tokyo is not cream cheese free — but they do offer a ‘spicy’ Philadelphia roll, where they add a *surprisingly* very spicy curry powder to the cream cheese. I’ve never tasted anything like that before, not necessarily in a good way, but didn’t hate it either. Luckily the perfect sashimi, nigiri, maki and New York roll (with seasoned and well cooked sticky sushi rice) made up for any sploogy queso crema mishaps.
Drinks are standard for a small family-owned Japanese joint: short wine list, some beer and hot or cold sake. At the end of the meal, the mozo brings you green tea. Hashtag Digestion.
Bistro Tokyo is one of those little sushi lovers’ secrets — you had no idea that it was there, but once you’re in, you feel like a special member of those-in-the-know club. They probably will never win points for ambiance, but once you stumble into the treasure den, pick up those chopsticks and taste a piece of sushi, you’ll be hooked for <your BA> life.
Virrey del Pino 2551 piso 1º, Belgrano
Reservations recommended, this place fills up
Average price per person (with wine): 180 pesos