Bakery Restaurant Saint-Marc

We’ve been driving by the Bakery Restaurant Saint-Marc for two years and finally tried it today.  Our most convenient (nearest) Outlet for this Japanese Chain is located in Takatsu-ward in Kawasaki. It has easy access and a large parking lot.  We arrived shortly after the Restaurant’s 11 AM opening and observed a full parking lot and line up by 11:30 AM.  Even during challenging economic times this Restaurant is maximizing the weekend traffic.

The Saint-Marc  Chain has a great product and business model.  Twenty flavors of warm buns are served with fresh butter straight from the oven throughout your dinner.  (It’s a cardiovascular endurance athletes’ dream.) Set menus include choices of salads, vegetable, fish and meat appetizers, soups and a variety of broiled meats, poultry and fish for the main course.  Staff energy is maximized as they Greet Guests, Bake, take orders, serve and bus in their Chef Jackets and Hats.

The setting at the Kawasaki Store was almost elegant with a Grand Piano, classy tables with a full complement of silver ware and white table cloths.  Customers dressed casually and many families with children found theirselves welcome.  Prices were very fair (brunch averaged 2500 Yen per person.)  We’ll return to this location and this thought was encouraged by discount coupons and promises of invitations for birthdays and anniversaries for sensational offers.
Bakery Restaurant Saint-Marc (List of stores in Japanese)

A Lesson from an Auto Body Shop in Kawasaki; the Best have Universal Qualities

After a Fender Bender in a Parking Lot near Yokosuka Naval Base, my Car Insurance Agent directed me to an Auto Body Shop near our home.  Upon arrival at SATO JIDOUSHA. Inc. (Sato Automobiles),  a Franchisee of Car Conveni Club. Co., I was astonished by the size of the Service Center.  It maximized every square inch of a 4 Car Garage and the side street adjacent to the business.  From this point forward, the interaction (all in Japanese) was text book professionalism.  Courteous reception from everyone within ear shot, computer generated proposal immediately upon request, offer to contact and subsequent follow thru with my Insurance Agent, and finally receipt of my vehicle and repair of its back fender.  The job was done satisfactorily and costs ran true to the estimate.
Prior to picking up my Toyota Harrier my wife informed me that the SatoCar Repair Company was ranked number one by their franchise (1200 shops) two years running.  When mentioned to the General Manager upon receipt of my car he stated:  “It’s all about the men on the floor of my shop.  Your thanks and appreciation will be passed on to them.”  Right out of Jim Collin’s “Good to Great” – The very best businesses share Universal Qualities wherever they’re run.

Sato Jidousha  Inc. (Access)  http://www.satoucar.com/outline.html

Parking and Dining in the Yokohama China Town not so Inconvenient

The Yokohama China Town District is an Exciting and Busy Destination and normally we’d use public transportation to visit the Area.  This isn’t necessarily a an absolute as Parking Spots are sprinkled around the blocks surrounding the Tourist Attraction & a modern Elevator Chukagai Parking (China Town Parking)  is located right next to the East Gate.  (Our one hour Parking Fee amounted to 700 Yen.)

Time restricted us from exploring Dining Opportunities and we selected the Peking Hanten located on the other side of the Main (East) Gate across from the Parking Facility.  Its Web Site boasts that the Restaurant was the first Beijing Styled Restaurant in Japan.  Regular customers comment positively on the Restaurant Specialties Peking Duck, Xialongbao (Juicy or Soup Dumplings).  We thoroughly enjoyed the Xialongbao and Gomoku Yakisoba.  We appreciated the clean venue, convenient location and delicious food.  Be prepared to pay “tourist designed prices” as most items on the menu start at 1400 Yen and Lunch Sets are not available on weekends.

Peking Hanten (Click on MAP)  http://www.chinatown.or.jp/gourmet/detail/236

Traveling Abroad? Need Your Shots? Try the Japanese Quarantine Association.

Our Family travels to Malawi, Africa this coming December and preparation requires Inoculation for Tetanus (Hasyo-fu), Yellow Fever (Oh-netsu-byo), Polio (Polio), Rabies (Kyo-ken-byo), Hepatitis A & B (A-gata & B-gata kan-en), and a request for Malaria (malah-ri-ah) Prophylactics. 

We received excellent support at the Yokohama Clinic of Japanese Quarantine Center located just a few hundred Meters from the Yokohama Marine Tower at the Industrial Trade Center’s  3rd Floor.  We slid thru the doors five minutes before closing on Saturday (11:55 AM) and received excellent advice and professional medical care.  The seasoned staff proved well versed with National Health Data and had resources at hand.
Should there services be necessary to your next trip, prepare following before your visit:
-Passport (Official Documents will be issued), List of Previous Inoculations, Travel Schedule (Will you stop in a country that requires further specialized vaccinations?), and Cash. (Yellow Fever costs 11,000 Yen per vaccination and credit cards are not accepted.)
The Japanese Quarantine Association also has its Tokyo Clinic at the 5th floor of Tekko Building, which is a 5 minute walk from  JR Tokyo Station.  No Reservations are necessary except for Inoculations for Yellow Fever.

