Sunday, May 27, 2012

amo la Pizza 022-395-5317

Please read my updated post here at UPDATE and amo la Pizza.

Address:  宮城県仙台市太白区鹿野2-14-14、グローリアス鹿野102.   Located about a four-minute walk from The Mall Part 2, next to the giant Paradiso Pachinko Parlor in Nagamachi-minami.

Map:  Scroll down to the bottom.
Open:  Lunch: 11:30 am – 2:30 pm.                 Dinner:  5:30 pm – 9:30 pm. 
                Closed Mondays.
Amo La Pizza is still celebrating its grand opening after its initial start earlier this month.   It advertises itself as a Neapolitan style pizzeria, and after reading some info on the owner he states that he lived for four months in Naples studying the art of pizza making.
They offer three different lunch sets that come with a pizza (margherita, vegetable, or four cheese), salad, soup, and drink, and range in price from 900 yen to 1100 yen.  I went with the “A” set margherita, while my wife went with the “B” set vegetable.
First, we were served the mizuna salad with homemade miso dressing.  This was quite nice and refreshing!  Next came the spinach and bacon cream soup.  My wife liked this saying that it was light with a smooth taste, but being Mr. Picky Eater, I don’t really care for cooked spinach or cream-type soups.  I didn’t finish my soup much to the delight of my wife who gladly devoured the remaining portion.

Mizuna Salad w/Homemade Miso Dressing

Spinach and Bacon Cream Soup

My wife’s veggie pizza consisted of broccoli, asparagus, zucchini, carrot, and radish.  She raved about the vegetable mixture and especially about the homemade pizza crust!  She also stated that it was quite filling.


My margherita pizza was good, filling, thin but not crispy.   I think I’ve grown accustomed to Pizza Hut pizza and that it has tainted my taste buds, so that the crust of Amo La Pizza definitely tasted different, good, but different.


My wife also loved the coffee, and though I thought it was good, it could have been a little stronger.
We passed on the orange tart dessert for an additional 200 yen, but the table next to us ordered it and it looked pretty tempting.
We had a peak at the dinner menu which showcased twelve different pizzas with four different pizza sauces (cheese, basil, cream, and traditional tomato), along with extra side dishes and desserts.
The service was excellent and it was interesting to watch the pizza chef make our pizzas behind a glass partition.  There are four parking spaces available.  They also offer take-out pizza, and when you compare this homemade pizza to that of Pizza Hut, amo la Pizza seems to be the better deal (and better tasting).
I think amo la Pizza makes an excellent choice for lunch and I’m looking forward to sampling from their dinner menu.

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Sunday, May 20, 2012

La Pausa ラ パウザ 022-224-8122

Address:  宮城県仙台市青葉区中央4-6-1SS30ビル29F.   Located on the 29th floor of the SS 30 Building next to the Kokusai Hotel and across from the Westin Trust City Buildings.
Map:  Scroll down to the bottom.
Open:  11 am – 9:30 pm but closed weekdays from 4 pm – 5 pm.                 
I’m really excited about my latest find!  Last weekend while strolling around the SS 30 Building we just happened upon a restaurant whose desserts caught our eye.  Hot apple strudel with vanilla ice cream topped with caramel sauce for only 390 yen.  They also offered a chocolate sundae for the same amount and for those prices we figured we couldn’t go wrong.
We walked in and were seated at a table where we could look out on a fantastic view of beautiful Sendai; all the way to the ocean!
The apple strudel was warm and, with the vanilla ice cream, was the closest thing to hot apple pie a la mode that I’ve had in Sendai.  I really didn’t taste the caramel sauce too much but that was fine by me as I’m not a huge fan of caramel.  The dish was a little on the small size but I felt I definitely got my money’s worth.  My wife’s chocolate sundae was a bit bigger and definitely would have sold for more at another restaurant.  My only complaint was that they added Frosted Flakes, which seems to be the Japanese thing to do with ice cream (if not that, then Corn Flakes).  The coffee that we ordered was also a plus.  I was thinking of recommending this place purely as a nice place to see a great view of the city and have a very reasonable, yet tasty, dessert.

