Tameals Cafe & Bar

Technically and by self-definition Tameals calls itself a cafe and a bar, and it’s located right in the middle of Tokyo’s JR Shinagawa station.  I happened to be with friends and we were looking for a quick dinner before saying good-night; Tameals was the only place that looked appealing to most (some?) people in the group and which could accommodate our group of 7 people (albeit at separate tables).  We missed out on the “cafe” part but were happy to partake of the dinner & pub selections.

Unfortunately, I didn’t take any photos of the interior, mostly because it was really crowded and some people don’t like having their photo taken by strangers, but it was a nice place.  The main seating area had a very “Irish pub” kind of feel.  There was a main counter at the bar, several smaller tables for 2-4 people on the floor, and a long counter that ran all around the pub.  The counters faced the windows, which were huge–good for people watching.  The counters, tables, chairs, and stools were all done in dark wood which lent a relaxing atmosphere to the room.

Here is a photo of the main bar from the Tameals homepage (see link below):

Tameals Bar

My sons ordered a plate of sausages and a plate of fried potatoes to share between them.  They also got real Coca-Cola in the old-fashioned bottles:

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The sausages were served with a nice European-style mustard.

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The fries were garnished with sea salt, rosemary, and a clove of deep fried garlic.

I opted for the Moroccan rice for 890 Yen.  It was a rice dish topped with a Moroccan sauce (a little spicy, a bit like curry but with a different flavor), fried vegetables, a kebab (lamb?), and a dollop of yogurt.

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Yum.  I love ethnic food, and this was really good.

The best part of my meal?  The mojito!  It was made with lots of fresh mint and just the right amount of rum and soda water.  Very refreshing after a hot afternoon of walking around in Tokyo.

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This was so good, I might try to make them at home.

Tameals is open for breakfast, lunch, dinner and everything in between.

+ What I liked about this place:  Decor was relaxing, good food, good drinks.

– What I didn’t like about this place:  A bit crowded, but it’s in the middle of one of the busiest stations in Tokyo, so that obviously can’t be helped.

Date visited: July 6, 2013

Address:  TAMEALS 品川店、東京都港区高輪 3-26-27  エキュート品川サウス

TAMEALS Shinagawa shop, Tokyo, Minato-ku, Takanawa 3-26-27 Ecute Shinagawa South

TEL: 03-5421-8011

Hours: 7:00am to 11:00pm (until 10:00pm on Sundays and holidays)

homepage:  http://www.conception-gp.com/tameals/

Map:

Map of location *inside* Shinagawa station:

Tameals station map

Litofun Italiano

Again, this is not really a cafe, but a full-on pizzeria.  Still, I had such a good time at this shop that I couldn’t resist writing about it.  I visited the shop with a group of fellow PTA moms.

Here is what the restaurant looks like from the outside:

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We got there before they opened at 11:00am, so we pretty much had the place to ourselves for a while.  It really filled up quickly, though, and there was a huge line on the porch.

The interior was fun and stylish.

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Basically, Litofun is an all-you-can-eat pizzeria.  The system works like this: you order a pasta dish or a casserole, and then you can eat all the pizza you want, plus you get a salad, dessert, and unlimited drinks to go with your entree; the price was 1,290 Yen for all of that.  The restaurant offers fresh pasta dishes, but only 2 types of fresh pasta and a limit of 5 servings each.  Luckily, there were 5 of us in the group, and we got there early enough to be able to order the fresh pasta.  We all chose the Bacon & Basil Carbonara special:

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The salad was actually served first; it was a gorgeous salad of mixed greens, topped with just the right amount of creamy dressing and a dash of powdered paprika.  Very good.

The pasta was excellent too, but actually a little too rich.

The staff bake various pizzas and bring them to your table, and you take a slice (or two) of whatever kinds you like.  You can also request pizza toppings and combinations.

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They also offered sweet, dessert pizzas.  The pizzas are obviously thin-crust, so it’s easy to eat a lot.  The pizzas are made in a gas-fired pizza oven.

Funlitto pizza oven 2

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Here are some photos of the drink bar, the dessert case, and the chocolate cake I selected:

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The desserts were probably not made on-site; they were ok, but nothing flash.  The draw at this restaurant is obviously the pizza.  A good place to go if you want to eat a lot.  I ate so much that I didn’t need dinner that evening, nor breakfast the next morning.

+ What I liked about this restaurant:  Endless, fresh-baked pizza, super-friendly service, nice atmosphere, big tables.

– What I didn’t like about this restaurant:  The bathroom was way too small for the restaurant and looked very cobbled together; no real view from the huge windows–a few potted trees would have been nice. 

