Thursday, June 22, 2017

Sigol Bapsang

Location: Sigol Bapsang

Rating: Very good
Meal: Dinner for 3
Price:  31000 won
Payment: Cash only
Dishes: 1 bottle of soju (small), 3 courses of banchan dishes with rice and soup, 1 coke
English Menu: Yes
Smoking: No



Banchan are the many small little dishes that you usually get along with your main dish at a real Korean restaurant.  At Sigol Bapsang you can get the banchan as the main course, with some rice and soup to go along with them.  As we love and miss all the banchan, we made it a point to go to this restaurant and get our fix.


Lovely decor...we opted for actual chairs though

The restaurant is small and run by 4 little old ladies (well, ranging in age from a bit over 50 to goodness knows how old), who welcomed us in to the interestingly decorated place and sat us at a table.  They assumed we were there for the main course, which we were, but I looked around and saw they had several other ala cart items you can order if you wish.

Eat your heart out!

I wanted to try Korean soju, a potent liquor that seems like a relative of Japanese shochu (not our favorite).  The Korean drink was a touch more antiseptic in taste, but it was also quite easy on the mouth and so I can see why people can accidentally drink way too much.  My wife and I polished off the small bottle along with dinner.

Which was really fun...there were sooooo many little dishes to try, with several types of kimchi, namul, chapchae, and on and on and on.  We managed to put down almost everything which is amazing considering our son would only eat a couple of the dishes.  The soup was delicious too, and a touch spicy.  I think it was miso soup, but it had thick tofu cubes and large chunks of stewed zucchini.

Definitely a must eat spot, at least once.  I don't know that I would go back often due to the ubiquity of banchan here in Korea, but if you have been missing that, you've got to give it a try.

While walking there, we apparently found the area where all the Middle Eastern restaurants are clustered.  There were sooo many Turkish and other types of restaurants in the area.  Of course we are here for the Korean food this time, but next time (hah!) my wife and I are talking about doing a Middle Eastern food weekend trip!

Wednesday, June 21, 2017

Baegnyeon Tojong Samgyetang

Location: Baegnyeon Tojong Samgyetang


Rating: Very good
Meal: Dinner for 3
Price:  54000 won
Payment: Cash only
Dishes: 1 bottle of baekseju (small), perilla samgyetang, black garlic samgyetang, fried pork belly with rice
English Menu: Yes
Smoking: No



So...samgyetang is a Korean ginseng chicken soup.  It's delicious and we had some for the first time tonight.  In Seoul, because we are finally taking a trip over there for a few days.  At last...after all the sub-par Korean food in Japan we are going to get to eat the real thing!  And if tonight's first meal is anything to go by, it is going to be awesome!


Baekseju

I looked up a few articles on various Korean foods to try while in Korea and samgyetang was on several of them.  None of the "best" places are near us, so I asked at the front desk for nearby samgyetang and was told that if we walked out the northern base gate (yes, we are cheating and staying at a hotel on the Yonsang Army base in downtown Seoul) and turned left, we would pass by some kind of official looking Korean army complex, and one of those buildings would have a restaurant in it that specialized in samgyetang.  I wasn't so sure...sounded like cafeteria food or something, but we gave it a shot and were pleased to find...a cafeteria like place in the basement of this building that specialized in samgyetang (4 or 5 types)!


The whole spread...now that's the ticket!

My wife and I both ordered different types, mine was the black garlic and my wife's was the perilla type.  Hers was whiter and more thick like rice porridge.  I think we both liked hers better.  Turns out black garlic is a bit sweet.  In each pot was a small half-chicken stuffed with glutinous rice and a few pieces of ginseng.  It was really hot and stayed hot the entire time.  The meat was just falling off the bones and it was really easy to eat with the metal chopsticks, taking bits out and tossing the bones in the provided bucket.  It was slow going though.

The best part though was all the extras!  I'm always so annoyed at Japanese Korean restaurants because they hardly give you anything extra and that's like *basic* to the meal!  There were two types of kimchi (cabbage and daikon), as well as a plate of 3 green chili peppers, raw onions, lettuce leaves and whole Korean shiso leaves (very distinct in flavor from Japanese shiso).

