Friday, July 31, 2015

Maguro Tetsu

Location: Maguro Tetsu


Rating: Very good
Meal:  Dinner
Price:  3300 yen
Payment:  Cash only
Dishes:  Zaru Tofu, Stone bowl magurodon, sake
English Menu:No
Smoking:Yes

The tuna section of the menu
Maguro Tetsu is a funny place.  It's right on the corner of Blue Street and 16, next to the gas station, so very close to base.  But it's very much a Japanese place, probably technically an izakaya.  I've always wondered what it was like in there, so I decided to try it last night.  You can tell where it is by the "cool cat" picture on the building and with the word "Ambitious" above it.  I have no idea...

The place itself doesn't advertise its name, I had to ask.  But there is a nice looking wood cutout with kanji that is lit up at night.  It translates to "Hayama Beef/Misaki Tuna" references to local places where you can get local beef and tuna, respectively.  I always appreciate efforts to be locally sourced.





Zaru Tofu - most excellent
 Upon entering I was greeted by the roar of slightly tipsy businessmen, as apparently a local group had decided to have one of their "mandatory fun drinking parties" at this place last night.  4 or 6 tables were taken up with the guys having a good ole time.  Luckily there was a table in the back corner that I was able to sit at.

The menu is a bit intimidating and only in Japanese, so hopefully you can figure it out.  I found it less confusing than some however.  I was surprised by the large tofu section, so I had to order something off of it.  I ended up going with a tuna bowl (magurodon) in a hot stone dish for them main item.  I also tried some sake, which no doubt inflates the price above, but I didn't get the precise breakdown.  The sake was excellent, I hope to find the brand when I have the chance.  The real standout though was the tofu.  I ordered the "Zaru Tofu" which is apparently home-made tofu in a basket.  It was so full of soy flavor and the texture was so rich, I was totally blown away!  I really want to return and try all of the other options.

Tuna bowl in stone dish
My main dish was really good at first when it was hot, but as it cooled it seemed the flavors dissipated, not sure what was up there.  Also I had to pick out some bits of tuna scale, which is understandable, but not my favorite.  Next time I'd like to try some of the straight up tuna dishes and also the beef and pork.  Lots of stuff on there for next time.

Although it is a smoking establishment and the doors were closed for air conditioning, the ventilation was quite good and I never felt like I was choking.



Overall, this was a great find and I'm hopeful that in future visits I can bump the rating up to Excellent.

Thursday, July 30, 2015

Piacere

Location: Piacere

Rating: Very good
Meal:  Dinner
Price:  1500 yen
Payment:  Cash only
Dishes:  Seafood pesto pizza
English Menu:Yes
Smoking:No

Piacere is located in one of those tiny alleys that bisect the blocks next to Blue Street.  It's at the opposite end of the same alley as the standing yakitori spot.  I once tried to eat lunch here with a friend who had heard they had a real wood fired oven.  It was closed that time though, so we went elsewhere.






It looks quite small, with a single table and bar seating, but there is an upstairs available too, though I'm not sure if you have to rent the whole space out or not.  There was a birthday party happening while I was there, so I saw lots of people going upstairs.

The waiter spoke very good English and provided an English menu and dinner specials.  They have lots of dishes available, but I went for the dinner special as it was easier.  Basically, pick a pizza or a pasta, and it comes with coffee or tea and a salad.  Not bad for 1500 yen considering the upscale feel of the place and the usual expense associated with Italian food (for some reason).




Salad
The salad was delicious, composed of several types of lettuce and topped with what I think were some kind of pink peppercorn, and a very light vinaigrette.   It was served on a cutting board (for style points I guess).  The pizza itself was cooked very quickly in the wood fired oven.  I ordered the pesto based Genovese as I didn't want a tomato base and the other option had no sauce base.  I wasn't sure if I'd care for the seafood topping, but was hopeful.  It arrived with some nicely blackened  bubbles of dough, smothered with cheese, and topped with shrimp and squid that I think was cooked in the oven itself, so still nice and tender.  The cheese was not bad, still a bit processed, but at least not as bad as some.  There was more on top than is probably normal for "genuine" Italian pizza, but hey, I don't care since I love cheese.  The dough as also a bit thicker and fuller, but it was great!  Not sweet at all.  Actually I have to say I loved the whole package, and I don't know if the wood fire/smoke makes a big difference in flavor, but it seemed to do so.

