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Eating out in Tokyo

Vietnamese Restaurant: Roppongi

BONGSEN Restaurant.

I have often rode past BONGSEN Restaurant on my rides around Tokyo and wanted to try their Vietnamese food.  The other night we walked from Harajuku to Roppongi and the walk had us in the mood for some pho.

The restaurant is presentable and the staff very friendly and attentive.  We started our meal with a can each of 333 while we were waiting for the food to arrive.  We ordered less than normal, not knowing just how hungry we were, but thinking we’d order more later.  The first two dishes were great: stir-fried morning glory with pork (a little salty), and then steamed rolls.  The steamed dumplings weren’t spring rolls or gyoza, but something in-between the two.  They were delicious and we planned to order more.  Next came the pho.  You can choose from two sizes and we luckily chose the smallest.  This is the worst pho I have ever tasted.  It had little to no flavour and was a huge disappointment.  I have no idea if it was sent out by accident or if this is really how they serve their pho, but we were so let down that we decided not to order anything else and to just leave.  Bad, bad pho.  I can recommend the other dishes, but I would NEVER order the dirty dishwater tasting soup they have the nerve to call pho.  Shame… it would have been good to have found an all-round Vietnamese restaurant.

viet.jpg

October 20, 2006 Posted by | Restaurants | 4 Comments

Sri Lanka Festival 2006

 

I attended the Sri Lanka festival in Yoyogi Park for the first time this year.  I had meant to go last year, but I forgot.  This year I had it in the calendar and had booked Eri and Take in to join me there (had invited Shanna too, but she had family in town).

 Being held in the same location as the yearly Thai festival it’s hard not to compare the two – best not to though.  There were some performances and other entertainment, but I’m not going to try and paint myself as some kind of cultural aficionado – I was there for the food.  What can I tell you? I was under-whelmed.  Possibly the food is a lot better in the restaurants, but what I had was dry or packed with MSG.  The samosas were okay, but not amazing and the roti wasn’t fabulous. I had the vegetable dish that’s chopped up and stir-fried with vegetables, which was really disappointing.  Lacking in spice and heavy in pepper and MSG, this dish really didn’t sell me on much else, so we decided not too over indulge (as had been my plan) and to take a walk into Yoyogi Park to sit under a tree and have a chat.

October 20, 2006 Posted by | Bits & Bobs | Leave a comment

Sri Lanka Festival 2006

FestivalI am off to the Sri Lanka Festival in Yoyogi Park this weekend.  Hope to try some great food and have lots to write about it afterwards.

The festival is on October 14 and 15 from 10am to 6pm.

October 11, 2006 Posted by | Bits & Bobs, Facts | Leave a comment

PIZZERIA 1830

The first Pizzeria opened in Naples, Italy in 1830 and being a true Pizzeria, 1830 in Nogizaka has taken it’s name from that date.

We have often walked past 1830 and smelt the delcious smell of wood-oven pizza wafting out onto the street, finally on Friday night we went in and placed an order.  So glad we did.  Not knowing what to eat we settled on the Calamari Arrabbiata (which was served cold), a simple green salad and their Rosso Pizza Corner (smoked ham, asparagus, gorgonzola cheese and petite tomato).  Wonderful.  We could have had two, but we decided to leave room for a bottle of wine and a cheese plate at Dance (which is located not far up the road).

If you haven’t been to 1830, go.  And if you know of an even better Pizzeria, let me know – as I am officially hooked!!!

July 9, 2006 Posted by | Restaurants, Wine | 1 Comment

Turning Japanese

Last night, for the first time possibly, I cooked Japanese!!  I have made nabe, yakitori and okonomiyaki etc before, but I've never tried to cook something with a shoyu/mirin flavour.  I am always worried about getting the flavours right, but last night I decided to give it a go.  The shoyu/mirin taste is very Japanese to my way of thinking and although it's very easy I have always avoided it.  Last night my "ぶたしょうがやき" (grilled pork in ginger) was a success. 

After the meal we had a bottle of Coriole 2005 Racked Chenin Blanc, which was sweet and delicious!!

Coriole 2005 Racked Chenin Blanc 

June 11, 2006 Posted by | Cooking, Wine | 1 Comment

PHO THAI TOKYO

Pho Thai is a tried and true favourite of mine in Tokyo.  Originally called Pho Thai Down Under and located in Roppongi they moved to Tameike-sanno a year or two ago.  When they first moved we thought they had closed down, but luckily we re-found them & have been enjoying their food ever since.

Pho Thai’s menu is smaller than the original Pho Thai Down Under, but the quality hasn’t changed.  There food is fresh and delicious and the flavours authentic.  The restaurant is small and located in the basement, but the service is friendly and quick and they always remember their regulars.

The night we went we had; chicken satay, fish cakes, a chicken larp, garlic fried prawns, fried noodles (with Chinese five spice flavours) and fried fish in chili and garlic sauce.  I only had my cell phone with me, so the photos are from that – do excuse the quality.  The meal was great and we left well fed and with huge smiles on our faces.

pho3.jpg   Thai Fish Cakes
 

June 10, 2006 Posted by | Restaurants | Leave a comment

Thai Festival Tokyo 2006

Yoyogi Park May 13th – 14th 2006

Well the rain certainly didn’t keep the crowds away from this year’s Thai Festival.

