いらっしゃい!
...an expat libertine with a penchant for sparkly dining partners, jazz bars and izakaya.
Opinions here expressed are not necessarily shared by any with whom I associate. Fault for errors and any offense caused is entirely my own.
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Entries in Beef (7)

Saturday
Jul072012

Yakiniku Peking, Motosumiyoshi  焼肉北京、元住吉

A crossing on a major road somewhere in Motosumiyoshi (Toyoko line) marked by two imposing looking yakiniku restaurants on either side road.

Deciding between the two came down to Yakiniku Peking having more customers visible through the 2nd floor window, and the nice way the neon signage looked on a dark, humid, rainy night.

This atmosphere carried through to the shop interior itself. Clearly a relic of the bubble years, there was something “classic” about the place.

The tabletop grill was in a style I’ve yet to come across, and indeed, my dining partner informed me that the grill with which we were confronted was all the rage in the eighties.

The food itself was a little fresher. None of the meats offended, being tasty and reasonably proportioned.

The best of the evening was the cucumber kimchi and the tongue.

Not a bad restaurant overall, but no better than cheaper chain offerings, such as Genkaya.

 

044-411-7716

Yakiniku Peking

Monday
Mar262012

Genkaya, Jiyugaoka げんかや、自由が丘

Essentially much the same as the Shibuya iteration of this budget yakiniku chain, the Jiyugaoka outpost deserves a mention now as it seems to have improved, in terms of atmosphere, portions and price, significantly since my last visit (which was a couple of years ago admittedly).

Whereas the relatively recent renovations at the Shibuya store have primarily succeeded in robbing the place of its atmosphere and fun factor, the Jiyugaoka store was bustling and noisy, much like things used to be in Shibuya, back in the day…

The menu is much the same, save perhaps for an expanded offering of chicken dishes and salads.

The prices have reverted to those of the previous decade. Everything on the menu – bar a few specials such as the wagyu – are just ¥290 (excluding tax). This included larger dishes such as the delicious ishiyaki bibimba and, of course, the beer.

Overall, the quality of meat was good, with only a few slices being mostly fat and nothing else. The garlic potato salad wasn’t all it could have been, but at the price range it did its job.

As with the Shibuya store, the bathrooms are located outside the store itself, which is something of an annoyance.

Still, good quality budget grilled meats.

Kimuchi 1

Kimuchi 2

Caesar salad

Rosu

Ishiyaki bibimba

Garlic potato Salad

Pig tongue

Karabi (tare)

 

03-5701-4212

Genkaya

Tuesday
Dec202011

Tableaux, Daikanyama  代官山

Daikanyama’s Tableaux, just a few doors up from Mexican rooftop restaurant Hacienda del Cielo, turned out to be an excellent venue for the main bonenkai of the year.

It’s been around for what counts as an eternity in Tokyo, and by all accounts was once a favoured hang out for serious expat diners, although from what we witnessed the only gaijin (aside for some of our good selves, of course) in attendance are those among the waiting staff.

The gilded bar was a suitably comfortable starting point for the evening’s frivolities – the G&Ts excellent, and by all account the cups of tea pretty good, too. 

Once ushered into the inner sanctum and our table for the evening, surrounded by what must have once been an exuberant renaissance/ gothic décor, a surprisingly voluminous meal ensued.

The quality of the cuisine far surpassed the expectations of all, even those long familiar with the restaurant.

Each dish was nicely presented, without falling into the sorry style-over-substance trap.

Highlights of the meal included oyster chasers (despite the over the top bed of ice), the summer truffle pizza and the stunning beef cheeks. Indeed, the other cuts of cow, the wagyu in particular, were delicious.  

Besides a plentiful supply of fine wines, Tableaux gets my vote for being generous with the bread. A seemingly endless supply was dutifully served no matter how fast we worked our way through it.