Genovese pizza
Quite a nice place, and I'm looking to bringing my wife back here some time.  That dinner special is hard to beat for the price, and the food was very good.

Wednesday, July 29, 2015

Chukahantei

Location: Chukahantei
Rating: Not great
Meal:  Dinner
Price:  2000 yen
Payment:  Cash only
Dishes: Fried chicken with garlic sauce, rice
English Menu: Yes
Smoking:No (I didn't notice any ash trays, but it may still be permitted)


Lamen = Ramen
Another Chinese place, this one is fairly close to where I live.  I've eaten here once before with my son, and we pretty much decided it wasn't a place we needed to eat again.  I ate here another time with a co-worker, and while it wasn't good, I could choke it down.  My co-worker took two bites and asked for his to go.  Then he threw it away. It's a pity because the staff is very nice and it has an open, clean feel to it.  But the food just isn't very good.

Pretty sure their English menus is truncated, but I tried to find something to eat on it.  The fried chicken with garlic sauce looked interesting, and was the most expensive thing on the menu, so I thought it might be a good example of something they do good.  I had to order some rice to go with it, bringing the price up more.  "This had better blow my socks off," I thought to myself.



It was...meh.  The fried chicken had been butcher knife chopped so the bones had splintered.  This was finger food.  So I meticulously felt my way through each chunk of meat, trying to find the shards of bone before they made it into my mouth.  After all the meat was off there was a sizeable stack of bones, so not much meat.  The "garlic" sauce was a very vinegary brown sauce.  I guess the garlic part was the chopped and fried garlic bits on top of the chicken?  The sauce was so tart I could only use it as a soy sauce replacement on the rice.  Oh well, I think I've given this place enough chances.

Tuesday, July 28, 2015

Yokosuka Commissary Deli

Location: Yokosuka Commissary Deli

Rating: OK
Meal:  Lunch
Price:  $4.45
Payment: Credit cards accepted
Dishes:Turkey Sandwich
English Menu: Yes
Smoking:No

 The Yokosuka Commissary Deli makes what are probably the best sandwiches available on base, which isn't saying much.  But now and then you just need a sammich and it's good to know there's a place that isn't Subway (there is a Subway too if you like).  Today I had to move my car due to a temporary parking lot closure, so I had the means to get to the commissary without walking in this torrid heat.  I also wanted to pick up a flat of the best coconut water in a can for home.





My issue with the Deli is the same as everything on base:  sub-par ingredients.  It looks delicious, but tastes blah.  But today I discovered there is something you can do about that!  If you grab a bag of some other kind of bread from the deli (such as asiago bread) or bring some cheese from elsewhere (like pre-sliced sharp Tillamook cheese), they will make you a sandwich out of those ingredients which greatly helps.  The tomatoes are still rather nasty (still green but faked out to turning red), but hey, you can't have everything.  I suppose if you can find a truly ripe tomato you can buy a knife and slice it up after buying it.   After they make your sandwich and put the price on (you will pay for your ingredients plus the sandwich, no discounts), you take all of your ingredients plus sandwich and pay for them at the register like normal.

I brought the sandwich back to work and realized it was really two sandwiches.  So I ate one and stashed the other.  I may eat it tomorrow, or maybe give it away to a homeless person on the way home (we have several homeless folks who roam the streets here).  And I still have two more buns and most of the Tillamook cheese slices to take back and make another sandwich later this week.  Pretty good deal overall, if you are into sandwiches.

Shell

Location: Shell
Rating: OK
Meal:  Dinner
Price:  1200 yen
Payment:  Cash only
Dishes: Curry plate (includes curry, rice, fried chicken, salad, pickles and milk)
English Menu: Yes (soon)
Smoking: Yes

Shell is an izakaya just one block over from where I live.  But this Shell is not that Shell.  This is a new version of the Shell restaurant located up towards Chuo station.  It's a small, diner-esque spot that servers hamburgers and Yokosuka curry.  Very similar to the main Shell restaurant, except they don't do yakitori.  I've pretty much decided to stop doing izakayas as I am just not inspired by them, but this place seems to be going for the diner vibe and I figured I could kind of tackle two places at once.










