Chocolate Hamburger
Chocolate Hamburger

Pimpin' it Tokyo-style.
"Is Yoshiro gonna have to slap a bitch?"

A line-up outside Quarter Pounder, a McDonald's outlet that sells nothing but, yep, you guessed it, Quarter Pounders.
A line-up outside Quarter Pounder, a McDonald's outlet that sells only, yep, you guessed it, Quarter Pounders.

Yes, I'm looking for a hat that can fit someone with a watermelon-sized head, and also a sweater for someone with three arms.  Oh, perfect!
Yes, I'm looking for a hat that can fit a watermelon-sized head and a sweater for someone with three arms. Oh, perfect!

Feel like victim?  Well now you can dress like one at Victim Tokyo!
Feel like victim? Well now you can dress like one at Victim Tokyo!

Sinsational selections from Peltier
Sinsational selections from Peltier

Not yet...Not yet...
Not yet...Not yet...

The Prada Building in Aoyama
My favorite: The Prada Building in Aoyama

My buddy Nikko
My buddy Nikko

Pierre Hermes seasonal macarons
Pierre Hermes seasonal macarons

My Pierre Marcolini parfait
My Pierre Marcolini parfait

Here’s something interesting I discovered over the course of my first four days here: Tokyoites are notoriously shy and unlikely to engage in spontaneous conversation but, given the opportunity to open up, they can be incredibly friendly and loquacious. Westerners either visiting or living in Tokyo, on the other hand, are, with very few exceptions, fucktards operating under the delusion that being in Japan makes them a class unto themselves, not quite Japanese but certainly no longer natives of their country of origin who, in order to maintain their cherished imaginary status, must shun all eye contact with fellow Westerners at the risk of shattering the illusion. “Oh, yeah,”my fellow diner Yuka informed me the other night, nodding in commiseration. She knows all about it. Many Westerners in Japan, it seems, are essentially the equivalent to the schoolyard loser, fraught with self-doubt yet so fueled by a desperate desire to fit in that they actively discourage any connection that reminds them of their otherness. I’ll let it drop for now but this is a topic I’ll no doubt revisit before the end of my stay here.

My 3-star Michelin tour took me to L’Osier last night, the chic French eatery located in Ginza’s Shiseido building. This one was a feast for the eyes, from its lavish décor to its equally opulent food presentations. Taking advantage of the white truffle seasonal menu, I enjoyed magnificent ravioli stuffed with ricotta, parsley, white truffle, and topped with white truffle shavings and parmesan foam, then a wonderful milk-fed Chiba roast piglet served with creamy truffle polenta. From there, we moved onto a myriad of desserts: first a complimentary selection made up of a half-dozen macarons, sorbet, gelees, and brulee, then the “official dessert”, a “chocolate hamburger“, and finally more complimentary from the rolling dessert cart stocked full of homemade goodies like chocolates, nougats, and lollipops. Service throughout was impeccable.

The bars were letting out as I was making my way back to the hotel, releasing hordes of drunken office workers to catch the last subway home. Hostesses in evening wear dotted the sidewalks outside the various drinking establishments, bidding them a fond farewell. I walked behind two middle-aged salary men who could barely walk a straight line. One kept staggering off and back while his heavy-set body continually wiped his face and forehead with the sweat rag he had conveniently had the foresight to bring with him.

Between the non-stop walking and eating, I tend to be wiped by 10:00 p.m. And, by the time I hit my bed at 11:00 p.m., I’m out. It’s been weird having the entire bed to myself, not having to contort my body around four sleeping dogs. Still, I am sleeping deeper and longer, averaging an unheard of 8-9 hours a night!

Today, I walked the streets of Shibuya-ku, strolling up Omotesando and checking out the neighborhood’s winding side streets and alleyways chock full of bizarre little clothing boutiques and ramen shops. I had first lunch at a burger place called Lotteria, opting for a simple cheeseburger whose quality far surpassed those of its North American counterpart. Then, I enjoyed a double dessert (a delicious meringue ball and rich gianduja) at Peltier. I ordered a tea that came with a little hour glass to let me know when it had steeped enough for me to start pouring, and a shot of some mystery light green liquid. I didn’t know whether to knock it back, pour it into my tea, or use it to polish my silverware once I’d finished eating so, in the end, I just let it sit.

