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Pizza in Japan

Day ten and we were craving a taste of home. I wanted Pizza Hut, but that wasn’t really an option. We had seen a Dominos a few days back, but that was further away and there would be no guarantee that it would taste like what is offered at the locations in Vancouver. So we settled on our neighbourhood’s Italian joint.

We had considered visiting a few days back. The menu in both english and Japanese, and the plastic examples of the dishes served were enough to instil confidence in the place. I was just hoping for authentic Italian style cuisine. No Japanese twists, no sweet flavours where it should be salty. And thankfully they did not disappoint. The Italian flags on each of their uniforms and western hip hop playing over head further proved that they were going for a more western experience. I was most amused by Eminem rapping about his mom’d spaghetti during our stay.

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A walk down a set of stairs opened up to a beautiful and cozy setting. I was not expecting something this dressy. Light coloured walls, bubbled low hanging light fixtures, hardwood floors, and a tiled bar meant to mimic brick. Large spacious tables paired with couches offered comfort for larger groups. A few even had cubicle-like walls providing additional privacy. They were designed for drinking and the celebration of festivities. Anticipating extended stays, there were even metal bars installed behind each booth-like seating arrangement. It allowed for coats to be hung on the hangers provided. No taking up extra room with bulky winter jackets. They were definitely looking out for the guest’s experience. Each matte table was pre-set with metal baskets of metal cutlery and a stack of side plates. Perfect for sharing.

Behind the elevated kitchen you could actually see the two chefs preparing your meal from scratch. One was on pizza duty near the oven, the other over a stove top cooking pasta. Each wore a black apron over their white smocks, with a tall chef’s hat on their head to complete the look. They knew they were on display, especially for those seated around their bar, and certainly dressed for the extra attention. Similarly servers wore white shirts with black aprons around their hips.

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The lunch menu was an abbreviated offering of pizza and pasta. Just the basics displayed on laminated cards, collected together by a ring. No pepperoni pizzas or Hawaiian; no meat on any pizza let alone a “meat lovers”, in fact it was an all vegetarian offering. Slight variations on tomato, cheese, and basil.

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For it being made to order food, it came surprisingly fast. Though the portions were much smaller than those served in Canada, lunch time or not. As a result we cleaned our plates and were still left hungry, even with the addition of a complimentary side salad to start. Though with their flavours I really couldn’t see myself enjoying anymore as a large order of either pasta or pizza. Off to find something else to satisfy this craving for western food on.

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An individual sized “Pizza Margherita” went for 815yen, about $8.50 Canadian. There was lots of olive oil drizzled on top of both the pizza and pasta. Was this suppose to be a light drizzle? It didn’t take away from the food under, but did make the presence of wet wipes necessary. Though the olive oil on the bread-like pizza crust was nice. Other than that this was a pretty standard tomato and cheese pizza.

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Spaghetti and fried eggplant in a mozzarella tomato sauce for 723yen, $7.60 Canadian. After his first bite, my partner announced that it almost tasted Italian. The spaghetti was good, but no where near the realm. of authentic Italian cuisine. The noodles were over cooked and the sauce a lot watery. I would have liked some fresh Parmesan and grated pepper over it, for added flavour and salt. The eggplant was the best part, cooked well but not deep fried.

Would I come back? – Yes.
Would I line up for it? – No.
Would I recommend it? – Yes.
Would I suggest this for someone visiting from out of town? – No.
It was nothing special when I flashbacked to the Italian restaurants I have enjoyed in Vancouver. But when you consider this is Japan, and Italian must be scarce here, this was a decent rendition. The perfect restaurant for a transition to Italian cuisine. Light pizzas and pastas with seafood. Familiar, friendly. And with boxes available you can even take their pizzas to go. Don’t deny your cravings.