Last night’s stop on my Tokyo culinary tour was Kanda, another Michelin 3 star pick tucked away on a blink-and-you’ll-miss-it side street. Given the luck I’d had with the local cabbies, I opted to leave a good forty-five minutes before my target time and ended up making it there with five minutes to spare. I took a seat at the counter and patiently awaited my dinner companion’s arrival. Five minutes. Ten minutes. Fifteen minutes. What the hell? Was I being stood up? Nope, just oblivious. I suddenly realized I had actually arrived 35 minutes early. Fortunately, Kanda’s chef and owner was an affable fellow – in contrast to the more, er, austere sushi chefs of other eateries – whose English was good but whose French was even better owing to the five years he had spent in France. So, we chatted for a while and, eventually, my guest showed up ten minutes early for the reservation – but twenty-five minutes after I did.
Despite being a Tokyo native, Kay spoke flawless English, having spent time in both the Philippines and the U.S. Full time worker and part time surfer, she was incredibly upbeat, all smiles, as she filled me in on her back story, then proceeded to educate me on life in Japan and the Japanese mindset, and particularly the rage for anything “new” and “hot”. She brought up the example of a new Starbucks that opened near her place of work. Because it was new, people lined up outside to purchase their coffees, sometimes waiting as long as half an hour – completely ignoring the other empty Starbucks only two blocks away.
Unfortunately, Kanda was the only restaurant that didn’t permit photography – which was a shame because it was a memorable meal well worthy of being document. Standout items included a “hairy crab” meatball, monkfish liver that possessed the texture and subtlety of foie gras (the chef soaks the liver in saltwater for two hours prior to preparation), and crispy shirako (aka – milt. Look it up. It’s an acquired taste.). Kay suggested that if I was feeling adventurous, she had the restaurant for me. I thought she was talking about the place in Shinjuku that sold whale sashimi. It turned out, nothing quite so mundane. She was referring to another place in Shinjuku that sold FROG sashimi. “It tastes like chicken sashimi,”she informed me. CHICKEN SASHIMI? She assured me that it was fairly common in Japan. It was just a matter of getting a hold of some really fresh chicken. So, okay, I’m a very adventurous eater, but there are certain things I’m even leery of trying. Frog and chicken sashimi for one. Pork testicle sashimi, another specialty of this Shinjuku restaurant, for another.
It was drizzling as we left the restaurant so the staff graciously gifted us an umbrella on our way out. We took a walk over to Kay’s favorite (twice a week) dessert place: Cold Stone Creamery where we ordered ice creams in chocolate waffle dishes. I paid for our purchase, then dropped a couple of coins in the tip jar. “Tippu!”called the girl behind the counter and, instantly, she was joined by two of her co-workers who joined her in a choreographed song and dance number complete with jumps and turns and exaggerated gestures. A woman standing at the counter, about to place her order, joined in the merriment, swinging her hips and bobbing her head to the beat. (Note: While most guidebooks will tell you that tipping is completely alien to the Japanese and generally frowned upon, but I can assure you from experience that they like it just fine and that it in no way offends their delicate sensibilities.)
I got back to the hotel at a fairly reasonable hour and turned in early. The next morning, I woke up, checked the bedside clock, saw that it was 7:00 a.m., and went back to sleep. I woke up a little later, checked the clock, saw that it was 7:00 a.m., and went back to sleep. I woke up even later, checked again, saw that it was still 7:00 a.m., and went back…Wait a minute! My eyes flashed open and I checked the clock again. Yep, 7:00 a.m. I checked the clock on the other night table. HOLY FREAKIN’ CRAP it was 10:30!!! I’d slept away my morning!
I showered, shaved, got done what I had to get done, then headed out. I met my lunch companion, Moro, outside Sushi Kanesaka in Ginza. We headed downstairs and were seated at a counter where we were served by another atypically upbeat and smiling sushi chef. I struck up a conversation with a Chinese couple who were in from Hong Kong to check out some restaurants and pick up a diningroom table (?). Soon after, we were joined by another solo diner, a fellow from France who, like us, was given a choice between the pricey, pricier, and priciest set menu. His decision to go for the mere pricey set led the woman from Hong Kong to ask “What’s the matter? Don’t you like eating?” Suitably shamed, he switched his order to the pricier set.
