Wednesday, December 2, 2015

TOKYO: Guzman Y Gomez Mexican Taqueria グズマン イー ゴメズ 03-3470-0770

Address:  東京都渋谷区神宮前1丁目11 ラフォーレ 原宿2F  GOOD MEAL MARKET.   Located about a three-minute walk from Meiji-Jingumae Subway Station on the very popular Meiji Dori.
Map:  Scroll down below.
Open from 11 am to 9 pm daily.
I’m always itching to try some good Mexican food, but the thought of going out of my way for "Australian" Mexican fare didn't seem worth my while.  Luckily, while looking for a Cinnabon's on a recent Tokyo getaway, I found myself in Harajuku and just a few minutes away from the well-reviewed Guzman y Gomez (GYG).  It’s hard not to miss with its blaring yellow-and-black sign.

GYG offers a selection of burritos, tacos, enchiladas, nachos, etc., and with each of these you choose your own preferred filling.
The fillings are:  grilled chicken, slow cooked beef, pan seared fish, sautéed vegetables, spicy grilled chicken, pulled pork chipotle, and grilled flank steak.

My better half decided upon a regular Burrito Bowl with the sautéed vegetables filling (800 yen), and I went with the two soft tacos dish (850 yen), one with the pulled pork chipotle and the other with the slow-cooked beef.

Upon her first few bites, my wife stated that she was surprised that the burrito bowl was rather flavorless, especially considering all the varied ingredients (vegetable black bean, rice, jack cheese, salsa, bell peppers, onion, mushroom, and guacamole).  I tried a forkful and had to agree with her assessment ... just not a lot of taste to it.


I had a bit better luck with my tacos, but just a bit.  The pulled pork chipotle was indeed spicy and flavorful, and the slow cooked beef was tender and delicious.  But the downfall with both of these tacos, and I imagine all the other tacos, was that the tortillas were absolutely bland!  The tortillas had no flavor whatsoever, which really brought down the overall taste of the taco.  Had the tortilla had just a hint of flavor, the taco eating experience would have been much enhanced.

タコス: ビーフとスパイシーポーク

We also ordered a regular basket of tortilla chips with guacamole (500 yen).  The tortilla chips were fresh, salty, and quite enjoyable, easily becoming the highlight of the meal.  I regretted not buying the larger size as we could have easily gobbled up tons more.  The accompanying guacamole was seasoned adequately but I've had better at Sendai's own Casa del Sol.


On the plus side, there were lots of tables and service was quick, with menus available in English, as well.

Guzman y Gomez originated in Australia, and if this Harajuku restaurant is truly representing the Australian Guzman y Gomez menu, then I feel sorry for Australians who think that this is authentic Mexican food.

The restaurant seemed very popular, and if you're in the area you might want to give it a try.  

I probably won't be returning, even if I'm in the neighborhood.  I would recommend Frijoles over Guzman y Gomez to satisfy your Mexican hankerings in Tokyo.

Tuesday, November 24, 2015

TOKYO: Shake Shack シェイクシャック

Address:  東京港区北青山2丁目1−15.  Located about an eight-minute walk from Aoyama-icchome Subway Station.
Map:  Scroll down below.
Open:  11 am to 10 pm.
Last year while visiting my sister in the Washington, D.C. area, I happened upon a crowded burger/hot dog joint that I had never heard of, but I was starving at the time and decided to give it a try.  The restaurant was called Shake Shack, and little did I know that it was a favored eatery along the east coast of America.
Picky as I am, I ordered a regular hamburger, fries, and a chocolate shake.

My life changed from that time on! 
(Overly exaggerated, but you get the point.)

The burger was amazingly delicious, so much so that I started feeling confused over which was the better burger, this savory Shack Burger or my beloved In-n-Out Burgers back home in Southern California.  
But it was the Shake Shack shake, that glorious, chocolaty cream of heaven on earth, that rocked my world!
Alas, that was the one and only time that I had the opportunity to enjoy this bit of scrumptiousness.

That is, until they opened the new Shake Shack in Kita-Aoyama on November 13th!

Last weekend, my wife and I went down to Tokyo for a quick getaway and made a visit to the Tokyo Shake Shack our top priority.  Apparently, numerous others had it on their To-Do lists as well, as we arrived at around noontime to a loooong line of people, so long that we were told that it would be a three-hour wait.
It was a gorgeous, autumn day and I didn't feel like wasting it standing in a line with a few hundred hungry humans, even if it was for a piece of hamburger heaven.
We asked the kind attendant holding the “end-of-the-line” sign when might be a better time to come and he informed us that at around 9 pm the line had been much shorter during their first week, so we decided to try again later that evening and instead spent the day exploring the fall leaves of Tokyo.

