by Laura Fumiko Keehn
ROPPONGI HILLS may have been open for over two years now but there’s still something special about the place. It’s classy, the layout tantalizingly confusing, the decor suggestive of an ideal Japan, in which everything is beautiful yet delightfully subdued. Also the staff is nearly always bilingual. It’s a perfect Eurasian mix, deliciously palatable for the sophisticated and international clientele who frequent the area.
If it’s this kind of Eurasian cocktail that you are after, look no further than the Roppongi J complex, located on the fifth floor of the main Mori building. Deep inside an artfully arranged deep, cave-like space, you will find three establishments — the Bamboo Bar, Xen and Olives.
From the entrance — marked with glowing bamboo trunks — all three morph seamlessly one into the other. A slight but impressive illuminated steel staircase separates the Bamboo Bar area from Xen restaurant, where large tables overflow with lively groups; off in the distance, at the far end of the cave an elaborate waterfall marks the beginning of Olives, a maroon hued restaurant area with more western style decor.
The Bamboo Bar has taken its theme from its surroundings, and this is very much an Eurasian experience. The smart looking staff is decidedly cosmopolitan, and the menu also includes a wide variety of pasta, pizza, as well as sushi, both Japanese and American style. The theme runs to the clientele, too, with more than a few Western men accompanied by Japanese women.
My friend orders a very Eurasian Mandarin Martini, from the “NY Style Martinis” menu section. The “Mandarin” part comes from the fresh orange juice, flavoring the frozen vodka-based standard. On the recommendation of our helpful and knowledgeable waitress, I choose a Chilean Pinot Noir from the “wines of the month” menu. The menu of the month also includes other Chilean Monte Alpha wines.
There’s a cozy atmosphere in the Bamboo Bar, thanks, in part, to the flattering light from the illuminated bamboo, and the small, yet disproportionately tall tables. Perched up this high, almost as if on piano stools, even the most awkward couple would find themselves in close quarters. As a result, this is an intimate locale — the Bamboo Bar’s largely young and fashionable clientele seem absorbed in their private conversations, hiding behind the bamboo stalks, leaning into their piano stool tables, and of course each other. This is not a place to come to meet somebody new — but if you’re looking to impress somebody you’ve already met, you need look no further.
5F West Walk in Roppongi
Hills, 6-10-1, Roppongi,
The assorted cheese plate (¥2,100) is wonderful. The highlight is the Eurasian sushi. Try the Dragon Roll (¥2,100), Rainbow Roll (¥2,100), the Salmon Skin Roll (¥1,500).
Choose from their extensive Martini section, the best of which is the bright and stiff Mandarin Martini.
At a tiny and tall circular table. Or rather perch. What better way to enjoy your drinking partner than to lean into them under flattering bamboo glowing light? If you sit at the bar, don’t expect the bar tenders to chat — they are too busy and a bit too polite.
¥5,000 for a couple drinks and some snacks.
Young and fashionable couples. Men carrying Louis Vuitton handbags. Awed and affluent tourists wandering in from the Grand Hyatt. Business people impressing and being impressed.
At Bamboo liar, every Friday there is a New York-style night A DJ will be playing the tunes amid a hot atmosphere and illuminated bamboo. Drinks are cash on delivery.