Wednesday, December 10, 2014

Happy Happy Melon Pan Truck Alert!

To read a previous post, please click HERE.

This year's final chance for hot, fresh melon pan!
The Happy Happy Melon Pan truck returns to its usual location in front of Daiei Department Store this coming weekend starting Friday, December 12th till Sunday, December 14th.

Happy Eating!

Monday, October 6, 2014

Happy Happy Melon Pan Alert!

To read a previous post, please click HERE.

The Happy Happy Melon Pan truck returns to its usual location in front of Daiei Department Store this coming weekend starting Friday, October 10th till Sunday, October 12th.

Happy Eating!

Saturday, October 4, 2014

Sendai Food Convention Wrap-Up 仙台フードコンベンション 022-224-5640

Please see my previous post HERE.
Address:  錦町公園 (仙台市青葉区本町).Nishikichō Park is located about a five-minute walk from Kotodai-koen Subway Station.
Map:  Scroll down below.
Open tomorrow Sunday, October 5th from 11 am to 5 pm.
Strolling into Nishikichō Koen this gorgeous afternoon, the many aromas of different delicacies wafted through the air.  Upon first glance, this Food Convention seemed much smaller than what I imagined, yet there was enough of a variety of goodies to choose from.

I started off with a steak sandwich (500 yen) from the JAMIN/Le Café de Herisson booth.  It was quite popular and I had to wait in line for about ten minutes.  The bread was soft and tasty.  The meat was very tender, but a bit undercooked for my liking.  However, I’ve noticed that many Japanese restaurants serve their steaks while it is still red in the middle.  I don’t mind pink, but I don’t like my meat still red.  The sauce was quite delectable.


My wife thoroughly enjoyed her Watari はらこめし bento (1000 yen) from たその, which included pieces of salmon, salmon eggs, and rice mixed with various ingredients.


Next, was the green curry (500 yen) from the SABAI SABAI Thai Restaurant booth.  This was quite spicy and caused some sweat beads to be formed, but the bamboo shoots had a hint of sweetness to them and the chicken was amazingly tender.  This was a good choice!


Dessert was in order so we went for the apple-cinnamon focaccia (300 yen) from the AL FIORE stand.  The apples were quite sweet and delicious, but there wasn’t enough cinnamon flavor.   The bread was soft, but I was expecting sweeter.


I was thrilled to see my favorite fritters, サーターアンダーギ, being sold (150 yen) at the 仁藤商店 booth, but this was also a disappointment.  They were too greasy and not very sweet.

We left for a few hours but then returned for some more snacks.  I tried the grilled beef (350 yen) from 三丁目小福, but it was miniscule compared to the photo.  Still, it was flavorful, but not worth the money.  Earlier in the day, this stand was extremely popular, but maybe it was another item on their menu that was a big hit.

Tasty, but a bit on the small side

Lastly, I tried the salsiccia sausage (500 yen) from Café & Restaurant GALLOW, but unfortunately, I forgot to take a photo.  You could tell this wiener was grilled to perfection with the sensation of a tart, crisp, juicy sausage upon the first bite.

There were many other tantalizing tastes to be found, but I was just too full.  
If you get the chance, I recommend a trek out to Nishikichō Park for a food adventure!

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Wednesday, October 1, 2014

Sendai Food Convention 仙台フードコンベンション 022-224-5640


Address:  錦町公園 (仙台市青葉区本町).Nishikichō Park is located about a five-minute walk from Kotodai-koen Subway Station.
Map:  Scroll down below.
Open Saturday, October 4th from 11 am to 9 pm.  Sunday, October 5th from 11 am to 5 pm.
I saw this two-day event advertised last Saturday while watching my favorite TV program, あらあらかしこ, and if it's anything like the Izumi Marché from two weeks ago, it should be interesting.

Like the aforementioned Marché, The Sendai Food Convention is celebrating its sixth annual affair.  It appears as if 75 restaurants will set up shop promoting their goodies, although unlike the Izumi event, it doesn't look as if there will be any antique or crafts stores represented.  While perusing the list of participating eateries, I didn’t notice any restaurants that I have reviewed, so I’m looking forward to experiencing some new local flavors.

