by the Weekender

Those who work near Roppongi or Nogizaka probably tend to lunch at the same few places over and over again, but it is worth avoiding chain restaurants and seeking out something different.

Just a few steps off the main drag across from Tokyo Midtown, tucked away in a side street, is a vibrant Cuban restaurant with quality cocktails and killer lunch sets.

During weekdays ¥900 buys you a choice of pollo asado (Cuban style roast chicken and rice), picadillo (a stew of shredded beef and vegetables) accompanied by salad and black bean rice, or the slightly unusual ‘Cuban curry,’ served with rice. All lunch sets come with a drink, making this great value for money.

The dinner menu also contains some Latin favorites, such as corn tortillas with home made salsa, homemade ratatouille, and wonderfully flavorful roast pork.

The roast chicken is delicious and is the chef’s recommendation. The bird was marinated for 12 hours in La Gorda’s original sauce before being cooked for one hour in a special roaster; you can easily taste the extra attention given to the preparation. The skin was crispy and the meat still succulent—I could see why the chef chose it as his favorite.

The bar stays open late on weekends, until 5am on Friday and Saturday nights. The trademark Cuban mojitos are wonderful, made with the obvious fresh lime, mint and cane sugar, but the rum is imported from Havana and the taste was perfect.

The staff at La Gorda speak English, Japanese and Spanish, so diners can brush up on their language skills while savoring the laid back Latin atmosphere. Look for the zesty orange wall outside and the tell-tale Cuban flag hanging above the door.

Open daily for lunch and dinner
(various times)
7-9-4 Roppongi, Minato-ku
Tel: 03-5786-7557