Thursday, 4 August 2011

Sapporo Food: Calcio D'Angolo

I have no idea why I'm blogging so much. I think there's something wrong with me.

Calcio D'Angolo is one of the many places in Sapporo that I went to one time, years ago, and thought - 'Oh, I'll have to bring people here and blog about it coz it's really good' only to never do that. It's an Italian place near the East end of Tanuki Koji, facing the Sosei River, and it serves great food in a simple, stylish, chilled atmosphere. Possibly I missed a trick because this Ziptipz site and the Marriott hotel site, both using most of the same copy, say that it's a place that specializes in handmade deserts. I think that they have handmade desserts, and they look good (though I didn't try them) but I don't know that the place specializes in them... I think it's a (mostly) Italian restaurant. Then, the place is celebrating it's 10 year anniversary this year, so perhaps it started out that way and, maybe you should check out the deserts! And then again, the ZipTipz site does recommend that for cheap food you can go to family restaurants like Denny's, Jonathan's or Skylark when to my knowledge there are no Denny's or Jonathan's in Sapporo. So maybe take the info on that site with a pinch of salt.

Anyway Calcio D'Angolo also comes recommended because they play the best music I've heard (for a restaurant) outside of Cafe Nesco in Kita 24 Jyo. Sinner Cafe in Susukino also plays good music, but every now and then they play RHCP, so that costs them points.

Worst music is anywhere that plays Nouvelle Vague or any CD of bossanova covers of 'unlikely' songs.

I digress.

Calcio D'Angolo used to look out onto the flat temporary cover that they put over the Sosei River while they were not working on it. This year they've unveiled really quite a nice narrow little river park which makes the whole area seem really quite relaxing. Inside, though Calcio D'Angolo is even more relaxing, with super-comfy low chairs (that I can't imagine are good for the digestion, but who knows the Romans always lounged when they ate and everyone says they're smart), low lighting and nice vintage furniture.

I have a feeling that when I went years ago they had a pretty small Italian-only menu. I could be remembering it wrong, but either way they now have a pretty extensive menu that covers Italy, Spain, France and... Japan. That's a little bit of a cop-out guys. Not much of a stretch for you. Above, in a slightly over-exposed photo, you can see the lasagna (LASAGNA! Yuki was super-excited to find anywhere that does a half-decent lasagna in Sapporo), and below is our starter - an avocado and shrimp potato salad thing that was wonderful.

We also got their recommended pizza:

Everything was good, the avocado thing was exceptional and we both really want to go back to explore more of the menu. It's tucked away a little, under an over-hanging roof, but it's not hard to find. And besides, it's on my map! Check it out!

Wednesday, 3 August 2011

Sapporo Food: Suriyothai - Thai-Style Curry

Found this place by just walking around randomly, trying to get from one place to another by going in the wrong direction. I like it when it works like that. It was a Monday, and the sign said the place was closed on Mondays and yet nevertheless:

That, I think, is incredibly rare. I have lost count of the times I've tried to go somewhere because the internet, or the flyer says it will be open only to find that it's closed (Maruyama Drill Hamburger Shop, I'm looking at you). So to find somewhere that says it'll be closed only to be open is an early Christmas present.

Suriyothai is in a building that looks fancy from the front, but to get to the restaurant you have to go through to the back where there's a little hidden line of bars and shops which looks far less glamorous. They do mostly Thai curries in the well known "Traffic Light Arrangement" (red curry, yellow curry or green curry) and a bunch of other Thai influenced food. I got the impression that if you went for something spicy at this place, you'd really get something spicy...

We got the green curry and a rice dish that was apparently a drier Thai curry to be eaten with rice. Since the place doesn't look at all fancy, and yet has a 'Top 100 restaurants in Hokkaido' sign outside from a few years back, I wasn't all that surprised to find that the food was excellent. Like I said, I think things might get spicy if you want them too - I don't mind that with some things but I've had bad experiences with Thai food so I didn't push it. Oh and there's a terrifying looking pot of extra spiciness on the table should you feel so inclined.

