Wednesday, September 8, 2010

Antwerp Port, Akasaka

I've ruminated at length before on chain shops in Japan; in summary, if it's a chain, but it's a small chain, and it's consistently good, is there a problem? Only mental, I think, because we feel disappointed that there's no discovery element, and certainly no chef 'cooking just for me'. The Antwerp chain has 6 or 8 or 10 branches, and they all look very much like something plucked out of Belgium (had I, in fact, ever been to Belgium, I might be able to corroborate that). [Oopsie, they only have 4 branches, and I've actually been to all 3 in Tokyo. Oopsie.]

Inside is the same - perhaps it's even comical in its adherence to the form? Doesn't bug me much - I've spent vanishingly little time in Europe, so this is still fun for me.

As is Belgian beer, like Nello's Blond. Although I can't help wondering what the prices are like in Belgium... Antwerp Port and its sister shops have smaller menus that some places (maybe 20 beers? and on tap only Leffe, which is good, and Hoegarden and Stella, which are OK), but the food is a bit better.

This looks like real food, doesn't it? It's just sashimi, elevated with tomatoes and grapefruit and daikon sprouts. An odd combination, and one that doesn't permit much fish taste to get through.

The meat taste certainly gets through here though. I suppose they can't be making these themselves, but it's only in the last year or so that people have started saying 'salumi' all over the place and getting snobby about having in-house practitioners. Before that, I think the time and difficulty of fermenting your own sausage were too much hassle - as indeed they will likely be again in a few years.

This was a 'pre-theater' dinner, so Swannie and I were going easy. The only other thing we ordered was this 'Tokyo vegetable' plate, and it was mediocre. Not like Kamakura vegetables, or Shinshu vegetables, I guess? On the other hand, there's plenty of countryside in Tokyo state as opposed to the 23 wards that are the main population center. If you look at the map, you'll see the 'tongue' of Tokyo stretching way out to the west, presumably with places that were annexed for tax / infrastructure reasons. I like to think of it as the Los Angeles phenomenon.

And I like to think Antwerp is dependable, like the McDonald's of beer chains.

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