Saturday, December 22, 2012

Royal Coffee Shop - Narita Airport


Location:  Narita Airport Terminal 4th Floor.

I'm writing this from Narita Airport where I had a terrible meal.  It was so awful that I left most of it on the table, something I don't ever remember doing at a restaurant.  But it was worth paying the 580 yen to not finish it.

I know airport restaurants usually don't receive Michelin ratings, but I didn't expect it to be this bad.
And I ordered something simple:  the Chicken Basket.
I didn't think it was possible to screw this up, but they did.
The fries were soggy, limp, and tasteless.
The chicken nuggets, though looking as if they were over-fried, were bland.
I only ate one of the two miniature onion rings and that was the lesser of the three evils.
And when I complained they merely came out with the standard, お申し訳ありません.

I don't come to the airport often, but I know I won't ever be returning here.

**UPDATED:  Here are the photos I wanted to post.

This they couldn't do

Thursday, December 13, 2012

Dec. 14th - 16th: Happy Happy Melon Pan Truck

Please read my previous posts on Happy Happy Melon Pan Truck HERE and HERE.

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

Just a reminder that hot, fresh, mouth-watering melon pan will be available from tomorrow, Friday, December 14th till Sunday, December 16th.

Hope to see you there!

Thursday, December 6, 2012

Ganesh Indian Restaurant - Nagamachi ガネーシャ 022-247-0071

Address:  仙台市太白区長町5-3-1.   This branch is located in the shopping complex above Nagamachi Subway Station and next to the Nagamachi Library.  There are other branches in Kamisugiyamadori, Tagajo, Izumi, Ishinomaki, and Sanuma.
Map:  Scroll down below.
Open:  Everyday 11 am to 9 pm.  Lunchtime is stated to end at 3 pm, but more on that later.
We discovered this franchise of Ganesh by accident while taking a stroll in Nagamachi a couple of months ago.  I had been familiar with the name of this Miyagi chain of Indian restaurants as my friend, Helen, had recommended the Kamisugiyamadori location to me some time back.  I had also passed by their old Route 45 restaurant in Tagajo almost everyday on the way to work twenty-one months ago.  But sad to say, that Tagajo restaurant was wiped out by the tsunami.
On our first visit, my wife and I both ordered the Ganesh “A” Set for 1300 yen that comes with your choice of curry, tandori chicken, saffron rice, salad, pickles, and naan.  My wife chose the vegetable curry and I, the chicken curry.  I thought it was a nice feature that we were also able to choose the degree of spiciness for the curries, with five different levels ranging from sweet to spicy.  We both went with the regular level.

Ganesh "A" Set w/Chicken Curry

Ganesh "A" Set w/Vegetable Curry

First off, I want it known that I highly recommend Ganesh, but on this first visit my first impression was that everything was good, but not great.  The tandori chicken and chicken curry both were adequate in their flavorings but they didn’t wow me.   My wife held the same sentiments for her vegetable curry.   The naan had just enough taste to hold its own, but this, too, was not an attention-getter.  We walked out of Ganesh satisified, but not exactly tickled pink.
On our next visit, we were pleasantly surprised as the waitress kindly told us, “You may order the lunch set if you’d like,” despite it being well after 4 pm when we walked in.  
I obliged with their lunch set that offers a choice of any two curries, naan, saffron rice, salad, cubed pickles, a papad, and a drink, all for 1200 yen,  while my wife stuck with the Ganesh “A” Set.  For my choice of curries, I went with the chicken curry and the chicken butter marsala curry, which is made from a tomato and cashew base.  

