Thursday, 11 November 2010

Sapporo Food: World Japanese Foodin' [En]

Again, on the way to somewhere else entirely we found somewhere new!

Apparently World Japanese Foodin' [En] (I mean, possibly just 'En' would suffice, but then on the menus it's just World Japanese Foodin' with no sign of the 'En', so...) has only been open for a few months, so perhaps it's still finding its feet. That said, if it is, it's doing a damn good job of it. It's a stylish, fancy bar-restaurant place that's a little pricey (though not too bad at all, especially for the quality we got), and done up in a so-trendy modernly minimal retro style. You'll know what I mean when you see it. Or perhaps you won't.

Look at that craziness, and up there in the background is a private room that can hold more than 20 people and can be separated from the rest of the restaurant.

It's owned by the same people that own Meer Lounge, which is a great little subterranean bar in Tanuki Koji, but it's not just an above-ground, more restaurant-y version of Meer Lounge. I've eaten at Meer Lounge a few times, and it's good but nothing to write home about - it's more of a bar than somewhere to eat. The food at En on the other hand was really fucking good.

It's still mostly medium sized, sharable, izakaya style food, but - wow. We left thoroughly satisfied. The California Dragon Roll was amazing, seriously, and I'm no great fan of American-style sushi. We also got some raw spring rolls with smoked salmon off the specials menu - that were great, a big caesar salad - that was great and a Japanese-style pizza - that was great. It was, basically, all great.

Please note that is was Japanese-style pizza though, and I know a lot of Western people get all out-of-joint about pizza in Japan. I'm not comparing this to pizza you can get in the US or Europe, but at least at En they make the point of calling it "Japanese pizza" on the menu, so you know what you're going to be getting. I liked it anyway.

It was all good, the beer was good, the staff were super-friendly and I can basically recommend the place whole-heartedly as a great place to eat out in Odori. It's just a little to the West of the main drag and, going by my experience, so worth a visit. Is it on my map? Why of course it is.

Tuesday, 9 November 2010

Monday, 8 November 2010

Sapporo Food: Jacksonville

Well I'm kinda late to the party on this one. After it gets shout outs on the Hokkaido Insider mailing list (twice!), in that lovely What's On In Sapporo newsletter and in Sapporo Source last year, I thought - y'know, I probably should write about the hamburger shop Jacksonville. Hell, it even got an article in the Southern Oregon Mail Tribune! All that, plus I go there pretty damn regularly already.

Now, as to why I haven't blogged about Jacksonville, a damn fine hamburger joint not ten blocks from my apartment, before - well, it's down to stupid self consciousness. I go there pretty regularly, the owner knows my face and I chat with him, so for me to whip out my camera and start taking bloody pictures of his food (something I feel I have to do if I'm going to talk about a place) seems... well a) awkward and b) bloggerish in a way that I find irritating. I like writing about things, and I like having a blog, but I'm also a big fan of not writing about things and not having a blog and just sitting back and enjoying things. Letting the moment pass unrecorded for the pointless posterity of the internet. One polaroid a day and all that. I wonder to what extent that feeling was stoked up by the guy from Hamburger RISA who told me it pisses him off when people take pictures of the burgers before they eat them.

All this by they way - nothing to do with Jacksonville, and separate entirely from those people (like my sister) who, for reasons of art or possibly insanity, take pictures of every single meal they eat. She's gonna have a helluva photo album one day.

SO ANYWAY! Most people I talk to who know places in Sapporo, now seem to know Jacksonville, which is awesome, and so I thought: "just take a picture of the burger before you enjoy it for once and write about it and then maybe more people will go." So I did:

The first time I went to Jacksonville I think I liked it, but I wasn't blown away. There could be, of course, a million reasons for this and I'm not a hundred percent sure why that was, but every time thereafter I've been thoroughly impressed with the burgers there. Good bread, good meat, good toppings... just great burgers. At the moment I'm digging the American Teriyaki Burger (teriyaki sauce and pineapple), but I try the monthly special every time (except this month which is mushrooms, which... nah...) and they're always fantastic. He does good homemade coleslaw, and good onion rings, and while the fries are the very thin, very crispy kind, I think this means they don't distract from the burger as much as they do at other places. They're good too, by the way.