Address:  〒710-0011 岡山県倉敷市徳芳117-1 Okayama-ken, Kurashiki-shi, Tokubou 117-1

Tel: 086-441-7418  FAX: 086-441-7428

*There are also Litofun Italiano restaurants in Okayama city and Tsuyama city; check the website (in Japanese) for locations and details.

website: http://www.litofun.co.jp/index.html

Date visited: July 4, 2013

モア ガーデン Moa Garden

Technically this shop is not a cafe, because they don’t serve coffee and there is no where to sit and eat.  It’s basically a bakery, but a really nice one at that; hence, it’s write-up here.

Moa Garden is one of those increasingly rare shops where everything is made on site, and as a result the shop smells FANTASTIC!  If they could bottle that smell, I would be a happy customer.  There is a little window at the front of the shop where you can watch the pastry chef make cakes.

Moa Garden is apparently well-known for their chou a la cremes.  We (the group of PTA moms I was with) visited the shop at 10:00 am, when they open.  At that time, there were already several customers in line for the chou a la cremes.  Of the three types Moa Garden makes, they were almost sold out of two of the types.  Here are some photos of the chou a la cremes in the oven, and the three types for sale:

Moa Garden oven

Moa Garden shou a la creme

The staff had written out explanations on the different types of chou a la cremes, but I couldn’t buy just one or two: I bought a few of each type, for the sake of comparison.  And at 110 Yen each, they are very reasonably priced.  The staff filled them with custard cream *after* we ordered so that the pastry would stay crisp.

The chou a la cremes were all good; I don’t think I would recommend one type over any other.  The pastry was light and crisp, the custard was fluffy and vanilla-scented (with real vanilla!).  Good stuff, all the way around.

I didn’t buy anything out of the cake window, but I will next time I’m in the area.  Look at these darling cakes!:

moa garden cake window

Everything was beautifully presented and topped with seasonal fruit.  I don’t know any child or adult who could pass up one of those adorable Totoro cakes.

The shop is nothing special to look at from the outside, and you might not even notice it if you’re just driving by.

Moa Garden storefront

However, if you need a nice cake or a selection of individual pieces, I definately recommend this shop.  Located just across from JR Nakasho station, it’s easy to find.  Parking available.

+ What I liked about this shop:  Friendly service, gorgeous handcrafted cake, reasonable prices.

– What I didn’t like about this shop:  Nothing, really, but the exterior could use a slight makeover.

Address: 岡山-倉敷市鳥羽26-11 Okayama-ken, Kurashi-shi, Toba 26-11

Tel & Fax:  086-463-6007

Date visited: July 4, 2013.

K’s Garden

After giving up on having lunch at the Iine Cafe & Bakery (see previous post), we went down the road and found K’s Garden.  We decided to stop because it looked like a nice place, and frankly we (my husband and I) were getting hungry.  Also, it was pretty obvious that there weren’t going to be many choices up north.

K’s garden has an extensive menu, ranging from western classics (spaghetti, pizza) to full-on Japanese teishoku (set meal that includes everything).  My sons claimed to not be very hungry, so we decided to get a variety of things and share.  We ordered a curry & rice, a mixed pizza, a bacon and spinach spaghetti, and a plate of fries.

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Curry & Rice with pickles and salad: 1,000 Yen

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Mixed pizza: 800 Yen

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Bacon & spinach spaghetti, salad, and soup: 1,200 Yen

Are you noticing the boiled egg theme here?  My sons both hate boiled eggs, so it was hard to get them to eat at this cafe.  They *did* eat, but only after we’d picked all the egg off.

The curry–I kid you not– was obviously from a heat’n’eat pouch, the kind that’s sold at Deo (the cheapest discount supermarket) for 69 Yen a pack.  I should know, because I always buy some to have on hand for lunches or dinners when I don’t have time to cook a proper meal.  The pizza was also very obviously a frozen entree that had been “jazzed up” with boiled egg.  The crust was absolutely horrible.  The spahetti was the only thing that tasted like it had been actually made in the kitchen.  That being said, it was ok.  Not great, but edible.

We didn’t order coffee or dessert, because really, lunch was WAAYYY overpriced for what it was and I just didn’t have the heart to waste my husband’s money on something that I suspected would be really horrible.  By the time the meal was done, we were just really ready to cut out of there as quickly as possible.  While the cafe wasn’t crowded, there were a good number of other customers in the cafe: there was a middle-aged couple having a Japanese meal, a young couple came in on a date, and a large group of women came in for drinks and dessert.  But why?–the food was really quite awful.

The service was acceptable, but nothing spectacular.

The only reason I could see for the other customers being there was the interior and the garden.  The interior was actually well done, with big tables and lots of room around each table.  The style was kind of natural / French country-ish.  About half of the seating was arranged in a sun room, which looked out onto the garden.

