Sunday, February 26, 2017

Sitaara

Location: Sitaara


Rating: Very good
Meal: Lunch for 2
Price:  2750 yen
Payment: Credit cards accepted
Dishes: 2 curry set, biryani set, roti
English Menu: Yes
Smoking: No


Today after church my wife and I were inside of Ueno Station (past the ticket gates) and we found a new Indian restaurant.  We were excited to see roti bread on the menu so we decided to eat lunch there.

Chicken biryani

My wife got the 2 curry set (butter chicken and keema) while I got the chicken biryani set that came with a curry also (spicy curry).  I also ordered roti and a naan that had some special stuff inside.  My spicy curry was quite good, as was my wife's keema.  The butter chicken curry was super sweet and we did not like it.  Her naan was the "special" stuffed one with nuts and other things inside.  It was also sweet due to the stuffing, but also the bread was that kind of sweet type that is typical for naan here.  But the roti was very good and went great with my biryani.

2 curry set

Overall we were quite pleased and excited to come back and try their interesting looking "kare pan" and samosas.

Thursday, February 23, 2017

Starbucks

Location: Starbucks
Rating: Very good
Meal: Lunch
Price:  1803 yen
Payment: Credit cards accepted
Dishes: Sage pork sandwich, quiche, chocolate scone, short decaf mocha
English Menu: Yes
Smoking: No

<more pics coming later, they didn't upload for some reason>

I just realized today that I had omitted a Daiei/Aeon mall restaurant from my reviews!  Starbucks is such a fixture I don't even really see it anymore.  My wife eats at the one on base all the time but I never do.  So today I rectified that and determined to have lunch there.

They do have lots of tasty looking things in their display case.  I opted for the "sage pork" sandwich, a piece of quiche and a chocolate scone (okay, I have had that last one before).  To top it off I splurged for a decaf short mocha, as decaf espresso is a recent innovation here.  Used to be you could only get decaf drip coffee in Japan.

They warmed everything up for me and I took it upstairs to eat while looking out over the Yokosuka harbor.  Nice view on a blustery day.

The sandwich was odd, consisting of pork bits, green beans and potatoes.  However, it tasted quite good and I have to say the bread was some of the best I've had in Japan.  Chewy, but not too chewy.  The quiche was ok, but not awesome, and the scone was as usual excellent.

Overall I'd say this is the best "coffee shop" food I've had so far.  Not a bad one to keep in the rotation.

Haramachi

Location: Haramachi


Rating: OK
Meal: Lunch for 2
Price: 1480 yen
Payment: Cash
Dishes:  Ginger miso pork, katsudon
English Menu: No
Smoking: No

Katsudon

Haramachi is a food court located on the Joban Expressway heading up towards Ishinomaki where we stopped for lunch on the way.  It's pretty close to the east coast and just north of the Daiichi Nuclear plant that you may have read about in the news.  Not close enough to be a worry but still noteworthy.

Ginger miso pork

Since the Joban was only recently completed and probably had a lot of money poured into it after the 2011 disaster, it's absolutely pristine and has the best amenities of any freeway stops I've ever seen.  This particular stop was no exception and it had a huge building with all sorts of shops for omiyage and a large cafeteria where we ate.

My wife got her favorite:  katsudon, while I stuck with an old faithful ginger miso pork dish.  Both of us were quite satisfied with our food.

Ganesh

Location: Ganesh


Rating: OK
Meal: Dinner for 2
Price: 2900 yen
Payment: Cash
Dishes:  2 curry sets
English Menu: No
Smoking: No


My wife and I visited some friends in Ishinomaki this last weekend and we were taken to what is possibly the only local Indian restaurant in town:  Ganesh.  It too is run by Nepalese as is virtually every other Indian restaurant in Japan it seems.


The food was decent, but not great.  As with certain other cuisines such as pizza, even when it's bad, it still pretty good, so no complaints here.

