Wednesday, February 28, 2007

20. Shop Review: T-Four

T-Four is one of those 'we sell a little bit of everything' stores for young women. Jewelry, kitchenware, trashcans, wicker baskets, bath salts, notebooks, photo albums, character goods,... the list goes on and on. It is not a big shop, but I really like their selection of Western style kitchenware, and the rest of the store is fun to look at.

Hours of Operation: Mon. - Thurs. 11:00 - 21:30, Fri. - Sun. & Holidays 11:00 - 22:00

Address: Kitazawa 2-30-14, Bld. Trendy 1F (Turn right out the north exit of the station, down the street - next to Muji)
Phone: 03-3460-3647

19. Restaurant Review: Spaghetti-ya 'Dona'

Spaghetti-ya 'Dona' is yet another inexpensive Italian chain restaurant. Just like all the other chains that I have reviewed, this one is also nothing special.

Lunch Set: Small salad or cup of soup, choice of lunch (I had a bacon and eggplant spaghetti), and drink (I had ice coffee). 790 yen. I added garlic toast, it was only 80 yen.

Again, if in Shimokita and craving Italian, visit Ms. Claudia or Overtake Cafe (see previous blogs).

Phone: 03-3469-8850

Location: Kitazawa 2-chome, South side of Shimokitazawa Station. It is across from the Village Vanguard Store and just down the street from the Ozeki Supermarket.

18. Restaurant Review: Com Pho

Com Pho is Shimokita's 'elegant' Vietnamese restaurant. The interior is 'French Indochina', the coloring is cream and dark wood, with leather arm chairs and chandeliers.

Lunch is from 12:00 to 16:30. The lunch menu changes periodically, but standard offerings include:
*Pho (Vietnamese noodle soup) 730 yen
*Today's Curry 700 yen
*Asian rice w/ ground meat, basil, topped with a soft boiled egg 800 yen
*Half Vietnamese sandwich and half-sized Chicken Pho Combo 880 yen
*Lunch Course: Variety plate of: Vietnamese spring roll, shrimp toast, papaya salad, and fried spring roll with half-sized chicken Pho and the day's dessert 1500 yen

Available sides include: Vietnamese spring roll 250 yen, green papaya or herb salad 300 yen, fried spring roll 350 yen, fried shrimp toast 250 yen, shrimp rice crackers 250 yen,...

A drink can be added for 300 yen (orange or grapefruit juice, coke, coffee, tea).
I've eaten almost everything on the menu, it is all fantastic! Before 'Little Saigon' began opening for lunch, this was my regular Vietnamese lunch fix. Now I alternate between the two.

Dinner is from 18:00 to 25:00. The dinner menu includes most of the lunch dishes and more. For example:
*Fried cod with tom yam sauce 880
*Boiled shrimp in coconut juice 1200
*Roasted chicken, Polynesian style 880
*Grilled beef w/Asian herbs 1200

A variety of Vietnamese beers are available, all for 600 yen.

Com Pho is closed on Tuesdays.

The place is available for parties. Choose from three courses: 2,500 - 3,500 - 5,000 yen. You can also add an: 'all you can drink for two hours' course for 1,500 or 2,500 yen.

Address: A one minute walk from the south side of the station. Walk down the South Shopping Street, turn left onto the third small lane. You'll see it on your left. If you pass the meat shop and Mr Donuts on the shopping street, you've gone too far. 1F Ina Bld No.2, 2-13-4, Kitazawa.
Phone: 03-5481-0564

There are three other locations: Akasaka, Marunouchi, and Toranomon

17. Store Review: Dorama

There are actually 7 or more Dorama stores in Shimokita, all with overlapping purposes. Video and video game rental and sales, used and new CD's/DVD's, used book sales,... What I discovered is that there is a really good used English CD selection, and prices are excellent. The best time to shop is when they are running their '200 yen off every used CD' deal. Some of the used CD's I chose were only 400 or 500 yen to begin with. There was also a rack that was 50% the price marked, 70% off if you choose more than 3. From that rack, I got four recent (within the past couple of years) CD's for a total of 1200 yen.

Dorama locations are all over, but most are on the south side of the station.

