Sunday, August 31, 2014

The Closing of Kame House Burger カメホウス・ハンバーガー 022-374-5747

Click HERE for a previous write-up on Kame House.

Address:  仙台市泉区中央1丁目22-1.   Located on Route 35, about a three-minute walk from Izumi Subway Station.
Map:  Scroll down below.
Weekdays lunch:  11:30 am – 2:45 pm.     Weekdays dinner:  5:30 pm – 10:30 pm.
Sundays and Holidays:  11:30 am – 8:30 pm.   Closed Tuesdays and Wednesdays.
It is with a heavy heart that I write that Kame House Burger will be closing at the end of September.
Apparently, the owner is moving on to bigger and better things in Tokyo, so this hamburger joint will soon be history.  
Luckily for me, I’ve already dined there twice within the last two weeks with a couple of good friends to share the moment, and I plan on returning at least once more for ole’ time’s sake.
I was never a frequent visitor to Kame House due to its location in Izumi, which made it quite a trek for me.  Still, it was worth the trek when I did make it.
A week ago I visited on Friday during lunchtime with my good friend, Tony, who had never been to Kame House but had always wanted to go.  He seemed to really like his Double-Burger.  The place had quite a few customers but it was no problem getting a table.
This weekend, I was fortunate enough to have my dear friend, Yvonne, accompany me to the famed burger restaurant.  The place was crowded!  And we ended up waiting about twenty minutes for our table.  I ordered my usual Double-Burger (1100 yen) without sauce, and my companion went with the Avocado-Cheeseburger with Barbeque Sauce on the side. We both split an order of Onion Rings.

Double-Burger


Avocado-Cheeseburger

Onion Rings (Scrumptious!  But pass on the salsa)

The meat patty in my burger on this second visit seemed thicker than my previous encounter, with a strong and delicious peppery flavor to it.  The fries were good and I was quite happy with the onion rings.  Yvonne seemed to really enjoy her burger as well!
My disappointment came as I had my heart set on a chocolate milkshake to go with my burger, only to be informed that shakes are only served after 5:30 pm.  Despite my pleading and puppy dog eyes, I was given a stern ごめんなさい.”  That’s why I plan to go back one more time, but after 5:30 pm.
If you have never been to Kame House, I urge you to rush down as soon as you can to try one of the best burgers in town!  For those of you who have devoured the greasy goodness, return before it’s too late!
**Yvonne was gracious enough to give me permission to use her photos for this post.  I am very grateful as she is a much better photographer than I am.  Thanks, Vonnie!



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Sunday, July 6, 2014

IKEA Restaurant イケアレストラン 050-5833-9000

Website:  http://www.ikea.com/jp/ja/store/sendai/

Address:  仙台市太白区あすと長町 2-1-1.   Located across the street and to the side of Nagamachi JR Train Station.  Also easily accessible from the Nagamachi Subway Station.
Map:  Scroll down below.
Open:  Not yet, but the Grand Opening will be on Thursday, July 17, 2014.  Until September 30, 2014, the store will be open from 10 am – 9 pm.  But after that the store hours are as follows:  
Sunday – Friday: 10 am – 7 pm.  Saturdays and Holidays:  10 am – 9 pm.



Today, I got a special sneak-peek inside the brand-spanking new IKEA Store thanks to my friends, Tony, who gave me his “invitation only” Family Day at IKEA ticket, and Yvonne, who works there and provided the ticket.
I don’t remember visiting my local IKEA back in the States very often, and I never ate at their restaurant, so I can’t do a comparison, but I was quite impressed with the number of foods available at this Sendai IKEA restaurant, which included salmon, tandoori chicken, and roast beef among its many entrées .
My wife went with the Salmon Lasagna for 616 yen, with a slice of Arctic Bread for 60 yen.  It was the first time for her to ever try a salmon lasagna, and she really liked it, especially the salmon taste.  She also stated that the Arctic Bread didn’t have a lot of flavor by itself but that it went well with the lasagna.


