Monday, October 22, 2007

B side Restaurant (9th floor of Big Box Takadanobaba)

I've been talking about food a lot lately, so I might as well stick with the theme.

Tonight we went to a new restaurant in Takadanobaba called "B side". Big Box, the concrete behemoth that stands guard over Takadanobaba train station, received a makeover this summer and reopened on October 19th, 2007. Those of us who had been there will recall that the place was dingy and had very little going for it. I used to use the toilet there on occasion, but that was about it (the toilet paper was clean).

Well now Seibu has smacked fresh wallpaper over all the dinginess, so everything should appear clean for a year or two. The elevator even apologized to us by flashing the message, "Sorry, this elevator is crowded." Too true.

Up to the 9th floor we went to have a look at the new tenants. They now have a couple of izakaya's up there which is an intelligent switch from the large, 70's era conference rooms that probably got very little attention. Takadanobaba is a town chock-full of students, and cheap eats are the way to go. Big Box finally figured that out.

We opted for the non-izakaya place that is up there. As mentioned before, it goes by the name of B side and it occupies the south side of the building, so you can see lots of apartment buildings and the JR line tracks from the seats near the windows.

Other positives? Let's see...they have Gargery Stout on tap! Gargery is a Japanese microbrew (?) that isn't half bad although I prefer their Estella (yes, the glasses are really shaped like that. If you need to take a leak while drinking a Gargery, just put the glass in your shirt's breast pocket).

B side is striving to be one of the pricier options in town. The Gargery was reasonably priced at 700 yen per glass (it's near 1,000 yen at my local watering hole), but nothing else was. There were so many things wrong about the place that I don't know where to start...

This was my dinner, beef stew. It set me back 1,800 yen. Wouldn't mind the price so much if it came with something. It didn't. A la carte doncha know. Had to pay extra for bread. And just to give you an idea of the portion I was afforded, I positioned my bread on the edge of the plate. Yeah, I found the bottom of the bowl pretty quickly...

Wouldn't mind the price so much if it tasted better than instant stew. It didn't.

The presentation was nice, but I was shocked by the flavor. The beef stew at Jonathan's family restaurant chain is twice as good (and half the price).

And Yong-nam's pork was about as good as I usually make it. Which begs the question, "Why should we come to your restaurant if you cook about as well as I do?" (The answer should be obvious to those of you who have sampled my cuisine.)

What gets me is that this restaurant obviously hopes to be a fancy alternative for the business people of the area. They got the jazz music right, and everyone is dressed up really nicely, but they serve soft drinks with straws and the expensive cutlery is teamed with paper napkins (much like at our place). And the cherry-colored wood ceiling near the windows? Nope, it's just wallpaper. I could go on, but I already sound foolish enough...

So all together, we spent more than 6,000 yen on McDonald's-level food and two glasses of beer. I recommend giving them some time to sort things out; maybe they'll figure out how to cook in a year or so.

Even then, I'd highly recommend taking your wallet and your stomach to Shakey's Pizza which is just up the street.

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