London: Wagamama

I first heard about Wagamama ramen in the mid-to-late 90’s, when it was a rapidly expanding chain of Japanese-themed restaurants in London. It was sort of a cutting edge concept back then. It served ramen, which was a much lesser-known genre of Japanese cuisine when compared to either sushi sushi or teriyaki. The restaurant also popularized a few concepts that at the time were virtually unheard of in Western casual dining chains. Its tables were exclusively communal, and its servers used wireless pda’s (think palm pilot) to send orders to the kitchen. The combination of these ‘fresh’ ideas gave the … Continue reading London: Wagamama

At Least They Do One Thing Right…

Kita no Donburi – I visited Kita no Donburi on a day when I wasn’t particularly craving any specific type of food. I was in the neighborhood and it was a restaurant that I haven’t tried before, so I decided to try it. Walking in, I noticed that it was one of those order-and-pay-first-counter-service-like restaurants. The lineup for ordering was quite long; there were more people in line than there were empty seats in the restaurant. I noticed that most of the people in line were ordering for takeout, which was a relief for me because I planned to sit … Continue reading At Least They Do One Thing Right…

Osaka: Salt, not Sauce…being educated on the finer points of tonkatsu consumption

If my memory is reliable, I think my wife, kids, and I visited this tonkatsu restaurant during our first night in Osaka. We were actually actively looking for a tonkatsu restaurant while blindly exploring restaurant rows in and around the commercial areas around one of the main train stations in Osaka when we found this restaurant. One look at its front display-case and we knew we found the restaurant we were looking for. As soon as we entered the restaurant, we were warmly greeted by the hostess/cashier who immediately took us to an empty table in one of the empty … Continue reading Osaka: Salt, not Sauce…being educated on the finer points of tonkatsu consumption

Highway Robbery

Zen – I don’t know where to begin…I know, how about this? Zen Sucks! I’ll spare you the usual introductory paragraphs and get straight to the mostly crap food my family and I had for dinner a few hours ago at Zen sushi. I’ll start with my son’s dish, the chicken tonkatsu. The breading was hard as rocks and greasy as hell. How hard was the breading, you ask? How about making a big ‘CLUNK’ as it was dropped on the table hard? The breading was so hard that my son found it impossible to bite through. My wife had … Continue reading Highway Robbery

Satisfying a Four Year Craving

Hachi Hana- As I have mentioned in my previous posts, I do not subscribe to the theory that all non-Japanese operated Japanese restaurants are inauthentic or serve subpar food. Sure, there are a lot of non-Japanese operated Japanese places that serve crappy food, but then I have also had more than my share of decent meals at non-Japanese operated places. I knew Hachi Hana was a Korean operated Japanese restaurant before I even set foot in the restaurant. But I never hesitated for a moment to visit it because of this fact. I actually wanted to visit it because I … Continue reading Satisfying a Four Year Craving

Tonkatsu Fail

Saboten Express – In a previous life, I was a small-time restaurant angel investor. One of the restaurants that I happened to sink money into was a licensed Japanese tonkatsu restaurant similar to Saboten. I wasn’t involved in the day-to-day operations, but I have sampled and taste tested enough pieces of Japanese deep fried breaded pork to know the difference between a well-made tonkatsu and a poorly-made one. A well-made tonkatsu can usually be found in a restaurant that specializes in tonkatsu, but I have found those restaurants to be few and far between in the North American cities that … Continue reading Tonkatsu Fail

Heartburn (not heartbreak) From an Old Folk’s Home

Hi Genki – I have known about Hi Genki, a cafeteria for a Japanese retirement home that doubles as a Japanese restaraurant, for several months now. But I’ve never really had any motivation to try it. Frankly, I don’t think the food churned out by the cafeteria of a retirement home would be any good. Years ago, when I was in high school, I volunteered as a food runner at a retirement home in Toronto (I have to be honest. I did it because people told me it would look good on my university application). The food I brought to … Continue reading Heartburn (not heartbreak) From an Old Folk’s Home