The second issue of my comic book series, Dark Matter, hits the shelves soon (February 8th last I heard).  If you haven’t picked up the first issue yet, I strongly urge you to do so as reports have it selling out.  This, of course, means it is a sought-after collectible no doubt destined to be worth A LOT some day.  Squirrel away a few copies under your mattress now and the lie back on your nest egg and prepare to enjoy your early retirement later!

In Dark Matter-related news…

My full podcast interview with SciFiTalk is up.  You can find it here: Joe Mallozzi | Sci-Fi Talk Podcast

Also up is an early, spoiler-free review of Dark Matter #2 here: Dark Matter #2 Spoiler Free Review by Ryan Porter – The Pop …

One of the main reasons we’re here in Japan is so that Akemi can visit with her mother who has made the trip over from Osaka.  Yesterday, they had a girl’s night out.  Today, all three of us hit Tokyo.  We had a big day ahead of us so we wasted no time gathering down in the lobby (after I’d finished updating my blog of course) and headed out to brave the blustery late January weather.  For a single block anyway after which we ducked into the entrance to the Hibiya subway station and made the underground walk over to the Peninsula Hotel where Akemi and her mother intended to pick up some treats.  Unfortunately, the shops wouldn’t be open for another hour, so we had to settle for what may have been…

...being prepared right behind the big window. So near and yet so far.

I’ve been toying with the idea of making the move to Tokyo.  Of course, there are things to consider (ie. getting the dogs over and what the hell I’ll actually be doing here beside browsing that big anime complex in Akihabara) before I pull the trigger.  First and foremost however – I’ll have to decide where I want to live.  I’ve narrowed it down to Roppongi or Aoyama, but am leaning toward the latter because the former, while a beautiful neighborhood, is full of henna gaijin (translation: weird foreigners.  “Like you,”Akemi helpfully reminded me.).  Well, it just so happens that we were in Roppongi today, strolling the streets of my potential future hood.

The streets of Roppongi. My future neighbourhood?

I’ve been meaning to check out local chocolate shop Le Chocolate De H for a while now, always missing out on my previous visits.  Well, not this time.  We were there when the doors open, snapped up some outstanding yuzu macarons and a chocolate assortment.  Akemi was especially satisfied as she has been trying to track this place down since our arrival.

Akemi, the triumphant hunter.
The killer 16 piece assortment. The banana-dark chocolate was amazing, as was his yuzu and milk chocolate. Akemi feels these chocolates rival those of her long-time favorite La Maison du Chocolat.

For lunch, we headed over to Roppongi Hills for lunch at L’Atelier de Robuchon.  Akemi was a little leery after our last Robuchon experience – a stupendous feast comprised of 16 courses at the Joel Robuchon in Vegas (where we were joined by Golden Boy Martin Gero).  Yes, it was a lot and it’s understandable that Akemi felt stuffed – especially when you consider that, upon our return to our hotel room at the Venetian, she also polished off the entire top of the complimentary pistachio cake we were gifted after our meal.

Anyway, I’m pleased to report that – for Akemi’s sake – our lunch was comparatively modest…yet just as wonderful.  And the restaurant itself…absolutely gorgeous.

We were seated at the long counter that runs the length of the room…

The view to my right.
And the view to my left.
Mrs. Aota makes the trip from Osaka to spend quality time with me. And, I suppose, her daughter.
Cauliflower soup with Iberico pork chips. Akemi couldn't stop talking about it.
Poached egg, butter foam, and croutons atop cumin-scented eggplant.
Oooh. Delectably oozy!
Greenling (yes, a first for me too) is seared, then finished in a steamer, served atop poached leeks and topped with chives, parsley, mint, and crisp green onions. Fish is one of the many things they do very well here in Japan - even the cooked variety.
Duck foie gras on parmesan risotto. Rich, decadent, and all sorts of wonderful.
And to finish: Basil and lime sorbet top orange and grapefruit in syrup.

The lunch at L’Atelier de Joel Robuchon is a terrific deal.  Head on over and try one of the set menus.

