Browsing articles in "Restaurants & Bars"
Nov 16, 2012
Ben

Bake: NYC’s Sarabeth’s hits Shinjuku

All-American queen of the bake-offs Sarabeth, who began her cake and jam biz from her New York digs in 1981, opened doors in Tokyo this month to provide Manhattan-style brunch and high-tea possibilities to pastry-munchers in the Japanese capital. Goods from her own line, such as the infamous “spreadable fruit,” are for taking home after indulging in à la carte fare like ricotta pancakes and pumpkin waffles. Open daily from 9am-10pm in Shinjuku station’s Lumine, Sarabeth’s (2F Shinjuku Lumine 2, 3-38-2 Shinjuku; Tel: 03-3348-5211) could make for an upscale mid-commute meeting spot or a way to get the day started off right.


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Oct 26, 2012
Ben

Doorstep Delights: Get what you want from Tokyo’s delivery spots

Amenro La Fiesta

Amid Roppongi’s international kaleidoscope is a haven of home-cooked Mexican cuisine—with a free-flowing party vibe to boot—in the form of Amenro La Fiesta.

All the dishes at La Fiesta are made with natural ingredients and no chemical seasonings. Classics like nachos (¥880-¥1,080), quesadillas (¥660-¥880), tacos (hard or soft, ¥800-¥1,180), or fajitas (¥1,760-¥2,280) are on the menu alongside cheeky curiosities like the queso fundido (¥790), a rare-in-Tokyo dish of melted cheese with chorizo (a cauliflower-and-broccoli option is available for veggies).

The margarita (¥780) is made with fresh lemons, and Mexican beer and tequila are on hand, too, to lubricate your adventure. And the drinks are reasonably priced—Negra Modelo, Tecate, Dos Equis, Sol and Corona all cost ¥700. The drinks list also features sangria (¥500) and a half-dozen varieties of piña coladas (¥1,180).

But it’s not just about Tex. The menu also includes authentic Mexican meals such as mole poblano (¥1,980) and beef a la tampiqueña (¥2,480), plus appetizers like camarones al ajillo (garlic grilled shrimp, ¥1,230). So, whether you’re looking for the US take or real South-of-the-Border cooking, this friendly and colorful restaurant has the meal for you. And if you fancy opening up a La Fiesta taste sensation in your own office or home, they’re happy to deliver their delicious dishes to your door.

2F 3-15-23 Roppongi, Minato-ku. Tel: 03-3475-4412. Email: lafiestaroppongi@yahoo.co.jp. Open daily 11:30am-2pm (LO) & 5-11:30pm (LO). Nearest stn: Roppongi. http://r.gnavi.co.jp/g258900

Burger Mania Shirokane / Hiroo

Imagine you’re stepping into a New York City hamburger café in downtown Tokyo, at one of two branches of Burger Mania. Their woody, open-plan design marks them out from your typical Japanese burger house, as does the tasty, wide-ranging menu.
The burgers have become a favorite with Japanese and foreigner alike—a common phrase heard when walking past their front windows, open during warmer months, is a declaration that these are the best burgers in the city. And the gushes of praise are often accompanied by punters buying their kawaii burger keyrings.

So what’s the fuss about? Well, the Ultimate Blue Cheese Burger (¥1,300) and the Bacon Cheese Burger (¥1,250) are the most popular orders on the slate. Sides include French fries with sour cream and sweet chili (¥600). Customers can select toppings to give sandwiches a personal touch, too.

In a sumptuous twist, you can enjoy the fine sandwiches of Burger Mania without even leaving your home or office, via a delivery service operated by FineDine. To keep the delicious dishes piping hot, insulation packs are used on all deliveries. Please note that delivery prices can differ from the restaurant menu.

Look out for Burger Mania’s revamped menu coming out in November, with many more elegant varieties to choose from.

