Woke up to an email from my friend, Sohaib, over at www.fictionalfrontiers.com informing me that the audio interview I did in support of my comic book series, Dark Matter, is up. You can check it out here: http://bit.ly/yiGl0i. We talk about making the transition from television to comic books, my years on Stargate, and the various mysteries (and clues!) that make up Dark Matter. The second issue (Dark Matter #2 – what else?) hits store shelves February 8th. Head on over to your local comic shop and reserve now to avoid disappointment!
In addition to Sohaib’s email, I also received an update form my dog-sitter, Christine, informing me that the dogs are doing well. Bubba and Lulu were thrilled to take a walk down to the local pet shop to stock up on treats while my old gal, Jelly, was equally thrilled to greet them (and the treats!) upon their return:
Hey, I’ve been meaning to do a mini mailbag to answer a few questions, comment on your comments, and thank you all for taking the time to order Dark Matter. Haven’t had the time yet but maybe tonight!
As for what I did yesterday…
Akemi grew up in Osaka but spent four years living in Tokyo. Despite this, there are some key areas of the city she has never visited – like, for instance, yesterday’s mid-morning destination. Akemi had a hankering for sukiyaki (more on that later) and had heard great things about the Ninyocho Imahan in – where else? – Ningyocho.
It’s an area full of old temples, so we thought we would get there early and stroll around a little before lunch. On the surface, it seemed like a good idea but it turns out walking tours are a lot less pleasurable in -2 degree weather. Especially when the wind picks up.
It got a little uncomfortably cold during our 2+ hour walk and, because most of the shops in the area didn’t open until 11:00, we ended up wandering the aisles of the local conveniences stores to keep warm. Finally, with 45 minutes still to go until our lunch reservation, Akemi got fed up and decided we should just show up and feign ignorance, pretend we’d simply assumed the reservation was for 11:30. I was to follow her lead (keep my mouth shut and play the dumb gaijin who didn’t speak Japanese). Fortunately, we didn’t need to resort to subterfuge because, soon after, we got lost and it took us almost 45 minutes to find the restaurant.
The place resembles a restaurant of yore, lots of wood and narrow halls lined with private rooms behind sliding doors. We were ushered into our private tatami room where we promptly ordered: the sukiyaki for Akemi and the kokaiseki for me.
My kokaiseki meal apparently changes monthly, making use of fresh local ingredients to balance textures, colours and flavors in a multi-course meal that echoes a seasonal theme. In my case, my meal seemed to offer hope for an early spring – something we could all get behind.
Anyway, I couldn’t believe the amount of work that went into my lunch, both in terms of preparation and service. This, for instance, was the menu which detailed the courses and their various ingredients.
The various dishes were works of art…
Akemi, meanwhile, loved her sukiyaki (as did I!):
While grazing on Akemi’s lunch, I also received my next course…
After lunch, we headed over to Football Avenue where we visited with Akemi’s uncle at the Japanese Football Museum. He is a former player , a past member of Japan’s 1985 World Cup team, coach of several J-League soccer teams, and is presently the Director of Youth Development for the Japan Football Association.
He gave us a tour of the museum which included a special screening room for soccer enthusiasts to watch the latest matches. It contained the biggest indoor screen I’ve ever laid eyes on, roughly four times the size of the one in my home theater! Before parting ways, he gifted us with a gift bag commemorating the recent World Cup win by the Japanese Women’s team. Among the items included was a bottle of special celebratory sake (Kanpai!) and this calendar:
I wanted to check out Akihabara (geek central!) but, instead, ended up joining Akemi and her mother for an exploration of the Tokyo Station surroundings. Akemi was all sorts of excited to take me to a shop that made something called blizzards, frozen macarons, only to discover the shop had closed. And she thought SHE was disappointed! We settled for a stroll through Daimaru where I sampled some amazing purple yam dessert cakes. I ended up buying a half-dozen and having two for breakfast this morning.
Last night, I had dinner at a place called Furu-ken. It was a business meeting arranged by my friend Tomomi who, unfortunately, couldn’t be there with us. We drank beer, ate various small dishes –
– and talked television, food, and, most importantly, food television. After dinner, my hosts, Soji and Toshi, took me to a unique little bar in Shibuya. And I do mean “little”!
The Saya is about the size of my hotel bathroom, with seating for four along one narrow counter, and standing room for – on this night – five more. It’s a set-up that encourages conversation and, before long, I was knocking back sake and chatting away with the other customers, among them a Japanese clothing designer and three transplanted Brits.
From there, we hopped a cab to Ebisu where we stopped in at Taverna Quale for a couple of glasses of wine and some terrific Italian food. Yes, another meal! We enjoyed tender baby octopus, margherita pizza, and a spectacular spaghetti aglio e olio.
It was sneaking toward 1:00 a.m. when I called it a night. And what a night it was!
A huge thanks to both Koji-san and Toshi-san for being such terrific hosts. Next up: yakitori?