Friday, December 25, 2015

Kalbi House

Location: Kalbi House

Rating: Very good
Meal: Lunch for 2
Price: 3823 yen
Payment: Credit cards accepted
Dishes: 2 different yakiniku lunch sets, a vegetable set, and ox tail soup
English Menu: Yes

Kalbi House is a bit down the road from us, but my wife and I had the car the other day for lunch so we headed down to review it.  I had been before for lunch with people from work, so I knew they had lunch specials that took the fear and trembling out of ordering yakiniku.  Our experience with yakiniku has been less than the best in the past, so anything to make it easier is helpful.

Mixed set

They have an English menu (not pictured), which makes ordering very easy.  My wife picked a set, and I picked one.  Total it would have been about 2000 yen if we had stopped there (which we could have and been satisfied).  But I wanted more vegetables so I ordered a vegetable set (lettuce and some other veggie things), and then I spied the ox tail soup, which had to be mine.  So our total was a bit more than strictly necessary for lunch.

Vegetable set

My set was a mix of several types of meat, most of which I liked fine.  The beef tongue gets tough for some reason when cooked, so I didn't care for it.  I *love* beef tongue when prepared the Mexican way for burritos, but that involves a lot of boiling.  Also my set had some sauces and marinades which added to the flavor of the meat as I cooked it.

Beef set

My wife's dish was a set of straight up beef, nicely marbled, no sauce.  She liked it fine.  Each set came with soup (Korean soup that tastes a bit like the ocean...your mileage may vary), salad, rice and small kimchi bowl.  Plenty for lunch.

Ox tail soup

Dinner dishes are more a la cart (and expensive!), which is why we generally avoid yakiniku.  But we enjoyed our time at this place and I think I'm willing to give it a Very Good.

Tuesday, December 22, 2015

Dining Oshima

Location: Dining Oshima

Rating: OK
Meal: Lunch
Price: 1800 yen
Payment: Cash only
Dishes: Steak set
English Menu: No

As I near the end of anything in the Shioiri and Yokosuka Station areas, I found a little French restaurant called Dining Oshima.  You never know with these might be a surprise like Hananoya, or a disappointment, like that other place I can't recall anymore.  Dining Oshima is about in the middle, with potential for greatness.

They had several specials on the lunch menu, but none really called out to me.  I decided to go for the steak set, which was a bit more then I like to spend on lunch at 1800 yen.  There was a more expensive lunch course for 2500 yen but I wasn't feeling that rich.

The salad was unimpressive, so was the soup.  But the steak itself was pretty good, if small, and the little bit of cheesy potato on the side was quite tasty.  The dessert was a surprisingly good concoction that I'd never had before.  The coffee wasn't all that great.

There were little hints of great flavor in the meal that would make me almost want to rate this place a Very Good, but not enough given the price of the lunch.  I guess expected something much more impressive.

Sunday, December 20, 2015

Butter Premium

Location: Butter Premium

Rating: Very good
Meal: Lunch for 2
Price: 2625 yen
Payment: Credit cards accepted
Dishes: Thai Green Curry set, Sausage set
English Menu: No

A pancake restaurant?  Not my cup of tea normally.  But I wanted to review this Butter Premium restaurant anyway for the blog.  Wow!  It was actually pretty good!

My son couldn't find anything he wanted to eat on the menu, so I picked something that he might part of, the Sausage set.  He did eat the sausage but refused to eat anything else.  He says he doesn't like pancakes.  Never mind it was actually a turnover, but he still said he didn't like it.  Oh well, more for me.

My dish, the Green Curry set, was also really good.  The green curry was the real thing, a bit soup, which was perfect for dipping pancake bites into.  There were several other savoury options on the menu too.  My issue with pancakes being the sweetness, this place was a nice surprise.

Friday, December 18, 2015


Location: Kohisama

Rating: OK
Meal: Lunch
Price: 950 yen
Payment: Cash only
Dishes: Locomoco
English Menu:No

No English, but big pictures

I was really rooting for Kohisama Coffee as it's so clearly a labor of love for the owners.  However the dish I had just wasn't very good, so I can't give it much more than an Ok.  I'm beginning to think I need a new cuisine label of "Islander" for these kinds of places.  They have some faux Hawaiian dishes along with Okinawan influence, but aren't strongly one or the other.  Generally you *know* when you're in a hard core Okinawan restaurant, but these places are sort of wishy washy and are going for more of an islander vibe filtered through Japanese hippy sensibilities.  That being said, they are usually cute mom and pop shops with lots of local character.  You can tell someone is probably sinking their life savings into a labor of love, so I feel bad when the food is just kind of meh...but there you go.

