you don"t need to save the crystal for a special day, even water tastes better in a "Fancy Glass"

Sunday, September 30, 2007

UNION SQUARE CAFE TOKYO- Fancy Glass Restaurant Review

I had my day off yesterday and finally got to try the Tokyo version of The Union Square Cafe. The restaurant was created by a Japanese company with advice and consultation from the famous NYC version. We maid our reservation early, about 6pm. I like doing that on friday and sat nights because you can usually get a good table and have the fun of watching the restaurant fill up around you. The interior space was lovely, casual but oppulent, warm colors, nice chairs, and a gorgeous semi-open kitchen.

Staff seemed pretty good. The manager Paolo was lovely, and one woman server who was a bit more mature, took very good care of us. A few of the staff were a bit out of it, but I could tell that they were new and training.

I ordered the Fall Chef's tasting menu. And my hubby ordered ala carte.

First impression overall of the menu and wine list, were that they were solid and good, but not imaginative. Especially the wine list- it was a very safe list, nothing unusual or challenging. A lot of famous brands that are on many other lists. That was a bit disappointing. Also the mark up on wines is quite high.

The food menu was a bit more creative.

Everything was delicious- and I especially enjoyed my tasting menu.
Started out with a wonderful fall salad, mixed greens, fall fruits including very tasty persimmon and a nice salty hard cheese in a white balsamic vinegarette.

next was a penne pasta with sweet corn, Gorgonzola and sundried tomatoes. (the manager kindly split this between my husband and I since he had no middle course)

Then my main was a seared tuna steak, and homemade potato chips. (their version of fish and chips I guess) The tuna was tasy, but I thought it didn't really work with the potato chips- and the chips themselves were too greasy.

Dessert was a lovely sample plate. Uzu Cheesecake, Lychee Sherbet, and A Chestnut Espresso pudding. YUM.

Hubby's Dinner. His Caesar salad was a disappointment. It had crab cake croƻtons which were great, but it had mixed greens instead of romaine which we consider a no-no and the dressing was not Caesar like at all. His main, the duck and Cornbread were great. And the Ginger creme brulee was very nice.

We had some good glass wines, and for dessert a Godiva liqueur on the rocks.

all in all a lovely evening.

FANCY GLASS RATINGS (on a scale of 1-5)

Decor, interior 5FG

Food Menu 3 1/2 FG

Wine List 3FG

Service 4FG

Overall Impression 3 1/2 FG

Saturday, September 29, 2007

i got asked to do a book review! (cool.) "Morimoto the new art of Japanese cooking"

Well, I feel like the fancy glass has arrived (a bit) I got asked to do a book review of the new Morimoto cookbook. They event sent me an Advance copy.

"Morimoto The New Art of Japanese Cooking."
--Iron chef Morimoto showing off his creativity and teaching about new trends in modern high end Japanese cuisine. Gorgeous full color, jam packed with photos. This new book from Iron Chef Morimoto goes over basics in prep and key ingredients. There are wonderful how-to's on prep and on dishes. With step by step photos.

This is a fancy book, but it is also packed with practical knowledge. I especially liked reading about different kinds of fish, and nori (seaweed), the how to's of sushi rice. For sure I want to try the recipe for Morimoto Chicken Noodle Soup. The chef loves that one himself and picked it as one of his 3 favorites in the book!.

Gourmet asked him...
What are your three favorite recipes from your book?
Each recipe is like a child…so you're asking me to choose among my children, which is impossible! However, if I have to pick three recipes, I'd say Morimoto Chicken Noodle Soup, Daikon Pasta, and Tuna Pizza.
The format and look and feel of this book is well worth the rather steep ticket price of $40 usa. I especially like the bamboo wood inspired section heading pages. And the photographer, Quentin Bacon deserves a standing-O for his fantastic work on this project. He kept the food looking fabulous but still real, and natural.

Morimoto also opened a fabulous restaurant in my hometown Philadelphia. I have not yet been but have always wanted to go.

you can read more about the chef and what he is up to now on his homepage.

and take a look at his innovative place in Philly.

Plus you can pick up his book at and at if you are one of my Japan readers.

as a visual experience and inspiration we give it a rating of 5 FG

as a practical recipe book (this one is a bit hard and requires good knife skills and special equipment) 3 FG

Wednesday, September 26, 2007

DON'T GO HERE>>>> YUCK on so many levels

Last night, We went to Locos Table Mahana a new-ish restaurant in Ebisu. It was really the worst- on many levels. I believe that the restaurant business and feeding your guests is an art form. That doesn't mean food needs to be fancy. A good sandwich place can create works of art, just like a french restaurant can. But there is an agreement made between the restaurant owners, chefs to put the guest first and make a good product.

