Saturday, December 10, 2011

UPDATE: Chao Vietnamese Restaurant チャオ 022-211-8055

**Please check my previous post on Chao HERE for more information.
Address:  仙台市青葉区一番町4-2-12.   Located on Ichibancho between Hirose-dori and Jozen-ji dori about 50 meters from the Disney Store.

Map:  Scroll down to the bottom.

Open:  Lunch: 11:30 am to 3 pm.   Dinner:  6 pm to 10:30 pm.   Closed Mondays.

I revisited Chao on a recent cold winter day for lunch.  My wife and I walked into an empty restaurant and I was a bit concerned that business was not booming.

Spring Roll

I ordered the same thing I had the last time (chicken pho set with spring rolls), but because it was lunch time the price was a bit cheaper, only 980 .  My wife ordered the same as I, quite frankly, because there wasn’t a lot of options available.

Chicken Pho with the fixins
I don’t know what it was about today’s visit that made it seem better than before, but that’s what it seemed like.  The harumaki really tasted great, and the flavorful pho warmed the cockles of my heart on this chilly day! 

Not only were my spirits lifted by the savory soup, but while eating, the restaurant slowly starting filling up with other shivering, starving citizens of Sendai.

The lunch set came with jasmine tea or coffee.  Again, I asked if they had Vietnamese coffee and sadly the answer was again “No.”  Spirits slightly squashed.

This winter if you’re cockles are freezing, step on in to Chao’s for some appetizing cockle-warming!

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UPDATE: Happy Happy Melon Pan Truck

Location:  In front of Daiei on Chuo-dori.

Open:  Tomorrow, Sunday,  December 11th.  Hours are 10:30 am till about 7ish.  

Please read my earlier post for more info at:  

Butter Melon Pan

Today I (almost) got my fill of the melt-in-your-mouth Happy Happy melon pan!  I went twice.  First, just to get a melon pan to tide me over till lunch time.  Then I went back later in the day for another half dozen to enjoy at home.

Each time I had to wait in line behind eight or so people.  Today they were offering two types of pan.  They had the traditional なつかしのバターメロンパン,which I love, and also a melon pan with black sesame seeds on it.  I didn’t want to try it (I’m picky that way), but if you give that one a try please let me know how it is.  Tomorrow, instead of the sesame seed version, they’ll be offering a cocoa melon pan.


Their sign stated that they won’t be back until March of next year so get’em while they’re hot!

Thursday, December 8, 2011

Happy Happy Melon Pan Truck

Location:  In front of Daiei Department Store on Chuo-dori.

Map:  Click on the "Location" link at the bottom.

Open:  This Friday thru Sunday,  December 9th thru the 11th!

(For a more recent post, please click HERE.)

Straight out-of-the-oven melon pan!!! Orgasmic!  Well, pretty close.  I have a certain 懐かしい feeling towards melon pan, as it is almost exactly the same as pan de huevo, a type of Mexican sweet bread that I grew up. 

Unfortunately, the Happy Happy Melon Pan Truck only comes once every two or three months.  I check the Happy-Happy website quite often and when I see that they’ll be in town, I’ll make excuses for having to go downtown just so that I can swing by and pickup a few hot melon pans.   However, they tend to lose a bit of scrumptiousness once you get them home.  Re-heating them in a microwave yields terrible results.   But I found that three minutes in a toaster oven usually does the trick.  Just be careful as any longer may burn the top part of the bread.

I’ve posted a picture of pan de huevo from a Mexican panderia in Southern California, because I don’t have any photos from Happy Happy.  I won’t be able to make it downtown until Saturday, but I’ll post a photo of the real melon pan afterwards.  If there’s any pan left.

The Mexican Melon Pan:  Pan de Huevo

Thursday, December 1, 2011

Brunenheim German Restaurant ブルネンハイム 022-223-6776



     in English!

