Tag Archives: レストラン

Mellow Yellow

Creamy

The acorn squash (Japanese pumpkin) doria (what the heck is doria in English?! Casserole?) I had recently at Ohashi Cafe Gusto in Showamachi, Tajimi. Creamed squash filled with broccoli, eggplant, tomatoes and other vegetables, over rice, baked in its own casserôle dish. Must have lots of iron and potassium with that deep yellow color.

I haven’t mentioned this, but the restroom area here is among the most spacious I’ve seen in this space-starved land.

Update: Doria seems to be defined as a fish/shellfish/chicken and rice casserole. I can’t remember now what meat might have been in this. Maybe shrimp.

Staying Power

While in Nagoya today, I stopped by a couple of places I was happy to see were still there after several years. It seems like so many businesses come and go in the city, especially ones you like.

Needed More Napkins - Cheese Stuck to Lips

Above was the Camembert bacon bagel sandwich lunch set with sweet potato quiche and hearty cabbage and vegetable soup at Cúcciolo Cafe & Kitchen between Sakae and Fushimi. Cúccioloo is, I noticed as I left,  a Softbank wi-fi hotspot.

Undercover Cabbage

Cooked cabbage lovers (you know who you are) can head on over to Ohashi Cafe Gusto, where they’re currently offering gratin and other baked, boiled, stewed and fried dishes featuring winter cabbage from Hokkaido. I had a pasta/gratin dish with hamburg and other winter veggies besides the cabbage at the Showamachi branch tonight. A la carte it was reasonable. The cappucino and cafe au lait, which has been less than stellar there in the past, was spot on this time.

The kanji characters for this cabbage are probably just figurative, but signify its being grown under cover of snow.

Geography Project? No, Just Lunch

Topography 101

It’d been maybe a couple of years, so I went to Pizzeria Cabin on the Mizunami-Toki border for lunch.

Smoke’s Gonna Come Out, an’ Lava’s Gonna Ooze All Over…

Curious natives looking on, our team approached the remote jungle island with trepidation

This mammoth of a pizza pie now lining my loins could easily serve two. It’s like a vegetarian garbage plate/Loco Moco thin-crust pizza that happens to bear an uncanny resemblance to a 1/25th scale model of a small volcanic Indonesian island, complete with miniature terraced agriculture and other signs of human habitation dotting the dense jungle. One of ten ¥980 pizza lunch special choices at Cabin (ten pasta choices come in at the same price). There are also daily higawari specials at ¥700. No non-smoking seats, unfortunately.

Below, the sun sinks behind the mountains into the western sea as the native inhabitants of the sleepy island begin their return to the village from their daily ritualistic hunting and gathering forays.

Unidentified tangled vines could be seen in the distance

All is well as the island reposes once again.

About Nothing

Tonight’s comedy sketch, at Lotus Cafe (a sometimes thing at our parties with students, featuring yours truly among others), somehow never materialized, but since the subject is in (or on) my head, I’ll just give you a photo of me from the last one, pending receiving a copy from someone. My reason for not having taken a picture myself will be readily apparent once you see the photo. I’ll stick it at the bottom of this post when I get it. Hint: It was quite tasty, and there’s another hint toward the bottom of this entry.

And on the subject of comedy, something I was reading recently mentioned Seinfeld – ah, now I remember – a piece about specific eating preferences. There’d been a Seinfeld episode about, maybe, people who only eat the creme between Oreo cookies (I’ve done the converse), used as an example. Another case: some people’s preference for hard-edged brownies from the outside of the baking pan (me, I’m an inside softie guy).

The middle doesn't matter

That’s an interesting enough subject in itself – on bringing it up to students, I found two of them specifically refrain from stirring the cream they pour in their coffee just to enjoy the swirling pattern made by the pour. Now that’s a nice case of one of life’s little found/made pleasures. And, perhaps, a case of integrating some randomness into our everyday lives. Like reading tea leaves or a shaman divining the future from dropped sacred objects, except, importantly, it’s passive and no explicit meaning is attached. Or maybe it’s passive study of fluid dynamics. There are different kinds of knowledge, after all.