It has a nice atmosphere (I really appreciated them playing Back To The Future 3 on the big TV when I had lunch there once), great food, it's not too expensive, and the guy that owns the place is incredibly friendly and speaks excellent English. It comes fully recommended, and while I can't call it my favourite burger place in Sapporo (because that's a very difficult question to answer), if you like burgers and live in Sapporo, you really have to go there.

I mark it on the map: thus. And hope that you will go and eat hamburgers there. And after this, who knows I might write about the Soup Curry and Chinese places that I go to all the time near my house too.

Thursday, 4 November 2010

Sapporo Food: Ease Cafe

Ease Cafe stuck in my head with some strange, delayed-reaction device attached to it. About ten minutes after it was suggested that we go there, and after I'd said 'yeah, sure, anywhere's good' it suddenly clicked that I knew the place, that I'd gone past it a bunch of times and noted - oooh, looks like a cozy cafe. Shame it's not exactly central.

There is however, a very good reason for its location - in that the place is on the ground floor of what looks like a ruddy great student dorm. I don't get the impression that it's exclusively the stomping ground of students, but I'm guessing they more than help the place stay afloat.

Inside it's relaxing and welcoming in that... kinda stock contemporary-rustic feel kinda way. That sounds both damning and snooty, but it's meant as neither - just saying that there is a style that a lot of small independent cafes kinda go for. That style of decor and atmosphere works really well for the most part, and is certainly infinitely preferable to the place we ended up in last week which... I mean I didn't write about it for a reason. Yuki's comment was that she didn't know what part of the place she would change first, since absolutely everything was horrible. Ease Cafe isn't like that at all, everything is great, the interior is perfectly executed and since the only thing I'd change would be the lounge covers of punk and new wave songs they were playing, and which I'm sick of, I guess I wouldn't really change anything at all.

They look to have won some kinda local coffee award, which made me regret not ordering something fancy. The blend coffee I got with my meal was fine, but nothing special. I think they build up to special. That said, it's worth bearing in mind that the coffee at almost any independent shop is better than anything you'll get at any of the standard chain shops, and this was no exception. We both got chicken something, which was their recommended dish and which was pretty great.

It's rice and chicken and someother stuff mixed up with some cheese and demi-glace sauce and was perfect for the miserable rainy weather we were escaping from. It looks like they're awfully proud of their range of pancakes, so I'd say you really ought to try those if you go. I would've loved to but I was kinda full.

Ease Cafe is thoroughly recommended as another preferable alternative to all those chain stores. It's a little far North of the city centre, but you should go there if you're in the neighbourhood. It's on the map, so you can do just that.

Tuesday, 2 November 2010

Monday, 1 November 2010

Gourmet Delicacies of the Far East: Pepsi Mont Blanc

Y'know in some ways I think Japan has turned me into a real foodie, a gourmand, an aesthete of the palate - a connoisseur of farcial flavours. I mean, you get Kit-Kats coming out in everything from "tea" to "glitter cherry-blossom" and how can I possibly resist when I see shit like that? When they go dipping random corn and potato snacks in chilli and then in chocolate - I mean, I think it'll tast foul but there's just a chance that they'll blow my mind!

I'm always delighted to see what the lunatics of Pepsi come up with too. This season we have:

Pepsi Mont Blanc! Mont Blanc, for those poor, ingnorant heathens who are still just tearing open paper sticks of sugar and pouring them down their throats in search of sugar, is a French dessert which has a wikipedia page that I just linked to. It is, as they say on wikipedia, very famous and popular in Japan, which makes this somewhat less bizarre than it might first seem to Western readers.

Review: it really does taste kinda like Mont Blanc - i.e. a kind of sugary chestnut confection. Mixed with the bitter acid burn of a soft drink of course. I don't find it as refreshingly strange as Pepsi Shiso, but it's probably better than the Pepsi Azuki that came out after that. In fact, I'd say this is a perfectly servicable soft drink that, if I bought more soft drinks, I'd probably try out from time to time.

As it is, I still derive childish satisfaction from drinking melon soda and feeling like I'm drinking radioactive goop that's gonna give me super-powers. Still, thanks for brightening up my shopping trip, Pepsi!