Carpaccio of Nagasaki Grunt 

Beef Cheek "Sandwich"

Caesar Salad

Pork Terrine 

Grilled Snapper

Beef with Mashed Potato

Wagyu

Vegetables

 

03-5489-2201

Tableaux

Saturday
Jul232011

Ye Olde Trip to Jerusalem (英国)

It’s “the oldest inn in England.” Archeological evidence supports the claim; at least in as far as Nottingham Castle’s Brewhouse was on the site, nestled close beneath the Castle Rock and connected to the bastion via labyrinthine tunnels, from around 1189 AD.

In days of old, weary pilgrims and crusading English gentleman would take their ease and get blasted at this inn before going on their way to give the Saracens a thrashing in the Holy Land. Records show that Ye Olde Trip to Jerusalem was indeed once named The Pilgrim. 

Either way, it’s a Nottingham institution. World famous, often visited and now sanitized to the point of having none of the shabby charm that once endeared it to drinkers from far and wide.

In the mid-1990s, many an extended liquid lunch was enjoyed in the snug room, or sun-bathed courtyard. From what I remember, my 17th birthday was celebrated (and ended with a close encounter with cool, white porcelain) at The Trip.

In those days, it remained a favourite haunt of leather clad, hairy bikers – their metallic steeds crowding outside – and all manner of snaggle-toothed alternative types garbed in whatever ethnic tat was in vogue at the time.

The interior was worn and cozy, frayed around the edges. The cursed galleon suspended from the Ward Room’s cave-like ceiling was shrouded in centuries’ worth of cobwebs and dust; none dared touch the lofty vessel. The wooden beams and walls around the bar were plastered with fading currency, the bank notes left as mementos to the ghosts of drinkers past by travellers from all corners of the globe. Even the tidiest of its rooms was decorated with a plethora of black and white photos, signed by visiting stars and robber barons.

Sadly, The Trip is now bereft of bikers, goths, hippies and even right on real ale types these days. The currency, once scrubbed away, is returning. But even that is now an orderly return, plastic coated so as to provide a wipe-clean surface. The galleon’s curse must have been broken; its dusty shroud is gone.

What remains? Some lagers, resident ales – Olde Trip, Greene King IPA, Old Speckled Hen, Abbot Ale and Extra Pale Ale – as well as the usual tawdry collection of alcopops. The menu looks well enough, but despite the range of bar food favourites and hearty seasonal fare turned out to be mediocre. 

My dining partners’ Beef and Abbot Ale Pie was tasty inside, although the pastry lid was both dry and bland. The chive mash, braised red cabbage and gravy by which it was accompanied did little to make amends. My pie was much the same. Perhaps it was venison, I don't remember, swimming in a rich gravy sauce laced with carrots. Again, despite tasting okay, something was missing.

Both pies were not nearly rugged enough. Chunkier morsels of meat, rough-hewn vegetables and thicker gravy would have improved the meal immensely. Rather than mash and cabbage my plate came with new potatoes, broccoli, beans and carrots, of which there is nothing to say. We didn’t bother rating our experience on the card provided.

Ye Olde Trip to Jerusalem remains a piece of living history; despite sterling efforts to scrub any last trace of its character away. The inn itself, no doubt much like long-time patrons, must be yearning for the past.

 

0115 947 3171 

http://www.triptojerusalem.com/

Monday
Nov292010

Mango Cafe, Ebisu  マンゴカフェ、恵比寿

A sunny Sunday afternoon in recently chilly Tokyo and long-missed friends were visiting from the old country, sunny Sheffield to be precise. As they had their freshly unwrapped bonny boy with them an akachan friendly venue was the order of the day. 

Despite having my sights set on an extremely tempting, relatively new gyoza-ya near Ebisu station it turned out to be closed on Sundays.  At a loss, not being one for lunches generally (hard to excuse a liquid fixation at such an early hour in public and in the company of the young), I readily accepted one of our party’s suggestion to look for somewhere among the various restaurants housed within Ebisu station’s Atre building.

