Opened just five years ago, El Pato is already one of Koenji’s best-loved watering holes.
Settled at one of the bar’s three wooden tables, our group of four surveyed what was on tap for the evening and opted for pints of Shiga Kogen’s IPA and Indian Summer Saison. A selection of American imports such as Anchor Steam, Lost Coast, and Brooklyn Brewery are also on hand. The Saison, with notes of citrus and hops, fairly crackled on the taste buds, quickly becoming the table favorite.
The small but dense menu included pizza, hamburgers, a nice handful of starters and salads, BBQ spare ribs, and an assortment of pastas. Vegetarian options are available on the menu and by request. We opted for the brussels sprout chips, a New York pizza, burgers, and a large order of the fish and chips.
The mekyabetsu—Brussels sprout—chips appeared warm and delightfully crunchy. Sautéed and served with a sprinkling of parmesan cheese, salt, and pepper, this relatively new vegetable in Japan proved a hit.
Four well-sized pieces of piping-hot fish came atop a tidy mountain of externally crispy, internally delectably soft fries. The fish was tender and flavorful and the tartar sauce tangy.
The burgers arrived cut in half, the long metal sandwich pins a necessity for these little beasts. The pink-centered lamb patty sat atop generous slices of tomato, avocado, and crisp lettuce on springy focaccia bread. The regular burger arrived in a similar outfit, but on a toasted bun instead, pleasing the tastebuds.
The New York pizza came with a generous serving of fresh arugula sprinkled with parmesan cheese. We snapped up each perfectly gooey slice, with its blend of Italian herbs, in a flash, folding it the way New Yorkers believe they invented.
Our stomachs full, we didn’t have room for more—although the plates of pasta going by looked saucy, the salads verdant as they followed close behind. “I guess we just have to come back,” said my husband with a smile as we left.
Note: Parties of more than four should reserve in advance. Days off vary, so call ahead.