The whole object of travel is not to set foot on foreign land; it is at last to set foot on one’s own country as a foreign land.” – G.K. Chesterton

Tuesday, 26 January 2010

Italian @ Garden Bay, Tokyo

I'm not one to make New Year resolutions - not because I don't have the determination to follow through, nor because I want to avoid disappointment at not reaching my goal by the end of the year, but simply because I don't feel I need to (and honestly, I usually forget to make resolutions until well into the year anyway). I suppose perhaps I feel that making resolutions would imply that I'm somewhat dissatisfied with life (which I'm not), and I believe that goals can be set at anytime and improvements can be made along the way if need to. However, with that said, I did set two objectives not dissimilar to resolutions at the beginning of this year: to spend more quality one-on-one time with Zak, and to spend more quality one-on-one time with Rob - which are now possible because my younger sister is around to help out. The former is relatively easy to achieve and maintain because I have a lot of face time with my son during the week, but the latter is a bit more difficult to accomplish due to Rob's long work hours, and with Honey's full day at work on Saturdays, there is only one day in the week that Rob and I can go out without Zak. I plan to go on dates with my husband every two or three weeks, and two Sundays ago we went on our date #2 for the month at Garden Bay, an Italian restaurant at the nearby Harumi Triton Square. This complex is less than 10 minutes away from our apartment on foot, but it's sad to say that we've eaten here only twice before. There are quite a number of restaurants in this complex, and this third dining experience will not be our last at Triton.

My first impression of Garden Bay was that it was more of a wine bar than a proper restaurant, but we liked the look of the food menu planted just outside the entrance and decided to try it out. There was a decent selection of wines, and when the owner found out we are Aussies, he proudly told us that he stocked a couple of Australian wines (one each of white and red). Garden Bay has a nice casual atmosphere with good friendly service, and offers modern Italian cuisine at pretty good prices. To be honest, I wasn't expecting much - it is a wine bar after all with relatively low-priced dishes; however, I was pleasantly surprised with the quality of the food we ordered. Portions were pretty small, but that meant that we could order more dishes and have variety, which we always appreciate in our meals.

We enjoyed Salmon Escabeche, and although cold fried salmon fillets in an oily and slightly acidic sauce may sound a little questionable, it was actually quite good. The acidity of the marinade helped cut through both the fatty salmon and the oil in the sauce. Next we got the Sauteed Garlic Prawns and Scallops which was gloriously fragrant, but unfortunately a bit on the overcooked side.

Salmon Escabeche; and Garlic Prawns & Scallops:

We also shared Fish on Skewers which was simple but delicious. The menu claims that the fish was from Tsukiji, and judging from the fresh taste of the fish, I don't think they were lying. We shared a main dish featuring produce from Ibaraki Prefecture, a Grilled Pork and Potatoes. Pork from Ibaraki is been bred to have good texture and flavour, and this dish was very nice! The pork had been grilled to perfection: crispy yet tender and juicy; and the grilled potatoes and sweet potatoes were tasty too.

Fish Skewers; and Grilled Pork:

No meal is complete without dessert, and we enjoyed a lovely Nougat Glacé. Unlike the last time we had nougat glacé, this one was just sweet enough with chunks of nuts and dried fruits interspersed throughout the block.

Nougat Glacé:

I didn't expect to enjoy such a lovely meal without having to travel far nor pay much. The Harumi Triton Square is also quite family-friendly, and we really ought to come here and try out the other restaurants. Before we left the complex that night, we dropped by the Choco Cro St-Marc Cafe, but instead of buying a Choco Cro (a chocolate-filled croissant which is combining two of Rob's favourite foods), we got an apple custard pastry instead, which was more pricey but (in Rob's opinion) inferior to the Choco Cro.

A triangle pastry of apple and custard:

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