Lunch Set w/Chicken Curry and Chicken Butter Marsala

On first bite, I fell in love with the chicken butter marsala!  It was creamy, sweet, and delicious!!!  I couldn’t stop eating it.  I felt bad for the regular chicken curry, while although tasting better than the last time, it just couldn’t compare with the butter marsala.
The naan was also better than on our last visit, with a deeper, rich tasting flavor. I enjoyed the salad and the cubed pickles, but not so much the papad (a cracker made from lentils) nor the saffron rice.  But those are on me, as I don’t like lentils and have yet to eat a serving of saffron rice that I thought was good.  It must be my pickiness, yet again.  
I requested an orange juice for my drink and was rather disappointed that it tasted like the orange drink Tang, rather than real O.J.
My wife was also more impressed with this visit and stated that her veggie curry and naan were better than the first time.  Ganesh was starting to look promising.
Now on to our latest visit.  We entered just before 5 pm and again were told that the lunch set menu was still available.
Both my wife and I ordered the same thing we had asked for on our last visit, but this time the tables were turned on the curry front.  On this day, the regular chicken curry was the star of the show, while the butter marsala, while very good in its own right, took second billing.
And the naan just kept getting better and better.  I love great tasting naan that can be eaten by itself, and this third time was the best of the three.  
Another nicety was afforded to us on this day.  My better half is a chai lover and was going to order it as an after dinner beverage.  The waitress asked my wife if she would like a drink as サービズ.  We thought she meant that a drink from the lower priced beverage menu would be given as part of the service, so my wife thanked her but declined, stating that she would rather pay for the higher price chai.  The waitress said, “Chai, it is.  No charge.”  Actually, she said something else in Japanese, but that’s what she meant.

Complimentary Chai

Unfortunately, the chai wasn’t the best my wife has tasted, but it was the best free chai she's tasted, so that's say something, I guess.
Although Ganesh’s flavors have not been consistent, they do satisfy and seem to keep getting better and better.  If you are not a big eater, the chicken curry from their “Naan Set” for 600 yen might be a good bargain.
There is no free parking available, but you can park in the library’s underground parking lot for 100 yen per thirty minutes.
This review is only directed towards Ganesh’s Nagamachi branch, but I look forward to trying the others soon.  Hope you do the same!

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Friday, November 23, 2012

Weekly Update: November 22, 2012

Again, no weight gain despite the recent, massive, pigging-out.  I’ll post about four recent and exceptional meals.
First, my late birthday dinner at Pastime in Nagamachi.  I again went with the beef boiled in red wine and, again, it was amazing.  Unfortunately, again, it was the petite serving and not a super-sized version.  
The large, fifteen different vegetables, green salad (700 yen) tasted fresh and, compared to the size of the beef platter, was quite generous.  The dressing was tangy and tasty.


But back to the beef:  The mouthwatering, microscopic meat morsels.  Delicious but dainty.  The accompanying veggies were cooked to perfection and with the red wine sauce this was truly magnificent.  If this had been a satisfactory sized serving, Pastime would make my Favorites list in a heartbeat.  On flavor alone, it does deserve this recognition, but due to its proportions I just can’t upgrade it.

Beef Boiled in Red Wine

My wife ordered a fish platter and kept saying 「おいしいいいいいいいい!」after almost every bite.  

Fish of the Day

After easily devouring the beef, I ordered a Margherita pizza to satisfy my hunger.  But to my disappointment I discovered that pizza is not Pastime’s strong point.  Though edible and quite enjoyable, it does not compare to the authentic offerings of Amo La Pizza.  I would have been better off ordering a second meat entrée for just a few yen more.

Margherita Pizza

Secondly, came the fabulously fattening pancake lunch at Pancake & Café 38 Mitsubachi.  On this day I introduced this restaurant to a dear friend of mine and we both waddled out of there stuffed and satisfied.
I went with the lunch special selection of hamburger patty in tomato sauce with salad, drink, dessert, and three buttermilk pancakes (1280 yen).  As a kid who had the rare opportunity to visit an IHOP, I learned right away that hot cakes can turn into cold, unappealing cakes in a blink of an eye, so I dug into the pancakes immediately and found them to be light, fluffy, and delicious.    The hamburger patty was appetizing though, as an American, found it strange that it came on the same plate as the pancakes.
**The following photos from the pancake shop were not taken by me, but were taken by my friend who ... A) has a better camera than I do, or B) has a better photographic eye.   I hate to admit it but I think it's B.

