So, the day after the day after I call Carl Binder out for posting a pic of himself holding a copy of the second issue of my comic book series, Dark Matter, in a transparent attempt to get himself cast in a potential Dark Matter television series, which came the day after I called out Alex Levine for doing the same thing, which came a day after I called out Ivon Bartok for doing the same thing, I received the following photo from my old Toronto nemesis Tara Yelland:

She wastes to time in getting right to the point, offering up the following refreshingly honest/annoying message to accompany the pic: “I’ve got the first two issues of Dark Matter! I haven’t read either yet. As you know, I’m a terribly busy person with much to do, but I will get to it the instant my hectic schedule lets up!  But, more importantly, I would also like to throw one of my many floppy hats into the proverbial casting ring. I think I would be perfect for the role of the dark matter. Talk it over with ol’ blue eyes…”

‘Ol blue eyes?  The dark matter?  Hectic schedule?!  Last time I checked, she was furiously uploading pictures of her recent nail work to the internet.

If you don’t already make it a habit, I urge you to check out Tara’s blog (here: tarayelland), partly as an opportunity to pry into her personal life but mostly for the occasional funny remark I leave in the comment section.

Having been back about a week now, I’ve finally taken the opportunity to sit down and review my recent 11+ day culinary pilgrimage to Tokyo.  There was a lot to like this year (quite frankly, there always is a lot to like, which is why I keep going back) with many favorites coming through and some new places impressing as well.  There were also plenty of surprises, good and bad.  Today, I’d like to review by presenting a list of my Top 10 Disappointments from my last Tokyo trip (we’ll cover the pleasant surprises as part of tomorrow’s entry).  In no particular order…


10) Chocolate-covered macarons

It combines two of my favorite things.  How could this not work?  Well, for starters, in all cases sampled, the chocolate thoroughly overwhelmed the macaron.  From a textural standpoint, it was a bit of a mess, lacking both the chocolate snap and macaron airiness you’d expect from the components individually. Two great tastes that DO NOT go well together.

9) The beds at the Imperial Hotel

The Imperial Hotel offers fantastic service, great restaurants, and an unbeatable location – but the beds!  The mattress I slept on fell somewhere between firm and REALLY FIRM, resulting in a less-than-restful night’s sleep.  Some morning’s, I woke up so sore I suspected Akemi had been walking on my back  while I was sleeping.

8) Baniku

I wasn’t expecting to like horse, but I was surprised by the extent to which I didn’t like it.  Chewy, hard to swallow – an all-around unpleasant experience.

7) Doughnut Plant doughnuts

Damn.  After salivating over them on the Food Network and having Akemi talk them up incessantly in Vancouver, I finally had the opportunity to try Doughnut Plant doughnuts.  The verdict?  Meh.

6) Aloha Table

One of the great things about Tokyo is that you don’t have to go out to a high-end restaurant to enjoy a great meal.  You can eat well at everywhere from family-run hole-in-the-wall restaurants to burger joints to ramen-yas to chain eateries.  Well, almost everywhere.  Scratch Aloha Table off your list  quite possibly the very, very worst of what the normally dependable Tokyo food scene has to offer.


5) High School of the Dead

I’m including this on the list because, even though I finished watching the first season here in Vancouver, I discovered and started watching the series back in Japan.  This one really annoys me because the series had sooooo much promise. The premise of a bunch of high school students struggling against the zombie horde has so much potential.  The anime is visually appealing, chock full of action, suspense, interesting characters and, unfortunately, heaps of fan service – gratuitous panty shots, enormous jiggling breasts in low cut outfits, ridiculous over-the-top girl on girl slap and tickle scenes – that singlehandedly undermine all of High School of the Dead’s stronger elements.  Every time it gets going in terms of character or suspense or action, the producers feel the need to introduce some silly, juvenile sex romp humor, thoroughly undermining everything they’ve accomplished to that point.  What kills me is that this series could have been so much better minus the T&A.  What a disappointment.

 4) Laduree

The service was disinterested and the dessert I had, the Mont Blanc, uninspired. Worse still, the macarons were unimpressive, significantly paling in comparison to the macarons offered by other confectionary heavyweights like Pierre Herme and Jean-Paul Hevin.

 3) Toshi Yoroizuka

I realize this might be considered sacrilege on the part of certain Japanese dessert aficionados, but I’m putting revered Toshi Yoroizuka on this list.  The three desserts I tried on my visit, while admittedly beautiful, weren’t that remarkable in terms of flavor.  Chalk it up to the day or the time or the fact that none of their feature desserts were available. I’m certainly willing to go back and give this place another try.