This event is sponsored by Suntory Premium Malts, so there's sure to be liquor to be found.
I hope to see you there!

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Saturday, September 20, 2014

Izumi Marché 2014: A Round-Up 泉マルシェ

Please click HERE for my previous announcement on this event.
Goodies, grub, and edibles all around!  Everything looked scrumptious!  It was soooo difficult to decide on what to eat!
But this is what we devoured today…
First off, we ran into the Spica booth (click on the name to see my review of their store) where I purchased a wonderful brownie (I think it was 190 yen).  Soft, moist, sweet, and chocolaty!  What more could you ask for?  Well, maybe a little bit bigger size.

A Brownie done right!

Someone (not me) still had a sweet tooth, so the ふわふわ Waffle Booth was our next stop for a whipped cream with chocolate sauce waffle (350 yen).  Someone (still not me) loved it, but I found it not sweet enough for my palate.

A waffle made for the Japanese palate

Next, was a visit to one of my Favorites, Café de Mieux, to try the Thai shrimp green curry (640 yen), penne pasta with tomato sauce (640 yen), and the broccoli quiche (380 yen).
My wife and I have dined at Café de Mieux countless times, yet this was the first time to see them prepare these dishes, so I was quite excited to see how they tasted.  The green curry was savory!  Spicy, but not too spicy.  The penne pasta was quite good, too.   The quiche, well, my better half enjoyed it.  I thought, “Not bad,” but I really don’t like quiches, so this was actually a compliment.

Thai Green Curry

Penne Pasta in Tomato Sauce

Broccoli Quiche

But I felt I needed a little more substance, so we headed to another Favorite,  Bistro Ampoule, for their homemade bacon (400 yen) that I love so much.  The serving was quite big, and the taste … mouthwatering!

The Bistro Ampoule Staff

Juicy, mouthwatering bacon!

After this, I was hankering for something sweet, so we ventured over to the 札幌北のドーナツ花 stand, where we had to wait in a looong line and watched them make the donuts on the spot.  But the wait was well worth it!  We purchased a few plain donuts, one salt donut, and one sugar donut (all were 120 yen each).  We gobbled up the plain donut right away, and were amazed at it’s crispy outside and soft, fluffy middle.  We haven’t tried the salt or sugar donut yet, but I’m imaging they’re tasty, too.

Making Doughnuts

To quench our thirst, we imbibed on a blood red orange juice (350 yen) that was quite rich and sweet.

Blood Red Orange Juice

For our last treat, we chowed down on some Neumarkt Southern German Sausages:  herb, curry, and garlic (500 yen).   These were all very good, and came with some sauerkraut hidden underneath the sausages.

A great selection of sausages!

Despite feeling completely stuffed, I was still disappointed that another one of my Favorites, Daily’s Muffins, had sold out of their delectable desserts in the first three hours.
Oh, and during a bathroom break, we happened upon this classical quartet of lovely ladies rehearsing Beatles songs for a paid concert later that afternoon.  What luck!

Beautiful Beatles Band

Also, it was quite a treat to see a number of stalls selling antique Americana goods.  I was able to relive my childhood seeing Lil Sprout (Green Giant), the California Raisins, the Campbell Soup twins, and Snap-Crackle-N'-Pop memorabilia on display.
This was my first time at the Izumi Marché, and it was a fantastic experience!  I can’t wait till next year, already!

Friday, September 19, 2014

Izumi Marché 2014 泉マルシェ


Located at Izumi-chuo Station.
Map:  Scroll down below.
Saturday, September 20, 2014 from 11 am to 5 pm.
Apologies for the very late notice.  I have never been to this event, but luckily I was alerted this morning while perusing a Sendai message board.  And since I have never been, I cannot give a first-hand account, but the reviews I read gave it a thumbs-up.
It appears as if this is the sixth year for this annual grubfest, hosting 150 food/drink/boutique stalls, as well as two stages with live performances throughout the day and a wine festival (advanced ticket purchased required-so that’s probably not going to happen).
What I found notable were four restaurants that I have reviewed previously on this blog, three of them being in my Favorites List:  Bistro Ampoule, Café de Mieux, and Daily’s Muffin.  The fourth, Spica, is listed under my Recommended Eateries.
According to the reviews, it’s best to get there early, as the food stalls do sell out.
I can’t wait till tomorrow to try these tempting treats!  
Hope to see you there!

