Paraguay eh! I don’t know much about it at all. I’ve never been there or even to any of its South American counterparts. I can’t think of any movies which have been filmed or even set there. It’s these types of things which Tokyo Fox usually depends on for bulking out a restaurant review!
When it comes to talking about this landlocked country, one man sticks out by a mile and that is the legendary goalkeeper José Luis Chilavert! I loved watching this guy keep net for his country in the late 1990’s and early 2000’s when he played in two World Cup tournaments. Not only was he great between the sticks and an inspirational captain but he was an expert dead-ball specialist and he came so, so close to becoming the first goalie to ever score in a finals with this effort in 1998 and this one in 2002. Overall, he scored eight goals for his country and is not surprisingly the only goalkeeper to ever score a hat-trick (watch it here) as well as a goal from inside his own half. A true entertainer on the world football scene!
As the years rolled by though he started to pile on the pounds a little as he enjoyed his country’s food a bit too much it seems. Yes…. and that tenuous link my friends brings us on to this Paraguayan restaurant in Chiba! On Friday lunchtime I met up with friend and former neighbour Gideon for the first time since January last year when we took a trip down memory lane before moving on to Shibamata. The restaurant is just a minutes walk from Kamihongo station which is the first stop on the Shin-Keisei line coming from Matsudo station.
When we reached our destination we were surprised to see that it had changed its name but the Paraguay flag in the window (as well as the former name) indicated that this was where we wanted to dine out for lunch. It actually says Latin American cooking on the sign outside the place and an Argentina flag also dons the outside of the kitchen wall alongside that of Paraguay. There is also a football scarf hanging on one of the walls which is surely justification for my Chilavert reference earlier!!
By my standards this place seemed quite sophisticated on entering, with wine glasses on the tables and a couple of groups of housewives sitting around doing what they do best with their days! The place seems to be more of a bar at night (its stocked with a vast range of alcoholic drinks including Paraguayan wine) but is also open for lunch from 11.30am to 3pm (last orders at 2.30pm) from Tuesday to Sunday.
Knowing about a country’s former national goalkeeper doesn’t exactly given one any ideas about its local cuisine so I really didn’t have any idea what to expect in that area. The lunch menu has over a dozen dishes costing in the range of 1000 yen with an extensive list of side dishes on offer too. I had seen empanada‘s (300 yen) on the internet ahead of our visit and it’s basically a baked pastry stuffed with ground beef. It was absolutely scrumptious and whetted my appetite for my main which was to follow (there was a salad in between but a salad is a salad in my book!). I just asked the owner what the number one Paraguayan dish on offer was and as predicted he pointed to the first one on the menu which was also the most expensive one! Oh well, the 1200 yen Milanesas (breaded meat fillet) was well worth it. Gideon’s chicken and tomato based dish (1000 yen) also looked very appetising.
One dish I wanted to try was Borí Borí con pollo which is a chicken soup with small balls of maize and cheese which is supposed to help in getting rid of colds. Given the amount of sneezing I’ve been doing recently I could have done with it but sadly I didn’t notice there was a mini one on the menu until it was way too late.
It appears that there are some close links between Paraguayan and Italian food which presumably owes to the ethnic Italians who have settled in Paraguay over time. As always with these international restaurants, I have no real idea how authentic the dishes are but given that the owner is half Paraguayan half Japanese one would maybe expect it to be pretty close. If you want to know which of his parents is from South America then just look at the name of the restaurant!
Mama’s Kitchen (Formerly Yuki Restaurant) is at 3-111-102 Nakaicho, Matsudo-shi