My son ordered some pork belly that they cooked up for him and he ate that with some rice.  Of course we made him eat some lettuce much to his dismay.

Oh I almost forgot, I saw a poster with a bottle of baekseju which I had had years and years ago in the US.  I ordered one and my wife and I drank it between the two of us.  It's about 13% so between the two of us it was just enough.

Overall we were thrilled and can't wait to eat more new and delicious foods while we are here!  More to come...

Tuesday, June 20, 2017

Yakiniku King

Location: Yakiniku King


Rating: Not great
Meal:Lunch for 3
Price: 8600 yen
Payment: Credit cards accepted
Dishes: 3 all you can eat yakiniku courses
English Menu: Yes
Smoking:No


Take this review with the following caveats:  We have never enjoyed yakiniku in Japan, it was incredibly expensive, and my ratings are more a reflection of how much I look forward to returning rather than the quality of the food or the atmosphere of the place.


That being said, we decided to eat yakiniku for lunch on Sunday, mainly because my son is home for the summer and I thought he'd enjoy it.  The first place we tried was still closed, so we drove down to Kita-Kurihama to try a place that had opened up since we used to live down that way:  Yakiniku King

We got there just before the big rush and only had to wait a short time before we were seated.  They have an electronic wait system where you enter the number of people in your group and then enter your phone number for some reason.  You get a ticket with a number and then they call your number when they are ready to seat you.

We inadvertently ordered the "all you can eat" (i.e. tabehoudai) courses.  Actually, I went to the bathroom and came back and my wife was mad because I left here there alone and she didn't know what she was doing.  As I said, we have never had good experiences at Yakiniku restaurants.  I called the waitress back to find out we had ordered the 3 courses and said "what the heck" and went with it.  We got about 70 minutes to order as much food as we could cook and eat off of the electronic menu.  The food arrived on pretty small plates but there was plenty of selection.  We ended up liking the thin kalbi strips the best as they cooked the fastest.

We ate...and cooked, and ate, and cooked.  Then we were done and paid.  For the price (8600 yen) I was not happy with the experience.  I kept thinking about how much good food we could have had for that much money at other places.

Well, we are headed to Korea this week for our first visit, and I'm soooo looking forward to eating real Korean food finally!

Monday, June 19, 2017

Tori Sanwa

Location: Tori Sanwa

Rating: OK
Meal: Dinner for 2
Price: 3338 yen
Payment: Credit cards accepted
Dishes: Two oyakodon teishoku
English Menu:Yes
Smoking:No


After the baseball game my wife and I hightailed it back to Yokohama station before the crowds hit and decided to eat dinner as the crowds died down.  We had had a "snack" of sorts earlier, but we were now hungry again.

 I lead us underground to one of the multi-floor food areas and we found a restaurant that looked interesting:  Tori Sansa.  They specialize in chicken dishes that probably use a particular breed of chicken here.

Overall we were underwhelmed by the main dishes we had.  They lacked significantly in flavor.  We both like the chicken broth soup though, and the fried chicken bits we had were tasty without being too awful on the breath afterwards.

Just average overall.

Thrashzone Meatballs

Location: Thrashzone Meatballs


Rating: Very good
Meal: Dinner
Price:  2800 yen
Payment: Cash only
Dishes: Two meatball sandwiches, 2 beers
English Menu: Yes
Smoking: No


Thrashzone is a brewing company/bar in Yokohama, the makers of what is probably my favorite beer in Japan.  Previously I had met up with a friend for theological discussions at the Thrashzone bar near Yokohama train station occasionally.  That place is nice enough, playing soft heavy metal in the background, but only provided some rather excellent french fries on the food menu.  That's ok though because the stars of the place are the beers.  I absolutely love Speed Kills, and their other beers (Hop Deicide being another good one) are excellent if you like strong, northwest style IPAs.