I then headed out, paid a visit to my favorite Omotesando destination, Kiddyland, which is 5 floors of toys and fun. Then, over to Maisen, a tonkatsu restaurant for second lunch. That’s “tonkatsu” and not “tomcats” as my damn spellchecker would have you believe. Really nice, moist deep-fried pork cutlets served with various sides and sauces. On my way in, a helpful security guard helped me sheathe my umbrella. It’s the weirdest thing but every store has an automated umbrella sheather. Stick your umbrella in and it is instantly packaged in plastic for easy non-drip strolling. As you leave, simply whip off the sheathe, trash it, and you’re ready to go. Anyway, as I was leaving, the same security guard asked me how I had enjoyed the restaurant. “Totemo oishikatta desu!” (It was very tasty!) I told him. He seemed genuinely thrilled and we started chatting. He spoke no English and yet we managed a stammered conversation. My Japanese is apparently better than I thought.

I continued on my way, hit the Pierre Hermes boutique where I picked up some seasonal macarons, then caught a taxi back to the hotel. My driver was very friendly and we chatted about food and travel over the course of the ride, managing a pretty exhaustive conversation in halting Japanese, English, and French.

I had a half an hour to decompress before catching another cab to my next Michelin 3-star destination: Mizutani. The cab dropped me off on a street corner and, although the driver pointed to a building, there was no sign (well, no English sign anyway) that indicated where I should go. I consulted my map, then walked into what appeared to me a office building, and took the rattling elevator down to the basement level. I approached a door at the end of a hallway, opened it and peered inside. For an instant, I thought I had walked into somebody’s apartment. “Mizutani?”I asked the woman who poked her head out of the kitchen. “Irrashaimase!”she welcomed me. We stepped through another sliding door and into the restaurant proper – a tiny room with a sushi counter that could seat maybe 12 people comfortably. “Omakase?”asked the chef which roughly translates to “Chef’s choice”. “Omakase,”I nodded back. And so, I watched the sushi master at work as he would carve out a piece of fish, then reach back into a basket and pull out a handful of rice that he would shape with flick of his wrist and a press of his thumb like he was rolling dice, marry the fish to the rice, then set it down in front of me. Every time he set something down, he would make an announcement: “O-toro,”he would say. Or “Mirugai”. “Uni.” Once, he set down an almost translucent fish with a name I’d never heard of, but clearly it was something special because he threw me a knowing look and chuckled when he set it down in front of me. Again, another memorable meal.

On my way back to the hotel, I stopped in at the Pierre Marcolini Café and ordered up a chocolate parfait and ice latte. I ended up striking up a conversation with the gals behind the counter – Moro and Keiko – and held my own in Japanese for the greater part of an hour. Keiko is off to New York this weekend but if Moro is free on Tuesday, sheh as kindly agreed to join me on an excursion to Minato-ku. Ebisu Beer Museum anyone?

Tomorrow, I’m Shinjuku-bound. Pachinko, here I come!

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Jinx

Again, I should know better than to come here first thing. I am starving now, & a bagel is just not gonna cut it! WOuld that I learn from your adventure & blindly sample that which I don’t understand. (And thank GOD it wasn’t “tomcats”!)

Congrats on your conversations & holding your own.

Continue enjoying your trip so I may continue vicariously traveling!

DigitalDarragh

Very cool stuff! I don’t ordinarily comment on your blog but I read it every morning when I get to work. I’d usually skip past the non-SG related stuff but your descriptions of your holiday are really good! I’ve never heard of someone to eat so much though! WOW!

Hay, just one SG related statement, Don’t forget your fans who are blind. I generally find it really easy to follow everything and have done right from the very first episode of SG1 but there have been times that things happen and it’s absolutely impossible to determine what’s happened without sighted intervention.

