Monday, August 20, 2007

Red Steak House

August 19, 2007 : Red Steak House

World Porters is one of the furthest shopping malls from Sakuragicho Station. With a large movie theater, many shops and restaurants, the distance from the station does not stop many locals and tourists from visiting this mall.

A couple of months ago, the first floor was renovated and some new restaurants were added. A shabu-shabu restaurant, a Starbucks, a Cold Stone Creamery, a dorayaki store and a steak house.

We decided to try this steak house to see how their hamburgs were. Since I have an absolutely favorite hamburg restaurant called Hungry Tiger, it is very hard to find another restaurant that fulfills my hamburg craving as much as Hungry Tiger. However, since both of the Hungry Tiger restaurants in my area have since moved to more suburban locations, I have had to venture out to try to find a suitable alternative.

The entrance to Red Steak House

Salad and soup from the salad/soup bar

After looking through the menu, I decided on the Cheese Hamburg and my mom decided to try the Japanese style hamburg. The salad/soup bar was extra but we both wanted a little bit of salad so we added that onto our lunch. The salad/soup set also comes with either bread or rice and I wanted rice while my mom decided on bread.

The salad bar was simple with your basic salad offerings - lettuce, seaweed, potato salad, yogurt, fruit and some salad toppings like bacon bits, onion, croutons and cheese.

The soup bar consisted of two soups: corn potage and onion soup. Since I love corn potage, I had a cup of the corn potage, while my mom tried the onion soup. Both were good and perfect on the side the hamburg dish.

Cheese hamburg



Wafu oroshi hamburg (Japanese style hamburg)

The hamburgs were soft and juicy and had the home-made, hand-kneaded feel to it, unlike many restaurant who use machine-kneaded hamburgs.

The hamburg came with a side of demiglase sauce which is always quite perfect on hamburgs.

While Hungry Tiger finishes off their hamburg by splitting the hamburg in half and frying the meat on the hot stone plate, Red Steak House`s hamburg was already cooked and simply rested on the warm stone plate.

The hamburg was good and would serve as an okay alternative to my favorite Hungry Tiger but never a substitute.

Red Steak House
World Porters 1st Floor
2-2-1 Shinko, Nakaku

Shakeys Yokohama

August 18, 2007 : Shakeys (Yokohama)

While many of the local area Shakeys have gone away, the one by Yokohama station still operates their lunch buffet, both on weekdays and on the weekends.
This day, we went for their weekend buffet which is a few hundred yen more than their weekday buffet but we had a coupon for a free small drink from Gurunavi so we didn`t care too much. Plus, I think the price difference is really only 200yen or so.

The entrance to Shakeys with the price posted on their sign

The first thing you do when you get inside the restaurant is pay. This makes it much easier for eaters to just leave once they finish eating, which I think makes for a faster turnaround.. but I`m not sure. They handed us a drink coupon to redeem at the drink counter and we saw that there was already a line forming at the pizza buffet line. It was a little before 11:30 so the restaurant itself wasn`t that crowded but as we sat down, we noticed more and more people coming in through the door.

My favorite mo-jo potatoes and salad

Salami pizza, seafood pizza, japanese style seafood pizza topped with nori, beef pizza

Shrimp and mushroom pizza, double cheese pizza,
custard and banana pizza (dessert pizza), pasta and mo-jo potatoes

What I absolutely love about the Shakey`s in Japan is the fact that you can eat as much pizza as you like and they have a superb selection of all different kinds of pizza toppings! While I love Shakeys in general, the pizzas that you see on this buffet line vary from regular salami, sausages, mushroom and veggies to tom-yum-goong, kimchi, and dessert pizzas like custard and peaches, banana chocolate!!! I also like the fact that the pieces are small enough that you can have several different kinds of pizza!

My favorite was the double cheese pizza and the seafood pizza =)

Price: 1,134 yen (holiday/weekend price)

Shakeys (Yokohama)
Marufuji Bldg B1
1-11-1 Minami Saiwai
Nishiku, Yokohama

Friday, August 17, 2007

Akasaka Square Dining

August 17, 2007 : Akasaka Square Dining

Inside the Akasaka Excel Tokyu Hotel, there is a buffet restaurant called the Akasaka Square Dining. The restaurant is split into two different areas where the first area is more of a cafe and the back area is where they serve their popular weekday lunch buffet. While I also like their strawberry dessert buffet served in the cafe area of Akasaka Square Dining, today we tried out their weekday lunch buffet.

The entrance to Akasaka Square Dining

Ikura-don, taraba crab, fried kushiage, hamburg and pasta

The buffet has two separate seating times - one at 11:30am and the other at 1:30pm. We made reservations for the first one and arrived a little early but they led us to our table and asked us to wait until the finished setting up the buffet line. When the food was ready, the servers went around to each of the tables and told them that the food was ready.