The sushi was excellent. And I’m glad because, as it turns out, I have reservations to come back for dinner tomorrow. I asked the chef whether the lunch and dinner menu were the same and he explained that, on a given day, the lunch and dinner menus are more or less the same – however, the menu changes from day to day as it’s entirely dependent on the freshest catch of the day. Seemingly to reinforce this point, seconds later he received delivery of a nicely marbled chunk of o-toro that he promptly sliced and served.
After lunch, Moro and I caught a cab to Hidemi Sugino’s Patisserie. This place is very popular and you have to get their early because they sell out quickly. We waited ten minutes for a table and then selected four pastries for sampling. One of the interesting things about this place is that the pastries are divided into two categories: those that can be taken out, and those that must be immediately consumed on the premises. Alas, no photography permitted inside the café which, again, is a shame because the pastries were beautiful. And delicious.
Our next stop was the Laduree café in Mitsukoshi. Another ten minute wait and we were seated. As we made our selections, I glanced around and couldn’t help but notice that the place was packed – and I was the only male in sight. We made five selections: some good macarons (but, again, Pierre Hermes is king here), an intriguing St. Honore made with rose macarons and lychee, a very good green tea éclair (Moro noted that, given my love for pistachio and matcha desserts, I seemed to possess an obvious predilection to green sweets), two types of ice cream, and a good chocolate-hazelnut dessert. Conversation with Moro was a bit of a challenge. She spoke very little English and I had forgotten to bring along my Japanese-English dictionary. Still, we managed and ended up having a terrific time. I told her about my experience with the singing-dancing tip-takers of Cold Stone Creamery and hoped I would see a similar display of gratitude at Pierre Marcolini, her place of work, tomorrow. She assured me I would not.
Before disappearing into the bowels of the Tokyo subway, she presented me with a little gift – an adzuki bean dessert to enjoy presumably whenever I could stomach yet another dessert.
I returned to the hotel and had enough time to wash up and change before I was out the door and headed toward yet another Michelin 3 star selection: Chateau Restaurant Joel Robuchon. The details on dinner at the chateau to follow…
47 thoughts on “December 2, 2008: Tokyo Travel Day #10, I’m Early!, I’m Late!, and A Lesser Dessert Day”
And what was wrong with buying some ‘carry out’ cakes from Hidemi Sugino’s Patisserie and photographing them in the street?
You seem to have eaten your way around Tokyo – is there anything left that you just have to try before going home?
Coucou Joseph! sa va?
Moi oui super bien!!
La convention en France avance trés bien ^^!!
Sympas ces photos =)
Vous parlez asser souvent de la France en ce moment, pourquoi ne pas y aller en voyage la prochaine fois? =)!!
bon je doit y aller j’ai beaucoup de chose de stargate a m’occuper.
Bisou Bisou! A demain!
I too enjoy Cold Stone Creamery once a week, the best ice cream around here where I live. Yum. I am sure your going to be all desserted out when you get home. Have fun, thanks for the fun pictures too. Those motorcycles are amazing; they are so big and roomy.
Milt, huh? So glad that’s your acquired taste and not mine. Hey, Uncle Milt …
I’ve had beef sashimi before. I was on a day tour with my landlady who spoke exactly three words of English, and a bus full of her husband’s co-workers. I’d been drafted to go along because her husband would not or could not. It was strange and interesting, visiting breweries and wineries and playing trivia games and singing on the bus, and beer … lots and lots of beer on the bus. I had little clue as to where we went and what we were doing, just went with the flow. We had bento lunches at a giant ryokan, apparently very old, the lunch was supposedly very special and very expensive. I can’t speak a lot of Japanese, but I sure can understand chunks of conversations. How could I pass up the beef sashimi? Tasty, very tasty.
Ya know, Joe…that giant backlit spider still isn’t as scary as the mental image of you in skimpy, see-through underdrawers. 😉
There is a Cold Stone Creamery in Fayetteville, but it’s always packed. Since you mentioned it, I guess I will just have to deal with the line and give it a try. I’m glad you are having a great time on your trip. Enjoy the rest of it.
How is your tummy holding up to all that food? I overate at dinner last week and I could barely walk down the street to the car. Reading this just confirms that I am not the foodie I thought I was; you have us all beat!
WOW! That tuna looks yummy, even my cat is eyeballing it lol
I’m thinking that anyone who will munch on milt should not be leery of testicles of any sort.
