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

Sunday, October 16, 2011

Kazan Ramen 火山石焼らーめん 022-307-1560

Address:  宮城県仙台市太白区西多賀1-1-45.   About a 12-minute walk from Nagamachi-minami Subway Station.   It’s on Akiu-dori across from a Pachinko Tiger.

Map:  Scroll down to the bottom.

Open everyday from 11 am – 11 pm.

Although it’s known for its 石焼らーめん, that’s not what I like.  However, it is fun to see when they do bring the stone bowl of noodles and then pour the broth into the bowl, as the steam rises and you have to hold up a protective paper shield.

Cha-shu- Ramen with Extra Onion Topping

What I do like here is the チャーシューメン with extra ネギ topping.  Another thing going for this ramen-ya is the way the ramen is served.  I suffer from 猫舌, and can’t stand to burn my tongue off while eating or drinking.   Kazan serves their ramen at just the right temperature so that it’s edible as soon as they place the bowl on the table.  I don’t have to wait for five minutes before starting to eat.  Also, the pork slices are sometimes quite thick.


The gyoza is good, but nothing special.

There are four different locations in Sendai, including one on Kokubuncho.   

The others are in Izumi and Miyagino areas.  I’ve never eaten at any of the other locations so I can’t vouch for them.  The Kazan in Nishitaga has free parking and is almost completely non-smoking.  For the smokers out there, the available times to smoke in this restaurant are Monday thru Friday from 2 pm to 6 pm.  All other business hours are smoke-free times.



Chuukaya Shokudou Chinese Restaurant 中嘉屋食堂 022-748-1215

Address:  仙台市太白区長町7丁目2015.  Located in The Mall Part 2 in Nagamachi-minami.  It’s on the 3rd floor next to the sushi restaurant and underneath MOVIX. 

Map:  Click the "Location" link below.

Open: Not sure, but I imagine anytime The Mall Part 2 is open, which is 10 am to 9 pm.

This restaurant has different locations including one on the 1st floor of Sendai Station, however, the one in Sendai Station isn’t very good in my opinion.  

I like the fried breaded chicken (ユリンチ定食 ) and the sweet and sour pork with veggies platters.  They've recently introduced a new menu with lots of meat dishes that also look good.  The set menu comes with entrée, rice, egg flower soup, macaroni salad (usually), and some type of tsukemono (which I don’t like).  I also like the chocolate ice cream there.  My wife likes the ramen though on this day she had the かた揚げ五目焼そば.       

Yurinchi Set Meal                

If you happen to see a movie at Movix that day, show the waitress your ticket stub.  They sometimes have a free drink or half price ice cream campaign.


We eat here quite often because it's always a safe bet that we'll be satisfied with our meal.  

Friday, October 14, 2011

TOKYO: Wolfgang Puck ウルフギャング・パック03-5775-5401

Address: 106-0032 東京都港区六本木5-5-1六本木ロアビル 1F.  Across from Don Quixote in Roppongi.   

Map:  Scroll down to the bottom.

Open:  Mondays thru Thursdays, Sundays, Holidays: 11:00 am – 10:30 pm. 
Fridays, Saturdays, and days before a holiday:  Open till 5 am. 

My wife and I were walking around Roppongi a couple of hours after having eaten an early lunch at Frijoles.  I had not planned nor particularly wanted to eat at Wolfgang Puck but we felt like having some dessert with some good coffee for a late afternoon snack, and we just happened to be in front of Wolfgang’s at the time.  We checked out their menu and we thought it would fulfill our needs. 

I had the apple crunch with vanilla ice cream.  It was very good but smaller than the image on the menu had indicated.  It reminded me of hot apple pie a la mode as the hot apples went well with the cold ice cream.  However, since it was labeled a “crunch” I expected it to be crunchy.  It wasn't.  The so-called crust was limp and didn't add any texture to the dessert.  Still, I did enjoy it.  Surprisingly, the coffee was nothing to write home about.  It was just so-so, so I guess it was disappointing.

Apple Crunch with Vanilla Ice Cream

By the way, that is not a regular-sized teaspoon in the photo above.  It's the kind of spoon restaurants give you to stir your coffee with.  Based on the average taste of the dessert and coffee, I don’t think I’d plan on ever coming back here.  I would only return if I just happen to be hungry, and in front of their restaurant, and all other nearby restaurants were closed.