Hamburger / Pancake Lunch Set

The salad was good but nothing special, but I never touched the yogurt dessert that came with the platter.
My friend surprised me by ordering the ten-layer pancake special for 1500 yen.  Yet, I was not surprised when my friend couldn’t even finish half of it.  Though the pancakes are rather small, this mountain of goodness would be good for two very good-eaters, or three normal eaters to share.  Thankfully, the kind staff gave us a doggy bag with the remaining pancakes and informed us that thirty seconds in the microwave would revive them to good as new.

Ten-high Pancake Stack (w/o butter?)

Next, came today’s company lunch at La Gita.  The staff was so impressed with our previous visit that we felt it was necessary to acquaint the absentee associates from our last luncheon to this shining star in Shiogama.
I had my heart set on the ham with ricola pizza, but unfortunately, the pizza of the day was octopus.  I switched to the non-tomato sauced based, sliced bologna with fresh tomato and arugula pizza.  The bologna, when tasted by itself, was very delicious, yet seemed to lose its identity when combined with the pizza crust, perhaps due to the bologna's thinness.

モルタデッラ:  Bologna w/o Tomato Sauce. Oops, took a slice too soon.

Still, it was very good and everyone seemed to agree that La Gita offers a first-rate pizza and the best in Shiogama.

メランシャーネ: with Eggplant

But let me backtrack to the salad for a moment.  This time I did notice that the dressing on the salad was merely olive oil and that, true to my friend’s suggestion, pepper should have been added.

And lastly, this evening’s fantastic fare at Bistro Ampoule.  Tonight, I tried something new and went with the a la carte fried chicken, but this definitely wasn’t your neighborhood KFC recipe.
The outer skin was thin, crispy, and peppery.  The chicken meat was soft and delectable.  What amazed me was that each individual vegetable, from the potato, to the eggplant, and even the sweet potato, seemed to be cooked in separate seasonings.  I really don’t believe that they were prepared separately, and it was probably due to the fact that each veggie carried its own flavor stamp, yet it still seemed that the seasoning on each vegetable was unique, which made for a wonderful dining experience.

プール・ソワール Chicken

My wife ordered “A” set dinner special and chose the fish carpaccio for the appetizer and shrimp pasta with tomato sauce as the entrée.   She loved it all!  The carpaccio was quite plentiful so I indulged in the salad portion of it and found the tangy dressing to be terrific.    My wife loved it all and praised the chef over and over again for the amazing meal.

Carpaccio Appetizer

Shrimp in Tomato Sauce Pasta

Oh, I forgot. Last weekend we ordered take-out from Amo La Pizza for the second time within a month, both times with the lovely miso dressed Genki Salad.   Of course, Amo treated us exceptionally well and I expect we'll be taking out again the next time the weather is weary. 
I’ll try and post about a new restaurant soon, but until then hopefully this update will lead you to some great restaurants that I’ve reviewed before.  
Have a great holiday weekend!

