It is a quirk of history and geography that Yokohama, rather than Tokyo, has long been the place to go if you’re looking for Greek food. Yokohama is where the freighters docked and, inevitably, some merchant seamen put down roots. They cooked for visiting sailors from their homeland and opened restaurants. The pick of the crop has always been Sparta.
First opened in 1953, it’s been through various incarnations, most of them notable for the hearty, stick-to-your-ribs provender rather than any kind of ambiance. But Sparta’s present premises, decked out in Hellenic white and blue, are as cheerful and bright as any taverna in the founder’s homeland.
Make yourself comfortable, order some ouzo, retsina or a bottle of easy drinking, easy-on-the-pocket Greek wine, and kick off the meal with some of the classic starters: marinated sardines, grilled halloumi cheese, taramasalata and the house specialty, spanakotyropitakia, crisp pouches of spinach and feta cheese.
For more solid fare, look no further than the stuffed peppers and tomatoes, the lamb chops and the hefty moussaka, with its filling layers of potato, eggplant, and minced meat.