Category Archives: restaurants

The Restaurant from Hell


In the nearly six years I’ve lived in this neighborhood, I’ve been to this second floor restaurant three times. Each time it has been reincarnated: different name, somewhat different menu, slightly different decor. Each time it has been horrible. In my wide-eyed innocence, I keep expecting it to improve. I tried it once when we first moved to this neighborhood. I don’t remember what was so horrible, only that I kept reminding myself not to return. But two years ago, it changed hands and I blithely tried it again. I wrote about it at the time. Don’t read this if you have a weak stomach: Burger Blues

Not long ago, it transformed into a steak house.I donned my rose-colored glasses and climbed the stairs. I should have turned tail and fled when the water glass was made of plastic.

water glass

The steak arrived on a sputtering cast iron pan, a good start, I innocently thought. I took a bite. It was rubbery, half raw, served on a bed of bean sprouts, flanked by a tiny pile of humiliated canned corn, and accompanied by a plate of plain, sticky, white rice. Don’t get me wrong–sprouts are really tasty that way, and Japanese rice is delicious, but steak is meant to be served with potatoes. End of story. I left the restaurant full but with that half empty feeling you get when you know what you want but don’t get it.

Lessons learned:

  1. Even after nearly 30 years of living in Japan, I still have a Western bias about certain things.
  2. If I want authentic Western food, I have to make it myself.
  3. That building is cursed. Perhaps the bodies of innocent children are buried in its foundation or its constructed on an ancient Ainu burial ground. Whatever the reason, the universe clearly dislikes the property and it should be avoided.


141218_1255~01Glory be, Sangenjaya finally has a Mexican restaurant…kind of. It’s actually Ryukyu (Okinawa) Mexican, and it took some head scratching to figure out why. For one thing, they have taco rice, which is rice with taco fillings on it, a dish which originated in Okinawa. Also, the lunch set includes coffee, oolong tea or sanpincha. I had to ask–that’s jasmine tea in Ryukyuese. And the fajitas came with the usual onions and peppers but also some bean sprouts tossed in. Oddly, though, the tortilla warmer was made in the good old USA. I didn’t think anything but bad movies and junk food came from there anymore.

The waiter asked me how it was and I smiled and said it was very nice. “There’s fresh coriander in the salsa, isn’t there? Very nice indeed.” A moment later he came back from the kitchen with a small bowl of chopped coriander for me. And when we paid the bill, they’d knocked 300yen off the cost of my chimichonga, no explanation given.

I guess it’s true that a smile goes a long way.

The Dalai Lama said happiness isn’t about pleasure; it’s about satisfaction. I’m satisfied, so I’m sending ripples of happiness into the universe. Please feel free to grab one. I can always make more.