Kaikaya by the Sea, Shibuya, Tokyo
That was different. This funky little place (23-7 Maruyama-cho, 3770-0878) just a little further up the hill from Gonpachi was packed to the brim tonight. It was an izakaya of sorts, but with a very clear fusion slant, as seen by the wall decorations and the La Cuisine Japonaise tagline outside. We basically told the chef to go for whatever he wanted, and he plucked out a bunch of various items, like some mini spring rolls that were probably Vietnamese-inspired, as well as a mayo-covered prawn that was presumably Chinese in origin.
What I liked more were these local fish that were done up in a Mediterranean style of olive oil and garlic (even if it was a bit too much of the latter), as well as the sengyo no carpaccio and a sizzling garlic steak with a touch of freshly ground wasabi root on the side. The big chunks of meat in the tuna jaw as well as the huge family-style bowl of miso soup at the end were also a bit more appealing to my taste.
Sure, the purist in me wasn't that excited about the less traditional dishes that they served, but everything was very fresh and of high quality. Perhaps more importantly, this cozy and crowded place had so much energy that it made for a fun and rowdy environment, and that was probably the thing that I liked more. That, and maybe a bit more of that steak.