Cafe Moskow - a reformer in Harmonica Yokocho
The ground and first floors of Cafe Moskow. It looks hazy because of the smoke coming from the grill.
I visited Harmonica Yokocho
again and this time tried "Cafe Moskow
Despite of the name, Cafe Moskow is not a Russian coffee shop but a Spanish style bar. The ground floor is a standing bar with a counter and several tables. Its naked steel structure and wall are painted in dark red color. Good smell of grilling skewered stuffs floats out into the nearby passage and stimulates the appetite of passers-by. The first floor is equipped with several tables and chairs and guests can be seated comfortably. It has also a roof top-floor, but I have not seen it.
Although the first floor was almost full, a friendly couple sat closer together and made a room for us. An additional chair was brought in by a staff, so that we could enjoy an evening there. Day's menus were written on a blackboard and increased our expectation, because they included some dishes with authentic Spanish or Italian stuffs such as Iberian pork and prosciutto di Parma as well as interesting wines from Mediterranean and Latin-American countries at reasonable prices.
They skewered not only traditional Japanese yakitori stuffs such as liver, gristle and wing of chicken but also such vegetables as zucchini and petite tomato as well as lamb chop. I was also happy to find Italian cheese on the blackboard including Taleggio, Gorgonzola and Parmigiano. We appreciated their beef stew and their pizza quattro formaggi was extremely delicious. The service of the staff was casual and friendly.
So, we were very much satisfied with their food, service and atmosphere. As Cafe Moskow existed at the crossing of narrow passages, we could see the neighboring houses and the people strolling in the alleys from its opened window. We were drinking wine and eating mostly European style food and were feeling as if we were in an old town center in Europe.
I noticed an interesting statement on a piece of paper hanging on the wall which said "guests are free to bring in any alcohol purchased at 'Food Labo' subject to the payment of 650 yen per bottle". Food Labo exists just across the alley and offers many famous and also unusual kinds of wine at reasonable prices. Therefore, this offer was quite something for drinkers. I later discovered that Cafe Moskow and Food Labo belong to the same shop group "VIC".
From left to right : grilled vegetables, grilled lamb chops and pizza quattro formaggi
VIC - Video Information Center - was established in 1972 by students of the International Christian University. VIC started with media sector and enlarged its activities to household utensils and electrical appliances, then further to bar and restaurant operation. Their bars and restaurants are mostly located in Kichijoji, in particular in Harmonica Yokocho, and have acquired good reputation. Tecchan, which filled up with guests when I visited there, is also run by VIC.
I find the shops of the VIC group very appealing. However, I have certain reservation in the expansion of the group shops in Harmonica Yokocho, because a monopoly might damage the diversity of shops and the attractiveness of Harmonica Yokocho. But, I am optimistic in the future.
From the first floor, the show window of the opposite liquor shop can be seen through the opened window.