Keep up the really good work.

heartsmeneko
heartsmeneko

I can’t believe all other westerners are so rude lol follow them along the st and poke them until they achknowledge you. muahahahahahaha

iamza
iamza

A chocolate hamburger?! I have got to visit Tokyo sometime!

Does the glass on the outside of the Prada building bulge outwards from the metal struts, or is that just an optical illusion?

Shirt'n'Tie
Shirt'n'Tie

Hi again Mr M!

Wow, you are really having a great time (and well deserved!) Just reading about your restaurant adventures makes me want to fly to Tokyo! (I checked the next available flight 1st class from Ireland direct….and I’m about 13000 (approx $19500) Euros shy…mmm!)
Anyway all the foods look very tempting. I am intrigued with the Hermes Macroons…I am assuming there is tie-in with the Scarf people? Also, that Chocolate dish P ierre Marcolini parfait looked absolutely FABAROO!! Chef Belcham is taking notes I would say!!! So far for you, what has been “THE FUEL” of Tokyo?
Enjoy the rest of your stay…and it’s great to see you posting at a reasonable time (Irish time that is!)

Best to you

Shirt’n’Tie

PS : Completely agree with your comments re: westerners abroad in the East… unfortunately it isn’t just confined to Japan! In a previous life I worked as National Tour Guide…man the stories!

dasNdanger
dasNdanger

The thing with the Westerners. It’s not just Westerners. I see this same thing here in the States. Some people who live here remain connected to their culture and to the folks from back home. Right now we have a lot of Mexican, Polish, Russian and other Eastern Europeans living in the area, and most seem to keep fairly connected to their homeland. Still, with many immigrants – especially those staying for a while – I find an eagerness to be ‘American’, to adapt to our culture and shun the things from home. Eastern Europeans not so much, they are very proud of their heritage…but I have seen it with cultures you don’t expect it from, such as people from the Middle East. I had a Palestinian friend like that. He grew up in Saudi Arabia, but he just wanted to be like a ‘normal’ American…buy a house and car and a dog…he really loved huskies. smile He eventually moved away to open a restaurant in another state. I really miss him, just a great guy.

Everyone’s different. Some cling to their culture (the Chinese, for instance), while others choose to blend in. Mom has a Polish friend who has lived here many years, and she prefers to avoid other Polish people. And my foster sister, from India (who has lived in the States since she was 8) avoids fellow Indians like the plague. As she has gotten older she has eased up on that a bit, but when she was a teenager, into her early 20s, she would tell people that she was from Bali, or any other place besides India. With age she has come to have more appreciation for her culture, but still…she prefers to be around Americans, though she still can’t resist a good Indian restaurant! Hey…neither can I!

So, I don’t think it’s just a ‘westerner’ thing, but a human thing. We want to feel like we ‘belong’, and so we avoid anything that might remind us that we don’t.

Joe – once you get home, please…tell us how much weight you gained on this trip. If you LOST weight, I think I’m gonna have to slap you. HARD. wink

(And…did I hear you right…you sleep with the dogs, not your wife?? Something’s a tad wrong with that picture…)

And yeah, I’m just ignoring the fact that – sometimes – when I head off for bed, Mr. Das is already hunkered down with 2 or 3 cats, so I just roll my eyes and sleep in the spare room. roll Funny how our pets get the prime spots, while we are left to sleep on the couch. unamused (I think we just need a bigger bed…or fewer cats. )

das

dasNdanger
dasNdanger

Okay – that guy with the sunglasses was supposed to be the number eight, and a parenthesis. unamused

das

Thornyrose
Thornyrose

Pachinko! Oh, do have fun. Just the name brings back fond(and too distant) memories. It sounds like you’re doing well on the food front, and your pictures are great advertisements for the establishments you’ve been visiting. Very glad for you that you seem to be having a great time with the Japanese themselves, and I’m curious to hear the tales of the uncouth Westerners. Hope you continue to enjoy the trip, and the extra sleep.

Hayloh
Hayloh

That chocolate hamburger looks ridiculously delicious. OML I gotta go and eat something.

susanthetartanturtle

Have the Japanese invented the automatic condom machines yet? – a step on from the automatic umbrella sheather !

smile

Johnny E!
Johnny E!

