2011/05/28

About Time - Lunch Time

No, Pacific-Islander isn't turning into a foodie blog. At least not intentionally. I leave that to the experts like Kat and Satoshi.

Super Typhoon Songda (Vietnamese for tributary) is coming our way. Luckily its progress is slowing and by the time it reaches us in the wee hours of Monday morning, it is expected to be no more than a tropical storm.

As Kimie pointed out to me this morning, it will be a disaster for this part of Japan if this summer we are hit with a strong typhoon carrying a lot of moisture, as so many roofs (including our own) were damaged in the March 11 earthquake and subsequent aftershocks.

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Today we had lunch at restaurant we had never tried before. Oddly enough, it is only about one mile from our house. Over the years we have talked about giving it a try, but perhaps because our own kitchen is so close, we had never stopped there. Today, on the way home from a local garden center in the rain, we decided to have lunch there. About time!

とんがりかん(Tongarikan) is yet another couple owned restaurant with the business on the ground floor and their home upstairs. We learned that they moved here from Saitama Prefecture (the other side of Tokyo) for health reasons - much easier breathing out here near the ocean and away from the big city. They have been in business for 13 or 14 years now.

Tongarikan has cheerful atmosphere with bay windows full of flowers. On the menu today were curry, pasta, and a teishoku (set lunch).

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I opted for spaghetti with asari clams and Buna-shimeiji mushrooms which was served with a salad of cabbage, carrots, lettuce, and mizuna, and a fresh roll.


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Kimie chose the set lunch, which today was pork picatta sautéed in egg and served with salad, veggies, rice and soup. That's not ketchup by the way, but the tangy tonkatsu sauce often served with pork in Japan.


The food was good and the owners friendly. Kimie quizzed them about our next holiday destination, which they have visited twice before. Where might that be, you ask? Sorry. You'll have to wait a bit to find out.

They offer a choice cake and coffee sets too. We didn't have one, though. I can't really throw the diet out the window every weekend, after all. But Kimie thought it might be a good place for the teachers at her school to gather, as it not far for them to travel.

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The name Tongarikan is reference to the peaked roof of the place - tongari means pointed or sharp. The white car on the left is going down the street leading to our home. Note the blue plastic patch on the roof of the house it is passing - a common sight throughout East Japan these days.

(The food pics were taken with Kimie's cellphone, so a little rough. I rode my bike back to take the exterior shots with my waterproof Olympus µ Tough.)

After the stormy week ahead, I'm hoping for some nice sailing weather next weekend and if we get it, we'll be having lunch at Mama's Kitchen once again.

2011/05/23

Trattoria Buona Fortuna

The weather was too windy for sailing this weekend, so today we went out for lunch at Trattoria Buona Fortuna Italian Restaurant. This was our second visit together (Kimie had been there before with colleagues from work). Located across the street from the south side of Kashima Jingu shrine, in the heart of the city, Buona Fortuna is in a two story building with the owner's residence on the second floor. The husband is chef and his wife waits the tables. With just the two of them, they are kept quite busy. (horizontal pics can be enlarged by clicking on them).

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Decor is a combination of recycled items (crockery, chairs, stained glass windows), antiques, and homemade crafts (cushions, coverlets) which fits with the popular modern Japanese esthetic which cherishes "kawaii" - cuteness. One might be tempted to call this esthetic "kitsch", but I think that would be a mistake. It isn't trying to imitate anything, or be pretentious, but rather mixes various elements to create an atmosphere that is homey, fun, old, new, renewed and of course, kawaii.

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A print on the wall incorporates the restaurant's name.

We had a corner room to ourselves today and sat by the window looking out on a patio and the back yard.

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For lunch we started with onion soup, then a salad, spaghetti, and desert with coffee/tea. I had spaghetti with eggplant and for desert, banana chiffon cake. Kimie chose spaghetti with tuna and had lemon chiffon cake with honey for desert.

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Sponge cake, ice cream, and cookies.... Not exactly on my diet, but for Sunday lunch out I play my "Get out of dieting free" card. ;^)

2011/05/18

Golden Week

by Momo the Wonder Dog

... Well, Golden Week Dog anyway.

Pandabonium and Kimie took a day during Golden Week to go to Tokyo and see a magician, and to sightsee. To make up for the day I had to spend alone, the next day they took me to the "Bark Park" - Suigo Prefectural Forest Park. I've been there twice before and really like it. See K-9 Kool and Bark Park to read about my previous visits.