I spied this place in my last ditch wanderings about Shioiri for lunch spots.  I wasn't sure if they were open but they were just shut up to keep the heat in.  They use one of those kerosene heaters that you can smell the minute you go inside, but after a while you stop smelling it too strongly.  With just two people working in a very confined space it took a bit longer than expected for my dish, the Locomoco.  This is a hamburger patty on rice with an egg on top and some lettuce on the side.  It can range from very simple to very complex.  This was definitely simple, very little spicing to the meat and the sauce didn't help give the dish any character.  Oh well, at least the meat seemed to be of good quality.  The two frozen pieces of pineapple were fresh...a nice touch if you like pineapple.

I also splurged for "Okinawan" coffee (not included in the price above).  This was quite a disappointment, having the flavor of yesterday's cafeteria coffee.  Not recommended really.

Gyoza no Ohsho

Location: Gyoza no Ohsho

Rating: Not great
Meal: Dinner for 2
Price: 1778 yen
Payment:  Cash only
Dishes: Fried rice, gyoza and fried rice teishoku, sesame balls
English Menu: Yes
Smoking: No

Gyoza no Ohsho (Gyoza King maybe?), is a chain of Japanese Chinese restaurants that are (maybe?) famous for their gyoza, at least that's what it appears from the name.  They have tons of branches in Japan (Wikipedia says over 600), and the only other thing I recall is that the owner was shot to death in Kyoto a couple of years ago (they say it may have been yakuza related).  Anyone getting shot in Japan is big news, so that memory kind of stuck.  Yet for some reason I have rarely eaten there, probably because it isn't very good.

As my son and I cast about for unreviewed Chinese restaurants to eat at, the pickings are getting slim, and I gratefully recalled Ohsho.  My son ordered his usual fried rice and was satisfied.  I was tempted by what appeared to be a special deep fried katsu roll of some kind, but figured I should go with one of the many cheap teishokus and ended up with a fried rice and gyoza combo.  The fried rice was ok, and so were the gyoza.  Meh?

It was cheap though, I'll give it that, and ubiquitous, so if you end up liking it, it will always be close by.

Thursday, December 17, 2015


Location: Yoshinoya
Rating: Not great
Meal: Lunch
Price: 650 yen
Payment:  Cash only
Dishes: Beef and veggie bowl
English Menu: Probably (I didn't ask for one)
Smoking: No

Ah Yoshinoya...many people's favorite gyudon restaurant.  But not mine.  Near as I can tell, the way people feel about gyudon restaurants is similar to how they feel about fast food joints.  Whatever you first encountered becomes your favorite, despite the fact that they are all pretty similar.  But really, Sukiya is the best!

But I had to review Yoshinoya, since it's here, and I had room for a second lunch as the first one was tiny and terrible.  Yoshinoya does have the distinction of being the only international gyudon brand that I know of.  We saw several branches in Manila when we were there last.  If you had no other option and were hankering for gyudon, at least you could get a fix here.

I didn't feel like getting the regular beef bowl, and I saw they had a special with half beef, half veg.  It actually wasn't too bad, but not good enough to change my opinion of the franchise overall.  I will generally go out of my way to avoid eating at Yoshinoya, and since there is usually a Sukiya nearby (think of the McDonald's across the street from the Burger King), I usually get my wish.


Location: Bengal

Rating: Nasty
Meal:  Lunch
Price:  850 yen
Payment:  Cash only
Dishes: Dry curry with cheese
English Menu:Yes
Smoking: No (I don't believe so)

First of all, do not make the mistake of thinking this is an actual Indian restaurant.  It is most definitely not.  It is a "japanese" curry restaurant and that will go far towards mitigating your inevitable disappointment.  Unfortunately, it is possibly the worst "japanese curry" restaurant I have ever eaten at.  Having eaten there in the past, I was dreading the inevitable review I would have to do as I work my way through (virtually) every restaurant in Yokosuka.  Today was that day.

Turns out things haven't changed much.  I thought I'd try something I usually like:  dry curry.  This is usually just a less saucy curry made with ground meat.  It's close to keema (though still Japanified).  I saw an option to add cheese and since I knew what I was in for I thought that couldn't hurt.

My tiny dish of rice and dry curry arrived, with processed cheese cubes on top.  You can see them put the meals together at the bar (all seating is bar seating) and it's very reminiscent of the fast food approach.  The curry was very sweet, with raisins in I believe, and a couple of slices of canned pineapple to boot.  Gross.

Well, good thing I never have to go back now.

Monday, December 14, 2015

Tokyo Grill Harbour

Location: Tokyo Grill Harbour

Rating: OK
Meal: Lunch for 3
Price: 4493 yen
Payment: Credit cards accepted
Dishes:Spaghetti Carbonara, Beef and chickensteak combo, Caprese salad
English Menu: Yes

Another Sunday, another Ok restaurant at Toyosu Lalaport mall.  Actually this place was on the border of Very Good.  I think the price drops it down to the Ok range.  The food was actually pretyy good.