Mahana is all about making money. And with poor product, bad service and shady business practices!

first off they have a "hidden" table charge. there is a teeny tiny mention of it on the back cover of the menu, even my waitress did not know it was there. They brought a fake amuse bouche or small tasting plate to the table and I was suspicious so I asked if it was free and the girl explained- No- it is 500 yen or 5$ per person! the manager came and showed me the tiny print that said there is a table charge- and that is covered with this little bad tasting tasting plate.

the rest of our food ranged from ill prepared, to dried out and stale, to just plain bad.

there was a hula floor show, that was fine- I guess. Though it felt forced and the girls seemed less than thrilled to be performing for the guests who largely ignored them anyway.

and when all was said and done, and they brought the check. It was a blank receipt with just the total at the bottom! what the hell is that. it was printed on regular POS paper, but they have set the cash register to not print the items purchased- just the total. And since I am sure they cheat and add charges or wrong prices... this just was the final affront.

This restaurant is all about cutting corners, using old product and gouging the customers with hidden table charges etc.

the dessert we got was supposed to be mini donut holes, chocolate and banana. The so called donuts- were from days ago for sure. Dried out.... stale... YUCK.

Oh by the way- the servers could not have looked less engaged on any level.
the drinks glasses were tiny and filled with crushed ice. I figure my coke had maybe 1/8th of a can and the rest was ice.

it was clear to me, someone in the industry, that this place makes money- by treating their guests badly and cheating when ever they can.

IF you want good Hawaiian food and nice service- come to Nakameguro and try the M&L cafe.


fancy glass rating on a scale of 1-5 or in this case lower...

Decor 3FG (nice but a bit cliche)

Service Spilled FG!

Food Spilled FG

Drinks/wine 2 FG

Overall YUCK

Sunday, September 23, 2007

godess of food

This great new york times story and video warmed my heart and soul today and made me long for a great farmer's market. Alice Waters is a godess in my world. And this was a charming way to see her in action. They talk about her new upcoming recipe book in the article, But I also want to mention how much I enjoyed the book that came out about her and chez panisse last year.

First the new one- “The Art of Simple Food: Notes, Lessons and Recipes From a Delicious Revolution” (Clarkson Potter, October).

(which I don't have yet, but want -hint hint)

and the one I have and love- Alice Waters and Chez Panisse: The Romantic, Impractical, Often Eccentric, Ultimately Brilliant Making of a Food Revolution

I've never been to Chez Panisse-- but I am determined to make it there. And in the meantime reading her books and books about her, I feel like I have been there before. :-)

Jesse, over at the GNB also posted wonderfully about this story.

Friday, September 21, 2007

cool new food site

I am super happy about this.

This website Open Source Food is a great place for foodies to share recipes, photos and food ideas, from all over the world.

I am especially happy because one of the folks involved in this project will be speaking at our Tokyo2.0 event in October. I love the site and can't wait to cook something and share my recipe there. I had hours of fun exploring and wondering about the home-chefs.

good drink recipes posted too. I especially liked this one.

Tuesday, September 18, 2007

Fancy Glass Music Moment

feelin' a bit of a bouncy beat today... imagining beach side towns, tall glasses of white wine, and a relaxed bit of something!

Monday, September 17, 2007

Happy 80th to tastykake and esp. to my beloved krimpet

Someone should really include me in the celebration and send me a box of these... seriously. I LOVE butterscotch krimpets, they are one of the things I never got over missing when I moved to Japan. IN the early days of my excile here in the land of sushi and rice- folks occassionally sent us a box or even a stray pack or two. Though they arrived a bit squished- we loved them!

but it has been a long cold krimpet-less couple of years.

Anyway- WOW 80 years of krimpets and other delights.
and yes I DO know they are bad for me- but everyone has a vice or two.

Sunday, September 16, 2007

simply tasty- a fujimamas side bar

This dish from the restaurant I run is one of my simple favorites. Not flashy like some of the dishes, nothing special at all really- but just plain good. Fresh stir fried noodles, seasoned beef, onions, tomatoes and cilantro. This is good any time of the day. A real pick me up. Comfort food.

