I. Like steak? Having tried most of the area's steak houses, my Top Tip goes to the Cook Barn. It's just off the Tsuchiura Gaukuen Line on the right as you approach Tsuchiura from Tsukuba (before the Rt. #6 overpass, across the street from 7-11, next to the Chimney Italian restaurant). The Cook Barn offers American Western decor with comfortable seating and friendly service. They even have a country & western live band twice a month.
As for the food, it's great!!! You can choose between Japanese Kobe steak and American Texas steak. I found that the Kobe steak, while significantly more expensive, included about * inedible fat around the edges. Since one pays by the weight of the cut, my verdict is: guilty, of excessive cost, yet exceedingly delicious.
If you're an English teacher, low-grade researcher, or illegal alien, you're probably interested in the best value for the money (since you don't have it to burn, neh?). In that case, and my own, the American steak set is the way to go. I recommend the most expensive and largest American cut (I forget what it's called). It's a perfect steak - no gristle, bones, fatty edges or chewing gum texture. It's big, it's juicy, and it's affordable at about 1800 yen for the set (which includes bread/rice, soup, salad and veggies - and perhaps a soft drink). Enjoy!!!
II. Taira and Live Talk: New in town? Want to know what's going on or engage in intellectual, moral, scientific or technological bickering? Then these local internet bulletin boards are for YOU.
Taira is supposed to be a forum for local international researchers, but they let pretty much anyone on (even me). It's main purpose is information exchange, which in practice consists largely of sayonara sales, car sales, announcements of local interest (Hash House Harriers events, for instance), gaijin bar plugs, and occasional lengthy arguments about anything controversial from love hotels to used car prices to mad cow disease to computer virus protection methods. To subscribe: send to majordomo[at]eve..bk.tsukuba.ac.jp and say 'subscribe' in the text.
Live Talk is really the place for lengthy arguments though. This is a less uptight forum with few rules and wide ranging topics. Political opinions, personal attacks, jokes (from rude to crude to brilliant), and even attachments may be found here. Access details through Taira.
III. New Blowfish Place Blows - Like to live dangerously? Then blowfish might be for you. This expensive delicacy is well-loved among Japanese who want to splurge now and again. It must be prepared by specially trained and licensed chefs to avoid the deadly poison which can bring death in minutes. Now, if this sounds like a fun evening out to you, go for it. However, I would avoid the new place on the left side of Tsuchiura Gakuen Line, about halfway to Tsuchiura with the sign showing a picture of a blowfish. There was recently an incident in which a staff member was suspected of stealing 60,000 yen which had been collected and set aside to pay the bill. Police were called, but when they arrived claimed that they couldn't really take any action. So the dinner party ended up paying double Y120,000 yen. Ouch!!!
IV. Mom's Cafe is a hole in the wall that's worth finding for a good deal on lunch. Tim Boyle, AT editor in chief, turned me on to this place. Highly recommended!!!
It's open daily from 11:30 am to 3 pm. Address: Takezono 2 chome 6-10, tel. 55-1533
good food with lots of volume at cheap prices. Lunch only. Example: a nice big steak with eggs, noodles, rice (or bread) salad and drink Y800. Similar lunch with teriyaki chicken Y650
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