Chas Jones, Ph.D.


Great Italian food in Japan?

Great Italian food in Japan?

Wow!  I had some amazing Italian food last night!  Some of the best that I have ever had and I really am looking forward to going back and trying some more…  I know that you won’t believe me, but you might want to trust me on this one.  The name of the restaurant?  Cheese, cheese.  Yes, that was the name!  So let me repeat myself, the name of an amazing Italian restaurant in Sapporo, Japan is “Cheese, cheese”.  Where is it?  Well, its in the Susukino District on the bottom floor of the Norbesa Building, which is similar to most in Susukino, except that it has a giant ferris wheel on top of it!  Seriously, you can’t miss the ferris wheel and therefore, Cheese, Cheese is very easy to find.

Now, I speak and read absolutely no Japanese so there is always a language barrier when I go to a restaurant, but the experience turned out pretty good. I sat at the bar that surrounds the kitchen which was great.  I noticed that every patron was being served something as a precursor to their meal.  I wasn’t quite sure what it was until mine was sat before me.  It was a fried egg in a cup. I was directed by the chef to immediately stir up the egg and eat it rather than let it cool.  So I did. It was nothing spectacular, but interesting.  Otherwise,  I had only pizza while I was there.  I had their Margherita variety, which I tend to really enjoy.  The menu was only in Japanese and it had some photos, but mostly, I just said “Pizza”.  I also said “Tomato, basil, cheese” (with my best Japanese pronunciation) and the waitress said “Ah, Margherita!”  And I said “Yes!”.  The pizza was a thin crust version that was about 12″ in diameter.  They only have one size, I think.

While I was there, I watched the chef make a pasta that appeared to be alfredo, but it looked absolutely amazing.  I watched as he tossed the noodles in the center of a giant hollowed-out wheel of parmesan cheese.  Whoah!  He tossed and tossed and tossed the hot noodles in the cheese wheel.  I can only imagine how the noodles became coated in a layer of parmesan which he then dropped into a creamy serving dish.  It looked delicious.  Next time, I will try that!  And I will be back, and I doubt that it will be too awfully long before I am there!
I also watched the chef as he brought out a new leg of prosciutto, which he placed into a clamping device.  He sat it in front of a customer that had ordered some sort of appetizer and he proceeded to carve very thin slices of prosciutto for them.  He appeared to be telling them a story in Japanese as he slowly sliced and served them slices of the meat.  I was really curious to hear what he had to say, but I couldn’t understand a word of it.  It seemed like he might be telling them about the history of prosciutto and the secret life meanings that can be found by taking it in slowly on an autumn Saturday night.  It was moderately priced, as I had 1/2 of a pizza and a drink for about $18.  I could handle that, but it wouldn’t be enough had I been a little bit hungrier.

Also inside of the building with the ferris wheel, was a looked to be a fun bowling alley.  Complete with many cartoonish characters and lovely servers.  I think I found a fun evening for our little group of international students.  Dinner and drinks at Cheese, cheese; followed by a round of bowling; and finished with a 20 minute ride on the big ferris wheel (1000 Yen/ person).


Update:  I went back to Cheese, Cheese to try this amazing pasta alfredo dish that I had seen from across the distance while I was there the first time.  I went alone and I only ordered the Pasta Cheese, Cheese (which is what they referred to this dish at a cost of 1800 yen). Natsuki’s (my waitress) masterpiece shall be my dinner! First, piping hot noodles are repeatedly tossed in a hollowed wheel of Parmesan cheese. Then, place noodles back onto hot plate and pour near boiling heavy cream over the piping hot noodles. Top with grated Romano… Let your mouth water as you ponder the flavor. If it were me, I would add some steamed broccoli and maybe a touch of basil, oregano, and thyme. Delicious.

And below you can see my artistic creation that evolved out of the rabbit and name that Natsuki wrote onto my paper table covering upside down as I she sat me.  Fun, fun at cheese, cheese!…

Linking cultures.