Stout 

My wife and I went out to a Baystars baseball game in Yokohama on Friday.  She got the tickets for my birthday, but since she knows full well that baseballs games are a special kind of torture for me, she really got them for her birthday, which is in August.  But I'm a good sport (hah!) so I decided to enjoy myself the best I could.  Plus, a Japanese baseball game is it's own unique cultural event, so I was pleased to experience it for the first (and probably last) time.

Speed Kills Light IPA

We had some time before the game began so I began hunting around the area for a place to eat using bento.com's handy area reviews (highly recommended!).  I was amazed to discover Thrashzone Meatballs, the first expansion of the Thrashzone brand I am aware of.  It is located very close to the Yokohama Stadium, so we headed for it to see what there was.  Meatballs sounded very intriguing.

Meatball sandwich

It's a very spare, concrete room with the usual beers on tap.  I had the Speed Kills Light, which was just as strong as usual, so maybe the "light" refers to less hops, but I couldn't tell, tasted great to me.  My wife had their stout, which we don't often have, and I have to say I was quite impressed.  The meatballs come in two types:  in a pan or on bread.  We opted for the sandwich variety, which was pretty good actually, though I think you would get more meatballs for the price by going with the pan options (they range from a few up to 13).  The bread wasn't soft nothingness with a good chew, but not too chewy.  The meatballs were the best surprise as they were not that hyper-processed nastiness you get with store-bought meatballs, but were clearly real meat and nicely spiced.  It reminded me of some German dishes we've had before.  They came in a red sauce which didn't overwhelm the sandwich.  Lastly the cheese on top was some kind of real cheese, possibly gouda, also with good flavor.

Overall we were very surprised by the quality of the food and combined with the excellent beer that definitely rates a Very Good in my opinion.  I'll be happy to accompany my wife to future baseball games, as long as it means I get to spend the time in the nearby Thrashzone!

Saturday, June 10, 2017

Kanin

Location: Kanin


Rating: OK
Meal: Dinner for 2
Price: 2450 yen
Payment: Cash only
Dishes: Tamago, pork and kimchi, fried rice, small bowl of rice, some kind of pork/egg/mushroom/pork dish
English Menu: No
Smoking: Yes


So with my son back in town on summer vacation we've started going out on Wednesday nights to find a new spot to eat at.  This time it was a new Chinese location (his favorite) that I recently found out about.  Kanin is a small, izakayaish Japanese Chinese restaurant located in a tunnel/alleyway near Chuo station.  It was a bit smokey, so be warned.

Tamago...there was more but I forgot to take a picture

My son got his usual fried rice, and opted for some tamago (sweet egg omelette thing).  I ordered some pork and kimchi and a small bowl of rice, which when it turned up was tiny.  So I pointed something on the wall with pork and egg in it.  The resulting dish was pretty good.

Pork kimchi and rice

There were some rather loud and slightly inebriated customers commenting on the new story that was blaring on the TV (overtop of music playing in the background) so a quiet experience it was not.  Near the end another already drunk older guy came in and began pestering us, so we made a quick exit.

Pretty standard fried rice

The food was just ok, not terrible though.

Pork, egg, mushroom dish, pretty good actually

Monday, June 5, 2017

Wired Cafe

Location: Wired Cafe

Rating: OK
Meal: Lunch for 5
Price: about 7000 yen
Payment: Credit cards accepted
Dishes: 2 Loco-mocos, Avocado tofu salad, Pasta set, Pork-don
English Menu: Yes
Smoking: No


Met some friends on Sunday for lunch at a Wired Cafe downtown Tokyo.  My son is back so he ate too.   We met at the Wired Cafe because there is free Internet available and we knew they'd let us stay and talk a long time.  Still we eventually outstayed our welcome and were asked to leave!  Ah well, they were nice about it at least.




Avocado tofu salad

It's a pretty spendy place with mostly western style-food.  I went for the Avocado tofu salad which was quite tasty.  My wife had the pasta dish which I didn't care for.  My son had a pork-don that he seemed to eat most of.  Our friends each had a loco-moco that looked quite delicious though of course I didn't get to verify that.

Overall it was a nice enough place but nothing special food-wise.

One of the loco-mocos

Pasta set

Pork-don