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Sunroom, viewed from the garden.

The garden was gorgeous, but one needn’t waste good money on eating at K’s Garden when the garden can be enjoyed from the parking lot.  It’s clear that K (whoever she is) spends much more time in her garden than in the kitchen.

Here is a collage I made of some of the garden features:

K's Garden (Mimasaka‐shi):garden2 6月22日

+ What I liked about this cafe:  The garden, the interior, sunroom seating with a nice view. The servings were large–if the food was better, this would have been a good thing.

– What I didn’t like about this cafe:  The food was prepackaged / frozen and overpriced.  Weird menu of mixed styles–pick one, either western or Japanese.

Date visited: June 22, 2013

Address (although I suspect you won’t be going):  Okayama-ken, Mimasaku-shi, Yunogo 444 (岡山県 美作市湯郷444)

Hours: 11:00am~9:00pm

Iine Cafe & Bakery

This little casual cafe is located right at the entrance to the North Village Farmer’s Market in Shoo-cho (勝央町; pronouned Shoh-oh-cho) in Northern Okayama prefecture.  When we arrived, there was a huge crowd at the register, so we opted to visit on our way out of the park.  On the way out of the park, guess what?–there was still a crowd at the register.  I couldn’t really figure out why since the menu is incredibly basic: a couple of kinds of coffee, a couple of kinds of tropical juices, a couple of kinds of sandwiches, and bakery items (which were self-serve).  In the end, we didn’t want to wait in line, so my sons just ordered a couple of tropical juices with tapioca beads.

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The baked goods looked (and smelled) great.  Most items seemed almost sold-out:

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The cinammon rolls smelled awesome.  I really wanted a sandwich and a coffee but didn’t want to wait in line.  Maybe next time.

The style of the shop had a very homemade-y feel, like something even I could whip together.  Extremely casual, nothing fancy.  Here’s a photo of the front door; I think you’ll see what I mean:

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I actually like the way they “did” their menu: they painted it right on the window in huge letters.  It looks stylish in a casual way, and is easy to read and figure out what you want to order *before* going inside (assuming you read English, that is).

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I think this cafe probably does good business on the weekends because there’s not really much else to eat at the park other than at an overpriced outdoor Korean bar-be-que and an overpriced Italian restaurant.  For park guests with little kids or for people who just want a quick bite, this is really the only option.

+ Things I like about this cafe:  Inexpensive, simple menu; nice looking baked goods, open atmosphere.

– Things I didn’t like about this cafe:   The perpetual clog at the register…why?  There has to be a better way to regulate the flow of customers so that they’re not backed up.  The tables were really small, seating only 1-3 people.

Here is a link to the park site, if you want to check out the full menu (in Japanese):

http://www.alis-nv.com/buy/bread.html

The photos of the sandwiches look really nice; unfortunatly, they didn’t have any photos of the sandwiches *in* the actual cafe, otherwise I might actually have waited in line for one.

Date visited: June 22, 2013

Address: Okayama Farmer’s Market North Village, Katsuta-gun, Shoo-cho, Oka 1100 (岡山県勝田郡勝央町岡1100番地
おかやまファーマーズ・マーケットノースヴィレッジ)

Nene Goose Cafe

Nene Goose Cafe has been around for a while, and even though it’s fairly nearby and has a good reputation, I’d only been once before.  My friend and I decided to go a few weeks ago, just to try something new(ish).

Nene Goose is situated across the road from Kojima lake, which is a repository of water made of water that comes out of the water recycling plant in the Hachihama area of Tamano-shi.

Nene Goose only has a few types of food on their lunch menu, namely a couple of kinds of doria (a hot casserole-type dish), and 2 kinds of sandwiches.  Apparently the menu NEVER changes.  Since it was a hot day, we both opted for the teriyaki chicken sandwich lunch set.  The sandwich came with a chilled pumpkin soup, a salad, and a drink.

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The bread was kind of like a focaccia but softer (because it hadn’t actually been hot-pressed in a sandwich grill).  The teriyaki chicken itself was good; the sandwich also included fresh lettuce, shimeji mushrooms, and a mayo-wasabi dressing that was really nice.  The soup was also really good, and was well chilled.  The salad greens were pretty normal as far as salads in Japan go, but the dressing was out-of-this-world delicious!  It tasted like an oil-vinegar that had been made with sesame oil instead of olive oil, but it also had a bit of spice too, perhaps a Chinese ra-yu chili oil…?  I’d like to try to imitate this dressing at home; we’ll see how that venture works out.  My friend opted for an iced coffee with her meal; I chose an ice tea, which ended up being an iced Early Grey–yum!  Really refreshing and went well with the lunch.