16. Shop Review: Noce

Noce is a furniture and home furnishing store. It is a chain with locations around the city. The location in Shimokitazawa has a flea market-like feel. It is cramped and everything is mixed together. Bar stools, end tables, kitchenware, Asian influence blank notebooks, tea candles, large vases,... Although it was cluttered, I had fun searching and there are some good bargains to be had. I bought some really nice glasses for 100 yen each, and pack of 50 tea candles for just over 600 yen. Most of the furniture is too small for a Western style apartment, but there were some really stylish end tables.

Noce is located on the 2nd floor, over the Muji Store on the north side of the station.

15. Restaurant Review: Over Take cafe dining

Over Take is an Italian restaurant with a European racecar theme. The interior is silver, grey, black, and red; and is decorated with racecar memorabilia/posters. There is also a flat screen TV playing Formula One races. It is a really small place, with two tables for four, four tables for two, and five bar seats. Jazz plays quietly in the background.

There are usually about 5 lunch specials to choose from, all for around 1000 yen, and each comes with a small salad and choice of drink. Lunch is from 11:30 to 16:00 (last order at 15:00).

On the day I was there, some of the choices were:
*Ground meat and cabbage pasta in white wine sauce
*Eggplant and Tomato Spaghetti
*Four types of Mushroom Pizza

The salad was a variety of lettuce, a large slice of tomato, and a piece of broccoli in a light Italian vinegrette. There were many choices of drinks to choose from (coffees, teas, soft drinks, juices,...)

I had the lasagna, it was delicious and the portion was quite large. The people next to me had the pizza and the cabbage pasta. Both looked good, and were also a decent size. My lasagna came with two small slices of baguette, soft and fluffy with a crunchy crust (as it should be).

I also had a glass of red wine with lunch (420 yen) and, thankfully, it was room temperature, not chilled.

The service was very good, I never had to request more water, neither did anyone else. The food didn't come too quickly or too slowly, and the gentleman working there was very nice.

Dinner is from 18:00 to 24:00 (last order at 23:00). The dinner menu includes:

Draft Beer 580 yen. They also have 16 foreign bottled beers to choose from.
Glass Wine 420 (decanter 940)
Cocktails from 600 yen
Soft Drinks from 300 yen

Pizzas are 1000 yen (Margarita, anchovy & onion, 'nama' ham and cabbage,...)
Hot Dishes are 600 yen (choriso saute', Italian omelet, corn beef and potato croquette)
Other 400-600 yen (green salad, marinated octopus & olives, Scallop carpaccio,...)
Pastas 700-1000 (arabiata, carbonara, smoked salmon in cream sauce, Japanese style clam and mushroom,...)

The menu is completely in Japanese, but 99% of it is katakana. Credit cards are accepted.

Over Take is located below street level, but opens to a basement courtyard. It is a 5 minute walk from the north side of the station. It is closed on Tuesdays.
Address: Daita 6-7-24, Luminus 24 - B1.
Phone: 03-3467-5919

For more info:

Thursday, February 22, 2007

14. Restaurant Review: Sunday Brunch

Sunday Brunch is very popular with women. On my visit, there was only one man eating there, and the place was full. The decor is simple, but very clean. The ceilings are high, with smooth concrete walls and wood tables.
During lunch, there are usually three choices, each costs 1050 yen. They come with the choice of hot/ice coffee or tea, and an all you can eat 'bread bar'. On the day I was there:

A: mozzarella cheese, basil, and fresh tomato pasta with a shrimp and avocado salad
B: Cabonara gratin rice (a rice casserole)
C: Rice omelet

A lunch dessert can be added for 210 yen (on the day I was there it was New York Style Cheesecake).

The bread bar had a choice of about 6 different breads that I believe are baked on the premises. There is also a selection of jams and butters for those who want to used them. I had a very tasty slice of raisin bread, and another with walnuts, neither needed a topping.

For lunch I chose 'A'. It was delicious and just the right amount for a ladies lunch. It would not have been enough food for a hungry man.
The regular menu has a few other food items to choose from, but Sunday Brunch specializes in a variety of french toast and cakes. The french toast choices looked especially fantastic, but too large once I had eaten lunch. I should have paid attention to the name and come for brunch (which I will do in the near future!)

Sunday Brunch is located above the Deli & Baking Co (see previous blog), and has the same owner. 2F, Kitazawa 2-29-2. Phone: 03-5453-3366

Next to the restaurant is a cute shop of knick knacks.

Sunday Brunch does parties and catering. Customers can also order cakes, some of which change seasonally.

