Would you like to relax and enjoy an impressive meal in a quiet restaurant that’s within view of Niigata Station? If so I have the place for you! This time our Spotlight shines on Shangri-La, located on the 2nd floor of Hotel Rei.
Niigata Tokyu Rei Hotel, founded as Niigata Tokyu Inn, is located across the street from the Bandai entrance of Niigata Station. “Rei” comes from multiple plays on words. First, each letter stands for the randomly bolded words in the first sentence of this post- relax, enjoy, and impressive. In addition, it is also a play on the word 礼 (pronounced ‘rei’) which means gratitude or etiquette.
The restaurant definitely stayed true to their words. The atmosphere was quiet and relaxing- without being too quiet. There was lovely cafe-esque classical music playing over the speakers that was not too loud, but still definitely there. It was clean, refreshing and elegant with no pressure to be super formal or uptight. It almost feels like you are having dinner at a rich friend’s place and they want you to be happy but know better than to be overbearingly hospitable.
Now onto the food. They have 3 different menus- lunch time tea time and dinner (click the image to enlarge)
Lunch time menus are above and to the left and tea time menu is pictured on the right (all of the prices you see are with tax).
Additionally, they have a salad and dessert bar that is included in the price of most of their lunches. Self service water, tea, and coffee is also available.
As a group we got the following:
The array was solid. Nothing spectacular. They had your basic salad with some veggies and dressings to personalize it. The also had some hot appetizers (in the silver things in the middle of the table) as well as a spread of some cakes and other sweets on the dessert end of the table. The dishes on the buffet vary depending on what ingredients they have in the kitchen and what is in season so the menu changes day to day.
I can only speak to the 天丼定食 (tempura rice bowl meal) but it was pretty good. Did my eyes roll to the back of my head in ecstasy? No. Was it good? Yes. The tempura was lightly seasoned with salt after they came out of the fryer and had a sauce, probably mentsuyu, drizzled over both the tempura and the rice. It was just the right amount to be able to enjoy the flavor without the rice becoming impossible to pick up (because adding liquid, like sauce, makes it lose its stickiness). The miso soup was really good, the tofu dish was lightly seasoned but not boring, and everything was rounded off nicely by the tsukemono (pickled vegetables) that came with it.
As with the dishes that were on the salad/dessert bar, nothing was flavorless but nothing was bursting with flavor. As an American who is used to one or two strong flavors dominating a dish rather- than the careful marriage of seasonings to the ingredients that brings out the subtleties of both- I was underwhelmed. That being said, I still enjoyed the meal and am contemplating going back to try one of their weekend specials or their tea time menu.
Here is their Japanese website where you can find the updated menus as the “daily specials” calendar changes every month. They do also have an English website but that only has their basic information, no menus.
At a glance
Food: 6.5/10 Solidly tasty; flavors were safe and inoffensive
Atmosphere: 8/10 Quiet, cafe-like; inviting
English Friendliness: 2/10 Some of the menu items have an English translation (that is accurate but not the most descriptive) that you can just point to but as the wait staff don’t speak English either, I suggest that if you don’t understand much Japanese to bring someone with you who can.
Price Range: Lunch￥1000-2000; Dinner ￥2000~
Tea time: 11:00~17:00
Dinner: 17:00~21:00 (20:30 L.O.)
Location: (Zoom out or click here for English)