Ramen Jiro, Meguro-ku, Nakameguro, Tokyo

Exterior to Ramen Jiro Nakameguro 1024x576 Ramen Jiro, Meguro ku, Nakameguro, TokyoExterior of Ramen Jiro Nakameguro

I spent 20 days in Japan and I still couldn’t begin to tell you how the address system works. So I’ll just say that to get to this place, you get off at Nakameguro station, you walk South-East on Yamate Dori (one of the few streets with a name!) for about 15 to 20 minutes and it’ll be the place on the right hand side of the road with a big line-up. The particular line-up in the picture above was on a crappy, rainy Sunday right before opening time at 6 pm.

What those good folks were lined up for was one of the branches (unfortunately, not the original) of one of Tokyo’s most revered chain of ramen noodle joints.

Interior to Ramen Jiro Nakameguro 1024x576 Ramen Jiro, Meguro ku, Nakameguro, TokyoInterior of Ramen Jiro Nakameguro

And joint it was! Definitely among the greasier-spooned of places during my 20 days in Japan. This place reminded me of a cramped version of the neighbourhood Souvlaki/Burger hut. Except this joint has manga magazines the size of phone books underneath the counters where you sit.

The menu was a vending machine that dispensed different coloured plastic chips. You took these chips, placed them on the counter and in exchange were served a big heaping bowl of noodles. Obviously since more is always better, we sprang for the most expensive bowl (¥900 or USD $8.85, cheaper than any place in the US or Canada). We were presented with an enormous bowl of thick, firm, house-made noodles; a pile of bean sprouts; and what felt like the entire loin of an innocent pig. All of which was sitting in a liter of broth with suspended pork fat and (roughly) a kilogram of garlic. It is impossible to understate how garlicy this concoction was.

We finished… most of it.

The Bowl 1024x576 Ramen Jiro, Meguro ku, Nakameguro, TokyoThe Bowl

The Broth 576x1024 Ramen Jiro, Meguro ku, Nakameguro, TokyoThe Broth

Posted: July 24th, 2014 | Tags: , , , , , , | No Comments »

Goose Island Bourbon County Stout

For those that know me, I’m normally not a huuuge fan of stouts, however we were stopping by the Goose Island Brewery in Chicago and when they had the Bourbon County Stout I had to give it a try! I’ll try to give a rundown of the usual stuff that one finds in a beer review, the beer was served in a snifter glass and poured with limited head and was more or less black. On those nose I got some obvious malt and chocolate aromas. In terms of flavour, the beer was awesome, with all the great flavours of stouts (vanilla, chocolate, caramel) but all balanced nicely, and coming in at around 15% ABV you could definitely taste the alcohol in this one (not a bad thing). Definitely one of the best stouts I’ve had (along with the AleSmith Speedway Stout), and perhaps will entice me to try some more.

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Bourbon County Stout

Posted: July 23rd, 2014 | Tags: , , , , | No Comments »

Night Out in East End Toronto: Dinner at The Wren, Drinks at The Only Cafe

 Crab Po Boy 1024x579 Night Out in East End Toronto: Dinner at The Wren, Drinks at The Only CafeCrab Po’ Boy

I was looking for a place to eat dinner with some friends before heading to one of my favourite Toronto hangouts, The Only Cafe. The Only is a haven for quality Canadian beer, including carrying one of my favourite Canadian beers, Dieu du Ciel’s Péché Mortel (also the best beer in Canada according to Rate Beer). The Only is also apparently a hostel and as they have no on-site kitchen (strange, for a hostel, I think) they encourage you to bring in food from the outside!

According to the internet, the best place to enjoy an extremely competent meal, reasonably priced and made with seasonal ingredients is The Wren. Not surprisingly, The Wren is also no slouch when it comes to Canadian beers. However, the show-stoppers are clearly the food. On the first occasion, I had the Softshell Crab Po’ Boy (pictured above) with the side salad. This was a fantastic sandwich and featured an entire crab (or two?) topped with their pink pickled onions (used liberally in most dishes) and seaweed salad. I liked it so much that I came on a second occasion two or three weeks later, only to discover that my beloved sandwich was no longer on the menu! I went instead for one of their classics: a pulled pork chimichange (again with the side salad, I like to think I’m eating healthy). Moist insides, crispy outsides, delicious saucing throughout. For $15, it’s one of the best casual things you can sit down and eat with your friends in Toronto.

A word of caution: Danforth, East of Pape is a neighbourhood that is on the come-up… but isn’t quite there yet. It’s not uncommon to run into drunken individuals walking down the street before noon. That said, both of these establishments definitely make the journey worth the trip.