Hamaguridou

Location: Hamaguridou


Rating: Excellent
Meal:  Lunch for 4
Price:  4250 yen
Payment:  Credit cards accepted (pretty sure...we didn't pay though)
Dishes: Deer curry, Oyster stew
English Menu: Yes
Smoking: No


We visited some friends in Ishinomaki over the weekend and for our last meal there they took us to a really special restaurant called Hamaguridou.  It's located to the east of Ishinomaki proper in the middle of a forested area that is heavily populated by deer.  As such, their signature dish, deer curry, makes perfect sense.


View of the foundations remaining from the tsunami

The setting is amazing, with a view out of the long, funnel shaped inlet that makes it clear why the 2011 tsunami was so devastating here.  You can see the razed foundations of the houses at sea level still.  The older house that is the restaurant is elevated and was spared, but still...it was chilling looking out from the balcony and imagining the onrush of that wall of water.


Oyster stew

The house itself is very cool, an older style Japanese house that is impeccably decorated and yet also homey feeling.  While we were there there were 2 families with kids running around and playing with toys and such that were available for that sort of thing.  Our seating wasn't the best for us gaijin, on tatami around a small table, but we made do.  They only have one "normal" table and chairs, or there is some counter seating with a lovely view of the inlet.  Smoking can be done outside on the porch.


Deer curry

The menu is pretty simple, and the main dish is of course the deer curry.  But they had a special Oyster stew that my wife couldn't resist.  The rest of us had the curry.  It was very good, the best Japanese style curry I've had so far in Japan.  It did not have the typical flour-thickened texture to it, but was a little soupier.  The flavors were off the charts and the meat extremely tender.  Along with the main dish were some roasted vegetables and a really good side salad.  My wife's dish came with a choice of rice, focaccia or seaweed bread.  She opted for the seaweed bread of course and it was excellent.

Overall an amazing place and highly recommended if you are ever up in that area.

Hanyu Rest Area

Location: Hanyu Rest Area

Rating: OK
Meal: Dinner for 2
Price: 2800 yen
Payment: Cash
Dishes:  Pork horumon hot pot, taiyaki (sweet and savory), japanese desserts
English Menu: No
Smoking: No


My wife and I were heading back into Tokyo from up north over the weekend.  She wanted to stop at a "famous" rest area that has a little Edo style set of restaurants.  It was dark and rainy when we arrived, but sure enough there was a lovely little set of restaurants (a food court basically) all couched in a nicely decorated Edo-period architecture.  All of the food available was Japanese but there was lots of variety available.

Pork horumon hot pot

I went for a pork dish that turned out to be a pork intestines dish.  Luckily I don't have an issue with that and it was actually pretty good.  My wife saw the taiyaki okonomiyaki and got one of those plus a custard fish.  I also grabbed some yummy looking Japanese desserts.  We both enjoyed the food well enough, but it wasn't amazing or anything.  Pretty darn good for rest area food, that's for sure!

Japanese desserts

Taiyaki

Chouten

Location: Chouten


Rating: OK
Meal: Dinner
Price: 1380 yen
Payment: Cash
Dishes: Yakitori - chicken, chicken skin, chicken heart, negi chicken, pork with miso
English Menu:Yes
Smoking:  Yes


Last night was new restaurant night so I made my way to some izakayas that I hadn't eaten at before and picked one at random.  Well not entirely at random, I've been wanting to try this place forever since its name translates roughly to "chicken heaven" (or at least, I like to think it does).

negi chicken

Turns out it was a yakitori restaurant and it was hopping with lots of customers when I arrived.  I found the last spot at the counter seating and was given a nicely laid out, easy to read English menu.  I ordered a few yakitori sticks (prices seem quite good actually) and settled in to wait for them to arrive.

chicken hearts

The yakitori was just ok, not amazing or anything.  But not bad for the price.  I'm giving this place an Ok.

chicken skin

miso pork

Friday, February 17, 2017

Chanoma

Location: Chanoma

Rating: OK
Meal: Dinner
Price: 3700 yen
Payment: Cash
Dishes: Miso pork, oden, hot sake
English Menu: No
Smoking:  Yes


I ate at a local, new to me, izakaya last night called Chanoma.  It was run by an older guy who said he was from Kagoshima originally, the southern island in the main Japanese chain.  He spoke super fast and was hard to understand, but turns out their accent down there is just like that.  We made ourselves understood regardless.