サーモンラザニヤ・アークティックブレット

I chose the Swedish Meatballs for 599 yen, a Mini Bread for 90 yen to accompany it, and a butter packet for 20 yen.  The ten meatballs came with gravy, cranberry dressing, and mashed potatoes.  The meatballs were not extraordinary, but quite good, and the cranberry dressing added a nice touch to the flavor.  I’m not a big fan of mashed potatoes (I’m picky), but I enjoyed these!


スウェーデン・ミートボール

For dessert, my wife decided upon the Apple Cake for 299 yen and a Café Latte from the Drink Bar for 120 yen.  I picked the Cinnamon Roll for 90 yen.

アップルケーキ&シナモンロール

Both the Apple Cake and Cinnamon Roll were not very sweet, and had tastes that were nothing like their traditional counterparts.  Despite this, we still thought they were quite tasty, perhaps due to both having a nutty flavoring to them.

So IKEA is not a traditional restaurant, but that's what they call it.  It's more of a cafeteria, and our two complete meals plus dessert came in at under 2000 yen.  I would say that overall, we were both totally satisfied with our meals.

Since I never experienced eating at an IKEA Store, I don't know if this is standard practice there, but I found it interesting that you don't pay for your meal until you are done with it (unlike most cafeteria-style joints). After placing your selected platters on your tray, you proceed to the check out lane.  The clerk will give you an itemized receipt, and then you go off to find a place to sit.  When you are done with your meal, you take your tray to the disposal area, and then use an automated register to pay for your meal.  I had never seen this before.
If you’re shopping at IKEA, visiting their restaurant might provide a nice needed break from wandering around the huge store..   
But, if you want to save even more money, go to their Bistro on the 1st floor past the checkout lanes.  They sell hot dogs for 100 yen and soft cream cones for 50 yen!  The hot dog looked good but I was already full from the restaurant.


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Saturday, June 28, 2014

Thai Festival in Sendai タイフェスティバルin仙台 022-397-9741


Address:  勾当台公園市民広場.   Located exactly at that address.  Come up off the Kotodai-koen Subway exit and you’re there.
Map:  Weird.  Google Maps cannot show this accurately.  Sorry.
Tomorrow, Sunday, June 29th from 10 am till 6 pm.
Sorry that this is such late notice, but I didn’t attend the inaugural Thai Festival held last year in Nagamachi, so I didn’t know much about it, but I caught the last two minutes of this morning’s あらあらかしこ TV program which was promoting this event, so I thought it would be worth a try. 



This is the lowdown:  If you want to try some delicious, SPICY, Thai cuisine, you should go!
Once there, you might find it difficult, as I did, to choose among the many different food stalls, each with their own enticing aromas of Thai dishes.  My wife and I decided on the Phu Thai vendor, although all of the   restaurant representatives offered equally tempting dishes.



We went with the Stir-Fried Chicken with Holy Basil on Rice (500 yen), and I added a “Sai Krok”, or Grilled Herbal Sausage (300 yen).  I had never heard of Holy Basil before, but holy crap:  Was it ever spicy!!!  And equally scrumptious!!!

鶏肉のバジル炒め
Besides a wide selection of food being offered, there is always a live performance to be entertained with, as well as many stalls selling Thai goods, foods, and souvenirs.
I was lucky enough to spot my favorite あらあらかしこガール,Manami Kawada, in the crowd and she was kind enough to pose for a photo.  On this program, Manami seems extremely down-to-earth, funny, and very cute!  In person, she did not disappoint!   She made my day!


If you don’t get a chance to make it out tomorrow, be on the lookout for next year’s festival!

Saturday, June 21, 2014

Cookin’ Bento Shop クッキン・手作り弁当屋 022-268-2013

Website: http://www.mapion.co.jp/phonebook/M01013/04101/G0222682013-001/

Address:  仙台市青葉区一番町目3-28.   Located across the street from Higashi-nibancho Yōchien, near Minami-machi dori.  
Map:  Scroll down below.
Open:  Weekdays from 10 am to 3 pm.  They accept fax orders from 9:30 to 11:30 am.
While strolling one fine weekday afternoon, I happened upon a bustling scene inside a very small food establishment at the end of the small shopping arcade that leads into Ichibancho.  From the outside, I didn’t notice any discernible signs indicating what type of fare was being peddled, so I took a peek inside.  
Lo and behold, a lovely lass appeared!  Oh, and she was selling bentos.