Having not investigated its interior much, save when sent on missions to purchase ladies' hair ornaments, the chance for a gander was no bad thing. In the end we chose Mango Café, a mainly Thai-themed Asian eatery offering reasonably comfortable surroundings, service – of a kind – and reasonably priced, if slowly delivered, lunches covering a decent range of food types from rice, curry and noodles to veggie and meat heavy dishes.

After much rearranging of tables to accommodate the bonny boy’s buggy (I want one… A buggy that is, not a bonny boy, yet…) we settled in, ordered drinks and scanned the menu.

Orders made, we got on with the business of the day – catching up. The food arrived and all looked delighted. All except myself, as my plate didn’t arrive until a good ten minutes after all the others, and only then because I inquired as to the reasons for the tardiness of its delivery.

Overall it was all tasty enough, came in respectable portions and didn’t offend the wallet – but then lunch rarely does in Tokyo. Mine was the Gay Yang BBQ Chicken Combo Plate, which although long in name, was short in the devouring.

 

Tel: 03-5475-8349

Thursday
Oct282010

Funato, Iidashinmachi  船渡、飯田新町

Saitama… For your average Tokyoite the very name brings to mind a featureless plain bereft of sophistication. Do the train lines even go that far? Can’t say I know much about the region, and most of what I do is, no doubt, horribly biased. There’s that kind of “going back in time” feeling when you witness the fashions and countenance of the inhabitants of the area, just as you do when visiting Osaka. Everything stems from Tokyo, and filters down through the barren wastes that make up this blessed land of the gods. Luckily, as well as conspicuously attractive farmer’s daughters and young men who attempt (successfully) to dress and comport themselves like comic book gangsters, I discovered that really, really, great yakiniku is to be found among the rice fields and eternal shotengai.

Funato is a yakiniku-ya situated beside the Binnuma River in Iidashinmachi. It’s more of a complex really, as once you enter the main building you are more than likely to be led through the kitchens (yes, THROUGH the KITCHENS) into the inner compounds surrounded with buildings of various shapes and sizes, all which provide differing dining areas. Pretty weird, pretty interesting.

Unfortunately – it was Saitama after all and as such I was not sure that cameras or electronic devices of any kind actually work or do not result in those that bare them being lynched – at the time of my visit I didn’t have my ageing, trusty blurry camera with me and those few pictures I did take were snapped on the iPhone of one my dining partners. Forgive the quality, please. Half of what we ate didn’t get snapped as, to be honest, we were too busy feasting on some of the best yakiniku I’ve ever had the pleasure to eat.

The interior, at least of the annex we settled into, was pleasant enough. Modern, clinical Japanese style, koagari with horigotatsu, spacious tabletops containing wells into which buckets of glowing charcoal were set, topped with the grills upon which the meaty morsels were grilled and, when the beer took hold, burnt.

Not much to say on the drinks front; just kept ordering draft beer and eating. Sorry. They did have some generic shochu and other tipples, but you’ll have to visit for yourself (a good idea) for the details. The food menu was pretty vast. Lots and lots of meat in various cuts, and plenty of veggies, rice dishes and salads to keep you occupied, too. You get the feeling that Funato is aimed at families or parties (Saitama hosts an inordinate number of people-carriers after all) as a proliferation of set menus and niku-moriawase were available. The menu itself was well supplied with photos, so as to guide the uninitiated in the right direction. Prices were good, especially considering the size and quality of all that was served.

What did we eat? Meat! Glorious, fresh, delicious slices of meat. Not too fatty, not too lean, not too oily, not too dry. I’ll say it again; this was fantastic yakiniku. The garlic, fried in oil in a foil vessel, took ages to be ready but was delicious, if simple. Could have done with a lot more of this, as it was popular at our table.  We stayed fairly clear of offal, for the most part, enjoying platefuls of decent cow flesh in the usual cuts. As mentioned, all were of extremely good quality and in suitably decent portions. The sanchu and miso paste were good too. The kimuchi selection went down well, although I’d have preferred it to be a little spicier. One of the “specials,” the beef sushi, is worthy of mention as it was sublime. Tender slices of raw beef, slightly marbled as is the wont in these parts, resting upon vinegared rice and wasabi. Could have eaten this all night. Perhaps unsurprisingly, given that wasabi is more or less green horseradish, this tasted very much like roast beef and horseradish. Can’t recommend it enough. Two bibimbas, ishiyaki and otherwise, were also excellent, extremely filling and pleasantly attractive. Indeed, for the most part everything was good in terms of size. The liver too was exemplary.

