March 30, 2013

Cherry blossoms!!

Cherry blossoms have been in full bloom in Tokyo since last weekend. This is the best moment of spring. We have been looking forward to it after cold winter. In Japan, every weather forecast reports carefully about when cherry will be in full bloom one-two month prior. And if the full-bloom news are reported, people rush to see cherry blossoms. In particular, we love cherry-viewing party which is eating and drinking under cherry trees. It may look curious for people other than Japanese, but enjoyable:)
Cherry blossoms in the Ueno Park 
Many cherry trees around the Shinobazu Pond 
Cherry blossoms along the Shinobazu Pond 
So beautiful!
Cherry blossoms in the University of Tokyo
Night cherry with Kaneiji Temple in the Ueno Park
Night cherry in the Sotobori Park in Yotsuya 
Cherry blossoms at a bridge in Yotsuya 
Illuminated cherry in the Sotobori Park in Yotsuya 
So happy to see beautiful cherry. The white and light pink flowers are so noble and elegant. The cherry tells us that spring has come and everything will start anew. Seeing such cherry, we could forget any sorrow and gain energy to go forward.

Cherry's life is so short. They will be gone in few days. I really miss them and wish them to stay more. On the other hand, I also love such ephemeral beauty. It's like a life. So short and so valuable. I hope everyone enjoys the cherry blossoms in this spring!   

Casual sushi in Toranomon

Kasumigaseki (霞が関)-Toranomon (虎ノ門) area is a barren area of good restaurants. Maybe because it is a business district and close to other nice areas like Ginza, Akasaka, etc. So, if we want to have sushi at lunch time, we always face difficulty. There are many reasonable sushi restaurants there, but they are not so good. Some of them are old and small that women hesitate to enter. But recently, I found a moderate one for this area.
Entrance of Sushi Araku
Lunch set 
Lunch set
Miso soup 
The one I tried with colleagues was "Sushi Araku(鮨あら久)", located on the first floor of a building of a few minutes walk away from the Metro Toranomon Station. Lunch sushi set costs around JPY2,500, whichh is 2.5 times higher than average lunch budget. But in my experience, sushi more than average generally costs at least JPY2,000 for lunch. 

Fishes for sushi were good and well prepared. In particular, tuna and salmon caviar were delicious. But sushi rice was not so sophisticated. Rice is a bit solid, that hinder blending the taste of rice and fish together. Close but no cigar. My rating is 2.8 out of 5. Even so, it is a nice finding in Toranomon! Gochiso-samadeshita! 

Sushi Araku(鮨あら久)

March 27, 2013

Posh cakes produced by a Michelin chef of L.A.

Mitsukoshi (三越), one of the department stores in Japan has sponsored cake shops and cafes of David Myers (デビット・マイヤーズ), a chef of L.A. who won one Michelin star there. The name of cake shop in Mitsukoshi is "SOLA(ソオラ)." Their main product is cubed tube cakes containing flavored creams, though the taste is not so special... so, this time, I tried their fresh cakes other than the tube cakes.
Short cake 
Mont blanc
Even standard cakes such as short cake and mont blanc, the figure is smart and the taste is also nice. Milky fresh and custard cream used for the short cake was nice combination. Rich flavor of Japanese chestnut paste was also delicate for the mont blanc. Much better than their popular tube cakes, surprisingly.

However, considering the price of a cake is around JPY900, which is equivalent to a lunch meal,  it may not be so recommendable. Delicious, but we may also get similar cakes with more reasonable price. My rating for the two cakes is 3.3 out of 5. Gochiso-samadeshita!

March 26, 2013

Casual Italian dining for casual date in Odaiba

When I drove to Odaiba (お台場) area, I entered a casual dining named "Aqua Dining ATU 190 (アクアダイニングアトゥイチキュウマル)" in the AQUACTY ODAIBA (アクアシティお台場). As the name suggests, there are aquariums in the restaurant where tropical fishes swim. Through the window, we can see the illuminated Rainbow Bridge and the Tokyo Bay. Good atmosphere.
The view through the window
Inside with many aquariums 
Carpaccio of porgy    
Vongole bianco withh foam of dried mullet roe 
Grilled pork 
Italian dishes are served. We hadn't expected so much, but dishes were tasty normally.  Each dish costs around JPY1,500 (10% service charge is added at night). Suitable for casual supper. Looking the view and aquariums, you can be relaxed. Of course, most customers were couples in such a good atmosphere. 

But considering that the restaurant is located in the shopping mall, I can say it is not so romantic. For a serious date, I recommend other elegant restaurants:) My rating is 2.3 out of 5. Gochiso-samadeshita!

