Wednesday, January 5, 2011

Y'villa:ge, Kanda (ワイ・ヴィラージュ)

Hmmm, this is shaping up to be a New Year's celebration week of mediocre lunches. At least it matches the excitement we all feel to be back at work. A diligent reader and good friend mentioned this place a long time ago, and today I finally tried it while doing some other errands in Kanda. It was, as they say, meh. The exterior kinda clues you in...

And the inside finishes it off - it's the jumbled, slightly dingy atmosphere and the formica tables. You can tell it's not a chef who's really going for the brass ring as far as his French cooking is concerned (although that map of Italy gives me pause for thought - is he trying to be Italian? Am I judging by the wrong rule book?). He does have a diploma proclaiming himself a certified sommelier though (in French), and that plus Y350 will get you a tall latte at any Starbucks (or [    ], as their new logo would have it).

Perhaps I was also unfair by getting something resolutely un-French? They were out of the hamburger steak lunch, which left pasta, sauteed fish, or doria. I guess doria comes as an adaptation of some word from some European language, but in New Jersey we call it "white rice topped with stuff, white sauce and cheese, baked". In this picture I've cunningly displaced a few spoonfuls to show you (and remind myself) that it was 'chorizo' and broccoli. The creaminess and cheeziness is comforting; it makes up for the whiteness of the rice and the general inferiority of what Japanese people call 'chorizo'. (Honestly, is there anything better than a nice chorizo taco, with the fresh squeeze of lime juice running out the bottom when you pick it up, pooling with the bright orange spicy pork fat? I'll help you here: "No.")

The proliferation of all-one-price tsukemen shops in Japan in recent years has messed up one of my long-held theories about Japan: you get what you pay for. 5 years ago, it was stunning to find a place that offered 'free super size' for lunch. Maybe this is just because I was always eating in Roppongi? Now the tsukemen shops offer you 50% and 100% volume uplift for the same price. Well, this brought me back to reality. There's a reason why the Special Weekday Y50 Dessert is Y50 - that's what it's worth. In both size and quality terms. That's a tiny dessert fork, the size of my thumb, shown for scale.

They might be able to pull it out at night, and they claim to focus on wine.

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