Shirokane: 6-5-7 Shirokane, Minato-ku. Tel: 03-3442-2200. Delivery: Tel: 03-5791-3130 (FineDine Azabu).
Hiroo: 2F Hiroo Rokkoukan 5-15-25 Azabu, Minato-ku. Tel: 03-5422-7899. Delivery: Tel: 03-5775-1860 (FineDine Aoyama).
www.burger-mania.com

Domino’s Pizza Japan

Foreigners in Japan rarely get used to Japanese pizzas with mayonnaise, corn, and other strange toppings. Fortunately they don’t have to. Domino’s Pizza Japan offers authentic US-style pizzas with all the right ingredients. And they get it to your door with no hassle.
Ordering stuff in Japan can be tricky without the lingo. That’s why the kindly folks at Domino’s have set up an easy-to-use, all-in-English website. All you have to do is browse the pictorial menu, punch in your choices, and sit back. Your food is freshly prepared and delivered hot and steaming half an hour later. Choose from specialty pizzas, build-your-own where you choose the toppings (they even offer mayonnaise—just in case), and gain access to succulent special offers.

One such bargain is valid until September 30. Order up a Brooklyn Pizza and get a whole other one absolutely free. There are four delicious varieties, including the Brooklyn Kings, with ground sausage, fresh, juicy tomato, and a tasty range of other toppings. To claim the deal, just sign up to the English website of Domino’s Pizza Japan (registration is free, quick, and easy), and go to “Special Offers.”
If you’re not keen for pizza—or fancy branching out—Domino’s also offers tasty subs, fried chicken, pasta dishes and a whole menu more. And with over 200 stores around Japan, you won’t have any trouble getting your meal, wherever you live.

Open daily 11am-midnight (can vary by store). Email: customer@dominos.jp. www.dominos.jp/eng/

Munchies Catering

In the context of growing fast-food consumption in Japan, Munchies Deli Tokyo was born out of a desire to promote a healthy eating lifestyle for today’s busy urban folk. Putting this philosophy into action, this versatile catering business is highly selective in its sourcing, using only the safest additive-free ingredients.

Chefs use these raw materials to create a variety of healthy dishes to cater for the most extravagant of events. Munchies aims to please a full range of customers, whether they be large corporate groups, bands of old friends coming together, or teenagers at a birthday party. The folk at this friendly, family-style company believe parties needn’t be the realm of greasy snacks, but can be a place where the best features of fresh food can be enjoyed.

Munchies is happy to deliver the fodder to the venue at a time of your choosing. For hot food, special heat packets are included, so that the dishes can be reheated and served steaming to guests whenever you wish. The menu is awash with delicious original recipes, but some of the most popular are the finger foods and pinchos.

For orders exceeding ¥30,000 Munchies will even throw in a free bottle of wine to help boost the party spirit. Get in touch with any questions you might have, or peruse the website to see what’s on offer.

2F Loop-X Bldg, 3-9-15 Kaigan, Minato- ku. Tel: 0120-875-191. Email: order@munchiesdeli.com. Open daily 10am-8pm, closed New Year season. www.munchiesdeli.com

YoyoMarket.jp

Tired of spending your precious time off driving hours in traffic to Costco or IKEA? Never bothered going because you don’t have a car? Trips to those far-flung outlets are a thing of the past thanks to Tokyo’s sprightly foreigner-friendly delivery service, Yoyo Market. Hit them up online and get deliveries of the best of Costco and IKEA as well as a host of other imported and organic goodies.

Yoyo Market offers the fastest shipping in the business. Order before noon on a weekday to get the package on your doorstep before noon the next day—and that’s for almost all of Japan. The easy-to-read English-language info on the website clearly explains all relevant details, such as the ¥950 shipping fee per box up to 25kg (no matter what’s in it), how to access their friendly, accessible support and other features likely to make the Western consumer weep with joy. There are no hidden charges like extra shipping for chilled or frozen foods. And aside from foodstuffs (real baking powder, anyone?), Yoyo Market has a wide variety of fabric softeners, detergents, and even deodorants. Have a browse and see what you find.

