Last night, Ivon and I encoutered a first for Tokyo = spotty service. And at one of the city’s purportedly premiere Italian restaurants no less. Under normal circumstances (aka – back in North America) these hiccups would’ve barely registered but here in Tokyo where chefs walk you out the front door to your cab and bar staff race each other to pull away your stool when you get up, it’s hard not to notice.
Ivon and I had dinner at Ristorante Honda, a place recommended by several reputable dining sources (You know who you are). When we sat down we were presented with the menu listing a couple of table d’hote choices on one side and the various course offerings on the left. We were instructed to choose a table d’hote, and then select from the various appetizers, pasta, and mains. As I started to peruse the selection, I noticed he was still standing there, pen poised, awaiting our picks. I suggested he give us a few minutes to decide, and ordered a campari (the closest you can get to the taste of poison without actually drinking poison) while Ivon ordered a bottle of sparkling water for the table. Moments later, the waiter returned to take our order, set down our water glasses, poured Ivon some sparkling water, and walked off. I had to reel him back to get him to fill my water glass as well.
The arrival of our dishes was somewhat erratic. One plate would be set down and then, several minutes later, another would arrive. We waited for our main to arrive while the couple beside us were served two successive courses, including THEIR main.
We ordered coffee and were, again, in for a bit of a wait. When the dessert arrived, Ivon requested his coffee. Sure, sure. We waited a while, then went ahead and started eating. Our coffees arrived just as we finished up.
The food was very good. Just not quite sure what to make of the service.
After dinner, we made like your average Tokyoite and caught the metro back to our home turf. On the way, I spotted this poster for what looks to be an awesome movie…
We walked off dinner with a stroll through Ginza and, eventually, coincidentally (?), found ourselves here…
I knew I shouldn’t have had that damn coffee!
Fortunately, I’m on vacation. And I happen to be vacationing with someone who matched me (more to the point, I matched him) drink for drink on the previous night. So it wasn’t until 11:00 p.m. that we touched base – and not until after 1:00 p.m. that we actually headed out for lunch. On this day, it was Ivon’s call…
After lunch, Ivon headed right back to the hotel for some more R&R while I took in the sights and sounds of Ginza…
Which brings me to one of the things that continues to baffle me about the Japanese: their obsession with standing in lines. On my last visit, a Japanese friend pointed out two Starbucks within a block of each other. “Both are exactly the same,”she told me, “except that one always has line-ups and one is always empty.” Seems that nothing says quality like a good long queue. On this trip, another Japanese friend confirmed this seemingly deep-rooted obsession. On weekends, the cafe she works at sees line-ups that necessitate waits of up to an hour. And, on several occasions, she’s had customers step into the shop after a lengthy wait and ask: “What is this shop? What did I just wait an hour in line for?” In some cases, just the line-up is enough to convince them to line-up!
Equally odd is the Japanese predilection for snapping photos of Christmas trees.
Hell, the Christmas tree in our hotel see so much action, it’s impossible to walk through the lobby without ruining a half-dozen snapshots –
Only two more days left! Tomorrow, Ivon wants to go to the zoo! For real!