December 14, 2010: Tokyo Travel Day #8! The Molecular Tapas Bar! Hokkaido Ramen Toro! Some so-so desserts! And work follows me halfway across the globe!
Back in Vancouver when I was organizing this trip (a.k.a. = our eating schedule) I asked Ivon if there was any particular food or restaurant he wanted to try. To his credit, he wanted to try everything – but there was one place in particular place he wanted to visit while in town: The Molecular Tapas Bar at the Mandarin Oriental Hotel, the home of molecular gastronomy here in Tokyo. Yesterday marked my third visit to the restaurant and, as always, Chef Jeff Ramsey (a student of José Andrés back in Washington, D.C.) never fails to impress.
There were three of us at the late 8:30 p.m. seating (Ivon, Keiko, and myself) so there was plenty of opportunity to chat with the affable and entertaining Chef Ramsey while we enjoyed our meals…
Chef Ramsey then demonstrated the process by which he creates veggie caviar…
And then it was on to desserts. First up, something called Puff…
The verdict? Fantastic. Ivon was particularly pleased since he found the experience educational and entertaining. And, of course, delicious. As for me – as I said, it was my third visit and, like my return visits to Tokyo itself, I love the fact that it offers the best of both worlds: a familiarity sprinkled with plenty of surprises.
By the time dinner wrapped up it was ticking past 11:00 p.m. and way past our bedtime. Yet again, we elected to forego a night of partying in favor of the errratically fluctuating temperatures of our respective hotel rooms. And bed.
I woke up the next morning parched, bleary-eyed, and feeling slightly hangover. This despite the fact that I had maybe one drink the previous night. I figure if I’m going to feel like this every morning, then, hell, I may as well drink!
Following a leisurely morning, we headed to Shinjuku where I could pick up some of the bare necessities Akemi requested (at Barney’s of New York). It was a rainy, cold day, so we ended up buying crappy umbrellas and – yet again – losing our way. But it was perfect ramen weather, and we wound up finding the perfect lunch stop: Hokkaido Ramen Toro.
The second we walked in, we were greeted by this –
You put your money in, then choose your ramen base (I chose the spicy), your extras (I chose extra pork), and other side dishes you may or may not get (I chose the gyoza that never came). Once we’d paid and made our selections, the machine spat out these tiny tickets with our order which we handed our super-lovely waitress, then we grabbed our seats.
It was a dreary day, so we focused most of our sight-seeing on the underground malls – and subway sweet shops like this place –
So-so. Ivon finished his only because he didn’t want to carry it around like that empty can of Coke he held onto for two hours because garbage bins in Tokyo are about as rare as panda sighting. I only took a few bites of mine, then ended up carrying the half-eaten waffle around, getting cream all over my hands while Ivon continually reminded me how much I was shaming him.
Eventually, Ivon headed back to the hotel while I headed over to the Pierre Marcolini Cafe to say hi to the girls, then to Mitsukoshi where I picked up three desserts from one of the basement patisseries (Chocolate Bel Amer)…
When I got back to the hotel, I found a FedEx envelope awaiting me. What was inside?
Awesome! I hurried over to my new laptop to watch them – only discover my new laptop doesn’t have a cd/dvd drive. And so, I ended heading down to the business center to watch ’em.