Akemi: When I was a kid, I had big eyes.  Like everyone in my family.

Me: Why?

Akemi: I’m not sure.  Maybe because we eat a lot of meat.

Well, just a little meat for me yesterday – but a lot of whisky.

The open kitchen concept at L’Atelier de Joel Robuchon

We joined Akemi’s family for lunch at one of my favorite restaurants in Tokyo, L’Atelier de Joel Robuchon, a place that offers terrific high-end value for your money.  If you’re looking to sample Michelin-starred cuisine without breaking the bank, this is where you should come.

Creamy pumpkin soup with ricotta cheese gnocci
Pan-fried duck liver and parmesan cheese risotto
Dark chocolate ganache served with cocoa sherbert and bitter biscuit powder.  Super rich and decadent!  You’ve been warned!

This was my third visit to L’Atelier de Joel Robuchon and I can honestly say that not only have I never had a bad meal here; I’ve never had a bad dish here.  That’s damn impressive.  So much so that we made dinner reservations for next week.

L’Atelier de Joel Robuchon:  6-10-1 Roppongi, Minato

We exited the restaurant and just happened to stumble upon (okay, I had this scoped out days in advance) the Roppongi Hills Whisky Festival showcasing a bunch of Japanese blended and single malts.

Hey, check it out!  The Whisky Festival has kicked off at Roppongi Hills.
The menu
It’s Whisky and Photobombing Chihuahua Day at Roppongi Hills!
We made two new friends – three if you count the dog – while sampling whisky.  Alas, we didn’t get their names.  Except for the dog.  His name was Coco.

I sampled the 18 year old Yamazaki (at one third the price of what it cost me for a shot in L.A.) and the 21 year Hibiki.  I’ll be coming back for the Hakushu and Kaku.

After the whisky-tasting, I was feeling nostalgic and melancholy – so I figured a trip to the Mori Art Museum to check out the Charles Schulz retrospective was just the thing.  We filed through the packed rooms and checked out Peanuts arts ranging from early sketch work through the various decades (Akemi: Snoopy went to war?  Me: Yeah.  He killed thirty nazis!).


Akemi: “Charlie has a humungous face.  How does he support his body?”



1Ah, good times.  My sister was a huge Snoopy fan – and still has a soft spot for the lovable beagle.  Maybe I’ll bring her back something nice from the gift shop for minding my dogs while we’re away in Tokyo.

Mori Art Museum:  6-10-1 Roppongi, Minato

While in town, I’m thinking of checking out a Japanese movie:

Didn’t love the manga, but the movie looks suitably creepy.  If I have time, I may check it out.

We returned to the hotel to gather our strength for the night ahead.  A little downtime, a little snack:

The choux creme from Creme de la Creme at Roppongi Hills.

And we were ready to head out once again:

One outfit change later and Akemi was ready to go.

We had dinner reservations at Fook Lam Moon, a Chinese restaurant with branches in Hong Kong, Ginza, and Marunouchi.  Akemi and I arrived early so we killed some time…

Akemi and I killed time by taking a ride on the Disney balloon.
Tokyo in Christmas mode.
Interesting art work
With the release of the new Thor movie, it’s all about the Marvel heroes in Marunouchi.

We dined with Akemi’s family  – mom, dad, brother, sister, and new brother-in-law – and had another great meal.

The Aota clan
The Aota clan

A couple of the highlights:

Crab meat and bright orange guts


Pictured above: the siu long bao.

The waiters prepare the Peking Duck: carving the meat and trimming the fat.

Fook Lam Moon: 36/F Marunouchi Building, 2-4-1 Marunouchi, Chiyoda-ku,

Despite all we had accomplished on the day, it was still early so we had one more stop to make before turning in for the night.  We headed to Ginza and my home away from home: Star Bar.  It was great to see the old gang!

Master Kishi-san
It’s been a year since my last visit but I didn’t even need to order.  I sat down and, a couple of minutes later, this was presented to me.  Perfect.

Yamazaki-san does his thing:

Rounding out the crew is Yoshida-san who recommended a terrific bourbon: Rowan's Creek.
Rounding out the crew is Yoshida-san who recommended a terrific bourbon: Rowan’s Creek.

Star Bar: Sankosha Building B1F, 1-5-13 Ginza, Tokyo

Whew.  What a day!

24 thoughts on “November 13, 2013: Tokyo Day #8! A day packed full of jam! And whisky!

  1. Ah, the greatest Moscow Mule on the planet… it’s worth the trip to Tokyo for a night out at Star Bar. Don’t forget about the cocktail with the fresh pear juice, a must have.

  2. Akemi had it. Yamazaki-san recommended it, then disappeared into the back for five minutes to pick, peel, puree, and strain the pear before returning and making her drink. I mentioned you to Kishi-san. He always lights up at the mention of you. You left a good impression. Thank you for not shaming Canada.

  3. Haha, I hope that’s not the best that can be asked of Ivon! 🙂

    Looks like a great day of food and drink. Glad to see you’re both having such a good time. Hope it’s warmer there than here – temps dropped down to -3C today and it’s supposed to stay cold here tomorrow. I guess Winter really is on the way. And Christmas too, judging by the post-Remembrance Day explosion in Christmas decorations at the stores around town.

