Have you been to the dick restaurant? is a totally legitimate question you might get asked if you’re living in Tokyo.
Cafe 8, in Roppongi, notorious foreigner playground territory, is somewhat infamous for its phallus paraphernalia, the centrepiece being an extremely large golden member. Move over, Jason, your fleece impresses me not.
The restaurant is part of a chain of seven stores in Tokyo, serving up Chinese cuisine. It is particularly famous for the Peking duck. Which meant, when organising in a group an outing to this place, there was some confusion as to whether we were going to a “dick restaurant” or a “duck restaurant”. In this case, you can fully have your cake and it.
At least, that’s what we thought. Little did we know, the staff were going to try to take us for a ride – and not an enjoyable one at that.
Things got off to a limp start when we enquired after water. The waiter huffily pointed to the other side of the room and muttered “self-service”. It was a glimpse of the “service that was to come.
We proceeded to order a variety of dishes, none of which were particularly memorable but which were satisfying enough when starving, and ticked the oily and salty boxes as to be expected.
Now, I always judge restaurants by whether they can produce things I can’t do at home. Because, let’s face it, if they can’t do it as well as you, why bother? Too much commitment for too few rewards.
When it comes to Chinese restaurants, I like to order di san xian, a stir-fry dish of aubergine, potatoes and peppers. It’s very simple to make and I can conjure up a fantastic rendition without too much trouble.
But, at Cafe 8, the potatoes were soggy and the flavours just didn’t come together. And whilst coming together is not always the ultimate goal, they didn’t do much individually either.
All these dishes were somewhat incidental to the main affair: the duck. It was wheeled out on a trolley and sliced in front of our eyes.
Then, like a magician without a top hat, he vanished it right before our eyes! After serving up only a quarter, he whisked it away. It was all we could do from crying out in alarm.
A friend, who had visited once before, reassured us that we would next receive soup with the duck sliced into it, and then a stir-fry with the remainder, as per the “duck course” we had ordered.
Temporarily calmed, we tucked into duck pancakes. The duck itself was satisfying but fell short of the juicy delights that I had had before. When the soup arrived, it did little lift spirits as it contained hardly any duck meat.
Still, we had the stir-fry dish to look forward to.
Or so we thought. So we waited and waited. And checked out the tasteful decor around the place.
Whilst the giant golden dong aimed at the vagina gong was certainly the most eye-catching, our favourite had to be the dick shrine behind the curtain, which contained five prime golden phalluses.
However, dicks aside, we were still waiting on a duck. Now, like many a girl, I find the experience is spoiled a little if it happens too soon. Yet, after more than half an hour of waiting, and asking three times, it was clear they had ballsed up our order.
Eventually, a plate of shrivelled meat and veg was slammed down in front of us. But, alas, the meat came in tiny, flaccid strips. This was definitely not our duck.
It was time to complain. After an awkward discussion, the duck waiter conceded that the menu was misleading, and told us we could have the rest of our duck served on a plate as part of the deal.
We were doubtful as to whether our duck carcass was still hanging around and hadn’t been sliced up and served for separate orders – which is likely the point of this con. Through this duck set “deal”, they can service several customers at once with the same duck. Astounding!
Our “duck” arrived with bones heaped upon a plate. But as we feared, it was an impostor.
Because our duck definitely didn’t have four legs.
Now I know ducks come in all shapes and sizes, and that size doesn’t really matter – at least when it comes to the flavour.
But I have never seen a duck with four legs.
The bones were scorched and heavily salted, and were silently yet conspicuously screaming a big “f*ck you” at us.
Then a different waiter arrived, who announced he would be charging us for this travesty. An argument ensued in which he basically told us we were idiots for not understanding the menu, and ignored our references to one of our company’s previous experience in which she had been served a lot more duck. However, being the gentleman that he was, he kindly told us he wouldn’t charge us this time.
As for what the food actually was in front of us?
It’s from the same duck, he insisted. Which was a load of bollocks bigger than any of those decorating the wall.
Between the six of us, we only paid 1600 yen each to be absolutely stuffed, which would have excited me more if I were still a student who would queue for two hours for free ice-cream.
The biggest positive, however, was that we got to finally understand why the whole restaurant was decked out in dicks.
They’re all Employee of the Year Awards.
Cafe 8, Roppongi 1/5 – Cheap food doesn’t warrant being laughed at, derided and ripped off. It does, however, advertise itself correctly…
Food 2.5/5 | Service 1/5 | Value 3/5 | Atmosphere 1/5
Where: 4 Chome-27-15 Minamiaoyama, Minato-ku, Tōkyō-to 106-6108
When: 24 hours