AQUACTY ODAIBA (アクアシティお台場)
Aqua Dining ATU 190 (アクアダイニングアトゥイチキュウマル)

March 23, 2013

Cost-effective Yakiniku in Uguisudani

By word of mouth and on the web, a yakiniku restaurant in Uguisudani (鴬谷) has been popular. The other day, I tried the restaurant named Uguisudanien (鴬谷園) with many colleagues (cause if we go with few number, we may be misunderstood in that area). As a result...I fully agreed to the word of mouth! Incredible cost-effectiveness...! I ate too much.
Entrance of Uguisdanien
Beer, sauce and brazier for yakiniku
Korean-style pickles 
Tender beef!
VIVA yakiniku!!
Juicy beef!!!
Lettuce for grilled beef 
Perfect beef!!!!
Soupy rice 
In the small yakiniku restaurant, reservation was full on Thursday night. We had to wait for 30 minutes even though we had made a reservation. People started eating at 5pm didn't finish. But we were not allowed to eat more than two hours because next customers from 9pm were waiting. Why so popular? Because we can taste high-quality beef at very reasonable price. 

Beef itself was fresh and nice. Grilled on the brazier, the beef was so sweet, tender, and melted in the mouth. So tasty. Of course, we can enjoy this kind of nice yakuniku at other restaurants....but price should be much higher. Maybe one-half of the average price. We could enjoy yakiniku without caring the cost.

The problem might be...building is shabby (particularly, restroom...) and we can't use credit card unlike ordinary restaurants. Even so, if you are yakiniku lover, you can visit at least onceMy rating is 4.2 out of 5. Gochiso-samadeshita! 

Uguisudanien (鴬谷園)

March 22, 2013

Cherry colored Sky Tree and Asahi fresh beer

On this weekend, we expect cherry blossoms in Tokyo will be in full boom! This is the best moment of spring that everyone waits. Along the season is changing, the Sky Tree is also changed as "cherry blossom." So lovely. My heart leaped. After looking the Sky Cherry, let's have a fresh beer of Asahi Breweries Ltd. in Azumabashi(吾妻橋), near Asakusa (浅草)!
Cherry colored Sky Tree (Sky Cherry?:))
Headquarter of ASAHI Breweries Ltd. along Sumida River 
Asahi's Annex (restaurant complex)
Restaurant "HARMONIC"
So big fresh beer!! (difficult to drink...)
Fish and chips 
Bitter beer (so creamy)
Along the Sumida River (隅田川) near Sensoji Temple (浅草寺) in Asakusa (浅草), the beer- shaped building of headquarter of Asahi Breweries Ltd. is one of the symbols there. There are restaurants/bars run by Asahi Breweries where we can taste their fresh beer. Not only their main products but also not-sold ones at market are available.

At "HARMONIC(ハーモニック)", one of their restaurants, I tasted fresh beer. So nice, fresh, tasty...! Happy to have such a fresh beer in the very center of Tokyo. Side snacks like sausages, fish and chips, etc. are also not so bad (pizza was so so...). 

The price and atmosphere are casual. But I wonder why they had few customers at night. Maybe people don't know or tourists don't across the Azumabashi Bridge (吾妻橋) even though they come to Asakusa. If you go Asakusa and like beer, try Asahi beer! My rating is 4.5 for beer and 2.5 for meals out of 5. Gochiso-samadeshita!

March 20, 2013

Healthy Taiwanese hot pot in Ginza

At a small gathering in Ginza(銀座),  I tasted Taiwanese hot pot at a restaurant named "Ten Shan Fay Way (天香回味)." It is said this hot pot using Chinese herbs was invented by Genghis Khan in Mongolia. And we believe drinking the soup made of various herbs is good for health and beauty. Accordingly, most customers were...women:)
Entrance of "Ten Shan Fay Way"
Meat, shark's fin and kind of pie for hot pot
White fish for hot pot
Vegetables and mushrooms for hot pot
Hot pot with two kinds of soup 
Mango sorbet 
As turmeric is used for the soup, the taste is somehow curry which stimulates our appetite. Ingredients for the hot pot were much, but most of them were variety of mushrooms. Even though we eat much, it wouldn't be bad. The soup is tasty and we could eat up without getting tired. Noodle made by the soup at the end was yummy.

Good thing of this hot pot is we can feel "we did good thing for health and beauty!"  Basic hot pot set costs JPY5,000 per person. Interior is chic and suitable for women. My rating is 3 out of 5. Gochiso-samadeshita!

Ten Shan Fay Way (天香回味)

Handmade steamed meat ban of Kagurazaka

On the other side of Kagurazaka Bishamonten (神楽坂毘沙門天), there is a Chinese restaurant named "Kagurazaka Gojyuban (神楽坂五十番)." I haven't tasted dishes in the restaurant, but I often take away their handmade steamed meat bans when I go to Kagurazaka (神楽坂).
Kagurazaka Gojyuban
Steamed meat ban
Steamed scallop ban 
A steamed ban costs around JPY400. Handmade bans without using chemical seasoning are mild and gentle taste. Outside ban is soft but chewy while inside meat is very juicy. The size is big enough that you can be satisfied. Suitable for afternoon snack. My rating is 2.8 out of 5. Gochiso-samadeshita!