Picasso: A hidden gem at Takadanobaba

Preface: This post is in our Tokyo Edition series to celebrate and reflect on our latest Tokyo trip! As you might have read in our About page, I used to live in Tokyo for 4 years, in Japan for 6 years. And that I used to have a blog called tokyofinder prior to this current one for Bangkok..

Just like many of you, we have chosen the past long holiday for our yearly getaway. And our destination for foodies like us can’t be any other than Tokyo! I know it might sound cliche, but we went with eyes of foodies and list of restaurants ready to let you all know about!

Our first day was spent walking in Harajuku at the back of Cat Street, jumping in and out shops with premium shoes and beautiful accessories. After being disappointed by the fact that the most popular Adidas shoes that we were looking for were all sold out, we decided to go to Omotesando hills and all the stores on the Omotesando street, all cool, all expensive, all best-of-design.

Soaked with impressive architecture and product designs, we walked back to our air bnb accommodation of the trip at Shimo Ochiai station on Seibu-shinjuku line, one stop from the main Takadanobaba JR station. I have to tell you Air bnb is really saving us lots of money when it comes to Japan; it’s about 4 times cheaper! After checking in and managing our stuffs, we decided to head back to Takadanobaba station for dinner. As a long-time habitant at this station, I decided to take them to this hidden gem on the basement of the street.

The entrance is quite narrow, and you might miss it if you don’t spot the sign carefully. Walking down in a steep steps, then look to your right. The dark and suspicious looking door is the place called Kitchen & Bar Picasso. There aren’t many seats, sometimes you even need to reserve the space. Ask for non-smoking area, if you can’t stand the smokers. We got the corner table suitable for 4 of us. As soon as we were all seated, the menu scanning started.

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First menu is the signature salad: Picasso’s 20-ingredient salad. It is indeed the must-order item; one of the most fulfilling salads I’ve had in my life! The stars of the dish include fresh avocado slices, charred broccoli, pickled olives, grilled eggplant slices, marinated mushrooms, lightly fried soft tofu cubes, and crispy potato chunks among others. The dressing is refreshingly sour. When mixed with the grated cheese on top, the salad dish had successfully awoken our taste buds, readying them for the coming dishes of the night. Did I mention, all 20 ingredients were cooked to their perfection?

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Next we ordered hot gratin dish of zucchini, entrails, and cheese! I fell in love with it the first time I ordered long time ago. The zucchini was soaked in the Bolognese-like sauce of the entrails. The fat from cheese and olive oil adds up the flavor. Just one point to be careful, it was served very very hot and could burn your mouth.

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For a meat dish, we ordered marinated pork with onion sauce. Every one agreed that this one of the most tender pork we had in a long time, even beat mom’s version! When biting into it, the flesh broke out and released the juice right into your tongue. And just when you thought it was going to be a bit too sour, the rocket salad brought the flavor right back to neutral and ended the bite smoothly. The smokiness from oven was evident from the first to the last bite. We were so impressed we actually asked the waiter to ask the chef for his marinate recipe. To our surprise, the waiter came back with a paper listed with the secret ingredients!! (If you wanna know, comment below)

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Lastly, we tried 2 pasta dishes: cold peach (momo) and tomato pasta and hot green pea pesto pasta with asparagus. Both sounded unlike anything we heard before, so we just had to order to see how they look and taste like. The cold momo pasta was refreshing and sweet. The pasta noodles were silky and soft. (Those who like al-dente level might not like this so much) The tomato cubes and peach cubes worked very well to create the balanced sweet note on your tongue. The sauce, however, could make you feel like you are having dessert rather than actual savory dish. High points here for creativity and use of seasonal ingredient. The second pasta dish was also new to our understanding about pesto, which is supposed to be made mainly from sweet Italian basil. Here, the pesto is made from green pea puree. It was a creative take on the pesto menu, but it left quite a heavy after taste which was supposed to be light. The pesto sauce ended up a little too sweet and mushy, dragging the noodles down, making them a bit socky. The asparagus though was so perfect.

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Cold Peach and Tomato Pasta

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Green Pea Pesto Pasta with Asparagus

We ordered some beers to end our tiring day. With all the food and companions, our night was just great.

Check out more info about Picasso here!

Stay tuned for our next post!

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