Saturday, November 10, 2012

Pizzeria La Gita ピッツェリア ラ・ジータ 022-364-1774

Address:  塩竈市港町 1-6-10.   Located across from the Shiogama Marine Gate, or a seven-minute walk from Hon-Shiogama JR Station.
Map:  Scroll down below.
Lunch:  11:30 am to 2:30 pm.  Dinner:  5:30 pm to 9:00 pm.
First off, let me just say that I think it’s commendable that the owners of Pizzeria La Gita set up shop in a neighborhood that was ravaged by the tsunami.  This restaurant opened in May of this year and these small business owners are helping to rejuvenate the area that was destroyed by the March 11th  disaster, and for this alone I feel that it’s worthwhile to patronize their restaurant.  And for those who do, you’ll also be quite happy with the food!
My friend, Keiko, who knows that I am always on the lookout for great restaurants, recommended La Gita to me sometime back, but I hadn't been able to see what she was raving about.  But the other day I was lucky enough to persuade my friends (Takayo, Rumi, Tony, Michael, Fong, and Yashima-san) to join me for a midweek lunch.  
Upon entering, a couple of my friends were impressed with the décor of the pizzeria:  photos taken from the owner’s personal travels from around the world, which makes sense as “gita” apparently means “trip” in Italian.  I felt that the place carried a warm, inviting atmosphere and I immediately noticed the stone hearth, wood-burning pizza oven, indicating to me that La Gita was an authentic pizzeria.  No second-rate electric or gas ovens here.  But on to the food ….
The lunch set comes with a salad, a beverage, and offers a choice between six varieties of pizzas for 1200 yen.  Despite my pickiness, I had some difficulty choosing a pie as four out of five of them sounded really delicious to me.  At the last minute, I copied Fong and chose the pizza of the day:  ham with arugula sans tomato sauce.  This pizza, with tomato sauce, is one of my favorites at one of my Favorites, Amo La Pizza, so I was a little skeptical on how this would turn out.

本日のピッツァ: Ham w/Arugula (Rucola)

My pizza did not disappoint. The ham was salty and delectable, with the arugula complimenting the ham well, and a light crust (Fong was of the same mind) with a hint of individual flavor.  Although I was very satisfied with my pizza, I think it would’ve been even tastier with a tomato sauce base.

I thought the salad was good, with a tangy vinaigrette that I managed to save, quite noticeably, on my shirt.  But one of our group thought that the flavoring could have used some pepper.  I didn’t realize it at the time but afterwards I could see how this would have enhanced the flavor.

Salad with Tangy Dressing

Our group ended up ordering five of the six pizzas on the menu, and we traded slices with each other in order to get a good assessment of all the assorted flavors.   
My first sampling was Takayo’s カラブレーゼ, with spicy Italian salami, mozzarella cheese, and red onions on a tomato sauce base, which was quite nice, but the salami was sparse and there should’ve been more substantial servings.   But Takayo thought that my ham pizza was better than her salami pizza.  I agreed.

Spicy Italian Salami w/ Red Onions

Next was Michael’s メランツァーネ, with bacon and mozzarella cheese on a tomato sauce base.  This actually comes with eggplant but Michael requested that it be left off, and since I’m not a big fan of ナス either, I was quite pleased.  I liked this pizza and it appeared that there was bacon on every slice.  Afterwards, Michael stated that flavor-wise, this was one of the better pizzas he’s had.

Bacon and Mozzarella

I didn’t try Rumi’s anchovy pizza because I don’t like anchovies.  And I forgot to try the Margherita pizza that was also ordered.

Anchovy Pizza

Margherita Pizza

My friends all seemed to be in agreement that this was a very nice place with good food, good service, and decent prices.  We also decided that we would definitely be back.
But one common consensus was that it was a bit disappointing that there was no dessert option offered, as a nice scoop of gelato or a light tart would have went well with the pizza.  A related criticism was that the pizza was actually too big, and it would have been better to serve a smaller sized pizza and then a nice dessert.
I took a peek at their dinner menu and it looked very promising, with a wide variety of appetizers, pizzas, and even desserts available.

Stone heath pizza oven

Pizzeria La Gita is a non-smoking establishment and they have five parking spaces available.  It’s unfortunate that there is not a lot of foot traffic (nor car traffic, for that matter) outside of summer in this area.  But if you happen to be near the Shiogama Marine Gate or on the way to Matsushima, stop in and have a great meal (and help the recovery effort) at Pizzeria La Gita.

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Friday, November 2, 2012

Weekly Update: November 2, 2012

I thought I put on the pounds (or kicked up the kilograms) after two great lunches this week, but luckily for me the damage wasn’t so bad.
First off, due to a change in my schedule, I had a very rare (actually first time) midweek lunch at Amo La Pizza, where the benefits of writing this blog are paying off, or, they have decided to reward their frequent customers.   Either way, I’m getting extra stuff!!!
Although there are only three pizza options listed on the lunch menu, the lovely assistant, Ms. Honami Suzuki, remembering that I prefer meat-like toppings, asked if I would like some grilled chicken added to a margherita pizza.   She also recalled that I don’t like pottage soups very much and mentioned that that the soup of the day was pumpkin pottage, and would that be all right with me?  Pumpkin pottage sounded much better than the spinach soup they usually offer so I told her I’d give it a go.  

