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Wednesday, February 29, 2012

YURAKUCHO: Hyottoko Ramen in the dungeons of Yurakucho's Tokyo Kotsu Kaikan bldg.

Mari worked in this building several years ago and highly suggested this little ramen shop with only 7 counter seats... Looking at the pictures of Ramen its not the oily thick mess that is Ramen Jiro (which I prefer) but a light base with fairly thin noodles. 

Push button Ramen starts at 650yen... Remember push the top left hand button if you get lost... Its always the shop recommended ramen.  
(*** After letting Mari know I tried this place out she highly suggested having the 700yen Yuzu Flavored Ramen, give it a try! ***)

A full house at 4pm... and rotation is quick but there was never an empty seat thru my meal.

Free tea on the table.

And there it is!  A very very light soup base (tasted like chicken soup) with strips of bamboo, half boiled egg but the very best thing about this ramen was the pork (charsui) that was EXTREMELY tender!  Without the pork this would simply be a very basic ramen (like instant Charumela Ramen) without much impact...

They say when you are young you crave thick unhealthy Tonkotsu Ramen but as you get older a lighter ramen is what adults prefer... the crowd was definitely in their late 30's thru 50's. 

The Tokyo Kotsu Kaikan can be a spot where most tourists simply walk past but there are an incredible number of shops inside... many of which seemed to have been around for 50 yrs selling trinkets and grandma' clothes. This place also houses many prefectural stores selling vast numbers of local goods (Hokkaido, Hakata, Osaka etc).  I'd definitely stroll thru this building if u have the time.

Overall a Ramen that will satisfy your craving but lacks the punch that many others offer...but I assume there is a strong following for Hyottoko Ramen as their foodie points is a fairly high 3.61.

Shop: Hyottoko Ramen
Address J: 東京都千代田区有楽町2-10-1 東京交通会館 B1F
Address E: Tokyo, Chiyoda-ku, Yurakucho 2-10-1, Tokyo Kotsu Kaikan B1F

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OIZUMI GAKUEN: Monja-Yaki Okonomiyaki Warabe... Quirky Doraemon owner.

Friend and his family invited me out for a little Sunday dinner. When you enter this very local Okonomiya-shop in Oizumi-Gakuen a man dressed as Doraemon will greet you with such high tension that you can't help but smile... but this high level of energy will wear you out by the end of the meal as he keep squealing away to everyone.

Pictures of nearly everything on the menu...

Ingredients for Okonomiyaki....

Pork ear (?) slices I think it was... very similar to what you will find on Okinawan restaurants.

Squid black liquid flavored meat sausages... very tender and tasty.

Potato mochi pancakes.

Okonimiyaki!  Honestly... after having amazing Okonimiyaki at Sakura in Osaka its really easy to tell what boring Okonomiyaki can be... and this was such a place.   I just knew I'd never be craving Warabe anytime in the near future.

Cold slices of Tomato... always a favorite among Japanese.

This was for the Monja-Yaki...  

Then Yaki-Soba to close the meal.

Overall this is a place to take kids... there are toys, little kids seats and the owner was very lively so there was some entertainment factor...but... as for the food you could do much better by randomly picking any Okomiyaki shop in Tokyo.  Oh and the ventilation was so bad that you will honestly come out smelling worse than a poorly ventilated Yakiniku shop... we just stunk.  Don't recommend it and the foodie score is a lowly 3.00 points so I guess others felt the same.

Shop: Monja-Yaki Okonomiyaki WARABE
Address J: 東京都練馬区東大泉6-46-11
Address E: Tokyo, Nerima-ku, Higashi Oizumi 6-46-11

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Monday, February 20, 2012

ROPPONGI: (CLOSED) Chicago Kalbi... 900yen "Shika-Kal" Yakiniku Lunch was simply delicious!

Chicago Kalbi has been on my list ever seeing a spot on TV... totally forgot about it until yesterday and I made plans to finally check it out!

Seems there is a 1 coin (500yen) daily special with a limited 15 servings... for the early birds!

