On recommendation from a coworker of mine, I decided to have lunch at Village Vanguard Diner at Koshigaya Laketown. Before even discussing my lunch, I need to talk about Koshigaya Laketown first. I believe that Aeon Laketown, which is located at Koshigaya Laketown station (about a half-hour northeast of Tokyo), is the largest shopping mall in Japan. So if shopping is your thing, this is the place. I'll talk more about malls later.
Now on to the important stuff apart from my mall discussion. In sum, Village Vanguard Diner has great burgers. Actually, not just great burgers, but really, really great burgers. It's not often where a burger makes me think, "Wow this is something special!" I ordered the smokey bacon BBQ pepper cheeseburger. As to burger size, I chose the wide mouth burger, which is the larger of the two sizes. I recall that it was around 1430 yen. The hamburger was freshly off of the grill and had a hearty seasoned flavor. The giant bacon strip was salted and spiced well and the pepper cheese made my taste buds sing with joy. The bun was something out of a fine bakery and added to the greatness of my burger. I washed the burger down with a medium-sized pineapple juice.
One of my companions ordered the avocado burger and she was thoroughly impressed with it. She got the non-big mouth size.
The burgers included a small amount of fries which were fresh-cut. The fries were nothing to write home about though since they were overshadowed by great burgers. In addition to the burgers above, the restaurant had a good variety of others to choose from.
The restaurant houses an assortment of interesting U.S. memorabilia. I happen to like the Lion Coffee picture below since I love coffee so much. Our entire meal was accompanied by Dixieland jazz music. The decor and music create a very eclectic atmosphere.
The restaurant maybe only seats about 50 diners and you can tell from the picture below that it can get crowded.
All in all, I give Village Vanguard Diner five out of five moos for the great hamburgers it has. Regarding this restaurant, as the Terminator would say, "I'll be back!"
Back to my discussion on malls, Aeon Laketown is actually three malls in one, the Kaze mall, the Mori mall and the Laketown Outlet mall. You could spend your whole day there and it has every store from Gap to Lego to Sony Plaza to obscure boutiques. They even have a Rocky Mountain Chocolate Factory there, which I'll review in a later post. That said, Aeon Laketown is in my top ten favorite shopping malls which are:
- Mall of America, Minneapolis, Minnesota: 2 giant food courts, an amusement park, an aquarium, Legoland and a movie complex. It was at this mall that I first experienced Rain Forest Cafe and Planet Hollywood (which like most Planet Hollywoods, closed). Along with well-known stores, this mall boasts plenty of smaller shops and carts too. The view from the food courts (they are opposite from each other) into the centrally-located theme park gave me a shopper's impression of what it must be like for a tourist to look into the Grand Canyon for the first time.
- Miracle Mile Shops at the Planet Hollywood Casino, Las Vegas, Nevada: Huge mall set in a wonderful Middle Eastern theme (it used to be the Aladdin Casino). There is a pretty cool thunderstorm every hour, and I think the store selection here is better than the Forum Shops at Caesars and the Venice-themed mall at the Venetian.
- Downtown Disney, Orlando, Florida: Spending a year as a performer at Disney World has made me quite fond of this mall, not for just the memories, but also for the magic feelings that only Disney can make you feel. I believe that Downtown Disney's World of Disney is the largest Disney Store in the world, and restaurants such as Bongos, Wolfgang Pucks, Rain Forest, T-Rex Cafe, and Fulton's Crabhouse ensure that you'll have a fun place to eat.
- The Eaton Centre, Toronto: The diversity of people shopping at this mall is amazing. The setting and store selection is something very nice too, especially for a mall set in a downtown area.
- Woodfield Mall,Schaumburg, Illinois: This is a hometown favorite, a high school hangout for me. Woodfield is one of the largest U.S. malls in terms of retail space. I saw Jurassic Park here, watched the OJ chase here (at Lucky's which is no longer open), and Mom currently works here. For me, Woodfield has many good memories, and is a mandatory visit when I return to Chicago. If by chance you go here, enjoy a root beer at A&W for me.
- Aeon Laketown, Saitama, Japan: Well, this is the place to go when I feel like shopping in Tokyo. Please see my thoughts above about it.
- Harbour City, Hong Kong: Huge mall in Hong Kong located in the Tsim Sha Tsui area. Fine dining, luxury stores and more. We went here almost everyday when we were in Hong Kong.
- Orland Square Mall, Orland Park, Illinois: Another sentimental favorite. We went here quite often in law school as the store selection was better than the much closer Southlake Mall in Merrillville. This mall isn't really that great, but it has a store selection that I like a lot, Games Workshop, a toy store (probably not since Kay Bee went under a few years ago), and a pretty large Barnes & Noble in the perimeter.
- Grand Avenue Mall, Milwaukee, Wisconsin (circa 1980's). I say circa 1980's because I went to the mall about 5 years ago and it was pretty disappointing as there were a lot of vacancies. This mall had one of my favorite stores of all time, the Puzzle Box. The Puzzle Box was a store where you could find a dizzying assortment of miniature toys- dinosaurs, dice, animals, robots, balls, blocks, etc. It was something like the assortment of toys presented in those I Spy and Can You See What I See books. The mall had this pretty cool food court where there was a bear that was going across a tightrope on a unicycle. For some odd reason, the Stanley Cup visited this mall and I actually had a chance to touch it (I didn't for some reason and will regret not touching it for the rest of my life).
- Sunshine City, Ikebukuro, Tokyo: Packed with young people with a wide assortment of fashion styles, there are always interesting people to watch here. Combined with an aquarium up at top, many game centers below, a Gyoza stadium and the Namco Namja Town theme park, this is a pretty cool mall. Many years ago, I lived within walking distance from this mall and as a result, I have many good memories at Sunshine. If you like Mexican cuisine, there is an El Torito here, which can satisfy your cravings for Americanized Mexican food.