Pumpkin Pottage

The fresh vegetable salad (with all veggies grown in Miyagi) topped with the wonderful miso dressing was delectable, as usual.  The pumpkin pottage was a very pleasant surprise:  a definite pumpkin taste without being overbearing.  The pizza … awesome!

Fresh Veggie Salad w/Miso Dressing

Margherita Pizza w/Bonus Grilled Chicken

The orange tart cake for an extra 200 yen was well worth it as it topped off a perfect meal.  Oh, and I forgot the coffee, that was my choice for the drink, which was included in the lunch.  Still, only a 1200 yen lunch.  

Orange Tart Cake

Get a load of the super small sugar spoon

A little more on reaping the benefits: the kind staff has rewarded us recently with extras on our dessert orders and free, quite generous, refills on my wife’s wine glasses, saying they appreciate our business and promotions.   Thanks Amo la Pizza!!!  You sure know how to take care of your customers!

Later in the week I introduced my friend to the fantastic flavors of another Favorite of mine, Bistro Beouf d’ Or.   We both ordered the pork fillet with balsamic sauce from the 1000 yen “A” lunch set, which came with rice or bread, dessert, and coffee, along with the soup of the day (mushroom pottage) for an additional 350 yen.  


Because of my faith in Bistro Beouf d’Or, I decided to go with its mushroom offering, despite not being big on mushrooms nor a promoter of pottage (as mentioned above).  Like a good pottage should be, it was quite creamy (did I forget to mention I’m not crazy about creamy, either).  Yet despite all these strikes against it, I still liked it.  In fact, I ate the whole thing!  My friend, upon tasting the first spoonful, exclaimed, “すごくおいしい!”  and then proceeded to devour the bowl.

Mushroom Pottage

Because we were both rather engaged and focused on our conversation, we really didn’t pay much attention to the flavors we were ingesting, but from time to time we’d stop and say something like, “This is really good!”   Then continue on with our heart-to-heart.   At one point we were a bit confused by the white orb-like, yet yummy, vegetable on our plate, only to discover that it was a turnip.  Turnips never tasted so good.
The mango jelly dessert was sweet … very sweet, yet scrumptious.  I had chunks of mango in my jelly, while my friend didn’t have such luck.  Haha.  Sorry.

Marvelous Mango Jelly

Oh, I also forgot to mention that my wife and I stuffed ourselves at Bistro Ampoule last Saturday, another Favorite of ours.  Unfortunately, I didn’t have my camera at the time but I ordered my usually steak and fries.  The only difference on this day was with the appetizer, as we selected the pork pâté salad for the first time, which was a nice change of pace.
I don’t know where we’ll be dining this weekend, but I’ll keep you updated so please check back soon.  
Thanks for reading!!!

Friday, October 19, 2012

Mamma Viva マンマ・ビバ   022-249-9008

Map:  Scroll down below.
Open for lunch Thursday, Friday, and Saturday, 11:30 am to 2:30 pm.  Open for dinner Monday thru Saturday, 5:30 pm to 9:30 pm.
We happened upon this small restaurant by chance while strolling through this Nagamachi neighborhood, and we are so glad we did.  I’ve driven by this area countless of times but never noticed it before this day, yet, this restaurant has been in the same location for forty years. According to their website, Mamma Viva specializes in homemade dishes, sauces, and dressings using only organic vegetables, and this seems to translate well into their meals.
My wife ordered the hamburger patty lunch set for 1000 yen, which came with a carrot salad topped with sesame seed dressing, egg flower soup, rice, and dessert.  The beef patty was rather sizeable and thick!   I sneaked a quick bite and found it to be astonishingly creamy, something I wasn’t expecting in a beef patty.  My wife noticed the same thing and loved it!  Picky me that I am, didn’t find the creaminess something I wanted in a beef patty, but it was still flavorful, and I could see where a person with normal tastes buds would be quite pleased with this.