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Wednesday, September 3, 2014

Happy Happy Melon Pan - This Weekend!

To read a previous post, please click HERE.

I'm happy to report that the Happy Happy Melon Pan truck returns after a three-month absence and will be in front of Daiei Department Store starting  Friday, September 5th till Sunday, September 7th.

Maybe I'll see you there!

Sunday, August 31, 2014

The Closing of Kame House Burger カメホウス・ハンバーガー 022-374-5747

Click HERE for a previous write-up on Kame House.

Address:  仙台市泉区中央1丁目22-1.   Located on Route 35, about a three-minute walk from Izumi Subway Station.
Map:  Scroll down below.
Weekdays lunch:  11:30 am – 2:45 pm.     Weekdays dinner:  5:30 pm – 10:30 pm.
Sundays and Holidays:  11:30 am – 8:30 pm.   Closed Tuesdays and Wednesdays.
It is with a heavy heart that I write that Kame House Burger will be closing at the end of September.
Apparently, the owner is moving on to bigger and better things in Tokyo, so this hamburger joint will soon be history.  
Luckily for me, I’ve already dined there twice within the last two weeks with a couple of good friends to share the moment, and I plan on returning at least once more for ole’ time’s sake.
I was never a frequent visitor to Kame House due to its location in Izumi, which made it quite a trek for me.  Still, it was worth the trek when I did make it.
A week ago I visited on Friday during lunchtime with my good friend, Tony, who had never been to Kame House but had always wanted to go.  He seemed to really like his Double-Burger.  The place had quite a few customers but it was no problem getting a table.
This weekend, I was fortunate enough to have my dear friend, Yvonne, accompany me to the famed burger restaurant.  The place was crowded!  And we ended up waiting about twenty minutes for our table.  I ordered my usual Double-Burger (1100 yen) without sauce, and my companion went with the Avocado-Cheeseburger with Barbeque Sauce on the side. We both split an order of Onion Rings.



Onion Rings (Scrumptious!  But pass on the salsa)

The meat patty in my burger on this second visit seemed thicker than my previous encounter, with a strong and delicious peppery flavor to it.  The fries were good and I was quite happy with the onion rings.  Yvonne seemed to really enjoy her burger as well!
My disappointment came as I had my heart set on a chocolate milkshake to go with my burger, only to be informed that shakes are only served after 5:30 pm.  Despite my pleading and puppy dog eyes, I was given a stern ごめんなさい.”  That’s why I plan to go back one more time, but after 5:30 pm.
If you have never been to Kame House, I urge you to rush down as soon as you can to try one of the best burgers in town!  For those of you who have devoured the greasy goodness, return before it’s too late!
**Yvonne was gracious enough to give me permission to use her photos for this post.  I am very grateful as she is a much better photographer than I am.  Thanks, Vonnie!

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Sunday, July 6, 2014

IKEA Restaurant イケアレストラン 050-5833-9000


Address:  仙台市太白区あすと長町 2-1-1.   Located across the street and to the side of Nagamachi JR Train Station.  Also easily accessible from the Nagamachi Subway Station.
Map:  Scroll down below.
Open:  Not yet, but the Grand Opening will be on Thursday, July 17, 2014.  Until September 30, 2014, the store will be open from 10 am – 9 pm.  But after that the store hours are as follows:  
Sunday – Friday: 10 am – 7 pm.  Saturdays and Holidays:  10 am – 9 pm.

