Saturday, August 19, 2017

Devilcraft

Location: Devilcraft


Rating: OK
Meal: Lunch for 2
Price: 8300 yen
Payment: Credit cards accepted
Dishes: Greek pizza, thai pizza, "the works" pizza (Chicago style), all small size.  4 half pints and one full pint of beer
English Menu: Yes
Smoking: No


Well...this was disappointing.  For years, ever since we arrived in Japan, we've heard legends of Devilcraft, a pizza joint that brews their own beer.  They have 3 locations in town and we've never had the opportunity to go (the conditions must be perfect...) until today.  For her birthday/our anniversary my wife really wanted to go, so we made plans to eat at 3pm at the Gotanda location.


We decided to be liberal in our ordering so we could really get a feel for the beer and pizza.  As such we ended up ordering a total of 4 half pints of their locally brewed beer and finished it off with one full pint of Stone Ruination IPA (to cleans the palette perhaps?).  As for pizza, we started off with the two specials, a greek themed and a thai themed pizza.   The greek pizza had tzatziki on it...that's mostly all I recall.  The thai pizza was based on the Gapao classic dish, and we even ordered extra cilantro and an egg to go on it (for more money natch).  We were concerned that we wouldn't be able to finish them all, so made *sure* we could take any leftovers home with us before ordering the two smalls.  We were slightly taken aback once they arrived (it took forever to make them)...they were tiny...miniscule...microscopic even!  And with the big doughy crust there were hardly any toppings to speak of...plus I didn't care for the crust and gave it all to my wife.  We also realized neither of them were Chicago style, which is their claim to fame...so we went ahead and ordered a "the works" chicago style pizza and waited even longer to try it out.  It was much better than the other pizzas, with a high wall, slightly crisper crust that allowed the filling to properly fill out the pizza and feel like you were actually eating something more than crackers with toppings.  Nonetheless, it was also a bit underwhelming.


The beers were sad too...the one we liked best was their Co-Conspirator IPA, a coconut IPA that really worked quite well.  The others were just lackluster, especially compared with the amazing Portland beers we had just finished at PDX Taproom.  So we ordered a consolation pint of Ruination IPA and shared it between us.

Greek pizza

Overall, we were quite disappointed that Devilcraft did not live up to its legend, and it ended up being incredibly expensive for what you got.  So far, Pizzakaya remains the best pizza we've had in Japan, and they had much better beer too.

Thai pizza

"the works" chicago style

PDX Taproom

Location: PDX Taproom


Rating: Very good
Meal: Snack and drinks for 2
Price:  5150 yen
Payment: Credit cards accepted, but it wasn't working so we paid cash
Dishes: Shepherd's pie, 6 half pints of various kinds
English Menu: Yes
Smoking: No



Well, this was a surprise!  Today is our celebration of our 17th anniversary and my wife's birthday.  She wanted to go try Devilcraft pizza and beer.  The other day I happened to be typing in "pdx" into google maps (to look for Portland International Airport) and accidentally typed in "p dx".  Astonishingly, it pinpointed PDX Taproom in Shibuya, a bar that specializes in Portland beers!  In case you weren't aware, we lived in downtown Portland for several years before leaving the US and we loved it there.  Our "beerducation" took place there, and we've never forgotten those delicious lessons.  So imagine our pleasant surprise to find a place specializing in those beers right here in Tokyo!  We decided to go there first for pre-lunch beer at 12 noon and then later on proceed south to the Devilcraft Gotanda location.  Review on that to come.



Usually I don't bother reviewing "bars" as food is an afterthought.  However I really wanted to be sure to review this place so we bought a little food to go with the beer, since it was noon and we were going to be trying several beers before proceeding to lunch.  The menu has several good looking items on it, and we selected the shepherd's pie, which turned out to be a tasty little treat of a tomato based, ground meat sauce topped with mashed potatoes lightly roasted.  It hit the spot.  There were several other good looking items that I'd like to try when we go back someday.