Lunch menu was very reasonable for being located across the street from posh Roppongi Hills.  But of course if you enter a place that uses "Kalbi" in its name you must order the Kalbi Yakiniku Lunch set!

Gas grills used.

And it arrived... I went around 1pm so they seated me in a booth but seems there are also 12 counter seats for those who wander in alone.

Comes with a generous portion of rice, lemon seasoned salad, seaweed soup, salty cabbage and 2 types of beef... Kalbi and sliced Cow-Tongue.

The lighting was perfect... dimly lit and very comfortable.

All you can eat rice during lunch :)

The 2 types of lunch beef... the Kalbi was sooo extremely tender... You can have it fully cooked but I suggest grilling it lightly as it will simply melt in your mouth.  Don't let it sit on the grill too long or all the fatty segments will drip/melt away into the grill.  Not a big fan of Tongue as it can be rather chewy but it was very easy to bite into here... liked it.

On the way out I spoke with one of the Chefs.  Seems Chicago Kalbi has been in downtown Chicago for 30 years and opened their first branch in Osaka followed by Roppongi in late 2011. If you are in Roppongi I'd definitely give this place a try... great service, amazing atmosphere for a Yakiniku spot and food was good!

Nice touch in the restroom.

Shop: Chicago Kalbi Roppongi Branch
Shop Website:
Address J: 東京都港区西麻布1-2-3 アクティブ六本木 B1F
Address E: Tokyo, Minato-ku, Nishi Azabu 1-2-3 , B1F

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SHINJUKU: Okinawa Soba Yanbaru... crowded for all the wrong reasons.

I've walked passed this centrally located Okinawan all-counter-seating spot for a few years now but never wandered inside.  

Above the ticket machine was a Taco-Rice and Okinawan Soba combo for 850yen... I love Okinawan food and just couldn't resist!

Pictures of many combo's outside.

They have the little awamori-red pepper spicy for Okinawan soba... nice!

This place was extremely busy even at 2:30pm...  The counter seating rotation was fast but at any one moment the place was easily 80% full.  

And so my Taco Rice arrives!  I'm a huge fan this but honestly... it really really sucked.  Cheese remained unmelted, cabbage/lettuce seemed a bit old/discolored, meat was hmmm... anyways I ended up only eating half of this.

Okinawan soba was another disappointment...

I think the attraction to this place is the quick in and out lunch experience... Most of the customers were men (a bad sign as women are a very good indicator of great food).  Overall this place should be ignored as there was no pride in the cooking and you should explore the large array of restaurants in the area.  This was not Okinawan food... Should have checked the Foodie Website Ranking before I went inside... a paltry 3.09 pts

Shop: Okinawa Soba Yanbaru
Address J: 東京都新宿区新宿3-22-1
Address E: Tokyo, Shinjuku-ku, Shinjuku 3-22-1

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Sunday, February 19, 2012

ROPPONGI: Go! Go! CURRY... Ro-su Katsu hit the spot for a late night meal.

Seem to have replaced my late night Ramen cravings with Curry lately... Just steps away from Softbank on the Roppongi Crossing.

Lots of topping options for your Curry!

As always in Japan if you get confused then select the very Top Left corner item as it is usually the shop recommended dish (normally seen in Ramen shops).  So went for the 700yen "healthy class" Roast (Roo-Su) Katsu Curry.

Looks like Roo-Su Katsu is the best seller!

Simply place your ticket on the counter..

There it is... volume was more than enough and came with a side of cabbage.

Free topping usually seen at Curry shops. Has a nice crunchy texture (similar to a fresh carrot).

All counter seating...

Think it beats CoCo Curry hands down in terms of volume and price so if you see this giant Gorilla in Tokyo why don't you give it a try~... 

Shop: Go!Go! CURRY Roppongi Branch
Address J: 東京都港区六本木4-9-4 UFビル4 B1F
Address E: Tokyo, Minato-ku, Roppongi 4-9-4

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