Thursday, January 24, 2019

Japan-Japan, Do Japanese Really Eat That Sort of Food? Restaurant Review

The other night, I went with a friend to the Derech Hevron branch of the "Japanese style" chain of kosher restaurants, Japan-Japan. I'd heard about their restaurants from friends who like the food, especially since there's a branch in nearby Ariel, in the Rami Levy Mall.

I was hungry, since it had been a very long day in the middle of a busy week. As I understood, traditional Japanese food is served separated to show off color, texture etc. But in all honesty, I had never eaten in a Japanese restaurant or been served Japanese cuisine.

The Beit Hanatziv branch of Japan-Japan, 101 Derech Hebron is very attractive, and it wasn't too noisy. Noise can be an awful problem for me. The staff was attentive, and we got our hitech menus set up in English.

There was a large choice of foods on the menu, though most seemed pretty similar to my untrained eye. I decided to choose a cooked main dish, rather than a salad, hoping that there would be enough vegetables in it. We thought it rather funny that although the menu was on a tablet, the waiter had to write our order on a pad with a broken pen, that he had to replace.

Before our food arrived we were served complementary "chasers," which were appreciated, giving our dinner out a festive aura.

My doubts about the authenticity of the food started pretty quickly with our first course of chicken wings, which my friend and I shared. They had been given a Japanese sounding name, but were really just Asian style "buffalo wings" with jam, "soy sauce" and sesame seeds. I did enjoy the small lightly pickled salad on the side. It helped cut the sweetness of the sauce used on the wings. And since "buffalo wings" are a "finger food," we were given lots of napkins and wipes.

For a main course, I chose the Asian Mix which had both beef and chicken, while my friend chose something just with beef. When we were served them, it seemed to me that the waiter had mixed them up. So, we asked again, and were told that we had been given the correct dishes. It didn't take long for us to discover that our guesses had been correct, so we switched them. Yes, as you can see, both main courses are the same color. A careful look revealed the chicken and eggplant in mine. The advantage of this mistake was that we got to taste both, and the sauces were very similar. The sauces totally overpowered the vegetables, both color and taste-wise. But I must say that there was plenty of meat and chicken, and the beef was very tasty.

Neither of us were interested in trying their sushi. If we had been guests of the restaurant, our experience would have been different, no doubt.  But I'm just an ordinary customer. The staff and management hadn't a clue that I'd be reviewing it.

The meal was filling, and not only was Japan-Japan full of seated diners, we could see that they do an amazing takeout business. Bags of cooked food kept leaving the kitchen area, both taken by customers and special delivery staff.

Neither the Japan-Japan site, nor facebook page seem to function in English. But, as I had mentioned earlier, they have an English menu and the staff seemed capable of serving English speaking customers.

We decided to pass on dessert; I couldn't bear the thought of more sugar. Later on we had some fresh fruit, which was perfect.


Shelly said...

I saw the Ariel branch yesterday and went in to take a look at the menu. Definitely not authentic Japanese (I was excited to see kimchi on the menu, but I asked and it's not naturally fermented, just Asian style instant pickled veggies), nor even all Japanese style. But on the other hand, many items on the menu looked good to me and I'd be interested in hearing an opinion on their sushi. (and Buffalo wings are completely different, no relation to the sweet Israeli [or any other] version of Asian style wings)

Batya said...

Thanks, Shelly, Prices were reasonable, and the place was pleasant. It wouldn't be my first choice, but I'd return if dining partners wanted.