Tag Archives: restaurants

Taster’s Choice

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Take Five

Upwards of forty downtown Tajimi establishments are teaming up for this first annual upcoming event, similar to a barhopping “machi-kon,” called “Yume Machi.” Over the course of two days, for the ¥3500 price of one ticket (¥4000 the starting day of the event), you can eat, drink, shop or otherwise partake of services at any five participating shops, restaurants, cafes or bars at no extra cost. You get a map of all the stops and a special hand fan to encourage walking from place to place and identify you as a participant.

It’s a good value, a way to try out some places you thought were out of your price range, and maybe even a chance to make some new friends. Event menus for each spot are here. Tickets are available at participating stores and through the website.

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The event flyer and website are also touting a smartphone app that seems to feature coupons and information on area events and businesses. It seems to be a web app and is called “Tono App.”

Sounding Board?

I’ve written before about the serendiptous effects of background chatter in public places, but this article at Grubstreet.com made me wonder if the wooden slats you often see in area restaurants are part of this New York-born noisier-is-neater trend the article chronicles.

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These boxes on the wall at Secret Time Cafe are the closest thing to slats I have handy on my camera roll (more typically slatlike boards along and behind the counter at this post).

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Another place that comes to mind is Shinsui Cafe (the rounded corner between one whole wall and the ceiling is made up entirely of slats with gaps).

I don’t know. I think there’s a tradition of using wood slats in Japan, whatever the reason. I’ll ask some architect friends. In the meantime, though I often make use of the ambient indiscernable “rhubarb,” I think I’m glad I don’t live in New York.

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A Novel Lunch at Cannery Row

Reader’s Digest

I went to a pasta/pizza restaurant in Meito-ku, Nagoya, called Cannery Row recently. Here’s a condensed recollection as I try to get a few words in while tonight’s lightning seems kept at bay.

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To start, all lunches include the loaded salad bar, which is really an antipasto bar. Very nice variety, all good. I realized I must not have had vichyssoise very much before because it was an enjoyable taste I wasn’t really familiar with. You may need two trips to the buffet. A drink bar is also included.

The regular pasta lunch menu offers several pasta dishes, many quite original, in each of several categories, ranging from around ¥1300 to ¥1800. Pizza lunch menu choices, all about ¥1600 to ¥1700, number eight.

There are also fondue, chicken and fish course lunches available at a premium of around ¥4000. “Dessert sets” are a simple matter of tacking on either ¥150 (one item) or ¥390 (three items) to any lunch set.

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Mm, Mm, Good

From the special Summer Fair Menu, I chose the avocado and shrimp chilled spaghettini. Cold soba noodles are a common cool option in the summer heat, but this was a rare pasta version. I guess I was expecting something like gazpacho, but what I got was a truly new taste sensation I’ve never had before. The mango-pineapple fruit vinegar-infused tomato sauce worked very well with the cold thin pasta, accented with a zingy kick of fresh basil. I might not have thought a cold tomato sauce spaghetti would work, but this definitely did.

Despite its name, Cannery Row doesn’t particularly specialize in seafood (the locale in the Steinbeck novel was a major canning center before the surrounding waters became overfished). Lunch is served from 11 to 3, open year-round. Map link here.

Make Your Old Art Prof Happy

If you enjoy seeing art, you don’t want to miss the nice collection of three centuries of masterpieces by French artists showing at the Aichi Prefectural Museum of Art at Aichi Arts Center in central Nagoya until June 23.

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The exhibition features 66 works spanning periods from Baroque and Rococo to Cubism, from Poussin to Picasso, all from the State Pushkin Museum of Fine Arts in Moscow. As such, it’s a good chance to review your art history knowledge from that college survey course you had to take. The significant changes in each period are outlined in Japanese, and audio guides explaining eack painting are also available in Japanese for 500 yen.

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One of the highlights is a captivating Renoir portrait being shown in Japan for the first time, visible on the poster and admission ticket above. The whole show was a pleasure to see. One painting that especially brought France and French painting home was one called (translation of Japanese) “Paris at Dawn” by Luigi Loir.

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Besides museums, the twelve-storey Aichi Arts Center has a performing arts theater, a library, spaces for contemplation, art shops and restaurants including a Wolfgang Puck Cafe.

Cool Fresh Pasta, Hot Off the Press

I’ll start off this restaurant intro while I’m still on the premises waiting for my after-lunch coffee to cool. I have, as they say, a cat’s tongue.

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I’ve just tried out Mare Melo, a new (update: since last August) “pasteria” in Mizunami. It looks like a nice new choice for a fresh pasta casual lunch, stylish and jazzy (a word used the way cool is now when I was growing up, though the music is a sort of mix of jazz and electronic lounge anyway).

Though seats are a bit limited (twelve seats at six easily rearrangeable tables and four at the counter), it’s wide open space-wise. All non-smoking all the time. Mare Melo is situated halfway between Cafe Crepuscule and the Mizunami route 19 McDonalds. Open for lunch 11 to 3 (dinner 5 to 10), closed Tuesdays.

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They have three levels of lunch specials (no drink, which makes it reasonable for people at work on a lunch break, drink included, and dessert included). All include salad and fresh-baked roll. There are five pasta dishes to choose from. I had an amatorichana. The food was good, though the iced coffee had run out by the time I ordered, thus the cat getting my tongue. And now that I’ve finished my fresh cuppa, I’ll post and run.