2) 49 – Black Pepper chocolate bar from the 100% Chocolate Cafe

I love the idea of offering 56 flavors of chocolate bars ranging from classic single origins to wilder creations like wasabi and maple, so I was all sorts of intrigued to try their Black Pepper chocolate.  Alas, it proved overwhelmingly cloying with no discernible black pepper kick.

1) The chicken sashimi at Sato Yosuke

I was feeling adventurous so I decided to take Akemi’s friend, Nanako, up on her suggestion and ordered the chicken sashimi.  It was a little tough and a little chewy, a fair cry from the near-ethereal consistency Nanako had trumpeted.  She blamed the fact that it wasn’t actually sashimi but served tataki style.  Still, given that we were eating at a place supposedly known for its chicken, I was expecting better.

So, there you go.  Sometimes, Tokyo aint all sunshine and Sawada sushi.

Tomorrow, I offer up a list of my Top 10 Pleasant Surprises from my last Tokyo trip!

Today’s entry is dedicated to kathode and her awesome/spot-on/hilarious Hero At Large review.  Check the February 13th comment section!

30 thoughts on “February 15, 2012: It was only a matter of time before Tara tried to get in on the action! Top Tokyo disappointments!

  1. “Today’s entry is dedicated to kathode and her awesome/spot-on/hilarious Hero At Large review. Check the comment section!”

    Where? I’m not finding it!

  2. February 13th – Cookie Monster reviews Hero At Large.

    I’ll make that clear.

  3. Found it! Wow, Kathode’s review is extremely detailed: an excellent analysis which makes me even happier that I did not waste time on that movie. Still trying to snap up Superman II from Netflix for the weekend.

    I finally got my copy of Dark Matter II. Nice twist! But I’m not convinced that all is as it appears. I’m really looking forward to the next one. And not just because Two Katana-san is on the cover!

  4. Gee, Joe, …ya just gotta have a spot for Tara.
    Expecting to see Alex and others showing you they have Dark Matter.
    oh, and, I do too….LOL.

  5. What exactly was in that bowl from the Aloha Table? It kind of looks like chicken wings that have been left out for, oh, a couple of weeks.

    I will agree on the chicken sashimi without even trying it. I’m afraid I just would never be able to bring myself to even try it.

  6. Jeez, you have more places listed in just the dissapointed catagory than I think I could have gone through in the entire two weeks, much less packing high points and pleasant suprises. Certainly speaks to your efficiency in working your ways through the eateries.
    kathode’s review was on the spot. I did allow a lot of the logical inconsistances slide by, but kathode nailed each one. I hadn’t even heard of this movie before last week, so at least it was a learning experience.
    I;m beginning to smell a conspiracy. The clockwork timing of all these photos finding their way to you speaks of an organized effort to impress, or pester you.Got to admit though I’m enjoying seeing the old faces pop back up, and would be delighted to see some of them end up associated with your new project.It will be equally delightful to see new faces of course, but there is a certain comfrot in the old faces, however weatherworn they have become, or not.
    Time to get ready for another day of saving people with week-old complaints that just HAVE to be seen at 3am in the morning…hope the day goes well for you, the dogs, Akemi, and your faithful readers

  7. Gee, Joe, you’re popular. Is there a part for me in Dark Matter?? 😉 I would have to say the same about your disappointments–none of the pictures looked good either.

    Have a great night!!!

  8. Also, Joe are you watching Survivor this season? Any thoughts on the premiere? At least so far, they all seem like very annoying people with not one that I would want to root for.

  9. Hi Joe

    My wife just bought me the issues 1&2 of Dark Matter from the online shop for my birthday, thanks for link you posted a few days ago btw…Really looking forward to getting stuck in. AWESOME!!!


  10. “Talk it over with ol’ blue eyes…” Is Tara talking about Paul Mullie? See I told you he has beautiful eyes! Give him a part in the TV show!

    Those macarons sure do look pretty. Too bad about the taste.

  11. Good for Cookie; he spends all his time eating carbs and mackin’ on Maria, it’s time he put in some hard time watching terrible movies. Although Superman is one of my favorites still.

    Maybe if the macarons had thin layer of chocolate inside instead of the thick coating? You’ll have to experiment to find the perfect blend of chocolate and macaron to make sure one doesn’t overwhelm the other; it’s your duty as a foodie. And I think crushing peppermint sticks to blend with the chocolate to give it zing might help too.

  12. Hey Joe,

    Those macaroons look more like Tinker Toys…and the raw chicken would just be to look at. Those would be my two worst.

    Casting is always fun. I’ve done a lot of Test Option Agreements and were always worked on til late at night. I’ll come up with my casting suggestions…I’m still thinking about it.

    Best to you Joe,
    Cheryl 🙂

  13. Chicken sashimi …. my cats would enjoy it.

    That was the one thing about all the little pastry shops in Japan, sometimes the prettier the dessert, the less spectacular the taste.