If you spend over ¥30,000, you can get shipping for free. And for every ¥100 yen you spend, you’ll earn ¥1 in Yoyo Reward Points. Enter METRO-1 into the coupon code field when you check out, and receive ¥500 off orders over ¥15,000.

http://yoyomarket.jp

Oct 12, 2012
Ben

Bake: Pain au… yuzu


Fourth-generation baker Gontran Cherrier (BC Salon, 1-14-11 Shibuya, Shibuya-ku) enjoys a rock-star following among foodies in Paris. After a successful boulangerie opening in Singapore, the first Japan outlet has opened near Shibuya station. Signature selections include a delicately layered artisanal pain au chocolat and pain melon. The baker has a talent for incorporating local ingredients into traditional French recipes—be sure to try the squid-ink or curry baguettes, hearty bread made with red miso, or the yuzu cheesecake. There is a small eat-in area on the first floor and a café on the second.


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Oct 5, 2012
Ben

Meat: Sushi with a difference

Two fine purveyors of meat in one traditional Japanese house? Ro to Matagi (2-14-21 Sangenjaya, Setagaya-ku; tel: 03-5787-8171) serves up robatayaki, or cooking over fire, with exceptional tidbits such as seared stingray fin (¥400) and wild boar (¥980). The newly opened Niku Zushi (Tel: 03-5787-8334) on the same premises is a pioneer in meat sushi, with for example succulent chunks of basashi (raw horse meat)—said to have more iron than spinach or liver. Head down to cater to bloodthirsty urges for quivering flesh. And you can eat meat there, too.


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Sep 20, 2012
Ben

Watering Hole: Home-brew heaven in Yoyogi

Japan’s homebrew hero Ichiri Fujiura and his wife Michiko Tsutsui, a former manager at Vivo, have pooled talents to bring thirsty Tokyoites a new addition to the jibiru circuit. Watering Hole promises a nice marriage of domestic and international selections, with big hitters such as Stone and BrewDog alongside local breweries like Isekedoya and Harvest Moon.

The nineteen taps—handmade by Fujiura—plus two hand-pumps mix creative choices and crowd-pleasers. Beer styles run the gamut from pilsner to barley wine, with something to satisfy every taste. Better yet, next year the couple’s adjacent brewery, Tharsis Ridge, will add its own craft beer to the lineup. Most pints run ¥1,000-1,300 yen; a better deal than the half-pints, which start at ¥750. The indecisive can spring for a beer flight for ¥1,000.

To start, I opted for Beer Buddy’s New Zealand IPA, a hoppily crisp beer that suited the weather perfectly. My partner went for Nihonkai Club’s Bohemian Style Pils, and ended up with a glorified Ebisu. Not bad, but not great. We quickly moved on, ready for something heavier. Epic Brewing’s Rio’s Rompin’ Rye and Ballast Point’s Tongue Buckler seemed to fit the bill.

At 10 percent ABV, many bars serve the latter in a smaller snifter or tulip glass. Watering Hole gives you a pint. This alters the flavor slightly, emphasizing the hops more than the sweetness, and it proved the favorite. Epic’s Rye, on the other hand, seemed heavier and cloudier than on a previous tasting. We asked if it was the bottom of the keg.

Let me tell you: this staff knows their stuff. We found out how long the keg had run, that it was from the middle, and that it was a live beer, accounting for the taste change. Even more impressive was the friendly, helpful manner of the answer. These are people who love their beer.

On our way to being sozzled, we deemed it an appropriate time for food. The menu is small but varied. The organic green salad (¥700) is fresh and generous, but the dressing underwhelming. We wished we’d ordered the sausage (¥600)— we salivated every time the sizzling platters went out. The fried hops (¥350) come with a warning on the menu—“bitter!!”—but the flavor is nuanced. They paired nicely with the heavier-bodied Rye; less so with the already complex Tongue Buckler.

Luckily for jibiru fans this bar lives up to its name, offering a good range served by helpful staff, and decent food alongside. Skip the water, and drink more beer.

