Arabian Rock is a novelty restaurant in Shinjuku, designed to transport you into the old Arabia of Sinbad, Aladdin, and Ali Baba. After waiting outside and enduring the song “Arabian Nights” from Aladdin over and over again, you have to rub a magic lamp to get through the entrance, then the waiting staff appear in a puff of smoke, decked out in belly-dancer outfits and MC Hammer pants. They’re so enthusiastic and eager to please, you’ll feel compelled to enjoy yourself, like parents at a school play.
The tables are in dimly-lit, curtained rooms, with the occasional hookah and Persian rug for effect. It’s halfway between a Disneyland version of Aladdin’s cave, and a love hotel. It probably doesn’t bear much resemblance to the real ancient Saudi Arabia but who wants dysentery and decapitation while they’re eating?
The food’s standard novelty-restaurant fare and, if you fancy a drink, there are some original cocktails themed around signs of the zodiac, and the “Magic Lamp Abracadabra” for 1500 yen, which is six liqueurs you mix yourself in an Aladdin-style lamp, for two or three people (or one drunkard.)
You can get a set course of eight dishes with an all-you-drink deal on top of that for 4500 yen. And if it’s your birthday, expect a copyright-defying appearance from Disney’s genie, bearing a special dessert.
2-3F Square Building, 1-16-3 Kabuki-Cho, Shinjuku-ku, 160-0021.
There are also loads of these restaurants in Yokohama, Nagoya, Osaka, etc.