Sometimes eating needs to be about more than just sustaining yourself. At its best, it can be a complete sensory experience – leaving lasting memories and an urge to return as soon as possible. With this in mind, lunch at Scorpione Stazione in Yurakucho for 1,100yen is quite special. This isn’t just another pasta chain like La Boheme offering familiar but unchallenging food. For a start this is an actual restaurant. Waiting staff are turned out in crisp, pressed uniforms and aprons. There is a pleasant airy atmosphere and soulful break beat music echoes gently from speakers mounted under the high ceilings. The clientele are a mix of business types and middle aged housewives enjoying an unhurried meal.
The other thing about being an actual restaurant is that there is some real choice on the menu. The 1,100yen lunch course offers a choice of 6 starters and 15 different mains. Starters include various salads, an antipasto selection and the soup of the day. Unlike every other Italian inspired restaurant in Tokyo, the mains offer more than just spaghetti. Also available is a risotto of the day, fish of the day, grilled sea bass (suzuki) with tapenade sauce, sauteed chicken with pepper sauce, Milano style pork cutlet and stewed beef cheek. The latter items have a surcharge of a few hundred yen.
The service is friendly and fast – even by Tokyo standards. My Grilled Sea Bass with Tapenade sauce is on my table before I’m halfway through my starter of a Genovese salad (although some might complain that it’s bad form to serve the main while the starter is still being eaten – but, hey this is lunch for slightly more than 1,000yen). The cold salad is lovely, crisp and fresh – the grated Parmesan cheese and dressing doesn’t overpower the taste of the huge leaves of romaine lettuce or the lightly cooked cold veggies.
The sea bass was beautifully cooked with both a black olive and artichoke tapenade to the side. The flavour of the fish itself was so good that the tapenade wasn’t really necessary – although both offered a nice contrast. The seasonal roasted veggies that accompanied my fish were lightly salted and a perfect contrast of textures. It was great to see lots of local flavour including satoimo, shishito, purple carrot and a strip of takenoko.
Even though the weather outside was a miserable, cold, raining autumn day, enjoying a small taste adventure at Scorpione Stazione was actually mood altering, putting me in a good frame of mind for the rest of the afternoon. Compared to some of the super specials we’ve profiled on here 1,100yen for lunch might seem a little on the high side but I can assure you it’s not. Try to get the same value in London, New York or Sydney – you just won’t.