For me, if I do demur to stir, it tends to be with iced coffee, for a more 3-D effect (gum syrup throwing in more variables), though it’s also for the taste (less homogeneous, less emulsified mixes, depending on degree, can give a richer taste, like a pointillist painting gives a richer sense of color). Also, if I’m not so keen on using a swizzle stick stuck in my take-out bag by the same person who’s been handling money or doing fries all day, I’m a non-stir monster.

But what I wanted to say is, I realized a lot of the facetiousness of this blog could summed up as a paraphrasing of what people used to say about Seinfeld: I reserve the right for it to be a blog about nothing.

Now, I was never a watcher of Seinfeld. I think it was good for the comedy world to appreciate that kind of humor, but in moderation. It should be one of the tools in the bag, but not the be-all to end all. A spice or herb added to food, but not the main dish (“would you like a little chicken with that heaping mound of rosemary?”).

But to the extent I, on the blog, may use the same formula to exclusion of others, I also don’t have quite the same size audience as Jerry and the gang, nor the responsibility I think goes along with that attention.

So if you find yourself thinking, “What the bleeps are you talking about on this #%$@&* blog?! You’re wasting my time,” just remember Jerry and the Oreos. And help yourself to the creme.

Speaking of creme, I prefer my pie horizontal. Or maybe my face cream without a crust.

area/radius squared

Match Game

Last night I had dinner at Bonjoruton Italian Restaurant on route 19 in Tajimi. I recently learned this restaurant (also spelled Bonjhorton) is owned by the same group as Kyomachi/Honmachi Romance chain, which may help to explain the mixed reviews I’d heard. Actually, it seems to be a very small, local “chain,” so normal chain caveats may not apply. This was my first time there. I was invited to a konpa, a quasi-matchmaking dinner introducing guys and girls.

The place was full up with revellers celebrating their Coming-of-Age (the ceremonies for people turning 20 this calendar year were yesterday, thus today’s deferred national holiday status). Our partially reserved separate room gave a little cushion from the ruckus – verbal communication would otherwise have been a non-starter, at least for me. A hanging sudare-type screen separated our twelve-seat space from a table for four. Most seating is at long tables in the main room like you’d see at a Tsubohachi or some such (sorry, it’s been a coon’s age since I went to that kind of place. Seems like I did hear that Tsubohachi actually still exists). There were smaller tatami-type enclosed spaces for four or six people.

I left the ordering to others, so I can’t recall much of what we had, but the bagna càuda, a winter vegetable dipping sauce from the Piedmont region of Italy, was a hit. Also, on our organizer’s recommendation we had a kind of prosciutto relative written in katakana as ハモンセラーノ. The taste was more like cooked pork than ham. There were various tomato dishes and pizzas, and of course plenty to drink, some of which mysteriously came without ordering (though perhaps not without paying – probably no such mystery there, though there was a mention of an all-you-can-drink period). I have to say, the item that most stood out for me was the humble Caesar salad. I’ve never tasted a dressing like that. Very nice. They do feature doggy bag service as well. Open every day till midnight (for lunch, too).

The defacto lounge bathrooms, from personal experience as well as from the girls’ accounts, were, let’s just say, something of an adventure. Best leave your modesty at the (not necessarily closed) door, and mind your (and others’) feet.

For our party of ten, the tab came to ¥37,000, for which the men paid the greater share (a konpa thing, I guess). Sorry, it wasn’t an occasion for photo-taking.

For casual group dining with a western flavor, say, after work, it’s a decent choice to add to your list.

And in case you were wondering about the konpa… no.

Delicious Stuff With Style, From Scratch

It’d been over a year and a half since I last went, so it was high time I had lunch at Scratch Italian restaurant located on route 421 in Toki.

