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.

Suave, no?

Amuse-bouche. A fantastic duo of whipped daikon and olive oil.

Hair crab salad. Very good.

Uni tagliolini. Great. I don't understand why the sea urchin/pasta combo hasn't found its way onto the menus of more North American restaurants.

Sea eel with foie gras and eggplant. Good but, to be honest, while I like all three elements, I'm not entirely convinced they work well together.

 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. 

Time flies when you're, uh, oh - we're not having fun?

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.

Chestnut mousse a la Honda.

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…

What's with the dude with the hat?

We walked off dinner with a stroll through Ginza and, eventually, coincidentally (?), found ourselves here…

We closed the place down.  Another Tokyo first.  We staggered back to the hotel, exhausted, and I crawled into bed – and spent the next two hours lying awake admiring the awesome (albeit ill-fitting) present Kanae had given me –

They're a little tight. But stylish!

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… 

We ate at this American Diner where we happened to be the lone non-Japanese customers in the place. Great burgers. Mine was called the Double Devil Somethingorother and was served with habanero sauce and jalapenos.

After lunch, Ivon headed right back to the hotel for some more R&R while I took in the sights and sounds of Ginza…

Check out the line-up outside this exclusive nightclub. No, wait. That's not a nightclub. That's Abercrombie & Fitch. Akemi is a fan. She tells me that during the summer, the male staff wander about shirtless.

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 –

   Still, there are certian Japanese passions I do share…

A pre-dinner snack.

Only two more days left!  Tomorrow, Ivon wants to go to the zoo!  For real!

37 thoughts on “December 19, 2010: Tokyo Travel Day #13! Ristorante Honda! Tokyo points of interest!

  1. Love the footies bro! Just 2 more days? Awwww. That’s gotta suck. Sounds like you two are having a great time. But at least you’ll be back for the last minute Christmas rush ‘eh? lol Thanks for the blog. Can you give us a couple more videos before you leave? TIA
    woody

  2. Love the form fitting socks. But since I have webbed toes..i’m thinking they’d be even more awkward on someone like myself,lol.

  3. Loved all the pictures; especially of the food and Christmas trees. Oh, yes, the pictures of the suave and handsome gentlemen were appreciated too. 🙂

    Ivon wants to go to the zoo, really? I’ll look forward to hopefully seeing pictures if you do go.

  4. …habanero sauce? You must have some serious taste-buds.

    I can only handle a teeny-tiny bit of that stuff at a time.

    I haven’t had it on a burger, though I might give it a try. Sounds interesting.

  5. Aww I love the zoo… planned on being a zookeeper when I was a kid but ended up overqualified for the job. Maybe you could have a game w/ tomorrow’s photos – who’s cuter Ivon or a baby animal? LOL

    Anyhoo I’ll repost what I posted on the last post (you don’t have to approve that one Joe):

    OK I feel a bit better now I realise I’ve been the subject of a month long PUNKING!!! It’s been doing my head in how twitter keeps unfollowing BamBam. I checked Twitter early this morning only to find I wasn’t following him again. I refollowed only to get a blocked message. Of course I won’t lie, there were tears. Then this morning I checked my email to find a Twitter follow notification from BamBam for yesterday afternoon and it all fell into place.

    Well we’ve chatted and he’s soooo going down. Prepare for a bit of fun…I’m going to put a hold on The Art of War 😉

    Cheers, Chev

  6. OMG that pic of Ivon is identical to the one from the wrap party a year ago…is that like his drunk pick up move? Does it work?

    Cheers, Chev

    p.s. I really love the Ivon photo in front of that pink think but man does that pink bleed through the photo

  7. Hi Joe,

    Are your toes really that crooked or did you not pull the socks on all the way?

    Your picture left me wondering about Camera-Boom Counterweights and if they fall off a lot…;-)

  8. Super cute socks Joe…you must have big toes or something.

    Big thumbs up for that burger…looks sooooo good right now and I don’t have a hangover.

    Just wondering when you get bad service like that how do you tip? Do you let them know at the end, or is that really rude?

    Cheers, Chev

  9. Le Bernardin in NYC has a Sea Urchin-Caviar Angel hair pasta dish. Not sure if its on the current menu or not, but it was featured in the Food Porn episode of No Reservations

  10. Dear Joe;

    How in the hell have you not exploded like the character who had one too many after-dinner mints in “The Meaning of Life”?

    Seriously? Wtf is up with that? How? I eat half a pizza and I put on like 84,324.45384875 pounts.

    – Brandon

  11. @ Sparrowhawk – I’ve only been able to read a couple or three chapters tonight – this book is giving me anxiety attacks!!! Just when I thought it couldn’t get ANY worse…

    Ugh.

    Forget Pendergast. I need a hug. 😛

    das

  12. I just have to say that I find it odd that I encounter the word “amuse-bouche” twice in one day. It’s just fun to say.

    Happy eating/sight-seeing!