Menu: Japanese & English
Price Range: Half-pints from ¥750; pints from ¥1,000
Smoking Rules: Nonsmoking seats available
Seating Tips: At the bar or by the window
Pros: Nice selection and good location
Cons: Over-priced half pints
Address: 5-26-5-103 Sendagaya, Shibuya-ku
Tel: 03-6380-6115
Station: Yoyogi
Hours: Open daily 3-11:30pm
Homepage: http://wateringhole.jp

Sep 7, 2012
Ben

Family Table: Several kid-friendly eateries that are adult-friendly, too


Pierette Near Futako-Tamagawa station, kids will want to pirouette with joy at Pierette (4-15-30, Seta, Setagaya-ku; www.pierette.jp), a massive indoor play complex produced by educational toy importer and retailer BorneLund Ltd. Multiple zones—the cyberwheel, air castle, circuit and baby gym, among others—are designed to amuse and captivate kids up to age 12, while the Garden Café provides sustenance and refreshment before and after energetic bouts of play. Adults can rest assured that all menu items have been tested for potential allergens, and choose from either a Japanese or Western set (¥980) as the kids tuck into their own curry (¥530), or a special basket of goodies (¥630). Various admission charges apply.

 

BABY KING KITCHEN

Courtesy of Baby King Kitchen

At first glance, the wooden toys, miniature slide, “library” books and indoor swing suggest kids rule the roost at Baby King Kitchen (2F, 3-2-15 Koenji-Kita, Suginami-ku; www.babykingkitchen.com), but a stylish interior comprised of leather sofas, burnished wood and chalky walls ensures visiting adults will also feel right at home. At ¥1,100, the children’s lunch plate is pricier than many items on the grown ups’ menu, but when a hamburger, fried egg, cocktail wiener sausage, battered shrimp, rice, salad and dessert are up for grabs, even the fussiest of eaters will be placated.

 

BILL’S ODAIBA

© Yoshitaka Matsumoto

Kids’ meals are all grown up at Aussie chef Bill Granger’s Odaiba outpost (Seaside Mall 3F, 1-6-1 Daiba, Minato-ku; http://bills-jp.net), where worldly whippersnappers feast on adaptations from the adults’ menu. If the grilled salmon with beans and mash doesn’t appeal, wean your child on sophisticated versions of kid-friendly staples such as the wagyu burger, chicken schnitzel with garlic mashed potatoes and for budding vegetarians, spaghetti with cherry tomatoes, ricotta, spinach and Pecorino. All are available with a choice of four desserts for ¥1,100.

DEAR KIDS CAFÉ

It’s not your everyday café restaurant that boasts its own playground, but such is the case with Dear Kids Café (1-25-3 Kamishakujii, Nerima-ku;www.dearkids-k.com), a cavernous and brightly colored tot-friendly space where children can amuse themselves with rubber balls, climbing equipment and a slide while parents tuck into pizza, pasta or a salad, and a beverage or two. A small surcharge of ¥350 is levied on children aged between 1-6 years for the first hour of playground use, but if one of the special kids’ meals (¥580) or pizza, pasta and sandwich are ordered, the hour becomes free.

 

TOKYO BABY CAFÉ

Don’t let the name fool you—the Tokyo Baby Café (B1F, 4-5-12 Jingumae, Shibuya-ku; www.tokyobabycafe.com/english) is as much for parents as it is for kids. Apart from luxe amenities such as spacious changing areas and nursing rooms, the café is stocked with picture books and toys galore, allowing parents to relax because their children are playing safely and not causing mayhem. The menu caters for customers of all ages, and a limited number of Oisix-sourced organic lunch sets are available daily. Exclusively for the under-seven set (accompanied by parents or guardians) and pregnant women, the Tokyo Baby Café charges ¥500 per half hour for use of its facilities on top of any food and beverages ordered.

