Wednesday, February 19, 2014

Go Go Curry, Shinjuku

Ground floor entrance
As a long-time customer of Go Go Curry in New York City, visiting this curry house was an absolute must while in Japan.

I've long been of the belief that Go Go Curry serves the best Japanese curry in New York City. The place is often packed and is generally filthy but the curry is awesome.  I have a hard time selecting my second favorite curry shop in New York because there aren't just that many of them around.  Curry-Ya possibly although I found the roux there a bit thin and lacking in flavor.  The space is cool and super clean though.  And they have a Japanese toilet. +++

Go Go Curry was easy to identify on the street near my hotel in Shinjuku due to the familiar big gorilla logo.  The restaurant is down a short flight of stairs.  You will first come to a vending machine to make your curry selection.  No English but the pictures get you most of the way there. The space is ridiculously spotless, much different than NYC.  Service is efficient and the place is quiet so can enjoy your plate of curry.  The taste is basically the same as in NYC - a dark, thick and rich roux with nicely fried pork on top and cabbage on the side.  I find this curry very satisfying and delicious although Co Co Curry Ichiban is my favorite in Japan.  I like how you can customize the curry experience there and make it spicy.

Go Go Curry is a fantastic place for rich and hearty curry in the Shinjuku area. If you can visit, you won't be disappointed.

Saturday, February 15, 2014

Hanamaru Udon, Shinjuku

A sharp recommendation from the staff at the amazing Park Hyatt, Tokyo. Looking for something local and delicious for breakfast, preferably noodles, this was the suggestion. Simply put, an awesome way to start the day.  Close to the massive Shinjuku station without any English spoken.  No problem as there are photos you can point to.  Luxurious udon noodles in a beautiful broth.  On the side take your pick of excellent tempura.  Easy on the wallet and delicious.  Came back a second time and it tasted even better.  Places like this are the reason I keep coming back to Tokyo.

Hafu Restaurant, Kyoto

I found this place on as it was one of the highest rated restaurants in Kyoto and the reviews were universally glowing.  The reviewers were spot on as Hafu delivered a great meal. The sirlion steak was just unbelievably great.  The quality of the steak at Hafu is unbelievable, it melts in your mouth like butter with a perfect texture.

I got a set meal that included an appetizer, soup, salad, steak and dessert for about $60 USD.  A terrific bargain as Japanese beef is usually super expensive.  I sat at the counter, which was a very enjoyable place to be.  The manager here speaks good English as he has spent some time in the US growing up.  A bit hard to find, the restaurant is in a residential section of beautiful Kyoto. Definitely use your GPS or take a taxi.  The name on the outside of the restaurant is actually Hafuu.

Rokurinsha Ramen, Tokyo Station

This place has been on my list to visit for years and finally the day came.  Easily this was some of the very best ramen I have had in my life.  Every component of the Tsukemen is an amazing compliment to the other including the perfect noodles and egg.  Tasting the broth alone is interesting as it is very intensely flavored. However, when you dip the noodles in the broth and eat it as it meant to be, the balance is flawless.  The wait in the line was about 30 minutes around the lunch hour. Just a fantastic meal, I was blown away.

Sasagin sake pub in Tokyo

After an almost four year absence, it was great to be back in Tokyo with the chance to visit one of my very favorite places to eat and drink - Sasagin.  Walking in the door, it was as if nothing had changed.  In fact, I sat in the exact same seats at the corner of the bar that I last sat in during my last visit in 2010. Behind the bar the friendly face of Narita-san, the passionate proprietor, was there to greet me.  He remembered me from years past and I hope that's not a bad thing.  The sake selection is just as it was before, which is to say it is fantastic.  All you need to do is tell Narita-san what you are looking for and he will pour you something beautiful. On this visit I sampled many different unpasteurized sakes, which are rare in the US.  The food is excellent and is a perfect compliment to the great sakes being poured.  Lack of Japanese language skills isn't a problem and if you are lucky, like me, you just might be able to meet some new Japanese friends at the bar.