  14. Dark Matter #2 was awesome! Loved the twist.

    Thanks for the food pictures! The macaron looks so good, sad that it wasn’t.

    Tara looks cute, as always. You could fit her into Dark Matter and give her a horrid past 😉 .

  15. Your snow monkeys are spreading, check out’s latest front page. World domination nearly complete?

  16. So a couple of nights ago I had a dream where I was walking around in this underground shopping complex in Tokyo with Akemi. She said you had left to go back to Vancouver yesterday and she was showing me around. How odd is it to have a dream about someone you’ve never met? I guess thats what I get for reading your blog every day for what, like 5 ish years now.

  17. Hey Joe,

    I guess this isn’t the best place to post it, but here goes. I’m gathering support for a new Save SGU campaign. The problem is, so many people have completely given up; they think there’s no longer any chance of SGU being brought back.

    So, I just wanted to ask – do you believe, if we raise loads of awareness and purchase DVDs and ask Netflix to air a new season, that there would be even the slightest chance of MGM bringing back SGU?

    I also wanna say that I loved all the Stargate series’, especially SGU, and thankyou for giving those to us for as long as you did.


  18. Note to self: Do NOT drink a shot of Everclear straight. 😛

    (Employee left a bottle of the stuff on my desk with the following note: “Gargle with this spirit if you want. More fun if you don’t. This will fix your throat.”)

    I decided to do more than gargle… and nearly stopped breathing! 😆 😛 Whoa! What a punch!


  19. *Ah…I misunderstood the note…he said SPIT it if you want. Well, I didn’t. 😛


  20. Highschool of the dead was a good example of poor writing and a good example of the way anime is getting more and more sexualised in Japan these days.

    It’s hard to find anime that simply focus on a good, solid story instead of the fanservice/panty shots/nudity that seem to litter random anime shows dragging them down.

    I have to wonder if they do it for the ratings, when a show is doing poorly on Japanese TV the director must think, let’s throw in some nudity, more pantyshots!

    All so stupid really and makes me question why I’m watching anime still to begin with.

    Anyway I recently finished Squid Girl, such a funny series. Well worth checking out.

    Some things I disliked in Highschool of the Dead

    The Pink haired girl – Spoilt richkid with next to know personality and tends to be too whiny, lashing out at those that try and help her and comes accross as rather selfish.

    Arisu – The way the creators, when Kouta rescued her, had to show her peeing? whilst being carried accross the wall surrounded by zombies, it wasn’t needed and came accross as just creepy.

    Fanservice – Wasn’t required at all, some of it verged on ridiculus, especially the teacher. The bath house scenes wern’t needed either(Them washing one another etc)

    In general I disliked the way the creators had a good premise with the kids being trapped in the school surrounded by zombies but focused too much on some of the more unlikable characters and more fanservice. They should of, in my opinion speant a bit more time at the school and had a bit more danger scenes. They escaped the place a bit too easily in my opinion.

    The way the pink haired girls mother comes along and rescues the group when they were surrounded by zombies later on came accross as pulled out the writers behind, there was no set up or anything.

    The series in general had little to no depth, and the characters were one dimensional, I found myself watching not caring at all about the characters.

    If anything the otaku Hirano was the only likable character, even if he was a perv, mostly because he was just so average(Despite being a gun geek).

  21. I hope Dark Matter does get picked up for TV; we need some good Sci Fi! Speaking of which, I’m reading John Scalzi’s Fuzzy Nation. Excellent!

    Still waiting for the Geek Squad to arrive. They gave me a noon to 4 window. It is 3:22. The window is edging closed. Bets on them arriving at 3:58?

    @das: you gargled with Everclear and then swallowed it? That should cure what ails you. Or make you numb enough that you don’t care!

    Speak of the devil (not you das): Chuck from the Geek Squad just called. He’s finishing up with his current client and will be here soon. So I’ll finish this up and say bye!

  22. Aww, thanks for the compliment! What a nice way to compensate me for shattering my childhood idolization of John Ritter.

    At least I have no similar childhood love of Superman II to shatter. My friend Joe Khan (isn’t that a great name? I love saying it.) thinks that Supe II is one of the greatest movies of all time. No shit. I think he’s deluded. Granted, I haven’t seen that movie since around the time it came out, but I suspect that if it didn’t impress me in my adolescence, there’s no chance in hell it will impress me now. But Joe Khan’s taste in film is not entirely untrustworthy, so I’m willing to keep an open mind. Looking forward to what Cookie has to say!

  23. Hey Joe

    High School of the Dead, thanks for the endorsement! It’s everything you said and more. Oh, wait, this is a list of disappointments… oh well, I like it.


  24. Awww. This wasn’t that milestone you were thinking of quitting on, was it? You have to warn us! Joe? JOE? *crickets*

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