 

SUN2DINER

Courtesy of Sun2Diner

A relaxed and easy vibe, stroller-friendly interior, non-smoking area and BBQ goodies galore have all helped make Nakameguro burger and grill restaurant Sun2Diner (Ogawa Building 1F, 2-43-11, Kamimeguro Meguro-ku; http://sun2diner.com) a finger-licking family favorite. Children are also in for a special treat with their very own Kids’ Plate (¥650) including mashed potato, pancakes, scrambled eggs, drinks and vanilla ice cream. Time your visit right and you might also get to see some old school animation along the lines of Tom and Jerry on the venue’s TV.

 

CHANO-MA

Daikanyama is home to numerous baby and children’s shopping outlets, and after an energetic morning (or afternoon) of retail therapy, mamas and papas are advised to take a relaxing break at Chano-ma, housed in the same building as the Unit nightclub (2F Za House Bldg, 1-34-17 Ebisu-Nishi, Shibuya-ku; http://chano-ma.jp). From11:30 am until 5pm the venue runs an extended “Chano-mama lunchtime,” a space in which parents can enjoy eating organic food from Hokkaido while their babies lounge, play and nap on the spacious canvas-covered tatami seating area. Changing facilities are top notch and Chano-ma also organizes “Happy Birthday photo sessions” for the junior set.

Aug 31, 2012
Ben

Juice: Your Recovery Stop After a Work Out or All Nighter


Squeezing the good stuff out of the superfood boom that rattled the West a few years back is Sky High Juice Bar (TN Aoyama Bldg, 2-3-4 Shibuya, Shibuya-ku; www.skyhigh-tokyo.jp), where you can sip on concoctions of chemical-free liquids squeezed from all manner of mostly organic pods, husks and berries. To get over your night doing something more damaging in Shibuya, try the detox sweet green (¥1,000) with kale, celery, cucumber, cabbage, apple or pear, plus lemon and ginger for a little added zing and color. Other blends are offered to target whatever your problem might be, be it skin, blood, or an inability to sing in tune.

source: Metropolis

Aug 27, 2012
Ben

Warayakiya: “Seariously” succulent in Roppongi

Having walked past Warayakiya many times, and always thought it looked beautiful but probably too touristy and very expensive, we decided to try it out when friends were in from out of town. Turns out we were wrong on both counts.

We booked Saturday morning for that night to be rewarded with the best table in the house—one running the length of the open front windows. Seating is also available on the deck outside, or at the counter to witness the chefs employing the technique from which the restaurant gets its name.

The warayaki cooking method from Kochi in Shikoku uses straw instead of coal for a greater burning temperature. The 900-degree Celsius fire is perfect for lightly searing food without touching the insides. A favorite recipient of this nifty trick is Kochi’s specialty, katsuo (bonito).

This is the flagship dish of Warayakiya (¥1,280), and the slabs of red seared fish, served with slices of garlic, wasabi and crystal salt on the side, are like buttery steaks. The meatiness is locked up in a soft, wanton texture, and we eschewed soy sauce in favor of the crystal salt to avoid undue influence on its purity. It’s worth coming here for this dish alone.

But while you’re at it of course, you might as well order more from the pictorial menu (available in English). We tried the deep-fried eel (crunchy on the outside, gooey on the inside; ¥680), the seared mackerel sushi (spectacular; ¥880), and a surprise hit: the deep-fried sweet potato (¥580) that tasted like an exquisite fairground treat.

While all this was going on we were tucking into varieties of sake at an alarming rate (from ¥380). The entertaining list features a grid with two axes: sweet versus dry on one, light vs. strong on the other, with the labels distributed accordingly. We carried out some tastings and failed miserably at guessing which was which. Though we did successfully get drunk.

The décor, with a wooden porch-like facade, subtle lighting and a summer breeze wafting in from the street, gives a classy burnish to the proceedings—as does the mostly Japanese urbanite crowd chattering and noshing away. The only incongruous element to the experience was, happily, the price. For ten or so dishes, half a dozen tokkuri of sake, two rounds of shochu sours (from ¥480) and even a digestif to round it off, the damage was an undamaging ¥4,000 per head. Maybe it’s got something to do with the price of straw.