"May I take your order?"

The following week, I made it a point to return to the slightly hidden Cookin’ to see if the crowd I had seen before were on to something.  I was happy to see the same beautiful young woman (Anri, is her name) working behind the counter and I happily ordered the chicken karage bento for 500 yen, and waited for less than five minutes for it to be prepared.
The bento came with five thick, juicy, and wonderfully seasoned chunks of deep-fried chicken: crispy on the outside, yet, delectable and plump on the inside.  A subtle hint of salt and vinegar, along with the black sesame seed topping, seemed to bring out the full flavor of the generous serving of rice.  A tangy, sliced vegetable mixed salad that added a nice contrasting flavor element to the chicken, along with a wakame/mayonnaise serving were also included.  I’m not a big fan of wakame and I only like mayonnaise used sparingly, still, this was not bad.  The sliced pickled daikon, a staple of bentos, tasted quite zesty and fresh.
Overall, I’d say that it was the best tasting chicken karage bento I have ever had!

The best 鶏唐揚げ弁当 ever!

But just to confirm that this wasn’t a fluke, I went back two weeks later and purchased their 530 yen yakiniku bento:  substantial slices of flavorful tender beef, along with two differing side salads.  One salad consisted of a pumpkin, egg, and mayonnaise mixture.  It was a bit … odd, but appetizing.  The other was a more traditional cabbage/vegetable salad that was very good!


焼き肉弁当


Cookin’  is simple food done well!  Very well!  This fine eatery advertises itself as a “homemade” bento shop, and that’s exactly what it's been delivering for over twenty years!  I have nothing against the chain bento shops like Hotto Motto and Kamodoya, as I often feed upon their boxed lunches, but they are not in the same league as Cookin’.



Besides the two delicious bentos I devoured, Cookin’ offers a daily special, hamburger, fish, and numerous のりbentos, all for under 530 yen.
Unfortunately, their hours are limited to lunchtime, but if you get a free weekday afternoon I highly recommend Cookin’ !  I know I will have difficulty choosing between the chicken karage and the yakiniku bento upon my next visit, but I’m sure that either choice will be the right one.


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Thursday, May 22, 2014

Happy Happy Melon Pan Truck Returns!


To read a previous post, please click HERE.

I'm happy to report that the Happy Happy Melon Pan truck will be in front of Daiei Department Store starting tomorrow, Friday, May 23rd till Monday, May 26th.

Maybe I'll see you there!

Monday, May 5, 2014

UPDATE: Rigoletto リゴレット タパスラウンジ 022-716-0678

Website:  http://www.rigoletto.jp/sp/sendai/party/  

For my previous post on Rigoletto, please click HERE.
Address:  仙台市青葉区中央1-6-1.   Located across the street from the AER Building in between Hirose-dori and Chuo-dori.
Map:  Scroll down below.
Open 7 days a week from 11:30 am to 4 am, with lunch till 3 pm.
Last Saturday night, my good friends and I held a Welcome Home party for our dear friend, Yvonne, who requested to have it hosted at Rigoletto after remembering the wonderful food we were served at a company enkai we attended there over two years ago. 
As the organizer for the party I first checked Rigoletto’s website to see what types of party plans they offered.
Unfortunately, their websites are not easy to navigate, with many of their links being inactive.  The link I provided above should take you to their party plan menu.  After a few different searches, it appeared as if two options were available: one for 4500 yen and the other for 5000 yen.   I called the restaurant on the Sunday before to make a reservation for my party of six confirmed partygoers for the less expensive plan, which, according to the outdated web page, included ten separate dishes and a two-hour nomihoudai.   
I was informed that at least eight people were necessary to partake of the party plan.  I told them that perhaps more of my friends would join later, but that at the time I wasn’t sure, and asked if there was anything they could do.
They put me on hold and apparently consulted management.  After a few moments they came back and assured me that it would be okay this time to utilize the party plan with only six people, but that if it dropped to five then we would have to order a la carte.
We actually ended up with seven in total, or seven and a half, as one friend could not find a babysitter and brought her two-year-old son in tow.   She had contacted Rigoletto herself and asked if children were permitted.  The restaurant was very accepting and accommodating and did not charge any extra for her little boy.
After being seated we requested our first round of beverages in order to give a welcome toast to our dearly missed friend, Yvonne, but it seemed as if we waited and waited for all of our drinks to arrive.  This concerned a couple of us, as we are well aware that many restaurants have an iffy time schedule and often lack timely service when it comes to nomihoudais.  This did not seem a like a good sign.
But as the night progressed, so did their service.  Each platter was brought soon after the previous one had been finished.  And much to my surprise, as we were half way finished imbibing our refreshments, another round for all was brought to our table before we even had a chance to request them.  This artful customer attentiveness was greatly appreciated!
When it was time for “last call,” the waitress brought us multiple drinks to last well past the allotted two-hour time limit.  This brought smiles to everyone at the table!
But on to the food! 
The first platter served was the fish carpaccio.  This picky eater does not like seafood, but since I was paying a little more than usual for an enkai, I decided that I was going to try everything.  I’m so glad I did!  This was so tasty that  I even had a second helping!