  13. How can you eat all of Tokyo and not get fat?

    Sorry to hear about SGU. I think my heart actually stuttered when I read it on Twitter. Considering where I work, I wanted to run upstairs and smack someone upside the head. Syfy is killing sci-fi.

    I’m hoping that MGM can pick up the movies now that they’re out of bankruptcy. If so, I hope that you’ll still be involved. I can’t imagine you not working in TV or film.

    On the other hand, you’re Tokyo trip is pretty damn entertaining. But it’s ending too soon. Between Jelly and SGU, I think you need a few more days of de-stressing.

  14. matched Ivon drink for drink? AND managed to go sightseeing after lunch when he had to crawl back to the hotel? Outstanding job. You’ve proven who the more macho male is this go round. Loved your comments on the Japanese and lines. Though i’d point out the British seem to have the same prediliction, and even Americans show an odd affinity for spending inordinate amounts of time blindly following others for generally trivial reasons.
    Do enjoy the remainder of the trip,and look forward to the zoo report. Thanks for putting up the post in between your adventures.

  15. The Guy in the Hat is Kamen Rider Skull. You should see it, some people (who live in Japan) said it’s pretty good.

  16. I love going to the Zoo, I still have the urge to cuddle all the animals though. Alas they don’t let you do that!

    🙂

  17. Hello joseph…

    I am really sorry for this cancellation … pfff
    This series is very important to me … and many others …
    Will we still have an end?

    And other films? Extinction and Revolution?

    Many of us are really disappointed with this new … : (

  18. I understand the socks, I was gifted a pair,,I think they are only for decoration, my feet are of normal size and it wasn’t very pretty. So just hang them on a tree as decoration, or hey, the dogs have a new toy, its the thought that counts.
    The macarons looks delicious, how many can you stuff in your carry on? Overnight mail?? Could be worth it!
    @das, glad to see you back on blog. Take care and sending {{hugs}} if it helps!
    And the trees, ooohhh pretty lights. I can see their point. Maybe there is a picture contest of who can take the most pictures of trees lit up…
    Maybe you got a new waiter at the restaurant, or were they just messin’ with you. If it was here, of course it would reflect in their tip, but there is different I believe you have said…so whadda ya do?
    I don’t really like to wait in line for anything, call ahead reservations is great for restaurants, and not sure there is anything in a store I want that bad. That is funny they sometimes don’t even know what it is they are in line for. Hope you are having another wonderful day as you read this and hangover is long gone,plop plop fizz fizz(commercial for remedy)(although i couldn’t drink it) Eat lots and tell us all about it. thanks for sharing.

  19. The Tokyo Zoo? Not a favorite. But then, I spent years in San Diego with a zoo membership.

    Man, no more SGU? Syfy sucks ass-water. Idiots. Syfy, where television goes to die. Farewell Destiny. Farewell to one of the coolest crews ever.

    Catching up.. Tokyo Tower is evil. I got puking shaky sick at the top, and I am not afraid of heights. Must be the proximity of the radiowaves they beam into our heads. I forgot my tin foil hat that day.

    So far, the tempura looks to be the tastiest. There is an excellent place tucked behind the train station in Yokosuka; I adore the sweet potato.

    Go Jelly girl, go!

  20. YUM. I love watching Joe’s Adventures in Japan.

    When you get to sit down and answer questions again, what can you tell a macaroon newbie? They look divine, but I want to make sure my first time is done right. Should I make them or buy them? Best flavour for a skeptical sort? Best place to buy them online? I’ve noticed some in my various grocery and they never look as amazing as I think they should. (Like your picture)

  21. maggiemayday

    …Man, no more SGU? Syfy sucks ass-water. Idiots. Syfy, where television goes to die. Farewell Destiny. Farewell to one of the coolest crews ever.

    SyFy- a potentially good network run by wannabe non-professionals.

  22. Joe, how popular is SGU in Japan?

    Is there any possibility that an onslaught of queries and complaints from networks of foreign lands would cause a second look at the cancellation and reverse it? Get on it, you guys from Europe and beyond…

  23. Guess that proves I don’t have an iota of Japanese DNA. I go out of my way to avoid lines/ques.

    Can’t imagine about the sea urchin. It being so cheap and all.
    DD

  24. Joe,

    It’s been fun reading about your exploits in Tokyo. I’m actually traveling to South Korea and Vietnam on 1/16/11, so reading of your travels has added fuel to the fire of my anticipation of traveling to eastern asia.

    I’m sorry to hear about SGU. It was my favorite show on TV. Are we going to get some kind of ending to the show, or just a fade to black with our characters in perrel? Hopefully there is someway to edit the footage you have to make the show finish in a fulfilling way. Obviously, if Resurgence was the final episode, you could have just modified the final effect to show Destiny blowing up. Not a great ending, but at least a finite one. The way you wrapped SGA left the door open for more, but at least served as a cap for the series.

    With the sets still standing, what are the chances of getting MGM to produce a made for TV movie or bonus episode to tack on to the back half of season 2 to somewhat wrap up the storyline/series? I’d think the bottled nature of the sets would allow for some sort of cost effective conclusion in a limited time format.