We do fancy, but we also do simple and to be frank I am proud of both equally. Good food does not necessarily mean fancy food. Start with fresh, delicious basic ingredients and even the most simple dish can be totally satisfying.

think about some of your favorite foods. I bet many of your top 100 list would be simple things. Dishes you remember from your childhood, or easy things you can make for yourself at home on a rainy night. Simple things, well done, are (more often than not) the best.

My top ten (as of this week anyway) not nec. in this order...

1. My grandmother's homemade macaroni and cheese
2. penne pasta with marinara sauce
3. a phildelphia cheese steak
4. fujimamas fried rice
5. chris'egg sandwich
6. bacon (with any kind of eggs)
7. the Dutch kitchen's 2 egg plate (in the reading terminal market)
8. chocolate chip cookies (homemade)
9. a good NY style cheesecake
10. toasted ham and cheese sandwiches.

Saturday, September 15, 2007

sat. night sittin and dancin with keepon

Hangin out at home in Nakameguro Tokyo tonight- relaxin and watching keepon!- I really do spend entirely too much time on the internet(s)

happy 100th birthday?!?!

Thought for the day...
according to the Japan times;

Centenarians in Japan soon to exceed 30,000 for first time

This is I am sure due to healthy diet, exercise, staying active and the responsiblity the youger generations have taken for caring for their parents and grandparents. We love our parents in the west too! but here in Japan (where i live) it is easier to get off of work to take care of aging and ill parents, and the government is actively seeking new ways to care for the increasing number of older japanese. and of course there is the health care system! so much better and much cheaper than the USA.

the movie sicko had it right. It is time we americans make it a priority to treat our fellow americans better. Take care of each other. We need to force our government to do the right thing. We must also Take care of ourselves.

Friday, September 14, 2007

good news on the food information front

On the up side... story today out about food politics classes in university. from
Professor: Food plays a role in politics Class examines wording on labels, federal policies

“A lot of the wording that comes from the federal regulations about eating is a result of being worked over by many different groups who have a vested economic interest it what we eat,” Barbour said. “It is not for our good health, it’s for the good of these different groups.”
It would be great if this kind of course could be offered at every state run university AND if it could count for health and phys-ed credits for undergrad students, and could be made a required 101 course for folks in a Political Science degree course.

But I am thrilled to see this kind of effort out there. Esp. in a state like Indiana that is usually so much a part of the Corp. ag business information cycle. Nice to see the other side of the conversation being promoted.

Would love to know if there are lists of other universities offering these kinds of classes?

Thursday, September 13, 2007

information is king

part of what gets us all in trouble is not making clear congnitive decsions. But part of what makes some decsions hard to make is lack of information AND specific dis-information campaigns. I was sad to see today that NY struck down a law mandating the fast food restaurants list calorie counts on their menus. Many people argue that we cannot legislate away obesity, but it would be nice to give people a chance to know the details before they order.

If they stopped all the mis-information that the junk food and processed food industry puts out every year maybe we wouldn't need calorie counts. But kids and adults alike are bombarded with sophisticated marketing messages that cloud the issue and actually encourage, entice and incite unhealthy eating. Information is king. and just like with grocery store labels, restaurants should have to tell people what is in their food and how it could impact health.

the people fighting this kind of law are big big corporations that don't want to tell you how much High Fructose Corn Syrup is in your pre-made, boxed, bottled sauces and ingredients that they use. Buy local, support smaller restaurants, and local farmers. It is healthier for you and your community.

write to your congress people and state legislature and ask for calorie counts and nutritional info on menus. what are they afraid of? Informed, empowered citizens- that's what.

celebratory drinks at Higashiya Sabo

So I am very proud of my wonderful husband this week, with much negotiating and hard work in numerous interviews he has gotten a new, very good job. He is an IT guy so getting good jobs and contracts is something he has done before, but this is a very good job at a perfect time. So we are both quite happy this week.

He found out yesterday, but with all the stuff going on this week, events at the restaurant, meetings and such... tonight was the first chance we had to have a nice quiet celebratory drink together...

Down the street from us is a gorgeous traditional yet modern Japanese sweets shop called Higashiya and at night above the shop there is a gorgeous little bar. We had a nice time trying to read the Japanese menu, and we got a chance to sample some of their creations. Definitely a nice place to go back to.

The building is old and new at the same time, and attention is paid to details of every aspect of service and atmosphere. Click around on their website and you will get an idea of their style. I really like this place. Would be a nice spot to go to with good friends. I want to try the food and tea during the day as well.