Saturday, July 14, 2012

Hoshiyama Coffee ホシヤマ珈琲店 022-723-8111

Address:  仙台市青葉区中央1-3-1アイル2階.   Located on the 2nd floor of the AER Building.
Map:  Click the “Location” link below.
Open:  10 am – 8 pm.
Last month we visited the fancy-shmancy Hoshiyama Coffee in the AER Building for its Afternoon Set.  There are three branches of Hoshiyama altogether, an older one on Ichibancho between Hirose-dori and Jozen-ji dori, and a newer, more modern restaurant near Chuo-dori on Minami-machi dori.  But these other two locations do not offer the exclusive Afternoon Set (currently at 1890 yen). 

Unbeknownst to me at the time, the Afternoon Set menu changes every month.  This is great if you would like to try something new, yet familiar every month.  Not so good if you’re relying on their webpage for the actual names of what you had eaten the month before.  Had I known that, I would have taken better notes (or at least written this post a lot sooner).  
Since I did not write down what I delighted in that afternoon, I’ll just have to describe the best I can as to what I was served.  But as the menu changes every month, you wouldn’t be able to eat what I had last month anyway, so I guess it doesn’t really matter what the name of the food was.

June's Afternoon Set

So on to the food.  The first plate consisted of two different types of gelatin; one white with a flan-like mold, and the other clear that appeared to be Jell-O.   I like cherry flavored Jell-O but apart from that I really don’t care that much for gelatin, so when I first gazed upon the first tier of this food pagoda I was already wincing a little.   Much to my delight, the flan-like substance was light, creamy, and not too bad by itself.  I blended the accompanying raspberry sauce drops with this and it became delicious!   The clear gelatin was sweet and quite nice in its own right.  We were off to a very good start!

The Gelatin Plate

Instead of eating the dishes from top to bottom I opted to forgo the sweets on the second tier and decided on something of more substance and went with the sandwich plate at the base.  I thought that the mozzarella panini was good, and that says something because I’m not fond of cheese.   The tandoori chicken sandwich was great, with a spice that was not designed to create sweat beads but rather to gratify the taste buds.  The bread rolls on both of these sandwiches were light and fluffy.   The peppery dressing on the salad was fantastic while the broccoli-bacon tidbits, though adding a nice touch, weren’t anything extraordinary. 

Sandwich Platter

Next, I proceeded to devour the middle platter.   The pineapple mousse was wonderful with just the right amount pineapple flavor without it being too powerful. 
The 杏仁豆腐 (almond jelly) with melon jelly was my least favorite of all the tempting treats because I don’t like 杏仁豆腐, yet I found this edible … at least half of it.  My wife happily offered to eat the remaining half (she loves the stuff!).
The black sesame tart’s caramelized topping reminded me of peanut brittle and せんべい.   The heavy sweetness of this top layer and the mild taste of the filling seemed to compliment each other quite nicely.

The Middle Platter

And now on to what Hoshiyama is known for:  COFFEE!  It was OUTSTANDING!  Flavorful and rich without being overpowering.   We were served the famous Royal Blend Coffee, which by itself costs 1050 yen a cup (and at today’s current exchange rates, that’s $13.26 for a cup of Joe).  And as a super special bonus, we got a refill on the house!  Coffee refills in Japan?  I thought this was only available at Mr. Donuts.  

The best part of waking up

Hoshiyama prides itself on its elegance (and coffee).  Each coffee cup and saucer set has its own unique design and is made of bone china (my wife was served with Wedgwood china).  I saw no one in the place dressed very casually, and a few people seemed to really dress up.   You’ll need to make reservations for their Afternoon Set as they sell out quite quickly.  This June afternoon was our third attempt at reserving a table, as we were politely rejected on our previous inquiries.

I highly recommend Hoshiyama for their Afternoon Set.  It’s something different, something elegant, something exquisite. 

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