by Kelly Wetherille
Occupying an unassuming corner in the back streets of Akasaka is a tiny gem of a restaurant, immediately recognizable by its striped awning and hodgepodge of mismatched antique furniture and decorative objects that populate the outdoor dining area. Inside, the walls are covered in vintage music and film posters, black and white photographs, an old saddle, and various other objects. The seating ranges from iron-backed café chairs to an old church pew and red velour-upholstered auditorium seats. But for all its charm, Louis Prima isn’t just about appearances.
The food at Louis Prima consists of mixed European dishes, executed with a Japanese flair. While many restaurants that attempt this kind of fusion fail miserably, this tiny café doesn’t fall into the same trap. The lunch menu includes several varieties of pasta, all priced at ¥1,000 including a dessert, a small salad, and a choice of a drink. Or for ¥1,200 the lunch crowd can get a tender steak accompanied by a salad, rice, a drink and dessert. Two varieties of steak are available: one has a European style demi-glace sauce, and the other is Japanese style, prepared with thinly sliced onions, roasted garlic, and soy sauce. While the sauce of the former is too rich and overpowers the flavor of the meat, the latter is a wonderful medley of flavors. Just be careful not to order it before an important meeting, as the generous serving of garlic may be a bit off-putting to prospective clients.
Louis Prima also makes an excellent choice for a laid-back dinner or drinks in the evening. Standouts on the dinner menu include a starter of steamed clams in a yuzu and white wine sauce (¥1,000), carbonara pasta topped with thinly sliced jamon ibérico (¥1,700), and a yuzu, eel and foie gras risotto (¥2,200). Several varieties of Belgian beer are available from ¥900, and a glass of wine or a cocktail goes for ¥700. Overall, the quaint décor, friendly atmosphere, original and well-executed food, and large variety of drinks available at Louis Prima make it a prime spot for a relaxed night out or a unique lunch break.
Open Mon–Fri for lunch (11:30am–3pm) and dinner (7pm–12am) and Sat for dinner (7–11pm)
8-12-12 Akasaka, Minato-ku
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