Basta Pasta


Address: 37 West 17th Street, New York, NY

Phone: 212-366-0888

Many of our friends recommended Basta Pasta restaurant in New York City and we finally got a table for dinner tonight. The restaurant has a nice open kitchen, very "Iron Chef". The food was not bad, but strangely, about 99% of the customers who ate there tonight were Asians! But it does make sense since if I were to tell my American Italian friends about Basta Pasta, they will surely say "THAT'S NOT ITALIAN!!" lol.... Gan: It was ok. I wasn't as wowed by it as Sarah but it certainly has the authentic Japanese Italian ala Iron Chef Italian Masahiko Kobe essence. Clean, small portion but still sophisticated with a French influence.

Bread sticks were addictive! We couldn't stop eating!! Gan: Great way to start the meal. Sourdoughy taste to the crunchy bread sticks and olive oil with a strong olive essence.

Foie Gras Meatball. Gan:I noticed Japanese Italian dishes uses this type of japanese cucumber a lot for garnish or salad.

Inside of the Foie Gras Meatball. Gan: This is yummy. Crispy breaded meatball outside, chewy creamy foie gras inside.

Fluke Carpaccio

We ordered Fresh Fish Carpaccio of the day and Foie Gras Meatball for appetizers. Fresh fish of the day was Fluke, but we thought the dish was quite blend, as it needed more seasoning. The Foie Gras Meatball was good actually. It was quite crunchy on the outside and it has the Foie Gras in the center of the meatball. It tasted like an expensive hamburg steak :)

Langoustine Spaghetti
Gan: Now I understand why the judges in Iron Chefs always say things like "Oh, this evokes the feeling of being at the sea somewhere in Italy at some ancient time.... blah blah - cue for sound of sea water beating on the beach and some accompanied cheesy music". It does taste very fresh and sea-like!

Fish Roe Spaghetti

Gan ordered the Langoustine Spaghetti while I decided to go with the Fish Roe Spaghetti. The Langoustine dish has a nice rich seafood flavor to it, while my Fish Roe Spaghetti was like what I've expected, light and very "Japanese". Gan: A bit disappointed to see they use the same instant spaghetti as what we use for cooking Italian at our home (De Cecco). I guess you can't expect fresh made pasta all the time. But they sure excel on the saucing part though. Maybe we would have gotten fresh made pasta if we ordered something that's less common than spaghetti like parpadelle.

Basta Pasta's Original Tiramisu

The appetizers and the main course were relatively small portions, so we had space for some desserts. Gan ordered Basta Pasta's Original Tiramisu while I went with the Parmagiano- Reggiano Cake. Tiramisu was just ok, but the Parmigiano-Reggiano cake was fantastic. Light and fluffy!

Happy Gan :)
Gan: Reminds me of Joker from Batman

Parmigiano-Reggiano Cake -Best cheesecake I've eaten so far!
Gan: Yummy.. fluffy

We would definitely recommend Basta Pasta. However be sure to go in to the restaurant with an open mind if you are used to traditionally prepared/American Italian dishes, since Basta Pasta is a Japanese take on Italian cuisine. The use of Japanese ingredients in pasta dishes is what makes this restaurant interesting. The only con that we can think of is that the restaurant does not make its own pasta. Gan: Good quality food and certainly an authentic Japanese Italian place if you're into a lighter version of Italian when you're in NYC. It was part of a Tokyo-based chain.
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Taishoken Ramen


4-28-3 Higashi Ikebukuro, Roshima-ku, Tokyo

Phone: 03-3981-9360
Taishoken is famous for its Tsukemen, dipping style noodles, so we decided to make a trip from Roppongi to Ikebukuro to try it out. It took us a while before we found this place. Actually, after looking at other people's pictures of Taishoken's exterior, I have a feeling that we might have gone to a newer branch instead of the original. But oh well, as long as it's still Taishoken. Upon entering the restaurant, you'll find a vending machine where you can choose what you want ie ramen (soup or dipping style) + shio or shoyu soup base + Menma (bamboo shoots) + Char Sui (roast pork), pay up, hand in coupon to the cook and then wait patiently for the ramen. I ordered the regular Ramen while Gan decided to try their Tsukemen. The ramen here was quite delicious, although they could really use some air conditioners in the restaurant, given that everyone was sweating like crazy! I have no idea how the other customers who were wearing shirts and pants (and some even in suits) were able to eat under such condition!

Taishoken Ramen with Extra Menma
Men in suits eating hot steamy Ramen in a hot steamy store

Kitchen Shunju


Address: 8F My City, 3-38-1 Shinjuku, Shinjuku-ku

Phone: 03-5369-0377

Kitchen Shunju is located on the top floor of My City department store in Shinjuku. The 7th and 8th Floor of My City has wide selections of good restaurants. Kitchen Shunju is particularly interesting because they use the freshest ingredients to cook simple Japanese dishes. The deep fried homemade tofu here is especially good. The interior design of the restaurant is bright and classy, and they have a glass-in kitchen, so you'll be able to see all the actions that are going on in the kitchen. Gan: Thought it was something like a japanese-dutch fusion restaurant.

Gan and Sarah posing at Kitchen Shunju

Yummy grilled pork! Gan: Grilled kobe beef lah dungui!

Beef chunks stewed in Dutch Oven. Gan: Really soft..