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TOKYO: Frijoles (Mexican) フリホーレス03-6447-1433

Address: 東京都港区六本木6-6-9ピラミデ1階.  

Map:  Scroll down to the bottom.

Nondescript window of Frijoles in Roppongi

Open:  11 am to 10 pm.  Closed on the second Sunday of every month.

This was the first time I visited Frijoles in Roppongi, but I actually found this restaurant last year at their Azabu-Juban location.  At that time, I was thrilled with their interpretation of Mexican food, their all-English menu, and their delicious guacamole.  I recommended the Azabu-Juban site to anyone who told me they were going to Tokyo.  In retrospect, I think I was just a little too happy with finding something that was reminiscent of home.

This time, I wanted to be more judgmental rather than romanticizing this restaurant.

I ordered the three tacos:  two steak and one carnitas (pork).  I wanted to order the burrito, but I didn't like the fact that the rice inside was white rice with lime and cilantro.   White rice in Mexican food?   Adding cilantro makes it Mexican?  That’s like adding naan (pizza, bratwurst, etc.) to white rice and calling it Indian (Italian, German, etc.) cuisine. 

Also, the pinto beans had bacon bits!  Not my momma’s cooking.  That being said, my wife ate the vegetarian burrito and was quite pleased with it (BTW, my wife is not Mexican). 

The tacos were served on flour tortillas, breaking from the traditional corn tortillas, but since they were tasty I really didn’t have a problem with that (also, I prefer flour to corn tortillas).  

Guacamole, burrito, and tacos!
I requested the medium grade, green chili tomatillo salsa on two of my tacos.  This salsa was good with a bit of a kick to it.  On the third taco I went with the hot red arbol salsa.  I’ve never been much of a chili eater but I’ve noticed that many foods labeled “hot” or “spicy” in Japan don’t quite live up to their names.  Boy, was I proven wrong!  A true chili-eater won’t have a problem with this salsa.  I did.  It was hot!

All in all, the food was good!  Very good!  And I look forward to coming back here again, if I’m in the neighborhood.  If it were in Sendai I would probably be eating here quite often and it would make my “Recommended” list.  Will I take a special trip out of my way to eat here next time I’m in Tokyo?  Probably not.

***UPDATE OCT. 15, 2011:  Less than twenty-four hours after my original post of Frijoles I talked to my mother about this restaurant's food preparation.  I told her, "Can you believe that they served rice with cilantro and called it Mexican food?"  Her reply was "Yes, I've seen a lot of Mexican cooking shows lately where they are doing that."  Strike one.  I then tried with "Well, still, they put bacon bits in their beans!"  Mom said, "Most of the family makes their beans with bacon strips in it.   I'm about the only one who doesn't."  Strike two.  I have one more strike left.  But in my defense on the beans, I was such a picky eater as a kid that I wouldn't even eat my mother's beans.  It wasn't until I became an adult that I would eat refried beans, and I usually prefer the canned beans to homemade.  And since I was such a picky eater, I would rarely eat at someone else's house, so I wasn't exposed to the different styles of Mexican cooking. 

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TOKYO: Banh Xeo Saigon (Vietnamese) バインセオ・サイゴン 03-3211-0678

Address: 100-0006 東京都千代田区有楽町2-7-1 有楽町イトシアB1Right next to Krispy Kreme doughnuts in the basement of the ITOCIA Building.   Click on the link map below for better directions.  

Map:  Scroll down to the bottom or click on the following link:

Open:  11:00 am – 10:30 pm. 

If I lived in Tokyo, Saigon would definitely make my “Favorites” listing.   I ordered the chicken pho set which came with three good size pieces of spring rolls, the pho soup, plus a small jelly like dessert: chè.

Chicken Pho Set

The spring rolls with avocado, cucumber, and shrimp were fresh, crisp, and delicious! 

The chicken pho was fantastic!  Just like when I was back in Vietnam!  It definitely was not missing anything, unlike Sendai’s Chao restaurant.  I couldn't stop eating the broth. 

My only “I’ll pass on this” moment came with the chè dessert.   To me, it seemed to have a hint of chestnut and cinnamon taste to it.  Despite those flavors being quite delicious separately, I really didn't care for them together in this gelatinous dessert, but my wife loved it! 

Oh, at first I thought there was something wrong with the water they served, but then I realized it was tea, akin to green tea.

