Wednesday, May 6, 2009

Jokouen, Monzennakacho (叙香苑)

What's that you say? EOITwJ never goes to Chinese? You're right, it's an awfully rare occurrence. Why is that?'s a bit samey, and they never have beef with broccoli. We have to have our American-style Chinese food, don't we? No, seriously, we just don't enjoy Chinese food that much. We don't know what it is. Please take us to a place that will blow us away.

But sometimes, sometimes, we do crave the stuff. Last time was quite a while ago, and we tried to go to the place almost above the station in Monnaka, next to La Rainette, and it was closed. CLOSED?! What happened to the tradition of Chinese restaurants always being open, the one that led the wandering Jews to dine there on Christmas? That tradition didn't make it to Koto ku, it seems. But on today's holiday, they were open (and doing lively business, thanks to the closures of lots of other neighborhood places).

It's a pleasingly normal place, living right up to expectations. Formica abounds, as do red paper lantern-like decorations. There were these charming and hygenic toothpick dispensers on the table; I was pretty fascinated, but managed to demonstrate a modicum of maturity by popping out only one. Oh, and the service is authentically grumpy. Love it!

Food-wise, it was oddly not disappointing. One thing that looked delicious on the menu, garlic chive omelette, looked fairly awful when it turned up in person - sort of small, shriveled, and grayish. But despite looking awful, it tasted great! Somehow it was all garliccy and creamy and chivey inside, and thoroughly enjoyable. I tend to think it's a good idea to have ebi chili at this kind of place, an element of fixation that I don't carry over to other cuisines as much, and here that proved to be a bad fixation.

It's not that the sauce tasted bad - like the decor it was tacky yet comforting. Imagine light-orange chili ketchup, and you won't be far off. In addition to the shrimp, they had populated the plate with thick bits of fried noodle, because nothing goes with sweet, spicy sauce better than oily fried bread chunks! And I don't mean this in a bad way; ever the weird foreigner, I found this very pleasing when spooned onto rice. The gyoza were browned, crispy, jammed with garlic, and actually acquitted themselves well.

So yeah, nothing wrong here, and certainly sufficient for satisfying any Chinese cravings in the immediate station vacinity. Interestingly, this cool site ranks it very very badly, but the site is just focused on tantanmen (and note that it ranks Gomaya very highly, yay!), which I could well imagine are not a specialty at's clearly not Szechuan at all (judging by the Ketchup Shrimp!).


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