Wednesday, September 1, 2010

Hide Margherita, Kagurazaka

When I was in college, we used to play this game called 'Hide the Salami'. Well, sort of. Anyway, every time I see this place I think of this phrase. And then I think of this Australian guy I knew in business school. His name was Haydn, and if you say that in the quaint Antipodean dialect, it comes out like "hidin'". Once I made the aforementioned (that means "I already said it. Were you paying attention?") joke to him in the presence of a woman, and it was very awkward, and I subsequently found that the awkwartudinosity was less because of my blatant rudality and more because the two of them were, in fact, playing that very game secretly. Out of the mouths of babes.

Chain places - in Japan, they've really got it down to a science, don't they? Does this look like a chain to you? Does this look like an authentic Italian restaurant owned by a corporation whose main business is Chinese restaurants (which are also good, by the way)? And is it a chain if they have 16 Italian restaurants, but almost all under different brands (and almost uniformly receiving positive notices from me when I visit)?

What kind of chain serves duck terrine? Come to think of it, what kind of pizza place serves terrine? That's a sign that something's not so fresh in the kingdom of Denmark, but there's nothing rotten here. The terrine was more than serviceable, and very welcome after the mild disappointment at the Pulpo. Chow chow chow. You could confuse this with a partly-cooked meatloaf, but I'd rather not think about that too much.

Tokyo pizza makers have got the Italian thing down to a science. I suppose it's more expensive than difficult to get brick ovens, but it still seems like a big deal in America, and something that people get snobby about, while calling themselves pizzaiola. Here you can't walk down the street in some neighborhoods without being harassed for your coin by a bevy of shops who have their names spelled out in tile above the fire-lit, flame-kist mouths of the Carrara marble pizza immolators that the chefs laboriously dissassembled and packed back in their luggage over 37 trips to Italia in their misspent youths. You know what I'm going to say here - I would rather have been at Baggio if I knew we were having pizza, but this was just fine.

I forgot to mention, even the otoshi was kinda good, olives with pulverized almonds. I don't know how they do this, but I can't remember being disappointed in all my trips to restaurants under this umbrella, and there are a lot of them - some I didn't realize were associated until years later. Whatever they're doing, I respect it. I really do. I think you can use them as a benchmark of reliability, if not excitingness, but there are plenty of times when you want reliable and not exciting, don't you?


Well do ya, punk?
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