The large restaurant opposite the Grand Hyatt in Roppongi Hills is full almost every night of the week these days, and its ¥2,880 duck is fast becoming the stuff of legend. Chinese Café Eight's recipe is simple: delicious food, unbeatable value, and a curious but memorable décor of genitalia. You make up your own mind on that.
Lucky eight is prominent in the menu's major offerings, such as the ¥2,888 suizugyo chili-filled spicy Szechwan soup, or the huge 380g shark's fin for ¥8,800 (not so lucky for the shark).
On our most recent visit, late one Saturday night, the long dining room was typically full with parties of young Japanese, expats and ethnic Chinese. This last group seemed to make most use of the restaurant's extensive menu; the table next to us ordered enough to feed a small army. Apparently happy to pass on the deep fried scorpion (¥1,980, the "root of long life"), we spied mabo tofu (¥735) and crab fried rice (¥840). A glance at the lunch menu had over 50 appetizers starting at ¥200.
But we were there for the Beijing Duck (you may know her by her old name). Be warned: "Duck takes time to cook!" as the waitress was quick to remind us when we enquired about the progress of our order. The ¥1,500 all-you-can-drink-for-two-hours option was tempting, but we stayed strong.
The duck was carved up tableside, and the major slices of meat served for DIY pancakes with plum sauce and the other usual trimmings. The rest was rolled away to reappear as fried duck with bean sprouts, the bones boiled up to make soup. One duck was plenty for the three of us, although on previous, hungrier visits we've managed one for two.
The meat was juicy and flavorsome, and the atmosphere as vibrant as anywhere in Beijing. And with food at that price, we left Chinese Café Eight thinking that we were the luckiest of all.