Today, I got a special sneak-peek inside the brand-spanking new IKEA Store thanks to my friends, Tony, who gave me his “invitation only” Family Day at IKEA ticket, and Yvonne, who works there and provided the ticket.
I don’t remember visiting my local IKEA back in the States very often, and I never ate at their restaurant, so I can’t do a comparison, but I was quite impressed with the number of foods available at this Sendai IKEA restaurant, which included salmon, tandoori chicken, and roast beef among its many entrées .
My wife went with the Salmon Lasagna for 616 yen, with a slice of Arctic Bread for 60 yen.  It was the first time for her to ever try a salmon lasagna, and she really liked it, especially the salmon taste.  She also stated that the Arctic Bread didn’t have a lot of flavor by itself but that it went well with the lasagna.


I chose the Swedish Meatballs for 599 yen, a Mini Bread for 90 yen to accompany it, and a butter packet for 20 yen.  The ten meatballs came with gravy, cranberry dressing, and mashed potatoes.  The meatballs were not extraordinary, but quite good, and the cranberry dressing added a nice touch to the flavor.  I’m not a big fan of mashed potatoes (I’m picky), but I enjoyed these!


For dessert, my wife decided upon the Apple Cake for 299 yen and a Café Latte from the Drink Bar for 120 yen.  I picked the Cinnamon Roll for 90 yen.


Both the Apple Cake and Cinnamon Roll were not very sweet, and had tastes that were nothing like their traditional counterparts.  Despite this, we still thought they were quite tasty, perhaps due to both having a nutty flavoring to them.

So IKEA is not a traditional restaurant, but that's what they call it.  It's more of a cafeteria, and our two complete meals plus dessert came in at under 2000 yen.  I would say that overall, we were both totally satisfied with our meals.

Since I never experienced eating at an IKEA Store, I don't know if this is standard practice there, but I found it interesting that you don't pay for your meal until you are done with it (unlike most cafeteria-style joints). After placing your selected platters on your tray, you proceed to the check out lane.  The clerk will give you an itemized receipt, and then you go off to find a place to sit.  When you are done with your meal, you take your tray to the disposal area, and then use an automated register to pay for your meal.  I had never seen this before.
If you’re shopping at IKEA, visiting their restaurant might provide a nice needed break from wandering around the huge store..   
But, if you want to save even more money, go to their Bistro on the 1st floor past the checkout lanes.  They sell hot dogs for 100 yen and soft cream cones for 50 yen!  The hot dog looked good but I was already full from the restaurant.

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Saturday, June 28, 2014

Thai Festival in Sendai タイフェスティバルin仙台 022-397-9741

Address:  勾当台公園市民広場.   Located exactly at that address.  Come up off the Kotodai-koen Subway exit and you’re there.
Map:  Weird.  Google Maps cannot show this accurately.  Sorry.
Tomorrow, Sunday, June 29th from 10 am till 6 pm.
Sorry that this is such late notice, but I didn’t attend the inaugural Thai Festival held last year in Nagamachi, so I didn’t know much about it, but I caught the last two minutes of this morning’s あらあらかしこ TV program which was promoting this event, so I thought it would be worth a try. 

This is the lowdown:  If you want to try some delicious, SPICY, Thai cuisine, you should go!
Once there, you might find it difficult, as I did, to choose among the many different food stalls, each with their own enticing aromas of Thai dishes.  My wife and I decided on the Phu Thai vendor, although all of the   restaurant representatives offered equally tempting dishes.

We went with the Stir-Fried Chicken with Holy Basil on Rice (500 yen), and I added a “Sai Krok”, or Grilled Herbal Sausage (300 yen).  I had never heard of Holy Basil before, but holy crap:  Was it ever spicy!!!  And equally scrumptious!!!

Besides a wide selection of food being offered, there is always a live performance to be entertained with, as well as many stalls selling Thai goods, foods, and souvenirs.
I was lucky enough to spot my favorite あらあらかしこガール,Manami Kawada, in the crowd and she was kind enough to pose for a photo.  On this program, Manami seems extremely down-to-earth, funny, and very cute!  In person, she did not disappoint!   She made my day!

If you don’t get a chance to make it out tomorrow, be on the lookout for next year’s festival!