Apple Strudel w/Vanilla Ice Cream

But while we waiting for our order we perused the menu and came upon something that didn’t seem quite right.  It appeared that La Pousa was offering a two-hour all-you-can-eat menu for only 1490 yen per person.  We asked if this was correct and the waitress said that it was.  I told my wife, “We got to try this next weekend!”

Chocolate Sundae

So today we returned for lunch and again were seated at a window table.  We ordered their tabehoudai lunch, which came with a couple of stipulations.  First, a single diner cannot order the all-you-can-eat; there must be at least two people.  Also, since there were only two of us, we were only allowed to order one pizza and two pastas at a time.  When we finished those platters, we could then order more.  The more people there are in your party, the more platters you are allowed to order initially.
The tabehoudai menu came with a Caesar salad and French fries (more on the fries later) and offered eight different kinds of pizzas and seventeen different varieties of pasta to choose from.  Sure they had everybody’s favorites like tuna curry with mayonnaise pizza and fish egg with natto pasta, be we went with the simpler fare of pepperoni pizza (called イタリアンサラミ), eggplant and meat sauce pasta (for me), and baby clams with pasta (for my wife).
The dressing on the salad was okay, but maybe a little too … plain, but still not bad.  The pepperoni pizza was very thin but crisp and tasty.  It was definitely not the best pizza I’ve had, by far, but it’s hard to screw up pepperoni pizza, and they didn’t.  My meat sauce pasta was a little weak in the meat and tomato flavor department, but it was a little buttery so it still had some taste to it.   My wife said her pasta was quite good but lacking in the quantity of clams (we counted three).   

Caesar Salad


After devouring these dishes we ordered a マルゲリータピッツア.   This wasn’t as good as the pepperoni as it was limp and not very flavorful (but probably still better than the 温泉卵 pizza).
And within that thirty-five minute period we were done ordering … pretty much.  We were full … pretty much.   Why so soon?  The fries!!!  I haven’t eaten fries in quite a while, and these were really delicious!  We couldn’t stop eating them!   That’s probably their ploy.  Let’s offer a wide variety of dishes but have them fill up on our cheap, but irresistible taters!  Well, they hooked us.  The fries were crispy and salted to perfection.  

You can't eat just one!

But because I have deep pockets I said, “The hell with the cost!  I want dessert!” and splurged for the classic chocolate cake for an additional 150 yen.  And it seemed like I got what I paid for.  Quite good for 150 yen, but probably not for 500 yen.

Classic Chocolate Cake

Taking everything into account, I was more than satisfied with La Pousa.  The food was pretty good, the service was very good, the price was great, and the view was fantastic!  

The View:  Can you see the bullet train?

There is paid parking available at the SS 30 Building and La Pousa gives a 400 yen parking voucher for orders over 2000 yen.  With the voucher we still ended up having to pay 200 yen for parking.
If you and your friends are looking for a cheap yet enjoyable place to eat, I highly recommend La Pausa.  And if you have a group of big eaters, this is the place for you!  Sure it’s not gourmet food, but it’s tasty and has a great view.  

Oh, I forgot to mention their nomihoudai deal.  It appears that for an additional 1200 yen you can imbibe on their all-you-can-drink beverages for two hours,  too!

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Friday, May 11, 2012

Cocofrans Sweets ココフラン 022-722-3933

UPDATE:  FRI., JULY 25, 2014.  CLOSED!!!  I was in Sendai Station last weekend and was surprised to see that Cocofrans Sweets was no longer in business.  Oh, well.

