I woke up early this morning, made my final preparations for departure, checked out, then spent the greater part of the afternoon strolling through Ginza before catching the shuttle to the airport. I left Tokyo on Thursday, December 4th at 5:20 p.m. and, after a nine hour flight, landed in Vancouver on December 4th, 8:45 a.m., thoroughly exhausted and ready to start my day. Again. I went through customs, picked up my luggage, stepped out into the lobby…and there was no one there to greet me. Had my wife forgotten? Was she too busy to come pick me up? Had she discovered the perfumed correspondence from the Countess, Lady Penelope Fitzwater Pearl, hidden in the recessed bottom of my armoire? Somewhat puzzled, I grabbed a cab and headed home. I was halfway there when I received an instant message on my Blackberry. It was Fondy, texting to inform me: “I’m at the airport!”. I texted back: “I’m in a taxi!”. Apparently, she’d just missed me.
While sitting out on the front steps, waiting for her to show (I didn’t have my keys), I took the time to review my trip. Upon closer scrutiny of the evidence, I’d like to break a couple of the ties I’d announced in last entry’s restaurant showdown. After further review, I’m calling Ukai-Tei the winner in the food category. While both places served up great beef, Ukai-Tei also delivered some other truly stellar dishes like the king crab, abalone, and an out-of-this-world cream of chestnut soup. Finally, in Battle Kaiseki, and again after further review, I’m going to give the slight edge in the food category and, subsequently, the overall title to Kanda. But this one was VERY close.
Also, while at Roppongi Hills, I picked up some prohibitively expensive Noka Chocolates, reputed to be the world’s finest. World’s finest marketing campaign perhaps. While the chocolates were very good, they certainly weren’t worth the price. Save your bucks and buy Amedei instead.
By the way, I’m wondering if anyone is familiar with some Japanese mints called Mintia? They’re made by Asahi and, according to the information on the packet, are both “sugarless” and “Dry Hard”. If you’ve tried them before, my question for you is this: Are they supposed to taste like fish? Is this done to appeal to Japanese consumers? And, if so, doesn’t that kind of undermine the whole breath freshening purpose?
Hey, amidst all the travel scribble-scrabble I neglected to list my Top Reads of November. Well, I was fairly busy so I didn’t really get to hit the books like previous months, but I did read one that proved so good that I made a point of recommending it to Brad before I left for Japan. Frank M. Robinson’s The Dark Beyond the Stars is an exceptional read, a brilliant SF novel that tells the tale of Sparrow, a member of a generational crew, suffering from amnesia following a horrific off-world accident. As Sparrow struggles to reclaim his lost identity, he rediscovers past friendships, secret rivalries, treachery, and the possibility that the accident that led to his standing condition may not have been so accidental after all. Brilliant through and through, The Dark Beyond the Stars has catapulted into my Top 5 SF Reads of All Time. I haven’t been this excited about a book since John Scalzi’s Old Man’s War. Highly recommended!
Speaking of reading – I realize this is the busy time of year what with the traveling to Asia and the Christmas preparations and all, but I just wanted to remind everyone of the upcoming Book of the Month Club selections. There’s still plenty of time to pick up and read one, two, or all three of the January picks in time for the approaching discussions and guest author Q&A’s. In the event it’s too much trouble to cast your gaze over to the right sidebar and inform yourselves…
The week of January 14th, we welcome author (and fellow Stargate: Atlantis viewer!) David Weber as we discuss On Basilisk Station, the first novel in his Honor Harrington series.
The week of January 21st, we welcome editor John Joseph Adams as we discuss the zombie anthology The Living Dead, showcasing the likes of Stephen King, Clive Barker, Kelly Link, and many others.
Finally, the week of January 28th, we welcome author and New Weird pioneer Jeff Vandermeer for a discussion on his book, City of Saints and Madmen.
Well, despite the fact that my body is telling me it’s way, way, waaaay past my bedtime, I’m going to try to stick it out at least until 9:00 p.m. I’ll just take it easy until then. Maybe lie back, relax, rest my eyes for just a few minutes…
Today’s entry is dedicated to MaggieMayDay and Davidd who are both going through some difficult times right now.