Saturday, June 21, 2014

Cookin’ Bento Shop クッキン・手作り弁当屋 022-268-2013


Address:  仙台市青葉区一番町目3-28.   Located across the street from Higashi-nibancho Yōchien, near Minami-machi dori.  
Map:  Scroll down below.
Open:  Weekdays from 10 am to 3 pm.  They accept fax orders from 9:30 to 11:30 am.
While strolling one fine weekday afternoon, I happened upon a bustling scene inside a very small food establishment at the end of the small shopping arcade that leads into Ichibancho.  From the outside, I didn’t notice any discernible signs indicating what type of fare was being peddled, so I took a peek inside.  
Lo and behold, a lovely lass appeared!  Oh, and she was selling bentos.

"May I take your order?"

The following week, I made it a point to return to the slightly hidden Cookin’ to see if the crowd I had seen before were on to something.  I was happy to see the same beautiful young woman (Anri, is her name) working behind the counter and I happily ordered the chicken karage bento for 500 yen, and waited for less than five minutes for it to be prepared.
The bento came with five thick, juicy, and wonderfully seasoned chunks of deep-fried chicken: crispy on the outside, yet, delectable and plump on the inside.  A subtle hint of salt and vinegar, along with the black sesame seed topping, seemed to bring out the full flavor of the generous serving of rice.  A tangy, sliced vegetable mixed salad that added a nice contrasting flavor element to the chicken, along with a wakame/mayonnaise serving were also included.  I’m not a big fan of wakame and I only like mayonnaise used sparingly, still, this was not bad.  The sliced pickled daikon, a staple of bentos, tasted quite zesty and fresh.
Overall, I’d say that it was the best tasting chicken karage bento I have ever had!

The best 鶏唐揚げ弁当 ever!

But just to confirm that this wasn’t a fluke, I went back two weeks later and purchased their 530 yen yakiniku bento:  substantial slices of flavorful tender beef, along with two differing side salads.  One salad consisted of a pumpkin, egg, and mayonnaise mixture.  It was a bit … odd, but appetizing.  The other was a more traditional cabbage/vegetable salad that was very good!


Cookin’  is simple food done well!  Very well!  This fine eatery advertises itself as a “homemade” bento shop, and that’s exactly what it's been delivering for over twenty years!  I have nothing against the chain bento shops like Hotto Motto and Kamodoya, as I often feed upon their boxed lunches, but they are not in the same league as Cookin’.

Besides the two delicious bentos I devoured, Cookin’ offers a daily special, hamburger, fish, and numerous のりbentos, all for under 530 yen.
Unfortunately, their hours are limited to lunchtime, but if you get a free weekday afternoon I highly recommend Cookin’ !  I know I will have difficulty choosing between the chicken karage and the yakiniku bento upon my next visit, but I’m sure that either choice will be the right one.

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Thursday, May 22, 2014

Happy Happy Melon Pan Truck Returns!

To read a previous post, please click HERE.

I'm happy to report that the Happy Happy Melon Pan truck will be in front of Daiei Department Store starting tomorrow, Friday, May 23rd till Monday, May 26th.

Maybe I'll see you there!

