The Pink Cow - Assorted Cuisines (Takokuseki Ryori)
Reviewed by Allan Miles
Address - Shibuya 1-3-18, Villa Moderna. (directly across from Aoyama Park Tower)
Opening hours - Tuesday to Sunday 1 pm to 11:00 pm, buffet on Fridays and Saturdays from 5:00 pm to 11:00 pm
Telephone - 03-3406-5597
Menu - In English and Japanese
CC - Probably not.
Review updated on August 19, 2004
Some time ago a friend of mine had an exhibition at the Pink Cow, so after a long period of absence (I had never even seen it in its new location) I made my way to the spot between Harajuku and Shubuya where it now is.
I don't like Harajuku and Shibuya and so try to stay away as much as I can, but love of art and friendship can convince me to do most unpleasant things.
Alas, The Pink Cow is still a good pub loaded with excellent beer and decent food but, betraying the weirdness expressed in its name and its logo (see their site), it no longer looks like a cubist painter's nightmare, it's easier on the eye and has become indistinguishable from any other Tokyo pub. If it's more professional looking, it has also entirely lost its old considerable charm. Too bad, because, as my old review makes clear, I liked a lot that old pink phone with green polka dots.
Food at the Pink Cow is good, but not enough to make it a must, so what remains is the beers, the company, and their numerous activities, in my opinion perhaps far too many to leave time for friendly talk and relaxation. This particularly because they include live music, a big minus in my book.
Perhaps this kind of pub is simply not my thing. In few words, if you like the Fiddler, What the Dickens, and places like that you also will like The Pink Cow: it's a good pub. If, like me, being forced to listen to music or poetry, watch paintings, or do anything else when all you want to have a beer in peace, go somewhere else.
by Allan Miles
One reads the name Pink Cow and wonders what sort of place it is, one enters and is still wondering what sort of place it is as it's not at all obvious. What it is is a very friendly cafe/wine bar with great home-cooking, the kind that is difficult to find in Tokyo. Friday and Saturday nights are buffet nights, all you can eat for 2500 yen: I was there for the buffet, and the food was hearty, delicious and excellent value. There were many dishes, predominantly vegetarian but there were also enough meat dishes and even some home made bread. Other nights are à la carte. There's good wine but I didn't find out about the rest of the drinks.There are a number of rooms offering different spaces to eat in and these are also avaliable for parties and functions. Well worth going to.
Frank's opinion follows. Please read also what Tom Boatman has to say: it's worth it.
Around Christmas I went with some friends to Pink Cow and liked it a lot. As a matter of fact, I was surprised myself by the impact the place had on me and my friends, because the food is good, but by itself not enough to justify the strong impression it made on us. Having thought about it during the New Year's vacation, I think I know now why it was such a hit. Pink Cow is a place with something it wants to say, an experiment out of the 70', when many of the values of the 60' were trying to find ways to take root. A normal restaurant tries to divine what customers might like to attract as many of them as possible, disguising its true nature if necessary. Pink Cow's owner vice versa is expressing something important to her, she thinks she is different and she is confident people will like what she has to offer. Hence for example the name. I think.
Most things at PC are non-standard. Located in a well hidden internal court near in Harajuku, meters from the station, it used to be a large four-room apartment, and you enter from the garden, which by the way should be great next summer. With its trees and wooden chairs, it will have the atmosphere of a French cafe.
The interior has pretty much the same atmosphere of some Picasso Cubist paintings (I know I have used this phrase already, but it fits too well not to use it again): Checkers on the floor, green triangular tables, pink phone decorated with little green dots, semicircular sofas, and solid, primary colors everywhere make it not really easy on the eye, but one cannot deny that the final effect is stunning. There are several rooms and there decor is again interesting to say the least. Plenty of room, so reservations are probably not a must. PC wants to become a cultural center,
and besides hosting several kinds of event, for example art and experimental videos every Wednesday, it rents its rooms to those who need them.
I went on a weekend, and on weekends there's a buffet. Next to the trays there was a bookshelf full of recipe books: bookworm that I am, I took a peek even before looking at the food. Italian, Thai, Indian, Kosher, Balinese, traditional American recipes and, mirabile visu, "Cooking with a Microwave Oven", this last item clear evidence that, whatever else she might be, she is a versatile and adaptable thinker.
The food itself is simple stuff of the kind Mom used to make. The spectrum goes from vegetarian lentil curry or tofu casserole to sausages with fries, and the menu changes every week, so there should be something for everybody. That evening there were at least seven or eight different main dishes, all excellent, and four kinds of dessert. The fudges and the brownies in particular were wonderful, fattening, but wonderful. Damages? 2500 yen, a moderate sum for what was in many ways a special evening. How often does one have dinner at a restaurant laying down on a green leather couch? During the week the menu is very different, and offers bagels, three kinds of vegetable burgers, as many burritos and the like, plus ten whites and 15 reds from California, Chile and Australia for those who cannot do without wine.
web - www.thepinkcow.com
Fujimamas - Sort of Asian
Reviewed by Viktor Lazlo
Address - Tokyo-to, Shibuya-ku, Jingumae 6-3-2
Opening hours - Open every day from 11:00 am to 11pm
Telephone - 03-5485-2262
Menu - In Japanese and English
CC - OK
The first time you eat at Fujimama, it's a joy. The cook and the menu like to take big risks, so in the beginning everything is new and exciting. They offer Asian food with a twist, so that you might find for example leaves of basil in your fried rice. To make Fujimama's they gutted an old Japanese building, keeping its essence and mixing it with some modernity in a pleasant way, so also in that sense the place is a surprise. The wine list is good and interesting, and they keep updating it.
But you tire soon, because the cook is certainly original and dares making innovations, but often those innovations fail, and you are left with a certain feeling that something is missing, that his cooking style is shallow. I stopped going, because me and a friend of mine I often used to go there with felt it wasn't worth it any longer.
Walk down from Harajuku Station towards Omotesando on the right side of the street. Fujimama is in the first alley on your right after the intersection where Lotteria and Laforet are.
NOTE: Since I am going to be mean to it, to be fair I must tell you right away that I have never eaten at Fujimamas.
On June 15 I published and, I assume, you all read Fujimamas menu for the reception to be held on the 26th. I must confess I was more amused than attracted, as I am more amused than anything else by the very concept of "fusion" in cuisine.
I am always skeptical when somebody systematically marries devil and holy water, as in this case. Contamination is certainly the heart and soul of progress, and one should not hesitate in breaking a barrier when necessary, but this should happen naturally, when needed, and food shouldn't be conceived with experimentation or transgression in mind. When these becomes a rule, after an initial novelty value fades, the result is boring and contrived.
Flashy as they are, these dishes remind me of a cubist painting. "Kahlua Pig on Crispy Won Tons with Red Chili Jelly - Tumbling Dice of Smoked Salmon and Miso Polenta". "Chinese Clay Pot Braised Duck with Wolfberries and Star Anise" ... Wow. How about "Bactrian Camel Hump Marinated in Chateau Lafitte 1976 with Vinegared Canadian Cherries and Laid on a Bed of Fettuccini Alfredo"?
That said, one of these days I will try eating at Fujimamas to see how it really is.
web - www.fujimamas.com