It’s not easy to find good, cheap international eats in Tokyo, and I’m only going to make it marginally easier for you.
Now don’t get all huffy. See, it’s not my call. As Jon, the unflappable owner of the tapas restaurant Las Meninas in Koenji, told me when he agreed to let me write about his little joint on my web page: “My wife will kill me,” he said in his Newscastle accent, a half-sarcastic twinkle in his eye, “if we get any more customers.”
Las Meninas is a small restaurant, and Jon and his wife are the most gracious of hosts, always doing their best to squeeze in their customers and make them feel comfortable – not a task to be taken lightly in Tokyo. Also of no small importance is the fact that Las Meninas is popular with both Japanese and gaijin, making for wonderfully mixed crowds.
But I’m here to tell you about the food. Oh, the food. Jon cooks up a delicious menu every night, from a juicy steak with escargot that melts in your mouth like a Japanese girl meeting Tom Cruise to a medly of fresh veggies, that are crisp and flavorful. And did I mention easily affordable?
And: the sangria. The sangria at Las Meninas is extemely good for Japan. It has a full-bodied fruitiness, the alcohol is strong enough for any Barcelona evening, and watered down? No, not this stuff.
On one recent night there, we were served a ratatouille with eggplant, tomato, green and red peppers and onion; a seafood marinade with artichoke hearts; fresh-baked rolls; okra with tomato sauce; and marinated veggies. With several pitchers of the house sangria, three of us paid less than 2500 yen each.
All that’s missing is a giant replica of Velasquez’ famous painting. Three cheers for Las Meninas.