Joe,are you sure you’re in Tokyo? If it wasn’t for the pictures… I saw a sales rep today at the hospital… he looked just like you. The guys must have thought I was an idiot the way I looked at him. There was striking resemblance. Sure you’re in Tokyo?
OML the food fest sounds amazing. Thanks for painting the pictures for us.
Enjoying your continued travels!
You need to take some coloured pencils and a sketchpad and draw us pictures of the food that you can’t take pictures of.
I’m sure it would qualify as some sort of modern art.
Ummm Joe…….do you have 50 copies of the same suit and shirt? I’d like to see one photo with you wearing something different.
The clock thing would totally happen to me. Not a morning person.
Joe.. I hope you’re gonna shore up that wonderfully lit Giant Spider with a peace offering of Todd awaiting his massage.. skimpy undies ‘n all.
Can’t see Das forgiving you otherwise 😛
Glad to see you’re still enjoying the trip. It’s also nice to know that Writers/Producers/Other Famous Folk also oversleep. Makes me feel less guilty for those times when I do it.
By the way, Brainstorm showed on SkyOne tonight. I switched it on for the ratings, but otherwise left it muted. Sorries to Martin.. still haven’t forced myself into watching it yet.
For those wanting to see the definition of milt, refer to the entry on my blog, “Joseph Mallozzi, this is your blog’s life.” I would recommend an empty stomach and be in no mood to eat before you do.
With all this talk of sushi I decided to go out and buy another fish. Declared by the owner and workers as the ugliest yet cutest fish in the aquarium I decided to give him a home.
Upon bringing him home, Hubby, who has been a mere ghost of late working a minimum of 16 hours a day, agreed he’s ugly.
He noticed that each time I look at my new fish I would smile. He asked what I found so funny about this new fish. I pointed out his features, he’s white with orange spots, big bulging eyes with orange rims around his big bulging eyes. He still didn’t understand what I found so funny.
“Have a look, he’s a fish wearing goggles”.
For some reason that makes me laugh. Hubby said he’d make a fish sized snorkel.
It’s the simple things…
Wow, I’ve had that same thing happen with the clock. Turns out I left it on the setting mode. It really does put a rush to your day.
I am so stuffed just reading of your meals. Even though your taste and mine vary drastically, you are still eating a lot.
Awww! That “tip dance” sounds so awesome. I would probably have put more money in after the performance… hoping to see it again. I’m easily amused 😉
Kay sounds awesome. And that Starbucks story is priceless… I’ve seen it happen in the US too! People here are attracted to new and exciting things… even if they’re neither, in reality.
I was thinking about it the other day while half asleep, a good time to be thinking about anything, especially “it.” After all, my thoughts are a lot less muddled when I’m looking at them through the foggy discombobulated remnants of drowsiness.
And I apologize for interrupting your vacation with these thoughts, though I feel assured that they’ll only be skimmed over. In fact, I’d feel terrible if you actually replied to me on this. Especially while in Tokyo.
Where’d my thesis statement go? Oh, there it is.
The thought that stole my mind during my last REM cycle was the fear that the Stargate Atlantis movie would not be a movie at all. I want to preface this by saying though I, as a fan of SG1, enjoyed the SG1 movies, I recognize that both of the movies ran like really long episodes rather than movies.
And while I enjoyed the SG1 movies as a fan I did not enjoy them as movies. They were epic, but not too epic. No one really changed. Character development seemed limited. I didn’t really enjoy them as standalone movies. I just hope that doesn’t happen to Stargate Atlantis.
I am…requesting (not telling, not demanding, not even suggesting) that the Atlantis movie that is coming up (after SGU, I assume) will be epic. I’m not talking about epic to the series, but AN epic where characters are driven to their limits, where it’s believable, where you lead me down the road of plot and make me believe that it’ll end here and suddenly it ends not only somewhere else but somewhere better.
I would like it to be that even if I didn’t know the Stargate Atlantis franchise I’d still be awed by the story and suddenly attached to the characters.
I know that there is budget to take in mind but I’ve seen movies that have caught my heartstrings made for far less money that the quality of the movie proves to be in the end.
Don’t just satiate my expectation of how funny or wacky McKay’s going to be or how secretly gloomy Sheppard is and his inherent hotness or stolen moments of Rodney and Jennifer cuddly action.
If you’re going to do that you might as well really do it up by making Rodney insane, giving John a breakdown or having serious tension between Jennifer and Rodney then Rodney thinks she dies and gets torn up about it.
