Lawson's "Gyutto Cream Cheese" and "Gyutto Chocolat" / 
ローソン 「ぎゅっとクリームチーズ」と「ぎゅっとショコラ」

I tried Lawson's new sweets called "Gyutto Cream Cheese" and also "Gyutto Chocolat."
These couple of years, many convini (abbreviated word for convenience store) create their own brand's sweets; cheap but keep the quality.

"Gyutto" is a mimetic word and means "squeezed" "tightly" "firmly" and "hard."
Here this "Gyutto" is used to explain that they've condensed the palatability to create these mini desserts are flavorful and have rich texture.

It was about 10cm (3inch) long and 3cm (1inch) height.

<< Gyutto Cheese Cake >>
This was exactly a little cheese cake.
Same as the regular cheese cake, it had cookie crumbs at the bottom.

<< Gyutto Chocolat >>
It was as moist and heavy as gateau au chocolat!

The film at the bottom of this cake was neat.

It has slits from each side in the middle and you can rip it off or fold it down when you eat when you're not using a plate or folk.

This slits prevented me from eating the cake with this thin film.
As the package said, they're rich and the texture was heavy.

I think the size was perfect since they're pretty strong and thick.

Maybe good for a little snack or when you want to have just a bite after a meal.

Available at Lawson
130 yen each.
Gyutto Cream Cheese: 244 kcal
Gyutto Chocolat: 235 kcal


Häagen-Dazs Murasaki Imo / ハーゲンダッツ 紫いも
Häagen-Dazs launched a new autumn limited flavor, Murasaki Imo.

Murasaki Imo is a famous sweet potato in Okinawa, and inside of the potato is deep purple.
"Murasaki" is purple, and "Imo" means potato in Japanese.

I've had Beni Imo (another way to say Murasaki Imo) tart, which the one of the most popular souvenirs of Okinawa.

So, when I found this at one of conbini chain, I was excited and couldn't wait to try this.

The package on the plastic lid is pretty vivid potato and the color is same as the Beni Imo Tart.

However, the ice cream isn't this purply and looked pale with stronger violet strips.
According to the homepage, this ice cream has 2 textures.

Creamy ice cream (pale part) and the rich texture sauce (the strips).

First bite, ".....???"

I didn't get any Murasaki Imo flavor I'm used to or was expecting.

Second bite, "....  ...... ...... mmm...."

I still didn't think it's Murasaki Imo.

When I had some sauce with, I could slightly smell the Murasaki Imo scent but it's quite weak.
Digging the ice cream deeper, I saw more sauce but to me, the ration wasn't that good.

I felt as if I was eating light purple colored milk ice ream with a minute amount of Murasaki Imo taste.

If the package was blank, I might have not recognized it's supposed to be Murasaki Imo.


Chimi Hanten "Ebi Okoge Ankake"  / 知味飯店 エビおこげあんかけ

Another Kitanataurant eat-in.
*It used to be called Kitanachelin, but according to Chimi Hanten's owner, originator Michelin had complained to Fuji TV and they had to change the name and the statue figure.
Going back to the post about Tohakkei >>> http://chobiro47.blogspot.jp/2012_08_16_archive.html you can still see the statue kind of looks like Michelin Boy and the label says "Kitanachelin."

I happened to watch this episode when they're showing this little Chinese place in Koenji Minami, and I thought I could go.

It was about 5 minutes walk from Higashi Koenji station (Marunouchi subway line).
I walked along the loop 7 ("Kan Nana" which we call and is an abbreviated version of Kanjo-sen Nana go), then once I got to Ookubo Dori (Ookubo street), I made a right turn.
Less than 10 meters, it's there.

However, I almost walked pass without knowing it's there.
The reason is simple.
The sign wasn't bright enough and seriously it looked like an empty and robbed house.
Here're some photos I took...

== Without flash ==
If there hadn't been a light sign board, I'd have totally missed this place.

== With the flash on ==

== Cover above the front sliding door ==
And the plastic board above the front door was NOT fully covered.
There should be 3 panels but only one was left.