Monday, May 5, 2014

UPDATE: Rigoletto リゴレット タパスラウンジ 022-716-0678


For my previous post on Rigoletto, please click HERE.
Address:  仙台市青葉区中央1-6-1.   Located across the street from the AER Building in between Hirose-dori and Chuo-dori.
Map:  Scroll down below.
Open 7 days a week from 11:30 am to 4 am, with lunch till 3 pm.
Last Saturday night, my good friends and I held a Welcome Home party for our dear friend, Yvonne, who requested to have it hosted at Rigoletto after remembering the wonderful food we were served at a company enkai we attended there over two years ago. 
As the organizer for the party I first checked Rigoletto’s website to see what types of party plans they offered.
Unfortunately, their websites are not easy to navigate, with many of their links being inactive.  The link I provided above should take you to their party plan menu.  After a few different searches, it appeared as if two options were available: one for 4500 yen and the other for 5000 yen.   I called the restaurant on the Sunday before to make a reservation for my party of six confirmed partygoers for the less expensive plan, which, according to the outdated web page, included ten separate dishes and a two-hour nomihoudai.   
I was informed that at least eight people were necessary to partake of the party plan.  I told them that perhaps more of my friends would join later, but that at the time I wasn’t sure, and asked if there was anything they could do.
They put me on hold and apparently consulted management.  After a few moments they came back and assured me that it would be okay this time to utilize the party plan with only six people, but that if it dropped to five then we would have to order a la carte.
We actually ended up with seven in total, or seven and a half, as one friend could not find a babysitter and brought her two-year-old son in tow.   She had contacted Rigoletto herself and asked if children were permitted.  The restaurant was very accepting and accommodating and did not charge any extra for her little boy.
After being seated we requested our first round of beverages in order to give a welcome toast to our dearly missed friend, Yvonne, but it seemed as if we waited and waited for all of our drinks to arrive.  This concerned a couple of us, as we are well aware that many restaurants have an iffy time schedule and often lack timely service when it comes to nomihoudais.  This did not seem a like a good sign.
But as the night progressed, so did their service.  Each platter was brought soon after the previous one had been finished.  And much to my surprise, as we were half way finished imbibing our refreshments, another round for all was brought to our table before we even had a chance to request them.  This artful customer attentiveness was greatly appreciated!
When it was time for “last call,” the waitress brought us multiple drinks to last well past the allotted two-hour time limit.  This brought smiles to everyone at the table!
But on to the food! 
The first platter served was the fish carpaccio.  This picky eater does not like seafood, but since I was paying a little more than usual for an enkai, I decided that I was going to try everything.  I’m so glad I did!  This was so tasty that  I even had a second helping!


Next came the ham platter with green olives, with four different types of ham.  Being a meat lover, this initially looked tempting.  But again, my pickiness had predetermined that I wanted nothing to do with the green olives.  The ham slices were nice, but nothing special.  And since I was going to get my money’s worth, I popped an olive into my mouth just out of principle.  Rigoletto was batting two for two with foods that I formerly detested, as these olives were great!  I popped a few more in my mouth before the night was through.


Following this was the bacon and mushroom platter, which I did not see listed on the website.  Succulent is the best word to describe this!

Bacon and Mushrooms

Another surprise soon came with the hot bread with escargot and shrimp in a butter garlic dip.  I’m picky, remember?  Escargot is not something a picky eater indulges in.  But with the invitingly buttery garlic aroma wafting through the air, I could not resist.   Magnificent!  I couldn’t stop dipping!  And the bread was delicious in its own right!

Bread with Escargot and Shrimp in Butter Garlic Sauce

The Chef’s Salad was good, despite the cheese (I really don’t like cheese), but my friends seemed to enjoy this.


The Margherita pizza was terrific!  The crust had a flavor all its own, and the toppings just seemed like a bonus.


Two varieties of pasta were then brought at the same time, one with scallops and the other with bacon, cheese, and eggplant, although, I could be mistaken about these ingredients.  Either way, both were delicious!

Pasta with Scallops

Pasta with Bacon, Cheese, and Eggplant

The finale was the gigantic dessert platter!  Each person was able to devour a fruit tart, a slice of chocolate cake, cheesecake, and two other cakes.  I preferred the chocolate slice myself, while most at my table praised the cheesecake.


A close-up of my dessert plate!

Even though we paid a higher price than most restaurants charge for a party plan, my friends and I all seemed to be in agreement that this was an excellent and satisfying choice for a party.  While preparing the photos for this post, I noticed that we were actually served only nine dishes, but I believe they actually brought us two pizzas, which would then add up to a total of ten servings.
To be honest, I was quite surprised that Rigoletto was able to accommodate us on such short notice during Golden Week.  I appreciated that the staff member Chisato-san contacted me during the week to confirm my plans.
If you have a party to plan, I highly recommend Rigoletto!  The food was fantastic and the service superb!
It’s a bit pricier than other places, but you get what you pay for.  Actually, I think you get more than what you pay for at Rigoletto!

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