Linking Cultures

As mentioned previously, a number of the non-American students are pretty shy or quiet.  Andres is from Mexico and is gregarious and speaks English at least as well as each of the Americans.  I suspect that some of the Asian students are self-conscious of their proficiency in English. I am not positive, but that is my suspicion.  Well yesterday, all of us went to lunch together after I asked if everybody was interested in doing so.  Today, not everybody joined us, but the Asian students asked me if I was going to join them in the school cafeteria.  I was pleasantly surprised and was happy to join them. Andres was already there when we arrived so we all ate together. I was happy with that.

The guys in the program are in an all-men dorm (called the International House at Kita 8 East, a 15 minute walk from CENSUS).  The women are in a co-ed dorm (guys occupy one floor) that is found 45 minutes away from the CENSUS building.  So after class, we have all been going our separate ways in the afternoon.  Today, at lunch, Isma, one of the Indonesian students was mentioning how they all have been going back to the dorm after lunch and sitting in their rooms until the next morning.  This means that they have basically been in class until about noon and then back in their dorm by 2 PM each day.

I was shocked, so today I invited all of the students to go on a walk with me after lunch.  A bunch of the international students decided to join me (much to my surprise).  They are all pretty cold every time the step outside in Hokkaido. It’s probably been 45-50 degrees F, which is a lot colder than their homes.  So when they said yes, I thought that I’d just take them to see the mall in Sapporo Station so that they could see something interesting in a warm place.  So we spent a couple of hours checking out all of the silly stuff in the mall.  After we had our fill of mall stuff, I asked if they were tired yet and they said no, so I decided to take them down to the Susukino district.  They seemed to really enjoy the experience.  They hadn’t seen anything like that in Sapporo yet, and they were definitely intrigued.  YoungRi (South Korea) really enjoyed the electronics, the flashy clothes and the silly, bright colored stuffed characters.  Wenwen (China) really liked all of the shoes and just watching all of the people and goings-on.  Isma (Indonesia) was pretty much happy and laughing at everything and everyone of us.  Meanwhile, Anni (Indonesia) liked everything and kept disappearing around the end of every aisle.

We finished their exploratory adventure at a coffee shop where we got teas and sweets to warm up before the walk back to our dorms.  YoungRi gave me a brief lesson in Korean and Japanese language and I did the same for her English.  In our group, she has a harder time than the rest communicating in spoken English.  She says that she studied English for 6 years in school, but they do not speak the language in their studies.  They only study the written language.  Interesting.  She also says that there is a huge desire to have native English speakers come to South Korea to teach English.  No skills in the Korean language is necessary.  Want to earn $500/day teaching English?  I am giving you the job lead that you need!

2011.10.25. Susukino – The entertainment district.

After lunch, a few of us took a walk to the center of the city. The city is set up on a grid system and each intersection can be identified in relation to the city center. The intersection that is one block north and one block east of the center is North 1, East 1. After finding the center (which has a red Eiffel Tower look alike sponsored by Panasonic), I wandered down to Susukino, which I had found 2 days prior, but didn’t know what it was. Now I know that it is considered to be the “entertainment district” and is where the majority of the nightlife is found in Sapporo. It looks really crazy busy and there are many, many floors of businesses on all of the main streets. The district covers ~16 square blocks, I think. And it seems like South 4, West 4 is about the center of the area. It is really cool and I look forward to checking it out on a weekend night. You want it? Name it and I bet that you’ll find it in Susukino… Check out some of my pix.

Sometimes, smokers can smoke in special rooms inside of buildings.  Other times, they get special rooms in the outdoors.  Other times, they get a special corner on a block. And sometimes, they can smoke anywhere they want including inside of a restaurant kitchen!  Crazy.  I wonder who makes up the rules.

Me at the city center and at the red Panasonic Eiffel tower look-a-like.

South 4, West 4 intersection in Susukino.
Ramen Alley with a ton of little Japanese Noodle shops.
  We’ll come back when we are hungry!

 Covered shopping area in Susukino.
Closet and Bar?  What woman wouldn’t love this little boutique shop?  Its a wine bar and clothing store.  Cute.