Tuesday, March 31, 2009

Chailly, Kanda (シャイー)

My friends, I just want to highlight the effects of popularity in Asian culture. (In a broad, overly general, and likely patronizing or imperialistic fashion.) When something is popular, everyone wants to do it. No lie - all ~10 million people who live or work in Tokyo's 23 wards want to come to Kanda for lunch at Bistro Ishikawa Tei every day. Documented fact. This means that despite Wolf and Ponkan's hopeful stance towards leaving the office at 11:30, the first thing we saw when we rounded the corner onto the target street was the end of the line, with, I kid you not, a police officer hanging around the end of it. There were 35 people in that line. The restaurant probably holds 40. And thus EOITwJ was able to make good on the brave creed of not eating lunch in the same place twice for 3 months straight. Otemachi's options are still far from exhausted; the quest goes on, despite the mockery.

We crossed Sotoboti Dori and tried Chailly, a lovely-looking Italian place. Perhaps Kanda is trying to shed its salaryman image, or perhaps not, but certainly there are a few brave chefs like Osaka san who have taken the time and care to produce a stylish, modern restaurant. And we thank them for it! The exterior of Chailly is probably better described as 'French Bistro windows, with the woodwork painted gray instead of red'. You can also recognize it by the big sign over the top that says Chailly...

Inside is definitely stylish - even at lunch it's a bit dark and moody, and they've gone for a lot of dark red (the wide, glossy counter, some of the wall tiles, the woven placemats). They've also gone the full monty on the glassware, which is new, high-quality, and a bit groovy (e.g., the glasses are a bit more angular in the bowl rather than just round). I would certainly enjoy coming back here of an evening for some casual Italian dining bar atmosphere. The intimacy with the kitchen is quite extreme too, as the floor behind the counter is raised, meaning you look slightly down into the kitchen rather than the usual reverse. Very humble of the chef, or maybe just confident, and more entertaining for the customers.

For lunch, you get a poppy seed roll plus a bowl of very fibrous vegetable soup (by which I mean that it had kale, or something equally tough, which makes you feel virtuous and regular when you eat it), a pasta, and a coffee. Pastas today were: penne with fresh tomato and mozzarella (gooey! looked good!), and then three things using the fresh linguine of the day - how often do you get fresh pasta in a standard lunch set? There were 'lots of sardines' in spicy oil, bacon and spring vegetables in garlic oil (I think it was just nanohana, but it looked good, and I loved the way Osaka san popped them in a pasta bucket and into the pasta water to cook them), or my choice: white beans and chicken in tomato sauce. I could go either way on the chicken, but slow-cooked white beans and a nice fresh tomato sauce are certainly a good way to my heart.

This was darn good, my friends, and I would happily eat here again. The espresso was excellent. The waiter further endeared himself to me by remembering that I had stood outside one time when they were full, thinking about coming in. I don't think I even talked to him at that point. (Thanks for the translation, Pon-chan.)

Sakura chan is very excited about talking to Osaka san. You can tell by the pictures.
But I can't find any official site, and there's nothing on the card.

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