Beacon, Shibuya

Food & Drink - September 6th, 2009

by Kelly Wetherille

Billing itself as a “traditional American grill or chophouse executed with a modern sensibility,” Beacon is a rare gem in the center of crowded Tokyo, bringing together great food and a relaxed yet chic atmosphere. A popular lunch destination for young, stylish professionals who work in the surrounding Aoyama area, Beacon is a place to see and be seen.

The lunch menu starts at ¥1,300 and includes fresh, fully loaded salads, unique sandwiches, burgers, and a selection of grilled seafood and meats. Top grade Australian beef is used, and seafood specialties can include anything from swordfish to scallops. On a recent visit I opted for the mahimahi, a tropical dolphinfish that I wasn’t used to seeing on menus in Tokyo. Seared on the outside but juicy and flaky on the inside, it was as good as anything one may find at restaurants in Hawaii or the Caribbean.

The dinner offerings at Beacon are basically an expanded version of the lunch menu, incorporating a wider variety of ingredients and dishes. From time to time there are evening barbecue events, the menu for which includes such American favorites as pulled pork, beef brisket, pork ribs, mashed potatoes, cole slaw, and even fried okra. These events often include live music (mostly jazz), which further helps to set the mood and plant the illusion that the diners have been transported from Tokyo to Boston or New Orleans. The waitstaff speak excellent English, meaning that even the freshest of newcomers can enjoy a relaxing meal without having to worry that their order will be misinterpreted.

For egg and waffle lovers, a brunch menu is added to the regular lunch selections on Sundays and holidays. The hearty omelets are made with three eggs, and the huevos rancheros come with real black beans and spicy sausage links. Although I initially thought the Belgian waffle to be a bit overpriced at ¥2,600, the fresh peach compote and whipped cream topping made it all worth it. Book in advance to get a table by the window for the best people-watching view.