~Osusume Café Series~
written by Tamara Schoenberger
Warming your hands with a steamy mug of house coffee as you look around in awe of the cozy, contemporary and themed atmospheres of Japan’s coolest cafes doesn’t have to be limited to weekend ventures to Tokyo! With these articles, I aim to bring the spotlight to the more than deserving cafes of Gunma. Even in the inaka (and surprisingly enough, especially in the inaka) there are hidden gems scattered all around the prefecture just waiting to be unearthed. As I find these, I want to share them with the GAJET community so that everyone can find their home away from home (away from home.) The next time you meet up with fellow ALTs on the weekend for some r&r, try out one of these places!
THREE SENT grill&sweets in Isesaki
Head lowered as he finger picked the strings of the acoustic guitar in his lap, the owner of THREE SENT spoke of his vision for the café. THREE SENT grill&sweets is a restaurant café in Isesaki that is only the beginning of the Samm Entertainment dream. The owner of THREE SENT currently owns not only the restaurant café but also an adjacent hair salon (which deserves its own raving review perhaps in an Osusume Salon column) but he hopes to expand and open an entire business area of services to Isesaki locals. It will be a place where no matter what you need (food, entertainment, basic services) you can rely on Samm Entertainment to provide. The owner hopes that it can be a place where people can visit and be immersed in the feeling that they have entered a small town or community. Why is it named Samm Entertainment? Who is Samm? Well, the owner said there’s no reason behind the name except that he thinks it sounds cool. A worthy enough reason, in my opinion.
But, as of now, Samm Entertainment is building a sturdy foundation with THREE SENT café. What makes THREE SENT a worthy afternoon endeavor is the contemporary atmosphere, the friendly owner and staff (very excited for foreign customers!) and undeniably the most important aspect of a cafe—exemplary food!
From 11:30 AM till 2:30 PM, THREE SENT offers lunch service with a smaller, rotating set menu. But don’t let the small menu scare you away from trying something new and unknown because it’s just another testament to quality over quantity. THREE SENT offers lunch sets with soup and salad and main dishes of gourmet sandwiches, hearty chicken and beef entrees as well as grilled fish.
Between 2:30 and 5:30, THREE SENT is still open but only runs their drink bar and the location as a coffee shop. THREE SENT has a full drink menu of roasted coffees, herbal teas, imported wines and hard liquors. Looking to relax a little, I opted for a chamomile herbal tea.
Past 5:30 PM, the café starts up its kitchens for dinner service and if you sit at the counter, you can even watch the grill as the chefs skillfully work around it. THREE SENT’s dinner menu is a full menu including various pastas, cultural fusion foods and high quality steaks. On my last visit, I tried a featured monthly special of marinated shrimp and mushrooms sautéed in a garlic oil, intended to be eaten over fresh and lightly toasted French bread. Every time I eat at THREE SENT I am impressed by the balance of flavor and the combination of the ingredients’ texture. I have yet to try a dish that didn’t impress.
Beyond the rotating lunch menu and the decadent dinner courses, THREE SENT’s claim to fame is their feature dessert, the Dutch Baby pancake. In fact, it was their advertisements posted outside promoting the dessert that peaked my interest in the first place.
A Dutch baby pancake, also known as a Bismarck, or Dutch puff, is originally a breakfast food but thanks to THREE SENT, you can enjoy it at any point of the day. It’s a simple pancake made with egg, flour, sugar and milk and baked in a cast iron pan. (Which I might add that cooking with a cast iron pan is a great way to get the essential mineral iron in your diet. For women this is especially important, so I believe this more than justifies eating this dessert for health reasons!) What sets the Dutch baby pancake apart from its fellow pancakes and pastry puffs is that it is immediately served while piping hot with a scoop of French vanilla ice cream, fluffy whipped cream and a combination of your choice of ingredients ranging from chocolate to berries.
A big fan of sweet and savory flavor combinations, I tried the Manuka honey (a unique multifloral honey from New Zealand) and Rosemary Dutch Baby. As the ice cream melts and the toppings begin to mix, the pancake absorbs and takes on all the flavors without becoming a crumbly mess or too wet. I will definitely be back to try the Mont Blanc chestnut variation next time I stop by.
With plans to remodel and expand, I cannot wait to see how Samm Entertainment develops. And no matter when you decide to visit THREE SENT, you can expect great service, amazing food and an owner who is more than happy to chat with you!
THREE SENT grill&sweets is located at Nirazukamachi, Isesaki, Gunma (群馬県伊勢崎市韮塚町964-2) and unfortunately more than a walk’s distance away from the nearest station. But don’t let this deter you! If you don’t have a car, I’m sure the temptation of a Dutch baby pancake would make this a willing trip for almost anyone.
THREE SENT is open Sunday through Saturday from 11:30 AM with extended hours till midnight on Friday and Saturday. The average budget for lunch is between \1000-2000 and for dinner \2000-3000.Foodie, Restaurants