It was an atypically warm, sunny, beautiful day today so I ditched my jacket and coat in favor of my leather jacket and headed out.

What a gorgeous day!

I was on my way to Sawada, a Michelin two star sushi restaurant within walking distance of my hotel.  Despite the fact that I was armed with a map and had been given explicit directions by the concierge, I would have missed the place entirely had it not been for Stefan standing right out in front of the building.

Hard to miss this guy in Tokyo.

Alas, Sawada was the first restaurant that did not allow photography, so no pics of the meal.  But it was something else, lasting nearly three hours and covering a wide array of fish and preparations, from simple sashimi to elaboarte stuffed cuttlefish.  Lots of memorable moments including one where we were instructed to eat a piece of fatty chu-toro with lots of wasabi.  I expected to have my sinuses seared and, amazingly, the fat of the tuna absorbed most of the wasabi kick.  Who knew?  A memorable meal, but also our more expensive one to date.  Stefan, who enjoyed an admittedly not as accomplished meal at the Tsukiji Market wondered whether the price was worth the significantly higher price point?  He enjoyed Sawada more, but did he enjoy it, say, five times as much as his lunch in Tsukiji?  Hard to say, though one thing’s for sure: you’re unlikely to get sushi and sashimi this refined or masterfully prepared outside of Japan.

Sawada's Master Sushi Chef Koji Sawada.

After lunch, I took a stroll back to the hotel and, from there, headed over to Akihabara – Electric Town.

I strolled by this group of men playing some sort of video game, the latest edition of Dragon's Lair I believe.

Met up with some fellow travelers including…

Angela who couldn't resist taking part in a Harry Potter promotion. I told her she struck me as more the Slytherin type.

Tokyo fashion.

We took a stroll through a place called Don Quixote that offered everything from anime posters to professional uniforms for everyone from…

Medical personnel to...
Those employed in the service industry.

Which brought us to the reason we were in Akihabara: The Maid Cafe’s.  I’d hear a lot about them and was surprised to discover that they’re theme locale for girls, groups of friends, and, uh, the occasional solitary businessman.  You essentially pay an entrance fee and then rent your table by the hour.  Drinks and food are extra of course.  However, in exchange, you are served by some unbearably chipper young ladies in maid uniforms who smile, scurry about, and cheer each other on.

I ordered a tea which was served in this adorable heart-shaped pink cup and plate.
Before being seated, we were handed a list of about a dozen rules of the maid cafe including the last one: It is not permitted to touch the maids. "Can we touch ourselves?"asked Angela. "Is that permitted?"
Anthony, visiting from France where I'm guessing they don't have this sort of thing.
Angela and Said get into the neko-neko dance. We'd received instructions from the girl with the cat ears.

It was mostly cute and good for a laugh, except for the solitary middle-aged man in the sweater vest sitting at the table behind us, leafing through the restaurant’s themed calendar, tapping his foot and bobbing his head – and occasionally playing air drums – to the anime soundtrack being piped into the place.  At one point, he bought a bottle of Dom Perignon and, after much fanfare from the costumed gals, sat at his table and drank it alone.  “I’d love to hear that guy’s story,”said Said, the freelance photographer from Sweden.  “Call it a wild guess,”I told him, “but I’ve got a feeling it would be very sad.”

I bought the table something called the Ice Cream Tower and, after much fanfare, was invited to take a pic with the ladies. Alas, I had to take a photo of polaroid. Sugoi!

From there, we walked a few blocks over to a Cosplay Lounge.  Here, the gals were a little less upbeat, possibly due to the smoke-filled environment, potentially as a result of the somewhat more thematically relaxed dress code.  Oh, they all dressed up, but not as maids.  They were apparently all characters from different animes – none of which I recognized.  Where was Rei from Evangelion or Hyatt from Excel Saga or Faye from Cowboy Bebop?

Fellow Canadian Paul ordered this sweets monstrosity that even I wouldn't eat. Our server labored for some fifteen minutes, carefully decorating the thing with poky sticks, chocolate wafers, gum drops and candies. I think she also included a button.

Unlike those hotshot maids, these gals didn’t mind being photographed.  Okay, guess the animes…

Super Sailor Capatain Girl!
High School Ass-Kickers!

xxx

Space Maid Midori.

