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Archive for the ‘Restaurant Reviews’ Category

Part 6: An English Tea House in Takarazuka

The "Cream Tea Set"

The Takarazuka matinee of For Whom the Bell Tolls that I went to see happened to be an early matinee—while most start at 1 or 3 pm, the day I went, the show started at 11 am, which is just early enough to make getting lunch awkward. It turns out, of course, that at the Grand Theater, there are restaurants inside and plenty of bento sellers and snack stands that open in time for people to eat before and after the shows. Not knowing this, I had decided to get brunch outside the theater, and as I was passing from Hankyuu Takarazuka Station (阪急宝塚駅) to Hana no Michi(花の道), I noticed a cute coffee shop with a big bilingual sign advertising scones and morning service (モーニング・サービス).

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I was watching a travel show  in early September and saw a feature on モーニングサービス (mouninugu saabisu), or “morning service.” The show explained that if you order just a coffee in most coffee shops in Nagoya between 6 and 11 am, you will receive food with it for free–a regional breakfast special!* So, of course, モーニング got put on my list of things to eat in Nagoya.

Morning for three, please!

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Part 4: Turkey and Vegetarian Sandwiches in Marunouchi

I love turkey, and I don’t just mean for Thanksgiving. I don’t think I realized just how much turkey I used to eat in the States until I moved here. Sure,  I could make chicken sandwiches, provided I get the right kind of bread at the store (ha). But nothing is like going to the nice grocery store by my old apartment and getting a quarter-pound of hand-sliced Michigan-raised turkey to make turkey sandwiches with real cheese and real bread.

Sigh.

I was back in the US briefly last week, and I think I managed to eat turkey almost once a day, including some very nice turkey my mother roasted and sliced up herself.

I won’t be ordering a turkey on the Foreign Buyers’ Club this year, for fear that  a 4-lb bird will not fit in my oven range. (Never mind that I have never cooked a whole bird.) However, I did find a sandwich shop in Marunouchi, Tokyo, that serves not only turkey “burgers” but also a decent selection of vegetarian sandwiches.


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Part 3: Hamburgers near Hibiya

Despite all the lovely tofu, Japan certainly doesn’t lack for meat. As I’ve written before, you can get all the McDonalds and “hamburg steaks” (ハムバーグ) you want here, but finding a hamburger on a bun with toppings and vegetables is somewhat of a trick. (And no, they don’t sell hamburger buns at the store.)

The avocado burger.

I first read about the Beat Diner in The Japan Times when it ran a special on gourmet hamburgers in Tokyo. (more…)

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One of my friends maintains that the reason Americans think eel is gross is because the English word eel sounds slimy and unappetizing. Unagi (うなぎ、鰻), on the other hand, actually sounds like something you would eat, and because restaurants prepare it and serve it like fish, any visual squick factor is removed. I really like the texture and flavor of eel, which is best in summer and fall. Conbini eel isn’t terrible, and regular restaurant eel is great, but if you really want to experience eel, go to a restaurant that specializes in it.

Delcious unagi at Namaza-ya

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One of my favorite things about traveling to a new region is finding and sampling the local specialties. I went to Nagoya over the three-day weekend (for 敬老の日) and got to try several of the area’s famous foods.

The trailhead of one of the trails up Kinkazan

Katsu refers to tonkatsu, a pork cutlet fried in breadcrumbs. Normal tonkatsu is served with tonkatsu sauce (とんかつソース), a thick brown sauce similar to okonomi sauce(お好みソース); both of which are a bit like barbeque sauce in savory spirit, if not in flavor. Nagoya’s miso katsu (味噌カツ), is, as the name suggests, tonkatsu served with a miso-based sauce. Although tonkatsu is usually too heavy for my palate, the miso sauce was a delicious spin on the dish. Furthermore, the sauce is made from a miso famous in Aichi prefecture, 八丁味噌 (hacchou miso). This is a type of “red miso” (赤味噌), which has a stronger flavor and “dry” taste than “white miso” (白味噌), which is lighter and sweeter.

I’m not sure which restaurant serves the best miso katsu in Nagoya, but the miso katsu I was served at the restaurant at the summit of Kinkazan (金華山, or “Mt. Kinka”), next to Gifu Castle in Gifu City, was delicious. The set came with a small bowl of rice and a small cabbage “salad” for 1050 yen.

The view from near the summit of Kinkazan

The hike up to the summit is really lovely, and the Gifu Castle Museum had lots of interesting weapons and armor from  Oda Nobunaga and his family’s control of the area in the mid-16th century. We took an easy route up and headed down another fairly easy route—about 1 hour each way. Squirrel Village was entertaining, but you’re basically paying 200 yen to wear a leather glove and feed 1-2 squirrels, so it’s not a must-see place. At the base of Kinkazan is Gifu Park (岐阜公園), Great Buddha of Gifu (岐阜の大仏) (worth seeing), and several museums.

Restaurant Information

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Part Two: A Belgian Beer Cafe in Ginza

I Am a Beer Snob
Located on the other side of the tracks and down the road several blocks from the Trattoria Ciao, Antwerp Six stood like a beacon, guiding me out of the yellow fizzy seas of national-brand beers and into the familiar harbor of Belgian beers.

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Part 1: A Trattoria-style Italian Restaurant in Yuurakuchou

Lately, I’ve been traveling to Tokyo more, and I’ve discovered some great restuarants there. So far, my focus has been in 有楽町 (Yuurakuchou), the theatre district of Tokyo, which is accessible from the Yamanote and Tokyo Metro Lines, just one stop from Ginza. On my last trip, I went to see Trafalgar /Funky Sunshine! at Tokyo Takarazuka Theatre. Yuurakuchou is lined wall to wall with theatres, malls, and restaurants, and these are a few excellent restaurants that I happened upon while wandering around the area.

I’ve been a bit obsessed with Trattoria-style Italian restaurants ever since I saw「 バンビ~ノ!」 (Bambino!), a Japanese drama based on a manga of the same name by Sekiya Tetsuji(せきやてつじ [no kanji]. In Bambino!, Arashi-member Matsumoto Jun plays Ban Shougo (伴 省吾), a college student from Fukuoka who dreams of becoming an Italian chef. Ban travels to Tokyo for spring break to work at the Trattoria Baccanale, a ritzy Italian place near Roppongi, as a favor to his boss from his old friend, the chef. The drama focuses on naïve but bullheaded Ban, who is nicknamed Bambino by his sempai, and his struggles to achieve his dreams.

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Part 5: An English Pub in Takarazuka

The Takarazuka Kagekidan is all about the fantasy romance of Europe, and 花の道, the road from Hankyuu Takarazuka Station 阪急宝塚駅 to the Grand Theater and Bow Hall, is no different. On my way to go shopping at the 花の道ビル’s (Hana no michi building) Taka-an, I passed by a restaurant called Sarah’s Count, which advertises itself as an English pub. One simply does not pass by English pubs while commuting in the 田舎, so I was already intrigued, but what got me in the door was the promise of a decent sandwich and real beer on the sandwich board.

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Part 4: A French Cafe in Kyoto

Located in the winding back alleys of Anedaitouchou 姉大東町 near Kyoto City Hall 京都市役所前, Cafe Kocsi カフェ・コチis a French-style restaurant and bakery. The menu is is French and Japanese, which, as I’ve stated in prior entries, really helps because I don’t speak French. Nestled between well stocked bookshelves and seated on a leather couch, I had my first coucous since moving to Japan, while my friends had sandwiches on ciabatta. Yes, ciabatta.

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