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Sometimes all it takes is a steamy round of buttery garlic bread and a group of friends to turn your day around.

Add in a berry and white chocolate tart, and things really start looking up.

That seems to be the philosophy at G. Labo Noodle, an Italian-Asian fusion restaurant tucked away in the Marifu-machi area of downtown Iwakuni.

The food dishes — and especially the pastries and desserts — are put together with care and artistry that makes it difficult not to feel a little lighter.

G. Labo sits in a gritty district of snack bars and izakayas, but has a decidedly more European feel. The floors and furniture are sturdy wood, and shoes don’t have to come off at the door.

The menu includes a packed set dinner influenced by Western course menus — hors d’oeuvres, salad, bread, meat and pasta, and dessert with coffee or tea.

The garlic bread, which is served as a round crusty roll, is a simple but delicious staple at the restaurant.

Meanwhile, the Asian influence dances through each course. The meat entrée is steak with sweet plum sauce, while the accompanying pasta dish could be soymilk soup noodles with shrimp and spinach.

The Cobb salad, a favorite among some patrons, is offered alongside bean curd and seaweed.

Unadventurous diners could play it safe and eat straight Western dishes or Asian dishes. There is a wide selection of pasta that can be ordered a la carte, including enticing but tame dishes such as tomato sauce noodles with bacon, eggplant and mozzarella cheese.

Others can try the tuna tartare, raw Korean chicken or tom-yam goong soup, a spicy-and-sour Thai dish that packs a burst of flavor.

There is also an extensive dessert list with photos of all the gorgeous tarts, puddings and cakes.

G. Labo is a good place to gather for a night of good food and conversation — try out the cheese fondue — and both Japanese and SOFA residents would likely feel comfortable.

But sticking with one style of cuisine could defeat the purpose.

The joy of the restaurant is the mingling of cultures and tastes not only around the table but within the dishes.

Hours: Lunch, 11:30 to 3 p.m.; dinner, 5:30 to 11 p.m.

Prices: Beer and cocktails 500 yen; pasta dishes 780-980 yen; deluxe dinner sets 2,800 yen

Specialties: Italian-Asian fusion

English menu: Yes, includes photos

Dress: Casual

Clientele: Mixed Japanese and SOFA residents

Location: 1F Poporo building 3-13-20, Marifu, Iwakuni-shi. The restaurant is located just off the downtown arcade in Marifu-machi, a couple of minutes from Route 188. A large G. Labo sign marks a small alley on the left-hand side of the arcade that leads to the restaurant.

Phone: 0827-21-7916

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