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:  http://ameblo.jp/patisserie-azerole/

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!

Tuesday, September 18, 2012

Osteria Bevitrice オステリア ベヴトリーチッェ 022-711-0670

Address:  仙台市青葉区中央1-6-25クリニックビル1F.   Located on the small street between Chuo-dori and Hirose-dori.  The street runs parallel to ハピナ名掛丁.

Map:  Scroll down to the bottom.
Lunch: 11:30 am – 2:30 pm. Dinner: 5 pm – 12am.
We passed this place a week or so ago and what caught our eyes was the multiple bottles of the Italian beer, Moretti, that we saw all over the place on our recent trip to Venice.  
Thinking this was a good sign that authentic Italian food would be served, we enthusiastically entered. 
Osteria Bevitrice was quite busy the night we ventured in and we were seated at the counter in front of the kitchen area.  When I saw the Classico Spaghetti Sauce jars I then had a change of heart and thought, “That’s not a good sign.”   This is the same simple spaghetti sauce that you can buy in any supermarket in America.  I decided not to go with the pasta.
We were immediately served two pieces of toasted bread and a dipping sauce that was a mixture of balsamic sauce and olive oil.  I thought it was a nice gesture, but the balsamic and olive oil flavors didn’t really mix well.  It should have been one or the other.  When I got the bill I realized that this “nice gesture” wasn’t so nice, as they charged us 300 yen each for it as a coperto, or a cover charge.  

600円 for this

I didn’t see a whole lot of pizza options for me on the menu, but I went with the Meat Pizza (1000 yen).  I asked the waitress what kind of meat would be on the pizza and she said it was a variety of different meats.  That sounded good enough for me.  My wife was getting a strange vibe from this place and only ordered the Caponata, seasonal veggies boiled in tomato sauce (580 yen).
My wife’s veggies came first.  I took a bite and the first thing that flashed in my head was “Not fresh.”   It tasted as if it came out of a can.  It wasn’t bad tasting, but it definitely wasn’t good, either.  It was cold tomato sauce served on top of cold, canned vegetables.   


I started to get a bit hopeful as I saw one cook kneading out the pizza crust, indicating that they weren’t using pre-made crusts.  But, again after one bite I realized we had made a mistake coming here.  The “variety of different meats” ended up being ground pork, and not a lot of it nor was it bursting with flavor.  This should have been called a diced mushroom with a dabbling of meat pizza, as there was much more mushrooms than meat on this pizza.  And the pizza was not much bigger in diameter than the fork.  I tore off a piece of the crust and found that it tasted like a warm cracker with almost no taste whatsoever.  Crackers are good for car sickness, not for fine dining.


I won’t be returning to this restaurant and I don’t recommend it.  In order to get this bad taste out of my mouth, my wife and I went to Amo La Pizza the next day for another flavorful lunch, the way pizza should taste.
While doing some research I found out that Osteria Bevitrice is part of a restaurant group.  I’m afraid that I’m going to play the “guilty by association” card with the other restaurants in this group.  Here’s the link to those restaurants:    http://hayashi-design-office.com/index.html

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Thursday, September 6, 2012

UPDATE: amo la Pizza 022-395-5317

For a recent update, please click HERE.

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.

A bit of a switch here as I've posted this much more favorable UPDATE in "My Favorite Restaurants" column and have re-entered my original, less flattering review in the "Updates of Previously Reviewed Restaurants" here as the amo la Pizza-Original Post.
Amo La Pizza has now been elevated to my FAVORITES list!!!  This pizzeria should have been upgraded a long time ago, and I apologize to the kind owner, Yoshiki Katsuta, and his faithful assistant, Honami Suzuki, for not doing this sooner.  Katsuta-san is a neighborhood boy who grew up locally in the Nagamachi area.
We have dined here numerous times since our first introduction to their great pizza back in May, in fact, we just got back from there this evening (9/6/2012).  We would have dined here many more times had they not sold out of their pizzas (something they need to work on).
Mr. Picky Eater here usually orders a small grilled chicken with dried tomatoes on a tomato sauce based pizza (1000 yen).  This can be made with a basil sauce base or a cheese base, but I prefer the tomato sauce.  It’s wonderful!  The crust reminds me of a good Indian naan or a homemade tortilla:  able to be eaten all by itself, anything added on it is just a bonus.  And what a bonus it is with the delectable grilled chicken and sweet onions.


I also highly recommend the ham with rucola (a.k.a. rocket or arugula) pizza on a tomato sauce base (1000 yen for the small).  I didn’t know this before but according to Wikipedia (so it must be true), rucola is considered to be an aphrodisiac.  Hmmmm.  But that’s not why I recommend it, although I guess it could be considered another added bonus.  


My wife is more than happy to try any of the other wonderful varieties they offer.  Besides the Vegetable Pizza she ate in the original post, she has also partaken of the Margherita, the Four Cheese, and the Marinara Pizzas, each receiving the “this is amazing, two thumbs up” grade.



There are a couple of reasons why the pizzas at amo la Pizza are so flavorful.  First, they use a wood-burning stone hearth oven, instead of your average gas or electric pizza oven.  Secondly, the flour for the pizza crust is imported from Italy.  Since the flour is not readily available, they have sold out on occasions, especially Sunday evenings.  Because of this I recommend that you call ahead of your visit to ensure that they their fabulous flour is flowing.

Wood burning stone hearth pizza oven

And you gotta try the Genki Salad!  The organic vegetables (from nearby farms in Akiu and Zao) are crispy fresh, and with amo la Pizza’s wonderful miso dressing it tastes fantastic!


We’ve yet to sample any of the desserts but we have tasted the rice croquettes and the chicken with seasonal veggies boiled in tomato sauce and found them both pleasant enough.



If you’re ever visiting The Mall in Nagamachi-minami, it’s only a five-minute walk from there for great pizza.  I’m sure you’ll come to love amo la Pizza as I do.

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