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 Dinner (10)

Wednesday
Apr102013

Aoyama Janoja, Minami Aoyama 青山ジャノジャ, 南青山

Weary, hungry and desperate to get out of the rain, we stumbled upon Aoyama Janoja and, to our regret, entered in.

The dull, barren interior and rubbish food were well complimented by a total lack of atmosphere. If there were one “good point” it would be the embarrassingly apologetic and attentive service from the waiter. His shame was written all over his face.

The food was so bad that we actually rushed to get through it lest the experience linger. The appalling pasta dish aside, the four cheese pizza, consisting of a burnt, crunchy pitta-like base and a tomato-meat sauce (without the meat) topped with three cheeses and honey (not good with the meat flavoured sauce…), was hard to make sense of.

How on earth is this place in business?

Tomato cream sauce and shrimp pasta -- without a hint of tomato

"Four" cheese pizza

Takenoka tempura 

03-3475-6099 

Aoyama Janoja

Sunday
Apr012012

Kin no Kura Jr., Jiyugaoka  金の蔵Jr、自由が丘

What better post on April 1st than Kin no Kura Jr., an izakaya scraped from the bottom of Jiyugaoka’s culinary barrel?

The brainchild of Sanko Marketing Foods (of Tsuki no Shizuku fame, for example), Kin no Kura Jr. can be found all over greater Tokyo, being easily recognizable thanks to the garish, bright yellow signage loudly proclaiming that all of the hundreds of dishes and drinks on the (touch-screen) menus are a mere ¥270 each.

By all accounts, this particular chain was one of the first to bring the “B-class gourmet” one price fits all concept to the izakaya dining scene. It may well have had its day, and for students and freeters is probably a destination of choice, but these days far better food and drinks can be found for similar prices – and indeed more cheaply – at izakaya such as Sakana-ya.

Everything about Kin no Kura Jr. felt thin, half done in order to reduce costs. The hand wipes were half size, rendering them practically useless. The “beer” was watery and the Hoppy and shochu set consisted of a thimble full of liquor. 

The eda mame were passable, as was the yaki-ika. The yakiniku salad was pretty limp, and the hokke had the taste and texture of soap.  The highlight of the meal was easily the eihire

Better cheap eats can be found.

 

03-5726-1878

Kin no Kura Jr.

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

Wednesday
Mar212012

Heisaku, Mizuhodai  平作、みずほ台

Better known for its soba and udon noodles, Heisaku (about 5 minutes from Mizuhodai station, on the Tobu-Tojo line) is actually a reasonable izakaya providing a distinct Showa era flavour and generous portions.

Spread across two spacious tatami floors, tables are low, and seating in the form of cushions upon the mats – prolonged sessions can result in discomfort.

The décor is hardly noteworthy, but this izakaya isn’t trying to score points for style.

Popular with locals, Heisaku is not only a venue for a casual dinner or drinking session, but seems also to be favoured for company parties, wakes and other formal gatherings.

The broad menu and generally good quality of food, however, do deserve praise.

Aside from the delicious noodles, the sashimi, simmered fish, tempura and yakitori are all satisfying – the yakitori in particular stands out for its size and rich tare sauce.

The tempura, the huge shrimps in particular, is excellent, although the batter is of a heavier, darker, oilier variety than encountered at more refined tempura restaurants, such as Tsunahachi.

Yariika gesso sashi

Tsukemono

Sashimi - maguro, aji, tai

Udon

Soba

Shirauo no karaage

Sashimi moriawase

Tempura moriawase – shrimp, mushrooms, peppers, aubergine

Negima – tare

Negima – shio

Norwegian salmon steamed with mushrooms 

Soba – kimono jiru

Yaki ika

Tofu salad

Ice cream

 

049-252-0110

Heisaku

Sunday
Jan292012

Kathmandu Gangri, Meguro  カトマンズガングリ、目黒

Specializing in Tibetan as well as the usual Nepalese fare, Kathmandu Gangri’s menu offers more than you might usually expect from such a curry house.

Lunches, dinners and party plans are all reasonably priced, as are the drinks. As well draft Asahi and bottled Yebisu, the Nepal Ice proved to be a tasty beer. The service is reasonable too, although the staff could spend more time waiting the floor rather than lurking in the kitchen.

The décor, although new and therefore clean, leaves much to be desired. This basement restaurant is ruined by a spartan interior of bare white walls, wood floors and pale wood furnishings. Not a single picture or hanging rug adorns the walls. Clichéd it may be, but I expect my Nepalese restaurants to be bedecked in the familiar ethnic tat. The chairs seem to have been sourced from a church – the cross motif and Bible shelves on the back of each being a dead giveaway. This decorative deficit results in a lack of character and atmosphere, which is probably one of the reasons that the place seems always to be empty. 

Such gripes aside, the food is good. Certainly up there with Manakamana in terms of taste, portions and freshness of ingredients, although the garlic naan didn’t compare favourably. Overall, the food at Kathmandu Gangri has a stronger focus on herbs as well as spices, creating an aromatic flavour that sets it apart. Although delicious looking, many of the Tibetan dishes appeared to be rehashes of tired Chinese takeaway favourites.

Alu Ko Achar – a dry, spicy potato curry with a somewhat gritty texture. The vinegary flavour was quite memorable.

Suimai – cute, open topped dumplings with oily meat curry at the bottom of each compartment. Sauces are dropped in to taste.

Saag Paneer – thick, rich and flavorsome. Plenty of spinach in this and most welcome after the culinary travesty that is Magic India.

Chicken Curry – succulent pieces of chicken with rich, spicy sauce. 

Himalayan Shyabhale (“Himalayan Pizza”) – a stodgy pastry base with a herb infused meat pate between base and cheese, tomato and herbs topping. Delicious.

Chicken Saag – delicious, less spinachy than the paneer version.

Prawn Curry – Good, but the prawns were a little lackluster.

Chicken Stir Fry – basically a kind of sweet and sour dish.

 

03-3493-4712

Kathmandu Gangri

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
Dec172011

Men Don Fuku-iken, Tokiwadai 麺・丼 二・一軒、常盤台

Fukuiken is one of several reasonable ramen shops in Tokiwadai. It’s located on the main shotengai on the south side of station, next door to another ramen shop (the name escapes me) instantly recognizable for the window full of photos of various TV “talent” and other famous visitors. 

A family business, Fukuiken closes at 6pm on Saturdays – plenty of hapless souls were turned away whilst I wolfed down a ¥900 ramen set consisting of a good-sized bowl of shoyu ramen, three paltry little gyoza (which after lunching at Kitchen Tachikichi earlier in the day were laughable) and a nice mound of cha-han.

The gyoza aside, both the fried rice and ramen were good, although after seeing the less generic ramen ordered by other customers I got the feeling that those included in the set were probably the most mundane on offer.

 

03-5966-6164

Men Don Fuku-iken