Scratch in Toki

Probably the first thing you’ll notice is the unique custom-designed architecture of the place. High, irregularly sloping ceilings, playfully placed skylights, tapestry-spangled, angled walls, the antique brick floor, two cozy woodstoves, a spiral staircase to a loft-style dining space, curvy cupboard doors, a rough-edged marble slab counter, and both vintage and high-performance bicycles are just a few of the features that tell you they care about style here, but not in any hoity-toity sense. Carefully chosen, often eye-opening artwork (Egon Schiele for dessert, anyone?) can be found in every corner. I suppose the overall style might be a kind of ethnic shabby chic. The taste in music (basically jazz) is on target as well.

Chicken with Mustard Sauce

The cooking here is always special. Today I had the chicken lunch (a different preparation every day), seen above. I couldn’t stay long, so can’t fill you in as much as I’d like on the menu, but basically they have chicken or fish-of-the-day lunches with rice or bread, and seem to have started pizza for lunch as well. Pasta must be in there too, as it’s a mainstay here. Most of these lunches go for ¥1000 including soup and a drink. Lots of women go on their lunch hour or girls’ day out.

Dinners are a bigger affair, with many people choosing full course meals (changing daily, and not repeating often – you can count on variety here) as opposed to à la carte, though that’s an option. Couples often make this a romantic date spot. I’ve known foreigners who make it a point to go here at least once a month. It’s one of Toki’s best restaurants. Reservations aren’t necessary, but appreciated.

They’ve already had their popular annual Christmas concert dinner this year, but it’s never too early to book for next year.

The owners, a really nice couple who I know from a ways back, had this Fiat they’re in the process of restoring (a hobby of the hubby, to his wife’s frequent consternation), so I couldn’t resist taking a picture.

Classically curved Fiat

Yes, it’s the same kind I saw last week in a powder blue – when it rains, it pours. You can see more pictures and descriptions of this and their other restorations on the interesting Scratch Papa Diary. Their other restaurant blogs, (faithfully kept! You can check out some current menu items), are here (Mama), here (Papa) and here.

Pastel Pasta

This was the “Christmas Lunch” special at Pastel (at Toki Premium Outlets).

Christmas Lunch

This Langoustine shrimp pasta with tomato sauce (cream sauce is the other option) came with lots of avocado and arugula (a Pastel thing), and feta, in addition to other vegetables. I had a hot latte for my drink.

This was only my second or third time there, and the first in three and a half years, I think. It’s open for meals or, at least in off-peak hours, just coffee or tea. The prices tend to be a little lower than some of the other non-food court restaurants at the outlets. The staff are meticlously well-mannered.

Belying the cold appearance of my table, right up against a large plate glass outer window as it was, my seat was warm enough thanks to a blanket of warm air running down the glass. The meal was decen and the atmosphere quiet and unhurried.

They’re now taking orders for Christmas cakes in the ¥2800 to ¥4800 range.

Jazz With a View

I finally got back to Jazz Inn Papa’z in Tajimi after perhaps seven years of absence. All the more enjoyable as I ran into a friend who happened to be there.

One of the area’s most venerable spots for occasional live jazz, Papa’z specializes in pasta and pizza. Nestled on a hillside north of route 19, it features a splendid view of Tajimi, one that gets clearer as the trees and bushes thin out with winter.

The salt made this salad stand out

I had the cherry tomato and bacon basil/tomato sauce pizza set (refreshingly salt-sprinkled salad and a drink) for ¥1050. Yummy and different from most pizzas I’ve had. Apologies for the blurred image.

Deliciously blackened crust

I realized after sitting down that I probably happened to get in just at the two o’clock ending time, and may have given the staff more work when they were looking forward to their own lunches. Might be a good idea to make sure you get there well before 2:00.

Trim, Trimmed and Well-Tuned

A slender decorated tree reaches for the rafters at Bank restaurant in Kyomachi, Tajimi.

20111210-024530.jpg

This one had wine corks with their twisted wire webbing still on as ornaments. I thought that was interesting – I’d never seen that. They’ve given their normal salsa music a rest, as has Saizeriya its Italian pop, in favor of standard holiday tunes.

Update/add-on: There’ll be a total eclipse of the moon tonight, from about 9:45 to 1:15, with the peak around 11:30. Japan appears to have a front row seat, barring clouds. It’s the last anywhere on Earth for another three years, so get out there and gaze.