enigmatic's Reviews

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  • Chinese Cafe Eight: Roppongi (Chinese / Roppongi)
  • 2008/11/09
  • One of three locations around the city, this one is characterized by sculptures of genitalia. They're all over the walls, so if you want a place to take Grandma for lunch, make sure it's your Grandma with a rockin' sense of humor.
    Authentic Chinese menu and employees - most of them speak little English or Japanese. But the food is good, particularly the Peking duck. It tastes just as good as the same dish served in small family restaurants just outside the forbidden city. Open 24 hours and serving dim sum for 100 yen a plate, its perfect for a budget meal after drinking away all your cash in Roppongi night clubs. It's also a great place to take a large group as long as it isn't Friday or Saturday night. Large group reservations do NOT require a set course menu. But keep in mind that it is a popular place and family style seating is often used - you could end up sharing a large table with perfect strangers. The whole restaurant is a smoking section. Beer service is super-speedy, but the staff isn't overly friendly.
  • West Park Cafe: Tokyo (American / Tokyo Station)
  • 2008/11/09
  • Not a very large location, but the service was good and the food was excellent. Very California-esque as far as the menu is concerned - a fusion of Japanese and western components with a touch of Mexican seasonings (spice and salsa). If you can get a seat by the window, you'll be treated to a nice view of Tokyo station. A great alternative to Kua'aina Burgers, their neighbor in the Marunouchi Building.
  • Yamaya: Shibuya (Liquor / Shibuya)
  • 2009/01/30
  • Life is good with Yama-ya. Tim-tams. Beer. Dried fruit snacks. Cheeeeeeesssseeeee!!!! Chips. Ice cream. Chili. Soup. *drool

    Pretty much a one-stop shop for all your "western" food cravings. Forget having mom mail over that box of Cracklin' Oat Bran and Bsquik! Pick it up at your convenience, but remember: Yama-ya is like a can of Pringles...once you shop, you can't stop.
  • Cerveza (Beer Bars / Roppongi)
  • 2009/01/30
  • Benjamin Franklin said, "beer is proof that God loves us and wants us to be happy." Places like Cerveza are proof that mankind agrees. And in my eyes, any place that offers beer so enthusiastically should be revered. It should be worshiped as often as possible. Not only does every beer have a glass that perfectly highlights the the beverage's unique flavors, there is a snack somewhere on the menu that perfectly compliments it. You can be snobby about the selection if you like, but it is rare to find places with such variety in Tokyo. Now if only someone would start importing Fat Tire...
  • Club Atom (Dance Clubs / Nightclubs / Shibuya)
  • 2008/11/17
  • Three wonderful floors of entertainment. From hip-hop on top to psytrance down below and nothing but house music all night long on the ground floor, this place is amazing. It is a club that caters to booty-shaking in all its glorious forms. And with enough room to dance, bounce, grind, and drink all night long, it absolutely has one-up on other clubs in Shibuya. Bartenders speak English, and you get one free drink at the door. Cover is 3,000 yen. Aaaand, for your convenience, it is located in the center of the love hotel district and is right next to a convenience store. Absolutely foreigner-friendly, as long as you don't act like a bunch of jerks who just left Gaspanic.
  • Baskin Robbins: Azabu (Ice Cream / Hiroo)
  • 2008/11/11
  • Thirty one flavors, and there is nothing wrong with that. Especially since, like the other branches of this chain in Tokyo, there are two or three flavors that change every month, there really is nothing to not love. If it weren't for the small store size and the long lines always found at these stores, I'd probably go every day. So...I just get a hand-packed pint to go and stop by once a week. The staff does their absolute best to be fast (and they do a pretty good job, too). Especially considering it's the type of place that attracts a LOT of children crashing from their last sugar high.
  • Kua'Aina : Aoyama (American / Omotesando, Aoyama)
  • 2008/11/11
  • All hail the burger shop with the delicious imported bottles of beer. And not just any import...oh, no...it is one of the best microbrews to ever come out of the States. Combine that with beer-battered onion rings, tasty fries, and some of the best hamburgers to grace your tastebuds in a long time and you've found yourself a new favorite. But it doesn't stop at burgers and the typical side dishes. They've also got sandwiches of all descriptions (from swordfish to turkey to roast beef) and shrimp that don't have to be cleaned of legs at the table. Aloha, hunger!
  • Beacon (American / Shibuya)
  • 2008/11/10
  • Another amazing restaurant from the same people who own and operate T.Y. Harbor, this gem, although a little difficult to find if you walk from a station, is worth the trip. The wine cellar is enormous, likely the second or third largest in Tokyo. The staff is very accommodating and bilingual. They have really wonderful event space and can, with a reservation, provide a private dining room for groups. The entree and side dishes are all ordered independently of one another, and like the menu at the other restaurants owned by this company, is always changing. The food is fusion, but with a slightly more American feel, all created by the chef trained in San Francisco. And if you just can't live without your T.Y. Harbor beer, they serve that, too.
  • Cicada (Mediterranean / Hiroo)
  • 2008/11/10
  • Owned and operated by the same company that owns T.Y, Harbor, Cicada is a delightful dining experience. While lunch can be done on a budget, dinner is a little more pricey, but worth the expense. Frequented by Tokyo's financial elite and serious recruiters, it has a great wine selection and delectable desserts. Service is top-notch and staff is bilingual. With a rotating menu, it is always a refreshing option.
  • Outback: Shibuya (American / Shibuya)
  • 2008/11/09
  • A tucked-away location but worth the walk from the station. The interior of the restaurant is far classier than the chain's American locations and has the feel of a classy winery restaurant. While they do have an impressive wine collection, the feature that pushes this restaurant from good to very good is certainly the size of the beers. The mugs approach a liter in size, making you wonder if forgoing a meal in favor of another brew is a good idea. But don't totally abandon the menu - it's delicious. The steaks are fabulous, the never-ending warm bread with honey butter is nearly divine and highly addictive, the chicken is as good as the steak, and there are even vegetarian options. English speaking friendly staff makes it a welcome stop after struggling to be understood in yet another ramen shop.
  • Lupicia: Roppongi == CLOSED == (Tea / Roppongi)
  • 2009/01/30
  • This place is wonderful. I felt terrible for having lived in a tea-centered culture for so long and knowing so little about it. So one afternoon on a shopping trip I went into the store. The staff is fabulous, friendly, helpful, and passionate about tea. I learned a lot from them, and went back for a couple of tea making classes. Once you figure out what you like, you can start ordering for home delivery. This is really good if you live far out of the city and don't have a chance to get to Roppongi very often. I think it's also a good place to bring out of town visitors to learn more about tea.
  • Krispy Kreme Doughnuts: Shibuya (Doughnuts / Shibuya)
  • 2009/01/30
  • The smell wafting from a Krispy Kreme is enough to give you a cavity. But it is absolutely divine. In the satellite locations like this one, the line is significantly shorter than at the Krispy Kreme in Shinjuku. Due to the length of the line in Shinjuku, I was never able to enjoy the cafe treats they have to offer (like specialty coffees and smoothies). But in locations like this one you can sample pretty much everything the company has to offer. Just keep in mind that no matter how large or small the Krispy Kreme is, the noise level is fairly high.
  • Bagel & Bagel: Ikebukuro (Cafes / Ikebukuro)
  • 2009/01/29
  • I LOVE bagel & bagel!!! You simply must try the "everything" bagel...it has, as you may have guessed, everything on it and in it. Fabulous toasted with plain cream cheese. And the wheat bagels with the sweet basil cream cheese are awesome. Probably the best thing about this place is that they dont' stop at just making different flavored bagels - the cream cheese offers a delightful variety as well. You can also buy extra cream cheese and take it home so you can actually have a bagel and cream cheese for breakfast the next morning (I actually go out of my way to find one of these places since there are none near my apartment).

