Wander the halls of this underground car park and you’ll find a haven of fast, affordable Chinese feasts.

Kenshi Yonezu is a tremendous pop sensation in Japan, and the lovely melody of his hit song Lemon has been high-inescapable since its release in 2018. That same year he released another song, Flamingo, which came with a striking music video. It shows Yonezu dancing erratically through a labyrinthine abandoned car park, eventually coming to rest in a hollowed-out restaurant.

▼ There are also zombies clamoring at the windows and a car crash, just for good measure.

It’s a cool music video, not least because of its incredibly striking location. There’s just something so compelling about underground spaces—they summon to mind dungeons in roleplaying games, or secret caverns with treasure held deep within. You don’t need to venture into the fictional world or even to faraway locales to find a satisfying dungeon, though. Our Japanese-language Chie Nomura found a great example in central Tokyo, which happened to serve as the set for the Flamingo video posted above.

It’s located on the border between the Chuo and Minato districts of Tokyo, quite close to the Nakagin Capsule Tower, a mixed residential and office space comprised of tiny capsule rooms.

▼ Chie actually lived in one of those capsules for a month.

▼ Nakagin Capsule Tower from outside.

Chie just happened to catch sight of a signpost for Delica, a Chinese restaurant, hanging over one of the many entrances to the Shiodome parking lot.

▼ The sign indicates that you can find Delica on the first basement floor.

Chie wondered, naturally enough, if this meant that there was a whole shopping precinct down there or something. Nope! Just lots and lots of spaces to park cars and one Chinese restaurant. How strange! How…compelling!

After asking both long-term residents and the owner at the Nakagin Capsule Tower, she found out that it was common in the before-times™ for Nakagin residents to hold drinking parties at Delica. The various people that she quizzed gushed about the restaurant’s value for money, the generous portions, and the speed with which the food was delivered to your table.

How could she leave Delica uninvestigated after such glowing reviews?

The restaurant is advertised at each of the four underground entrances to the car park, with a menu board and a sign hung enticingly at the nearest entrance to the Nakagin Capsule Tower. Clearly, Delica is something of a so-called “charm point” of the car park. Chie ventured into the depths to seek it out…

▼ This is one gigantic car park.

Wandering around in such a cavernous underground space certainly set her adventurer’s heart alight. Chie doesn’t drive a car, so spaces like these hold their own special novelty. She walked and walked, using the many signposts as her guide. Could there really be a restaurant hidden within these endless walls of concrete?

Eventually, a flickering glimmer caught her eye. The entrance!

As she drew closer she saw the sign, a daily menu, and a bounty of photographs of the meals on offer.

▼ (insert RPG victory fanfare here)

The daily menu had some example trays set out in front of it to illustrate what you would receive. Today’s offerings were the A set meal, featuring protein-packed “stamina” yakiniku; the B set, of which the main offering is shrimp and egg with sweet vinegar noodles; and the E set, which is shrimp and egg served in a starchy, sweet vinegar sauce.

▼ Takeout bento lunches are also listed on a menu to the side.

Leaving the mystery of why the sets are listed A, B, and then suddenly E to one side, 600 yen (US$5.50) is a very reasonable price to pay for a set lunch in this part of Tokyo. Chie took the stairs inside the entrance to reach a ticket machine, a common fixture in small local restaurants like these. Each button corresponds to a menu item. Pop your cash into the coin slot, make your selection, and receive your change.

▼ Choices, choices…

She selected a half-bowl of fried rice and some boiled gyoza dumplings. Meal tickets in hand, she walked into the dining room.

▼ The dining room was populated with workers eating their lunches.

Chie had selected her lunch in anticipation that she might get a generous helping. When the fried rice and dumplings arrived, she was satisfied with the amount…but not taken aback, either. The speed with which it arrived wasn’t especially remarkable, although she figured they would need some time to boil her dumplings. Everything tasted as delicious as she expected, but she couldn’t help but feel a little underwhelmed.

▼ Just an average tasty Chinese lunch.

But wait!

She hadn’t ordered the daily special.

Maybe that was her mistake?

She came back at a later date to try out Delica’s daily lunch.

This time she could pick between the A set meal of babaocai, a platter of roasted seafood and vegetables; the B set, containing onion chicken with mustard noodles; or the E set meal, onion chicken stir-fried in mustard sauce. She picked the babaocai.

Then she sat and waited. And thus came her order…

While it didn’t appear with the legendary light speed that the rumors proclaimed, it arrived on time and with a vast amount of food. This was enough roasted seafood to satisfy any appetite! Chie admitted to being a little disappointed not to receive a towering pile of rice like you might see in a cartoon, but decided that the restaurant must be trying to go easy on her.

There was also a surprise bonus! The meal came with a bowl of annin tofu, or apricot kernel jelly, for dessert. The tray outside hadn’t contained this small luxury, so Chie was very pleased.

She chose to round out her visits with some orders of the Delica boxed lunches. These typically cost 500 yen (US$4.58) and come with lots of delicious Chinese staples, plus a generous serving of white rice. You can pay an extra 50 yen to swap out the white rice for fried rice, for those wanting to eat healthy.

Something extra welcome at Delica is that they will package up the leftovers of your meal into a plastic lunch box if you can’t finish everything. Though this is common practice at many restaurants in the West, it’s less of a given here in Japan.

After facing the voluminous offerings of Delica, not to mention traversing the car park dungeon several times to reach it, Chie was very relieved to be able to take home her leftovers to savor for another day.

Delica is a great spot to visit for a quick and relatively cheap lunch, and you have the bonus of getting to scout out the location of a seriously cool music video! And if you’re too far away to enjoy this particular underground delight, at least there are plenty of cool ways to look at Japan’s underground spaces online.

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[ Read in Japanese ]