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Trees!


I like it a lot. It has more trees than I could possibly pee on in a month, and big grassy areas where I can play. The first thing I did when we got there was sniff around a tree and pooh. Heh, heh! Good thing PandaB brought a bag for that. :=p

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Helping K spread the picnic blanket.

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It was Children's Day in Japan, a national holiday. People fly koinobori (carp streamers) at this time. A top streamer has the family crest, then there is one carp for each family member. It used to be just for boys, but now it's for us girls too. They look very colorful and seem to cheer everyone up.

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Tummy rubs are the best.

We had a little picnic and I got bite of each of their sandwiches. After the food was gone, I was most fascinated by the people there - children sliding down a grass slope on a plastic snow sled, kite flying, adults playing tag and baseball, and boys playing with a soccer ball. Wow. I like greeting the local elementary school kids walking by our house to and from school, but I never get to see them at play. I got so focused on people-watching that I lost interest in the games of fetch PandaB and K kept trying to get me to play. Later they told me about the birds I had ignored. Really?

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We had a nice walk around the park and across the big suspension bridge (I wasn't even scared this time).

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K's "levitating dog" magic trick


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wild wisteria


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Shrines on the neighboring farmland.


All too soon, it was time to go home. I hope they take me again. It was so much fun!

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Oh, and Monday I got a bath and haircut at the doggy beauty parlor. It had been two months and I was getting pretty shaggy and dirty and itchy and stuff. But I'm a happy girl now!



the Wonder Dog

2011/05/08

Getting Lost On The Way To The Geographer

Oh, the irony!

Last Wednesday we headed for the Shibuya ward of Tokyo to see the Geographer. We had been there twice before in the last several years and I thought I knew the way well enough. (Such assumptions are always a mistake. It is the reason that airplane pilots at every level always use a written checklist. It doesn't matter how many times we do something, we are fallible.)

I should have looked at a MAP before leaving home (what a concept! - looking at a map to find a geographer). Shibuya has a lot of curved streets that fan out from the train station and make for forks in the roads. It is also an incredibly noisy place with huge video screens on buildings, stage performers on street corners, and stores blaring music and/or advertising messages onto the sidewalk - very disorienting. (that's my excuse and I'm sticking to it). I took a left instead of a right and as we walked, and walked, and walked, and as our destination failed to appear (we were on a road which curved away from it), we realized I had, uh, goofed. At least the route I chose had no retailers with blaring bull horns and had lovely trees on either side instead.

Finding a crude map on a construction sign, we adjusted course. Once again I screwed up! (Here I blame the lousy map). But we were getting closer. Sort of. Another turn and we finally arrived after a few more blocks. Whew. What should of been a 7 minute walk had turned into, well, let's just say ... a long morning adventure.

The place we were going was the Bunkamura art center - a building that offers music, drama, cinema and art plus shops and restaurants under one roof. The "Geographer" we went there to see was the painting of that name by Dutch painter Johannes Vermeer van Delft (1632-1675).


This painting was centered on a wall with a 17th century map on the wall to the right, a globe and compasses (dividers) dated 1700 in one corner, and a globe of the heavens in the corner to the left of the painting. To me, Vermeer was the master of masters when it came to controlling light. A favorite of ours, we go to exhibitions of his works whenever they come to Tokyo.

The event is titled Vermeer "Geographer" The Golden Age of Dutch and Flemish Paintings from the Städel Museum and so in addition to Vermeer's magnificent work, there are ninety-four other works by 17th Century Dutch and Flemish painters with the following categories: History Painting and Allegory; Portraiture; Genre and Interior Scenes; Still Life; Landscape & Topography (which included several painting of sailing ships).

Before we went in, I treated Kimie to a lunch of soba and tempura in the adjacent department store as an offering of apology for getting us lost, and after seeing the exhibit, to coffee and desert. She forgave me.

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Coffee and desert at Bunkamura: ¥995 yen each (the cost of an entire lunch at Mama's Kitchen). Forgiveness for getting us lost on the way to the Geographer: priceless.

Next time, you can bet I'll be sure to plan ahead and carry a reference map of the area we will visit with me - even if we've been there a dozen times before!