I don’t need whumpage, though. Don’t assume that’s the case. I’m not looking to torture anyone. But give me a story that seriously looks at MORALS, or brings characters to their wits in, or honestly changes something big in their universe. Don’t use clichés. (I know, it’s hard not to.) Don’t be predictable. Don’t make it be an obvious “oh this is so crazy so there must be a quick fix for it to be a happy ending.” DON’T do a quick fix.
This is all opinionated bullcrap, by the by, and I sincerely apologize for it. But I felt I needed to say it where someone involved in the movie would see it, even if they didn’t read it. I want this movie to live up to and past what the series would have been if it had continued to play out. I want it to be dark and funny, romantic, terrifying, confusing, satisfying, suspenseful, and worth a big screen venture even though it won’t be offered. I want to be able to show this movie to my roommate who has never seen Stargate Atlantis before and have him love it so much that he has to discover these characters from the beginning.
In other words, I’ve got very high expectations of this movie, excruciatingly high expectations for this endeavor. I really want this movie to be good, Joe. Please make this movie be really, very good.
I’m having a great time living and eating vicariously in Japan, thanks to you.
I ran across a blog I thought might like to check out. It’s about how a young woman created the “Weeping Angel” from the Doctor Who episode, “Blink” for Dragon*Con. It’s my all time favorite DW episode, and I actually saw the costume at Dragon*Con a few months ago. But, I had no idea about the time she spent on the costume.
Here’s the linkto her details of making the costume.
If you go all the way down, you will see her write up of scaring one person you happen to know very well. The story and the picture are worth checking out.
Here it is.
WOW! Your metabolism must be running faster than your legs did a few days ago during that crazy work out!
I am starting to feel like I want to gohome and try some of my more adventurous recipes – like Earl Grey truffles and green tea icecream.
But I did find a recipe for macaroons in the latest woman’s mags this week so I guess I’ll start there. The store bought/factory made macaroons covered in dark chocolate are too sweet for me.
Did the tip dance look something like this?
One more thing. This photo from Dragon*Con‘s 2008 Masquerade is too good not to share:
Tony Starch Is Iron Man
We hit the Cold Stone near here every once in a while for a treat. Knowing about the song & dance when you tip, I tried to sneak a bill into the jar without being scene.
That, in fact, made it worse.
I got TWO choruses!
Happy Dining!!!! This has been incredible!
Perragrin wrote – “Joe.. I hope you’re gonna shore up that wonderfully lit Giant Spider with a peace offering of Todd awaiting his massage.. skimpy undies ‘n all.
Can’t see Das forgiving you otherwise.”
Hey, wanna be my lawyer? 😀
Sorry for the double post, but I was just perusing the new Google Earth pictures and I think I found me!! in a photo from earlier this year 🙂 Ididnt know I was lost!!
The map cars were cruising the streets of NZ since December last year. The clue for me is that the christmas decorations are showing in the photo – but they haven’t been put up yet – the council workers are doing that this week. The council tree went up yesterday.
I suppose my previous invite to my site at http://www.abbaskarimjee.wordpress.com was not the final one as I had anticipated.
I just wanted to let everyone know that I will be hosting a discussion which will be occuring during the live debutof the series finale,” Enemy at the Gate.
The discussion will be on the first post.
Thank you to all of you who came over to the site this past weekend.I hope you enjoyed it and will continue to do so!
I am in awe at your ability to consume foods and still somehow not take in the calories associated with the food. Even allowing for small portions, your total intake in a day whil ein Tokyo would have left me stuffed for at least 3-4 days, and that’s despite the fact that I outweigh you. I hope you are fully satisfied with the way your vacation is going. While touring eateries seems like a fun way to spend a vacation, I’d hate to think you’re missing out on some of the other sights in Tokyo. Then again, you have been there before. But then yet again, I don’t know any major city that can be properly “done” in a few days, or even weeks. Most especially with your penchant for seeking out holes in the walls hiding treasures.
Thanks for the daily reports, and I hope you don’t forget to pick up something especially nice for Fondy.
Yeah, that’s why I just can’t bear tipping at Cold Stone. If they’d just let it pass like a normal person, it would be fine. That’s also why I would never want to work at one. (If you can’t tell, I’m also one of those people who hates it when the waiter is informed when it’s my birthday if I go to a restaurant.)
