Shovel Time: Eagle Suntory Lounge
I’m not sure if Japan has lots of bars with liquor brands in their name, or I just happened to visit a disproportionate amount of them (also, Ginza Lion/Sapporo Lion and Kirin City). Eagle Suntory Lounge is right in the heart of modern Shinjuku, yet it feels like a time capsule. A lot of Tokyo feels like that.
Every flight of stairs you go down erases a decade. The chandeliers (not pictured), wood paneling, and brutalist stone mural behind the bar signal mid-century, yet the menus appear straight-up early ’80s (when the bar actually originated). Only the prices have kept up with the times.
Whiskey, though, starts at roughly $3 a glass.
I was just there to drink since I’d eaten 200 grams (ok, that sounds larger than 7oz.) of steak en route. But everyone was eating a flambeed dish despite not one being on the menu, and my curiosity got the better of me. It was escargot en cocotte served with toast points.
Then the floodgates were open and we ordered a steak sandwich, not hefty American-style, but dainty, more appropriate for tea. The meat came very rare, bolstered with a layer of iceberg lettuce, slicked with horseradish on one end and Worcestershire-ish sauce on the other. Look at the pickle garnish. Crazy attention was paid to slicing and presentation. A couple on my left befriended a couple on their left (all smoking–if you are sensitive to cigarettes, old-school Tokyo bars are not for you) and shared their dish. I’m saying “dish” because I seriously have a mental gap as to what they eating and nothing on the menu jogs my memory (it wasn’t fish or poultry or steak–I’m thinking sausages or ham) yet I remember all the flourish with which it was prepped and served. The bartender sliced the thing I can’t remember into separate portions and plated it using that two forks as tongs technique.
Half-way through I realized I didn’t have a purse hook. That would not do.
I’m still steamed that I forgot to pocket a coaster.
Eagle Suntory Lounge * 3 Chome-24-11 Shinjuku, 新宿区 Tokyo 160-0022, Japan