Happy Thanksgiving Joe, from the past, b/c you are in the future over there! Sounds like an awesome trip, thanks for the updates!

Deni B.
Deni B.

Happy Thanksgiving from Florida! That meringue ball had my mouth watering. I know all about having to contort your body around dogs (three of them in our bed here, one large, one medium, one small) – my husband sleeps on one edge, I on the other, but hey, the quadripeds are happy. That said, I’d kill for 8 hours sleep! Still, nothing beats the tail wags and wet kisses every morning! Looking forward to your adventures tomorrow!

Pilota
Pilota

Loving the trip so far. Thanks for taking us along.

P

Jenny Robin

I admire your fearless travel nature. I’m a fearless road trip warrior within the US, but my international excursions have been limited to Spanish-speaking countries, where I am at least able to bumble my way through any conversation that happens to occur in their native language.

Sara (sclairef99)

Hi Joe!

Sounds like you are having a great time! I’m certainly enjoying seeing Japan from here. And your culinary adventures are great fun – how was the chocolate hamburger?

How is it you are finding all these people to have dinner with?

Anyway – keep having a great time!

s

Enzo Aquarius
Enzo Aquarius

Hey Joe!

That automatic umbrella sheather is an amazing idea! Too bad they don’t have those here in North America, it would save so much hassle on those rainy days when strolling around stores.

Your trip summaries are a great read, and those food photos have an absolute drool factor to them. The chocolate hamburger looks very delicious indeed!

Thanks as always, and it’s nice to see that you are making many friends in Tokyo. smile

– Enzo Aquarius

Randomness
Randomness

Chocolate hamburger? Never knew those existed..
Sounds like you’re having fun lol

shiningwit
shiningwit

WOW! Your commentary is so descriptive its like being there so vivid a picture you have narrated. Thank you.

I must admit I’d never thought about westerners living there I until you brought my attention to the fact that the handful of people I know who have made their lives there are all people I wouldn’t normally choose to be in a room with, so yeah, fucktards is an apt terminology.

wonderingbrit

You should be fitting in quite well then LOL – oh you so asked for that…
On the other hand you could try the down to earth Brit method of communication with western folk and introduce yourself by shouting the following “Oi nobhead, get a f**king grip of yourself, take you’re head out of your ass and speak to a human”.
To be fair, this would work better at a football match and might not win the person over as a friend, but it should get you the information you desire – said in the right way, they may even offer you their wallet.

LOL

P.S. It’s best not to refer to a mans wife as ‘the one with a face like a slapped ass’. He may wish to stop verbal communication – or on the other hand, might offer you a pint.

Pat
Pat

Hey Joe,
How much trouble are you in for saying you miss the dogs and not mentioning your other half.

Dan
Dan

Chocolate Hamburger?! That’s genius. How was it?

Narelle from Aus

Hope you enjoyed your day as a Hobbit.
Weight gain to date?

Joe wrote:

Ebisu Beer Museum anyone?

Count me in! As long as it’s an interactive museum.

Annie from Fremantle
Annie from Fremantle

tonkatsu

Spell checker yelld ‘tonsure’ at me, not ‘tomcats’

Aww I wanted to see your meat dishes! You know Joe, when I went to Sydney for my 6 day holiday, I too took pictures of my courses… do you get that feeling of slight embarrassment when you take photos? People looking at you as if you’re nuts. Or do you wonder if the waiters aren’t saying to themselves, ‘shit it’s a food reviewer’. ? hehe

Yeah I want to know if you’ve gained weight too. (my loss has been 42kg so far, so yeah, your weight is on my mind).

Oh yeah and are you sure that you didn’t unwittingly have fugu as that transparent fish course? Gotta be careful Joe.

dasNdanger
dasNdanger

@ susanthetartanturtle – lol LOLOL! I’m glad I wasn’t the only one thinking the same thing! (I was just too much of a lady to mention it…first. wink )

das

Rebecca T

That Pierre Marcolini parfait looks to die for! *hushes grumbling stomach*