August 29, 2013

Afternoon tea at "Afternoon Tea"

Afternoon Tea (アフタヌーンティー)is a Japanese brand of variety store and tea room. In shopping malls, you can find their shops of cute and sensible sundries and comfortable tea rooms. Afternoon Tea is very popular among women. If you gift something of Afternoon Tea, women will be definitely happy. Nowadays it seems they expand business in Taiwan.
"Afternoon Tea" tea room
Cake set (scorn, apple tart and peach short cake)
Earl gray tea
Their tea room is a bit expensive than usual coffee chains like Starbucks, but the quality is much higher for that. Their dishes and cakes are nice. Hand-made taste. Their afternoon tea set is JPY1,500 including a drink and three-choice cakes. Just-baked scorn was good with rich butter flavor. Hot apple tart was mild. Peach short cake was lovely with light cream and fresh peach. You can spend good time. My rating is 3.4 out of 5. Gochiso-samadeshita!

Afternoon Tea (アフタヌーンティー) 

Casual Vietnamese restaurant chain

For casual lunch/dinner of Vietnamese cuisine, a chain restaurant named "Nha Viet Nam (ニャーベトナム)" is convenient. Their branches are in and around Tokyo. Interestingly, whenever I go, most customers are women. Here, women tend to prefer South-Eastern Asian cuisine rather than men (I don't know why). I also visited with a friend.
Inside of Nha Viet Nam
Set meal of Today's lunch 
Set meal of pho and Vietnamese curry
This chain is run by a Japanese company, but staff was Vietnamese people which makes the atmosphere authentic. But the tasting might be adjusted to some extent for Japanese preference. As they provide variety of choice, it was difficult to choose from menu book! Lunch is available from JPY850 and the one I selected was JPY1,300 with pho, Vietnamese curry, salad and fresh raw spring roll. Pho, Vietnamese rice noodle was a bit salty but delicious. Chicken stock made the taste rich. On the other hand,  curry was so-so. But if you want to taste Vietnamese cuisine casually, this chain is recommendable. My rating is 2.8 out of 5. Gochiso-samadeshita!

Nha Viet Nam (ニャーベトナム)  

August 28, 2013

Michelin star ristroante in Marunouchi

On the 36th floor of Marunouchi building (see previous visit), there is a branch of Michelin three-stars Italian restaurant of  Milano called "ANTICA OSTERIA DEL PONTE (アンティカ オステリア デル ポンテ)."  I went  have lunch on a day when I had a small celebration. At lunch time, the dining room was very bright with full of sunshine through the window. Both Italian and Japanese staff provided friendly but formal service. 
Dining room
Amuse (cream of pumpkin on a biscuit)
Carrot mousse
Crab and avocado salad with citrus and grape fruits
Pasta with ricotta cheese cream sauce
Grilled cod with gaspacho
Roasted pork
Creme brulee
Ricotta cheese tart
Petit fours
Herb tea
Different from traditional style of cooking, dishes are cooked lightly to highlight the original taste of each ingredient. But high skill is hidden in the dishes. The taste was fresh but profound and complex. In particular, pork roasted by lowered temperature was impressive for their name. One regret was pasta was not so distinct. Pasta with cream sauce was chilled and caked...the texture was not good (taste itself was good). In this kind of sophisticated Italian ristorante, sometimes it is difficult to see the difference from French restaurant, and that's why pasta is the most expected part.

The price might be a bit expensive. The minimum set meal is JPY4,800 and the one I ate was JPY7,000 at lunch time. Service charge of 10% is added. As for mineral water, if you pay JPY800, you can drink as much as you like. If it were a little bit more reasonable, satisfaction level would be much higher and I could revisit continually...My rating is 3.9 out of 5. Gochiso-samadeshita!

ANTICA OSTERIA DEL PONTE (アンティカ オステリア デル ポンテ)

August 27, 2013

Special shaved ice of Kagoshima

Though the heat of summer has been moderated in recent few days to some extent, we have been suffering from this extreme hot summer... In such situation, something cold is indispensable! The other day, my family tripped to Kagoshima (鹿児島), my mother's home, which is located in Kyusyu (九州), southern part of Japan. As I couldn't accompany, my parents kindly sent me special shaved ice of Kagoshima called "Shirokuma (しろくま)" by delivery service. 
"Shirokuma" shaved ice
Shirokuma means "white bear", coming from shaved ice with much sweetened condensed milk and various fruits. The most famous shirokuma is of "Mujyaki (むじゃき)" at Tenmonkan (天文館). If you go there, there is always long queue. According to the Nikkei news paper, their shaved ice is ranked second in west Japan. In fact, different from ordinary sweetened condensed milk, their milk is unwearied. The balance of sweetness and with fruits might be good. If  you trip to Kagoshima, you can try it! Gochiso-samadeshita! 

