Long-time readers have an eerie ability to remember the most inane inanities about stuff posted here, so no doubt you’ll recall that I was disappointed — nay, devastated — when I visited Tokyo back in March and discovered that the finest Japanese curry restaurant on earth, Little Spoon, had been closed down and replaced with some lame ramen shop. Well, Wednesday morning as I was killing time between checking out of my hotel and catching a ride to the airport I wandered randomly about Shibuya only to discover the surprising truth: Little Spoon wasn’t dead! Merely relocated.
Here is how to find the new location. First, you start at Shibuya Station and exit at the Hachiko Crossing Gate. Easy enough! It is the guidebook-recommended path into Shibuya. You will see the building to the left, the six-story Tsutaya media shop with the Starbucks at its foot. Now, before crossing the street here, instead turn left and head up the street.
I apologize for the terrible images I’m using here. They’re all my cellphone would transmit by mail.
You will know you are doing it right if you see the famous Shibuya 109 building dead ahead. But you do not want to go to 109, because Little Spoon is not at all fashionable and therefore has no place in such a trendy, spendy shopping destination. I’m pretty sure that to be a restaurant in the 109 you are required by law to have a selection of tiny, immaculately-crafted desserts that involve French words like “chou” and “marron.” Even the cutting-edge Pinkberry knock-off (called, subtly, “Pink Sweet Berry”) was forced to set up shop in the much less hip BEAM building several blocks away.
Anyway, you should be across the street from 109, to the left. Stay left. It is key!
You’ll know you’re on the right track if you pass Dogenzaka’s weird Pac-Man arch. This was made very slightly famous in The World Ends With You, so you should recognize it.
You do not go through the Pac-Man arch, though. No, you stay to the left, across the street, and keep on walking right on past. I’ve never explored beyond the arch but it looks like a bunch of pachinko parlors, love hotels and presumably brothels. So I suppose you could possibly get a little spoon there, but only if your hooker likes to cuddle.
If you have successfully stayed left, you will find the bright orange sign that denotes Little Spoon! It’s kind of tricky, though, because it’s right next to Yoshinoya, which also has a bright orange sign. In fact, I missed it the first time around; I went to the end of the block and was delighted to discover the capsule hotel, made a mental note, and turned around only to be smacked in the gob with delicious pictures of tonkatsu curry. Curious to know what this tasty-looking establishment was, I looked up and discovered — Little Spoon. I went immediately inside and gorged.
Ah, but here’s the shocking, Twilight Zone-esque ending to this tale: Little Spoon kind of sucks now. I don’t know what happened, but it’s a pitiful shadow of its former self. The curry doesn’t taste the same, the tonkatsu is gristly and small, and worst of all you no longer have a wide array of relative curry heats from which to choose. Sadly, the selections are limited to “mild,” “normal” and “hot.” No more Spoon-chan the mascot, no more Rockets the dog, no more scary dragon whose curry selection is a tiny blob of burning crimson on a pile of rice. This Tokyo trip was full of ups and downs, but this heartbreaking discovery was the worst.
Fortunately, there is a delicious alternative available in the realm of franchised curry shops: Go Go Curry has opened a Shibuya location across the street from the BEAM building (right next to Tokyu Hands). I had Go Go in NYC a few months ago and thought it was good but not great; in Japan, it’s great. Better flavor, better rice, and the tonkatsu was amazing. So, uh, if you ever find yourself lost and hungry in Shibuya, I guess you know where to go, now. Yeah.
This was a waste of a post, wasn’t it?