ハンバーグ ランチ

I went with the beef curry lunch set for 900 yen, which also came with the above sides.  The sesame seed dressing on the carrot salad was delicious, although the egg flower soup could have used a bit more seasoning.   The beef curry platter had nice big chunks of beef with some pickled veggies.  The curry was deceptively sweet, as a couple of spoonfuls into it the sauce became quite hot and spicy.  Overall, I’d say this was top-notch curry, somewhat reminiscent of Curry House Sakura.

カレー ランチ

Carrot Salad w/Sesame Seed Dressing & Egg Flower Soup 

The dessert was a delicious slice of roll cake.  We ordered their advertised 100 yen siphoned coffee which was well worth the price.

Roll Cake

Siphon Coffee

There was a third option available for lunch which was a salted seafood pasta for 880 yen that came with garlic toast, but since I don't do seafood this wasn't an option for me.  I thought it was interesting that Mamma Viva sells spaghetti sauces and salad dressing for take out.  They have a couple of parking spaces available but you'll have to run in and ask where they are.  

If you happen to be in the Nagamachi neck of the woods, I highly  recommend Mamma Viva.  We are definitely looking forward to sampling their dinner course soon.

View マンマ・ビバ in a larger map

Thursday, October 11, 2012

Gyuumao Yakiniku 牛魔王焼き肉 022-246-0054

Address:  仙台市太白区長町南3-3-30扇ビル1F.   Located across the street from the Nagamachi-minami Subway Station on the other side of the bus pool.  
Map:  Scroll down below.
Open:  11 am to 1 am.  Lunch is from 11 am to 3 pm.
If you've ever exited Nagamachi-minami Subway Station by the escalators that lead to the ward office you've probably gotten a whiff of the succulent meats being grilled  at Gyuumao.  I’ve been coming to this place off and on for the past ten years.  It’s really nothing extravagant but I do like the lunch specials:  a variety of inexpensive lunch yakiniku sets, as well as lunch ビビンバ and ramen.  
I’ve become a creature of habit and always order theミックス定食 ”A” for a low 787 yen.  This comes with a small salad (that has a great tangy salad dressing), rice, kimchi, a very nice egg soup, after meal coffee, and the yakiniku platter of ハラミ、みそタン、豚ホルモン.  For those readers in the States, the Japanese above is harami beef (tender meat around the diaphragm.  miso tan (beef tongue marinated in miso sauce), and pork offal.  But I really don’t like the 豚ホルモ all that much, so I wonder why I don’t splurge for an extra 50 or 100 yen and get the all ハルミ or the all カルビ定食.

Yakiniku Lunch Set "A"

It’s not a lot of meat, and I’m not too sure if it’s of the highest quality, but with all the fixings’ it manages to satisfy.   

Close-up: Harami on top, Miso Tan on the right, the white on the bottom left is the Offal.

They have regular tables where you just plop yourself down and about four booths where you have to remove your shoes to enter.   There are a couple of parking spaces in the nearby parking lot, but there are five more on the street behind the restaurant.   Just run in and ask where the parking lot is.  They’ll give you a stick of gum as you pay which I always thought was a nice gesture.
I’ve never been here for dinner but I do recommend Gyuumao for its lunches.  So if you happen to be at The Mall and want to do yakiniku, this might be the place for you.