This new Shell is so new that they were still in the process of translating the menus to English, but there are photos out front.  I liked the look of the curry platter with it's fried egg on top, so I ordered that.  It's a bit spendy for a teishoku type meal, but it's kind of a tourist trap, so to be expected.

The curry was unremarkable, but not bad, the karaage (fried chicken) was a nice touch.  The salad was good too.  I do love a glass of milk, but it wasn't really needed as there was no spiciness to speak of.  Overall, just ok.

Sunday, July 26, 2015

Han Il Kwan

Location: Han Il Kwan


Rating: OK
Meal:  Dinner
Price:  1500 yen
Payment:  Credit cards accepted
Dishes: Bibimpap, cold pork trotter, edamame, sesame bean sprouts, kimchi
English Menu: Yes
Smoking: Yes




















Han Il Kwan is one of those places I've walked by every day on my way to work for the past year and a half.  The prominent kanji at the top mean "yakiniku" (i.e. cook your own meat) so I haven't been too interested.  But still, the fake food display shows some korean dishes, so I have still maintained some interest.  Tonight, that interest was fulfilled.

Edamame
It's an izakayaish sort of place, and I was promptly served with some steamed, cold edamame.  This was, incidentally, delicious.  At first I was resigning myself to another night of not particularly welcome yakiniku (and something called "beef womb"), but then I turned the page and found comforting bibimpap, and on the next page, the kanji/romaji for something that promised to be pork feet.  Sign me up!












Sesame bean sprouts
They brought out another unasked for treat, sesame oil soaked bean sprouts, which are delish.  The pork feet arrived, cold, gelatinous, and quartered.  I realized this was going to be a messy meal and promptly abandoned all attempts at using my chopsticks and picked up a piece to gnaw on it.  It was pretty plain tasting, if you go in for pig skin, fat and cartilage.  Luckily there was a plate of spicy sauce to dip it in.  It was wonderful!  It took a while to get through all of it, and in the mean time my bibimpap arrived.  I realized this place might be the real deal, so I ordered some kimchi to round things out.  Kimchi in Japan can be sweeter than I personally think it ought to be, but this stuff was nice and tart, very little of the sweetness.  I promptly dumped it all on the bibimpap, which is a vegetables on rice kind of dish.  I did miss the usual egg, but it was still good, with lots of rice.  I think it's meant to be a side dish to the yakiniku, but I don't care, it was good stuff.


Cold pig's trotter
Quite a surprise given the scary looking nature of the place and the location.  I am happy once again to be taken aback by good food in strange places!
















Soupr, bibimbap and kimchi

Saturday, July 25, 2015

Kawakin

Location: PlaceholderName


Rating: OK
Meal:  Dinner
Price:  1300 yen
Payment:  Cash only
Dishes: Tonkatsu Teishoku
English Menu: No
Smoking: No

Update:  I stopped by last night to ask and here's the name:  Kawakin.

--------------------------------

Sorry about the name issue, I forgot to ask and later figured I could find out somehow...apparently not.  The first kanji in the name looks like nothing I've seen before and I can't find any radicals in it to look up.  If I swing by some other time I'll ask and update the post.

This place is much more spacious inside than it looks.  I was expecting a tiny place but there were lots of chairs and tables in there.  There were several groups of people, but it was all eerily silent.  I was feeling like an oyakodon, but figured I should try out a full teishoku just to get a feel for the place, so I got the tonkatsu (breaded fried pork).







Fuzzy picture..I was off my game tonight
It took a loooong time to come, which is odd here.  But it could have been the others already there, plus this is the time of year everyone eats unagi (eel) so I think there was a lot of special food being prepared.  It finally arrived and it didn't look like much.  But the salad was a step up from the usual with several kinds of greens mixed in with the cabbage.  The tsukemono (pickles) were nothing special.  The tonkatsu itself, however, was definitely better than most, with some nice pepperiness in the panko, and the meat wasn't too dried out.  I tried the sauce with it and it was also better than most.  Even the hot soba soup was a bit of a nice surprise.  I usually don't care for hot soba.

