Published January 25, 2007
American , Kyoto , Review
Ravenous Rob ended up stopping at this small and unprepossessing place out of necessity, but the results were a quite astonishing – this place served up the best B.E.L.T. that Ravenous Rob has ever had. A combination of fresh, high-quality ingredients, careful preparation, and a most excellent mystery sauce made for total satisfaction of the tastebuds. The smoked salmon sandwich, while not quite at the level of the aforementioned B.E.L.T., was also excellent. Extra points go to the staff, who carefully wrapped the sandwiches to go, even though this is not a take-out place.
Published January 22, 2007
Japanese , Kyoto , Review
Located in scenic and touristy Arashiyama in Kyoto, Benzi is a yudoufu (boiled tofu) specialty place. But the yodoufu is not the only thing served up here. Also available are a wide range of other soy products, from dumplings wrapped with soybean sheets to chewy squares flavored with sesame or plum and grilled on a stick. Fortunately, an array of yudoufu set meals are available, and each comes with an assortment of other items. In the fall, this place has an excellent view of colored maple leaves from the dining area in back, but beware: it will most likely also be extremely crowded.
Published January 20, 2007
Japanese , Kyoto , Review , Tokyo
Kyoto Station Isetan Location:
Fancy some traditional Japanese sweets? Or perhaps just Western-style sweets infused with a touch of traditional Japan? Then this is the place for you. Along with more traditional dishes like pounded rice cakes seasoned with powded sesame and flavored jellies, Tsujiri offers concoctions like the matcha (powdered green tea) parfait, with matcha ice cream, matcha-flavored bits of castella cake, and matcha-infused cream (perhaps not quite enough matcha for Ravenous Rob, but almost there). With three locations in Kyoto (the Gion one would be easy to miss except for the hideously long line to get in) and one in Tokyo, which Ravenous Rob has never tried.
Published January 19, 2007
Bakery , Kyoto , Review
Ravenous Rob could go on a long rant about how ridiculous it is that you can get far, far better Western-style baked goods in Japan than you can in most parts of the U.S. But that’s really the fault of the vast hordes of tasteless Americans, who, eschewing anything remotely resembling quality, are content to grow fat munching on excessively sweetened mass-produced crap. So instead he will return to appreciating the goods available in Japan. Browny Bread & Bagels had no bagels in evidence in the times that Ravenous Rob visited, but did have a very fine assortment of various rolls and pastries. Although you can get some very standard things here, Ravenous Rob recommends trying some of the more unusual options, like sweet potato danishes topped with sprinkles of black sesame, or rolls filled with black bean paste.
Published December 27, 2006
Japanese , Kyoto , Review
Sampled location #1: Kyoto Station Isetan 11th floor restaurant section, south side (Map)
Sampled location #2: In Kyoto, on Teramachi, just north of Shijou on the west side of the street, adjacent to Mr. Young Men’s (Map)
Cuisine: Japanese (Tonkatsu)
For some mysterious reason, the Japanese are able to establish chain restaurants that actually serve really good food. Katsu Kura, a chain specializing in tonkatsu (breaded and fried pork cutlets), is one of Ravenous Rob’s favorite examples of this phenomenon. Every meal at Katsu Kura comes with red miso, barley rice, pickles, and a fresh pile of shredded cabbage, all of which are available in unlimited quantities. If you’re getting the standard pork cutlet you get to choose the cut and the size (in grams); for other menu options the cut and size are usually fixed. In any case, what you get will be lightly-breaded and free of heavy grease, with tender and succulent meat inside. At your table will be two sauces, one for the cutlet, which is thick and Worcestershire-like, and to which you add freshly-ground sesame (you do it yourself with the provided mortar and pestle), and one for the cabbage, thinner, with a hint of citrus. Apply both to taste, and enjoy! English-language menus may be available in some locations, but even the Japanese menu has plenty of pictures to point at.