For more info and to see some yummy examples of their desserts:

Friday, February 16, 2007

13. Restaurant Review: Hiramon Indian Restaurant

Hiramon no longer exists.

Hiramon is about a one minute walk from the South Exit of Shimokitazawa Station. It is just down the street from McDonalds and Starbucks (toward Baskin Robbins and KFC). It is located on the 5th floor of the ____ building (elevator goes up to the 4th, walk up one more flight).

The restaurant is a very small, simple place. There are about 6 tables.

Address: Zip 155 Tokyo-to, Setagaya-ku, Kitazawa 2-12-13, ___zawa building 5F
Phone: 03-3422-6757 Hours: 11am to 11pm (last order at 10:30)

Lunch Menu: 11am to 2:30pm Mon-Fri
A. Chicken Curry Set
B. Mutton Curry Set
C. Vegetable Curry Set
D. Today’s Special Curry Set
*Choose Naan or Rice. Includes salad and choice of drink. 850 yen

Lunch menu curries are slightly hot. With regular menu items, customers can choose from: mild, slightly hot, medium hot, hot, and very hot.

Hiramon has all the Indian standards, for example: Tandoori chicken 600 yen, Chicken Masala 980 yen, Mutton Curry 1000 yen, Naan 350 yen, ...

They also have special dinner sets:
A. Tandoori Mix Grill 1800 (Mutton curry & chicken keema curry)
B. Tandoori Mix Grill 1800 (vegetable curry & chana masala)
C. Tandoori Mix Grill 2100 (fish curry & prawn curry)
*Sets include naan or rice, salad, and dessert

The drink menu includes beer, wine, shakes, juices, lassy, coffee, tea, soft drinks,...

The food is inexpensive and very tasty. Only one or two people work there, so sometimes service is a little slow. But, they are very friendly. If you have a craving for Indian, this is the place.

Thursday, February 15, 2007

12. Restaurant Review: Little Saigon

In the basement of a building, right near the Mr. Donut is a delicious Vietnamese restaurant, Little Saigon. There are 5 tables for 4 people, 1 table for two, and 1 large table that can seat 7 people. It is a really small place run by a nice 'hippy' Japanese couple.

Their lunch specials are:

*Lemon Grass Fried Rice 900 yen*Pineapple Fried Rice 950 yen
*Lotus root with rice 1050 yen
*Chicken and sweet potato curry 900 yen

(these all come with a cup of soup, mini salad, and mini dessert)

*Chicken or Beef Pho 850 yen
*Fish, Tomato, and Noodle Soup 950 yen
*Crab and rice noodles, fried 900 yen

(these come with a mini salad and mini dessert)
For an extra 300 yen, choose 1 Vietnamese spring roll or 2 fried spring rolls

The lunch menu is all in Japanese, but the dinner menu has pictures and also has the Vietnamese name of the dish in Roman letters.

We have eaten here for lunch and for dinner. Everything is delicious. My very favorite is the eggplant with garlic. We always order Pho and the spring rolls. We have also ordered the lemon grass and pineapple fried rice dishes. Fantastic!

Address: Setagaya-ku, Kitazawa 2-19-17
Phone: 03-3414-0076

11. Special Shop Info: Rental Box Shops

Shimokita has an interesting mix of shops. One type that I really enjoy looking in are 'Rental Box' shops. For a small fee each month (3000 yen and up), anyone can rent a space in the shop. Many college students make their own jewelry, pottery, clothing,... and try to sell them here. I always buy cool Japanese style postcards. The shop pictured here is located right in front of the Peacock supermarket, just outside the north exit of Shimokita Station. Walk a little farther down this same street and there is a much larger rental box shop called 'Flower' located on a 2nd floor, on the right hand side. If you keep your eyes peeled, you'll spot a couple more on the side streets.

Friday, February 9, 2007

10. Shop Review: Wego

Wego is a store full of used clothes and odd knick knacks. Rockabilly music sets the tone. For Americans especially, it is like stepping back into a time warp. Need a 'Member's Only' Jacket? Wego has a full selection of sizes and colors!

Fortunately, they also have a lot of used jeans, some of them quite long and up to a 35 inch waist. There were also ladies dresses up to size 10.

This is like a funky goodwill store. You never know, you might find something you like. Even if you don't, it is fun to look around!