Renka - literally means "Lotus Flower" - is a small bar cum restaurant. It is located a few minutes' walk from Hamadayama Station. Nevertheless, only a few souls are seen in the neighborhood of Renka in the evening. It is dimly lit and its building is covered with black painted planks. Therefore, Renka appears to be an ideal hide-out for those who need to meet in secret.
Renka was not unknown to me, as it is only 30 seconds from Hamadayama Kaikan where Suginami Philharmonic Orchestra regularly rehearses and I pass by Renka on the way to and from rehearsal. Nevertheless, I hesitated to enter it till recently, as it appeared to refuse newcomers. But, one day I resolved to enter Renka and came to be fond of its food as well as ambience.
Renka is small in size, like many other restaurants and bars in Hamadayama. However, it looks more spacious than others, because it has only one room and the main dining place is an elevated wooden floor, where we sit down on and can feel the ceiling higher than when sitting on chair. The combination of in total four sitting tables can be changed according to the need and maximum 16 guests can sit at table together or seperately. There are in addition four seats at the counter and a separate corner with 6 to 8 seats.
Renka offers carefully chosen fresh ingredients and make special efforts to deprive them of their proper taste. Its vegetables are therefore very delicious. I tasted green asparagus, tomato, burdock, bitter melon and avocado which were offered either fresh or with minimum necessary human intervention such as pealing, boiling and some times deep frying. Fish and meat are also simply cooked, but are full of their natural taste. In other words, Renka offers healty foods only.
Though Renka's dishes are mostly prepared in Japanese style, it offers also some Italian style dishes such as "spaghetti aglio olio e pepperoncini" and they are well made. They are all reasonably priced between US 6 and 10 $. Together with 2 to 3 go (180ml) of sake, you can enjoy a comfortable evening together with friends or family members at about US 30$ each.
Together with its attractive list of beverage, modern interior and table ware and reasonable price, I found it natural that women are fond of Renka.