Part of the new chain of Kina China upscale Chinese eateries, Shigouin is styled like a Chinese palace with four private rooms arranged around an airy courtyard. Thanks to its period furniture and dark intricate woodwork, this one-month-old restaurant certainly offers a refreshing change from the glittering boutiques that line most of the hallways of Ebisu Garden Place’s Glass Square.
Arriving early on a stormy Monday, we were ushered inside to the “courtyard” and a corner booth with leather couches and a small round table. Nearby, a family of four sat in plush leather chairs next to a faux fireplace and under an oil painting of what looked like Chinese revolutionaries sitting around a raging bonfire. Without a real fire to warm our chilled souls, we considered one of Shigouin’s many Chinese spirits and liqueurs with exotic-sounding names like the Shaoxing Pagoda Hanabori. But in the end we went with the local favorite, Yebisu draft (¥700).
Faced with a plethora of choices from abalone to Peking duck, we decided to try Shigouin’s premium course—priced at a reasonable ¥7,000 for seven courses, including Peking duck and shark’s fin. To the sound of jazz wafting in the background, our feast began with six bite-size appetizers arranged on a single white tray. Besides the boiled shrimp, tofu and jellyfish, most of them defied description but had a pleasing kick with spicy oil and chilies. Next up were battered shrimp served with Chinese greens and dressed with ginger and a brown sauce. The portion was small but satisfying, with the plump shrimp blending nicely with the light batter.
By the time our next course arrived, we were ready for another draft and a glass of the house white wine (¥700), part of a selection of French, Italian and American varietals. Couples and small groups had begun to filter into the courtyard, while the volume of food heading into the private rooms continued unabated. The beef with vegetables and black pepper sauce was incredibly tender, although the large pieces were a bit unwieldy with our delicate chopsticks.
Our plates—all of which were sleek designer pieces in unusual shapes—cleared, we sat back and watched as our waiter prepared our Peking duck with absolute precision, from the placement of the hoisin sauce to the folding of the pancake. Served with two steamed dim sum, the Peking duck was unfortunately wrapped in a chilled pancake that took away some of the meat’s succulence. But the meal picked up again with a warm dish of tofu topped with seared scallops, chopped green onion and a black bean sauce. This was followed by the much-anticipated shark’s fin, which we enjoyed with fried rice and a shoyu-based noodle soup. Another attentive waiter served the dish tableside, gently scooping the tender fin and gravy over our rice and into our soup.
The final course, an artful leaf-shaped plate with three desserts, featured a jasmine-infused anin dofu, creamy iced tofu and a red-bean pastry rolled in sesame seeds. We finished them all, and some two hours after our evening began, sat back in our palace perch and felt like we had truly received the royal treatment.