The other night, we continued our tour of varying Japanese cuisines by hitting Hirosaku in Shimbashi. It’s a family-owned and operated restaurant focusing on traditional dishes and high quality ingredients.
“Is this a typical Japanese meal?”Ivon asked at one point.
“Yes,”my friend Jon replied – “for very wealthy Japanese families.”
“This is how they ate in olden times,”I added.
“Yes,”Jon agreed – “if they were very wealthy families.”
VERY wealthy. But I get ahead of myself.
Armed with a map provided for us by our hotel concierge, we headed out on foot and promptly got lost looking for the restaurant. We asked a helpful policeman, then wound our way around the neighborhood, stopping at the same spot to ask the policeman directions, then wound our way around to spot the same policeman awaiting our return. Eventually, we asked some guy in an alleyway either stocking a store (or looting it) who was more than happy to direct us to a street we’d already covered twice – only to succeed in locating Hirosaku the third time.
Once inside, we were greeted by Mrs. Watanabe (who apparently remembered me from my last visit – Ohishashiburi desu ne?), and my friend and fellow foodie blogger Jon who calls Tokyo home ( http://iitokorone.blogspot.com/ – Can’t wait to read the write-up on this one).
We took off our shoes (It’s customary to hold a customer’s shoes hostage until the bill has been paid) and were then directed up the steepest staircase I’ve ever hazarded –
– and seated in a private room –
We chatted, drank some sake, and enjoyed a very nice meal…
Our meal concluded, we braved the steep staircase to reach the main floor and reclaim our shoes. When we were presented with the bill, I did a double-take, not sure I was reading it correctly. Unfortunately for me, there was no linguistic divide here. They were universal numbers, not letters. Specifically, 107 000 yen. By far our priciest meal yet. In fact, I’d say probably my priciest meal in Tokyo ever.
We paid and headed out. As we left, the family and staff gathered to see us off.
We walked and chatted amongst ourselves. About halfway down the street, I glanced back – and they were still standing outside, waving. I waved back and continued on my way. About a minute later, I glanced back. They were still standing/waving. We eventually too a corner – but not before I turned and gave them one final wave. Even though it’s unlikely, I like to think that they’re still out there, gazing happily down that empty street, waving.
After dinner, we followed Jon through a series of alleys to a sake bar located in another alley. It’s affable host recognized Jon immediately and welcomed him back for his second only visit to his establishment.
We were seated next to a table of four Japanese businessmen who had apparently been there a while. One sat slumped in his chair, face down on the table, for the length of our entire one hour stay in the bar. Another stumbled over at one point and attempted to recommend some sake but, sadly, proved too inchorent to be of any help.
Eventually, we let Hideyuki decide for us. His selections –
After a few drinks, we wound our way back through the streets of Shimbashi, dodging the gals on every street side and corner offering “massages”. If I was guaranteed I’d get an actual massage, I would have happily taken them up on their offers. My feet were killing me!
The next day, we enjoyed a late sleep, then met up with my friend Moro-san (of Pierre Marcolini fame) for an unagi lunch at Nodaiwa (located, interestingly enough, right next door to Birdland in the basement of the Tsukamotosozan Building). We all had the special Christmas set –
It was a simple meal but one of my favorites so far. Perfection. I’ll definitely try to squeeze in a return visit before I leave, possibly to try some of Nodaiwa’s special wild eel (they’re one of the few places to serve it).
After lunch, we took Moro-san up on her offer to take us to Tokyo Tower in Shiba. It was an interesting yet altogether terrifying experience.
A looooong way up. The glass elevator ride up to the observation platform was one of the most hair-raising experiences of my life. The second we cleared the enclosure and were permitted a clear view of the rapidly receding ground below, I instantly regretted my decision to go. Am I afraid of heights? No, of course not. It’s not like Ivon’s fear of small elevators and insects. Afraid isn’t the right word. It’s more of a medical condition that severely limits the strength in my knees once I rise past a certain height. Anyway, the symptoms of my condition kicked in almost instantly. I had to avert my gaze and assure myself that I would head right back down – and I would have if nor for the fact that, when the elevator doors slid open, the expanse of the observation deck looked a lot more solid and comforting than the prospect of an equally hair-rising elevator ride back down.
After walking the observation deck (hugging the far wall), it was time to head up to the SPECIAL observation deck at the top of the tower, about twice as high as the one I was standing on. We headed up the stairs and, as we awaited the elevator to whisk us up, panic set in. Well, not panic, really. That medical condition I was talking about. My palms were perspiring. My heart was hammering. I felt as if I’d downed six successive vodka shots. And when the doors to that tiny elevator slid open to welcome us in – I bailed.
Sorry. Couldn’t do it. Ivon and Moro-san headed up for what was, by all accounts, an even more terrifying ride up to the next level, punctuated by a soul-shaking rattle that elicited an audible gasp from Moro-san.
Eventually, they made their way down and Ivon took the opportunity to check out the crazy lookdown windows –
Afterwards, we finally headed downstairs where we took in one of the worst wax museums I’ve ever visited – which was rivaled by one of the worst haunted houses I’ve ever walked through (which included one of the worst 3D spectacles I’ve ever witnessed).
We concluded our visit with sub-par sundaes from a place called Cafe Motherfarm.
Today’s entry is dedicated to blog regular Das. Speedy recovery! Don’t make me come out there and get you!