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Monday, October 8, 2012

Weekend Update: October 8, 2012

Just got back from another great feast at Saint Marc’s where I devoured three mini-croissants, two cocoa rolls, two melon pan rolls (my favorite!), a goma pan (sesame roll), a crispy goma stick, a yomogi roll, and a basil roll.  Yeah, I kind of took it easy today as I passed on the caramel rolls, the dinner roll, and the spicy chapata stick.           
This was all part of the 1290 yen女王 set lunch menu.  The appetizers included gobou soup (I don’t like gobou but this was good!) and a sliced roast duck salad with a tangy dressing (also quite nice).  For the main entrée I ordered my usual grilled chicken with mustard sauce, topped with a heavy dose of red onions that produced a wonderful aroma.  In choosing dessert I paid an additional 350 yen for the gateau chocolate cake with vanilla ice cream.  The chopped frozen fruit (apple pear, raspberries, and kiwi) that was used as a garnish was just so-so but the raspberry sauce drops went well with the cake.  The Jersey ice cream was rich and flavorful!

My wife went with a fish dish that she was satisfied with and for dessert went for the simpler custard pudding with vanilla ice cream.
Yesterday’s lunch was fantastic fare at Bistro Ampoule.  They were very hospitable as we arrived a bit late in the day for their lunch set but they were still more than happy to accommodate us.  I went with my standard steak and fries while my wife ordered the pepperoncino and shrimp pasta.  She was quite surprised with the generous amount of big shrimp on her plate.
On Saturday before catching a glimpse of the Yosakoi festival, we gave Sasebo Burger yet another try.  I’ll be writing more about this visit soon but I must say we walked out of there stuffed to the gills.
But about five hours later we felt like having a snack, so we wondered down to Casa del Sol’s for a Mexican treat.  Luckily, we were able to get a table, unlike our two or three previous attempts within the last four months.   Of course we ordered the guacamole and chips that we love, while my wife went with the tortilla soup and I the Mexican tacos.  As usual, everything was good and the food brought back memories of my life back in the States.
All in all we had some great food this past holiday weekend.  And I wonder why I can’t lose any more weight.

Tuesday, September 25, 2012

Sasebo Burger 佐世保バーガー 022-721-1575

Website:  The website written on their receipt doesn’t work, so here is another site that has some info on them:

Address:  仙台市青葉区国分町2-14-25.   Located on Jozenji-dori about a two-minute walk from Kotodai-koen Subway Station.
Map:  Scroll down to the bottom.
Open everyday from 10 am.  Sundays and Holidays open till midnight.  Mondays to Thursdays open till 2 am.  Fridays and Saturdays open till 4 am.  Lunchtime special is from 11 am to 2 pm.
My friend, Ben, and a host of others that swear by these burgers, recommended this joint to me.  My wife had dined here by herself sometime ago but didn't think much of it at the time, so it took a while to convince her to give it another shot.
Last month we visited there for the first time together and tried their lunch set for 880 yen.  It came with a choice of sandwich, fries, salad, soft drink, and dessert.  It’s a very good deal and quite voluminous!

The Lunch Set for 880 円.

Being the picky eater that I am, I don’t like a lot of extra stuff (avocado, bacon, cheese, etc.) contaminating my burgers so I chose the plain hamburger, while my wife ordered the Avocado Burger for her selection.  When the burger arrived I remember thinking “What a thin meat patty.”  The dressing on the burger was really delicious, so delicious in fact that it helped curb my disappointment in the meat patty (due to the beef's thinness and lack of substantial seasoning).  I asked my better half how her Avocado Burger was and she said it was “average.”

Close-up of the Plain Hamburger

Close-up of the Avocado Burger

I wanted to test the waters with the onion rings for an additional 390 yen.  The onion rings looked gorgeous and on the first bite you could tell they were fried to perfection.  Yet despite being very crispy they didn’t have a whole lot of flavor to them, either.  The salad that came with the set also looked quite nice, but as with the meat patty and the onion rings, there was nothing savory about it.  The dessert was cold banana pound cake with Hershey’s chocolate syrup on it.  Again, not bad but nothing special.  The fries were the saving grace as they were very good, crispy and salty.  We walked out of there full, satisfied with the value but not so much so with the taste.  We agreed that maybe since we had the lunch special that we didn’t get the best they had to offer.