We skipped the dessert at Robuchon so we could head on over to the famed Toshi Yoroizuka instead.  In retrospect, I should have gone with Robuchon.

Toshi Yoroizuka

For some reason, they were only offering a scaled-down version of the dessert menu.  The varied cakes, normally on display, were not to be seen.  And so, we ordered from the menu.

The Mont Blanc. Good.
Strawberry millefeuille topped with home made pistachio ice cream. Also good.

Not bad.  Good.  But all I could think of was heading over to Jean-Paul Hevin and sampling about a half-dozen of their chocolate desserts.

Which, by the way, I fully intend to do before week’s end.

Then, we were off for a little more strolling in another neighborhood…

The streets of Shinjuku

We stopped by the Isetan (sight of the Salon de Chocolat) where I picked up a couple of treats from the Sebastien Bouillet boutique: pistachio and cotton candy macarons for me, and a chocolate lipstick for Akemi.  Yes, you heard correctly.

Akemi applies some Sebastien Bouillet chocolate lipstick

We returned to the hotel for some R&R, then headed over to the big seven-floor toy store in Ginza where I tried, in vain, to locate a new Evangelion phone cover for my new 4S, and some anime t-shirts.  Maybe I’ll have better success at Kiddyland.

We took the metro over to Kagurazaka and, for the third time in as many years, I enjoyed a memorable kaiseki dinner at Ishikawa…

This quaint Michelin 3-star restaurant is tucked away on a side street in Kagurazaka.

We had a private room.

Mrs. Aota feigns innocence. In reality, she is well into executing her master plan to pay the bill before I'm any the wiser.

Our nine course meal was designed to show off Japanese seasonal offerings, from fish and veggies to fresh fruit and herbs….

Cod milt and simmered Japanese mountain potato with steamed eggs and ginger-flavored sauce. Akemi and her mother declared themselves not fans of milt - until the arrival of this dish which turned out to be everyone's favorite of the evening.
Deep-fried pomfret and monkfish liver with lotus root garnished with baby turnip. Served with seaweed sea salt (another first for me) and a chive-ponzu dipping sauce you wanted to sip once you were done.
Turnip in white miso soup with whale skin. The broth struck a nice balance between sweet and savoury. As for the whale skin...not a fan of its pronounced fishiness.
Flounder sashimi garnished with fresh sea wood and Japanese herbs. The surprise of this dish was the nori. Why can't we get seaweed preparations like this in North America?
Young tuna mixed with minced kelp. The dark speckling is salt-cured seaweed.
Charcoal-grilled scabbard fish and shiitake mushroom. I've had this long, eel-like fish once before, in a Portugese restaurant in Toronto and loved it there too.
Freshly harvested bamboo shoots, wagyu, cucumber and spinach from Kyoto with Yuzu-scented sauce. The yuzu nicely complimented the well-marbled richness of the wagyum.
Grilled conger eel, komatsuna greens, white leeks, and tofu hot pot. A relatively simpler dish but nevertheless possessed of flavor complexities.
Steamed rice with Maitake mushrooms and diced white radish served with pickled vegetables and miso soup. I was stuffed but could have kept on eating. Redolent with the earthiness of the Maitake.
Strawberry and grapefruit with white wine jelly and sherry mousse. I'm usually not a fan of fruit-based desserts but, of course, fruits in Japan are nothing like the sour North American cousins.

We enjoyed two bottles of sake with our meal and Akemi was absolutely toasted by her second glass.  The service was top-notch – professional and pleasant.  No sooner did we finish one course than the door to our private room would slide open and our server would sweep in and clear away the dishes.  In less than a minute, she would return with our next course.  It was a nicely paced meal that covered a quick two and a half hours.

Ishikawa-san and Sugi-san bid us a fond farewell.

We returned to our hotel room where I uploaded by blog pictures and watched a tipsy Akemi struggle to dry her hair after her shower.