Address:  宮城県仙台市青葉区国分町3-1-1 第一生命黒ビルB1.   Located on Jozen-ji Dori across from the new Sukiya gyudon restaurant.  Follow Ichibancho towards Jozen-ji Dori.  Cross the street going towards City Hall.  Look for a staircase that leads down to a basement, on the same side as the Kotodai-koen subway station entrance.  It’s right next to some housing company (Sekusi House or Daiwa House, I forgot).

Map:  Scroll down to the bottom.

Open USUALLY from 5:00 pm – 11:00 pm everyday, but since the owner is also the chef, sometimes the place is closed for no apparent reason.

Cover charge:   600 /person.

Like I’ve mentioned before, it’s difficult to find authentic ethnic food in Japan.  Brunenheim’s dishes definitely slant towards the German palate, but I never ate food like this when I lived in West Berlin.  That being said, this food tastes GREAT!!! 

A shot of apple wine and a small appetizer of shrimp and tomato in a tasty dressing are brought to your table immediately upon being seated. 

Because I’m a picky eater I usually order the same side dishes every time I dine here.  I start off with the Brunenheim salad (ブルネン風サラダ ) which is a green salad with slices of red and yellow bell peppers sprinkled with a tangy Chinese salad dressing.

Brunenheim Salad

Next is the always-pleasing garlic toast with caraway seeds!  But my favorite are the German potatoes ( ジャーマンポテト ) which are baked and lined with bacon bits.  These are so sensational that I’ll sometimes order a second helping!
For the main course I’ve tried a few of the different chicken dishes, like the chicken with mustard sauce (チキングリルのマスタードソース).  But for some reason they put mayonnaise on it, which I really didn’t care for (because I’m a picky eater).    Recently I went with the chicken in wine sauce (チキンのワイン煮込み) and was very pleased with this selection.  The wine sauce had a tartness to it that I quite enjoyed, plus the portions were rather sizable.

Years ago, they did serve a delicious wienerschnitzel.  But since the limitations on imports of American beef were imposed, this dish is no longer available.  I’m hoping that with the current troubles concerning the safety of Japan’s domestic beef that veal will once again be allowed to be imported.

Also, they serve glüwein: hot spiced red wine.   This is just like West Berlin and my wife loves it!  I highly recommend it.

This restaurant is just a little pricier than others on this list.  A typical dinner for two is roughly 6000 ,and that’s not a course meal.   But I definitely think you’ll enjoy this restaurant!  Auf wiedersehen!

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Thursday, November 10, 2011

Cappriciosa カプリチョーザ 022-304-2601


Margherita (their spelling) Pizza
Address:  Located on the 3rd floor of The Mall Part 2 in Nagamachi-minami.  You can take the subway to the Nagamachi-minami Station which is under The Mall.

Map:  Click “Location” link below.

Cappriciosa has always been a good, safe bet.  Is it the best Italian food that I’ve had?  No, not by a long shot.  But it’s good enough.  Sometimes it’s really, really good, but even on their off nights it’s not that bad.

Caesar Salad
We like the ペアセット for 3324 .  As the name suggests this is for two people to share, and for this price you get your choice of salad, pizza, spaghetti, beverage (which includes alcohol), and coffee or tea.  The servings are neither overly generous nor skimpy, but just enough to stuff your bellies.  There is also a ファミリーセット for 5124 which states that it can feed three to four people.

Meat Sauce Spaghetti

Like many restaurants in The Mall, Cappriciosa offers something for free if you show them a MOVIX ticket stub from that day.  I think it's a free drink, but I'm not sure.  They also have a stamp card, but it seems to take a while to receive a reward.  That being said, on our last visit we received a free gelato as a loyalty present.  Since I’m picky I asked what kind of gelato would be served.  They said the night’s special was orange sherbet, which I’m not crazy about.  The waitress, seeing my look of dissatisfaction, surprised me by asking if there was another flavor I’d prefer.  I said I was fond of chocolate, and voila, that’s what I got!  That’s good customer service!

There’s also a Cappriciosa on Chuo-dori that’s just as good.  If you happen to give either location a try, let me know if they are still playing Spanish music (I guess they can't tell the difference between Italian and Spanish).

