The first yakiniku restaurant in Athens
My first yakiniku experience was actually in Tokyo. There really is no better way to experience local culture than with a local. Bunji-san, a friend of George from university, showed us around all the best places. A yakiniku restaurant, his favourite ‘watering hole’ and ‘piss alley’. But that’s a story for another time.
And so it was an Athenian local that suggested we try Red Door for my blog. That’s the excuse we use nowadays to justify our eating habits. But it’s for the blog! Probably why there are so many bloggers.
Saturday night we put on our party clothes and headed to Tsakalof, Kolonaki. It was the beginning of March but you could already feel spring in the air. The night was mild and Tsakalof was full of people in the bars and on the street. It was my first time there and I was reminded of the atmosphere in Lisbon.
We walked slowly as our eyes combed through the street looking for a Red Door. And there it was. Down a few stairs and nestled among gorgeous emerald green plants.
A very attractive woman wearing a very sexy dress, more anime temptress than kimono waitress, showed us inside. Before going to the table, guests are asked to take off their shoes and given socks to wear. We then walked along the raised corridor to our table, each one separated by curtains, offering privacy and an authentic Japanese-movie feel.
When trying a place for the first time, I often go for the tasting menu if there is one. I like to see what the chef or restaurant manager selects as their best or signature dishes. And so we decided to try their six-course ‘Japanese Food Experience’ and also opted for their premium sake as we had cause for celebration.
The restaurant is the latest project of Chris Skourligkas, founder of Koi, a popular chain of sushi restaurants throughout the city. He studied in a chef academy in Tokyo before bringing Japanese concepts back to Greece. Bartender Yiannis Petris also studied in Tokyo at a prestigious cocktail school, where he learned how to mix the restaurants excellent cocktail selection.
While I enjoyed each course, it was indeed a lot of food. I wasn’t sure about the tempura squid followed by tempura prawns. I would have chosen one tempura dish and a fresher salad or tartare. I’d also suggest Red Door change the name of their dim sum (Chinese) dish to gyoza (Japanese).
The star of the night really was the final main meal, the Kobe beef, which you grill at your table with vegetables. The meat was top quality and so delicious on its own, with the fat grilled and the middle still rare, that it didn’t really need any sauce.
As the night wears on, the bar area turns into a club, which you can enjoy from your table or retrieve your shoes and move inside. The music and atmosphere was great but we ate much too much and decided instead to roll ourselves home rather than stick around.
Head to Red Door for…
- Excellent grilled meats
- Delicious cocktails
- A fun dinner experience
- Late night dinner and drinks
Tsakalof 6, Athina 106 73, Greece
Open from 13:00 to 03:00