The buffet line included fried kushiage (shrimp, vegetable and potatoes), curry, pasta, pickled vegetables, fried fish, italian hamburg and their specials : taraba crab, ikura (salmon eggs) and negitoro (mixture of toro and onion) don and their steak don (rice bowl). They also had a small area with some simple salad items as well.

The view from our table (of busy Akasaka)

crab miso soup

steak-don (bowl)

Each table had a pair of kitchen scissors to make it easier for diners to eat their large taraba crab legs! They also had crab forks available for use as well which made it much easier to eat these large crab legs!
Out of all of the dishes, my absolute favorite was the steak. Just barely cooked on the outside, the meat was perfect. There was almost no need to chew! It just kinda melted in my mouth.

After finishing our dishes, we moved onto dessert. Here too, they did not dissapoint. They had at least 5 or 6 different cakes, 2 or 3 jellies, soft serve ice cream and various fruit. My favorite was the strawberry cake and their strawberry jelly.

The buffet also included coffee, English tea or Japanese tea.

Soft serve ice cream, strawberry jelly and strawberry cake


strawberry shortcake (after all of the strawberries had been eaten!)
and a fruit tart

While the buffet line does not necessarily provide the same variety as some of the other hotel buffets, I think that each item is of very high quality and for the price, what a bargain!

Lunch buffet: 1980yen per person (weekdays only, reservations highly recommended)

Akasaka Square Dining
Akasaka Excel Hotel Tokyu 3rd Floor
2-14-3, Nagata-cho, Chiyoda-ku, Tokyo
Tel (81) 3-3580-2311

Wednesday, August 15, 2007

Cafe Tosca (Pan Pacific Hotel Yokohama)

August 9 - Cafe Tosca (Pan Pacific Hotel Yokohama)

Hotels in Japan usually have a hotel buffet restaurant which changes the theme of their buffet according to the season or other special events. The Pan Pacific Hotel in Yokohama is no different and this summer is offering a summer buffet called "Let`s moving on! Treasure Island." The menu consists of food with a Caribbean feel and offers various `live stations` where chefs cook the food right in front of you.
The restaurant staff were all dressed as pirates and it was very festive! It must be a nice change for some of the staff members to be able to get out of their suits!

The view from the restaurant

Some bread and salad

The view from Cafe Tosca is great and offers eaters with a view of the famous ferris wheel, the skyline of the surrounding area and to the far left, Bay Bridge.

We had made a reservation so we were led to a table right away and we went to the buffet line to see what they had.

Grilled vegetables, spicy shrimp curry, jerk chicken, orange flavored ribs, etc

There were four `live stations` and one had lamb, the other roast beef, the other a seafood bouillabaisse and also a grilled vegetable station. The other dishes consisted of salads, breads, curries, different meats, and other food.

Onion rings, curry and bread

Seafood Bouillabaisse

Roast beef

The lamb was soft and juicy and just perfect! I love lamb so its always a nice surprise when a buffet has a lamb dish! Everything was very good and we were full but knew that we needed to leave a little bit of space for some dessert!

Framboise and lime cake, caramel cake, tiramisu, custard pudding, coconut pudding

Blood orange sherbet, red peach sherbet and vanilla ice cream

The dessert area was filled with many different kinds of cakes. There were also various fruits laid out and we ate one of each kind of dessert. What was best was the blood orange sherbet! While I love sherbet, it is always great when you can find a sherbet like blood orange sherbet on a buffet line!

I love this buffet for their food, their atmosphere and their high level of service.

Cafe Tosca Pan Pacific Yokohama Bay Hotel Tokyu 2-3-7 Minato Mirai, Nishi-Ku, Yokohama 045-682-2222 (japanese) (english)

Katsu Sen

August 4 - Katsu Sen: Honmoku, Japan

In an area that is full of high rise apartment complexes and houses, Honmoku has very few successful restaurants. There are a few family-restaurants such as Denny`s and Red Lobster but there were very few other types of restaurants in the area.

In late July, Katsu Sen came to Honmoku and we decided to try it out!

The entrance to Katsu Sen from the parking structure

Cabbage, corn salad, green salad, harusame salad

What is interesting is that this restaurant has little booths that allow eaters to feel more secluded from the other eaters and give each group a little bit of privacy while eating. Which is really great if a family has kids and you sitting next to them, want to have a more quiet environment. They offer a salad buffet that includes about 5 or 6 different salads including thin-cut cabbage (which is a staple when you order katsu), corn salad, green salad, harusame salad (rice noodle salad) and a few other pickled vegetable salads.

So, while we waited for our food to arrive, we munched on salad and waited for our food.