I received a call this morning informing me that Maximus’s ashes were ready to be picked up.  Not a day goes by that I don’t think about him and merely having him come up in conversation is enough to start me tearing up (as was the case at dinner last night when I had to use the “I’ve got something in my eyes – both of them” dodge).  While I appreciate everyone’s support concerning my decision, I’ll always have my doubts about certain things.

Last night, I dreamt that I was grocery shopping with my late father who bought me an enormous bag of ripe persimmons.  Okay all you dream analysts, what does it mean?

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sylvia
sylvia

Don’t be worry….we all have something in our eyes – both of them, frequently when we think of him or in conversation. I was telling a good friend about you and your escapades and Max…and had, guess what, I had something in my eyes – both of them. Of course I can also use the I wear contacts excuse too.

FOOD IS EXQUISITE.

Mrs. Aota, I am honored to meet you through Joe san’s blog.
Very Best Regards
Sylvia

Debra

I honestly am not sure what doubts you could have– you did everything and beyond, and when he reached a point where he might be really suffering you let him go. We should all have such love and care.

Your dinner looked nice but really that lunch– I am going to look for a cauliflower soup with pork chips.. looks fantastic as does the other lunch foods.

LOL I am sure I will associate you with food forever. This is one heck of a football treat, but you could class it up:
http://www.holytaco.com/ultimate-super-bowl-snack-stadium/

Deni

No idea how you can eat like this, but I’d sure like to try! I see where Akemi gets her good looks! smile

Re Max, we all second-guess ourselves and it sucks. Eventually, we learn to live with it and make peace with our decision, at least to some degree. When Flannery died, I decided to cremate her and have her ashes returned to me. To this day, I regret that decision. I put the box on top of my dresser, but then decided she wasn’t a tchochtke. I then put the box in a drawer and decided she wasn’t socks, or sweaters or pjs. The box is sealed, so opening it could be tricky (and messy), but I still think I’ll try it one of these days and let her ashes fly somewhere she’d like. I’ve buried our other dogs at the pet cemetery, and that’s not any easier. Please don’t beat yourself up over any of it, Joe. It’s pointless and I know that Max wouldn’t want that. Like we say in Spanish, dale tiempo al tiempo. Give time, time.

Vigs
Vigs

Hi Joe,
Haven’t been reading your blog in a while because the tone of the entries about Maximus were too painful for me, considering I had just gone through this with one of my cats for the first time. Now I’m all caught up and what strikes me the most is what you said about his open eyes. Nowhere in my far-off nightmares of putting a pet to sleep did I imagine my cat’s eyes would remain open. That made it so hard to leave the room, like if I looked back, I’d think he was still watching me, waiting for me to return. My cat’s brother has been more clingy ever since, but I suppose that’s to be expected after 15 years of being curled around each other. I hope your other dogs are getting by and that your trip allows to enjoy happy memories of Maximus before you return home to start anew. Best wishes, have a safe trip!

dasndanger

1. *Waves at Mrs. Aota*

2.

We returned to our hotel room where I uploaded by blog pictures and watched a tipsy Akemi struggle to dry her hair after her shower.

‘by’ blog pictures? And who was the drunk one again? wink

3. Will get back to you on the persimmons, though I’m pretty sure dad is tellin’ ya it’s time to grow a pair. wink

4. Chocolate lipstick? Joe, please don’t go all zombi on us and eat Akemi’s face off, k?

Gotta run! Have a great day!

das

Airelle
Airelle

So much food , so little time, thanks for the wonderful pictures. Mrs Aota is a pretty lady, like her daughter. very nice to meet her.
I wish I were able to cook fish in all those different ways, I might eat it a lot more. Why do you think it is the fruit in North America is so sour, what are they doing different? Find out the secret please.

And about the persimmon dream, maybe your dad wants to to eat some, since it may be the only food you have not tried yet>?? maybe it has some magical medicinal power to work miracles. I am just guessing here..
~Thanks for sharing your adventure with us.

Jeannette
Jeannette

I too have something in my eyes, both of them.