Oden

The menu was entirely in Japanese so pointed to the one with the kanji for pork and he cooked me up two slabs of pork and covered them in a delicious home made miso sauce.  He also gave me a bowl of rice to go with it.  Oh and earlier he had given me some oden as the "mandatory appetizer" and I ordered some hot sake.  It was a pleasant experience and the food was decent.  He did say he doesn't usually like to deal with English speakers as he speaks none himself, but I guess if you make an effort he might make an exception. 

Miso pork


 

Saturday, February 11, 2017

Miyuki

Location: Miyuki


Rating: OK
Meal: Lunch snack
Price: 1100 yen
Payment: Cash
Dishes: Shumai, gyoza, sesame balls
English Menu: No
Smoking:  n/a


Miyuki is a new (to me) take-away only counter that specializes in gyoza, shumai and sesame balls.  I spotted them walking home from lunch today and decided to review them and bring some food home for my wife.

The prices are about what you'd expect and service was quick.  I got home and sampled the wares and quite liked the gyoza which are a bit different, but good.  The others were just normal.

Not bad, and nice to have a quick and easy takeaway option in town.

106 Cafe

Location: 106 Cafe



Rating: OK
Meal: Lunch
Price: 1100 yen
Payment: Credit cards accepted
Dishes: Gapao rice (thai dish)
English Menu: No
Smoking:  No


I went walking quite a ways on this Saturday to find a new spot to eat for lunch.  Many places were closed for some reason, but eventually I came across this unassuming little bar/restaurant.  They only serve food during lunch, and it's quite pleasant and trendy inside.  The menu is quite eclectic and I ended up picking a thai gapao rice dish which they made from scratch in front of me.  The lady asked me how I liked my egg, soft or hard, which I very much appreciated (soft of course!).

Tasty soup

The dish itself looked very appetizing and I didn't not like it, but it wasn't popping with flavor or spice, despite adding more "spicy" oil to it.  Also they used a lot of celery, unusual for Japanese restaurants, which is my least favorite vegetable (I despise it).  I was able to eat around it and it didn't spoil the entire meal.  The little soup was quite delicious.

Pretty food, but lacking in flavor

I actually want to come back and show the place to my wife because I think she will like it, but the flavors of the meal just weren't very strong, so I'm giving it an Ok rating for now.

Thursday, February 9, 2017

Jasmine

Location: Jasmine


Rating: Very good
Meal:  Dinner for 2
Price:  5200 yen
Payment: Cash only
Dishes: Garlic roasted vegetables, seared duck, creamy oyster pasta
English Menu: No
Smoking: No

Garlic roasted vegetables

My wife and I tried out a little french restaurant on 16 that I've seen for some time but never gotten around to.  Jasmine is quite small, and their menu is entirely in Japanese, so picking something out might be a challenge.  There was only one person running the place, both waitress and cook.  While we did order a glass of cider I subtracted its price (500 yen) from the total above.

Seared duck

The prices are quite high, so we weren't sure what to expect exactly, but as the food started arriving we were pleasantly surprised with the high quality.  The roasted veg was great, still nicely crunchy.  The duck (we didn't know what it was when we ordered it) was seared around the outside but still raw in the middle.  We assumed this was normal and ate it (and I am I am still alive to tell the tale).  The creamy oyster pasta was the best dish though, with my wife declaring it the best cream sauce pasta she's had to date in Japan.

Creamy oyster pasta

So although it was spendy the quality seems to justify the price and we both agreed it deserves a Very Good.