December 9, 2013

Italian restaurant and cafe in the Ueno Park

First half of December in Tokyo is the end of Autumn and beginning of Winter. Still, we enjoy beautiful colored leaves here and there. Ueno Park (上野公園), where a lot of museums, music hall, zoo and Tokyo University of the Arts (東京藝術大学) are located is one of the good spots for seeing autumn leaves in Tokyo. In particular on weekday, we can enjoy calm and peaceful atmosphere of the Park thanks to relatively fewer visitors.  

Shinobazu Pond and Sky Tree
Tokyo University of the Arts
Beautiful gingko trees
The Park is dotted with restaurants and cafes and I haven't visited all yet even though I live just in front.  One day, I had a chance to try an Italian restaurant named "Le quatro stagioni (レ クアトロ スタジオーニ)" and a newly opened "PARK SIDE CAFE (パークサイドカフェ)" with a friend. At lunch time, the Italian restaurant offers set meal at JPY1,200 including salad, soup,pasta or pizza and drink.  The portion might not be big enough for men, but as a casual lunch for women, it was good.  Pizza baked by a big oven was a napoli-style and the chewy texture was delicious. My favorite combination, four types of cheese (especially、gorgonzola!) and honey was dainty!    

Exterior of "Le quattro stagioni"
Salad and soup
Pizza margherita
Pizza quatro formaggio
PARK SIDE CAFE is located near the National Museum of Western Arts (国立西洋美術館) and Tokyo Bunka Kaikan (東京文化会館), a big hall for music, opera, ballet, etc. A big STARBUCKS is just in front of the cafe, but  I personally recommend this local cafe rather than the global chain for feeling culture and arts of the Ueno Park. 
Cake set and fresh herb tea
PARK SIDE CAFE is a woody and comfortable cafe. Through the big windows, the park view is very nice. The price of drinks is a bit higher than chain cafes, but if you order a cake set around JPY1,000, the total cost might be similar or much cheaper. Fresh herb tea was very impressive with full of herb's aroma. Pair tart and cheese cake were not bad at all. Seating in this good location was value for money. If you come to the Ueno Park, why don't you try?

Le quatro stagioni (レ クアトロ スタジオーニ)
PARK SIDE CAFE (パークサイドカフェ)    

November 23, 2013

Lovely donuts of Mister Donut

"Mister Donut (ミスタードナツ)", a donut chain which is originally from U.S. but nowadays is prevalent mainly in Japan, has been recently selling donuts collaborated with Snoopy. Can you see the figure of Snoopy and Woodstock? So lovely, isn't it? The taste was definitely good (though it was a bit difficult to eat as outside chocolate coating easily came to bits..)!
Mister Donut
Woodstock, Snoopy and chocolate pon de ring
Also, if you go to Mister Donut, don't miss new type of donuts called "pon de ring (ポンデリング)" Rice flour might be used for the craft. The chewy texture is very unique and addictive. I love it. This donut is not available in other donut chains. Most items of Mister Donut costs around JPY100 and you can easily try!

Mister Donut (ミスタードナツ) 

November 22, 2013

Michelin one star French restaurant in Ginza

On weekend, I went to a French restaurant named "GINZA chez omo (銀座 シェトモ)" with a friend. The restaurant is located on the 11th and 12th floors of POLA building along the Chuo St. of Ginza (銀座), a posh shopping district. Without reservation, we may not have entered. Chez tomo is very popular particularly among women cause they won one star of Michelin Tokyo, they provide light modern cuisine reasonably, one of their specialty, assorted vegetables is popular for health conscious women, etc.  
High ceiling of "GINZA chez tomo"
Starter (quail terrine, mushroom soup and foie gras mousse) 
Bread and butter 
Second starter (assorted vegetables)
Cod cake
Ingredients of dessert
Peach platter (peach juice, peach jelly and peach ice cream)
Interior of chez tomo is sparkling white and clean. Stylish. With vaulted ceiling, the restaurant is filled with sense of release. Basic lunch set meal costs JPY3,200 with 10% service charge. It consists of first starter, second starter, main dish, dessert and coffee. The second starter was fixed as their specialty "assorted 28-30 different vegetables", but we could choose favorite one from many options in other each category.

