Tag Archives: all-you-can-eat

It’s That Time Again

As we anxiously await another episode of Leave It to SCOTUS the results of the US presidential election, whose TV commercial sponsors in the US are traditionally watch manufacturers, it’s a chance to turn back the clock (don’t forget our time difference with the US east coast jumped up from 13 to 14 hours Sunday), and think about history, and history in the making. And pizza (knew that’d getcha).

In the past few months, on trips to Marino pasta and pizza restaurant, I was struck most not by anything on the menu, but by the music they play – 70′s pop of various styles: folk rock, art rock, disco, proto-soft rock, you name it. It’s certainly not a grouping of music I have any special fondness for as such – it’s dated, but not (to me, excluding disco) in a good way. It’s just what was being played on radios back when choices, especially for tweens and teens, were more limited. I even enjoy some eighties music more than this. But it definitely brings back memories.

45s Pushing 45

There are plenty of songs you’ve heard from time to time through the years since the decade of blacklights, bellbottoms and back-to-nature. The difference with many that I hear in Marino’s stream is, I heard them with intense repetition when they were hits, but I haven’t heard them even once in the 35 or 40 succeeding years.

The number of lunch customers at Marino is such that the chatter is a very effective white noise that cuts out much of the music. You’re left with bits and pieces of hooks, riffs, rhythms and melodies you’d otherwise recognize immediately, teasing you from just out of reach. It’s a strange sensation.

One tune I caught the end of coming back from the drink bar last time was “Sweet City Woman,” by a band called The Stampeders. This is actually one of those I’ve occasionally heard or remembered through the years, but it still hit a sweetspot. I don’t know why, but its licks had my ear whenever it came on the AM radio all summer one year four decades ago. Other songs that I knew by heart had totally slipped my mind until almost magically coming back through the diner din. I wonder what the customers must think, if anything. Most weren’t around the first time around, so have no memory to be jogged.

Anyway, for me it’s become a weird timeslip experience and history lesson whenever I go to the restaurant. Not being a fan of the music, I wouldn’t actively seek it out, but since it’s there, I let it tickle my neurons like someone straightening up an old attic. Maybe the reshuffling will enable other brain connections to turn on new light bulbs over my head in unexpected ways. Or maybe I’ll just have that sweet city woman licking my ears and dancing in my head again.

As for the food at Marino, they’ve reworked their weekday pasta and pizza bar lunch special so that you don’t have to get dessert, making it a better value. Most recently I went on a Sunday, when they have pasta and pizza specials that include their veggie-salad-filled antipasto bar. These specials do include the three desserts. Lunch (at least) is always all non-smoking.

Among the few antipasto items I didn’t try was something that looked awfully like a Waldorf salad, at which wrinkle-browed Japanese have always turned their heads askew whenever I’ve described it. I think it had some Italian name. Like the Nixon, Ford and Carter presidencies, and the seventies themselves, it all comes to ¥1980.

Stopping to Shop at Asunal

I recently dropped by Asunal (Asunaru) by Kanayama Station, picking up a grocery item from Seijo Ishii supermarket, which features some imported and specialty foods.

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While there, I had the Pasta Amatorichana as part of the all-you-can-eat pizza lunch special at Alioli Cucina on the second floor. The pizzas were limited to three kinds, and because people weren’t ordering that special much, the pizzas weren’t constantly being replaced with fresh as they are at, say, Marino. The drink bar was also pretty limited. For ¥1459, you’d expect more, but it was okay. The big fixture on the ceiling may look interesting in the picture, but looks more like something out of a 1970′s mall in person. Maybe at night the lights look neat.

There are a few decent gift shops as well, and of course fashion shops and a variety of restaurants.

A Healthy Lunch While, Uh, Shopping

Locavore Lust

Here’s a shot of my first plateful at Moku Moku Bokujou Restaurant on the seventh floor of La Chic in Sakae, Nagoya.

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Moku Moku is an eco-tourist organic farm/resort/restaurant/sales operation based in Iga, Mie Prefecture. I suppose you could say it’s as much a philosophy, as well.

Whether on the farm or at the table, the emphasis is on natural, hand-made, hands-on and healthy. At ¥1800, the lunch, which lasts until 4:30 (at least right now), is not cheap, but it is all-you-can-eat, and tasty, full of variety and of course healthy. As you can see, it’s not strictly vegetarian – they raise their own pigs and dairy cows, and you can even try your hand at things like making sausage if you visit the Mie farm.

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There’s also a branch of the restaurant at the Central Towers at Nagoya Station. There’s often a wait of half an hour or so, so you can just hang out and girl/guy watch shop while you’re waiting. You have to get in by 4 pm. As far as farmhanding on the ranch in Mie to, say, churn homemade butter, it may also require reservations and a wait. Till, you know, the cows come home. Moku Moku has internet shopping as well.

Mega Mixer

Take a walk or ride around Tajimi tonight and you couldn’t miss young guys and girls in hot pink shirts flagging down twenty-to-thirty-somethings to invite (update: guide) them to a machikon, a mega-konpa affair that blossomed this afternoon seemingly without warning. It’s a chance for you to meet a smorgasbord of potential mates in a quasi-arranged setting.

