Sunday, May 5, 2013

Golden Week Wrap-Up (and before)

Gobbled gobs of great grub this Golden Week and in recent days gone by.   
First off, I apologize that this is a rather late notice but Baskin-Robbins 31 Ice Cream currently has their 31% discount off any double scoop of ice cream.  This works out to 280 yen for a small double or 400 yen for a regular double.  This campaign will end on Thursday, May 9th.
Next, a special shout out to my favorite pizza in Japan, amo la pizza, who is celebrating their one-year anniversary this weekend.  My wife and I feel so fortunate that amo opened up within walking distance to us, and they seem to be flourishing!  Extra staff has been hired and they often sell out of their course sets and, unfortunately, pizzas.  But they have been very kind and gracious to us and we hope for their continued success.
I’ve forgotten to mention that amo now offers a point card!  You receive one point per meal.  Due to our numerous dining experiences at the amo, we have received a free soft drink and a free dessert, and are now six visits away from our 500 yen discount.
This was sometime before GW, but we recently returned to Koan Bakery while out for a drive.  I ordered the Koan Special Plate lunch for 850 yen, which came with a hot sandwich of mustard chicken on a cubed croissant roll, drink, salad, soup, cheese toast, and a sampling of fruits.
The salad was mainly cabbage with some red and yellow bell pepper slices, but it was quite nice.  The soup of the day was minestrone, which went down nicely.  Despite me not caring for cheese, I would rate the cheese toast as not bad, mainly due to the softness of the bread.  I’m sure someone who liked cheese would rate this much higher.  The highlight was the cubed croissant chicken sandwich.  This was very good, the croissant possessing a flaky and crispy outside with a wonderful taste.  The mustard chicken was tender and delicious.  The fruit sample rounded out a nice variety of flavors on one platter.  Oh, and I forgot about the rich coffee!


My better half ordered the hearty pumpkin chowder soup set with extra bread for 650 yen.  There was also an option for vegetable corn chowder, as well as only the regular serving of bread for 550 yen.  My wife really enjoyed her pumpkin soup, and was quite happy that she was given three different rolls to try.


And although I was quite full, I forced upon myself a delightful lemon danish.

Lemon Danish

We’ve also stopped by on a couple of occasions to another of our favorites, Bistro Ampoule, where we’ve tried a couple of new items.  First off was the pork and duck rillete as an appetizer.  Despite me savoring every morsel, I’m afraid that my description of this plate will not sound very flattering:  it tasted like an exquisite Underwood Deviled Ham.  That was the first thought that entered my mind upon first bite.  But the rillete was really tasty and I would not hesitate to order it again.


My wife ordered the “Perfectly Round Hamburger Steak” that she absolutely loved!  I sampled it and found it to be extremely soft, almost creamy, and flavorful.


On another visit, Bistro’s Spanish omelette was the appetizer of choice.  I keep saying that I’m not a fan of omelettes, but I did like this Spanish version.  I don’t recall the ingredients, but paired up with the accompanying salad made a nice starter. 

Spanish Omelette

And a special update that my friend, Tony, told me about me.  Barbaresco Pizzeria has a special half-price discount on all their pizzas on Sunday and Holiday evenings.  This sounds like a great deal!
I hope you've enjoyed your Golden Week as much as I have, but hopefully, you haven't packed on the weight like I have. 

Thursday, May 2, 2013

April Cat エイプリルキャット 022-246-1140


Website:   Can’t seem to find one, yet.

Address:  仙台市太白区長町南4-12-16.  About a ten-minute walk from Nagamachi-minami Subway Station or a four-minute walk from the Sendai City Gymnasium.
Map:  Scroll down below.
Lunch:  11:30 am – 2:00 pm.   Dinner:  5:30 pm – 10:30 pm.
Closed Sundays and the 3rd Monday of the month.
My wife and I have passed by this place quite often, not noticing what it was because of its hidden-like façade.  When I realized it was a restaurant, I was hoping that it would fall in line with other hidden gems such as Café de Mieux, Bistro Beouf d’Or, and Bistro Ampoule.

A restaurant in hiding.

But April Cat is not like any of the above fancy-schmancy places.
April Cat is about home cooking.  Food your mother would make, if your mother were Japanese.  Nothing fancy here: no pâté, no escargot, no quiche, just nice, hot, voluminous servings of home cooked meals.  
We lucked out on the day that we went, April 30th, as lunch meals, regularly priced at 680 yen, were only 500 yen throughout the month of April as a special homage to the restaurant’s name.
The lunch set offerings were rather limited, with only Spaghetti Neopolitan, Stir-Fry Pork w/Vegetables, and Wagyū Beef Gyūdon listed on the menu for today.  Unfortunately for me, the Karage Chicken that is usually listed was already sold out for the day.
My wife and I both ordered the stir-fry pork and vegetables set that also came with rice, miso soup, pickled daikon, sliced vegetables and a beverage.


The pork/vegetable platter serving was quite generous, so generous that my wife couldn’t finish her dish.  Luckily for me, I scooped up her pork.  Hmmm, that sounds a bit like a double entendre. 
The pork was tasty, marinated along with the veggies in a simple, yet flavorful sauce.  Tasty, but again, nothing elegant.  This really seemed like a home-cooked meal.  The accompanying rice, tsukemono, and sliced vegetables all were appetizing and went well with the main dish.  The miso soup was good, but I like my wife's better.

Close-up of the Stir-Fry Pork w/Veggies

The coffee, our choice of beverage, was quite good!  Which seemed to round out the cozy, home-type feeling.
April Cat is a mom & pop operation that just opened in July 2012, and by appearances has yet to catch on to a lunchtime following, or perhaps I just haven’t noticed it.   I took a peek at their dinner menu and it seems as if they are continuing with the “Welcome home!” ambience.  The evening menu consists of a variety of  唐揚げ、天ぷら、おにぎり, and お好み焼き type foods as their highlights, with light snacks and a couple of pasta offerings.  Oh, and a WIDE selection of intoxicants!
They do offer a point card but no parking.  I didn’t see any ashtrays around but I also didn’t notice any “No Smoking” signs.
April Cat seems like a place where it would be nice to become a regular.  I would say their demographic audience is single men, aged 35 and older, who want a place that feels like home.  Oh, and people who like pictures of cats.  There are pictures and things of cats all over the place.
We plan to go back and try their spaghetti and karage chicken one day.  I recommend you give this place a try.

**I'm having some difficulties with Google Maps.  For the exact location, please click HERE and click the Search button again. 

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