news and views from michael rollins in tokyo

Category: Reviews (page 2 of 4)

Le Petit Tonneau Wine Dinner


The wine dinner Wednesday evening at Le Petit Tonneau’s Azabu-juban location was a great success and enjoyed by all who attended (and perhaps especially by yours truly). I go to a lot of these wine dinners, and this one was hands-down the best value-for-money of any I’ve joined.

For a surprisingly-low 8,000 yen we enjoyed five great wines from the Roussillon region of France, each paired perfectly with a dish conceived by Petit Tonneau chef Philippe Batton. (Full menu details.) Each wine was served in the “correct” glass for the grape and refilled as necessary throughout each course by the attentive and professional Petit Tonneau staff.

My favorite of the evening was the exceptional Domaine Seguela Planete, a sumptuous and refined wine made from equal parts Syrah and Carignan. The food, of course, was superb, and made all the better by the wonderful wines with which it was paired.

Panfried Seabass filet with almond topping served with dried fruit couscous

Panfried Seabass filet with almond topping served with dried fruit couscous
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The next one will likely be held in June, and if you’re interested in joining please drop me a line and I’ll let you know how to get on the list. The wines from this week’s dinner can all be purchased online at the Petit Tonneau online wine boutique.

Yamaha Soavo : The Website

I just discovered there’s a “media book” and an entire website dedicated to my speakers, the stellar Soavo-1s by Yamaha. Meet the designer! Read the story of their development! Gape at naked speaker innards through a cutaway shell! Who would have thought such entertainment possibilities would be available? Thanks, Yamaha!

Yamaha Soavo-1

These speakers sound incredible at practically any volume. Accurate across the full range of frequencies, the bass extension and treble smoothness set these speakers apart from the crowd. And they look dead sexy. Retro, edgy and muscular, they offer the kind of presence that makes you stand up and take notice. Love ’em, but at 300,000 yen for the pair don’t know how I managed to afford them…


One of my favorite restaurants here in in the Miyamasu-zaka end of Shibuya is RESPEKT, yet another offering from the good folks over at Cafe Company. Like many of their other restaurants, RESPEKT is a true multi-use space that works equally well for lunch/dinner, business meetings, hanging out with friends, or dining alone. The menu is varied, with food and drinks available all day, meaaning you can enjoy a meal, coffee, tea, beer or a glass of wine, just about any time.

Now, to be honest, the lunches were pretty dodgy at first. They looked pretty but lacked a certain depth. And flavor. And attention to detail. I mentioned this to 矢野さん the manager one day, reminding him that a mediocre lunch can spell death for a place in this neighborhood, and it seems like he took it to heart. I came back after a bit of a hiatus to find that the food had taken a turn for the better. Now I’m never disappointed with the food there, as it’s always creative, well-prepared, nice-looking and priced to please.

What else? Free WiFi. Free PCs. Funky, creative Shibuya-types. A great staff with very low turnover. Good wine list. How often do you run across a place like that? For me, it’s about once or twice a week.



Windows Desktop Search: More buggy software from MS

I don’t remember installing Windows Desktop Search (WDS) on my notebook but one day it was there. I think they maybe slipped it into the installer for a trial app or something I tried and then dumped for being crap. The trial app went away but for some reason WDS stayed.

The two things I noticed after it appeared were the new Search Desktop input field hogging much of the Taskbar and the new searchindexer.exe process hogging most of the CPU. The mostly nonstop churning of disk activity also suggested something was amiss.

Troubleshoot, isolate, try different settings, pray: I tried all of the standard steps one tries when trying to get buggy MS software to work properly, but all to no avail. Finally I disabled the service and will remove the thing altogether in a few minutes. Thanks, Bill, for another couple hours of wasted time.

On a sidenote, I also like how the WDS product information page throws a JavaScript error. In Internet Explorer 7. Typical Microsoft.

To summarize, if you’re looking around the net for info and reviews of WDS and found this, take my advice: don’t bother with it. There are better desktop search options out there, use one of them instead.

Koru Pinot Noir 2005

I picked up this exceptional Pinot for around 50% off the list price at Enoteca’s online store. (They have a clearance page which changes often and offers some great deals on good wines.)

Many medium- to high-end New Zealand Pinots offer an astonishing balance of acid, fruit and alcohol, and this one is no exception. Light purple-ruby in color with notes of strawberry and plum in the nose, the Koru Pinot is silky smooth on the palate with a level of finesse hard to find in similar offerings from warmer Oregon and on par with a good Cote de Nuits. The length was quite long, and this wine will probably hit its peak in another 1-2 years.

Pinot Noir is the red grape variety best suited to New Zealand’s cool, wet climate, and along with Sauvignon Blanc helped finally put them on the map wine-wise. Drink a wine like this Koru to make you understand why.

Conclusion: Not one to miss, especially if you like the Cloudy Bay Pinot Noir.
DWR: 93 Points

すずらん (Suzuran)

This Shibuya noodle shop is a favorite of locals and cross-town lunch commuters alike. You show up any time between 11:30 and 13:30 and you’d better be ready to wait in line, and today was no different for us. However, these つけ麺 (tsukemen, a type of ramen) noodles are worth the wait. Hand-pounded right on site and served with a deliciously tasty dipping sauce, they’re as good as anything you can find in Shibuya.

On this day I ordered medium-thick noodles and 角煮 (kakuni) marinated pork. The noodles were just the right firmness and the pork melt-in-your-mouth tender. Probably a bit on the high end calorie-wise but, hey, it ain’t every day, right? Co-worker J, a fan of massive portions and anything noodly, had chashuu instead and gave it a big thumbs up. I’m sure we’ll be headed back sometime soon…

Noodles dipped in soup


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