My Tokyo Valentine

Earlier this week, I wrote about how the Japanese prepare for Valentine’s Day. Now, I would just like to write a little bit about how we actually spent our Valentine.

The way my boyfriend Dion and I usually spend our Valentine’s Day is pretty simple. Since we have been living together for quite some time, we often forget to organize a date night once in a while. Just us, going out for dinner. Because we are near each other all the time, it tends to slip our minds to actually spend time together. That is were Valentine’s Day comes to play. On this day we make sure our evenings are free and we go to one of our favorite restaurants. Back in Belgium, this would be a Mexican Restaurant that was not particularly fancy, but their food tastes like heaven and we have made such good memories at that place.

Now that we live in Japan, we no longer have a go-to restaurant (except for the kaitenzushi near our station). This urged us to be a bit more adventurous.

We were able to book at one of Tokyo’s most famous restaurants: Gonpachi. Most of you may know this as the “Kill Bill Restaurant”. Even though I had booked more than two weeks in advance, we could only get a seat at 8:30PM, as it was already fully booked for that day.

To be clear, this is the Gompachi restaurant in Nishiazabu (Ginza). This is actually a restaurant chain and they have six other venues all over Tokyo. So when you book, be sure to check that you are booking at the right restaurant.

Legend has it that Quentin Tarantino walked into this place and was immediately inspired to shoot a scene there. This is an izakaya-style (Japanese-style bar) restaurant with mainly smaller dishes. The idea is to order many dishes and share with your group (as you would usually do in an izakaya). Even though this restaurant is famous all over the world, the price range of their dishes is rather low. For three side dishes, a big plate of soba and a glass of wine, I only paid around two thousand yen, which would roughly be around eighteen euros. However, do not let the low prices fool you. Their food is absolutely delicious and very filling. I really recommend the mushroom skewers. The texture was on point. As a vegetarian, I had absolutely no trouble at this restaurant to choose vegetarian or completely plant-based options.

My impression of ambiance in the restaurant when I walked in for the first time is that it is a very busy place. I was a little overwhelmed by how big it was. When the waiter brought us to our seats, the staff yelled Irasshaimase! for the whole restaurant, which could be translated as “welcome”. Dion and I were lucky to get a counter seat, where we could see all the magic happen. It was a lot of fun to see all the food being prepared and sometimes the chefs would give us dishes directly over the counter. The amplifiers were booming with 70’s and 80’s music all evening.

Overall, dining at this restaurant is quite a unique experience and I would recommend visiting it, even though you are only in Tokyo for a short amount of time.

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