[Menu] Japanese,English

[Price] ¥4,000 per person with drinks

[Seats] Counter to watch the straw blaze

6-8-8 Roppongi, Minato-ku

Tel: 03-5410-5560

[Nearest station]  Roppongi

Open Mon-Sat 5pm-5am, 5-11pm Sun & hols

 

Aug 9, 2012
Ben

Craft Beer Market

By David Labi

Slurp through 30 types of beer at a vibrant, open-fronted bar in the Bohemian urban-suburbia of Jimbocho, courtesy of Craft Beer Market’s second branch. The first one in Toranomon has been such a success since opening last year that this new locale was unveiled a couple of months back to some media fanfare. Which perhaps explains why, when arriving there at 5pm, the entire place was booked out. We’d heard a reservation was recommended, but figured getting there early would be fine. Wrong.

We managed to wrangle a table for a limited two hours. That gave us an excuse to order practically everything on the menu in record time.

Most ales are Japanese, from Shikoku, Saitama, Kanagawa and more, with international wildcards thrown in. We kicked off with a Belgian cherry beer less sweet than its aroma, which layered the palate reasonably. Various other beers came and went, but none were particularly satisfying. The hoppy beers seemed too hoppy, while the fruity beers were too fruity or not fruity enough. Some were wonderful on the first sip, only to be scuppered by a bizarre aftertaste. We’re not craft connoisseurs, but it was quite difficult to find one that really worked. The victor was a Kanagawa yuzu beer. You couldn’t taste the yuzu but the ale was great.

The otoshi—tasty tostados of tuna salad—turned us onto the food menu, with assorted snacks and Japo-Mediterranean fusion. Pass over the paltry ham (half portion; ¥900) for the rotisserie chicken that revolves seductively above the shiny taps. A whole bird comes quartered for ¥1,600, with a lip-smacking flavor to its crispy skin. The skinny and herby chips (¥600) are abundant, dusted with chilli powder for some bite.

All this tucker couldn’t soak up the gallons o’ ale. At ¥480 a glass, it’s more economical to get pints for ¥780, but the desire to try kept us on the glasses. Plus most come only slightly chilled, and even a glass’s dregs could get a little soupy.

The place is smartly laid out with high, square wooden tables, bottles and kegs on display and a chalkboard beer map of Japan. But the best part is the Tokyo rarity of an open front that allows the summer breeze (if any) to float in. Smokers are confined to a small corner box, and there’s a small standing-only area.

In the end we were glad to be kicked out at 7:15pm, as a longer stay would have led to bankruptcy. The costs mount up as you’re chugging down the glasses, and the food, though generally respectable, is not cheap. All in all it was fun tasting a range of Japan’s craft beer, but gimmicky flavors might make you wish for a smaller, and better, selection.

______________________________________________________________________________________

[Menu] Menu in Japanese

[Price] Beer ¥480 (glass), ¥780 (pint)

[Smoking] Mostly nonsmoking

[Seats] Anywhere, but reserve!

 

1F, 2-11-15 Jimbocho, Chiyoda-ku
Tel: 03-6272-5652
Open: Open daily 11:30am-2pm; 5-11:30pm
Nearest stn: Jimbocho
www.metropolis.co.jp
Jul 27, 2012
Francesco Agresti

Piano Bar My Scotch

By Jeff W. Richards

Sometimes you want to go where everybody knows your name, and sometimes…not so much. Amidst all the glamour and clamor of the Roppongi streets, sometimes you just want a small bar that serves straightforward standards and doesn’t try to be your best friend—a place where it is comfortable to not talk, where you can eschew the editorial “we.” With most enticing street level signage ushering you into a land of cover charges, pricing systems and surcharges it’s easy to become cynical, and you can be forgiven for taking the words “happy hour” with a grain of salt.

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