== From the other side of the road ==
See? It looks like a house. 
I doubt if it's easy to find this during daytime either.

Opening the sliding door, I heard a loud music which sounded like Koran, then he stopped the music and welcomed me with a big but a little bit shy smile.

Soon he said, "I'm not an evil strange cult, don't worry, hahaha!"
I laughed so hard but it's not only the beginning but never-ending since he's simply funny and a really caring person.

I was the only customer at the moment and he explained to me it was a "No play" which is a traditional masked dance drama.
He's from Miyagi prefecture and his hobby is No play.
Inside of this eat-in, there're several posters and photos of him with others who seemed to be somebody famous (but I didn't recognize any of them).

As the TV show went on air on July 26, 2012, it was crazily busy till the last week; like a non-stop flood of customers.

There're 3 tables with 3-4 chairs each.
Most of the chairs' cover were ripped and the table-cloth had a lot of stains.
I sat one of the table anyway and ordered Ebi Okoge Ankake.
As the regular size seemed really big so I asked him to make it smaller.
He asked me how much I wanted and also how much the charge should be.
So I asked him to cook 1,000 yen amount of food.

This is so nice. I was happy to pay the regular price for a smaller portion, which is 1,200 yen, but he offered me to deduct some price off.

Rough explanation for Ebi Okoge Ankake.
Ebi is shrimp and Okoge is fried rice cake.
Ankake is a starchy Chinese sauce with vegetables and seafood.
So this dish is starchy sauce with shrimp over fried rice cakes.

After he took my order, I asked him a permission to take photos of the Kitanataurant-related goods inside of the shop.
He kindly said ok.

On the left wall, there's a certificate with 2 and half stars.
The reason why it wasn't 3 stars was due to the owner's dingy hat.

== Certificate ==
Same as the Kitanachelin, this declares that this place is filthy but provides good plates.

Under the certificate, there's a collage of the TV show.
He said one of the customers made this for him.

== Collage ==

On the right wall, there's a famous autograph of "Pelé," a Brazilian soccer player but signed by Mr. Noritake Kinashi.
He signs on walls sometimes when he feels like and the sign "Pelé" is a joke.
(I don't remember when and how it started.)

== Pelé sign ==
Under the Pelé sign, there's a board of autograph from Ton'neruzu (comedian duo), Arisa Mizuki (actress), and Yurika Mita (Fuji TV anchorwoman).

== Autograph ==

And the famous and honorable statue was located at the back of the room.

==  Statue ==
The owner said that he first had placed this statue near the certificate, which is closer to the door, then some of the customers warmed him that these statues have been sold on internet for 100,000 JPY so he'd better keep it somewhere safe.
That's why he moved this statue to the backside of the place.

While I was taking photos, he's cooking my dishes and the sound of frying rice cakes was already delicious.

Sometimes he came back and took another customer's order, who seemed to come here often.
Also he asked me if the A/C was too strong and he could shut it off anytime.

He served me fried rice cakes on a plate first, and he poured the starchy sauce over them at the table.
"Eat the sound," he said because he thinks hearing the sound is a part of dish, so he wants to pour the sauce and let customers hear the crackling noise.
Once he started pouring, the sound was really loud and it smelled really flavory.
And it is ready to eat.
Shrimp, broccoli, squid, clam, carrots, Jew's-ear mushroom, and Chinese cabbage are in the sauce.

The sauce was smooth and had decent thickness.
He brought a bottle of salt, but I didn't have to use it as it was just so tasty without extra salt.
As I prefer light taste, it was so perfect.

== Chopstick cover ==
This chopstick cover seems it's a fancy restaurant.

He brought another plate and said, "It's from me, free of charge."
In a small plate, 3 slices of tomatoes and some cucumbers.
I don't like mayo so I took off the mayo a bit and ate them.
The dressing on tomatoes was a little bit sour and delicious.
I should have asked him what kind of dressing it was.

When I ate all the dishes and paid him, he only charged me 1,000 yen as he said.