As we walked the streets of Akihabara, we passed uniformed young ladies distributing flyers for more expensive and far more elaborate themed services.  Apparently, for a mere $30, you can spend an hour playing video games with a maid of your choice in a living room setting.  Pay more, and you can rest your head on her knees while she cleans your ears.  Pay significantly more, and she can be your companion for the day, accompanying on a shopping expedition or maybe that big family dinner so that mom can finally shut up about you not having a girlfriend.

By the time I headed back to my hotel, it was already dark.

For dinner, I met up with my friend Jessica (tastefully attired in non-maid war) for dinner at The Tapas Molecular Baron the 38th floor of the Mandarin Oriental Hotel.  It was a return visit to the restaurant for me as I had been there some three years ago for a truly way-out  meal (as documented in one of my early entries).  As the name of the restaurant implies, innovation is the key here as science and gastronomy come together to form some of the weird, whimsical, and wonderful creations.

Before each dish, Chef Jeff Ramsay, with the help of his assistant Satoshi, assembled the ingredients and then presented each dish with an accompanying explanation, inviting questions from the diners.  Jessica and I were the only ones who did any asking as the Austrian couples to our left spoke little English while the Chinese couple to our right either spoke no English or had absolutely no interest in hearing about the elaborate prep that went into each creation, focused as they were on barreling through dinner.  Two dishes in, they called the waitress over and informed her that the wife could (would?) not eat pepper, forcing Chef Ramsay to improvise some replacement ingredients which he happily did.  Still, you would think that given the prep that goes into the some 20 dishes we enjoyed on the night, they’d have had the foresight to give the kitchen the heads-up when making the reservation.  Anyway, the quintessential rube moment of the night came when we were served one covered dish that Chef Ramsay instructed us to hold off on revealing.  Halfway through his explanation of the dish, he glanced over in dismay at the husband who had simply plowed ahead and polished off his plate with much lip-smacking gusto.  It was like eating beside the Hong Kong version of The Beverly Hillbillies.

The Shattered Rose Martini: Liquid nitrogen comes into play here as the rose petals are flash-frozen and crumbled into the smoking liquid to give it a real rosy punch.

Puffed Barbecue Pork and Chestnut: The pork puff is crisp and sweet, its flavors reminiscent of my dim sum faves.
Arctic Potato Chip: It possessed the snap and flavor of an actual potato chip, albeit a frozen one.
Apple and Manchego: Crisp and soft, sweet and tangy. Chef Ramsay adds a touch of citric acid to give the apple component that touch of tartness missing in the Japanese fruit.

Tai Chazuke: Deconstructed dish #1. Jessica, who I'm assuming has eaten plenty of chazuke in the many months she's spent in Chiba, loved it.

The result: Roast Pepper Caviar
Baccala Espuma: Want your kids to eat fish? Serve it as a foam! A great dish.
Spider Crab and Jamon: The thin layer of pork marbling melts, forming a translucent coating around the crab. I was intrigued by the leaf on the left that I, at first, took to be cactus.
Scallop with Cultivated Pearl: The pearl is actually a dressing injected into a gel that is then painted to approximate that pearl gloss.
Black Truffle, Lily Bulb: Foam on the bottom, shaved lily root and black truffle on top, intensely aromatic and flavorful all around.
Secreta de Cerdo: This one was served in a sealed bowl that, when opened, released a wafting curtain of deep, rich, smokiness. Tender little pieces of pork in a terrific sweet sauce.
Foie, Coffee, Potato: This was the only dish that really didn't come together for me. The big potato chunks overwhelmed all.
Wagyu Ravioli, Kinome, Maitake: On the other hand, this one REALLY worked for me. The translucent pasta contains collagen which, next to cod sperm and fugu, proved the hot dinner component on this trip.
Xianlongbao: An oustanding sweet potato and pistachio mash on the bottom, and an equally outstanding lamb chop on top. Like the dumplings, the meat is bursting with flavor - and a savory liquid center.
Miso Soup: Deconstructed dish #2. And, hell yes, it tasted exactly like miso soup but with the textural bonus of an egg yolk consistency.
Snow, Sel Guerande: Ho, was this fun! And tasty! We were instructed to eat the "snow" first. The second we put it in our mouths, the frozen powder would react with warm environment of our mouths to create a reaction that...well, Jessica can best explain it in the following video...