True to the reputation, the taste and presentation of chez tomo were sophisticated modern French cuisine. The first starter comprised quail terrine, mushroom soup and foie gras mousse was favorable. Good choice for tasting three different tastes in one plate! As for their specialty, assorted vegetables was....fresh but just normal:). Even so, it was true that the vegetables alleviated our guilty feeling of eating much.

The interesting performance was at dessert. Staff showed us four different ingredients of dessert, and explained how they would make. We decided just with inspiration, and got excited what dessert would be served in reality. Peach platter I had ordered was just like my imagination, and the fresh taste was very nice.

All the tables were fully occupied and seemed busy, but the service was tactful. Since the atmosphere is elegant but casual, we could stay long for chatting even after eating. But the restaurant is mostly dominated by women, men may hesitate to enter... My rating is 3.7 out of 5. Gochiso-samadeshita!

GINZA chez tomo (銀座 シェトモ)

November 9, 2013

Easy-to-use sushi restaurant in Marunouchi

On the underground floor of a building connected to the Marunouchi building (丸ビル see previous visit), we have a sushi restaurant named "Sushidokoro Jyun (鮨処 順)."  Since there are few reasonable sushi restaurants in this area, one of the business centers in Tokyo, Jyun might be a easy-to-use restaurant. The price setting is not cheap, but reasonable for this area.
Sushidokoro Jyun
Inside of the restaurant

Set meal "Kyo (京)" on weekend
Green tea and miso soup
Lunch set meal is available from JPY1,680 on weekend (we ordered a set of JPY2,835 with ten pieces). Different from posh sushi restaurants where we hesitate to enter on first glance, Jyun seems open and easy to enter. We don't have to care so-called "proper manner at sushi restaurant" and we can enjoy sushi in a relaxing atmosphere. 

The most important taste was...modestly tasty! Intermediate between high-class and chain restaurants. Even so, professional skills of chefs were exerted in each piece. In particular, tuna, shrimp, conger and rolled egg containing fish paste were good. Service was quick (maybe they used to serve for busy business men). My rating is 3.4 out of 5. Gochiso-samadeshita! 

Sushidokoro Jyun (鮨処 順) 

November 6, 2013

Impressive mille feuille of Patisserie Tante Marie

On a small street in Yushima (湯島), we have a lovely cake shop named "Patisserie Tante Marie (パティスリー タントマリー)."  Their most famous cake is a cheese cake using gorgonzola, which is not so sweet and suitable with alcohol than tea. The cheese cake is often introduced through the media. But this time, I found their pie and Danish pastries are more marvelous!  
Patisserie Tante Marie
Chestnut's mille feuille
In this season, the decoration of Halloween is cute. The patisserie always prepares variety of fresh cakes, baked confectionery, Danish pastries, etc. Seeing such products makes us fun. Sweet smell encourages us to buy more. In addition to fresh cakes, I bought more Danish pastries than I had planned. 

Chestnut's mille feuille was....just wonderful! This was the most impressive cake among others I have tasted recently. Crispy but heavy pie containing rich butter stratifies and contains fresh chestnut's cream. The harmony was perfect! Whenever I put it in my mouth, I couldn't stop saying "so good"!! Everyone would like it. (but it is difficult to eat prettily).  Sachertorte was also sophisticated and tasty, but the mille feuille won. One piece of fresh cake costs around JPY500. My rating for the mille feuille was 4.8, but as a whole, 3.7. Gochiso-samadeshita!

Patisserie Tante Marie (パティスリー タントマリー)

October 31, 2013

Modern Chinese restaurant in Kanda-sudacho

Though I've heard a good reputation of "Kanda Yun-rin (神田雲林)" through the media and words of mouth on the web for years, I haven't had chance to visit so far cause whenever I made a call, the restaurant was always occupied. But finally, I tasted Yun-rin's dishes and confirmed the reputation is very true. Kanda Yun-rin is a Chinese restaurant run by a Japanese chef, which is located in Kanda-sudacho (神田須田町) near Matsuya, a long-established soba restaurant (see previous visit).
Kanda Yun-rin
Assorted starter
Fried shrimp with tomato sauce
Fried spring roll
Shaoxing wine (10 years, 5 years and new one)
Rraised pork belly
Noodle with shark's fin soup
Almond jelly and fruits with syrup
On weekend, there are three ranges of lunch set meal; JPY1,890, JPY3,200 and JPY5,000 (we ordered the middle one). The set meal (JPY3,200) comprises an assorted starter, three dishes, a noodle/fried rice and a dessert. The composition was good; different taste and different texture of each dish. Most of all, the taste was...wonderful! Each dish was more than expectation! Even an ordinary starter of steamed chicken was very delicious. Usually, I don' t like it so much, but the soft chicken with spicy and profound sauce was surprising. 

