Fusion · Japanese · Vegas

Cafe Sanuki – Las Vegas

After our big meal at Lefty’s, Jacuzzi and I decided to walk around to burn up all those extra calories. He stopped by for a coffee at Starbucks and asked me if I wanted anything. I said no. Let’s listen to “You’re Gonna Go Far, Kid” by The Offspring for this post.

He returned with a Perrier for me and said this was a long time coming, but it was his apology. Fourteen years ago, I spent a month with my brother in Toronto. On a scorching hot day, I asked him to bring me a Perrier when he returned from his class. He refused because he said he didn’t feel like it. It’s been an ongoing joke between us ever since, and whenever he asks for a favour, I always tell him he should have brought me my damn bubble water. Half an hour later, Jacuzzi ruined this special moment by drinking my sparkling water because he was thirsty and too lazy to line up again for a drink. He even had the nerve to balk at me when I refused to carry his half-drank bottle in my purse. I reminded him that he mocked my bag earlier, stating it was too bulky for travelling.

We left for an early dinner at Cafe Sanuki. Unfortunately, the restaurant was short-staffed and was closed for the next hour and a half. Our Uber driver warned us when he dropped us off that it would be near impossible to get a taxi or Uber in the next two hours due to the BTS concert. Jacuzzi and I decided to grab a beer to kill time. He vetoed the nearby pub, stating it looked too sketchy. Instead, we popped into a family-friendly Vietnamese restaurant. At the stroke of 5:30 p.m., we entered Cafe Sanuki.

I have wanted to hit this restaurant ever since I saw Mikey Chen’s Strictly Dumpling Youtube video. He liked the udon so much that Mikey filmed here twice. Cafe Sanuki makes their fresh-made udon using their Yamato udon noodle making machine. The owner even brings in two udon masters from Japan to ensure the quality is up to par with what you expect.

I ordered the dish Mikey recommended – Seafood in Mentai Cream Udon ($12.90). The mentai cream sauce was surprisingly light, and the fresh sea flavour from the egg roe was subtle. My bowl contained ample amounts of white fish, shrimp and calamari. I enjoyed the taste of lemon, garlic and green onions mingled in the sauce. The noodles were fantastic – so soft, slippery and fat. I’ve eaten udon numerous times in Tokyo, and I prefer Cafe Sanuki’s version.

Jacuzzi ordered the Cheesy Carbonara ($9.50). We had both never eaten anything like this before. The super cheesy sauce created almost a pool-like surrounding around the udon noodles. The sauce was so thick and heavy that you could see the long strands of cheese stretch apart when you pulled the noodles up.

What made this dish unique was the torching of the cheese on the top, combined with the smoky bacon pieces. Jacuzzi said this was so much cheese that one person couldn’t possibly finish a bowl. He exclaimed that you’d only love this dish if you dig a lot of cheese and bacon.

We agreed that the udon at Cafe Sanuki was incredible and worth returning to if we came back to Vegas. Simply Dumpling, you did it again! Hitting the Sauce gives Cafe Sanuki two fat thumbs up.

Cheap Eats · Comfort food · Deli · Restaurants · Tokyo

Tokyo – Ootoya Ikebukuro

Before L and I leave for dinner, we would usually have a drink in our room. When L first came to Japan a decade and a half ago, there was only Asahi, Kirin and Sapporo. The beer scene has really taken off and craft beer in Japan is booming.

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Now when we visit an upscale grocery store, there’s a half-dozen options. Each can is between 300 to 500 Yen, depending on the brewery. I prefer Alberta’s craft beer because of its greater complexity. I find Japanese beers one-dimensional.

ipa

Ootoya was a restaurant I found on Yelp that L and I both would not bother returning. It had all the makings of a good restaurant. The interior is pleasant and clean. Service was prompt. Prices were excellent and the presentation of the food was nice. The only thing missing was taste. For this blog posting, I’m going to play some music you’d probably hear at a restaurant in Tokyo.

It’s cheaper to eat at this pleasant canteen than a combo meal at McDonalds in Calgary. Most dishes were around 1000 Yen. We picked a chicken dish and breaded pork in curry with an egg. Both entrees came with rice and vegetable side dishes.

chicken

See how good this chicken looks? Well, there wasn’t much flavour. On the plus side, no flavour usually means it’s not drenched in sugary or buttery sauces. The portions are generous, more geared to Westerners. We were both too full after eating our meal.

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L ordered breaded pork cutlet in curry. The batter was soggy and all the vegetables were overcooked. It’s pretty rare we try a restaurant in Japan and wouldn’t return. The only other place is a noodle house right by west side of Ikebukuro station exit – Tachi Kui Soba Kimidzuka. L hates this place. Whenever we walk by, which is at least twice a day, I make a joke about eating here.

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This stand room only shop sells udon and soba for cheap. Despite its prime location, it’s only busy around lunch time. Most of the customers are business men in a rush to get in and out.

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In 2017, I wanted to try it. We saw another person order zaru soba (cold buckwheat noodles). I know we are supposed to order by number but the zaru soba wasn’t on the menu. L said excuse me in Japanese and pointed to what a customer was eating. The man in charge in the kitchen shouted at L to order by number. I said “Zaru soba” and then showed two fingers. I wanted to add tempura at the last moment and that infuriated the man even more. He slammed the food down on the counter and gave L a dirty look. He didn’t gave L his change back either. There’s no tipping in Japan, so this was a big affront.

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L said it’s a huge insult for a local to not give you your change back. It wasn’t busy inside either. It takes a lot to get L mad, but oh boy, when he does get riled up, watch out. I told L that it was clear that the man wasn’t living the high life and to let it go.

noodles again

How was the food? I’ve had better instant noodles in Japan. Having said that, some of the instant noodles in Japan are better than the ramen I’ve had in restaurants in Calgary. L didn’t eat his food. I thought it was a bit tasteless, the service and the soba. If anyone tells you that you can’t get a bad meal in Japan, just send them to Tachi Kui Soba Kimidzuka and tell them to special order something ;-).