Various sweets including: a Genuine Chocolate Truffle which was a combo of truffle both sweet and savory, Capuccino Candy Floss, and Chocolate Pumice
The miraculous Miracle Berry! We finished the meal the same was the last time I was in and it was just as magical. We were served a plate of fruit and asked to eat two pieces. Then, we were served the miracle fruit, instructed to eat the flesh and allow the seed to coat our tongues. One minute later, we were told to spit out the seed and try the fruit again. Miracles of miracles, the fruit was no longer sour. It was sweet. And I'm not just talking about strawberries. I was eating lemons and limes as though they were the sweetest oranges imaginable. The fruit contains a protein that tricks the brain into interpreting sour as sweet. I have got to pick some of these up for the writers' room.

Chef Jeff Ramsay – Accomplished, inventive, and a lot of fun to talk with both during and after the meal.

I had a great time and plan to return next year, a little earlier in the season so that I can catch the Fall menu.  And if you’re going to go – and I heartily recommend it – book well in advance.  There are only two seatings a night and only seven spots available at the counter, making for an intimate, engaging and, above all, enormously entertaining evening.

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Debra
Debra

Dearest Joe… you went from day 12 to day 7. Do you have a time machine? Can I borrow it?

ytimynona
ytimynona

WOW this seems to have been the most full day thus far!

So many people from all over the world are in Toyko… I was surprised to see a Swede on the list of dining companions.

Narelle from Aus

The miracle berry was in a show I was watching the other night. Allowed the murderer to give their victim drain cleaner as they couldn’t taste how bitter it was. So, um, yeah, hope you were nice to everyone at the restaurant and your organs don’t liquefy.

Ponytail
Ponytail

Day #7? Are you still drunk?

The Maid Cafe? Oh my! Pay by the hour? You can’t fool me Mallozzi!

Snow, Sel Guerande, now that is cool! I kept playing the video over and over to see if any smoke came out of Jessica’s ears. It didn’t – darn it! And Chef Jeff Ramsay seems like a neat person. You say there are only 7 spots available at the counter, but I counted 8 Shattered Rose Martinis. Who got the 8th one? Very interesting meal.

dasNdanger
dasNdanger

Travel Day #7 again? Whoa. Time travel. wink

Very interesting meal – loved Jessica’s reaction to the ‘snow’! lol

But…Joe…I am really starting to worry about you…I think with this trip, and your recent birthday, you have officially turned into a dirty old man. razz

das

Juralas
Juralas

I’m adding the Molecular Bar to my bucket list. Japan’s a little far though, any similar Canadian locations you know of?

Alexander of Houston
Alexander of Houston

Wow, looks good. I think it is a shame the Chinese gentleman had messed up his chance at really getting to have a real surprise for his meal.

You know, I don’t really follow what you are talking about here:

oh never mind, I have reread it for the third time, and now it makes sense, no so much like drunkenese. :-\

O, Cosplay maids and you did not go to the ones with the mirrored floor? Oh yeah, not a good idea for obvious reasons of a married man.

Honetly, Your food made by Ramsay looked awesome, I will have to start saving up, maybe by the time I am 27 I can go for a vacation, or win the lottery.

Anyway, you typo-ed your title.unless you really don’t like the number 13

Thornyrose
Thornyrose

given the presentation of many of the dishes, it’s almost a pity you have to eat them. Not sure which of the dishes is most striking. Though any dish that makes the eater look like they’re snorting smoke is sort of cool. Enjoy the last few adventureous meals and safe flying home.

DP
DP

My computer is wigging out trying to load your blog page. I hope that’s why it’s wigging out.

I’m going to figure out how to make a pistachio sweet potato mash.