My "healthy katsu teishoku" and the lunch portion of "hire katsu"

The "healthy katsu teishoku" consisted of fried asparagus,
ebi (shrimp) katsu and a regular hire katsu

The katsu came and we ground up the sesame seeds that were in the mortar/grinder and poured sauce into the bowl (they offer a sweet sauce and a spicy sauce).

The katsu was very soft and everything was really good! The asparagus was nice and crispy and the shrimp katsu was exceptionally good with every bite filled with shrimp!

This is a great addition to the Honmoku area and I look forward to trying something else on their menu!

Katsu Sen
17-2 Honmoku Hara, Naka-Ku, Yokohama
Honmoku Esta 1st Floor

Sunday, July 29, 2007


July 28, 2007 - Portofino (Italian Buffet)

On Saturday, we decided to go to Yokohama to get some Italian food at Portofino.
Portofino is located inside the Cial mall on the 6th floor on the first of two restaurant floors in Cial. There are a few other Portofino Restaurants in the Tokyo area that are operated by the same company but that are not the same Italian buffet-style restaurants.

We arrived at around 11:30 or so, because we wanted to make sure we beat the Saturday lunch crowds! This restaurant is quite popular amongst women because it is a pizza, pasta, salad AND dessert buffet. The large menu showing the kinds of food they have on their buffet line stated that they just increased the number of desserts they offer to a total of 16 different desserts!

The entrance to Portofino

A few slices of pizza (eggplant, egg, shrimp) and
two different kinds of pasta (squid and olive pasta, carbonara)

Regular margharita (mozzarella cheese/basil/tomato sauce) pizza
and sausage pizza.

While I was eating, I glanced over at the two girls sitting to the right of me and wondered why their plates only had a couple pieces of pizza and a little bit of pasta. Then, they stood up to get some dessert and they had a large plate filled with desserts! I think they had taken one of every kind of dessert - I think the desserts are what makes this place so popular amongst women!

Just a few of their desserts: chocolate cake, berry cake,
caramel cake, acelora jelly

Walnut and maple cake, blueberry chiffon cake, pana cotta, acelora jelly

This is one of my favorite places to eat because for about 1400 yen, you can have their all-you-can-eat buffet and by adding another 210yen, you can have their all-you-can-drink (which includes cold teas, juices, sodas, hot teas and coffee). They always have at least four different kinds of pizza, four different kinds of pasta, a few different salads and their ever-popular 16 different kinds of desserts! Whats also great is that they keep changing out the different food and desserts so technically you can have many different kinds of pizza, pasta and dessert! It is such a great deal =)

Cial Yokohama 6th Floor
Buffet price: 1380yen + 210 yen(all-you-can-drink)

Friday, July 27, 2007

Pitta 00

July 26, 2007 - Pitta 00 (zero zero), Ikspiari

During our day at Disneyland, we decided to go to Ikspiari to eat some pizza at one of my favorite pizza restaurants in Japan.

Pitta 00 is located on the third floor of Ikspiari and was pretty empty when we went to eat lunch around 11:30 on Thursday.

When we entered the restaurant, I noticed that they had a large framed certificate on their wall stating that their pizza had been officially certified "Napoli pizza" because they had passed all of the requirements given by Vera Pizza Napoletana (the Italian group that certifies that the pizza is officially Neopolitan pizza).

The menu consists of various pasta and pizza dishes but I opted for the pizza lunch set (of course!) which includes bread, salad, pizza and tea/coffee. The pizza I selected was the pizza of the day - shrimp and zucchini.

The entrance to Pitta 00

Warm bread and olive oil


Pizza of the day

The pizza was absolutely delicious. The dough was crispy on the bottom and the top but moist and doughy on the inside.. perfect amount of tomato sauce and a little bit of mozzarella cheese on top.

The pizza filled me up and was the perfect lunch! At 1680 yen for the pizza lunch set it was a great deal!

Pitta 00
Ikspiari 3rd Floor

Kakiyasu Sanshaku Sansun Bashi

July 25, 2007
Kakiyasu Sanshaku Sansun Bashi - Yokohama Bay Quarter

My friend wanted to eat Japanese food so we decided to go eat at Kakiyasu inside the Yokohama Bay Quarter mall. When we arrived, it was a little after 12:30 and there were about 5 or 6 groups on the waiting list before us. We wrote down our name and walked around the mall for a bit and when we came back to Kakiyasu about 20 minutes later, our name had already been called and they sat us right away.

One of the things I love about this Kakiyasu is the fact that their concept for this restaurant is "trustworthy, safe and healthy" food. Their menu consists of Japanese, Western and Chinese food but I consider all of their food very Japanese. It is a really popular lunch place for women because the restaurant offers lots of health options on their buffet line. It may not be enough sustinance for men though because there aren`t that many meat or even fish main dishes.