The Only Cafe
972 Danforth Ave
Toronto ON M4J1M1
minilink Night Out in East End Toronto: Dinner at The Wren, Drinks at The Only Cafe

The Wren
1382 Danforth Ave
Toronto, ON M4J1M9
minilink Night Out in East End Toronto: Dinner at The Wren, Drinks at The Only Cafe

Chimichanga 579x1024 Night Out in East End Toronto: Dinner at The Wren, Drinks at The Only CafeChimichanga

Peche Mortal 579x1024 Night Out in East End Toronto: Dinner at The Wren, Drinks at The Only CafePeche Mortal on Tap at The Only Cafe

Posted: July 22nd, 2014 | Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , | No Comments »

Cafe Sushi, Cambridge

After having paid far too much money for mediocre sushi at Fuji on multiple occasions, we found Cafe Sushi. While the outside looks like your typical American sushi joint serving up teriyaki chicken and california rolls, we were pleasantly surprised when we entered to see what looked like a much more serious sushi joint. We plopped ourselves down at the bar in front of the sushi chef and ordered one of their sushi lunches and a couple of their fresh offerings (listed daily on a hand-written board), making sure of course to mention that we wanted to have a piece of the otoro!

Overall the sushi in the sushi lunch was above average, but the fresh pieces (ordered a la carte off the blackboard) were definitely the standouts. Unfortunately ordering the fresh pieces came at a premium, but was still definitely worth it. Cafe Sushi was definitely the best sushi joint we tried in Boston (other than O Ya), so check it out if you haven’t already!

Cafe Sushi
1105 Massachusetts Ave
Cambridge, MA 02138

minilink Cafe Sushi, Cambridge

IMG 3405 e1405990580895 432x576 Cafe Sushi, Cambridge

Tacky Exterior of Cafe Sushi

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Sashimi Lunch at Cafe Sushi

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Fresh Nigiri at Cafe Sushi

Posted: July 21st, 2014 | Tags: , , , , , , | No Comments »

3 Fonteinen Oude Geuze – Armand & Tommy

3 Fonteinen Oude Geuze Armand Tommy 1024x579 3 Fonteinen Oude Geuze   Armand & Tommy3 Fonteinen Oude Geuze (Armand & Tommy)

For those that don’t follow LCBO beer releases, there was a very rare release of the 3 Fonteinen Oude Geuze (Armand & Tommy) last year. The inventory cleared out extremely fast, with some of my local locations saying that they were receiving dozens of calls daily asking when it would be in.

It should be noted that this is the Armand & Tommy release. Four bottles of the “standard” product recently went at auction on Feb 25, 2014 for (USD) $554 (Globe and Mail).

Having finally gotten my hands on some, I can tell you that it was very sour, lemony. Makes lemon juice jealous. Makes my lips purse. Bone dry. Like liquid hay. No spice compared to the red flounders ale. Nose was a bit like old furniture, in your grandmother’s house.

In summary, this is one for the ‘philes. It’s not going to be a crowd-pleaser. You’ll never bring this with you to the beach. However, I consider myself privileged to have had a chance to experience something so unique.

3 Fonteinen Label 1024x579 3 Fonteinen Oude Geuze   Armand & Tommy

Posted: July 20th, 2014 | Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , | No Comments »

Larb Ubol, New York City

We were wandering around Hell’s Kitchen amidst the mass of Thai restaurants and came across Larb Ubol, which had been recommended to us by one of our friends. They were supposed to serve up some solid Northern Thai cuisine. After taking a look at the menu (hoping to see some Khao Soi), it definitely seemed more authentic than the average menu you would see at an American Thai restaurant (wheres those spring rolls at!). To top it all off everything seemed pretty reasonable ($8 lunch special which included an entree and a salad).

We ended up ordering the Duck Pad Ped (fried half duck with spicy curry) and the Kra Prao Moo Krob (crispy pork with a basil sauce over rice). Both were tasty and filling, although both did seem slightly over-cooked. All in all, it was a tasty meal for a pretty good price and definitely better than the other Thai offerings in the area.

Larb Ubol
480 9th Ave
New York, NY 10018

minilink Larb Ubol, New York City

IMG 3726 e1405990870585 576x432 Larb Ubol, New York City

Kra Prao Moo Krob at Larb Ubol

Posted: July 19th, 2014 | Tags: , , , , , , , , , | No Comments »

Loake Single Monk

I was on the hunt for a new pair of shoes and was not really in the mood to kick out the $500 for Carminas, or given my wide feet, risk ordering some Meermins online and also having to wait a few weeks for them. Luckily I came across a pair of Loake’s on sale online and decided to give them a go. Most people consider them to be the English Allen Edmonds (very standard quality). They just actually came in the mail yesterday so decided I would post them on here, I’m not normally a big fan of monk strap shoes but wanted to try something new.

It also looks like the ones I ended up getting are one of their slightly better quality shoes (I believe they make a few different lines), as far as I know they do mark their lower quality shoes as being Goodyear welted in India. Anyways will keep everyone updated on quality/durability/comfort as I actually start to wear them.

IMG 3734 e1405990767314 576x432 Loake Single Monk

Loake Single Monk

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Loake Single Monk – Goodyear Welted

Posted: July 17th, 2014 | Tags: , , , , , , , | No Comments »