For all such shindigs’ shortcomings of shallow contrivance, you have to admit, among other things, everyone’s honest about what the heck they’re doing. No playing the field while affecting nonchalant disinterest. Not necessarily a bad idea in a town where I do hear people say (is that my voice I hear in there?) it’s hard to meet people of the opposite sex. The impromptu nature of this one is kind of refreshing, making it less stress-inducing than these things can sometimes be. Just a bit intimidating for those of us who prefer a more intimate setting.

¥6000 would get you a free pass to presumably eat and drink all you could while barhopping a slew of Tajimi’s coolest nightspots. Their goal was to gather up 150 girls and an equal number of guys, a project they’ve apparently pulled off in other nearby locales. As a result, I think many participating places are closed to regular business tonight to accommodate the extra flow of signer-uppers. I’ll have to ask some people who went just how it was.

Update: I guess it wasn’t impromptu – you needed prior booking. Sorry to be late to the 21st century.

Going for the Gusto

Grabbed a quick lunch today at Ohashi Cafe Gusto. They’ve introduced a salad bar, which I’m glad I found out about, because normally I don’t find eating there so appealing. Maybe it’s the menu itself, or the prices or the way the smoke makes its way everywhere, but I just don’t go there very often even though it’s nearby (this one used to be Bamiyan). For sure, it’s brighter than the regular Gusto family restaurants that have pervaded strips for years and have had bad raps in the news recently.

Anyway, the soup/salad bar by itself is ¥699, or ¥799 with all-you-can-eat curry rice. With another order of ¥499 or more, the “salad-curry bar” added on is only ¥499. The choices are pretty standard, but it’s about the only salad-bar-only available around my workplace, so I may go there more when I need a place to nibble and linger. Of course they have a drink bar as well. It is a family restaurant, so be aware there may be children running about.

Stuffing Salads

I found out Artigiano’s “viking” lunch special is a choice of one of two types (they change daily) of large salads along with a standard assortment of breads in a basket, and a drink.  You can use the basket to choose however much of whatever other kinds of breads you want from the buffet.  It goes for ¥850 (it may vary depending on which salad you choose). The salads, featuring things like grilled chicken and vegetables or baked potatoes, even with just a bit of bread would be a definite meal in themselves, so you should be stuffed by the time you roll walk away.

Busy Bakers

Here’s a new arrival at Artigiano Bakery – called Spicy Curry French Bread.  Seen here by a slice of quiche lorraine and a tomato bagel.

Artigiano seems to have gone to an all-you-can-eat deal for lunch (previously only for breakfast).  Not sure what the price is on that.

Another new entry I tried was the Rustic Walnut bread.  Hearty and good.

Besides construction, bakers and linen cleaners/driers are two jobs that only get harder in this heat that’s finally acting like normal.

Get There Early – And Hungry

Here’s a souvenir brought back fresh from Korea.  We enjoyed this “rye walnut” manju at work.

Below, in a box of the same clever easy construction as that above, three dessert items that were part of the set lunch I had recently at Marino Pizzeria in Tajimi.

The “Pasteria” set lunch is the only option if you’re eating alone, which I was.  ¥1580 is a lot, but gets you a full pasta dish of your choice (I had broccoli/sausage in cream sauce) with all the pizza you can eat (different varieties continuously put out, including some sweet concoctions I didn’t have), and the drink bar, plus the three desserts.  The whole lunch menu is heavily geared (limited) to make it easier for the staff to put out food fast enough to keep everyone happy (longish waits to be seated, so be prepared).  No complaints from me, though.  Just go there on an empty stomach and a long lunch break.  They also have late lunch deals (starting at 2 PM, when it seems to be less crowded), and takeout pizza for ¥990.

More on the Morning Menu

Coming back to the recent breakfast mini-theme, I finally tried out the all-you-can-eat breakfast at Artigiano (Yes, I just went there.  No hiding it).  That is definitely a good deal, and looks to be quite popular.  I got in just before the 10 AM cutoff.  Including iced cafe au lait, ¥520 got me all the bread fixings I wanted.

Take your pick of any of the many types of bread, and be sure to go back for more, as apparently they bring out things that weren’t there before as things run low (I wasn’t sure about actual second trips, so ended up with an embarrassing mountain in my basket).  There were more than a dozen varieties in my self-restricted single trip.  They seem to continue serving until 10:30.  There are non-”viking” breakfasts, too.  In the background here you can see the baking classroom Artigiano has.

Ramen Run

For lunch today a few of us went for ramen to RaiRaiTei in Tajimi, between Valor and Aoki Men’s Shop.  It was my first time to eat at this chain, and my chaashuu ramen was very tasty.  You have many choices as to the hardness of the noodles, the amount of soy sauce in the soup, the volume of scallions (I’ve always thought negi here was halfway in diameter between American leeks and green onions or scallions, so might better be called Japanese green onions based on how they’re used), etc..  I just chose “regular everything.”

Others had the regular ramen, which they said was good, and gyoza.  All reasonably priced.  The energetic staff was happy to let us change our order slightly when we needed to.  The restaurant is non-smoking till 2 o’clock.

Here’s a deal:  They give out seals with each purchase.  When you collect enough, you get a free month’s worth of all-you-can-eat!