Saturday, November 5, 2011

UPDATE: Billy's Sandwich



Clubhouse Sandwich with Avocado Topping

Address: 仙台市青葉区上杉1-7-23.  Near Kita-Yobancho Subway Station.  Across from Grand Central Sports Gym.

Map:  Scroll down to the bottom.

Hours:  11:00 – 5:00 everyday.  But … you should call to check.  Sometimes they are not open.

UPDATED: November 5, 2011

Carrot Soup

Went to Billy’s for another delicious lunch today and again Iibuchi-san’s creations didn’t fail to please.  I, of course, went with my standard clubhouse sandwich with avocado topping.  I don’t know why but today’s sandwich seemed a bit more filling than usual, which I had no objection to.  My wife ordered the half sandwich set and chose the BLT.  The soup of the day was carrot soup and my wife just raved about it!

Here’s a current list of the sandwiches they offer which run from 480 to 525:
Club House
Spanish Omelet
Cole Slaw
Potato Salad
Tuna & Anchovy
Tuna & Egg
Avocado Dip
Pork Katsu
Shrimp & Avocado
Smoked Salmon

Original post here: Billy's

Half BLT Set

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Thursday, November 3, 2011

Namaskar ナマスカ 022-222-7701

Address:   宮城県仙台市青葉区一番町2-2-11 TKビル B1F.

There are actually two locations.  The other one is on the 4th floor of the BIVI Building behind Sendai Station.  This review is for the Minami-machi dori location.

Map:  Scroll down to the bottom.

Lunch: 11:30 – 2:30 Dinner: 5:30 – 9:30

I feel real bad about this one because I have fond memories of good food and good times with good friends here, and the staff has always (and still remains) nothing short of welcoming.  But I have to admit that I was greatly disappointed on my last visit to Namaskar, which only confirmed my feelings from the last couple of times I’ve visited within the last year or two.

Let me start out with the good:  Saturday lunch tabehoudai for 1500!  For that price, you really can’t go wrong.  This includes your choice of the following:

green salad (lots of the cheap iceberg lettuce, dressing is good),
kelp salad (I don’t eat seafood),
vegetable pakoda (kind of bland),
saffron rice (bland),
choice of curries:  chicken (tasty but definitely not spicy), vegetable (pretty good, except for the beans), mutton (don’t know), and seafood (again, I don’t eat seafood),
tandoori chicken (dry, tasted more like spiced chicken rather than spicy chicken),
naan (big sized but nothing special),
choice of beverages: orange juice (good!), oolong tea, jasmine tea, coffee (good!), and chai.
dessert was banana palwat (kind of like a thick banana gelatin with a hint of cinnamon that was tasty.

So let me reiterate that for the price there is plenty to choose from so I think this is a positive.
However, I’m comparing the Namaskar of now to the Namaskar of old.  Way back when in the olden days (about three or four years ago) Namaskar had spectacular Indian food!  I’m no connoisseur of Indian delicacies but I know what I like, and at that time I loved Namaskar.  

I remember in the olden days the chicken curry and tandoori chicken being so spicy that I’d be sweating up a storm after only a few minutes of savoring these succulent spices.  The naan was so flavorful that its flavors rested on its own laurels and didn’t need dipping into a curry to be enjoyed. 

But the restaurant was sold to new owners some time ago and things have changed.  After eating the tandoori chicken or curries my body temperature didn’t change at all.  The naan wasn’t bad but could no longer stand on its own.

Since the restaurant was crowded with seemingly satisfied customers, it could just be me and my pickiness that are wrong in these evaluations, but for my own taste I stand by them.  If you are in the mood for something different I do suggest you try this restaurant and I truly hope you enjoy your meal here.  Like I said, I do like this place, I’m just disappointed in their food.

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Saturday, October 29, 2011

Ichigo no Ki Patisserie 苺の樹 022-244-4740

Address:  宮城県仙台市太白区富沢3-3-52.  Across the street from Tomizawa Jr. High School.

