Eerie eatery puts patrons on lockdown
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Looking to let your taste buds in on the ghoulish action this Halloween? Then, do not pass go. Do not collect $200. Go directly to jail – at The Lockup restaurant in Shibuya.
This unique eatery makes dining an all-sensory experience. It’s a great way to get away from your old haunts and scare up some fright-night food and fun.
While not strictly a Halloween restaurant, The Lockup definitely becomes more popular as the month of October rolls around. From the moment you enter the dimly lit foyer you are immersed in the haunted Alcatraz-esque prison theme. Every step is an adventure.
Costumed hostesses greet you with a smile and send you off to meet your scantily clad “warden,” who then leads you in handcuffs, chain-gang style to your cell. A word to the wise: remember your cellblock number, or a trip to the bathroom may turn into a life sentence.
Don’t worry, however; you’ll get a lot more than just bread and water. The fare is “izakaya” (pub) style, so you’re sure to find Japanese favorites like “karaage” (fried chicken), edamame, takoyaki (fried breaded octopus) as well as international classics such as French fries, egg rolls and nachos.
A la carte prices range from 280 yen to 980 yen. The menu is in Japanese, but pictures make ordering an easier guessing game. My companions and I ordered margarita pizza (880 yen), edamame (280 yen), two “nabe” (hot pot) dishes, beef with vegetables (819 yen), and pasta with vegetables and thinly sliced pork (530 yen).
“It’s a great way to try a few different things, especially if you’re like me and not familiar with Japanese food. You don’t run the risk of getting something and discovering you don’t like it,” my aunt, Mary O’Reilly, noted. “You could order a variety of things and not be taxed on your pocketbook.”
Savvy diners can even print out a 20 percent off coupon from the restaurant’s Web site.
Perhaps the most intriguing area on the menu is the drink section. Create your own cocktails with neon-colored non-alcoholic mixers presented in beakers (890 yen). Take your taste buds back in time as you order the Life Sentence (690 yen) filled with Pop Rocks-laced cotton candy, mango and strawberry juices and “tropical liquor.”
Braver souls can order Time Bomb Capsule shots filled with mystery alcohol for only 100 yen.
The Lockup can accommodate groups and offers “nomihodai” (all you can drink) service with its set menus. Prices range from 2,500 yen to 3,500 yen for food and an additional 1,200 yen to 1,500 yen for a selection of alcoholic beverages.
Walk-ins and groups that do not partake in the set menu pay a small cover charge of 525 yen per person, which covers a serving of breadsticks with cream cheese dip and entertainment.
This contemporary form of dinner theater includes many twists, turns and scares that shall remain unnamed so as not to ruin the experience. I do not recommend bringing small children, scaredy cats or those who sleep with nightlights.
Like all good Tokyo restaurants, The Lockup is not easy to find. From Shibuya Station, take the Hachiko exit to Shibuya Crossing. Make the mad dash across the Shibuya scramble and go down the street to the left of the Starbucks building. Look for the McDonalds on the left. The Lockup is on the corner of the next block in the Shibuya Grand Tokyo Building on the left, in the second basement.
Gather your courage. Make your reservation. Choose your cellmates carefully, then head to The Lockup. You’ll want them to throw away the key.
Guests can get scared Monday through Friday, 5 p.m. to 1 a.m. ,and until 12 a.m. on Saturday and Sunday. For details or reservations (in Japanese), call (03)-5728-7731 or visit <r.gnavi.co.jp/g528910>.
Note: This story was originally published in Stripes Kanto, Oct. 22, 2010 edition.