Category Archives: FOOD

Sake Diary - Mr. Happy: Jimbocho


The mood at Mister Happy is festive, to say the least. The floor staff are relentlessly cheerful, telling jokes, leading toasts and pulling small pranks on unsuspecting customers. But this is more than just a boisterous izakaya – behind the hijinks, Mister Happy is a serious sake bar, stocking an impressive selection of more than fifty different sake from around the country, with a strong focus on sought-after premium labels.

Tasting flights are one of the selling points here, and these include single-kura tastings from breweries like Kaze no Mori and Aramasa. Regular servings of sake come in proper glasses rather than tiny ochokko – a touch that serious sake drinkers will appreciate. They’ll also be happy with the prices, which start at just Y240 for small tasting-size glasses and Y400 for regular glasses.

The food menu is built around grilled meats and small sake-drinking delicacies, with several dishes that feature A3-grade wagyu beef. Some highlights during recent visits were a deeply flavored beef-tendon nikomi, a garlicky vegetable ajillo (served in a bowl rather than swimming in oil), and very tender A3 wagyu rump steak. Potato salad topped with corned beef hash is an unusual take on this ubiquitous izakaya dish, and tiny bites of tuna topped with uni were an appetizing combination.

Non-sake beverage options include a couple of beers from Hitachino Nest as well as more typical lagers and soft drinks. Budget around Y3000-5000 for ample food and drink at dinnertime. …continue reading


Troyan: Ginza


Central Tokyo’s only Bulgarian restaurant, Troyan offers an exotic menu of eastern Mediterranean dishes like moussaka, kofta meatballs, and cheese-filled filo pastries along with Bulgarian wines. The fare here may be closer to home-style cooking than fine dining, but there are a few standout dishes waiting to be discovered. Portions are impressively large, prices are reasonable, and the atmosphere is relaxed and casual.

The weekday buffet lunch is a good place to get acquainted with Bulgarian cuisine. In addition to one main dish of your choice, you can sample a nice variety of side dishes like tarator (creamy herb-infused cold yogurt soup), snezhanka (a thick yogurt salad studded with chopped vegetables), and shopska (a chunky cucumber-tomato salad).

More filling buffet items include curry-flavored meatballs, stewed vegetables, cold cuts and a few noodle dishes. The self-service drinks bar features ayran yogurt drink, various juices, rose water, iced coffee and tea, but unfortunately there’s no dessert buffet. (You can order dessert a la carte if you still have room.)

At dinnertime the voluminous assorted meat platter (Y900 per person) is a tempting option. It comes with venison sausage, kofta meatballs, stewed pork, white beans and stewed vegetables, although the kofta is by far the best of the assortment so you might want to stick with that if you don’t mind a bit less variety.

The Banitsa pastries stuffed with sirene cheese are surprisingly delicate, and well worth a try. If you get here early enough you can take advantage of Happy Hour (4:30-7pm) and enjoy Bulgarian wines for Y390 a glass. If you’re intrigued by the sound of the “Bulgarian Highball” (as we were), it turns out to be fairly bland and tastes mainly of ginger ale.

The restaurant’s ambience is very much that of …continue reading


​Jimbocho Ramen Shop Kai: Hip Hop and Niboshi


​Among Jimbocho ramen shops, Kai is an attention grabber. Snoop Dogg played alongside fatty Niigata style niboshi ramen. Why not?

Fatty Niboshi Ramen

Unlike their sister shop Watanabe, Kai loves hip hop and more recently, a Niigata style fatty niboshi ramen. This means a generous layer of seabura (pork back fat) amicably floating on top. The broth is a pork bone party – primarily using genkotsu, ashi, and momiji.

The seabura and crunchy onions play a role in sweetening the broth and taking away some of that niboshi fish flavor. Thick, flat takasui noodles. Overall, a beastly bowl.

Seabura Closeup

Ginger Shoyu Ramen

At the moment, Kai is has a limited time ginger shoyu ramen. At first glance, it looks a lot like an old-school chukasoba bowl. It tastes like it too, with a mild shoyu seasoning and a tiny fish aftertaste.

But the ginger is there and adds a sharpness and sour-like flavor. The noodles are softer and go well with the temperate broth.

For fatty chashu pork fans, Kai also has you covered. On a separate note, I’m told the tsukemen is awesome as well – have yet to try it.

But Kai’s ramen definitely doesn’t disappoint. Quality shop for Jimbocho ramen!

Shop Hours: 11:00 ~ 20:00 (Every day)

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Go! Go! Nihon

Go! Go! Nihon Students Photo

Go! Go! Nihon is a FREE service that specializes in helping foreigners live and study Japanese in Japan. Their website provides you with support to find the perfect Japanese language school for you with a simple application process to apply to the school and organize a student visa. This support and service does not cost you a thing! It is totally FREE.

They take the stress and hassle out of looking for accommodation and enrolling in a school, which leaves you with the joy of studying Japanese in Japan, a life-changing experience.

Go! Go! Nihon have helped nearly 8,000 people from more than 70 countries around the world come to study in The Land of the Rising Sun.

A Brief History of Go! Go! Nihon

Go! Go! Nihon was born in 2009 out an idea of making living and studying in Japan as easy as possible. The founders studied Japanese in Japan themselves, but found it pretty difficult to make the big move. In 2010, they launched their website and service with English, Italian and Swedish language support. The service was an instant hit with Spanish being added in 2013. In 2015, French and German language support was added and their achieved a significant milestone of helping 1,000 students study and live in Japan. The Southeast Asian market was looked at in 2016 with the addition of Indonesian language support. Over the last few years, they have added new services to support students such as SIM card and Wifi, as well as launching their first mobile app.

Their mission is to improve people’s lives and broaden their horizons by helping them experience studying and living in Japan.

Go! Go! Nihon Group Photo

Why Choose Go! Go! Nihon?

It is simply really. The staff at Go! …continue reading


Kamuro: Modern, Mouth-Watering Chicken Ramen


Additive-free and supremely tasty, Kamuro is a perfect example of chicken ramen done well. Just 5 minutes from Ebisu station, they’re open until 4 am.

The Heavier Side

Their “white” chicken ramen (tori paitan) is just chicken and water. Pure bliss. Yuzu kosho (citrusy chili paste) and crunchy onion bits satisfyingly help balance the creamier broth.

White Chicken Ramen, all toppings: ¥1,150

They use round and medium-thick noodles. This energetic bowl will undoubtedly hit the spot after a night out.

The Lighter Side

Their clear chicken ramen employs straight, thin noodles. The lighter broth won’t weight you down as much but it’s still full of wonderful chicken flavor.

Clear Chicken Ramen, all toppings: ¥1,150

Broiled Chicken Goodness

Chicken toppings double whammy! 1. Broiled chicken with just enough fat and skin adds a wonderful smoky aroma. 2. Soft, steamed chicken slices nicely soak up the broth. Mini tomatoes and mushrooms and a long lima bean are uniquely added as toppings too.

In conclusion, bump up Kamuro on your chicken ramen list.

Shop Hours: 11:30 ~ 4:00 (Every day)

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