Just when you think you know Shibuya, it offers up another surprise.
Los Barbados is a micro café bar situated at the edge of Shibuya, half way to Odakyu Yoyogi. In an alley somewhere behind Tokyu Hands and Outback Steakhouse, tucked in with a handful of standing bars, only about half a dozen seats belly up to the bar where patrons can get a front row view to the one woman juggling show being performed daily in the closet-sized kitchen. Congolese tunes issue from the stereo in the corner, and the smell of spices issues from the stovetop. Jars of beans and grains gleam on the counter under the bottles of spirits lined up overhead, and a shelf of spices in glass jars waits on one wall. Every foot of space is used, nothing wasted.
Despite the pint-sized floor plan, Los Barbados manages to churn out an impressive array of food and drink. A sampling from the menu includes Senegalese vegetable maffe, Congolese pasta with black bean sauce, Cameroonian grilled lemon chicken, and Moroccan almond cream fritters. In addition to dishes with meat and fish, the restaurant is extremely vegan and vegetarian friendly, with about 60-70% of the dishes available for the more herbivorously inclined. Some vegetarian options are falafel, vegan jerk burgers, groundnut stew with fufu, spicy eggplant curry with couscous, and many others. Gird your taste buds! Some of the dishes are quite spicy, especially by Japanese standards.
A smattering of soft drinks are offered, including iced tea and Italian sodas (I had a tasty pomegranate soda, while a friend tried a flavored rum drink scented with papaya), and alcoholic beverages run the gamut from beer to wine to cocktails. But the specialty of the house seems to be rum, with a wide selection to choose from.
Due to the limited number of seats, it's a good idea to call ahead for a reservation (English is ok after 5 p.m., please speak slowly!) or visit the Facebook page and state your intention to visit that way, especially if you plan to visit on a weekend evening. The FB page is also a good place to see what's cooking, with posts almost daily alternating between food and music.
See you there! Save me some kibbeh.
Thanks Anastasia for showing me this place.