Ponytail
Ponytail

Hi Mrs.Aota! It is very nice to finally meet you. We love your daughter Akemi. She is very beautiful and keeps us entertained with her many talents. I hope you enjoy your visit with Akemi and Joe.

Awesome pictures!

I think your dream means you are coping with a current situation in life and coming to terms with Maximus’ death and it is causing you to remember another loved one, your dad, and when you lost him. You miss them both.

Just reading one of the message to you about Max makes me tear up. If you want to actually talk about him, I would be a puddle on the floor.

Sparrow_hawk

Ah, Grasshopper – you ask about the persimmon. Allow me to enlighten you:

In Buddhism, the persimmon is used as a symbol of transformation. The green persimmon is acrid and bitter, but the fruit becomes very sweet as it ripens.

Persimmon can also symbolize joy, due to its red color.

Knowing that, the meaning is obvious.

And inscrutable.

Or maybe you and your dad just liked persimmons.

By the way, all of today’s food looks delightful! It was so nice of Aota-san to come from Osaka to spend time with you and Akemi. You are very fortunate to get to dine with two such charming ladies!

Sparrow_hawk

@Aota-san: 始めまして. どうぞ宜しく.

Sue Jackson
Sue Jackson

*hugs for Joe* I know. It took me a long time to cope with loss of my doggie (Yorkie – “Perky”). I lost him a long time ago, but I still think about him. Even to this day…sometimes I shed a tear thinking about how I miss him. Then…I just remember all the good times I has with him, and I look at the pitcures of him. That helps me.

Oh…my! All that food looks scrumptious! smile That grilled eel thing looks yummy.

Dave

Long time reader, first time poster. I’ve been living in Tokyo since 2006 working as a programmer at a jungle-themed internet retailer. I always pay attention to the Tokyo posts as fodder for interesting places to go eat (used to do more of that before our first baby last month.)

Roppongi and Aoyoma (of the two, Aoyama is the better by far) are so overplayed as foreign residences. I’m curious if you have checked out other places? I enjoyed Jiyugaoka (on the Toyoko line) and currently live at Shinagawa Seaside (but that is more of an out of the way area turning into a business park.) Since I ride a bike to work though, that hasn’t really been much of a problem (and the commute is in the reverse direction, so when I am on the train it isn’t all that busy.) If you check for places to live outside of the Yamanote circle the prices can drop pretty quickly, and there are some fun hipster type areas (kichijyouji, shimo-kitazawa) to check out too.

I’m sure you are getting better advice than random comments from strangers on a blog though. If it is any help in your decision, I have zero regrets about moving to Tokyo (after living in Dallas, New York, New Jersey, Los Angelos, and Seattle.) Well, New York I do miss sometimes, and I still get to sample good BBQ in Texas once a year, but no regrets.

cherluvya

Hey Joe,

I was amazed that you are thinking of moving to Japan. Have you mentioned it before? I’m thinking since you mentioned moving the dogs you were serious. Cool…

Your dream…maybe your Dad is telling you he’ll take good care of Maximus for you.

Best to you Joe,
Pictures were great as always.
Cheryl smile

shaneac1
shaneac1

Joe please please please post some video of tipsy akemi please please please.

archersangel

make of this what you will.

To see the dead in your dream forewarns that you are being influenced by negative people and are hanging around the wrong crowd. This dream may also be a way for you to resolve your feelings with those who have passed on. Alternatively, the dream symbolizes material loss.

If you dream of a person who has died a long time ago, then it suggests that a current situation or relationship in your life resembles the quality of that deceased person. The dream may depict how you need to let this situation or relationship die and end it.

To see and talk with your dead parents in your dreams represent your fears of losing them or your way of coping with the loss. You are using your dream as a last opportunity to say your final good-byes to them.
http://www.dreammoods.com/dreamdictionary/d.htm#Death

To dream that you are shopping symbolizes your needs and desires. It also represents opportunities and options that you come across in life. Consider what you are shopping for and what needs you are try to fulfill. In particular, to dream that you are shopping for food and groceries signifies your hidden attempt to buy the attention of others. If you are shopping for clothes, then it suggests that you are trying to put forth a new image.
http://www.dreammoods.com/dreamdictionary/s2.htm

To see food in your dream represents physical and emotional nourishment and energies. The different types of food can symbolize a wide range of things. Generally, fruit is symbolic of sensuality, meat represents animalistic desires, and vegetables pertain to healthy pursuits. Frozen foods may imply your cold emotions and frigid ways. Eating certain foods also refer to qualities that you need to incorporate within your own self.

