When I travel to Tokyo, I usually stay at The Imperial Hotel.  The service is great, the rooms very comfy, and I can’t think of anywhere else I’d rather spending my nights. With the exception of Star Bar, a truly awesome basement bar Ivon Bartok and I discovered on our trip here a couple of hears back.  Like The Imperial Hotel, the service is great and the room is comfy.  Also, the drinks are outstanding. Whenever I’m in town, I make it a point to drop by.  Master bartender Hisashi Kishi and his right-hand man, Yamasaki Tsuyoshi, are now like members of my extended family.  I’m always thrilled to see them and, conversely, sad to part ways with them whenever my trip comes to its inevitable end.

I stopped by twice on this visit and, as always, Master Kishi-san was always at his warm, jovial, and welcoming best, whipping up killer cocktails and Moscow Mules that I’ll dream about long after I return to Vancouver.

Master Kishi-san rocks the shaker:

Yamasaki-san follows suit:

Beefeater Gin with fresh muscat grape juice.  Deceptively smooth and delicious.
At the conclusion of my visit, I always leave Master Kishi-san with a little something – in this case a bottle and a selection of olive oils (because, in addition to being a great bartender, I hear he’s also a terrific cook).

And Master Kishi-san ended up surprising me by presenting me with my very own Star Bar copper (Moscow Mule) mug.  It was totally unexpected and greatly appreciated.  Oh, and much needed.

Star Bar Ginza, B1F Sankosha Building, 1-5-13 Ginza, Chuo-ku,Tokyo; (03) 3535-8005 

Night time view by the Pensinsula Hotel, Ginza.  Christmas is almost upon us!
Rooftop park on the 9th floor of the Shinjuku Isetan.
Unagi at Nodaiwa.
Iwasha (mackerel) sashimi at Nakajima.
Faux ice cream bar from Sebastien Bouillet.
Chiffon cake with sweet potato and maple butter cream (disguised as a soufflé).
Choux creme from Seijo Alpes

Last night, Akemi and I dined at Quintessence, a 3-star Michelin restaurant and, apparently, one of the top ten hardest places to book.  Dinner was outstanding. Unfortunately, because of the no-photo policy (it may annoy the other guests), I wasn’t able to snap any pics of the culinary highlights.  Fortunately, I was able to source some photos of the said culinary highlights from the internet:

Goat milk bavarois with lily root, olive oil, and rock salt (photo via http://www.qliweb.com/food/Quintessence).
Another instant where I’m uncertain of the English name of the fish, but it was perfectly prepared – crispy on the outside and rare at its center – accompanied by a duo of sauces.
The incredibly airy meringue ice cream.

After we were done and on our way out, the restaurant’s chef and owner, Shuzo Kishida, came out to meet us.  At 34, he’s already been awarded 3 Michelin stars (four years in a row) for his work at Quintessence.  We chatted, mostly in French, a language I assume he mastered while working in Paris at the 3 Michelin star l’Astrance.  Unfortunately, I spent little time in Paris and it’s been a while since I practiced my French in Montreal so I was a bit…oh, let’s call it rusty.  Still, I managed well enough to let him know what a spectacular it was – every dish brilliantly conceived and flawlessly executed – as great as our first visit/my second date with Akemi three years ago: (December 4, 2009: Tokyo Travel Day #10 – Quintessence, Monnalisa Marunouchi, I hit the wall – and I’ve still got 11 restaurants to go!)

Well, looks like our Tokyo Trip Late 2012 (not to be confused with Tokyo Trip Early 2012) is drawing to a close.  I can look forward to three final no-doubt-memorable meals (and maybe about a half dozen notable desserts) before I head off.  And I look forward to them.  But for now, I’m looking forward to a nice change of pace breakfast:

Plain oatmeal, sliced bananas, and a half a grapefruit.

10 thoughts on “November 9, 2012: Tokyo Day….? I’ve lost count! Star Bar! Nodaiwa! Nakajima! Quintessence!

  1. I’d kill for that unagi. My mouth waters just looking at it. Not that the rest of the food looks shabby. I take it the bar is one of the more upscale ones, not the holes in the wall where you can watched over-stressed businessmen get sloshed after putting in some overtime at work? Not a big drinker, though I am stocking up on my alcohol stores(either for guests, or as trading material for whatever apocalypse that is going to unfold in the next few days/months/years.
    A speedy and safe return home, into the welcoming paws of your four lagged buddies.

  2. Sensory overload here! So much so that your breakfast looks delicious. 🙂 Safe trip home, Joe and Akemi!

  3. Your breakfast looks soooooo lonely, but simple, classic and will tie you over until you find more to tempt you.

    Ditto what Deni said – it has been non-stop YUMMY and wonderful; pictures, adventures, and of course the food.

    Safe home Joe and Akemi!
    We be looking for you on the flip flop.

  4. Great looking food as always, and so cool that you were able to go to Star Bar again.

    Have a safe and restful trip back home!

  5. Joey, your dates – skipped days, double days – have been so confusing this trip, I’m guessin’ you’ve been hitting the sake pretty hard.



  6. Ok, mark me down for all desserts, just to be sure, and oh, maybe not tell Ivon about the gift(mule mug), or maybe he read it,hmm, hope you got 2.. I think I would visit this Star Bar, I like the name. Pack the dogs presents, Safe journey for you and Akemi.

  7. NICE! Glad you finally scored a copper mug! I wonder how a Moscow Mule would taste with sake? Of course, you would have to change the name to Tokyo Mule. I think that’s definitely worth trying.

    And what exactly is a “faux ice cream bar”?

  8. Faux ice cream bar? You had me drooling with those food pictures again… It sounds like you are having a fabulous time! Keep having fun today and have a safe trip home.

  9. Hey Joe, on an entry like what 2-3 weeks ago? You mentioned about wondering what you could do in Japan like a career or something? If you ever get tired of doing the writing stuff or ever feel like you don’t have a future in the TV industry anymore. One job that is very common and extremely easy for people who aren’t Japanese to get is teaching English. Basically working in a school for a set wage every month, enough to live on/get a place(Depending on where you go), and would be something you no doubt would be able to do, seeing as you’ve done writing so long and thus have a good grasp of the english language, at least enough to teach.

    If you ever feel like moving to Japan in the future, like in the next 5-10 years, or sooner even that’s an easy option for you.

    It’d be easier for you to live in Japan long term if you married a Japanese citizen too.

  10. I’m glad your trip’s going well.

    I’ve been avoiding blog comments (but not non-news blog entries) because they might spoil my media fast. I’m trying to see how long I can go without learning the results of the U.S. Presidential Election. It’s been fun re-training myself not to think I need to see if there’s anything new on CNN.com and other sites before I do other things. So far, no one’s spoiled it through idle chit chat. I guess they all assume I already know.

    I’ll check up on how everyone’s doing later. That’s the main thing I’m re-learning now. Later is okay.

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