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Review: Tokyo Sushi Bar

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There is something wonderfully 90s about this place. This might be because that’s when it opened, and it did not really change that much in the last decade in any way but the amount of customers: A small sushi bar, with one of these nice, kitschy service systems: small boats go by in circles and you are supposed to get the right one from there at the right time. Increasingly frustrating if one does not manage to get it the first time, and then misses it the next few times as well.
It obviously was built for better times. So far I never saw these boats in proper action. We only ever got served in that boring, normal, safe way… on the other hand the sushi chef IS making the sushi right in front of you. Which adds quite a lot to the atmosphere.

Tokyo Bar has been upstaged the last few years by more high end Hana Sushi a few hundred meters further down the road, and by the newly opened Miko and House of Sushi, but it still remains one of the best (and cheaper) places to get your fix of nori and raw fish. The owners won awards for their sushi over time and it often has been called one of the best places for Japanese food in Poland. And that it still is. The prices are reasonable, the sushi is good and quick and tastes exactly how it should taste.

On the other hand we do not go back there for sushi alone. Sushi lately has been more of a secondary thing of this place, the real treat being something else on the menu: Okonomiyaki. Unfortunately quite unknown in the West this particular piece of Japanese cuisine tends to mystify both translators and recipients of Japanese media. Often simplified to be something like pizza-like “pancakes” these cabbage concoctions are what gets me back there every single time. Sometimes we would go over half the city just to have a plate of those in the evening and be happy. There is just nothing comparable to having a plate of maki before and then getting a still sizzling plate of these, bonito flakes shivering on top, and then washing it down with some cool beer afterwards. Yes I know, it should be sake, but if it fits so perfect, shouldn’t that be alright?
In any case, Tokyo Bar might not be the fanciest place to eat Japanese at in this city, but it is one of these places where I feel comfortable, and a place where a customer can get some really good food with that. It also is, quite noticeable, a perfect place for a romantic dinner by the way…

Location: TOKYO sushi-bar, Łódź, ul. Piotrkowska 126

Telephone: +48-42 636 26 66
Website: http://www.sushi.lodz.pl/

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Written by krrrk

October 22, 2010 at 6:29 pm

Posted in Food Review

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Review: Da Grasso

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Note: This post is the first one of a series. I was ordering out a lot, and trying new restaurants whenever I had the chance. After all I am now living in a big city (Łódż, Poland), and I want to know where I do enjoy food the best. On the other hand I hardly am the best food critic, a lot of the articles I wrote so far are about those typical places where we ordered food for work. But if you are an expat working here this might actually help you find something to eat. God, I feel so altruistic right now…

Poles love restaurant chains. The reason for that is simple: They trust them.
It’s easier to estimate the quality of the food if you know the chain already, or if the franchise is so successful they actually do have more than one location. Small, single restaurants might be good, they might provide the perfect delight for your tongue, but they also might be horrible cheapskates with bad sanitation and appropriate taste. Many Poles have been burned by restaurants like that and, like the proverbial child, now are unwilling to try new places. The problem isn’t there as much nowadays as it was in the 90s when new restaurants sprouted like mushrooms through Poland, but the mindset still lingers around.
In communist times there were hardly any at all. Most in Łódż actually got pushed into ulica Piotrkowska. The street was supposed to become the bad part of town due to this, a sort of entertainment ghetto, but just ended up concentrating all the restaurants and pubs (both good and bad) into one place. Albeit a very long one. And after communism fell, well, why open places in other parts when everybody was going to Piotrkowska anyway?

One pizzeria that obviously was good and successful enough to open up more restaurants was Da Grasso, a fact that is evidenced by their delivery-time even outside the main hours. Even if the place is just across the street waiting times at any time can be up to 2 hours. 

On the other hand they are cheap. At least if I compare them to Germany. “Welcome to Poland” my colleague commented that revelation. The typical Polish duże (large) pizza will be a bit over 20PLN (ca. 4€) and certainly be too much for a single person. My girlfried and me often order just one and still have leftovers for breakfast. The mało (small) one is of nearly similar size and price. In other countries it actually would be considered a fairly generous “large”.

This actually are the usual prices. In most cases it only gets lower than that.

One of my colleagues criticizes even the large DaGrasso ones for being too small. He prefers another place that delivers 50-60cm wide wagon wheel-like ones… 

So what do we get when ordering there? A rather large pizza, with comparatively few of the selected toppings, but tastefully arranged. The dough is softer and thicker than I normally like it, with a rather large rim. This is, as it turns out, not a bug but a feature. We also get two sauces, garlic and tomato, because when one orders pizza in Poland there always are sauces.
“I’m eating pizza, not any goddamn sauces.” foreigners quip nearly every single time they notice that. but then they still learn to love it. Sauces provide some extra flavor to the large pie, and something to dip the rim in once the topped part is gone. Which makes up for the lack of sauce and spices one sometimes encounters on the pie.

Anyway, Da Grasso makes hardly the best pizza I have ever eaten, but a very decent one. It basically is what I would describe as the most common denominator of pizza in this country. For the times one really wants pizza and one wants a lot of it, and one wants to be sure it won’t suck.

Location: multiple locations
Telephone: various numbers
Web:       http://www.dagrasso.pl/

Written by krrrk

October 18, 2010 at 8:58 pm

Posted in Food Review

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