Did you save a seed from the miracle berry? I’d try to grow some for you in Ohio. A miracle berry sounds like science fiction. And remember to pocket seeds when you come across something cool. Leave them on a napkin to dry in your hotel room.

paul
paul

woooooooooooooooooow
you were able to write so much!

glad that you came to the cafe & bar and let me try on your cool glasses.

sylvia
sylvia

LOL…not exactly a WFPoTD…but cool vid of Jessica’s reaction of the “snow” and warmth intermixing.
Cool.

yumenoko
yumenoko

Okay, I’m going to put the Tapas Molecular Bar on my agenda for my next trip in the spring. Everything you listed works for me, gastro-wise, and as a science fangirl, the idea of the place allures me. Just hope I can convince a friend to come along and splurge with me!!

Gilder in San Antonio

WFPoTD for when you get back: The Destiny’s “sweet potato” from “Justice”.

Oh, and my birthday’s coming up…

Montrealer
Montrealer

@DP

About your computer wigging to load Joe’s blog. The WordPress snow is overtaxing your machine’s video capacity. Especially on Joe’s main blog page. Try clicking on a comments link so you only have to load the pics and vids from one day. Joe uploaded a lot of stuff today.

I am somewhat surprise that Joe have the energy after all that food to upload much stuff to the blog.

alex
alex

I just want to know how much mallozi spent on foods the whole trip.

hope he get new ideas to fix SGU.

Anais33

Bonjour smile

Alala que de personnes trés gentil, d’expériences, de bons moments, merci de nous faire partager tout cela smile

Je suis total in LOVE de la photo de vous avec le coeur, c’est tellement adorable!

Petite question, l’année prochaine, c’est encore Tokyo?….Paris c’est bien aussi …lol ^^

Bonne journée!
Gros Bisou

Jon
Jon

>> alex

SGU does not need any fixing, k thx. It’s the best new show on TV without question. All the episodes have been pretty much awesome. It’s painfully obvious that you hate the show, so why don’t you troll elsewhere?

Shirt'n'Tie
Shirt'n'Tie

Hi Mr M!

Ok, that’s it!! I am DEFINITELY going to Tokyo….every time I read one of your entries, the film BladeRunner comes to mind. It is certainly sooo different to Western eyes.

The artistry involved in the creations you are tasting is certainly inspiring. Wowsers!

And finally, given Jessica’s reaction to the hot/cold…..where were those guys when you were shooting Whispers?? We could have used ’em! Wray Douglas take note!

Best to you in Japan.

S’n’T

Fargate One
Fargate One

Hello Tokyo citizen,

Watched Justice yesterday….

Dr Rush left alone on this planet of rocks with a wrecked spaceshift…

YYYEEEEEEESSSSSSSSSSSSSSSSSSSSSSSS !!!!!

Michael A. Burstein

Is it just me? As I read this, I kept thinking about how alien the culture was compared to what mine is like…

Kevin
Kevin

Joe, every time I read about your Japan trips, all I can think is, what a strange place.

Shadow Step
Shadow Step

Missed who Angela was, but I like her line of questioning.

And that snow breathing nose is a neat trick!

Not sure i could do that – unless those hosts clean your nose as well – how much is that? *g*

DP
DP

@Michael A. Burstein

It’s not just you. I was hoping someone else would mention it first. You haven’t heard the half of it. Joe’s giving us the tame side. Look into what they watch on TV, if you dare.

I don’t think it’s just a Western thing, either. I think the culture seems alien to any outsider.

JimFromJersey
JimFromJersey

Alex,
Poor spelling and grammar aside, I thought it necessary to point out that SGU is not broken. However, I’m beginning to wonder if perhaps you and those like you just might be.

You see, what normally happens is this: You don’t like a TV show, you stop watching a TV show. Simple, right? I’ll give you an example: I LOVED Heroes during the first season, then they lost me about 3 episodes into the second season. So what did I do? Did I rant and rave on the producer’s blog? Nope. I simply stopped watching. It’s easy. Give it a try.

Joe, Justice was fantastic! I was wondering when Young was finally going to go postal on Rush. I really like Young, so I’m a little miffed that he made up the “rock slide” story to hide what really happened. Once Rush makes it back (somehow), it will not bode well for Young since he’ll be caught in a lie.

Btw: Either SyFy or Comcast screwed the pooch on this episode. The HD description/info mentioned that it was the “First Season Finale”…not “Mid-Season”.

Quade1
Quade1

You can get some of those over here Joe, here is one for some candy tablets;
http://www.thinkgeek.com/caffeine/wacky-edibles/ab3f/