Gonpachi in Nishi-Azabu is a great place for Japanese food, and is very popular with foreigners. The main reason for this is because this establishment was the model used for the restaurant in the movie "Kill Bill" (the blood-spattered fight scene with the crazy 88’s). Sure, this is its highest selling point, but don’t let that fact distract you from the mouth-watering food they have on offer.
The menu offers a wide range of traditional Japanese cuisine, including variations of soba noodles, rice bowls, yakitori and other delicious treats. The third floor allegedly has a sushi bar, though I did not venture in that direction. If you feel daring, you can pay ¥2,500 for a three hour all-you-can-drink session that will be sure to make you go red in the face.
The table settings have a Japanese feel to them, although with a Western twist. Instead of having to sit on the floor with your legs crossed, you can sit comfortably on the floor with your feet occupying the area beneath the table (known as horigotatsu). Picture sitting in a chair...except the floor is your chair. There are also regular tables to sit at, with a bar and counter area rounding out the mix.
Service on the night I was there was excellent, though I have heard from others that their experience was not quite as good. One of my colleagues has been to Gonpachi a few times and swears that the waitstaff have been disinterested and slow on each occasion. That said, this gentleman keeps going back, and there are usually line-ups at peak times, so how bad can it be?
The restaurant can handle large groups with relative ease, as the venue is enormous, especially for such a central location. From Roppongi Hills you can walk 5 minutes downhill (along Roppongi-dori with the elevated highway keeping you company along the way) to the big Nishi-Azabu intersection. In the evening there is always a crowd around the Gonpachi patio on the intersection’s northeast corner, and the 3-story monolithic building is impossible to miss.
Between the raucous atmosphere, tasty Japanese cuisine and Tarantino film connection, Gonpachi is an unforgettable and unique experience.