As for the beers...wow, they really have some obscure beers from Portland breweries available such as Hair of the Dog and Lompoc Brewing (which was still New Old Lompoc when we left Portland!).  Of course they keep changing their lineup, so be sure the check their website (www.pdxtap.com) for the day's lineup.  We ended up trying 6 different half pints, including the Lompoc Pampelmousse Citrus IPA, which ended up being our favorite.  The Hair of the Dog selection was a 13% monster that was a bit much for us to try that early in the day, especially with more beer to come at lunch.  Overall we had a nostalgic blast and plan to return there with friends in the future.




Thursday, August 17, 2017

Sakaba

Location: Sakaba


Rating: Not great
Meal: Dinner
Price: 3800 yen
Payment: Limited credit cards accepted (not visa)
Dishes cheese plate, 5 piece yakitori, fried rice, sake and a grapefruit sour
English Menu: No
Smoking: Didn't notice...but probably


KC's Craft Beer and Dining has been replaced...by a pretty generic izakaya.  I tried it out last night and was pretty unimpressed.

Pictures below:






Monday, August 7, 2017

Sathi

Location: Sathi

Rating: OK
Meal: Lunch for 2
Price: 2430 yen
Payment: Cash only
Dishes: Two curry set with tandoori chicken and kebabs, yaki keema stone rice bowl, salty lassi
English Menu: Yes
Smoking: No (actually I didn't notice...it might be allowed)


My wife noticed another Indian restaurant on the way home from church in Yokohama a few weeks back, so we tried it out last Sunday.  It's got a handy parking lot, which is nice when you are driving.

Salad

The menu is fairly typical, but on the dinner menu I found some interesting "yaki" dishes that looked like stone rice bowls.  I was up for something new so I tried it.  My wife got a standard lunch set with naan, saag and dahl curries, and tandoori chicken with 2 meat kebabs.  I asked if they could make a salty lassi and they could!  Oddly, drinks did not come for free with the set, but salads did.

Salty lassi

I quite liked the yaki dish and the stone bowl kept it very hot for a long time.  My wife didn't care for the kebabs so I chunked them up and tossed them in my rice bowl as there wasn't much meat.  The meal was overall an Ok, but a high one, and we may eat there again on Sundays as there aren't a lot of good restaurants in that area.

Yaki keema

Tandoori chicken and kebabs


Tuesday, August 1, 2017

Locavore

Location: Locavore


Rating: Excellent
Meal:  Lunch for 3
Price:  2800 php
Payment: Credit cards accepted
Dishes: Sinkamas and green mango with patis, bagoong and salt, watermelon arugala salad, shrimp with crab fat and Japanese mayo sauce, ginataang kaldereta, kimchi sinigang, garlic rice
English Menu: Yes
Smoking: No


Today was our last chance for amazing food for this trip to Manila.  My dad had told us of this amazing Filipino restaurant called Locavore that serves incredible modern interpretations of classic Filipino dishes.  Unfortunately, he fell ill this week and was not able to come with us, but we went with his wife anyway for lunch today.  It's the kind of place you need to reserve a lunch table for, which she did.


The restaurant facilities were lacking a bit in style and certainly in air conditioning.  We found ourselves sweating partway through the meal and it continued throughout.  We even asked if something could be done about it but apparently we were in the corner with the busted air con and there were no fans about.  There is another location (the original I'm told) which is nicer inside and my stepmother prefers it to the one we ate at today.


However, the food was out of this world, making this the pinnacle of our food experiences this trip.  We had a shrimp dish covered in a sauce made from crab fat and Japanese mayonnaise that was the star of the meal in my opinion.  We got the green mango with fish sauce, salt and bagoong mainly because my wife had never experienced green mango with bagoong yet.  I think she was spoiled because instead of the scary dyed pink goop that is most common this was a dark brown artisinal bagoong or something.  It was soooo delicious.  There was a salad mostly characterized by the use of big chunks of watermelon.  And the two main dishes were a gintaang kaldereta (beef and vegetables stewed in coconut milk sauce) and kimchi sinigang (a spicy interpretation of sinigang with huge cubes of pork belly).  The kaldereta was delicious with super tender beef, and while the sinigang sauce was delightfully sour the pork was a little tough.


