Saturday, February 17, 2007

Breakfast Restaurant

One thing I really miss about Canada is breakfast restaurants. On Saturday or Sunday mornings, I really hanker for a breakfast that includes bacon and eggs -- and it is even better if someone else cooks it for me.

I have only found one restaurant in Tsukuba that has a breakfast menu that satisfies my weekend needs. Gusto, on the corner of Tsuchiura Gakuen Sen and Nishi Odori, offers a cheap (under 500 yen) breakfast until 10am on the weekends that includes eggs (scrambled or fried), bacon or sausages, toast or a roll, some lettuce with Japanese style dressing (okay, that part isn't very traditional, but nevermind), and access to free drink refills. Occasionally, if I can get myself sorted out before 9:30am (I like my weekends lazy), I like to saunter over to Gusto for a nice weekend breakfast.

I'm sure I am not the only person who hankers for this sort of breakfast, but I never see any other foreign people at the restaurant. I wonder if people know about it.

Are there any other decent breakfast places in Tsukuba? If you find one, please let me know!


Monday, January 29, 2007

Restaurant Review: La Vie Provencal

La Vie Provencal is a restaurant and bakery that is connected to La Cote d'Azur, the big bakery in Higashi Arai (near Takezono).

I have heard that Cote d'Azur is one of the highest grossing bakeries in Japan, but to be honest, I am not a big fan of fancy schmancy bakeries in Japan. I find that the treats they offer are not sweet enough (because of my lingering Canadian sweet tooth), or that they don't have a strong enough taste, or that they have far too many beans in them to be considered a real dessert. Anyway, both Cote d'Azur and La Vie Provencal are high quality bakeries, but I haven't really been excited about having them in my neighbourhood...

Until today. When I went to Provencal the first time, I just bought some bready things at the counter and ate them in the dining area. I can't recall whether I knew about the restaurant menu at that time. Perhaps I just didn't have time to wait for a meal to be cooked that day. I remember thinking that the bready things were good, but not great. Kind of standard Japanese bakery things, but fancier (and remember, fancy doesn't usually impress me in a bakery).

Today, however, I did have time to order a meal. I had a tomato soup dish with three slices of baguette (two with toppings and one plain) and my friend ordered a kind of soba crepe with salmon, cheese, and vegetables inside (which had a proper name on the menu, but I can't remember it right now). Both of the dishes were deemed delicious by their respective owners, and there was enough there to make sure we were not tempted to go for one of the desserts on the menu (which means that I can't review the desserts -- sad for you, happy for my waistline).

Today's visit forced me to reconsider my opinion of La Vie Provencal. I will definitely start including it in my list of places to recommend when people ask me to suggest a good lunch place.

La Vie Provencal is located on the road that skirts the east side of K's Denki on Tsuchiura Gakuen-sen. If you are coming from Tsukuba Center, drive west on Tsuchiura Gakuen-sen away from Seibu and Jusco. Pass the intersection with Nishi Odori and take a left (south) at the next intersection. Follow that road and you will see La Vie Provencal on your left, about 300 meters (at least that's my impression) from the intersection. If you pass the yakiniku restaurant, you have gone too far. The address is Onozaki 147-1. (Click for a map in Japanese.)


Tuesday, December 19, 2006

Restaurant Review: Tsuruya

I went to an end-of-the-year party (known as 忘年会, bounenkai, in Japanese) last night with some of my colleagues. I am not overly fond of these parties because they tend to be quite expensive and are often filled with people who are drinking and smoking more than they really should (it's really the latter that concerns me). I was pleasantly surprised last night, though, because out of the 25 people in attendance, only ONE was smoking. That is really a big change from when I first arrived in Japan and would often be the only person in a group of that size who wasn't smoking.

Anyway, I did not sign in to rant about smoking today. I wanted to tell you about the restaurant that we went to. It is called Tsuruya and it is located in Matsushiro, near the intersection of Route 408 and Tsuchiura Gakuen Sen. The food they served us was quite normal for a group party in Japan -- lots of plates with various kinds of food, including lots of fish and shellfish, and a big boil-your-own nabe (like a huge bowl of soup). The food tasted really good and there was enough of it to satisfy. The interesting thing about this restaurant is that it is very, very modern. The food and the place settings (bowls, etc.) seem to come from an older era, but the restaurant itself is brand, spanking new (either they just recently refurbished the place, or they are really, really good at their janitorial duties). In any case, it was kind of a strange, but not unpleasant, combination.

I can't really go on in any more detail because I was too busy laughing and enjoying my evening with my colleagues to notice much of anything else. I guess I can sum things up by saying that if you want to have a traditional Japanese culinary experience in a non-traditional setting, this is a good place to go. I enjoyed it.

Address: Matsushiro 1-11-5
Tel: 0120-36-0145


Wednesday, November 29, 2006

Make Your Next Visa Extension Delicious

The next time you have to extend your visa, consider going to Mito instead of Tokyo so you can enjoy a great lunch at Pizza Lino right near the immigration office. Pizza Lino offers a "lunch for two" that is a quite a deal. For 2600 yen (in total for two people), you will get access to the salad bar and drink bar, two main dishes (one pizza and choice of either pasta or rice), and a dessert selection (usually three small desserts like cake, panacotta, and ice cream per person). The salad bar is rather small but surprisingly filling. Actually, I have never once been to Pizza Lino and had someone complain that they didn't get enough food.. You can also add a third person in for an extra 1300 yen.

To get to Mito, take a bus from Tsukuba Center to Tsuchiura Station (approximately 30 minutes) and then take the Joban line from Tsuchiura to Mito (approximately 1 hour). The immigration office is located on the south side of Mito Station. There is a Mini Stop (convenience store) located to the south and east of the immigration office. Pizza Lino is located on the same street as the convenience store near the McDonalds and Royal Host closer to the station.

Address: Jonan 2-8-32, Mito
Tel: 029-225-9877
Open: Monday to Saturday from 11:30am to 10pm,
Sundays and Holidays from 11am to 9:30pm


Saturday, July 15, 2006

Restaurant: Yellow Leaf

As a sample post, I will introduce a restaurant in Tsukuba.

Yellow Leaf is a unique little restaurant. It only seats about 10 or 15 people and it is only open for lunch. The menu is limited to about 3 or 4 options, but everything is healthy and delicious. The food is sort of "Asian Fusion" with a couple of noodle and rice dishes. There is a boutique on the south side of the restaurant that has high quality goods (clothing, jewelry). This is a lovely place to spend your lunch hour with friends. Call ahead to make a reservation to be sure you can get a seat. (I believe it is closed on Mondays and Tuesdays.)

Here is one of the dishes they serve. It is called "Tomyankung" and it is a kind of Thai soup. It is a bit spicy and it is served with either rice or noodles inside. The portion-size is huge. Lunch options come with dessert and coffee.

It is a bit difficult to find the restaurant. Drive south down Nishi Odori. Go past the Doho Koen intersection. At the intersection just before AIST West, turn right (west). Follow the road past AIST West until the fence ends. Turn left. The restaurant is just up that road a bit on the right.

Address: 389-1 Kamihara, Tsukuba, 305-0055
Phone: 029-837-2629

Put this address into www.mapfan.com: 〒305-0055 茨城県つくば市上原389-1 to see a map.