鮮魚のカルパッチョ

Next came the ham platter with green olives, with four different types of ham.  Being a meat lover, this initially looked tempting.  But again, my pickiness had predetermined that I wanted nothing to do with the green olives.  The ham slices were nice, but nothing special.  And since I was going to get my money’s worth, I popped an olive into my mouth just out of principle.  Rigoletto was batting two for two with foods that I formerly detested, as these olives were great!  I popped a few more in my mouth before the night was through.



生ハムの盛り合わせ

Following this was the bacon and mushroom platter, which I did not see listed on the website.  Succulent is the best word to describe this!



Bacon and Mushrooms

Another surprise soon came with the hot bread with escargot and shrimp in a butter garlic dip.  I’m picky, remember?  Escargot is not something a picky eater indulges in.  But with the invitingly buttery garlic aroma wafting through the air, I could not resist.   Magnificent!  I couldn’t stop dipping!  And the bread was delicious in its own right!



Bread with Escargot and Shrimp in Butter Garlic Sauce

The Chef’s Salad was good, despite the cheese (I really don’t like cheese), but my friends seemed to enjoy this.



シェフズサラダ

The Margherita pizza was terrific!  The crust had a flavor all its own, and the toppings just seemed like a bonus.



ピッツァ・ディアボラ

Two varieties of pasta were then brought at the same time, one with scallops and the other with bacon, cheese, and eggplant, although, I could be mistaken about these ingredients.  Either way, both were delicious!



Pasta with Scallops



Pasta with Bacon, Cheese, and Eggplant

The finale was the gigantic dessert platter!  Each person was able to devour a fruit tart, a slice of chocolate cake, cheesecake, and two other cakes.  I preferred the chocolate slice myself, while most at my table praised the cheesecake.



デザート



A close-up of my dessert plate!

Even though we paid a higher price than most restaurants charge for a party plan, my friends and I all seemed to be in agreement that this was an excellent and satisfying choice for a party.  While preparing the photos for this post, I noticed that we were actually served only nine dishes, but I believe they actually brought us two pizzas, which would then add up to a total of ten servings.
To be honest, I was quite surprised that Rigoletto was able to accommodate us on such short notice during Golden Week.  I appreciated that the staff member Chisato-san contacted me during the week to confirm my plans.
If you have a party to plan, I highly recommend Rigoletto!  The food was fantastic and the service superb!
It’s a bit pricier than other places, but you get what you pay for.  Actually, I think you get more than what you pay for at Rigoletto!



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Friday, April 25, 2014

Happy Happy Melon Pan Truck: This Weekend?

Website:   http://happy-happy.jp/shop/index.html

To read a previous post, please click HERE.

Unfortunately, the Happy Happy Melon Pan website is not listing this weekend's schedule, but I believe that they will be in front of Daiei sometime this weekend.