Map:  Scroll down to the bottom.

Open:  8:30 am – 8:00 pm.

This bakery makes the best apple pie I’ve had in Sendai.  They call it アルメットアップルパイ and it’s magnificent!  The crust is delicious and flaky and the apples sweet!  They also sell whole apple pies with the smaller version going for around 1200, and the larger one for 1600 .  Actually, I may be way off on the prices of the whole pies because I've only bought them once or twice, but keep in mind that these are Japanese-sized pies and not from Costco.  

The packaged brownies with walnuts are also very good, while my wife loves all of their desserts.    

This store will sometimes set up a stall inside Sendai Station when there is some type of desserts fair, so be on the look out for them.

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Monday, October 24, 2011

Bistari びすた〜り 022-352-7651

Address: 仙台市太白区長町3-7-1.   Located between Nagamachi-itchome and Nagamachi Subway Stations.   It’s closer to the Nagamachi Station, though.  It’s on the same side of the street and near the 77 Bank.  It's also within walking distance to the Nagamachi JR Station.

Map:  Scroll down to the bottom.

Open:  11:00 am – 9:30 pm.  Closed Mondays.

Fantastic!!!  I’ve only been here twice but it immediately made my Favorites list from the get-go because of the wonderful variety of flavors I encountered.  Unbeknownst to me at the time, Bistari is special in other ways as well.

My first visit was a couple of months ago, so the events of that evening are a little fuzzy to me and I’m going to have to rely on notes that I wrote at the restaurant.  But this is what I do remember from that night.  I ordered the pasta “plus” set menu which came with my choice of pasta (Bolognese), a set of three おまかせ appetizers, soup, and dessert.  Since I’m a picky eater I was a little wary of what the appetizers might be.  I forgot what the waitress told me what they were serving but by my facial expression she could tell that they were not to my liking.  She then added, “But if there’s anything special that you don’t care for, please let me know and I’ll see if we can offer something to your liking.”   I was shocked and pleasantly surprised!  I gave her my long list of inedible ingredients and the staff magically produced a tantalizing bonanza of appetizing appetizers.

Now according to my notes, this is what I ate that evening:  A vegetable mix that tasted like tomato soup, ham strips, bread, and minestrone soup.  Fresh green salad with some really delightful French dressing.  Boiled potatoes with miso, corn, and edamame.  The Bolognese Pasta was served with fettuccini noodles.
I also noted that my wife had the scallops and tomato with honey citrus glaze.  I’m guessing this was the appetizer but I can’t read my own writing from my own notes.  Her main entrée was the pasta with mussels seasoned with garlic, white wine, and chili pepper.  
My dessert was a huge platter with small samplings:  a scone with yuzu jam, yuzu sherbet, pumpkin cake, and cheesecake (I gave this to my wife who loved it!  I don’t like cheesecake).
All this flavorful food came to 5050 (I still had the receipt).   It was definitely worth much more than that and I vowed to return.

My second trip confirmed that Bistari belongs on my Favorites list.  I ordered the ペポーゾ, black peppered beef and a side order of fresh-baked bread.   My wife went with the フレッシサラダ , garlic toast, and the clam chowder soup.  The salad came with a wonderful homemade dressing that I had never had before: carrot dressing.   

The salad was indeed fresh and big enough for both of us to have multiple servings.  We swapped bread slices and discovered that the garlic toast really didn’t taste like garlic toast.  It was more like bread with olive oil and a hint of garlic on it.  This was Bistari’s only gaffe.  My bread came with olive oil, which added a nice touch.
The beef serving was on the petite size but it was succulent and soft, with just the right amount of pepper.

ペポーゾ Peppered Beef
I requested the dessert/coffee set and decided upon the scones.  I’m really not a scone eater but I remembered that I liked them the last time.   The two scones were soft, warm, and with the added cream and homemade blueberry jam, just splendid!  The organic coffee was wonderful and as an added bonus came with a fantastic almond biscotti.