Another plus, Saigon serves Vietnamese coffee!  But ... even though the coffee was reminiscent of authentic Vietnamese coffee, this was missing something.  Still, it was very good.

Vietnamese Coffee

The service was very attentive even though the restaurant was crowded.  We walked in on a Sunday evening before a holiday at around 5 pm.  We walked by later in the evening around 8 pm and there were people waiting to get in.

This was the second time I’ve been to Saigon and I look forward to coming again.  I highly recommend this restaurant if you’re in the neighborhood.  According to their website they have other locations that may be just as good … or not.

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Saturday, October 8, 2011

Miyakoshiya Coffee 宮越屋珈琲 022-225-7111

If you'd like, continue to read the post to see what you missed out on.


Address: Located on the 1st floor basement of Mitsukoshi Department Store (the former 141).

Map:  Click the "Location" link below.

Open everyday from 10 am – 7:30 pm. 

I’ve seen this place crowded every time I’ve passed it by, as well as inhale the wonderful aroma of coffee that lofts through the air nearby.  Well, today I finally had a chance to stop and give their cup of joe a try, and I’m so glad I did!

Since it was my first time I didn’t know whether I would prefer the Mild or the French Coffee, so I asked the waitress what was the difference.  She said the French Coffee (525) was a little more bitter and stronger than the Mild, so I went with the French.

It was good, very GOOD!   Not quite espresso, but pretty close.

I didn’t order anything else so I really don’t have anything else to write about.   They did have a honey-chocolate chip pound cake on the menu that sounds very delectable, but that’ll have to wait for another day.   

Chao Vietnamese Restaurant チャオ 022-211-8055



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:  Click the "Location" link below.

Lunch:11:30 am - 3pm.

Dinner: 6 pm - 10:30 pm.

Closed Mondays.

If you’re looking for truly, authentic Vietnamese cuisine, well, … good luck, and let me know what you find.   In the meantime, if you’d like to eat a delicious meal that highly resembles Vietnamese food, then you’ll be quite happy with Chao!

I’m not Vietnamese so I cannot claim to be any type of authority on Vietnamese cooking.  But I have been to Vietnam and fell in love with the flavors of that beautiful country, especially their pho and Vietnamese coffee!  Like I’ve written before, it’s difficult to find “just like when I was in (fill in the country)” ethnic food in Sendai, so I guess I have to give some slack to Chao.

When I went for dinner I ordered the spring roll (生春巻き) with pho set meal (1180 ) .  The harumaki came with a ナン・プラー (fish oil?) sauce, which I didn’t like, and a miso sauce, which was good.  The spring rolls were agreeable and had a sweet taste to them.   My wife went with the pho set and the fried spring rolls (揚げ春巻き) which had a fishy taste to them that I didn’t care for.

Spring Rolls: 生春巻き

Fried Spring Rolls: 揚げ春巻き

The pho was delicious and I was quite happy with it.  That being said, it was NOT like I had when I was in Vietnam.  It was just missing something that I couldn’t quite pinpoint.  The pho had one meatball in it along with some shredded chicken, and the broth was very tasty.  I was also pleased with the generous size of the soup bowl.

Pho Soup

But I was hugely disappointed in that Chao doesn’t serve Vietnamese coffee!  I have a thing about good coffee, and while traveling in Vietnam I fell in love with the way they serve their coffee.  I just can’t understand how a “Vietnamese” restaurant doesn’t offer Vietnamese coffee.   

They do serve a nice, complimentary cup of jasmine tea at the end of the meal.   I’m kind of sitting on the fence when it comes to jasmine tea because I feel the fragrance is a little overwhelming.  But Chao’s jasmine tea was smooth, palatable, with just a hint of a jasmine scent, which created a nice, relaxing feeling after pigging out on the pho.

Besides the coffee, another thing that I didn't care for was that they had a quite attractive a la carte menu, but many of those dishes were NOT AVAILABLE that day, and they seemed to be the ones I would've liked the best.   I could understand if one or two items were no longer being offered, but it seemed like half the menu was scratched off.

And just for your info, this restaurant is small and the seating arrangement is a little strange.

I do recommend this restaurant if you’re looking for something different and delicious.  I know I will return every now and then to pho down, especially come winter time.

*For a recent update of Chao's, please click UPDATE: Chao's.