Tag Archives: Cheap

Rock-Paper-Potatoes

Gyros Hero

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Located less than five minutes from Takadanobaba station, Gyros Hero is the ideal spot for a study date, and yet I rarely find it full of students, or full of anyone for that matter. Inspired by the Greek islands, the white and blue motif of this casual sidewalk café/restaurant is clean without feeling sterile. With wireless internet, and even an in house computer, provided, I head over here when I want to focus and get some work done. It doesn’t hurt of course, that I hardly have to spend money to do so.

With gyros costing only ¥390 (¥580 for a gyros set), I can eat a great hot lunch here, for less than a coffee at Starbucks, and, unlike Starbucks, they don’t kick you out after an hour. My favorite is the classic tzatziki gyro, the cool yogurt flavor mixes well with the ground meat, fresh tomatoes, and soft bread. The last time I went they also had a tasty lamb gyro special for the day, which was a treat. Vegetarians can try the mozzarella and tomato gyros, Greek salad (unfortunately short on the feta cheese I found), or falafel and fries, which is great, albeit small.

At such low prices, I wasn’t expecting much in the way of service. Recently deciding to brave the outdoor patio, my friend and I were still a bit chilly, even with the provided blankets. Without our even having to ask, the cheerful manager/owner(?), who remembers the customers’ names, came outside to make sure we were alright, and set up a space heater by our table.

So what are the downsides? Well, there is only one. Part of the charm of this place for me has always been the “jyan-ken potato”. Every customer used to play “rock, paper, scissors” with the manager for a free small order of French fries. On my last two visits, however, this game has been noticeably absent. I’ve been too shy to ask why, but on your next visit, see what happens and let us know…

http://www.gyros-hero.com/

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You can dress her up but you can’t take her out

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Chabuya

When my favorite neighborhood ramen shop closed to open a bigger, fancier restaurant in Omotesando Hills, I nearly cried. Chabuya had operated two separate shops in Gokokuji, a dimly lit, shio-ramen shop that seated about eight, and a brighter, larger miso-ramen shop with glass windows to the kitchen to watch the noodles being made. Shio-ramen has always been my personal favorite, and I frequented the smaller Chabuya, buying a meal ticket from the machine at the door and sitting down to the stylish long black stone table, so uncharacteristic of the usual utilitarian ramen shop design. The ramen was beautifully presented, and the chashu (pork) was sliced paper-thin; the best I had tasted.

After successfully opening Mist in Omotesando Hills, Chabuya is back in Gokokuji, with a few changes. Sadly, the smaller shop has not re-opened, but I have now made a few trips to the remaining Gokokuji Chabuya. Still brightly lit, the meal ticket machine has been replaced by a suited host, who walks you the three feet to your seat at the counter, and hands you a menu. The new menu now offers both the miso and shio varieties, and the broth is just as rich and satisfying as I remembered. Extra pork can still be added, and I definitely recommend it.

The feeling of the shop has changed, however. On more than one occasion, I have been left to wait for my waiter to order. Candles now on the tables are out of place and combined with the waiter/host, they give the feeling of a restaurant trying to dress up as more than it is. What was once a refreshingly simple ramen shop is now a pretentious one, but the ramen will keep me coming back.
http://www.chabuya.com/

Burgers + Apples = Love

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Firehouse Burger

On my first visit to Firehouse, I was seated at a table converted from an old sewing machine table. Still able to pump the pedal while I waited, I admired the casual antique décor, bookshelves of vintage books, and prints of antique ads hanging on the wall. The Boston Globe has called Firehouse, “An American Burger in Tokyo,”. While I did feel as though I could have been sitting in a restaurant in an old converted townhouse in Boston, the food at this burger joint is hardly an American copycat. In my view Firehouse Burger does what so many restaurants in Tokyo seem to do so well: they perfect the technique of a given cuisine, and then give it a twist.

The twist here is the restaurant’s signature apple burger. With baked sweet apple topping a savory, medium burger with mayonnaise and ketchup—I also like to get cheese added on—piled on to a buttery bun, this burger is a Firehouse original. The burgers, served with steak fries, are cooked to order, but they tend to be on the soft side of well-done. Also delicious is the fresh mozzerella and mushroom burger, and the milkshakes are a decadent treat.

