When starting a restaurant, creating a good appearance is important. In a way, the look of an eatery reflects the quality of food that it serves. Looks can be deceptive, however, as just like people, the beauty of a restaurant might be limited to the surface.

The opposite also holds true, though, as our own Mr. Sato learned during an excursion to the Dogenzaka area of Tokyo. Inside this unassuming cigarette stand that you wouldn’t even realize was a restaurant, he found one of the best meals he ever had.

The name of this restaurant is Flaneur, but you wouldn’t know it by looking because even Mr. Sato could barely see it on the store front next to a huge Marlboro sign while standing out front. It’s about a five minute walk from JR Shibuya Station nestled in a seedy area of Dogenzaka filled with love hotels and bars.

According to the flag outside, the restaurant sell bento boxes during the lunch rush, and like many bento shops in Japan there is a very limited area for eating in. Also, if you happen to be situated nearby you might be able to get them to deliver your food to you.

Pretty much everything else about Flaneur seemed to deter customers from entering, but that didn’t stop our Mr. Sato who happened to need a pack of smokes anyway. He took a seat at the counter and ordered the steak curry for 1,350 yen (US$11).

Regular readers might recall that Mr. Sato likes his meat like he does his pokémon: as rare as they come. So he was amazed to see just how exquisitely this one was cooked.

The outside was a glistening even brown color without any burn marks. On the inside was the delicious pink glow of rare beef. Also, as he broke apart the pieces a faint smell of red wine arose from it. “Amazing” he thought to himself.

In every way the taste lived up to the appearance. The meat was soft and seemed to melt in Mr. Sato’s mouth. The seasoning of the steak was an excellent match to the slightly spicy curry used in the dish as well. As an added bonus, both the juices from the steak and curry mingled and was absorbed in the rice for even more flavor.

The taste was enough to make him forget that he was eating in the back of a tobacco shop. It completely exceeded his expectations and there was no way he would have anticipated such a finely prepared meal in a place like that.

So remember, you can’t judge a great restaurant by its cover. Next time you pass by a car wash or off-track betting parlor near you, why not stop in and try to get something to eat? It might just be the experience of a lifetime.

Restaurant Information
Flaneur / フラヌール
2-17-5 Dogenzaka Shibuya
11:30am – 9:00pm
Closed Sundays

Original article by Mr. Sato
Photos: RocketNews24

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