Scones with homemade blueberry jam and cream
This amazing feast for the two of us came to only 3200

Oh, and now to why Bistari is special in other ways.  First, they grow their own vegetables.  Secondly, I believe that all their dressings and bread are not only made at the restaurant, but also available to buy for take out.  But most importantly, Bistari, like  Curry Shop Sakura, assists challenged individuals in supporting themselves.  I’m quite thrilled that I’ve come across two inspiring restaurants in Sendai!!!  Please check out their website for more info.

If you happen to come by car, there is no free parking.  There are two pay parking lots across the street, and Bistari will give you vouchers for one-hour of free parking, but you’ll probably still have to pay at least 200 .  But you need to ask for these vouchers when you pay your bill.  The staff will not offer them up unless you request them.

One other thing:  Bistari is rather spacious and VERY often holds events or private parties.  Please check their website to see if they are closed to the public on the day or time you are planning to visit.  This was one reason I was not able to return here when I wanted to.  It seemed like every time I felt like patronizing Bistari, they were closed due to a special event.  Please check their listings!

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Saturday, October 22, 2011

Café de Mieux カフェドミゥ 022-712-2455



Address:  仙台市若林区河原町2-5-40. This place is a little difficult to find.  If you go by subway exit at Kawaramachi Station.  Not sure what exit to go out of but head toward the twin mansion towers and the 77 Bank.  Turn left at the 77 Bank and walk down that narrow, one-way street past the ワコー Market and past the next signal.  It’ll be on your left-hand side. 

Map:  Scroll down to the bottom.

Lunch: 11:30 am - 2:30 pm.

Dinner:  6:00 pm – 9:00 pm. Closed Holidays, Mondays, and every 3rd Sunday.

Chicken with Mustard Sauce

Fantastic food!  The flavors you’ll encounter at Café de Mieux are not the usual flavors you’ll taste in Japan.  From the dressing on the ham, egg, and romaine lettuce salad to a few of my favorite entrees (chicken with mustard sauce, braised beef in red wine sauce, or roast pork in balsamic sauce), right down to the potatoes that are served with the above platters are all delectable!    The homemade bread adds a nice touch to the meal.  Even the coffee is great! 

Scallop Pasta

My wife loves the various seafood pastas, the homemade cheesecake, and the chai, but I’ve never tried them and probably never will. 

Unfortunately, the menu changes quite often so not all choices are always available.  In fact, the lunch menu is quite limited, but the kind proprietors have even gone out of their way for me and made something special to satisfy my pickiness. 

Homemade Cheesecake

Our lunch today (what is in the photos above: two entrees, a glass of wine, cheesecake, and two coffees) came to 3050.  For dinner, you can choose from the a la carte or prix fixe menus, but as you can tell, this is not a bargain restaurant.  Don't worry, it will be money well spent!

Café de Mieux is run by a masterful chef, Yasushi Suzuki, and his very charming wife, Mariko.  The place is very small (I counted 13 seats) so no other staff is necessary, and they always have some cool mellow jazz playing.  An added plus, they offer free Wi-Fi!

Café de Mieux has been a favorite of ours for about seven years now and we’ve never been disappointed.  This place is a little out of the way but definitely worth the trip.   There are three parking spaces available if you happen to go by car.   Because it’s a mom & pop (although they’re younger than I am) operation, their business hours sometimes change so it’s a good idea to call ahead.

**Please read the update on Café de Mieux by clicking HERE.

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Friday, October 21, 2011

Kanauya 叶や 食堂 022-367-3317

Website:  There is none. 

Address:   多賀城市八幡4-3-42   
Located on Route 45 in Tagajo.  Going towards Matsushima, it will be on your right-hand side.

Map:  Scroll down to the bottom.

Open: 11 am to 2 pm and 5 pm to 8 pm.  Closed Sundays and the 8th of every month.