But our tummies couldn't hold out that long, and we returned at 7:30 pm to happily find a much shorter line.  We asked the new kind attendant how long the wait would be, and he notified us that it should only take an hour or less, which made us even happier.
I timed it and it took us exactly thirty minutes to get to the counter and place our order.  Considering the three-hour wait we could have endured, this didn't seem so bad.  I was so close, my mouth began to water.  
I decided upon a double ShackBurger sans cheese (980 yen), a regular order of crinkle cut fries (420 yen), and a regular size chocolate shake (650 yen).  
My wife went with a single ShackBurger (680 yen) and a small iced tea (230 yen).

I liked the little sumo guy!  I didn't like that I still had to wait 20  more minutes.

Well, my mouth watered, … dripped, … and dripped some more, and then started to dry up little by little as the wait for our meal became longer and longer.
Twenty-six minutes after placing our order is when the little beeper that we were given upon ordering began to beep.  In total it took fifty-six minutes from the point of getting in line to receiving our food. The kind attendant guy knew his stuff.
But as soon as I saw the burgers my mouth started salivating all over again as the tempting aroma of the beef wafted around me.
I tore off a small portion of the beef to test it; peppery, flavorful, juicy but not greasy.  
I took a few bites and found it oh-so-good!  BUT, … not exactly the way I remembered the burger in the U.S.  Something was just a touch off.   Perhaps it was that the beef wasn’t pippin’ hot.  It was warm, but it didn’t have that “fresh-off-the-grill” taste.  Still, it was one of the best burgers I’ve had in Japan.
Next I tried the crinkle cut fries.  They were crispy, as they should be.  Salty, as they should be.  But warm at best.  Not hot.   Which really depreciated its overall flavor. 

My wife shared my opinions over her burger and the fries, and she also commented that the wait for the food was very poor customer service, especially according to Japanese standards.
But the saving grace for me was the chocolate shake!
It was the best shake I’ve ever had in Japan or California!  
BUT, … not quite the same as what I remember from the Shake Shack in D.C.  Perhaps, I’ve been romanticizing my previous shake love affair and placing it on an unattainable altar, but still, this shake wasn’t the same as the other shake.  It was a very close second place.
That being said, this smooth, luscious, chocolate shake was terrific!  This was the reason I came, and I was satisfied!
My wife decided to order a ShackMeister Ale beer (830 yen/18 oz.) from a roaming waitress.  We noticed that a man sitting at the next table had also ordered something some time before us, as he called the same waitress over asking to change his order to take-out as he was in a hurry and no longer had time to wait.
My wife patiently waited, and waited, and waited.  After the sixteen-minute mark she said to me, “This isn’t right” and called the waitress over again to politely ask why it was taking so long for just a beer.  In less than a minute the waitress brought the beer over.  My civil-tongued spouse then explained in detail to the waitress about the sub-par temperature of the hamburger and fries, and the extrodinary un-Japanese customer service that caused the unnecessary wait.  
Apparently, the waitress conveyed this information to the manager, who humbly accosted me on my way to the restroom and apologized profusely.  As I returned to our table I found him on one knee apologizing to my wife.  He told us both the same thing; they have been overwhelmed by the amount of customers and that they haven’t worked out all the problems yet, but that it was his fault as manager and to please come back again and he would work hard to resolve those issues.  
He guided us out as we left the restaurant, and my wife whispered to me, “Now that was Japanese customer service.”  I said, “Yeah, but I would’ve preferred a discount coupon.”
I will definitely be back, in the late evening, to delight in a delectable dinner at the Shake Shake.   
I’m hoping that like other American franchises, Krispy Kreme Doughnuts, Cinnabons, etc., that the novelty will wear out and the lines will become shorter. 
I do highly recommend a visit, but you just might want to wait a while, or not mind the wait.

Thursday, October 1, 2015

Sendai Food Convention 2015 仙台フードコンベンション


Please see last year's wrap-up HERE.

Address:  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 3rd and Sunday, October 4th from 10 am to 7 pm.

Apparently, last year's event was such a great success that they added three extra hours each day for this year's gig.

For a more detailed description of the restaurants and shops showcasing their wares this weekend, please click HERE.

The forecast predicts great weather for strolling Nishikichō Park and sampling some great grub.

Hope to see you there!

Thursday, September 24, 2015

Izumi Marché 2015 this Saturday, September 26th!

Please click HERE for my article describing last year's event.

I was really impressed with the 2014 Marché, and this year's promises to be just as good, if not better.
The difficulty is in choosing which of the delicious delectables to devour!

And easy to find as this festival is held above Izumichuo Subway Station.

Hope to see you there!