    The Star Bar sounds amazing as usual. What fantastic service.

  4. After the whisky-tasting, I was feeling nostalgic and melancholy That sounds about right after good whisky. I’m glad you’re both are having fun! Thanks for sharing the trip. Japan is amazing!

    What’s on the agenda for tomorrow? Is Akemi going to have an opportunity to wear that little black outfit (the one she couldn’t wear to the wedding)?

  5. Looks like it was a lovely day. A true holiday and to forget for a moment those anxieties that await you on your return. Thank you for providing the addresses of Oh, those places you did go. If/When I have a chance to tour Tokyo on my own, I will make a list of potential sites. Last time I was there I was with a Thai tour group and had not a clue as to where I was much less had time to tour the Ginza. How do you compare Japanese whiskey’s with their Western counterparts? Did Akemi find a variety she enjoyed? It is the boots, defiantly the boots!

  6. Pumpkin soup looks good and the dark chocolate ganache. You’re like me–always remembers the dogs names and not the people. I bet Akemi jumps into a room and comes out 2 seconds later looking fabulous.

    Ever wear Mickey Ears? That would be a fun picture.

    I loved Snoopy, too. I have a picture somewhere of my Christmas decorations on my apartment patio of an inflatable Snoopy on a sled with Woodstock reindeer. I’ll have to try to find it.

  7. No, it’s not Christmas season yet!

    My brain played the Cheers theme toward the end of reading this entry. It was totally off-key, but sweet.

  8. You look like your having a great time, Joseph, it’s great to see!
    The choux creme looks delicious. I wouldn’t have thought a pear would contain enough juice to make a drink out of it.

    I noticed David Hewlett, Jewel Staite and Rainbow Francks are in a project together called “State of Syn”.

    IMDb says its a TV series, ten – five minute episodes.

    The State Of Syn twitter feed says:
    STATE OF SYN is 3D-enabled science fiction motion novel and app starring Jewel Staite and David Hewlett.
    So I’m not sure what it is. Perhaps the former is a promotion for the latter?

  9. Am so jealous. You got a wonderful day with what looked like fantastic food and here in the South we got freezing weather (we Southeners are not good when the temp drops below 50) and I had a bag of Trader Joe’s popcorn for dinner. At least I can live vicariously through your updates. By the way, Akemi looked beautiful and I loved the picture of the Aota clan. Also glad you got to your favorite home away from home Star Bar. Looked like a perfect way to end your day.

  10. A first for me. Those lunch dishes look fantastically delicious; I want pumpkin soup and parmesian cheese risoto. Looking good there Aota clan. 😀 Awwww Charlie Brown and Friends. Thanks for today’s pictures.

  11. I think I like this dress even better than Akemi’s little black dress. She could wear a potato sack and still look beautiful. Akemi’s family is so nice looking. Please bring me back a couple of those choux cremes too, but no thank you on the crab meat and bright orange guts. Gross! How are things going back home with the dogs and your professional dog sitter?

  12. L’Atelier de Joel Robuchon: 6-10-1 Roppongi, Minato

    Mori Art Museum: 6-10-1 Roppongi, Minato

    is that the same address for both?

    We filed through the packed rooms and checked out Peanuts arts ranging from early sketch work through the various decades (Akemi: Snoopy went to war? Me: Yeah. He killed thirty nazis!).

    he was mostly the world war one flying ace in his sopwith camel. an interesting bit of info: world war two was the name of the violent cat next door, who would swipe off a large portion of his doghouse, leaving a frightened snoopy standing on the remaining strip on one foot.

  13. What do you call it when world’s collide? Or, in my case, fandoms? Not only am I’m in the middle of a Hamish Macbeth book and swooning over Loki, I just got the brand new Pendergast book and I can’t put it down! Good stuff…a little Penderlite this time around but when he does show up, he shows up with style! This is so good!

    But I’m also sooooo tired. Better get some rest.



  14. Oh, family, whisky sampling, moscow mule, chocolate, yummy food, Star Bar, museums, how do you fit it all into a day! whew is correct!! What fun!! How is your previous muscle pain, better from all the activity? Hope so, you need your strength. Onward and upward, party on!, thanks for sharing! ~~Waves~~ to Akemi, love your dresses!

  15. That’s a great pic of Akemi’s family, what a gorgeous family, and they do all have big beautiful eyes!

    Yoshida-san is yet another hottie, and he can mix a gread drink, good work Joe!

    @ Mike from Canada-thanks for the tip on the new David Hewlett project, I’m looking forward to seeing Debug, which he’s directing.

  16. @Tokyo in Christmas mode

    Amazing isn’t it? Now next year you just need to get your trip date closer to the occasion 🙂

  17. Wow, the kids of the Aota clan look all so different from each other! I wouldn’t guess they were related if I just saw them out and about. I’m the youngest of 5, and 4 of us definitely look like each other. People are constantly confusing my two oldest brothers, even though none of us really sees the resemblance that strongly. But my other brother looks so unlike us that we used to joke that he was the mailman’s kid. He just got all his genes from my mom’s dad, whereas the rest of us all look like my dad.

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