I hope I'm right!

Happy Eating!

Saturday, April 5, 2014

Juan-Les-Pins French Cuisine ジュアン・レ・パン 022-379-6929

Website:  http://www.jlp-sendai.com/menu.html

Address:  仙台市泉区中山1-18-3.   According to their website, located about a ten-minute walk from Yaotome Subway Station.
Map:  Scroll down below.
Lunch:  11:30 am to 2:15 pm. Dinner:  5:30 pm to 9:00 pm.   
Closed Wednesdays. 
I’d like to thank my student, Aki, for recommending this superb restaurant to me, as this was quite a treat!
Hidden along a residential side street, this small, quaint eatery looks more like a house than a restaurant, and can easily be passed by.
As we were handed the menu, we were surprised that only two different course menu options were available, with no a la carte alternatives to choose from.
My wife decided on the lower-priced soup/entrée/dessert course for 1890 yen, and I went with the Chef’s Recommended course for 2500 yen.  As each course offered a selection from the same number of soups (3) and entrées (7), the only differences between the two was that the Chef’s set comes with an appetizer and a wider variety of desserts. 
I’ll start of with a description of my Chef’s course.  The listed appetizer was a fish with vegetables combination (本ますのポワレと春の野菜の取り合わせ) that didn’t sound appetizing to this picky eater.  I politely asked if the chef would kindly substitute another hors d’ oeuvre due to my aversion to fish.  I was brought a lovely dish of mini-pork steaks with yukina greens soaked in red wine sauce.  The pork was so tender that a knife was not necessary to cut it.  The sauce and the leafy vegetables were delicious!  This would have made a great entrée all by itself!



Pork with Yukina Greens in Red Wine Sauce

With both courses came the piping hot homemade rolls with homemade butter!  When I first picked up the roll, it burned my fingers and I dropped it, luckily back onto the plate.  After letting it cool down for a minute or two, I broke opened the bread and saw the steam arise from the insides of the roll and the aroma of freshly baked bread wafted across the table.   I attempted to take a photo of this, but to no avail.  According to their website, they pre-bake the bread to 80% of its completion, and only upon a customer’s orders will they bake the remainder so that it arrives oven-fresh to your table.  These rolls were quite large in size and, as I had been warned ahead of time by Aki that, since the courses were brought out at a slow pace, I might have the feeling of fullness quite quickly, so I nibbled on the roll at a leisurely pace.


Homemade Butter and Rolls

Next came the onion gratin soup.  My student raved about two things on this menu:  the onion gratin soup and the dessert (but more on that later).   My wife and I both ordered this soup and completely agreed with her.   I don’t like cheese but I was made a convert with this soup.  Oniony yet sweet, with chunks of the homemade bread added to the mix.

オニオングラタンスープ

I selected the beef rib meat steak with a lightly seasoned vinaigrette sauce for an additional 315 yen.  Topped with an assortment of fresh vegetables (string beans, broccoli, carrots, and potato with cheese), this made for a delectable platter.  The steak was tender and flavorful, and although I did enjoy the sauce, I think I would have preferred to savor the succulent beef flavor by itself.  Still, I was not dissatisfied at all.


牛ともバラ肉のステーキをさっぱりヴィネグレットソースで

My wife fancied the three varieties of fish platter as her entrée, which came with shimeji mushrooms and snow peas smothered in a creamy sauce.  She loved the fish and commented on its tenderness.


3種のお魚料理

The serving sizes of all the dishes in both of our courses were more than adequate, and we were absolutely full when we were reminded that dessert was on its way.
We ganbare-ed and took to our 別腹!  The standard lunch course came with the Chef’s selection of desserts.  Luckily for my wife, this was quite bountiful!  Her dessert plate came with pudding, Fuji apple tart, grapefruit cake, and black sesame ice cream.


おまかせデザート

According to my spouse, the pudding was pudding; nothing special, but not bad.  And the black sesame ice cream was unique, but in a good way!
While she was devouring her savory sweets, I was shown the dessert wagon cart with six different treats to choose from.  There was no ice cream available but the three other desserts that were on my wife’s platter were also offered, along with strawberry cake, tiramisu, and cheesecake.