Mujyaki (むじゃき)

Traditional Japanese shaved ice at Toraya

Everybody would agree that "Toraya (とらや)" is one of the long-established and representative Japanese confectionery makers. Surprisingly, Toraya has continued its business for about 480 years since the Muromachi era in the 14th century. Their main product is "yokan", bean jelly. As the price is not inexpensive,  Toraya also means "posh" Japanese sweets. You can find Toraya in department store and hotel.   
Toraya in the Imperial Hotel
Chic interior
Shaved ice with bean jam and green tea
In a very hot day, I and sister evacuated to the Imperial Hotel (帝国ホテル) in Hibiya (日比谷) and tasted traditional Japanese shaved ice at Toraya there. It was...wonderful! I could identify clear difference between ordinary ones and Toraya's one. First, the taste of bean jam is very sophisticated. And second, green tea syrup is also elegant. Flavorful, a little bit bitter but sweet.  The balance was perfect. Third, the grain of ice is small, but ice was not easily melted which we can enjoy long.

Shaved ice is available from JPY1,500 at Toraya. If you order smaller size, it costs JPY900 (for me, small size was enough). Considering the location and the taste, it is not so expensive and worth for trying. My rating is 4 out of 5. Gochiso-samadeshita!

Toraya (とらや)   

August 19, 2013

Well-established sukiyaki restaurant in Asakusa

On the left side of the Kaminarimon Gate (雷門) of the Sensoji-Temple (浅草寺) in Asakusa (浅草), we have a well-established sukiyaki restaurant named "Chinya (ちんや)" which has started its business since 1880. The atmosphere is very classic. At the entrance, there is a staff who is in charge of shoes (we take off shoes in Chinya). We can feel the old (or Meiji era's) atmosphere there. 
Kaminarimon Gate of Sensoji Temple
A Meiji-era style private room 
Amuse (pumpkin tofu)
Vegetables and sauce for sukiyaki
Two types of beef for sukiyaki
Start sukiyaki!
Rice, miso soup and pickles
Japanese plum ice cream and tea
Lunch is available from JPY3,800 if we choose standard level of beef. If we want to taste higher rank, we have to pay more. Standard beef was good enough, but higher level beef was more delicious (melt...)! I recommend to mix both standard and higher level of beef. Chinya provides customers with ID number of each beef for ensuring the quality and safety of beef. As the evidence shows, the taste of beef was tasty. Sauce of sukiyaki is rich but mild though the taste of sukiyaki in Tokyo is generally strong.  

As Chinya comprises only private room, you can spend time in a relaxed manner. A staff cooks sukiyaki at first, and they leave us alone. When you want to ask staff, you can call a phone from the room. Cost-performance might not be so high (in particular, at night), tasting sukiyaki near the Sensoji-Temple is a nice experience. Despite the outside, inside of restaurant is very silent. My rating is 3.7 out of 5. Gochiso-samadeshita!

Chinya (ちんや)

August 12, 2013

Off-street small French restaurant in Nezu

Generally, Japanese eat and cook overseas dishes on a regular basis. So, we have many overseas restaurants and French restaurants are also not exceptional. Though the quality is varied, at any hand, competition seems severe. Sometimes, if customers are few at restaurants around my house, I got worried. For rooting them (on its own), I  visit them. This time was "Restaurant RISAKI (レストラン リサキ)."
Restaurant RISAKI
Patty of foie gras
Flan of sea urchin with tomato and consomme jelly
Saute of sole with champagne sauce
Grilled lamb
Hot apple pie
Rich chocolate cake
Lunch is available from JPY1,700 (this time, I ordered a set meal of JPY2,530 which comprises starter, main dish and dessert). Though the restaurant is not so large, white and muted pink colored interior is relaxing. Dishes are mild and delicate. Cooked vegetables are fresh. As oil butter, and cream are not so much used,  stomach does not become heavy. Dessert was also good.  The taste is nice, but something seems missing. Portion might be small (we did not become so full).  Or..vigor or passion might not be enough in their dishes. ...Keep it up! My rating is 3.2 out of 5. Gochiso-samadeshita! 

Restaurant RISAKI (レストラン リサキ)

August 9, 2013

Nice teppanyaki at Tokyo Dome Hotel

In the Tokyo Dome Hotel in Korakuen (後楽園), there is a branch restaurant of Yugyoan-Tankuma-Kitaten(熊魚庵たん熊北店)", a famous Japanese restaurant in Kyoto (see previous visit). They have separate rooms depending on specialty. Rooms for sushi, tempura, teppanyaki, and kaiseki. This time, I tried their teppanyaki.
Entrance of Tankuma
Teppanyaki counter
Grilled vegetables
Consomme soup
Grilled wagyu beef
Japanese pilaf, miso soup and pickles
Fruits and ice cream
Tankuma offers reasonable set meal of teppanyaki at lunch for this kind of restaurant in a hotel. Lunch is available from JPY3,675. Generally, teppanyaki is expensive, but you can try for this price. The taste of dishes was delicious to their reputation. Wagyu beef was tender and rich. Not only grilled wagyu beef, but side dishes were also delicate and tasty. As the beef was not so oily, I felt as if could eat without end. You can eat steamed rice or Japanese rice as much as you can. Lunch is worth for visiting! My rating is 4 out of 5. Gochiso-samadeshita!