I asked him if I could take a photo of him with the dirty hat, then he said sure.
Then a couple sat behind me said one of them could take a photo for me with him.
When I was about to leave the place, he saw me off at the sliding door and said, "Please take care and be safe on your way home. It's dark outside."
It was really kind of him.

I couldn't write much here how kind and talkative he is, but the dish was great and normal price, it's worth trying this place and see how funny the owner is.

Chimi Hanten / 知味飯店
1-34-7 Koenji Minami,
Suginami-ku, Tokyo


Open everyday: 11:00AM - 3:00PM, 5:00PM - 10:00PM


New York Grill in Park Hyatt Tokyo / ニューヨークグリル (パークハイアット東京)

I've been to Park Hyatt Tokyo several times to have brunch, drink, or afternoon tea.
But last night, we went to New York Grill in Park Hyatt Tokyo, located in Shinjuku.
(It's well-known by tourists as "Lost in Translation" was filmed in this hotel.)

New York Grill is located on the 52nd floor but there's no direct elevator to take.
To get to the 52nd floor, you need to go to the 2nd floor and take an elevator to the 41st floor.
On the 41st floor, they have afternoon tea during daytime (Peak Lounge) and drinks at night (Peak Bar).
Once you get to the 41st floor, make a right turn and walk pass Girandole (French restaurant) on your left.
You'll find bookshelves nearby and go through them as the floor goes on.
There's another elevator and take it to the 52nd floor.

It was a quite walk but good to have more appetite.

Walk through the New York Bar, where you can enjoy live jazz music, and you finally get to a vast space with large windows to see the great view.
As we were sitting the farthest from the window, I couldn't take any great photo but still we could see some scenery.

I wish the floor was like stairs and the farther you sit from the window, the higher the floor gets.

The restaurant mainly uses indirect lightning and that provided a cozy atmosphere.

When a waiter came and took our order, I asked him who drew one of the paintings on the wall.
He said it's an Italian painter Valerio Adami.
There're 2 paintings in New York Grill and other 2 are in New York Bar, so total 4 paintings are on the 52nd floor and all of them have a same theme; New York.
(I'm impressed that he remembers them all.)

I wasn't sure how big all the dishes would be, we ordered one appetizer to start with, which was a right choice. 
They brought bread while we're waiting for and they're pretty addictive.
Butter on the side looked like vanilla ice cream as it's solid and placed in a white china cup and the surface was so smooth and free of spot. 

The bread was fresh baked and outside was crispy but the inside was soft and moist.
The texture was close to ciabatta.

Then after a while, appetizer came.
Pasta Radiatori with summer truffle, mushrooms, and buffalo ricotta.
As we're sharing appetizer, they already divided into 2 plates and served us.
Though it's one-person's portion, it's pretty big.

Radiatori looks like Fusilli, but this one had about 10 rows of ruffles and on the other side was smooth, and as it's cooked, it curled up.

Mushrooms were shimeji, eryngii, and hen of the woods as far as I could see.
It might have contained porcini, too.

Coevered with thin slices of buffalo ricotta and truffle.
Ricotta was soft and smooth and truffle was a little bit crunchy so that all the ingredients provided different and interesting texture in a bowl.

It was already so good and tasty, I thought I could just order this as my main dish.

Here comes my main.
Veal shank with spicy lemon sauce.
The meat was slowly braised and it was so soft that I didn't have to put any pressure on the knife. 

Decent amount of spices rid its smell and the lemon sauce which had some sort of curry flavor.

To take the meat from the bone (the one in the middle) was really easy thanks to the well-cooked meat.

Sides were mashed potatoes with garlic chips and grilled summer vegetables with basil oil.
I expected the potatoes would be about the same size as a big scoop of ice cream but I was wrong. 
It's hard to tell how big it was, but I'd say it was about a hand size with fist height.
Grilled vegetables were really great; red and yellow peppers, zucchini, broccoli, and eggplant.

As all the plates were pretty large and "American size," we didn't finish all the dishes but of course enjoyed them.