Passed It By? Don’t Be Sorry, Try This Nepali

Hot (or mild) on the heels of Upahar, and just as an 81-year old Nepali is set to overtake an 80-year old Japanese climber’s week-old Everest ascent record, there’s another recent addition to the list of area Indian restaurants that deserves more attention than it’s getting, and that’s Makalu Indian/Nepali Restaurant in Toki.

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Starting its fourth month, Makalu is still looking for a little love from area eater-outers. On route 421 between Toki City Hall/Culture Plaza and Toki Ohhashi bridge, the location seems good enough, though actually getting in and out can be a bit puzzling depending on where you’re coming from and going to. The one sure entrance is from route 421. It’s quite visible as it sits in one corner of a relatively busy intersection (with small (not main) route 19) opposite a Circle K and a Shell station.

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The dining area is spacious and clean, with regular tables, tatami-style seating, and counter seats, and a quality flexible varied music stream. There are numerous menu plans, and the chicken curry I had was fine. According to the friendly owner, the customers who do come tend to be regulars, so it seems to be a case of lack of awareness, or maybe just timidity. He used to work at the Nepali restaurant on route 19 in Mizunami, which has long been very popular with foreigners.

If you like Indian, give this place a try. It sounded like the owner is in wait-and-see mode, and it’d be a shame to lose it so quickly. Lunch is from 11 to 3, dinner 5-10:30. Smoking allowed all hours. Takeout available, also. More info as well as coupons can be found in the June issues of both Raseru and Chat shopper’s guide magazines.

Hope Udon Have to Wait Long

It seems I’m often going to places I’d heard about for a long time but had never managed to get to. Well, here’s one more, a noodle shop that’s probably been here as long as a lot of us have been walking the planet.

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Shinanoya udon restaurant, near the tracks going into Tajimi station, has been a favorite of locals for a long, long time. You’ll see when you enter, it’s about as close to a Showa-era homestyle cooking timeslip experience as you can get in a restaurant.

As it’s housed in a traditional long, narrow house, you may have to squeeze past other patrons, or even pass through the kitchen tucked along the side, to reach your seat, either at a table or on tatami mats. You may share a table with strangers, as well.

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The menu is simple, with cold homemade buckwheat noodles, hot udon, and ramen your choices. The udon is thicker and chewier, with a little more resistance than normal udon. The soup has a stronger flavor, as well. To borrow a slogan, they do udon right.

In keeping with the down-home family atmosphere, the owner personally comes around multiple times to see how you’re enjoying your meal, and ask if there’s anything you need. Unusual for a Japanese restaurant.

Since it is small, you should have a backup place to eat in mind in case there’s a long line when you go. Also, I just noticed from the photo, Shinanoya seems to be open for lunch Wednesday through Saturday from 11:30.

Going Solo at Covo Comodo

Today a look at a popular Italian restaurant in the same vein and area as two others I’ve blogged about, Io and Hoshizumi Pasta.

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This is Covo Comodo, located in the same building as Io. Similarly a great place to go if you’re willing to spend a little more than normal for lunch in a nice atmosphere (I think Io is the highest-priced in the neighborhood, with corresponding quality).

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They have an original healthy menu, with some pizza or pasta sets limited to a certain number of customers. I’ve had pizza both times I’ve gone. I went one more time four or five years ago, but it seems like it was a French restaurant then.

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When I went last week, I was leery of being a nuisance, as there aren’t many tables, and I was by myself. There’s often a considerable wait. Oddly enough, I was the second of three single customers, besides other parties that lingered very long, and still there was always at least one table open. This during peak hours. The staff seemed to be sweating it out, dreading having to turn a large party away, all through. Something of a lunch-hour twilight zone, dancing in the dragon’s jaws as it were. Anyway, going alone seems to be okay.

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Above, a badly exposed food action shot, as seems to be my inexplicable irresistible wont with immovable edibles. I’m lousy at foodpics with iPhone 5 Like a child with other ideas, the pâte wouldn’t patiently sit still for a portrait.

The lunch sets all include dessert, which is long on both looks and taste. Mine was ¥1350.

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P.S.: If you get the right table, look for the heart on the shelf. Looks Like a good place to carve some initials.

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Torizara, S’il Vous Plait

Today a look at a French restaurant that’s gotten quite a following as a stylish lunch venue in Tajimi: Cherlan, in the same general area between routes 19 and 248 that encompasses Grandir, Chez Shibata, Hanagyuu yakiniku, Denny’s, and Marino Italian restaurant.

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Cherlan’s mission is to make authentic French dining more accessible and casual than most people’s image. More like the shared style you find at izakaya drinking restaurants, but indisputably French. There are in fact more counter seats than table seats, though it didn’t strike me that way.

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Lunches range from the ¥1550 pasta course to the ¥1900 entrée course, to a ¥2500 combination for those with waistline impunity/indifference. Delectable dessert included. Pictured here is an appetizer combination I’ve since forgotten (but it was good). Service did take a while. The bathrooms were very clean and stylish.

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Reservations aren’t required, but it does fill up fast, starting at 11:30. Also open for dinner from 6 to 10 (last call 9:00). Closed Wednesdays and the third Tuesday. The location is just behind Chez Shibata.