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The Michelin Guide has consistently awarded more stars to Tokyo dining establishments than any other city in the world. I created this blog as my personal Tokyo restaurant guide, but I hope you will also enjoy reading it. If you have been to any of the same places feel free to leave some comments about your own experiences.



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Thursday, 26 June 2008

Peking Hokkaien Restaurant, Nishi Azabu 北京料理 北海園 西麻布

Fellow amateur physicists, I declare the matter resolved - time travel is possible. All you need to do is walk through the doors of the Peking Hokkaien Restaurant in Nishi Azabu. From the moment you enter you will be transferred to the Chinese restaurant of your childhood, complete with studded vinyl spiral banquettes, yellowing ink paintings, decorative fans and linoleum floors. Actually I think the overall decor is kind of cool once you surrender to it. On a recent visit for dinner, I would say I was more intrigued than impressed by the overall experience. Upon sitting down, the rather attractive Chinese waitress (of a certain age as they say in France) immediately set to selling us the 6,000 yen set menu which includes shark fin soup and Peking Duck. Any protests I made in the direction of ordering a la carte were dismissed in a beautiful, persuasive hybrid of English and keigo in a Chinese accent.

So I relented and persuaded my headstrong dining partner just to go along in case things got out of hand. We started with a mixed entree which had some of the usual pickled thingies and some bbq pork. Then we were served the shark fin, which was actually rather nice (if a little aged) and served in a thick brown gravy. Next we were given two battered prawns in ginger sauce which again were pretty good. This was followed by some sweet and sour fish which really took me back to the good old days of Sydney suburban Chinese. Next came the Peking Duck which comprised of one pancake each . This was not good Peking Duck - there was hardly any taste and certainly not that crispy duck skin vs the soft pancake contrast which usually makes me wild with desire (for another).

This was followed by some acceptable Chinese vegetables, yakisoba which had been baked crispy and a prawn dumpling. At various intervals throughout the course our server kept mentioning something that sounded like "suica" (the word for watermelon) and I kept on saying "no watermelon for me" until my dining partner, who is much more accomplished in Japanese told me that she was actually asking if we wanted to order anything further "tsuika". Well at least I didn't think she was asking about my train pass (which is also a suica to those out of towners reading this).

Well we were much too full for that, especially after a warm Tsingtao and a couple of much colder nama-biru. The food was just on the better side of OK and you could go here if you're in a bit of an ironic mood...except at 9,000 yen per head this place is not cheap (I'd have to call this place full fare economy class) so it might be best for you just to take my word for it.


北京 北海園 (西麻布)

物理学者では決してないが、夢が実現した。タイムトラベルは可能である。西麻布にある北京北海園へいけばそれが可能になる。店内は、昔流行していた、丸いテーブルをつつむようにデザインされた椅子、壁には古びた絵とうちわのデコレーションにリノリウムの床。そこへ一歩足を踏み入れるだけで、子供のころよく行った中華料理店のことを思い出させてくれる。正直なところ、このレストランに私は興味をそそられっぱなしで印象の良し悪しはあまり覚えていない。テーブルに座ると、すぐに美顔のウェイトレスが現れ、6,000円のセットメニューを英語と敬語を巧みに使い薦められた。もちろん、私たちが、それ以外のメニューを検討する暇も与えてはもらえなかったのは、言うまでもない。

丸めこまれた私は、頭の固い食事仲間をなんとか説得し、このセットメニューを注文することにした。お漬け物とバーベキュー・ポークから前菜は始まり、肉汁につけて食べる鮫のヒレが出された。もうすこし、軟らかければなおよかったが、思ったよりも美味しく頂いた。その後は、くるま海老が二匹、バターとショウガで味付けされてたものでとても美味しくいただいた。これに続いて、スイーツと酸味の効いた魚が用意されていた。これがとくに昔よくシドニーで食べた中華レストランのことを思いださせてくれた。そうこうしているうちに、北京ダック(パンケーキ状のものに包まれた)が出されたが、正直に言うとあまり美味しくなった。本当なら、パンケーキの柔らかさに包まれてだされるカリカリ北京ダックの舌触りが最高でもうひとつ食べたいという気分に駆られるがそれもなかった。

次にだされたものが、中華焼きそばで具は春雨を揚げたものにクルマ海老の餃子がついていた。ところで、ウェイトレスが何度も、「すいか?」と話かけてくる。すいか(西瓜)の嫌いな私は、そのことを何度伝えても話がかみ合わない。私より幾分日本語が堪能な食事仲間が、「すいか」ではなく「追加」、つまりなにかほかにオーダーがありますかということらしい。さすがの私もJRのSuicaだとは思わなかったが、この言葉は知らなかった。

食べることが好きな私たちもさすがに(すこし温めに感じた)青島(チンタオ)と対照的な冷たい生ビールを飲みほしていたので、追加オーダーは見送ることにした。食事は比較的美味しく、決して悪くはない。ただ、一人9,000円ほどの予算を見込まなくてならないので、中華がどうしても食べたい気分の時でないと金額に見合うとは決して言えない。私の評価はエコノミークラスということにしておこう。

http://r.gnavi.co.jp/g885800/
Tel: 03-3407-8507

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