Japanese Quarantine Association (Access)  http://www.kenekieisei.or.jp/access.html

Il Pacioccone di Chianti Review

La Cittadella is an Italian Styled Quarter (Mall) located within a 5 minute walk from the East Exit of Kawasaki Station.  You’ll find Cinemas, Restaurants, Cafes, Clothing Shops,  Book Stores and a Fountain that’s choreography and lighting pays tribute to its larger cousin in front of the Belagio in Las Vegas. 

Our family ventured to the La Cittadella last Saturday to try a Restaurant called Il Pacioccone di Chianti.  My better half found several reviews on the Japanese Restaurant Critique Site TABELOG.com.  Most encouraged ordering the Restaurant Specials & raved about the Desserts.  They also suggested reserving seats on weekends and stated that the tables outside the Restaurant were preferred.

We reserved a table inside the restaurant to avoid the heat and received a friendly greeting to a Venue with an interesting and entertaining atmosphere.  The Waiters were knowledgeable and helpful but seemed more comfortable speaking Italian than English.  (A well designed English Menu is available.)  
Il Pacioccone di Chianti tries to mesh Italian Recipes with fresh produce & Pork from Niigata (a prefecture located in the northern part of Japan), the home of the Restraunt’s Patron.  Parma Prosciutto wrapped around fresh  Niigata “ichi-jiku” (fig) was delicious and “tamogi-dake” (mushrooms) offered in salads and pizza were well worth ordering. We tried Gorgonzola with Fig Pizza served with honey on the side & it was terrific.

Our Waiter informed us that they receive weekly shipments of meats, cheese and wines from Italy.  (They have a purchasing office in Bologna.) Fresh produce and other essentials are the key to this establishment.  Our table was located just a few feet from the slicer wheel that a skilled technician used to prepare plates of meats, cheese and other combinations of antipasto. (The Imported Italian Machine ran constantly thru the night serving Diners at  the packed Restaurant.) 

The restaurant direct imports wine and presents them well.  We asked for a full bodied wine recommendation and went with the directly imported Tenuta Uccellina Burson IGT: Ravenna Rosso  2005.  We found it very dark, plumy with a little spice and were pleased with the results.

Even Il Pacioccone di Chianti can’t be all things to all people.  The Pasta Dishes were not overly tasty and the pasta itself was border line Al Dente. The Desserts raved about by Japanese Bloggers were “milky” & without character.  Our Japanese Experts (Wife & Daughter) compared their desserts flavor to Fujiya Candy & my 8 year old was reminded of her earliest meals.  (She claimed that they tasted like “breast milk.”)

We will return to Il Pacioccone di Chianti and Reserve seats at tables with high backed chairs located on the Restaurant’s Patio.  The customers who venture inside the restaurant sit on stools at tables strategically and carefully spaced tightly around the confined space.  (Fun but hard on the back of a middle aged veteran of contact sports.)  We will restrict Orders to Antipasto with attention to the Specials, Pizza and some more wine from the interesting selection. 
The Service was professional, entertaining and sincere.  The Waiters do their best communicating with each other in Italian, know their menu and went out of their way to assist our young daughter.  The prices are competitive with Italian Restaurants around Tokyo but are not inexpensive.  Our dinner with a bottle of wine, sparkling wine cocktails, salad, antipasto, pizza and spaghetti amounted to 20,000 Yen.
One option for Dessert can be found just a few steps away from the Il Pacioccone di Chianti at Creamamore (Italian Gelato).  The wide selection of Gelato by this Italian Franchise is appealing and delicious.  We purchased some cones filled with Pistachio and other favorites & enjoyed them while watching the fountain and listening to Andrea Bocelli.  Another fine Kawasaki Evening.

Creamamore (Italian gelato)  http://www.cremamore.co.jp/


About Us

My Wife & I initiated this Blog to comment on Restaurants, Business Experiences and Life in General in the Greater City of Tokyo.  It’s our hope that our bilingual, bi-cultural background & daily experiences will be interesting & informative for Expats and Tourists spending time in Japan.  
As a Simultaneous Interpreter and Facilitator for Multinational Corporations my Japanese Bride is exposed to exciting Business & Political Experiences & her perspective enjoyed at our family dinner conversations is worth sharing.  I’m a Canadian Entrepreneur working with Government Institutions and Medical Companies throughout Asia. 
This Biographical Note may or may not be relevant.  The two of us are passionate about Italian Cuisine and challenge anyone to find a better venue outside of Italy than Tokyo for terrific Italian Dining Experiences.  We will write reviews of Restaurants, Bistros and Cafes outside the beaten path and will have fun in the process.  Our 8 Year Old Daughter accompanies us to most destinations and her unprejudiced view point is most true.  An Executive Summary would describe this blog as an Amateur’s Restaurant Review with side bars on Culture & Business. 

Drive Carefully. Good luck with all your endeavors and by all means please feel free to drop us a line. In the mean time you can be sure that our family is enjoying the Journey.