デザート6種類

I was under the impression that I could choose whatever individual dessert I wanted, but no, this was not the case.  I was told by the kind waitress that I could choose ALL the desserts, if I so desired!  Since my stomach was already bursting, I asked for small samples of the strawberry cake, the grapefruit cake, and the Fuji apple tart (I’m not a big fan of tiramisu nor cheesecake, and my wife had already stated that the pudding was just pudding).
The apple tart was fantastic!  And both the cakes were soft, sweet, and scrumptious.  I wish I would have been able to eat larger portions of the desserts, but I was too stuffed.


Grapefruit Cake, Strawberry Cake, and Fuji Apple Tart

As this outstanding feast was coming to a close, we sipped on the rich coffee and admired the amazing view of Izumi through the windows of this hilltop restaurant:  What a perfect ending to this wonderful meal!
I’m posting Juan-Les-Pains (JLP) in my Recommended section, but I’m sure that after another visit or two that I will upgrade this fabulous restaurant to my Favorites!  The menu changes from month-to-month, as JLP offers only what is in season in order to provide the freshest, tastiest cuisine, so don’t be surprised if what I’ve written about is no longer available, but I’m sure whatever appears on the new menu will delight you.
This is a small restaurant with about nine parking spaces available, so I highly recommend that you make reservations ahead of time.  
My significant other and I are thinking of a romantic dinner visit to Juan-Les-Pains, as viewing the moonlight over Izumi while dining on the incredible flavors they provide seems oh-so enticing!



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Thursday, March 20, 2014

Happy Happy Melon Pan returns for four days!



To read a previous post on Happy Happy Melon Pan, please click HERE.

What a treat!  Starting tomorrow, Friday, March 21st till Monday, March 24th, the mouthwatering melon pan truck will be parked in front of Daiei Department Store!  

I'm willing to brave the snow for this taste of heaven!


UPDATE:  I'm trying to cut back, so I only bought ten this time!







Saturday, February 22, 2014

Hub - British Pub ハブ・英国風パブ 022-722-8682

Address:  仙台市青葉区中央1-7-6西原ビル1F. Located near the AER Building on the first section of Clis Road (ハピナ名掛丁),next to the 77 Bank.
Map:  Scroll down below.
Open Sunday thru Thursdays from 4 pm till midnight.  Fridays and Saturdays from 4 pm till 2 am.  
Happy Hour is from 4 pm till 7 pm everyday.
Last Saturday, on the ill-fated day of eleven inches of snowfall in Sendai, our company held an event at the Hub, a new British-style pub that opened last November conveniently near the Sendai JR Train and Subway stations.
We originally reserved a private back room for twenty-five guests, requesting the Hub’s 3500 yen Party Menu which included eight dishes plus a two-hour nomihoudai.  Unfortunately, due to the severe weather, we informed the pub upon entering that we only expected fifteen members of our party to show up, and we apologized for this sudden change in size.  The staff was very accommodating and did not charge us for the unexpected ten no-shows.
As our party that braved the treacherous elements arrived, we started off with a very British Coronation Chicken Salad, which was quite delicious, though, since I am of Mexican-American descent, was a bit unsure how authentic this actually was.  Well, it fooled me if it wasn’t truly English!

ハブコロネーションサラダ

Next came the sliced roast beef with au jus sauce, which was good because it was just regular roast beef; nothing fancy, but they didn’t screw it up, either.  

ローストビーフ

Then, the smoked salmon with トントロ (fatty pork meat from the cheek to the shoulder).  Again, the pork, like the roast beef, wasn’t contaminated with any exotic or fusion-type spices, thus it was pleasing just as it was.  The salmon, well, I don’t care for seafood that much, so I didn’t even attempt to try it at first.  But to its credit, when I did decide that I should sample it for this blog, the other guests had already consumed it all.

トントロ&スモークサーモン

After a bit of a break came the thick-cut bacon, which was scrumptious! 

厚切りベーコン

And soon after the spicy Buffalo wings were delivered.  The meat on these wings was a little scarce, but I really enjoyed the spice.  Another round of these would have been nice!  