When we arrived at the buffet line, I saw they had a few different salads, potato croquette, pork katsu, egg rolls, hamburg, curry (spicy thai and black curry), oden, egg dishes, and lots of other food! The hamburg plate was actually empty and we went around the buffet table loading our plate with each kind of food and sat down to eat. I warned my friend that at Kakiyasu, they like to switch out their dishes a lot so sometimes you will eat something that you really like and then go back but it will be gone!

My first plate of food with some cold oolong tea

Doesn`t everything look yummy??

Everything was very good, as usual but I especially liked the bean sprout salad, the cabbage and pork salad with goma (sesame) dressing and the nikomi daikon (japanese radish). The daikon is my absolute favorite and I probably could have sat there and eaten daikon after daikon! I also like the fact they offer at least two different kinds of hot tea, two different kinds of cold tea, various juices, coffees and hot teas.

Since both times we went up to the buffet line, the hamburg plate was empty, we kept a watch on the kitchen door and made a mad dash for the buffet line again when we saw the waiter bringing in the plate of hamburgs. We grabbed one, took one bite and both thought it was way too sour! The sauce was supposed to be a sweet and sour sauce but the sour part of the sauce was way too much for our taste. The hamburg itself was good but I wish there had been a different sauce for it!

My second plate of food

The hamburg, blueberry jelly and chinese steamed bread

Since red bean paste and other Japanese sweets are not my thing, the only thing I ate for dessert was the blueberry jelly and the chinese steamed bread. They also had mochi, manjyu and other Japanese sweets for those who like that too. When I got my first dish, there was a little bit of this strawberry lemonade jelly left but was gone by the time I went for dessert! I should have taken some when I had the chance!

Overall, this place is another one of my favorite places to eat!

Kakiyasu Sanshaku Sansun Bashi
Yokohama Bay Quarter 3rd Floor

Sunday, July 22, 2007

Ocean Dining

July 19, 2007: Ocean Dining - Hotel Nikko Tokyo

Since my mom and I decided to go to Odaiba, I looked around at some of the hotel websites to see if they had any good lunch buffets. The Hotel Nikko Tokyo (Odaiba) had a lunch buffet at their Ocean Dining Restaurant so I made reservations online.

We arrived at the Hotel Nikko around 12:40. Both of the Odaiba hotels (Hotel Nikko and Le Meridian) have a special hotel shuttle that circles around to both of the hotels and the Tokyo Teleport Station on the Rinkai line. There is also another shuttle that goes around to the different shopping malls and Fuji TV but the hotel shuttle came right when we were waiting so we hopped on that and five minutes later, we were in front of the Hotel Nikko Odaiba.

The entrance to the hotel is actually right by the Yurikamome line as well

The entrance to the restaurant


Ocean Dining is a mediterranean restaurant and so we were expecting a lot of seafood. As we entered the restaurant, the large windows had an absolutely beautiful view of the surrounding Odaiba area including the Rainbow bridge.
When we sat down, the waitress addressed us by name (because of our reservation) and told us a little about the buffet, filled our water bottles and gave us some bread with three types of olive oil and some bread sticks.

Main dishes: grilled veal, chicken picata, potatoes, stuffed vegetables

The view of Rainbow bridge from the tables is probably
what makes this restaurant popular

Some cold capellini pasta with tomato sauce,
seafood in tomato soup, pumpkin salad, various cheeses

The buffet area had the large portion of the food on the central area, with salads and appetizers on the window side as well as desserts and soups on the outskirts. They also had a counter where you could have the chef make a bean soup, bean curry, apple crepe or sandwiches. What impressed me was the amount of appetizers and salads they had! They probably had over ten different kinds of appetizers - all very delicate and delicious! They included pumpkin salad, cold pork salad with daikon, tomato ratatouille - like salad, etc.
The main dishes included tomato tarts, chicken picata, grilled veal, stuffed chicken, stuffed vegetables and other smaller dishes.

Vegetables, chicken picata, chocolate danish

Custard pudding (top right) and apple crepe

The food was very good - I especially liked the chicken picata .. the chicken was tender and flavorful and probably the best chicken picata I have ever had! They also had different appetizer/salads and had a lot of variety. The buffet also came with either tea or coffee at the end (free refills) and was the perfect leisurely lunch at Odaiba.

A couple of days later, I received an email from the hotel asking how the lunch was and that from September, they would be doing a Spanish themed lunch buffet. I thought that was a very nice touch!

Ocean Dining
Hotel Nikko Tokyo (Odaiba) 3rd floor
Lunch buffet 3360yen (weekdays)