Restaurant Hannibal, Harajuku

Food & Drink - August 20th, 2010

Multicultural restaurants are aplenty in Tokyo, but so many Indian and Mexican restaurants sell bland Japan-ized food, and authentic cuisine can sometimes be difficult to find. Hannibal, located near Harajuku, is an authentic Tunisian restaurant, from the brightly colored tiled walls to the hookah water pipe and belly dancing on Fridays. The food here is the real deal, bursting with the spice and flavor of North Africa.

Tunisian cuisine is a blend of healthy European ingredients, as the country sits on the Mediterranean Sea south of Italy, but also draws heavily from the historical influences of the past, including French, Greek, Middle Eastern and African. Owner-chef Mondher Gheribi cooks an expansive menu of over 40 dishes that he changes each month, though he keeps a classic set menu for regular customers.

Chef Mondher recommended soft handmade tabuna bread to start, served with a side dip of harrissa, a hot pepper paste that is traditionally served before meals. To cool our palates down we were also served a green salad of olives, tomatoes and egg plant seasoned with paprika. Next came a surprising plate of brik: think huge, Tunisian-style spring rolls. The crispy pastry was filled with a delicious whole soft egg, Parmesan cheese, parsley, potatoes and kipper—a challenge to eat without spilling the yolk on your fingers, but well worth the effort.

The main dish was a traditional chicken and vegetable stew and a healthy North African staple: couscous. By the end we were already feeling full, and struggled to leave room for the dessert. I expected something standard like ice cream to finish, but instead we received a devilishly sweet plate of Tunisian baklava. Similar to its Greek counterpart, the dish consisted of a mix of chopped almonds, sesame and honey rolled up in thin pastry. The chef wouldn’t let us leave without a shot of boukha, a strong brandy made from figs that packs a decent punch, rounding off one of the most unique meals I have ever eaten in Tokyo.

Open daily (5:30pm–12am)
B1F, 3-53-3 Sendagaya, Shibuya-ku
Tel: 03-3479-3710


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