Looking this place up I found that there was a Japanese youtube channel devoted to Thai restaurants. They basically just walk in and spin around a bit, but here, so you can experience it all the more powerfully, is their video of Suriyothai:

Awesome. Suriyothai is very close to Kita 12 Jo station, and if you like Thai food than absolutely check it out. It's on my map!

Tuesday, 2 August 2011

Japanese Beverages with Alex - Pepsi and more!

Me, I'm all about the traditional stuff - you know that. Those tastes that speak of Japan's rich cultural heritage, and demonstrate the gulf in philosophies that separates this proud island nation from the proud island nation of which I am...

No, wait. I'm not interested in that stuff at all.

Here's a couple of gimmicky summer soft drinks that I picked up recently:

After the- let's say utter failure of Pepsi Dry to be either palatable or interesting, Pepsi Caribbean Gold is a massive improvement in the field of Pepsi Limited Time Flavours. The description says that it's a "Refreshing cola with the feel of a high class Caribbean resort." That is fucking aspirational, but unsurprisingly it doesn't really taste like that. It also says it's 'White Sapote' flavour. Now, I, like I expect most people, had no idea what white sapote is so I look it up on Wikipedia. Apparently it's a Central American tree whose fruit is thought to have narcotic properties, especially inducing drowsiness.

I mean, of COURSE Pepsi Japan would choose to make a White Sapote flavour drink. Because they're insane.

Sadly, no narcotic effects were in evidence, but Pepsi Caribbean Gold is actually a really nice, unidentifiably fruity cola. There's a little pineapple maybe, a little coconut - I guess it is a little tropical after all - but overall it's really pretty good. And properly the most normal tasting Pepsi variant that's come out over the last few years.

The other drink I just picked up because the name sounded disgusting, only for it to be surprisingly delicious is Kirin's "Sekai no Kitchen kara: Salt and Litchi", based on a desert made by mums in Thailand.

This one really does taste of lychee (I'll spell it my way, though I think almost anyway is fine). I couldn't get any sense of saltiness, but perhaps it's a counter-balance, in that the concept of lychee juice is a little odd, and this just tasted great. I know some people don't like lychee, so don't bother if that includes you, but this was no where near as odd as it first sounded. Two good summer drinks, what are the chances?

Oh, and if you've noticed Coca-Cola's Mello Yello around, don't bother. It's pretty bad.

Monday, 1 August 2011

Sapporo Food: Kopitiam - Singaporean Restaurant.

Oh hey! It must be summer in Sapporo because everywhere is a beer garden and no-one wants to sit inside!

Kidding, people were sitting outside because it was full inside. But still, I think the reason there were so many people outside (more people kept rolling up and they just kept adding more and more tables so that it stretched further and further into the arcade) is that Sapporo's 'Beer Garden' festival in Odori kicks out at 9 now. So there are a lot of drunk people, every night, looking for somewhere else to drink.

So, that photo there is Kopitiam, a Singaporean-style restaurant at the far West end of Tanuki Koji in Sapporo, that seems to be popular, since it's crowded whenever I've been there. They serve a selection of foods from Singapore and I would say, countries near Singapore (since, in our order the Indonesian 'gorengs' were well represented), and everything I've had there has been excellent. It's not very glamorous, and the lighting runs the gamut from red to dark yellow, but it's really worth visiting.

Here's some food. You'll have to excuse the yellow tint - like I said, very atmospheric lighting. Crispy Tofu Salad:

Nasi Goreng:

And Mee Goreng, which as far as I can tell is basically Nasi Goreng with noodles instead of rice:

Both the Nasi Goreng and the Mee Goreng have a fried egg on the right hand side that you have to pay extra for, but which is worth every penny. With the spicy sauce they drizzle over it that egg is just amazing. Everything is nicely spicy but not crazy and I haven't had a bad dish yet there.

It's hard to miss if you walk down to the end of Tanuki Koji, but it is, of course, on my map too. Good summer food, yo!