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I went to Teppen with a group of Japanese friends. They led me so far out of the center of Shibuya that I wondered whether the restaurant would actually be good. I also wondered about our safety, walking down those dark peripheral streets in Shibuya. We arrived, safe and sound at one of the best kept secrets in Tokyo. Well, it's probably not much of a secret among the Japanese; it was packed. It has the feel of a traditional, Mom and Pop restaurant; there are traditional tables as well as a counter, and customers leave their shoes at the door. While the restaurant itself may have a traditional flavor, the waitresses don't. Only women work at Teppen; there's a brother izakaya down the street staffed only by men. These women ooze personality and spunk. At different intervals, they all yell “yo” together.
The food is also really, really good. My group basically ordered all the recommendations, which is the course of action I'd recommend. We ordered barisoba sarada, yakimoriawase, gobonokaraage, and dekitatetezukuri masudofu. But the three things that really tickled my fancy were gyusujinikomi, ishiyakki unagimeshi and kurimuchizuno osama . Gyusujinikomi was basically a Japan style chili, the ishiyakii unagimeshi was unagi with flavored rice, and it was heavenly. The one that really knocked my socks off was kurimuchizu osama; basically cream cheese with saltine crackers. The cheese was sitting in a pool of honey. Cheese and honey are two tastes that I normally wouldn't mix, but they were delightful.
By the way, you'll find a guest book in the restroom, as well as origami paper and I notepad. I've seen some really cool restrooms in Tokyo, but this one takes the cake for the inclusion of those three items.
This quant Izakaya is a great place for a group of friends to go. It is set in traditional Japanese style but all the waitresses and cooks are women. The girls are very amicable and a lot of fun. Whenever someone places and order or for some other reason they will all yell “Yo!” in unison. Although there was no English menu and they only spoke Japanese, I had a lot of fun. The food was exceptional and not too expensive. We had several dishes for the table and every single one was very good. At all the tables you sit on the ground, but at the one we had, the floor was sunken in below the table so our legs were allowed to dangle and sit like a normal chair just without the back rests. Of the entire experience, I really loved what they did for the 3 birthdays that night. They turned off all the lights and started yelling to the restaurant that it was their birthday and the cooks shot off fire. They brought out ice cream and it was all very well done. This Izakaya is fantastic to go for special occasions or merely just to have some drinks in a tremendous atmosphere.
I had my birthday party at Teppen; it was one of my happiest and most memorable experiences in Tokyo.
Teppen looks like a typical low, smoky izakaya, but rarely have I found one with such a fun and lively atmosphere. The eating space is fairly small, but the 10 or 12 tables and bar seats are always full. Spacious bench seats are specially designed for lounging. Teppen is famous for its gregarious, all-female staff - they're very friendly and want you to have fun. Don't get the wrong idea though - it's not a hostess bar, and not exclusively for men.
Since I went with a lot of people I was able to try a wide selection of dishes, which are all designed to be shared and interspersed with drinks. Almost everything was delicious and very high quality - no fish and chips here.
Highlights were ishiyaki unagimeshi (crispy rice and eel in a stone pot), masudofu (simple, fresh tofu with garnish), and yakitori. I had a few creative, fusion-style dishes as well, like crackers with honey cream cheese.
Two other people were celebrating birthdays that night, and while three of us received candle-lit desserts, the staff got everyone singing and yelling "Happy Birthday" in at least two different languages.