I first noticed this restaurant last year on my journey home from work.  I would pass by every night and noticed that it was always busy.  One night, I decided to give Kanauya a try and I was glad I did.  It’s a small mom & pop operation.  Nothing fancy, not even decorated.  As for atmosphere, it did seem to have a “Cheers” (80’s sitcom) feel to it as the customers and staff seemed to know each other.

I remember telling the proprietress that I loved meat but I didn’t like seafood, and to just bring me what she thought I might like.  It was some type of spicy pork dish that was pretty good.

The people were really friendly, and the food good, so I thought to myself that I’d definitely be back from time to time.

Well, that was last year.  I would have loved to go back earlier this year, but unfortunately, the events of March 11th made this impossible.  A 1.7 kilometer stretch of Route 45 in Tagajo was devastated by the tsunami.  This restaurant lies within this area.  After seeing the remnants of the building in April I was convinced that 叶や would never open again.

But not only to the delight of my taste buds, but also to my spirit, Kanauya came back from the ruins!  I found a blog with a story about the restaurant here:

The restaurant reopened at the end of September and I thought it would be a good idea to support a local business that really needed support.   I asked a good friend of mine (a non-picky eater) to join me for dinner tonight so that I could get an unbiased opinion about Kanauya’s fare.


I ordered the gingered pork set meal (680) while my friend went with the fried breaded chicken set (650).  It was a standard set of rice, miso soup, a small serving of cabbage salad, and two slices of pickled daikon.


The pork was plentiful and tasty!  I had a taste of the chicken and found that to be quite good, as well.  I’m usually hit and miss with restaurant miso soup, but I liked this one.  The tsukemono was just okay, though. 

Despite our differing levels of what we consider edible, my friend and I arrived at the same judgment on the chicken and pork.  With ten being best, we gave the chicken a seven to eight and the pork a definite eight.

We were quite surprised that the restaurant closed so early.  It’s quite small, as most mom & pop places are, but it does have about five free parking spaces.  And I know this is listed as a Sendai food blog, but this is pretty close.

All in all, my friend and I concluded that it was very good food at a very reasonable price.  For that alone I recommend this restaurant.  But because of what this area and these owners have gone through, I HIGHLY reccommend it.  Hopefully I’ll see you there!


Wednesday, October 19, 2011

Trattoria Di Verde ディヴェルデ  022-716-2788

Address:  宮城県仙台市青葉区中央1-1-1.   Located in the 1st floor basement of S-PAL in Sendai JR Station.

Map:  Click the "Location" link below.

Open 11 am – 11 pm everyday.

I walked in with high hopes, an open mind, and a hungry stomach.  I left with a full stomach.  That’s about it. 

When you say that a restaurant is “good,” there’s a certain expectation that the restaurant is actually beyond good; that it’s a place that you’d recommend to someone and that you would patronize again and again.

So in that same context I cannot say that my meal here was “good,” as it did not in any way come close to what I had hoped would be a “good dinner.”   

The food here is “not bad,” as in I can’t say any of the dishes I tried were disagreeable to my palate or that they were inedible.   They simply were not bad, but not exactly “good” in the restaurant review sense.

The restaurant was crowded, so perhaps my wife and I were faulty in our judgments.  Or perhaps it was crowded with travelers like us who just got off the shinkansen and didn’t want to wait in line at the other restaurants we would’ve preferred to eat at.

First, we ordered the half-size Caesar Salad.  One good thing was that it was a generous serving for just a half size.  The salad was good, but it really didn’t taste like a traditional Caesar Salad.

Caesar Salad

Next, we went with the Calaprese Pizza which consisted of tomato sauce, mozzarella cheese, pepperoni (although we couldn’t find any evidence of any actual sausage), and black olives (about three in total).  Oh, and it came with a soft, limp crust that didn’t bring anything to the flavor party.

Calaprese Pizza

And for the finale we had the Bolognese Pasta, which was just so-so.  Nothing to write home about, so that’s why I’m not writing about this in My Favorites or Recommended Lists.

But … they do have a stamp card!  If anyone wants mine it’s up for grabs.  I don’t think I’ll be using it much.

Bolognese Pasta