The waiter brought us dessert menu so we ordered Mint-chocolate ganache served with marshmallow bar and peppermint ice cream.
The white one is peppermint ice cream.
Shiny one in the middle is mint-chocolate ganache with thin sliced caramelized decoration.
A triangle shaped bar is a marshmallow bar with something crispy (caramel or pie sheet?).
Some crumbs of dark chocolate cookies.

Peppermint ice cream looked as if it's vanilla but as soon as I put into my mouth, I could totally taste strong mint flavor.

Ganache was smooth but a little bit chewy.

Marshmallow bar was the best!

Even though we're full and left some meats on the plates, we definitely had room for dessert.

The quantity on the plates were pretty large so I might skip appetizer next time.
I really wish they had half size for all the dishes they have with 2/3 (or half, ideally) of the full price.

When we arrived, the restaurant and jazz bar (New York Bar) were pretty full so we could understand they needed time to take orders and bring our plates, but after most of them had left, it still took them forever to take care of the bill.

Since they serve pretty decent food with quality, I'd like to go back and try some other plates.
Just I hope next time we won't have to wait that long.


Chicken McNuggets Red Curry Sauce / チキンマックナゲット レッドカレーソース

McDonald's Japan has had "World McDonald's campaign" and the new theme, India has started last Friday, August 17, Friday.
(First one was France.)

As I hate mayo, I can't try the Hot Masala burger, which is curry spices mixed with mayonnaise sauce with chicken thigh meat burger.

Also, they have Mild Masala, which less spicy than Hot Masala.

Either way, I just focus on the nuggets.

They created new and limited curry flavored nuggets sauce.

White meat, yes.

No mayo, yes in deed.

So I tried this last Friday.

The package looked like regular BBQ sauce as it's red.

But maybe this one is slightly darker?

Since McNuggets is still the same one and doesn't have any change, it's easy to see how well the sauce would be.

The sauce smelled like curry, and it wasn't a Japanese curry flavor but Indian curry.
However, it didn't resemble curry...

Somehow I saw yellow oil floating around the roux.

When I saw the advertisement saying "red" so I expected it was hot, but not that spicy.

The sauce tasted a little bit sour but not sure where it came from because the package only says "acidic ingredients."

It matched nuggets fine but somehow, it went better with fries.

After I dipped all the nuggets twice each = 10 times to finish a box, there's still enough sauce left in the case and I could dip maybe 20 fries.


Tohakkei / 唐八景

I've watched a lot of episodes of Kitanachelin (きたなシュラン).

Kitanachelin is a part of a TV show and it's a coined name of Kitanai (汚い / dirty) yet delicious (= Michelin guide).

And I finally got a chance to try one of the places near my house.

It's called Tohakkei / 唐八景 and famous for Champon noodle.

Champon is a type of noodle and regional food of Nagasaki prefecture, southern side of Japan. 

Usually it's made with pork, seafood and vegetables with chicken and big bones soup.

A remarkable difference from regular ramen is once the noodle is cooked, it goes into the soup in a pan and simmer for a bit.

About minutes walk from Shinkoenji station and it's located in a narrow street.

Right now, it's Obon (お盆 / Japanese Buddhist holiday), I was afraid it's closed.

But I saw a yellow light!
I was a little bit scared how dirty it would be,  but the outside, I didn't think it's dirty but old.
The sliding door was heavy, and I think it because it's old and hasn't been fixed well.
You can see 3 tags hanging on the door.

There're 10 chairs at white counter which is some sort of L shaped but not sharp, it's a little bit of S-ish.

As soon as I sat on one of the old and squeaky chairs, he put a bottle of tea and little glass in front of me.
This Tohakkei serves simple menus as far as I could see the list at the table.
I ordered Nagasaki Champon instead of Sara Udon, which literally means "plate noodle."

Sara Udon is also a local dish from Nagasaki but this one uses fried thin (or thick) noodle covered with almost same ingredients and toppings but thickened soup with starch.

According to some reviews, Champon here is pretty big so I asked the owner to give me less noodle so that he won't have to throw away the leftovers and uneaten food.