Onion Rings

So last week, I decided to give this place another try and ran into my old friend, Iain, and his lovely wife, Kyoko, at Sasebo Burger.  They invited me to sit with them and we discussed our thoughts about the food.  Iain and Kyoko, both normal eaters, gave me some insight to the attractiveness of the burgers.  Iain said it was the dressing that was the distinctive characteristic of this restaurant.  Actually, he said it much more eloquently but I forgot his exact words.  I agreed that the dressing is great, but that I think the patty should be just as good.
I had missed out on the lunch special by five minutes so I went with a double burger in order to be able to really evaluate the flavor of the meat.  The patty was a little thicker than the last time and had a little bit more seasoning, but still not enough.  The onion rings were left in the fryer just a touch too long but they also seemed to have a bit more flavor today.

Double Burger

I can understand why some people love this restaurant as there are many good points about Sasebo Burger:  the sauce, the value, the location, and the fries.  They also have quite the variety of burgers and sandwiches to choose from.  But I’m going to upset those friends, and others, as I’m not putting this in my Recommended list.  I’ll list in the You Should Give This A Try category as you may become one of the many who end up raving about Sasebo Burger.  But I still have to go back to the beef:  the thin, not-so-flavorful beef.

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Sunday, September 23, 2012

Patisserie Azerole パティスリーアズロール 022-395-8252

Website:  They currently don’t have a website but here’s one with some info:

Address:  仙台市太白区泉崎1-8-1.   About a ten-minute walk from Nagamachi-minami Subway Station.
Map:  Scroll down to the bottom.
Open 10 am – 8 pm.  Closed Wednesdays.
Yesterday was the Grand Opening of this very small pastry shop.  I’m a huge fan of small business owners, especially when it concerns eateries, so I wanted to help it along on its inaugural day.  Though half the size of most bakeries, Azerole displayed a number of scrumptious looking fruit tarts, roll cakes, cakes, and castellas.
My wife and I both decided to see if they could do the basic things right and took home the chocolate cake (300 yen), however, we weren’t really in the mood for cake and it ended up in our fridge till today.
Well this afternoon we tried it and were delighted!  My initial impressions were that of lightness, and not very sweet.  But each bite seemed to be richer and richer.  The texture of the top decorative flower part was hard with full-flavored chocolate which my wife described by saying 歯ごたえがある!

Chocolate Cake

As an added bonus, we were given a small gift bag which included cookies, coffee, creamer and sugar.  Plus, they have a point card!

Gift Bag

We’ve already decided to go back and try the fruit tarts and castellas and I encourage you to give this place a try.  If you happen to drive they have two parking spaces available.

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Wednesday, September 19, 2012


A "Search" function has been added.  Just type in the type of food you are looking for (Mexican, Italian, curry, etc.) or a location (Nagamachi, Izumi, Shiogama, etc.) and click.
I've also embedded Google Map locations to most of the restaurants, so there is no longer a need to open a new website for the map.
Since my “Recommended Restaurants (But Not Quite Favorites)” list was getting out of hand, I’ve made some changes concerning the restaurant classifications and here they are:

Pretty self-explanatory.  These eateries are special to me and are places I would take friends out to dinner to or celebrate an event at.  For some reason or another I feel that they are a cut above the rest and I always look forward to dining at these establishments.

These are good, safe bets, which include places like Cappriciosa and Chuukaya Shokudou.  Nothing fancy nor extra special, but good food at a reasonable price.
Or they are places that I’ve tried once or twice and really liked them but haven’t frequented them enough to establish them as my favorites, such as Blair Marina or Kame House Burgers.  

These are places that I’ve tried once or twice and think they are worth a try.  I wouldn’t have any qualms about going back to them, but they are not high on my priority list.  If you are a normal person, perhaps you might like these much better than I did.

Well, I don’t want to say anything too negative but you probably won’t be seeing me in these restaurants, unless I was dragged there by someone else.

If you'd like to see some other changes that would help your viewing of this blog, please let me know.   
And thank you for reading!