    Oh, and remember, the sandwiches are made in advance...nothing made in advance is ever as tasty as the freshly made...

    Don't forget the cheesecake!
  • Kotoku In (Temples / Yokohama)
  • 2009/01/29
  • First and foremost...you've made the trip all the way out there...shell out the pocket change to go inside the buddha. It's really interesting to see how such a large sculpture is constructed and after visiting hundreds of temples in my lifetime I've only ever been inside one buddha. There are a lot of kids on school trips in this site and of course, a lot of tourists (not just foreign ones). They have a great bookstall right near the buddha statue, so you can pick up some lit to improve your knowledge of boddhisatvas and symbolism. Also, don't forget to check out the giant straw sandals. All I know is that if they can make shoes that big, why can't I ever find any in my size?

    Oh, and if you're traveling with a kid (or a grown man who thinks he's a kid) be warned that there is a really "cool" giftshop outside the temple selling weapons. You've been warned.
  • Tsukiji Hongan Ji (Temples / Tsukiji)
  • 2009/01/29
  • When I first went here I was unsure if this was a university lecture hall or a temple. But once you start paying attention to the details....oh wow. It is breathtaking. The architecture is amazing and reminded me of the great European cathedrals. You can see a variety of influences from around the world play out in the details of this temple. If you're in the area, you simply must stop by. But keep in mind that it is quite an active temple (actual religious ceremonies, not just coffee break prayer).
  • Sensoji (Temples / Asakusa)
  • 2009/01/29
  • The approach is lined with stores and shops. This traditional shopping area/mall is just wonderful. When you think of traditional Japan and what you see of Tokyo in movies, this is what you get. Large temple grounds with a pagoda, beautiful lit walk for the evening.

    If you can only visit one temple while you're in Japan, you should visit this one. This truly is a memorable site, and not just because of the serious number of people all in one place.
  • Nikko (Landmarks & Historical Places / Kita-Senju)
  • 2009/01/28
  • By far one of the best weekend retreats from Tokyo I've ever had. The train ride out there is pretty short and there are tons of hotels with both western and Japanese style rooms. The onsens in this area really are stellar. Just keep in mind that Nikko is not exactly a well-kept secret...places book up pretty far in advance. But if you go to JTB and get a lucky last minute booking, you can save a ton of cash on your trip, and still score an awesome travel package.
  • Velours (Dance Clubs / Nightclubs / Omotesando, Aoyama)
  • 2009/01/28
  • Absolutely fabulous. A little loud later on in the evening but OH-MY-GOD. The atmosphere, the design, the fashion, the experience! If you've been spending the whole day in Omotesando or just up and down the runway, this is your home. Don't forget to be smart - jeans and a t-shirt WON'T cut it here. Be ready for luxury and to party like a rock star.
  • Inokashira Park (Parks & Nature / Kichijoji)
  • 2008/12/26
  • Amazing park just a few minutes walk from the Park Exit of Kichijoji station. There is a zoo, paddleboats, and restaurants in the park. It's perfect for hanami, afternoon walks, a picnic, etc. There are usually performers and artists selling their wares on blankets around the center lake. And the shops and restaurants bordering the park are fantastic. Definite must-see.
  • Yuzawaya (Shopping-Others / Kichijoji)
  • 2008/12/26
  • A mecca of DIY goodness. This amazing store has fabric, notions, yarn, embroidery and quilting items, painting and drawing supplies, papercraft items, artificial flower arrangement items, etc. Basically, any craft you can think of you can find the supplies for here. Get the frequent buyers card and you can rack up 10% discounts depending on the day of the week.
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