For desserts, we could choose a cheap add-on dessert (which looked like a yogurt parfait), or pay  full price for something from the dessert case.  We opted for the desserts in the dessert case.  My friend chose the pear tiramisu:

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She said it was ok, but that it didn’t actually have any coffee flavoring in it at all.   Hmmm.

I opted for an orange mousse tart:

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Even though my friend warned me that the desserts at Nene Goose were “really bland”, I didn’t find that to be the case.  The mousse tart tasted of fresh oranges in a creme mousse base, with just the right amount of sweetness.  The crust was a little bland, but that didn’t really detract from the dessert as a whole.

The only really bad thing about the meal was the coffee.  Even by my really lax standards, this was not a very good cup of coffee.

The lunch plates were 800 Yen, plus 400 Yen for dessert and 200 Yen for an extra coffee.  Reasonably priced for such a tasty lunch.

I neglected to take photos of the interior, but I like the way the cafe is decorated–simple, contemporary with lots of wood (floors, tables) and aluminum & chrome.  Here’s someone else’s photo of the interior area:

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The dessert case. (photo by anju)

Nene Goose interior by Natsugou

Nice wood tables and contemporary chairs. (photo by natsugou)

There’s never anyone out on the deck, even on nice days.  I’m guessing that the reason might be due to either the smell or the knats that come off of Kojima lake.  Here’s what the deck looks like:

NeNe Goose by konyharu

(photo by konyharu)

+ What I liked about this cafe:  Excellent service, good food, nice atmosphere, nice interior style.

– What I didn’t like about this cafe:  The coffee.  Otherwise not much, but if I were pressed to chose one point, it would be the never-changing menu.  It would be nice to have seasonal item or two, or at least change the menu once a year or so.

Parking available.

Hours: 9:00~19:00 (open until 20:00 on Fridays and Saturdays); closed on Wednesdays.

Date visited: June 11, 2013

Address: Tamano-shi, Hachihama-cho, Miishi 1607-8 (玉野市八浜町見石1607-8)

* P.S.  For another and different review of this cafe, check out Luc Gougeon’s food blog: http://foodietopography.net/nene-goose-cafe/

Go Blithely

Go Blithely is a popular cafe in the Tamano area;  it is technically a dog cafe in that the owner has her own dog (a huge Burmese mountain dog named “Heidi”) there, and allows customers to bring their dogs into the cafe as well.

Located on the coast in the Gokan area, the cafe offers a nice view from the garden.  The garden is small but tastefully laid out, with the path going around the cafe so that customers and their dogs can walk around.

The lunch menu consisted of 3 choices; my friend chose the grilled salmon lunch, and I chose the fried chicken plate.  Before the main plate arrived, we were served an appetizer plate, consisting of (left to right) simmered pumpkin, Japanese pickled cucumber, and fried lotus root.

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The appetizers were just one bite each.

We were also served a soup just before the main plate.  The soup was a clear broth with cabbage and mizuna in it.  A pretty basic soup that any housewife can make in her sleep.

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The main dish consisted of fried chicken served with Thai sweet chili sauce, a noodle (somen?) salad with mayonnaise and black pepper, a cabbage and carrot salad, a lettuce/cucumber/tomato salad, and a side of rice.  Everything on the main plate was actually very tasty.

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The dessert that came with the lunch was a strange concoction of yogurt with Japanese mochi in it, along with some really annoying chucks of ice; there was also some mango mousse-like stuff in the cup.  This was topped by fresh strawberries, whipped cream, and (wait for it!) a fried shrimp chip.

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Hmmm.  It wasn’t awful, but it WAS hard to eat–all these different and strange things shoved down into a narrow little cup.  My friend is allergic to mango, and since we didn’t get a choice of desserts, I got to eat her dessert as well.  Lucky me.

+  What I liked about this cafe:  The service was nice; I like the fact that customers can bring their dogs; I like the owner’s dog (great personality!), the food was presented well and tasted good; the salads were really fresh; the location is great; the garden is cute and well-maintained.

–  What  I didn’t like about this cafe: Strange combinations–is the menu Western or Japanese?  The appetizers were Japanese, but the main dishes were Western.  The interior is a bit cluttered looking (the owner sells small interior items as well, but they are poorly displayed and out of season.)

Lunch was 1,000 Yen and included the appetizers, main plate, soup, rice, dessert, and a drink (coffee, tea, or juice).  I found this to be a reasonable price for the meal.

Address: 〒706-0315 Tamano-shi Gokan1-141 (玉野市後閑1-141)

Hours: Lunch 11:00~14:00 / Teatime 14:00~  Closed on Mondays

Parking available

(Date visited: June 4, 2013) ➡ If I’d known I’d be starting a cafe review blog when I visited, I would have taken photos of the garden and the main seating area.  Perhaps next time….