To see fruit in your dream signifies growth, abundance and financial gain. They also symbolize lust and sexuality. In particular, green fruit in your dream denotes your hastiness and disappointed efforts. You need to work harder and longer in order to achieve your goals. If the fruit is ripe, then it represents fertility and conception. You desire a child or you are ready to have a child.
http://www.dreammoods.com/dreamdictionary/f3.htm

paloosa
paloosa

You had to make such heartbreaking decisions in such a short period of time, it’s no wonder you feel regret. But I think you haven’t had the time to truly grieve, and you won’t until you’re home with the pups. Then I hope you can start replacing the regret with all the happy memories.

Last Saturday I went to my local shelter. I was taken to the back where many happy barking faces greeted me. How do you chose which one to sponsor? Then in the very back and separated by a gate were three more eager faces. But there one that just tugged on my heartstrings. I didn’t even know what breed of dog he was, and I couldn’t get close because he was in quarantine for another week to make sure he’s safe to adopt. So in memory of Max, I’m sponsoring Byron. Turns out, he’s a puggle.

I was finally reading through my local paper from last weekend and saw a familiar face. Johnny O’Callaghan! The article even mentioned Stargate Atlantis and his role as “Niam”.

http://articles.glendalenewspress.com/2012-01-27/entertainment/tn-gnp-theatre-review-whos-your-daddy-a-meditation-on-fatherhood-20120127_1_fatherhood-theatre-review-international-adoption

Here’s the link to the theater, and a great trailer for the show:

http://thevictorytheatrecenter.org/

You mentioned the possibly of moving to Tokyo, but I’m confused. How would you work as a writer or producer from so far away? Are you looking into a career change?

And wow, just wow! Stunningly beautiful chocolates, that I would have admired for about five seconds before I mawed them. What a great trip!

Patricia Stewart-Bertrand

I haven’t been around for a while and have just come back to see that Maximus has passed. So sorry, Joe. When you lose a member of your family it is really hard to come to terms with and resolve. The only thing that will reduce the pain is time.

Since you are on your Japan trip, have you ever had radish cake? I’ve been curious about the taste. I read a recipe for it, and it seems to be one of those dishes that takes lots of work to create. Not sure, under those circumstances, that I will ever taste it.

If you move to Japan, can I have your house? smile

Patricia

Lexxye
Lexxye

It’s a pleasure to see Mrs. Aota aka Akemi’s mom. I hope you have a lovely time with Akemi and Joe.

SteveG1

Hey Joe

Just listened to your interview…Pretty good interview, thought your views on why SGU got cancelled were spot on, I was going to say “why SGU failed” but it never failed infact, I think it was the most popular of the 3 especially near the end once all the crying faces A/Holes had stopped moaning and started enjoying. Your right though modern tech killed it which is a joke really when modern tech should infact be exploited by the networks and a show like SGU should have been used to do that. I’m still fekn stone mad!! I had near half my life invested in Stargate and although it couldn’t last forever ending 2 shows mid story is a joke…Dunno about anyone else but I still don’t subscribe to satellite TV in protest.

Japan looks ace man cool food and an awesome culture. Keep Enjoying!

J. Chris
J. Chris

I was getting my hair cut today, and the stylist and I started talking about pets. She mentioned she had a pug at home that was the result of a spontaneous visit to a pet store (which her sci-fi loving husband no longer lets her visit). It reminded me of your dogs, and of Max, and how I used to think little of pugs, but thanks to you and your blog (and my friends recently getting one), I find them to be on the list of breeds I’m considering when I can get a dog (I don’t feel right getting a dog when I have no yard for he/she to enjoy). Thanks for sharing your dogs with us, even the sad aspects.

