The Santo Domingo, Ginza
Authentic Dominican-French Fusion
[UPDATE: Sadly, this store has permanently closed.] Tokyo's only Dominican restaurant mixes Caribbean flavors with French cooking techniques, all in a laid-back, soothing atmosphere.
Let me just come out and say it: I have absolutely no frame of reference with which to judge the quality or authenticity of Dominican food. But I’ve lived in South America and traveled to the Caribbean, and I’ve never met a Latin American cuisine I didn’t like, so when I heard about The Santo Domingo in Ginza, I was very curious to try it.
Occupying three floors and with a Dominican flag hanging out front, The Santo Domingo is hard to miss. The first floor is a bar that opens onto the street, the second floor is a casual yet nice restaurant serving mostly French food, and the third floor is a laid-back lounge space that serves Dominican fare and some Dominican-French fusion dishes. Our server, Yudelka, is from the Dominican Republic and swears by the authenticity of the food. She also works in foodservice at the Dominican Embassy in Tokyo, so I am inclined to believe her.
We started with some empanadas and a taco salad. While small, the empanadas had a great, slightly spicy flavor, and they weren’t swimming in grease, which I liked. The salad was delicious, with lots of high-quality fresh veggies including a generous helping of perfectly ripe avocado. It was topped with homemade tortilla chips for a little crunch.
For our main dishes we went with fish stewed in a coconut sauce and served with roasted potatoes, and the Dominican national dish, bandera. This means “flag” in Spanish, and Yudelka explained that it is so named because it’s as much a symbol of the country as its flag is. The fish was moist and flaky, and the coconut sauce light and flavorful. The bandera was also a hit, as its blend of spices reminded us of other Latin dishes that we love. It was served with a side salad, slices of avocado, and Dominican-style rice cooked with tiny noodles. A mojito made with Brugal rum washed the whole meal down nicely.
One of the best things about The Santo Domingo is that its prices are also authentic—or at least as close as possible, being that it’s located in one of the world’s most expensive cities. Appetizers go for as little as ¥500, and mains start at about ¥1,200. Lunch sets are even better value at ¥900 or ¥1,000 including a salad, soup, dessert and drink. Score.
Address: 7-12-1 Ginza, Chuo-ku, Tokyo
Open: Mon-Sat 11 a.m.-11 p.m. (last order 9:30 p.m.)
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