The recent spate of ridiculously hot weather (who says there's no global warming?!) has driven me to extremely spicy food when I can drag myself out of the office. Since I work in Akasaka, thought I'd post on two local favorites.
The first is Baiwan, a branch of the Benitora (Red Tiger) chain of Chinese restaurants. I know, chains are not cool, but I find this one has consistently very good food with a pleasant enough atmosphere. This particular one is more upscale than most in the chain, in its own building which is rumored to be an old bathhouse, with big paintings of Mao on the wall and R&B music in the background. A favorite from last summer has recently reappeared on the lunch menu--"tan tan reimen", which is cold spicy sesame noodles. Unlike the version you'd find of this in many NY restaurants, the sauce really has a good kick, and is not sweet. It's topped with julienned cucumber and Japanese yam (the white sticky kind), coriander, and chunks of beef. My office mates usually comment that I'm speechless from spice once I finish a bowl. They also have a ma-po tofu that is so red I've never even tried it, but it is a perennial favorite among people with higher spice tolerance than myself. (From Akasaka Station, walk up the left side of Hitotsugi-dori to the corner with an Italian restaurant on one side and a photo shop on the other; turn left up the hill, and it's on your right, set back behind gates.)
The other favorite is Ti-Nun Thaikoku Ramen, a Thai restaurant where the main claim to fame is a ramen version of tom yam kun. I like this enough, but my real love here is spicy sauteed ground chicken on rice, topped with a fried egg. Green curry comes pretty close, too. It's got a photo menu, so when in doubt, point. The place is very small--I think the kitchen is bigger than the seating area--and most of the staff are Thai. They have other branches in Takadanobaba and Waseda, which I've heard are good but can not vouch for personally. (From Akasaka Station, walk down the left side of Akasaka-dori towards the Hie Shrine. Turn left at the last alley before the big street, and it's on your right, with a big Thai flag in front. Warning: develops lines very quickly given size.)
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