Chinaroom: All You Can Taste Dim Sum

Romantically named "A Touch of Heart - all you can taste dim sum"; Chinaroom's all you can eat Hong Kong specialties are not to be missed. Located in Roppongi's Grand Hyatt, for just 3,900 yen you can eat not only some amazing dim sum, but also one of the best value (value = cost in relation to deliciousness) all you can eat menu's in Tokyo.

The attentive waiters started by bringing us the specialty of the day, a Chinese-style sashimi, which was as beautiful as it was delicious, topped with a soy and sesame dressing. This was followed by our choice of as many dumplings and other dishes as we could taste. Without delay we went ahead and ordered majority of the menu including xiao long bao, steamed buns, gyoza, sweet and sticky chicken wings, stiry-fried vegetables, a delicious thinly sliced brazed pork and various other delights. There was no msg-laden, starchy sauces in sight. Each dish was delicately prepared and presented, and bursting full of flavour. To finish, whether or not you are ridiculously full, make sure you try the coconut and tapioca pudding, and the sweet sesame dumplings for dessert (we were over-excited and ordered the 'moriawase' (dessert mix) just to have a taste of them all!

Slightly greedily, we strayed from the menu and also ordered the grapefruit and ginger juice; packed full of chopped ginger it was the perfect balance of sweet and sour. As an added benefit it was also a great way to help digestion and give you some energy after a 3 hour all you can eat session.

So far Chinaroom is one of my favourite Tokyo food finds, which I highly recommended as a perfect spot for an indulgent weekend lunch or a special celebration.

Chinaroom is easily accessed from Roppongi Station. Follow the signs to the Grand Hyatt.
A map can be found here.
Bookings one week-ahead recommended.


Ivy Place - Daikanyama: Good Food, Better Location

Ivy Place is the latest venture from the now very popular T.Y Harbour Group, who also do T.Y Harbour Brewery, Beacon, and Cicada in Tokyo, just to mention a few. And whilst the decor and menu are nice and comfortable (both the chairs and the food), I think Ivy Place slightly lacks the spark of T.Y's other offerings.

The definite positives of Ivy Place is it's location in the new Daikanyama T-Site, and thus it's proximity to other fun weekend activities. After you've eaten you can spend the afternoon browsing the boutique stores, or spend hours skimming through the books and magazines at the new Tsutaya (the cook book section is particularly impressive with lots of English versions available!). The menu, although lacking the steak options which make Beacon so popular, is also very tasty, with modern flat bread pizzas (ours came topped with ricotta, tomato and anchovies), snapper carpaccio with yuzu dressing, various pastas and one extremely delicious citrus risotto with crisp pancetta. The servings seem slightly smaller than at T.Y Harbour and Beacon, but the flavours are spot-on.

Ivy Place also offers breakfast between 7 and 11am, the menu looks nice, and I was disappointed they didn't stretch it past 11 (given it was a Sunday and I only woke up around that time). With On the Corner now also suddenly disappearing off the Tokyo brunch scene, my quest for 2012 is to find somewhere new without spending a fortune at a high end hotel. 

Snapper Carpaccio with Yuzu Dressing - Tangy and Yum
Flat Bread Pizza - with Ricotta, Tomatos and Anchovy
Citrus Risotto - One of my favourites
For dessert - Sweet Potato and Maple Pudding
Reminds me a bit of the Brady Bunch house...
Ivy Place is easily accessed from Daikanyama Station on the Toyoko Line.

Map is here
Website is here
Reservations recommended


Not Japanese Pizza! Okonomiyaki in Tsukishima

I often wondered why I hadn't eaten okonomiyaki in Sydney. There are plenty of delicious, authentic Japanese restaurants, but I would always leave having eaten sashimi, teriyaki chicken or gyoza. Then it struck me, often translated as "Japanese Pizza" or "Japanese Pancake" on English menus, it is not something I would choose to eat at a Japanese restaurant. If I wanted pizza I would go to the Italian place down the road. The literal translation, "things I like cooked", would be a much more appealing choice, and yummy things cooked it is; pork, cabbage, noodles, ham, caviar (tarako), and kimchi, mixed up with egg and batter and cooked on a grill in front of you to golden brown perfection. And not to forget the best part, topped with a sticky sweet sauce and Kyupie mayonnaise.

If I've got your attention, and you are dying to find some good Okonomiyaki in Tokyo, then there is a whole street of it waiting for you in the eastern Tokyo suburb of Tsukishima. Called Monja-Dori,  the long street is named after Okonomiyaki's popular, runnier cousin Monjayaki. Exiting from Tsukishima station you are inundated with endless choices of curtain covered, traditional eateries. As we walked down Monja-Dori, passing the salary men, families and couples sitting at their personal barbecues carefully cooking their dinner, we stumbled upon an old favourite of my friends, appropriately called Tsukushiya Monja (English menu available). You can find it towards the end of the street with the bright yellow and black curtains out the front.

Whilst my friend was dying for some monja-yaki with tarako, I couldn't go past the pork and kimchi okonomiyaki. Mixed up, fried and sauce-laden, it was cruchy on the outside, hot and soft on the inside. Of course, one is not enough, so we opted for Tsukushiya's famous "Special Modern-Yaki", special and modern due to the soba noodles mixed in with the batter, egg fried on one side and bacon on the other. Quite a culinary feat, which we left up to the well-practiced skills of our friendly waitress.

If you have visitor's to Tokyo, or just want to try something authentic and delicious, head on a train towards Yurakucho all the way to Tsukushima station. The 'things you like cooked' are hot, and the beer is cold!

Mixed up and ready to go

Monja-yaki - better than it looks, trust me

Add some bacon strips
And a squeeze of mayo

Tsukishima can be accessed from the Oedo and Yurakucho subway lines.
For Monja-Dori, take exit 7.

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