Address:  仙台市青葉区中央1-1-1.   Located on the second floor of Sendai JR Station in between the JR ticket machines and View Plaza.
Map:  Click the “Location” link below.
Open:  8:30 am – 9 pm.
Two weeks ago while riding the subway into downtown I noticed an advertisement for a grand opening of a bakery in Sendai Station named Cocofrans Sweets.  The ad had tantalizing photos of various desserts so I thought I’d give it a try.
When I arrived I had to line up behind the twelve or so other people who were just as eager to get their hands on the new goodies as I was.   As I slowly inched towards the counter, I noticed that there were just as many workers as there were customers, but a lot of the workers just seemed to be moving without really doing anything.  To add to the confusion the customer before me paid for her order, received her box of desserts, and took off, which left me next in line.   Four young female employees stood in front of me placing the next batch of freshly baked goods in the display case as I stood waiting for someone to take my order.  I stood there for about thirty seconds or more when another young employee came up to the register and held out a box and said that it would be 1310 yen.  I told her, “I haven’t ordered yet.”  With a shocked expression she asked me “Whose is this?”  I just gave her the international symbol of “I don’t know” and then chaos broke out.  All the employees started asking each other “Whose is this?  Whose is this?”  After about another fifteen seconds or so, with about another twelve or so people behind me in line, I said, “I’d like to order something.”  They still didn’t get it and just gave me the deer-in-headlights look.  An older employee from the back heard me and rushed forward to ask me what I’d like.
I ordered two of their apple rings, as they certainly looked tempting in the display case, and for only 170 each, how could I go wrong?  I went outside and devoured one instantly.  It was delicious!  Fresh out of the oven, the apples were sweeter than I imagined they would be with just the right amount of cinnamon added.  The cake part had a bit of crispiness that added a pleasant texture to it.  I took the other ring home and ate it much later, and it tasted just as good as the first one.


I returned to Cocofrans last weekend for another tasty treat, but things looked a bit different.  There were still a lot of workers moving to and fro, but apparently the glitz and glitter of a grand opening had already faded as there was no longer any line of customers.  On the bright side, at least it didn’t take forty-five seconds to take my order.  The apple ring was still delightful, and I hope I’ll be able to enjoy them for a long time to come.  But if they are already scarce on customers this place may not last long.  
I encourage you to try Cocofrans while you can.  And if you do, let me know if you had to wait in line.

Wednesday, May 2, 2012

Koan Bakery & Café こうーあん 022-365-8383


Address:  宮城県多賀城伝上山3-1-25. Located on Route 45 on the left-hand side going to Matsushima from Tagajo.

Map:  Scroll down to the bottom.

Open weekdays:  9:00 am ~ 6:30 pm.  
Sat., Sun. & Holidays:  8:30 am ~ 6:30 pm.

I was turned on to this bakery by my boss who had bought me a scrumptious chocolate croissant a week or so ago.  I pass Koan on almost a daily basis but have never had the pleasure of tasting their specialties until partaking of that croissant.

Today on the way home from a pleasant drive to Shiogama I had a bit of a sweet tooth and decided to give this bakery a try, and I was sure glad I did!

I ordered the gateau chocolate cake set for 500 .  It’s normally 600 but they are running a Golden Week discount.  My wife didn’t go with a set but instead just ordered a fig and cheese pastry with a coffee. 

I was quite surprised when I received my cake, as there was a macha ice cream シュークリーム along side of it.  The waitress told me that it was a special Golden Week service.  What luck!

Macha Cream Puff & Chocolate Cake

The chocolate cake was great: deep, rich & flavorful.  The coffee was quite nice, as well.  The pastry portion of the cream puff was extremely flaky and the macha flavoring was quite mild and pleasant.  My wife was very happy with her pastry and glad that we had stopped in.

Fig & Cheese Pastry

We thought it might be prudent to take a couple of samples home just in case our sweet tooth returned.  The crescent bread with butter and natural salt was fantastic and didn’t make it home as we devoured it on the drive.  Later that evening I ate the 黒糖デニッシュ, but it was a little too sweet for my palate.


Koan advertises as a “natural yeast” bakery which I don’t know too much about but by the results I’d say it’s a good thing.  They offer lunch sets of pizza or pasta for 1000 and apparently offer live entertainment from time to time.

If you happen to find yourself in this neck of Tagajo I recommend you stop in just as we did.  I know I’ll be back.