Funato is a fantastic yakiniku-ya. I’m determined to return, camera in hand, in order to record the experience properly. Good food, comfortable surroundings and good service to match. Perhaps lacking in character, but the food itself was truly wonderful. That’s why the place was heaving.

 

Tel: 048-624-9640

Wednesday
Apr142010

Cardenas Chinois, Hiroo  広尾

Another night, another nomihodai deal. This time served up a ten minutes stroll down Meiji Dori from Ebisu station at Hiroo’s Cardenas Chinois. Having been recommended to visit by a couple of esteemed colleagues with formidable knowledge of Tokyo dining, I felt assured of a decent meal, and couldn’t wait to get stuck into what had been described as an extremely generous nomihodai selection of drinks.

The décor was fairly pleasant; modern, dark, warm wood and yellowish low level lighting. On the evening of my visit customers were thin on the ground, no doubt because most folk were busy with O-hanami. Upon being seated, the young besuited waiter promptly explained the food and drink menus. The food menu offered an amuse followed by a selection of fusion dishes to choose from for the appetiser 1, appetiser 2, main dish, and desert served with coffee. The drink menu provided a selection of vodka, gin and rum based cocktails, (pedestrian) wines red and white, sparkling wine, beer, and others beverages that now escape me, from which my dining partner and I were free to order at will for a couple of hours.

So, four courses and unlimited drinks for ¥4,500. Things could have been worse. The time limit on the nomihodai function can be extended by 30 minutes for ¥500, should you feel so inclined.

After swigging two or three glasses of the sparkling wine, we then proceeded to work through one of the reds. My glass was, happily, replenished the moment it became empty. Indeed, throughout the course of the evening the waiter was more than happy to swiftly take (and serve) our drink orders.

An amuse of carrot puree with dry bread, drizzled with olive oil, set the meal off. For the first appetiser I had small slices of duck, while my dining partner tucked into a good-sized heap of Chinese chicken salad. Both were tasty enough, and the salad was actually rather filling. The duck, however, left me wishing for more. Never a nice feeling.

These were followed by pasta. A thimble full. Tasty as it was, it barely provided two mouthfuls. If, like me, you are of the opinion that pasta should only ever be served in 500g portions (or multiples thereof), you’ll understand how frustrating trying to eke out this part of the meal was.

The main course, although still not big enough for my liking, went some way to making up for the miserly serving of pasta. My nicely seared, pink, succulent Auzzie steak was delicious. Unfortunately the mashed potato that accompanied it was nothing short of foul. I’d bet good money that it started the evening as a packet of ready mix. My dining partner had opted for the seafood risotto. Again, a bit on the small side, but tasty, especially the little shrimp.

Tiring of the wine, we proceeded to make short work of half a dozen G&Ts, which somehow went rather well with the cheesecake and chocolate cake, served with a few pieces of fruit and cream (foam), we had selected for desert.

For the price, especially considering the unlimited access to the booze, one can’t really complain. The meal was enjoyable, being cooked and presented well enough, with plenty of choice on the menu. My main gripe is that everything was just a little too much on the small side.

Atmosphere, air (non-smoking) and service were both fine, especially when the surrounding tables filled up a bit. Reasonable mix of clientele, perhaps weighted toward dating couples. Overall, an enjoyable evening’s drinking with dainty culinary highlights.

 

Tel: 03-5447-1287

Web: http://www.cardenas.co.jp/chinois/