Papaya Leaf, Shibuya

Tasty, affordable South-East Asian food in Tokyo

Peter Sidell
By Peter Sidell   - 2 min read

Despite its high profile and prestigious location right next to Shibuya station, the restaurants in the Hikarie tower are perfectly reasonably priced, often giving you change from ¥2000-3000 after dinner. One of them is Papaya Leaf, a cosy place on the sixth floor with a good range of dishes from South-East Asia.

The tone is set at the entrance, with the name sign a big cross-section from the base of a tree, and there are more plants at the door. Inside, the furnishings are unfussy but comfortable, in mellow earthtones and simple designs, and there's a restful atmosphere created by low lighting, with chandeliers hanging from the ceiling and Asian-style floor-standing lanterns. The tables away from the walls are separated by elegant carved screens, while there are understated but colourful prints and decorations around the walls, and the BGM is perky Asian pop.

For my dinner I chose the grilled chicken and rice with green curry sauce for ¥1520. When it arrived, I thought at first that there wouldn't be enough curry to go with the rest of the dish, but it turned out to be exactly the right amount; it was good and spicy, with a solitary prawn in with the eggplant, baby corn and other vegetables. The chicken was tender and succulent, with enjoyably crispy skin, and generously sized to boot, and the dish was completed by a smooth fried egg on top of the rice, and some salad to supplement the veggies in the curry.

The dinner menu is only in Japanese, but there are a few pictures to help you. Main dishes cost around ¥1000-1600, and are mostly Thai; they include pad thai, tom yum kun and Thai chicken rice, as well as pho (Vietnamese glass noodles) and a coriander Caesar salad.

If you have space for more, you can have desserts such as mango sherbet, coconut ice cream or a Vietnamese pancake for between ¥560 and ¥800. Drinks cost from ¥480 to ¥780; there are standard cocktails and 'Asian cocktails', imported beers from Thailand (Singha) and Vietnam (Ba Ba Ba), and tropical juices such as pineapple, mango and guava.

Peter Sidell

Peter Sidell @peter.sidell

I came to Japan from Manchester, England in 2003, and have travelled a lot since then, around Japan and in Asia. When I'm not working, I write satire and perform stand-up comedy in and around Tokyo. Check YouTube for a taste.