Tag Archives: Hungry

What the hell is this food?

Grill Manten Boshi

Grill Manten Boshi is a type of restaurant that is certainly seen fairly often in Tokyo, and yet, I don’t think there is yet a name for it. The décor of false brick and dark wood is decidedly western, as is the menu of California wines, beef and tongue stew, onion soup, and gratin. And yet it is a kind of charming, idealized western character that is itself uniquely Japanese. I will admit that the Azabu-juban branch of this popular chain is the most convincing, with its basement location in a smaller building better lending itself to a cozy old-world feel. In the Ikebukuro location, at the top of the Tobu Department Store’s Spice restaurant area, the décor may seem rather contrived, however, the nighttime view from the 14th floor is a plus.

The menu features various sets, as well as reasonably priced main dishes that offer sizeable portions. Some notables on the menu are omelet rice curry, rolled cabbage, hayashi rice, and hamburg steak. All of which fit into this category of western-ish Japanese food. The truly remarkable dishes, in my mind, are the beef and tongue stew and the chicken mushroom gratin. The large steaks of beef cheek and tongue are soft enough to cut with a fork, and the rich and piquant stew is slow cooked and added to week after week. The gratin is smooth, creamy, with flavorful chicken leg meat and perfect with the crunchy grilled cheese on top. Grill Manten Boshi has been occasionally featured on Japanese television, showing how the chefs create such a uniform and smooth béchamel sauce for their gratin. All of the white sauce, once made, is folded into a large cheesecloth, and twisted to strain the sauce through. The process alone takes two chefs to handle. I certainly wouldn’t try it at home, but the result is a decadent dish, and nothing like the frozen gratin I sometimes pick up at the grocer.

The main draw of these restaurants, as you might guess, is not the camp décor. At the typical fast food omelet rice joint, it can be hard to understand why this spongey egg dish, often with orange tomato rice, was created at all. The omelet rice at Grill Manten Boshi, however, is moist and melds well with the heavy beef stew. The dish is simple, and does not try to put too many tastes one plate (ever had a fast-food omelet rice with tomato rice, half-curry, half cream sauce, and tonkatsu on top?). Grill Manten Boshi’s execution of this and other western-influenced Japanese favorites, explains why these dishes became favorites in the first place.
Grill Manten Boshi (グリル満天星)

Azabujuban, Tokyo 1-3-1 Apoli Biru(アポリアビル) B1F

〒171-8512 Nishi-Ikebukuro, Toshima-ku, Tokyo 1-1-25 Spice Ikebukuro Tobu 14F (スパイス池袋東武14F )

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Where NOT to eat before the Tokyo Marathon

If you walk out of this restaurant, and you haven’t loosened your belt, you haven’t truly had a Shamaim experience. Meaning “from the sky” in Hebrew, Tokyo’s premier Israeli restaurant serves up nonstop rich flavorful plates of everything from the familiar falafel, breaded steak, fried chicken and hummus to the rarer spicy carrots, garlicy tahini, tomato soup and basmati rice with lentils. Their all-you-can-eat set is incredible and diverse and even my friends who are *gasp* picky eaters, still find enough to satiate even their most tumultuous hunger.

Years ago, as legend goes, when Shamaim was merely an Israeli bar, the owner made falafel once a week. The demands for his falafel were so frequent that eventually the logical thing to do was open a full restaurant. The only complaint I could ever have with Shamaim is that the food is heavy, so heavy; walking home from Ekoda after a Shamaim visit is like lugging a suitcase through Shinjuku during rush hour. But alas, this is perhaps my own fault. An added treat for when you need some non-Japanese food and culture, is the bellydancing performances on Friday nights. Sure to bring out the hava-negila in your tastebuds.

Ekoda station on the Seibu Ikebukuro line.

Exit and turn right, pass McDonalds, then turn right at the T in the road. It’ll be 10 seconds down on your left. Second Floor.

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!!!

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Ethiopian Tumeric in Naka-Meguro

Goat Kebabs

Monkey fur, Zebra skin, jaguar, goat, and cow hide were draped around the periphery of the modified commercial basement and for a minute I felt like I wasn’t in the form-fitted establishments of minimalist-design-obsessed Japan. Ethiopian/Eritrean food was one of my reliable favs back in Berkeley/San Francisco and finding it delish and authentic in the middle of Naka-Meguro really made my January.
Mesob Set We went with the Mesob set course and although we were avid eaters, after African samosas, mango daiquiris, a bottle of honey wine, a cassis martini, wild goat and chicken kebabs, and somehow french fries?, we were barely unable to finish the main event: Injera (Ethiopian spongey bread) loaded with various lentil, lamb, and chicken dishes.
I’d go back there every week if my stomach, tastebuds, and wallet could handle it. It’s like an explosion in your mouth with a tumeric soundtrack spinning spicily sauntering sauteed chili pepper alliteration.

Oh! And they play reggae too!

Queen of Sheba comes highly recommended, and would make a great impressive date or a novel group outing. A bit pricey, especially with honey wine and interesting Ethiopian cocktails, but well worth the adventure.

Queen of Sheba Ethiopian Restaurant. 1-3-1 NakaMeguro. Meguro-ku. Tokyo JP, 153-0061. Japan. Phone +81 (0)3 3794 1801. http://www.queensheba.jp