Overall, a pleasant surprise.  The prices overall are just a bit higher than usual, but maybe that is reflected in the better quality ingredients.

Pot Belly

Location: Pot Belly


Rating: Not great
Meal:  Lunch
Price:  1100 yen
Payment:  Cash only
Dishes: Pork with Japanese "taste" teishoku
English Menu: Yes (not the lunch specials)
Smoking:No


Lunch specials
You just never know what a place is going to be like until you try it.  I know it's a dumb thing to say, but we forget sometimes.  I've driven by Pot Belly so many times and each time my wife and I say, "Oh that place looks so cute, I bet it's excellent, we should go sometime."  I finally went today, and it's not that great.

The proprietors are very nice, a mom and pop shop, but they have a much higher class vibe going on.  Their menu has lots of dishes and all the prices are up there, so one would expect excellence.  I went for the pork teishoku lunch special.  First to arrive was a soup.  Practically tasteless, with listless boiled to death vegetables.  I kept tasting it to see if I just had a bad first impression, but no, it was just useless.  I ended up not finishing it because...why bother?





From the main menu

The main dish arrived with a bunch of shredded cabbage smothered in a kind of thousand island dressing, nothing interesting there.  There was a small plate of rice to accompany which was inoffensive.  The pork itself was slices of some kind of pork that must have been just reheated with a sauce drizzled on top.  There was so little work or attempt at making this dish any good, and it showed.  The dessert was unexpected, but bland as well, some kind of cream filled crepe.










So uninspiring
I compare this with Marunaga that I ate at the other day in my own building.  Night and day.  Marunaga is a little scarier looking and Pot Belly looks high falutin', but you just never know til you try it.











Meh...

Yokosuka Gelato Factory

Location: Yokosuka Gelato Factory


Rating: Very good
Meal:  Pre-lunch dessert/post dentist visit reward
Price:  320 yen
Payment:  Cash only
Dishes:  Pumpkin Gelato
English Menu:Yes
Smoking:No

Today's flavors
I don't review a lot of dessert places, but this place is pretty unique and awesome.  The Yokosuka Gelato Factory resides inside of the Port Market which is located really close to Mikasa Park and the ferry to Sarushima.  They make the gelato on premise, and they use really fresh ingredients, so when you try Tomato Salt Gelato, they probably used extras from the market to make that.

Sizes


I had just finished my dentist cleaning/checkup and it was bit early for lunch, so I walked down to the Port Market in the heat, thinking I might find a restaurant there to review (I didn't, but this makes up for it).  As I was leaving I thought to myself that it was hot as blazes out there and maybe some gelato would be just the thing.  Looking at the options I saw kabocha (japanese pumpkin) flavor and the deal was sealed.

Yum...


It was incredible!  So smooth and full tasting, kind of like a sweet potatoe/kabocha combo thing, but still a little sweet and creamy.  I highly recommend checking this place out if you happen to be at Port Market.

Pepper Lunch

Location: Pepper Lunch


Rating: OK
Meal:  Dinner
Price:  730 yen
Payment:  Cash only
Dishes: Spicy beef with rice
English Menu: Yes
Smoking: No

Pepper Lunch is quite popular with the base crowd, you'll see plenty of gaijin in there at most hours.  I wanted a light dinner so I was looking forward to having a chicken dish I'd had before.  However, I was greeted with two surprises.  First the ticket machine (this is usually a ticket machine restaurant) was out of order.  Second, there were no chicken dishes.  Not feeling like a hunk'o'meat, I went for the spicy beef rice dish.

Pepper Lunch's schtick is they bring out your meat still raw on an insanely hot metal plate that finishes the cooking for you.  If you pour sauces on too soon, it'll stop the cooking and send up a huge steam plume.  I guess it's fun.  Personally I prefer the Ikinari Steak place.  I may have heard somewhere that they are owned by the same company, but I dunno, I just like the vibe over there better.

The food was pretty much what you'd expect for really cheap meat, but it was filling, so no complaints.
















Still cooking...