Joe, you were a little late in posting this morning. Not to sound like your Mother or anything, but I was very worried. Your posts from Tokyo have always been here first thing in the morning – except today’s. I thought “Oh no, he’s finally crashed and burned!”. You have been going and going (and eating) so much I thought it finally caught up with you, especially since you had complained about sore muscles and needing that massage. I thought you had finally collasped and bit the dust! Glad your okay. I could never keep up with you!
Remember when I told you about my grandma who was battling cancer? Well, she went into a coma today shortly before she passed away. At her last moment of life though, she had a total peacefulness about her. She looked up, smiled and said good-bye. That was it.
Have a good time in Toyko.
I love the Santa! It’s cute. I love seeing other countries at Christmas-time.
Joe, you have an iron stomach. I like my ice cream and all, but eating multiple desserts every day? I would have the worst case of little-kid-on-Halloween-night stomach ache. Not to mention some serious cavities. Might want to get that checked out when you get home. 😉
I love that Japanese Cold Stone’s not only sing but dance! A much better show, I’m sure.
I’m getting the biggest kick out of your adventures in Tokyo.
Hi Joe! I’ve really been enjoying your blog — vicarious vacations aren’t as much fun as the real thing, but they’ll do in a pinch. And I’m taking notes for my next trip. I am in awe of your ability to locate and eat fabulous sushi, sweets and other delights, your knack for making friends and your dedication to keeping us, your blog readers, up to date on all of your adventures. Thanks!
Wait, wasn’t today the day you were going to the Parasitology Museum? Did you miss it when you overslept? Oh, my. And I was so looking forward to it. Well, if you don’t get there, let me know and I’ll send you some pics of a charming Taenia from the Micro Lab ;).
Chicken sushi? Maybe the chickens in Japan are safer to eat raw than the ones here in the U.S. The last time I was in Kyoto they were serving uma (horse) and I just couldn’t make myself try it. However, the other patrons in the conveyer-belt sushi bar were snapping up the plates as fast as the chef could dish it out.
Just one question about the milt — I know what it is, but how do they get it crispy?
Hey Joe ^^
Just read your last two posts, they left me in stitches. Im at uni in the med library so I was getting weird stares LOL
We have the ticket thing in Aus too, no ticket no exit or should I say $200 fine.
Apparantly you’ve never tipped at a Cold Stone before. They always sing and dance… It’s especially funny if you’re the only person there and they ask you if you want them to sing and you say, “YES!”
Ooooh, I see eel! Thanks, Joe! Any chance of a takoyaki taste test for me, please?
Hey, we have two Cold Stone Creameries here in Springfield, MO. Can’t wait until Friday!
oh mince j’arrive trop aujourd’hui!
Bah enfaite j’ai été malade cette nuit donc je ne suis pas aller en cour.
Donc j’attend la mise à jour de votre blog, à toute l’heure!
@ Das: “Hey, wanna be my lawyer? 😀
Suuuure.. as long as you don’t mind adopting the Dick Turpin, Stand and Deliver rules of engagement: All monies up front and no promises not to leave a bloody trail in my wake 😛
@ Davidd: Sorry to hear about your Gran. Thoughts and prayers go out to you and your family.
@Davidd. I am sorry for your loss. *hug*
The more I look at that giant spider, the more I am glad that spiders are still squashably small. On the other hand, where better to have giant mutant spiders than Japan, a place for which Godzilla has an unnatural fondness. *grin*
@ Davidd – So very sorry to hear about your grandmother. Even though nothing can ever fill the hole left behind, at least you know she’s at peace. My thoughts are with you and your family…please take care. *hugs*
@ everyone – Forget the weight gain, who wants to bet that Joe comes home with some sort of exotic parasite? Get thee to the Parasitology Museum, Joe…just so you’ll be able to identify the little sucker by name once they root it out of ya.
Joe does food trolling like I do antiques. It’s normal.
PS Davidd, my condolences. Hopefully my mom’s passing will be similar.
Hey there Mr M!
Wow! What a long blog entry!!! You seem to be having a great time!
Like Chevron 7 : Am also curious about your attire…. Are you checking out suitable tailors in Tokyo? I know you get your suits in Hong Kong…
See any nice cuff links by the by?
Best to you!
PS PLease pass on any other japglish t-shirt type phrases…they are hilarious!
@ Perragrin – DEAL! Here’s 50p…now make Joe gimme Todd in a nappy!