My son got his usual carbonara, which was tasty as usual.  My wife and I shared a beef/chicken steak combo and even she liked the beef.  The caprese salad was surprisingly tasty, with a huge mound of lettuce, lots of tomato and a very tasty olive oil dressing.  The mozzarella was fresh, but not very flavorful.

Overall, not a bad place, but everything was quite expensive for what you were getting.


Location: Mao
Rating: Excellent
Meal:  Dinner for 2 (but could have been 3 or 4)
Price:  8,000 yen
Payment:  Cash only (I think)
Dishes: Roast Peking Duck (requires 3 days notice, subject to seasonal availability)
English Menu: Yes
Smoking: No

A co-worker of mine lives in Zushi and had previously recommended Mao's to us.  We had eaten there before I started this blog, quite a long time ago, and hadn't been back since.  We recall liking it quite a bit.  My friend told me a while ago that they do a special Peking duck during this season and that we should try it.  Initially, we were going to get our families together for the occasion, but as the time approached it ended up just being the two of us.

Their ducks are from China, and it takes about 3 days to prepare them (lots of drying involved apparently).  Mao is run by a couple (he's Japanese, she's Chinese), and they specialize in Szechuan cuisine.  I can't recall the details of the "normal" meal I had there a long time ago, but I do remember appreciating the flavors.  Since then, they now have an English menu (that I helped with on some minor corrections and recommendations when my friend brought it in to work for proofing) which is easy to read and understand.

The duck was presented in all it's glory for a picture first, then they took it to the kitchen to cut it up into smaller, more chopstick friendly bits.  We were given 5 or so small bowls with miscellaneous vegetables, and plates of what appeared to be a form of tortilla shell, but tastes different.  Apparently the way to eat Pecking duck is to make little soft shell tacos and but your toppings in the shell.  We did order some additional vegetables, but wisely the cook held off on making it til we were stuffed.

We did our best but there was no way we could finish the meal.  Thankfully they packed up the leftovers (I brought the head and neck to my son's delight) and gave us doggie bags.

This was definitely a special meal and not one I would eat often, but it was very, very good.  I am very much looking forward to returning some day and sampling  more of their dishes.

Thursday, December 10, 2015


Location: Frijoles

Rating: Very good
Meal: Lunch for 3
Price: 3840 yen
Payment: Credit cards accepted
Dishes:3 burritos, all 3 with guac (mucho extra deniro)
English Menu: Yes

Ever eaten at Chipotle's?  Well, if you are ever hankering for it in Tokyo, Frijoles is the best imitation going.  We had heard about it before, but never eaten there as all the branches are way down town for us, but we had business in a building where we knew one existed, so we figured we should give it a shot.

They all pretty much looked like this.

I had been warned it is pretty expensive for what you get, and sure enough, it was.  Beware!  The setup is very much like Chipotle's where you just point at what you want and they make the burrito for you, but there are several gotchas you won't realize if you don't read the menu carefully.  Chief among these is the disparity in pricing depending on the meat you choose.  Second is that guacamole is 260 yen extra.  Our total bill was twice what it costs to eat at a reasonably priced place for the 3 of us, and I'm sorry but as good as the burritos were, they were a step above fast food in all reality.

Speaking of which, 2 of us had shredded pork, which was delicious.  My wife had the chicken, which was ok, but she said lacked some punch in the flavor department.  We all had guac, which was pretty darn good.  Overall, it was a credible imitation of Chipotle's, complete with Smoked Chipotle Tabasco sauce being available.  I don't know that I'd go too much out of my way for it, but in Tokyo, it might be worth the trip given how rare of a find it is.

Sunday, December 6, 2015


Location: Benitora

Rating: Very good
Meal: Lunch
Price: 1400 yen
Payment: Credit cards accepted
Dishes: Deluxe dan-dan ramen
English Menu: Yes

Benitora is a Chinese restaurant in the upper floors of More's City in Yokosuka.  I had eaten there once before a long time ago and remember liking it.  Today I decided to review it.

There was a lot of great looking stuff on the menu, but for some reason the deluxe dan-dan (spicy with ground meat) ramen looked most appetizing.  I ordered it in "black" (what exactly I'm not sure, perhaps the color of the sesame seeds, or maybe the miso).  Dan-dan (or tan-tan) noodles are a common item in Japanese Chinese restaurants.  Many are very forgettable.

This one was quite good, overflowing with pork in addition to the usual ground meat.  The spiciness was definitely there, though not overwhelming.  They did have an especially spicy version on the menu that I wasn't ready for yet.

Overall I was quite pleased and look forward to returning