Tohakkei received 3 stars (full score) in Kitanachelin and I was expecting the statue and certificate were set somewhere visible.

However, I had to look around the little place...

They're set on near the sliding door, right side and above.

Now you can get the idea of Michelin from this popular figure of the statue.
Next to this, there's a certificate with 3 stars.
Dirty but tasty restaurant.
☆ ☆ ☆
Dear Tohakkei
Although your restaurant is dirty,
we accredit you serve excellent dish.
November 26, 2009
Takaaki Ishibashi

Mr. Takaaki Ishibashi is a member of comedian duo "Ton'neruzu" and he's in the TV show which introduces Kitanachelin from time to time.

The owner was stir frying the vegetables and there's a big fire I could see from my seat.

While he was simmering the noodle in a pan with soup, he gave me sesame seeds in mortar with wood pestle.
He said, "If you like, please add this to the Champon."

I started mashing the seeds for a bit in the mortal with pestle.

And my Champon was served shortly after.
The toppings were octopus, squid, onion, naganegi onion (green onion, leek), cabbage, Chinese cabbage, bean sprout, kamaboko (fish minced and steamed), chikuwa (fish sausage), could ear mushroom (Auricularia auricula-judae / Jew's ear), shrimp, and pork.

The soup was chicken and pork base.

The decent richness went well with the thick noodle and slightly fried vegetables.

I've tried several Champon but mainly from one of those chain restaurants, but this is the first authentic Champon I've had ever.

The owner was the only person who took orders and cooked.

He's super laid back and when he's not cooking, he was watching TV and laughing.

I'd love to go back to this place to try Sara Udon next time.

Tohakkei / 唐八景

2-42-15 Koenji-Minami,
Suginami-ku, Tokyo


Open: Tuesday - Sunday  (Closed on Mondays)

11:30AM - 2:00PM
6:30PM - 0:00AM


CoCo Ichiban-ya Curry Rusk / Coco壱番屋カレーラスク

Yamazaki launched curry flavored rusk made from bread crust.

It's supervised by CoCo Ichiban-ya, a Japanese curry chain.

Yamazaki has collaborated with CoCo Ichiban-ya so often; for Lunch Pack and Gourmet Box.


ココイチ特製 とび辛 スパイス使用

According to the package, they used CoCo Ichi's special "super-hot" spices.
*We abbreviate the name into "CoCo Ichi" when we say.

This rusk is produced spicy and flavorous as Coco Ichi's popular pork curry.

On the back side of the package, there's a drawing to show which part of bread is used.
The package was about 10cm x 23cm more or less (= about 4inch x 9inch).

I expected there'd be a lot of curry rusk but there wasn't.
Maybe they intentionally made the bag big enough to have air in to prevent the crispy rusks from breaking apart?
The rusk was really crispy and had curry flavor. 

However, I couldn't really tell if it resembles CoCo Ichi's pork curry as I've never had their pork broth curry but only beef stock one.

To me, tt was one of the curry flavored snacks.

They're claiming that they worked with Coco Ichi and used their special spices, it could have had some remarkable aspects, for example providing a sachet of spice powder to give more kicks to this rusk.
Espressoda / エスプレッソーダ

Suntory invented a new type of coffee drink this summer.

It's coffee but soda.


Some people were talking about this Espressoda on twitter but none mentioned what it was like.

Even though I don't drink coffee unless it's cafe au lait, this weird product attracted me so much and I just wanted to gibe it a shot.

On the left side, there's a little box showing a little note.

Refreshingly rich taste (in the red section).

Fine sweetness (yellow section).

"A twist of bold coffee and refreshing soda."

"You can enjoy great richness and bitterness from espresso with blast of soda. This would be a tasty drink in the afternoon."

It smelled like a regular coffee indeed.

It was super thin coffee and after I drank it, it tasted as if it was tea with lemon.

To me, it was almost a torture to have another sip, so I only had one taste.

It's not because I didn't try this in the afternoon but because I just didn't like it...

I'm glad that I tried this but I also got disappointed for a little bit since I was thinking it might be better than this.