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Casa de Eduardo–Chilean Home Cooking with Heart

Date: 06.09.2020

Just a few minutes’ walk from Shin-Nakano Station on the Tokyo Metro Marunouchi Line brings you to Casa de Eduardo—Tokyo’s only Chilean restaurant at this time! The owner-chef, Eduardo Ferrada, is a native of Santiago, the capital of Chile. As the name suggests (a casa is a house or cottage), Casa de Eduardo is a place where customers are made to feel at home. “This is not really a restaurant; I am inviting my guests to my house,” Eduardo says.

Tucked away in a narrow street lined with small businesses, the restaurant is cozy and compact, but Eduardo himself has a big heart and the personality to match. As he points out his colorful cartoon image on the sign outside the shop, he says with a grin, “That was me a few years ago!” While grilling meat on a barbecue in front of his restaurant, he shares his story of opening and operating a business in Tokyo.

Eduardo wants his guests to feel as if they have stepped into a Chilean home.

Eduardo originally came to Japan back in 1983 as a technical translator and systems engineer. He still does translations when the opportunity arises, but these days the restaurant occupies most of his time.

Following the 2011 Great East Japan Earthquake, Eduardo spent time in Tohoku region as a volunteer, preparing Chilean dishes for those left homeless by the disaster. With the encouragement of friends, he then turned his interest in cooking into an opportunity to open his own business in 2012. He started out in Akasaka, moving to his current location in 2013.

Noting that there are not many Chilean people in Japan, Eduardo says he is proud to represent his country on the Tokyo-restaurant scene.

His customers are mainly Japanese and foreign residents, and the restaurant also serves as a place for Chilean nationals in Tokyo to gather and celebrate special occasions, such as Chile’s independence day on September 18. According to Eduardo, it is hard to define typical Chilean food, but he draws his inspiration from his granma’s home-cooked dishes, which he remembers from childhood.

Eduardo loves to cook outside in front of his guests.

The menu at Casa de Eduardo is eclectic. Eduardo’s favorite food to cook is barbecued meat, because it gives him a chance to interact with his guests as he works. His roast chicken is always popular and is also available for takeout or for delivery by Uber Eats. In fact, during my interview with Eduardo, two local residents stopped by to pick up some roast-chicken bento boxes to take home for lunch.

Eduardo’s signature roast chicken is also available for takeout or delivery.

Another popular item is empanada, a type of turnover with meat filling. For seafood lovers, Eduardo will prepare fish in a variety of styles, and vegetarians can find dishes made with seasonal vegetables.

Several of Eduardo’s friends come by during our interview, and we all sit down for lunch in the outdoor seating area. We are soon conversing in a lively mix of Japanese, English, and Spanish, while Eduardo serves up a selection of barbecued meats, a simple salad, and a colorful vegetarian pasta. He offers us some excellent Chilean white wine to go with the meal.

Eduardo’s colorful vegetarian pasta dish served with Chilean white wine.

Eduardo tends to adapt his recipes and his menu to use ingredients he has on hand. While people are welcome to come to the restaurant at any time without a reservation, advance notice is advisable if a particular dish is desired. “It’s a small restaurant, and I want to cook things that are as fresh as possible. If people tell me in advance they are coming, I can go and get the ingredients to prepare what they would like,” Eduardo says.

Casa de Eduardo is less than ten minutes by subway from the bustle of Shinjuku Station, but the area around the restaurant could not be more different from Shinjuku. Eduardo enjoys the laid-back atmosphere of the neighborhood and likes to participate in events held there. He also maintains an active presence in an online community for local businesses. “They told me that, before I moved to this location, all the previous businesses lasted only about two years here,” he explained. “I’m determined!”

Drop in for a meal, or pick up some food to take with you—Casa de Eduardo is waiting to welcome you.

Now celebrating Casa de Eduardo’s seventh year in Shin-Nakano, Eduardo is well integrated into the neighborhood. “I like this area. All the shops in this street are different, but everyone is very friendly, and we support each other,” he says. Moments later, he calls out a cheerful greeting to a fellow business owner across the street.

Eduardo owns and runs his business alone. “I’m the owner, the chef, the cleaner—I do it all,” he says. “It’s a lot of work, but it also means I can be flexible.” Since Casa de Eduardo is open seven days a week, Eduardo can usually be found there cooking for his guests. “See, it really is like my home,” he laughs.

For access, opening hours, and contact details, visit  Casa de Eduardo’s Facebook page:

https://www.facebook.com/edojapon1/timeline?ref=page_internal

 This article was written by Louise George Kittaka.

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