Sunday, June 25, 2017

Dashichazuke-en だし茶漬けえん 022-352-4596

Address:  仙台市青葉区中央1-1-1エスパル仙台東館2F.  Located on the second floor of the new S-Pal addition to Sendai Station, close to the East Exit.
Map:  Scroll down below.
Open:  Everyday from 10 am to 10 pm, but apparently they sell onigiri from 8 am to 10 am.

A couple of years ago a world-traveling student of mine, Chiaki, told me of her favorite restaurant in Narita Airport.  She said she would often delay her return to Sendai just so that she could eat at だし茶漬けえん, which specializes in ochazuke (お茶請け).
I tried it on my next vacation and it has become my “go-to” spot whenever I fly out of Narita.
If you’ve never eaten ochazuke (お茶請け), it’s simply pouring green tea on a bowl of rice with varied ingredients.  It reminds me somewhat of the Campbell’s Chicken with Rice Soup that I loved as a kid.
While recently taking a leisurely stroll among the new shops and restaurants in the newly renovated S-Pal addition at Sendai Station, I was pleasantly surprised to find that だし茶漬けえん had come to Tohoku.
The restaurant is small and somewhat hidden.  The pink (?) circle marks the restaurant.  (Besides being picky, I’m also colorblind, so it may not be pink.)

You order your meal using an electronic touch screen monitor.  A nice feature of this device is that it allows you to choose the language you would like to use (Japanese, English, Chinese, or Korean).  You can also choose which size bowl of rice you would like (small, regular, large), though all sizes are the same price.  Once you have confirmed your order, insert your money to pay and it will spit out a receipt that you hand to the waiter.  

Easy to use touch screen order system

I ordered a regular serving of Chicken Rice and Amami Island’s Best Selected Products (奄美大島 鶏飯風だし茶漬け) for 721 yen and my wife ordered the Grilled Salmon with Red Salmon Eggs (the restaurant lists it as caviar-焼き鮭といくらの親子だし茶漬け) for 821 yen.
The rice bowl I received had small chunks of chicken, shredded egg yolk, spinach, sliced shitake mushrooms, and しば漬け (shibazuke-a Kyoto specialty of pickled eggplant), and the whole thing looked rather plain.  Then I had fun pouring the green tea into the bowl and watching it transform into a savory soup!  If you would like to savor the soup a little more, you can also order a refill of your green tea pot at no extra charge!
The chicken itself was just boiled chicken and didn’t have any special seasoning to it.  But because of the mixture of the other ingredients, the soup was quite enjoyable.  
The meal also came with a small serving of 冷奴 (hiyayakko-chilled tofu with a sesame soy sauce), ヒジキ (hijiki-a sea plant), and pickled cucumber.

奄美大島 鶏飯風だし茶漬け-Before the tea

After the tea

The chilled tofu had a definite sesame seed taste and was a little sweet.  I’m really not too keen on tofu but this was quite good.
I instantly classified the hijiki as seafood because it looked like seafood.  I don’t eat seafood.  I gave it to my wife.  She really enjoyed it.  I enjoyed not having to eat it.
The pickled cucumber was quite sour but it went well with the chicken-rice soup.
My wife said that her bowl of grilled salmon with salmon eggs had a definite nostalgic Japanese taste which she really enjoyed.  She also thought that because of the sesame soy sauce, the chilled tofu had a unique taste.  She described the entire meal as having a “natural, simple taste.”

焼き鮭といくらの親子だし茶漬け-Before tea

After tea

That natural, simple taste I feel translates into a light meal, which is one reason I liked eating this before boarding a plane at Narita Airport.  It satisfies my hunger but does not make my stomach feel heavy.  

If you’re starving and are hunkering for a mass quantity of grease, calories, and fat (which at times has a useful purpose), this may not be the restaurant for you.  But if you are looking for a gratifying, tasteful meal that won’t weigh you down, this is the place to go! 

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