A dish of fried shrimp was with sauce of tomato and basil. The sauce looked like an Italian cuisine, but the taste was definitely Chinese! Combination with crispy fried shrimp was dainty. I took my hat off to the chef. And the most impressive dish was a raised pork belly. The meat itself is very soft as if melted in the mouth. The tasting is juicy and salty-sweet. The balance was ideal! (but Chinese people may not think so as Chinese star anise is not used much considering Japanese preference).

The portion was also enough. You can definitely be satisfied. I understood the popularity of this small but high level restaurant. Worth for visiting. My rating is 4.5 out of 5. Gochiso-samadeshita!

Kanda Yun-rin (神田雲林)

October 24, 2013

Tasty hamburger in Sendagi

Along the Dangozaka (団子坂), just near the Sendagi (千駄木) metro station, there is a small hamburger shop named "Rainbow Kitchen (レインボーキッチン)." The atmosphere is like an old american diner, which might be suitable for tasting hamburger:) I visited the shop after a long interval, and I found the taste became much better than before! 
Exterior of "Rainbow Kitchen"
Avocado burger
Bacon cheese burger 
First, they may changed bread. The new bread seems hand-made by a bakery. The soft and dainty bread functions well as a basis of hamburger. The hamburg steak itself is very juicy and delicious. The steak is made of Japanese beef only. The use of seasoning was also good. (though the tasting of avocado burger is a bit light.) 

Curled french fry might be their feature. Its light and crispy texture is addictive. The price of a burger with french fry and pickles is from JPY900 to 1,400. Recommendable burger other than big chains' burgers. My rating is 3.6 out of 5. Gochiso-samadeshita!

October 1, 2013

Kaiseki bento like a treasure box at Kikunoi Akasaka

Kikunoi (菊乃井), one of the big names of Japanese ryotei, is located in Kyoto. They have run ryotei for 100 years providing delicious Japanese kaiseki meal and sophisticated service. When I was a university student, I visited the ryotei. Even for such a young first-time customer, they provided good service and dishes and I have kept it as a wonderful memory. Now, Kikunoi has a branch in Akasaka (赤坂), Tokyo where you can enjoy their essence without going Kyoto. One day, I visited Akasaka branch with my sister.
Gate for Kikunoi Akasaka
Counter seats
Japanese sake and iced roasted green tea
Kaiseki bento
Clear soup with shrimp cake
rice with porgy flakes
Sesame pudding with bean ice cream
Even at lunch time, their kaiseki set meal is JPY10,500 (expensive!). But if you choose kaiseki bento, semi-prepared meal, the price is JPY5,250. Though all customers other than us tasted the kaiseki set meal, we tried the bento. As a result, it was more than enough! Kaiseki bento contained in a Japanese lacqer box was like a treasure box! Around eight different dishes are prepared in each small box, and each taste and texture was different and very tasty. 

In addition, dellicate sashimi, clear soup with shrimp cake, and rice with porgy flakes were served. All of which were very delicious.  As the whole portion was much more than seeing the above pictures, we could be fully satisfied. Service is good. There was no waiter and waitress, but young chefs under training took care of customers. Some of them were not so used to providing elegant service, but their do-it-all-the-way attitude was favorable.When leaving the Kikunoi, a master chef kindly saw us off until the gate and chatting with him was nice. 

As a first step to Kikunoi, why don't you try the kaiseki bento at lunch? If you go Kikunoi Akasaka at night, only kaikeki set meals are available at JPY15,750, 18,900 or 21,000 excluding service charge. Lunch is much reasonable. My rating is 4.6 out of 5. Gochiso-samadeshita!

Kikunoi (菊乃井)