Shunju style pizza/pancake

Tokyo, 2005/2006


This is one of the hardest blogs to write about since there are so many good restaurants in Tokyo and so many varieties of food in the city. We were very fortunate to have visited the city a couple of times for the past few years and were introduced to some really good food by our Malaysian friend Eric, who works and lives in Tokyo. From the freshest sushi at a sushi bar near the Tsukiji market to the best Tonkotsu ramen at Jangaara Ramen near Akasaka, Tokyo never fails to deliver the best food. Just like in New York, you can find all sorts of international cuisines in Tokyo. Gan: <--- Is he an otaku? Help decide: When Gan was in college, he had regularly attended University of Michigan's Animania (Japanese animation or "anime" club) weekly screening. During the once a year anime screening marathon, he will wake up before the sun is out and show up for the _all day_ anime marathon screening! He's still embarrassed about that.

Eric's Home Cooking

Eric shares the same passion for food as us. He's also a very talented cook. The dishes you see in the picture were all prepared by him. Gan was very fortunate to have tasted Eric's cooking several times, but I always missed out on that. *Hint to Eric! :) Gan: Eric likes to question his manhood but when it comes to producing top notch food, he's the Malaysian Iron Chef!

Eric's masterpiece -- Malaysian Curry Chicken Gan: Curry chicken in pressure cooker = meat falls off the bone and intense flavor!

Eric, Da Man!

Food Fair @ Azabu Juban

We were so lucky to stumble upon this Food Fair near Azabu Juban!! Everything looked so tasty! The takoyaki stand was the most popular, but the line was too long, so we decided to move on.

Awesome looking Baby Octopus

Yakitori ---reminds me of Malaysian Satay. Gan: Wagyu beef on a stick! Bring it on!

BBQ Rice Cakes

The crowd at Azabu Juban Food Fair

Okonomiyaki - Japanese style pancakes/pizza

Marui Sushi

This is by far one of the best sushi we've ever eaten, courtesy of our friend, Eric (thank you Eric!)

We had Omakase (chef's choice) and the sushi kept coming....yummy! Gan: The sushi just kept coming!

The Sushi Chefs who prepared our wonderful dinner!

Gogyou, Nishi Azabu

This restaurant is located at Nishi Azabu and it serves a very unique style of burnt miso/shoyu ramen. I've never tried it but Gan says it's not bad....

Kogashi (Burnt) Shoyu Ramen. Gan: I was basically eating black soot

Gogyou's Chashiu Donburi

Roppongi Hills Restaurants

Roppongi Hills is technically a mini city. They have Grand Hyatt Hotel, Corporate offices, Shops, Restaurants, Cafes, Apartments all in the same area. We ate some of the best food in Tokyo here in Roppongi Hills.


Address: 6-4-1, Roppongi, Metrohat B2F, Minato-ku, Tokyo

Phone: 03-5771-113

Roppongi Hills have so many wonderful restaurants and Pintokona, which is located in the basement of Roppongi Hills is the best Kaiten sushi place ever! Gan: They have these torched salmon and toro sushi. Loved it. Wish more sushi proprietor in NYC do that.

The sushi here is quite expensive, considering that it is, after all just a kaiten sushi place. But unlike other kaiten sushi places, Pintokona serves only the highest quality sushi.

Hige-Cho Tokyo

Address: Roppongi Hills, Metrohat/Hollywood B2F

Phone: 03-5770-6577

Gan and I are such suckers for Rice boxes. We waited a long time for this take out stall in the basement of Roppongi Hills to open in the morning. Not too bad for a fast food place. Gan: One thing we noticed from our travels is that South East Asian still have the best breakfast options of anywhere. Most of the other places we go to, you need to wait until 10am before most restaurants are opened for business.

Braised Pork Belly with an Egg, Minced Pork over rice & Pickled vegetables.


Starbucks ala Green Tea :) I also love everything Green Tea and Japan is just a Green tea heaven. Green Tea ice cream, Green Tea dessert, Green Tea Mochi, Green Tea Cake, you name it, they have it.....I just wished I could eat/drink everything Green Tea everyday.


Address: Yoyogi 2-1-1, Shinjuku Maynd Tower B1F, Tokyo

Phone: 03-3377-1233

We met up with my high school classmate Afiza and her husband Iqbal at Yamato Shinjuku for dinner. It was a nice Izakaya restaurants that serves light and tasty food. We thoroughly enjoyed the dinner there...until we saw a cockroach running across the dining floor! Thank goodness we were done with our meal when that happened.

Nice plate presentation

Happy couples posing after the dinner


Address: 1F, 2F 1-13-11 Nishi-Azabu, Minato-ku, Tokyo

Phone: 03-5771-0170

Gonpachi near Nishi Azabu - Can't really remember what we ate there, just remembered that the interior was very unique.

With Keiko, Gan's friend from Michigan at Gonpachi


Address: Roppongi 5-5-1, Roi Bldg, 13F

Phone: 03-3404-5741

Erawan is a popular Thai chain restaurant in Japan. We usually go there for its steamboat. The dipping sauce there is kick ass spicy, and really good. Tod Mun Pla (Thai Fish Cake) was not bad also. I wasn't there when Gan tried this "Chicken on Fire" dish. Looked kinda cruel to me though....poor chicken. Gan: Looks like one of those horror witch burning scene in the movies

Thai Fish Cakes at Erawan

Thai Steam boat/Hot Pot at Erawan -- whatever you want to call it. Gan: We're suckers for hot pot. Thai hot pot is one of the better ones outside of those Szechuan spicy hot pot.

$100 Musk Melon

$100 musk melon anyone??

Other Tokyo Restaurants:

Inakaya West

Kitchen Shunju

To-fu Cafe Fujino