バッファローチキン

Following the enjoyable bacon and wings were the fish and chips.  Considering that the Hub is a British pub, this serving was probably the low point of the dining experience.  Visually, it was difficult to discern which was a fish nugget and which was a potato wedge.  Though I am not a fan of seafood (didn’t I mention that?), I thought it my duty to partake in a fishy morsel.  It wasn’t bad, but one was enough.  I didn’t hear anyone at our tables raving about the fish, and in fact, many were quite confused as I was on the fish or potato conundrum.

Fish & Chips

The seventh platter was a tomato sauce-based spaghetti.   There was nothing exceptional about this pasta, but it was tasty and seemed to hit the spot.

パスタ

The finale was generous slices of chocolate cake.  Like most of the meal, this was not remarkable in any foodie sense, but like most of the meal; it fit in nicely and complimented the fare.

デザート

Oh, and something that you usually don’t find with other izakaya’s party plans:  a giant cocktail!
One of our staff, Fong, was daring enough to order the Tower Cocktail, a 12% alcohol concoction of vodka, tequila, rum, and bourbon with lots of limes in a, … well, …, towering glass that resembled a giant urine sample beaker (the coloring of the cocktail didn’t help diffuse this image, either).  Strong and sweet, a couple more of these beakers were ordered for all the tables.

タワーカクテル

To add to the jovial atmosphere of the evening, a beer was requested in the same arm-length biology class glass as the Tower Cocktail.  The recipient soon discovered that a beaker of beer is not easily disposed of.  I recommend you order the Tower Cocktail, but not the Tower Beer.

My friend, Mike, with a beaker of beer

The foreign staff of my company all seemed to be in agreement that this was one of the better establishments in which to hold a party.  Nothing was outstanding, but almost everything was more than satisfactory.  We also concurred that the Hub would be on the top of our list for our next event or gathering.
As I mentioned before, we were placed in a private back room, while other patrons were seated in the spacious and lively front area.   The pub does truly hold an authentic British-style ambience (once again, coming from the viewpoint of a Mexican-American, but who has been to England), and it seems very popular with the Japanese citizens of Sendai.  
I cannot vouch for this pub as a hangout if you are out with a friend or two, but if you have a party to organize, I would highly recommend the Hub! 



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Sunday, February 16, 2014

Happy Happy Melon Pan Truck: Today and Tomorrow

Website:  http://happy-happy.jp/shop/index.html

To read a previous post on Happy Happy Melon Pan, please click HERE.

Sorry that this is a late notice, but the famous melon pan truck will be parked in front of Daiei Department Store today, Sunday, February 16th and tomorrow, Monday, February 17th.

Since this is the sixth month in a row that Happy Happy has come to Sendai, I have a feeling that they'll come again next month, too.

Happy Eating!

Friday, January 31, 2014

Gladio: Spanish/Mexican グラディオ 022-265-3007

Website:  http://www.tfcorp.jp/gladio/    (This is the web address on their business card and the one I had bookmarked before, but on this posting date this website does not open.)

Address:  仙台市青葉区国分町2-11-4 PSC ビルディング.   Coming from Jozen-ji Dori down Ichibancho, turn right at the 77 Bank across from Mitsukoshi Department Store.  It will be on your left-hand side between the first and second intersections.
Map:  Scroll down below.
Open Mondays thru Saturdays from 6 pm till 4 am, and Sundays and holidays from 6 pm to 1 am.
Ever since a reader posted a comment on this blog raving about Gladio being “the best Mexican food in Sendai, and possibly Japan,” I’ve been dying to dine here!
Last weekend was a perfect opportunity to kill two birds with one stone; hit my beloved Happy Happy Melon Pan Truck, and then head over to Gladio for a new dining experience.
As my wife and I strolled into the restaurant a little after 6 pm on a Saturday night, we noticed that there were only a total of eight patrons in this large establishment, but considering that they had just opened their doors, this seemed about right.  Yet, despite the place being nearly empty, we were told that only counter seating was available.  We actually prefer sitting at the counter, as we enjoy seeing how the food and drinks are prepared, so we were fine with this.
The chipper waiter informed us right away that Happy Hour was from 6 pm to 8 pm, and that many beers, tequilas, cocktails, and wine were a mere 300 yen!  What a deal!  Unfortunately, my better half desired a frozen piña colada margarita (850 yen), which was not on the Happy Hour menu.  It was refreshing to see that the cocktail was served in a traditional-sized margarita glass which stem was shaped as a saguaro cactus for a bit of ambiance!  However, this was all merely cosmetic.  “It tastes like frozen pineapple juice!  There’s no alcohol in here!” said my wife in a disappointed manner.  She remedied this by ordering a shot of 300 yen Sauza tequila and adding it into her margarita.  She then commented, “Much better!  This should be called a ‘self-service margarita.’”   So that made it 1150 yen for an adequate, self-made frozen margarita.



