Japan is the better Italian at Yomenya Goemon Spaghetti House
Looking for great pasta and pizza? Japan is the place to be. Why not Italy? Many reasons.
For starters all those Italian extra treatments are tremendously annoying, like coperto and servicio. In case you are planning to go to Italy you should know about coperto (the fee made up by Italian restaurant owners that applies for your napkin and cutlery – no joke) and servicio (the fee that applies for this kind of ‘service’). And don’t forget to leave a big tip – on top of all that. Everyday practise we experienced at restaurants in Milan, where we spent about a week over New Years Eve two years back.
Italian food is seriously over acclaimed (except in Japan). What we got served in Milan and Italy’s ski resort was average at best. Mainly appallingly cheap quality and lovelessly prepared dishes. Nothing you can’t get a regular supermarket. Not an inch better than what you can do at home by opening a can of tomatoes. I really like ‘Italian food‘ but Milan was a real dumper.
We ate out everyday in Milan and service can be classified under ‘this tourist is never going to come back so why bother’‘. On New Years Eve it might just happen that menus from which you have ordered will be magically altered and ‘adjusted to the occasion‘ – so that when you are presented with the bill prices will have sky-rocketed, not resembling anything what you saw in the menus given to you when you entered. Confronted staff will react with worst stereotypical temperamento Italiano.
Noodles came to Italy from Asia. Italy in turn had better marketing strategies and so it happened that it is popularly ascribed to be the pasta and pizza specialist. From what I saw and tasted, they are not.
I can walk into any Japanese restaurant that serves pasta and pizza and enjoy food that will be a lot better than what I ever had in Italy.
In Japan, eating out is an experience. You will get served the best, treated like an honourable guest and eat meals that require the skill to be expected at restaurants. Something I could not easily cook at home. Something special. And memorable.
So yesterday we went for Japanese Italian food in our neighbourhood of Setagaya. There is a very reasonably priced pasta place next to Kyodo Station.
Tomek trying to figure out the name of the place but our smartphone had trouble deciphering the signs. The Yomenya Goemon Spaghetti House is a Japanese restaurant chain which opened its first branch in 1976.
You can check out their website and various locations in Tokyo: http://en.yomenya-goemon.com/
Just by looking at the window display my mouth waters. This is a typical restaurant with food models, one of many you will find anywhere in Tokyo. Even on the outskirts of I-love-it-here Setagaya.
Standing in front of those awesome real-looking suggestions it is difficult to narrow down your choice to just one dish. In Italy I would have read the menu going back and forth because I would not know what to get, I wouldn’t know what the dish would look like and I would worry not to get an upset stomach.
There are no pictures of offered meals in European restaurants generally and the concept of food models has not made it to the continent. Sometimes there will be random pictures downloaded from the net, not related to what your dish will actually look like. Most likely, you will have no idea what you will get until you are presented with the plate.
The kitchen will always be locked away from your sight. I am not surprised. Hygiene standards are so bad there are endless documentaries about food scandals and even TV shows that help clueless restaurant owners to cook.
In Europe, eating at restaurants as a tourist is a lottery. I was seriously sick suffering from severe food poisoning in Poland, when my friend said: ‘You were just unlucky‘. She nailed it. Eating out means there is a chance that you are going to be lucky with your food or an equal chance you will not be so lucky.
In Japan, you can consider yourself a lottery winner when entering a restaurant. You will be able to see what is going on in the kitchen, or alternatively the cook will be preparing your meal in front of your eyes.
Spaghetti vongole for me.The model.
What should I say. I would have licked my plate clean if I wasn’t in Japan trying to be a better person and adjusting table manners.
My real plate. I enjoyed free refills of water, a neat table set and an extra bowl for empty vongole shells. Tiny things that make all the difference.
Tomek got a set which included spaghetti with seafood and vegetables, a soup, a fresh side salad, a drink and a chocolate cake.
The tableware will be exactly the same as in the window display. Notice the ‘gum sugar’ – you can sweeten the drink yourself.
Desert. Soft and warm chocolate cake that had a lusciously chocolaty centre with ice-cream and a cookie.
Happy customers and the cookie-monster. You can see part of the kitchen behind me.
The bill. Although I also got an extra starter soup this was not added to the bill. Nor the water which is always complementary in restaurants in Japan. We only paid about 21 Euros for our dinner and a memorable evening.
No tips. Tipping is a custom not known here which makes going out so much easier. You know exactly how much you are going to spend on your meal. No awkward situations.
When talking to Japanese people that have been to Europe they said that they never knew how much to give so as to not offend the waiter. I totally agree that tipping is an unnecessary bothersome situation and can make someone feel less at ease. Especially, if service wasn’t great.
In Japan, you just pay what’s on the bill. Simply thank the waiter, they will thank you and everyone is happy. And that’s all. Easy, smooth and much appreciated. Japanese service.
No coperto, no servicio, no Italiano mafiosi tutti ristoranti per favore.
Arigato gozaimashita Japan for you are the better Italian.