Thursday, May 19, 2016

Pho Dragon in Nishi Azabu

Looking for authentic Vietnamese food in Tokyo? Pho Dragon is your place.

Before visiting Vietnam last year, I knew nothing about Vietnamese food. There just wasn't any where I grew up, and I'd only had it once here in Tokyo. The general attitude seemed to be that there isn't much good Vietnamese food in Tokyo, and I'm not aware of any Vietnamese communities the way Tokyo has Chinese and Korean neighborhoods.

But Raku found out about a little place, very close to Roppongi, run by a Vietnamese woman. She can be a little brusque at first, but she's actually really sweet. By the end of our meal we had heard all sorts of things about her family and her life. As more people came in, we realized they were mostly regulars as she asked about their recent trips and caught up with each person. She speaks Vietnamese, English, and Japanese and is eager to explain all the condiments and how to eat your food. 

Which brings me to the delicious food. At lunch time the menu is mostly pho sets which come with a spring roll and salad. The spring rolls were so fresh and bursting with herbs. Raku thought they were some of the best she's had in her life, and she's had a lot so I trust her. We both got the beef pho (an aromatic soup with rice noodles and meat), which we enjoyed immensely, though next time I might try the spicy beef. She serves them with a house made pepper paste, hoisin sauce, and another sour sauce, as well as sriracha which she makes sure to mention is from America and not as good as her homemade sauces. The dinner menu is much bigger, and it's posted on the walls, so you can drool over it while you eat lunch. We were so caught up in eating that neither of us thought to take a single photo of our food, but if you get the chance you should check it out. And if you're not in Tokyo, I hope you can find some pho wherever you are! 

Pho Dragon
Hours: 11:30-2:00, 6:00-10:00, closed Sundays
Phone: 03-3479-0658
Address: 1-11-13 Nishi-Azabu, Minato-ku, Tokyo

Friday, May 6, 2016

Golden Week and a Visitor

It's hard to believe that we're already a week into May. Golden week has come an gone, and so has John's mother's visit.

We had such a great time with her. It's always fun to show off our favorite places and introduce people to Japanese food and culture. One of the highlights of her trip was meeting up with an exchange student she hosted six years ago. Shiori was only 13 when she came to the US, and now she is a beautiful self-assured college student! We went to her hometown and had a beautiful lunch at the restaurant where she has a part time job.

When we mentioned that we were going to Kamakura, one of the ancient capitals of Japan about an hour from Tokyo, Shiori recommended a temple that I'd never heard of - Hokoku-ji, which might just be my new favorite. It's a beautiful zen temple with a bamboo grove, a little tea house, and caves carved into a mountain - totally deserving of it's own blog post. I really think it rivals the beauty of Kyoto.

We fit so much into just a week, I think we're all still recovering from it. But I'm so glad we had the opportunity!

Gorgeous Japanese Lunch
Hokoku-ji in Kamakura
Afternoon Tea at The Mandarin Oriental
Our favorite yakitori place
Nighttime in Shinkjuku