Like pretty much everyone in this whirling, twirling city, I am busy. And one of the (few) downsides of my occupation is that I sometimes have to work on Sunday. This is okay, except when all of Saturday is dedicated to koto lessons and rehearsals after a long week, and the stress piles up.
But sometimes surprises come at the least expected times. After finishing up the event on Sunday, I saw that the usual suspect had sent me a message, to meet up in Shinjuku. Odd, as it is not a typical location for either of us, but off I went, to then be whisked away to Russia.
Sungari was (apparently) started by a Japanese ex-spy, who spent most of his career in Russia. Russian and Baltic cuisine are not something I am very familiar with and, to tell the truth, being rather exhausted, the Japanese/Russian menu was a bit intimidating. So, I left all the choices up to my dinner companion.
They have a decent selection of Georgian wine, which is rather awesome stuff. Blood red and sweet, with a heady aroma. This was followed by a couple of salads, including the most delicious treatment of eggplant (which I usually dislike) ever. Next was a creamy asparagus and mushroom soup, capped with buttery pastry, which seemed to sap the tension right out of my shoulders... although that might have been the second glass of wine. Dessert was a cheese and sour cherry tart, followed by Russian tea. Instead of sugar, you sip through or stir in jam, in our case more sour cherry, peach and berry, and the amazing rose jelly. Glorious.
The prices are quite decent, and the atmosphere lovely, if a bit crowded. Sungari feels like a hidden retreat, with an interesting selection of Russian, Ukranian and (if I am not mistaken) Bulgarian folk music (which will keep any ethnomusicologists on their toes).
In summary, I have no clue about what exactly I ate or drank, but it was great! I could get used to surprises like this :)