We finally got motivated to leave the house today at around 11am.  By the time we arrived at Yoyogi-koen it was pretty wet and dismal, however the festival was in full swing and the crowds were eating drinking and having a wonderful time.As I wrote earlier, this festival is one of my favourite yearly foodie events.  I love my Thai food and this is a great way to eat some tried and true favourites from various restaurants around Tokyo.  There must have been nearly 40 restaurants represented there today and they all had something I had a hankering for! 

I should of course mention that the festival also showcases arts, crafts, Thai products and services etc.

So, what did I shove in my face today… fish cakes, satays, duck soup, fried dumpling, tapioca, singha beer, po pia thot, crispy chicken, garlic fried prawns, chicken with holy basil, mangosteen… well, to be honest… yes.  I went with a friend and between us we ate far too much.  We didn’t always pick well, as some stalls/restaurants are naturally better then others, and we didn’t always finish each dish, but we did sample a lot of Thai food.  Anyway, here is a list of some of the restaurants we tried and enjoyed: Pho Thai (always a fav), Chao-Thai, Baan Rim Pa, Thai Country (the only Thai I’ve had in Shinjuku) and Krung Siam (though I am sure there were many more that we excellent… these are just the one’s I can remember).  I can only strongly vouch for Pho Thai as an actual restaurant, as I have eaten in its actual restaurant often and always enjoyed my meals there (the quality one expects from a food stall and a restaurant differ considerably after all).

At the festival you can also stock up on Thai cooking goods (coconut milk, fresh herbs, Thai soy sauce) and imported tropical fruits.  We got a box of mangosteen and I doubt it’s going to last long!  I’m posting this on the Saturday, so for those of you who read this in time and still want to go, you have tomorrow to make your way there and enjoy all that the Tokyo Thai Festival has to offer!

 

May 13, 2006 Posted by | Bits & Bobs | 1 Comment

Cafe Dance

Café Dance   7-8-4 Roppongi Minato-ku Tokyo  Ph: 03-3478-7177

We had long been looking at the wine list on Café Dance’s website and longing to go.  It’s funny how you can plan to go somewhere for so long and just never get there… luckily we made it to Café Dance last night.

Roppongi is a place I usually avoid at all costs.  It doesn’t feel like Tokyo and there are so many nicer places to spend time.  That being said, Café Dance was worth the trip. The wine list is excellent and varied.  They import a number of wines not available anywhere else and their prices are very reasonable.

Having already been the Australian Wine Tasting event prior, we were already pretty “socially lubricated” and so decided to stick with just wine by the glass.  The owner (who was so friendly and accommodating) allowed us to taste a couple of the glass wines before we made our selection, which was an added bonus.  I had a glass of Best’s Late Harvest Riesling which was subtle and not too sweet and then I followed this up with a delicious glass of Joseph Cabernet Sauvignon Merlot.  Joseph (Primo Estate) is only available at Café Dance. 

Food wise we mainly picked at Hors D'oeuvres: prawn and avocado salad, some cheese, prawn and basil wantons, pickles and then I had the veal in port vinegar sauce and my friend had the grilled scallops.  The food was simple and not overly priced, but clearly the wine is the main event.

Café Dance obviously has a lot of regular customers and we could see why.  The service is relaxed, attentive and friendly.  We’ll certainly be going back!

May 13, 2006 Posted by | Restaurants, Wine | Leave a comment

Wine Australia Tasting 2006

Radisson Miyako Hotel Tokyo (Friday May 12th 2006)

Last night I attended an Australian wine tasting event at the Radisson Miyako Hotel.  It was a great event and amazing to see the amount of people interested in Australian wine.  There were a great number of wineries that already have distribution in Japan, but also a large number of wineries looking for distributors. 

Some of the highlights for me were; Sally’s Paddock, Skillogalee Wines, Bass Phillip Wine, King Island Cheese, Wild Duck Creek, Cullen, Leeuwin Estate and Wynns Coonawarra Estate.  I also lucked out at a stall serving Maggie Beer Quince Paste, I was telling some Japanese people what a wonderful product it was and the rep gave me a free Quince Paste for my “excellent sales pitch”.  Little bit of wine and I’m gushing I guess.

It was interesting for me to see the wines looking for representation and the number of people interested in (and aware of) Australian wine.  I have long been interested in starting an Australian wine shop (with tasting bar) or an Australian food purveyor here in Tokyo.  If I won the lottery tomorrow it would be my business of choice, so it was interesting to see that it could be quite successful.

If you missed this year’s event, then I suggest you keep an eye on the Australian Wine Office site and hope that they run the event next year too.  It was a great event and enjoyable for amateurs (like me) as well as connoisseurs.

May 13, 2006 Posted by | Wine | Leave a comment

THAI FESTIVAL 2006

Tokyo's Thai Festival runs this weekend (May 13-14) in Yoyogi-Koen from 10am to 8pm.

 

It's a great event! 

Thai Festival 2006 .
Date: 13-14 May 2006, 10.00-20.00hrs.
Venue: Yoyogi Park in Shibuya-ward, Tokyo
How to access:
10 minutes walk from Yoyogi-Hachiman station (Odakyu Line)
– 10 minutes walk from Harajuku station (JR)
– 7 minutes walk from Yoyogi-Kouen station (Chiyoda Line)
– 10 minutes walk from Shibuya station

May 11, 2006 Posted by | Bits & Bobs, Facts | Leave a comment