ピニャコラーダフローズンマルガリータ

For starters, we requested a small serving of guacamole (700 yen).   Upon arriving it did seem small, yet nicely arranged with the freshly fried tortilla chips.  After sampling a few chips, we quickly found that they were a little too greasy.   The guacamole, though fresh, had little taste to it.  I should have asked for some salt and pepper, as that might have helped.



ワカモーレ

Since this was our first visit, we decided to start off small.  My wife went with a hard shell beef taco (450 yen) and I with a beef soft taco (500 yen).  She said the meat filling and cheese were so-so at best, but the taco shell, like the tortilla chips, was too greasy!



ハードシェル牛タコス

My beef soft taco, with jalapeños, onions, and tomatoes was quite tasty, but it definitely wasn’t Mexican!  The beef seemed to be marinated in barbeque sauce, which made for a unique taco experience.



和牛タコス

Our tummies weren’t quite full after this, so we ordered the chicken fingers with honey mustard sauce, and something that I had never seen before; chopped beef and avocado tostadas (both 500 yen each).



チキンフィンガー

The chicken fingers seemed to follow a pattern:  Too greasy!  And they were not very flavorful.  



細切り牛肉とアボカドのトスターダス

However, the chopped beef and avocado tostadas were delectable and the highlight of the evening!  Still, a traditional Mexican tostada comes topped with frijoles (beans), that’s why I don’t like tostadas.  So although I was very pleased with these tostadas, they weren’t really tostadas.
We were quite full after taste-testing the aforementioned dishes, and decided to call it a night, when the waiter, with a theatrical flourish, set ablaze a plate of beef fajitas (1650 yen) right before our eyes (and everyone’s sitting at the counter), and delivered it to the couple across from us.  This did look tantalizing, and made me wish that I had ordered that first!  Then I saw something that I had never seen before:  People picking up tortillas with tongs.  This may be common among many people, but I’m Mexican-American by descent, and I have never used tongs to pick up a tortilla, so this seemed very amusing to me. 
I noticed that as we were dining, the restaurant started filling up little by little. By the time we were finished with our meal, the place was completely full and customers were waiting outside to get in.  Despite the food, this place is popular!
The restaurant irked me in one other the way:  The restrooms!
If a restaurant has separate restrooms for men and women, they should clearly be labeled so, either in English or Japanese.  Gladio decided to use the same design but with differing colors on both of their restrooms; one red, one green.
This was problematic for me from the start as I am color blind, and in the low-lighted hallway it was difficult for me to see that there were actually two different colors.  Luckily, upon closer inspection, I could see the colors accurately, but I still didn’t know which color represented which gender, so I had to sheepishly ask (it’s green for men).  Am I the only one in Sendai who did not know this?
Oh, did I mention the table charge?  300 yen per person, which isn’t really much.
Because of the youthful, energetic atmosphere, my wife and I really enjoyed our time at Gladio, unfortunately we didn’t enjoy the food so much.  Gladio is part of a corporation, and besides St. Marc, I’ve yet to find a corporate restaurant that is worth revisiting, so this seems par for the course.
You may enjoy this restaurant much more than we did, but we see no reason for going back.  When we want Mexican food, we’ll head over to our favorite, Casa del Sol.


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