Shiningwit
Shiningwit

Good grief, thats an awful lot of life-changing decisions! Still, a change is as good as a rest as long as you’re happy and still blogging I guess we don’t mind where you are smile

For the record its been three years since I lost my Sassie-girl and I still get something in both my eyes, it never goes away its just that sometimes you just can’t help it.

ben
ben

Funny you should mention persimmons. I just had one for breakfast. It’s really delicious. Maybe your brain is telling you to eat more fruits. I dunno. I rarely have dreams.

I really agree with : “fruits in Japan are nothing like the sour North American cousins”.

I don’t live in Japan, but I am lucky enough to be able to pick some fruits off their trees and the difference in aroma, texture and flavor, compared to imported fruits, is remarkable. I have access to fresh mangoes, lychees, papayas, coconuts, longans, avocados, bananas, pomegranates and guavas. All are grown without a hint of pesticide or any other nasty stuff. Mostly in my neighbors’ yards. I myself have a mango tree in my yard, so we have a friendly barter system.

Alabaster Runner
Alabaster Runner

Joe,

You let Max go out with dignity. If you had waited until you got back he probably would have been extremely weak and you would not want to see him like that (trust me I know), or worse he could have died without you being there. He got in his final goodbyes (being back at home-new energy, got to see some kids-new energy, went for a long day walk-new energy and he got to spend a night in bed with his owner (pack-leader) one last time) and I think that colapse on the porch was his way of saying “Thank you. It’s time.”

dasndanger

Joe, I had a dream last night that tops yours. And not in a good way. First, I should explain that I have this thing about public restrooms – not a phobia, just an aversion. I suppose it’s for this reason that I often have ‘nightmares’ about public toilets. Last night I had another one. Maybe someone can analyze this one for me… In my dream, the public toilets were at the beach. Everything was white, with stalls made out of plywood, also painted white. (They were, in fact, exactly like the restrooms at the PA Renaissance Faire.) I went with another person (I *think* it was my brother-in-law’s ex-wife), and we were going to change into our bathing suits in one of the stalls. She went first, and I looked for another stall in which to change my clothes. First, I looked into the handicap stall, and there was a girl in there throwing up. I looked into another stall and it had a load of poop in the toilet. So far the dream is progressing like all my other toilet dreams. There were two or three other locked stalls with people in them, and what I think was a bunny rabbit. Then I looked into the last stall, and in there was a live goat, covered in crispy fried panko flakes. I asked someone about the goat, and they said it was for the sacrifice. Yeah, that’s when I woke up. Now, to your dream. In line with Sparrowhawk’s take on your persimmon dream, I found this on Wiki: In philosophy, the painting of persimmons by Mu Qi (13th Century) exemplifies the progression from youth to age as a symbol of the progression from bitterness to sweetness. The persimmon when young is bitter and inedible, but as it ages it becomes sweet and beneficial to humankind. Thus, as we age, we overcome rigidity and prejudice and attain compassion and sweetness. Mu Qi’s painting of Six Persimmons is considered a masterpiece. An enormous bag of ripe persimmons? I guess that means that in your old age, Joe, you have become a compassionate and sweet person -in abundance – despite your best efforts at supervillainy. I think recent events bear this out, and in your dream, your ‘subconsious father’ is just trying to tell you that you did the compassionate, and loving, thing. I know the conscious you wants to question that decision, maybe even question the person you are, but deep down inside there’s no escaping the fact that you have a big heart, compassionate heart and you acted out of love for Maximus, and not out of selfishness. I know it will take time for your mind to be put at ease, maybe even longer for your heart, but know that on this side of the computer screen no one questions your compassion, or your choice. das Loading...

Bill Clay

Don’t have any doubts about Max, Joe. He had gotten to the point where his life had become a struggle and chore. It would have been a terrible feeling if Max had passed on while you were away. He spent his final moments with the person he loved most in the world, and none of us can ask for better than that.