    Thanks for all the years of entertainment. I look forward to whatever you do next!

    RFVdevil

  25. @Das:

    Glad to see you back!

    I made the Puerco and loved it, but the kids thought it was too strong. Guess I need to tone it down for the family. Definitely a keeper though…Thanks for the recipe!

  26. Just taking some time to express my disappointment on the cancellation of SGU..

    I’m hoping we can get some new Stargate in the future but I’m guessing we get a long hiatus now as happened to Doctor Who and Star Trek in the past. I would note that it was all the better for them when they returned….

    Good luck and keep us up to date on any new venture of yours….

    ah and if you come to Malta one day, you must try the Sakura restaurant..

  27. Thank you, Stargate Universe!

    With everything that’s happened, I wanted a place to offer my heartfelt thanks for a show that I thoroughly enjoyed, for every episode it’s been on.

    Stargate Universe is the first show where I’ve had the unique opportunity to thank the people responsible for entertaining me, where there was a chance that the people involved could see my letter, without having to go through an agent or a mailbag, etc. (Thank you, Interwebs!)

    From moment one, I’ve watched every episode, mostly from the edge of my seat and this has been some of the best TV I’ve seen in a long time.

    I wanted to say how much I’ve appreciated not only the entertainment, but for all the extra goodies. From the stunning visuals, to the Kinos and set tours, to back stage extras that let us see what’s going on. I also loved that with this show, like none other that I’ve been a fan of, there has been a sense of connection with The Powers That Be, whether that’s at GateWorld, on Twitter and Facebook, various campaigns, or Joe Mallozzi’s blog.

    This show made me think of bigger things and brought a true sense of wonder, not only for the message but for the simple journey itself. Even if it’s only two seasons, I’m cherishing those discs.

    Thank you, sincerely,

    Elaine G:)

    (cross-posted at GateWorld)

  28. Love the socks. Patrick could have used those for crazy sock day instead of having to wear the ones I sent him, which were a gift to my husband at one time, which had something on there about being too sexy for his socks. Big hit with school though.

    It hasn’t been two weeks yet, has it? Wow time flies.

    @Das — Welcome back. I’m glad to see you are feeling better.

    @Chevron7 Cruel, very cruel.

  29. Ivon looks just handsome. 😉

    Goes to show ya…some of these fancy-shamancy restaurants aren’t all that they’re cracked up to be. 😉 Usually, the food you show us make my mouth water. But…for some reason…not a drop of saliva do I make when I see those photos of food up above from the fancy-shamancy restaurant. never cared for them kinda restaurants anyway.

    I rather have that burger the American diner. Yummm! 🙂

    Love the toe socks! 😀 How cute! 🙂

    Pretty Christmas tree! 🙂

    Mmmmm…yummy pre-dinner snack! 😉

    Awwww…ya gonna take Ivon to the zoo? 🙂 Love the zoo! Gonna see the monkeys? Whenever I go to a zoo…I hafta see the monkeys and the elephants. Have a good time at the zoo! Wanna see pictures! 🙂

  30. Just quietly donate those toe socks to Goodwill, Joe. Or give them to Ashley…unwashed…

    @Das: I think I missed your hospital stay. Hope you are on the mend.

  31. Lining up for something they don’t know of??? Why did I envision lemmings..?

    You must be craving normal, every day food when you return… wait!

    You dine 5 star at home too 😛

  32. Forgot to add…remember when people in the Soviet Union supposedly lined up just because there was a line, to see what exactly was so popular or scarce?

  33. Hi Joe!
    First time posting here.
    I am so sorry to hear about the cancellation of SGU.
    I really loved the show along with all the other Stargate shows.
    I really think it was cruel for them to not let you guys know personally about the cancellation and that you had to read it on Twitter!
    I think they did not have the balls to tell you themselves.
    I feel they never gave this show a real chance for it to suceed.
    I also think that they could have at least let the rest of season 2 run through before they made a decision.
    I am sure people would not have minded the extra wait for a season 3.
    Well since neother one happened, is there any plans or do you plan on finding a way to make an ending to the show either in a short movie , DVD, or maybe 1 last epiosde ?
    I really think that the story needs to have a real end to it.
    I bet that season 2 “Gauntlet” is not the planned ending to the show.
    Well once again I am so sorry that you guys got shafted by SYFY. BTW any chance MGM could shop the show to other networks ?
    Thanks for everything!

    Hal E.

  34. The Christmas Tree picture taking is probably not so different than the public tree lighting ceremonies around the US involving thousands of people standing around in the cold waiting for a tree to light up. As kids we’d get lined up in front of the tree, all dressed up to go to my aunt’s house, holding our toys.

    The Hairy Crab was way more off putting. The burger was mouthwatering! Perhaps your waiter was hesitant to serve you because of Ivon’s Yakuza-black suit. Perhaps the waiters were hiding in the coat closet, wondering if Ivon was an enforcer sent to break their legs.

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