Café Restaurant Gusto, or from its direct translation Café Resutoran Gusto, is something I’ve been meaning to try for a while. This restaurant gives me the same feeling I get from eating at IKEA, possibly because of the lighting and the self-serve drink bar. It also helps that they serve typical items found in western cuisine – steak, burgers, pasta, potato, soups, salads, and a variety of desserts. Albeit, with a Japanese twist.
Skylark Group owns a number of businesses other than restaurants. Gusto is simply one of Skylark Group’s restaurants. Gusto alone has countless locations all over Japan so if you’re interested in trying one out, you’re bound to find one at the more popular areas. The one I went to was in Shibuya.
The interiors are normally bigger than the average Japanese restaurant. It’s definitely a kid-friendly place. In fact, there’s a menu for kids. Just like IKEA, there’s an all-you-can-drink, self-serve soft drink option which is shown on the kids menu. As for the adults, everything on the menu looks absolutely mouth-watering. There’s a ton of things to choose from that I couldn’t make up my mind on what to eat. Prices are reasonable. A combo will cost about ¥1,000 which includes rice and a salad or soup or both, or miso soup and pickled vegetables. You can decide how you want to customize your meal. Prices without a combo are in the ¥600-800 range.
After spending nearly 20 minutes deciding what to eat, I settled on a hamburger and fried oyster set for ¥733. For dessert I’ll be having an apple pie with vanilla ice cream (¥460). That was also a tough choice. An interesting thing about Japanese menus that can be noted here is that they tend to list how many calories and sodium content in the dish. If you’re looking out for your diet, you can use this to your advantage.
My plate of food came along with a plate of rice. Once again, portions in Japan aren’t big but this fills me up fine. Not my male counterpart though. The hamburger was similar to the ones they serve at your local fast food restaurant. I would compare the patty to perhaps a Harvey’s Original – maybe a little thicker. Not the best I’ve tasted nor the worst.
As for the oysters, they were the best part of the dish. The outer layer was super crunchy and the oysters were tasty without a seafood stench. I expected no less of Japan and seafood. In fact, I don’t even think seafood stench exists in Japan. If you visit a supermarket, you’ll notice they always emphasize freshness by saying so and also providing the exact date and time they packaged items. Something that sits for a whole afternoon would be discounted heavily because no one would buy it. Works for me. The oysters were also topped with some tartar sauce to my liking, which on the picture looks like mashed potato. The sides were a couple of hash brown slices, a broccoli and some corn. There’s nothing worth mentioning here except for the fact that they’re placed in the same sequence as on the menu, interestingly enough.
Dessert is supposedly apple pie but it was more of a flake pastry than a pie. It was light and had a noticeable cinnamon flavor. The apples still had some crunch in them rather than being completely soggy. There’s nothing wrong with combining this warm piece of heaven with good old vanilla ice cream. A pleasurable way to end the meal.
The experience was good enough to get me going back to try other things. It helps that the menu is very appealing and the place is comfortable. As I said, the restaurant gives me a sort of Diners, Drive-ins and Dives feel with a Japanese twist. Although as I mentioned in the past, the Japanese don’t know how to truly make a smoking area enclosed. If that’s a problem for you, you might not enjoy the stay. Caveat emptor. Cheers!