The charm of this burger joint really makes it stand out, but if you’re feeling a bit lazy and live in the area, they also have a delivery service. Across the street, Firehouse has opened Quinos, a new café that features tarts and deli sandwiches, as well as Fireburger in Kasuga, a slightly cheaper place with more of a fast food feel.

http://www.firehouse.co.jp/

Do you hate sushi? 鮨 嫌いですか?

Midori SushiMidori SushiWell believe it or not, there are people here in Japan that actually don’t like sushi. Fair enough. But the other day I talked a friend, who doesn’t like sushi, into trying it out one more time before giving up, in a place of my choice.Midori Sushi - Umegaoka So I took her to Midori Sushi in Umegaoka, a sushi restaurant which gets a top grade in my black book for taste.

ねえねえ信じられる? 鮨が嫌いな人が日本にも住んでいることを。そんな人でも大丈夫。先日私のお勧めの場所で鮨の嫌いな友達と鮨にチャレンジして食べてみた。梅ヶ丘の美登利寿司は私の一番好きな寿司屋だから彼女と一緒に行きました。

This trip ended up turning my friend’s sushi disliked mind 180 degrees towards the raw fish! (Hint: make sure you try out the aburi maguro ) Not only is the sushi in Midori Sushi extremely delicious but also very cheap. This combination of taste and low cost attracts people all over, so prepare to enter a queue. We had to wait in the queue, outside, for about 15 minutes in the pouring rain before getting into the queue inside the restaurant. This place is on my regular list and I have had to wait up to one hour!

この小旅行の終わりに友達の鮨嫌いは180度生魚党に変わっていた!(ヒント:例えば炙り鮪)美登利寿司の鮨は凄く美味しいだけでなく安い。この美味しさと安さで人々は遠くから来ます。だから長い列を待つ準備をして下さい。私たちは雨の中、店の外で15分は待った。私はこのレストランの常連ですがだいたいいつも一時間は待ってます。

Umegaoka 1-20-7 [Map],[web] Open 11am-2, 4:30-10:30pm (LO) daily. Tel: 3429-0066, 3429-1166

Midori Sushi is also in Ginza, Shibuya and several other locations but can’t guarantee the price nor the taste.

梅ヶ丘1-20-7。[地図],[HP] 開いている時間は毎日午前11時から午後2時までと4時半から10時半がLO。電話:3429-0066, 3429-1166

美登利寿司はこのほか銀座渋谷もありますが味値段は分からない。

Please change here for the Oedo Line and Thai Food

Keawjai Thai Rest.

It would be quite an assumption to never dine in the depths of the malls attached to Tokyo’s train stations. Some station concourses have elegant oyster bar patios and expensive martini-lunch grills. The remainder of train station fare, most people presume, is usually limited to bentos and the ubiquitous to-go omiyage and set departments in the basements of many department stores.

Thai 3Imagine my surprise then when I stumble across delicious authentic CHEAP Thai food (actually run by Thai people) in the heart of Shinjuku station. Keawjal has daily sets both for lunch as well as dinner, and an overwhelmingly extensive menu of all your favorite Thai dishes. They even have a little market on the side so you can buy ingredients to continue your spicy Thai feast at home. Where would we be without little cans of lychees soaking in syrup? You won’t impress your date with the candle-less group-at-a-table style seating, though you will earn some points for knowing about the best underground train station Thai food in Tokyo.

Keawjal

http://www.keawjai.com

Shinjuku Station, Lumine 1

(Near the Oedo line entrance)

Hungry like the wolf!!!

Kare-yasanHungry in Shibuya around noon? Curry-Yasan (カレーやさん) will totally take care of that. Be prepared to enter a queue though, which might make you wonder if Yon-sama is eating in there.

This tiny restaurant serves huge curry dishes with enthusiasm. My nutrition instinct tells me that one plate contains no less than 150.000 calories, but is somehow still very cheap – only 700 yen! Though I’m not sure what the owner is thinking closing the restaurant before 1pm,  make sure you enter the queue early… and make sure you are hungry like the wolf!!!

[Map]