The whole meal was amazing, if very heavy, and we are so grateful to have been able to have a meal of this caliber during this trip.  Once again Manila comes through with so much amazing food available.



Taj Mahal

Location: Taj Mahal

Rating: Very good
Meal: Dinner for 2
Price:  2322 php
Payment: Credit cards accepted
Dishes: All for delivery - paratha and roti, raita, mutton biryani, mutton keema, chicken cashew coconut milk curry, veg/chicken samosas, tandoori paneer
English Menu: Yes
Smoking: No



Last night for dinner we walked a ways to find a Persian spot that advertised shisa, but were sad to find when we got there that the location was closed and that *all* indoor smoking at restaurants is banned in Manila now.  Stunned, we walked back towards our building and passed by Taj Mahal, an Indian restaurant.  It was still early, but we stopped in to see if they looked legit, and boy did they ever!  So we ordered a bunch of stuff for delivery to our hotel/apartment in about an hour, closer to dinner time.


It arrived a bit earlier than advertised and we unpacked everything on the table resulting in the picture above.  It was incredibly delicious.  The only thing we were a bit disappointed by was the paratha/roti, neither of which was what we thought it would be exactly.  The quantity of food was, again, staggering, and we now have leftovers for 2 or 3 meals, which is good because we have two more breakfasts to figure out before we leave.

The quality of the food would otherwise merit an Excellent, but there was one other factor dragging things down a bit.  I usually rate restaurants on food only, as I am quite tolerant of atmosphere issues, or dirt, especially if it's a hole in the wall.  This place, however, is definitely not a hole in the wall, and the prices reflect that.  The service was great too.  But the stench inside while we were ordering was really bad, somewhat like a filthy urinal.  I don't know what the problem was, but it definitely contributed to us ordering delivery instead of staying there.  Nonetheless, the food was so good I still have to give the place a Very Good as I would order from there again in a heartbeat.

Sunday, July 30, 2017

Mingxuan

Location: Mingxuan

Rating: Not great
Meal: Dinner for 3
Price: 475 yen
Payment: Cash only probably
Dishes: Glutinous rice dimsum, "special" fried rice, preserved vegetable meat pie rice dish
English Menu: Yes
Smoking: No


We ended up back at the Jazz Residence to eat dinner and decided to try a Chinese restaurant a bit removed from the rest of the mall.  Turns out it was more of a fast food style place and we weren't very hungry so we didn't order much.


I guess we shouldn't have bothered as none of us (with the exception of my son) liked our dishes at all.  I was going to rate it an Ok, but by the end of it we were all in agreement it was substandard.


Cafe Mediterranean

Location: Cafe Mediterranean


Rating: Very good
Meal: Lunch for 3
Price:  2017 php
Payment: Credit cards accepted
Dishes: falafel, tabouleh, moutabel, pesto feta pine nut pizza, shish tawouk, lamb tikka, syrian vegeterian kibbeh, sweet and salty laban (lassi on the menu)
English Menu: Yes
Smoking: No


We decided to watch a movie that was showing at the Rockwell Power Plant mall which is pretty nearby.  We scouted the place out and had lunch at Cafe Mediterranean, an arabic food restaurant with many of our favorite dishes from the Gulf area on the menu.  We weren't expecting much but we were blown away by the flavors and quality of the food.  The service was also great, with the staff looking like they really enjoyed what they were doing.

tabouleh and moutabel

We ordered an array of our favorites:  falafel, moutabel, tabouleh, shish tawouk, and lamb tikka.  In addition we tried a pesto feta pine nut pizza for my son and they had a special Syrian food recipe in remembrance of the troubles there currently that we ordered a delicious vegetarian fried kibbeh.  Everything was out of this world and whole experience was just a hair under an Excellent (but of course we've had so much Arabic food that we know it can be a bit better).  Certainly better than anything we've had in Japan and way, way cheaper.

falafel

I highly recommend trying the spot out if you're in the Makati area and looking for some good Arabic food.  Definitely the best meal we've had so far this trip.

vegetarian kibbeh

Shish tawouk

Lamb tikka

Feta, pesto and pine nut pizza