Thursday, June 25, 2015

2015 Thai Festival in Sendai タイフェスティバルin仙台 022-714-0545

Address:  勾当台公園市民広場.  Come up off the Kotodai-koen Subway Park exit and you’re there.
Map:  Scroll down below.  That was the closest I could get.
Open Saturday, June 27th from 10 am to 8 pm.   Sunday, June 28th from 10 am to 7 pm.

I’ve been looking forward to this year’s festival ever since I attended this event last year when over 40,000 people (according to the organization’s website) attended this two-day food-fest.  Unfortunately, the weather may not be kind to Sendai this weekend but if you’re willing to brave the elements and are searching for some great eats, head on down to the 3rd Thai Festival in Sendai!
Besides the scrumptious cuisine, there will be stage performances throughout the day, many of them Thai related (traditional dance, Muay Thai demonstrations, etc.).
I can’t foretell how this weekend’s happening will turn out, but take a look at my write-up of last year’s festivities for a further in-depth report.  Just click HERE.
Hope to see you there!

Wednesday, February 25, 2015

38Mitsubachi Kitchen #2 ミツバチキッチン 022-302-6938


Address:  仙台市青葉区二日町2-1.   Located about a three-minute walk from Kotodai-koen Subway Station, behind City Hall.
Map:  Scroll down below.

Open Tuesdays thru Sundays from 10 am to 6:30 pm.  Closed Mondays.

**If you’d like to read about my previous posts related to this restaurant, please click HERE for the original post, and HERE and HERE for a couple of updates.
Last Friday night I inadvertently became lost downtown, but luckily ran into a sight that was news to me: A second location of the popular pancake restaurant, Pancake & Café 38Mitsubachi
The next afternoon my wife insisted on trying this new restaurant to see if it lived up to its inaugural store’s standards.
This second shop is just a tiny bit bigger than it’s flagship operation, but not by much, as it seems to seat a maximum of only 27 guests.  We were told that this restaurant opened in June of last year, probably due to the fact that it’s quite difficult to obtain a seat at the first Mitsubachi during a weekend.

My wife ordered the 1100 yen Berry Berry pancake (sic), which consists of five 11 cm in diameter pancakes, topped with a generous amount of fresh cream, yogurt, three types of berries (strawberries, frozen raspberries, frozen blueberries), berry sauce, almonds, and comes with coconut syrup if you so desire.  


Initially, my wife did not use either the coconut syrup or the maple syrup, and she was surprised how non-sweet the cream and the pancakes were.  She next tried a bit of the maple syrup and was quite happy with the outcome.  Towards the end, she poured the coconut syrup and remarked how coconutty the syrup was, but this was not to her liking.
There were four different offerings on the lunch menu, including an interesting Mexican pancake (which I have never heard of, and I’m Mexican).  The others were a hamburger type with fried egg in which the hamburger buns are pancakes, a chicken salad with pancakes (this was sold out), and a hamburger patty drenched in a stewed tomato sauce along with a mini-salad and panna cotta.
I chose the latter hamburger patty/pancake with the drink set for 1280 yen.  I ate the mini-salad, which had a very nice tangy dressing, first, as I did not want the salad dressing and the maple syrup mixing … I’m picky that way.  The three hotcakes were incredibly soft, fluffy, and grilled to perfection.  The homemade hamburger patty was very tasty, and indeed the tomato sauce was rich and tomato-y.   


The panna cotta was topped ever so slightly with a raspberry sauce that complimented this dessert wonderfully.  In fact, when I had eaten all the raspberry dressing, I didn’t much care for the rest of the panna cotta, as it reminded me of yogurt, which I don’t care for.  Perhaps others would enjoy the sauceless panna cotta.
We were completely stuffed and satisfied as we wobbled out the door.   We will definitely be back again and again to delight in these pancakes.  My wife already has her eye on the chocolate-banana topped pancakes.
This new locale is basically situated on the street behind the original, just a couple of minutes walk away.  So if you go to either restaurant and find that it’s full, perhaps you could just walk around the block and see if you have better luck and the other restaurant.
One thing I’d like to add … I know Japan is known for their customer service, so we who live here are use to being treated well, politely, and in a timely manner.  But on this day the waitresses seemed to be just a little bit more enthusiastic, prompt, and friendlier than at a regular Japanese restaurant, which really made for a nice atmosphere when visiting a restaurant for the first time.  I enjoyed this and I hope this keeps up.
If you have a hankering for hotcakes, head on over!

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Saturday, January 10, 2015

Happy Happy Melon Pan Is Here Today!

To read a previous post, please click HERE.

Sorry for the late notice, but the scrumptious, hot melon pan is once again available in front of DAIEI Department Store today, Saturday, January 10th and tomorrow, Sunday, January 11th.

And Happy New Year!