I woke up this morning feeling as though I’d gargled glass shards, leading me to believe either: a) I was coming down with something or, b) Someone had tampered with my bedside water bottle. After clearing the water bottle, it became apparent that I was, in fact, suffering from some sort of nose and throat thing. On the one hand, it hurt to swallow. On the other hand, I had two and half days of Tokyo fooding to pack in so I didn’t have the luxury of whining about it. Instead, I picked up a couple of soothing candies, one with a flavor remarkably similar to apple juice; the other tasting like a Chinese apothecary.
Feeling as good as could be expected, I forged ahead with my day. Our first stop was Tokyo Station where Akemi tracked down my favorite Japanese treat: Hattendo cream buns. I couldn’t decide between the cream, custard, matcha, and the new red bean and butter, so I got all four. I had the matcha bun for breakfast (wolfing it down in the hotel lobby before anyone could catch me as our room was being serviced at the time), then squirrelled the rest away in our hotel mini-bar before heading for…
Lunch – Round 1! We met up with my old friend, Moro-san, for lunch at Pizza Seirinkan, profiled on David Chang’s Ugly Delicious as one of the world’s best pizzas. Moro-san had introduced it to me some five years ago and it’s been on my to-eat places every time I come into town. They only serve two types of pizza – margherita and marinara – and stop serving when they sell out. I say they and, although there’s a staff, it’s only one guy – owner Susumu Kakinuma – slinging pies. Outstanding.
Lunch – Round 2! We took a ten minute stroll and found ourselves, not by accident, at the Wagyu Mafia Sandwich Shop, notorious for its pricey wagyu sandwiches. The menu offers a variety, from the modest $30 knuckle sandwich to the $350 60-day dry-aged kobe beef. On this day, they were out of the dry-aged beef so we settled for the Kobe Chateaubriand. Equally outstanding. The place apparently caters mostly to foreigners and, when we walked in to order there were two large English-speaking groups already there. It’s cheap but it’s a singular experience.
We took another walk and eventually found ourselves at Green Bean to Bar Chocolate, one of the city’s premiere’s bean to bar chocolate shops. There, we enjoyed a chocolate medley including one of the thickest chocolatiest chocolate drinks I’ve ever enjoyed.
We returned to the hotel for a quick change, and then we were off again – to Roppongi where we spent the better part of the late afternoon strolling through Midtown and the Hills before making our way to our dining destination, Eneko, where we enjoyed one hell of a meal.
We were escorted into a reception area where we were present with drinks and picnic basket containing an assortment of goodies: an eel brioche, lemon foie gras brulee, something called Kaipintxa that was a delicate gel bubble bursting with red wine flavor.
We were ushered upstairs into a garden set-up where we were greeted by our second host who explained what we were eating. Halfway through his overview, I noted how, so far, dinner was proceeding like a video game where each food room was a level – which, I suppose, made him one of the bosses. He pretended not to understand what I was saying and politely pressed ahead. This round included something called sea txakoli which Akemi likened to a green drink, a spicy tomato cornet with crisp egg roll wrapper cone, a hazelnut and foie gras bonbon, and a curious mushroom praline.
Finally, we were shown to our private dining room where the real eating games began: an egg yolk which was injected with a 6-hour truffle solution that semi-cooked the whole, a prawn and vegetable puree with ginger slush, and a sea urchin.
Next came the warm starters: the Basque-style eringi mushrooms (Akemi’s favorite), a quadruple textural artichoke offering with pesto and goat cheese, and lobster with coffee butter.
For the mains, it was tempura fish with roasted red pepper sauce and pickled daikon to start, then one of two meat dishes: the Matsusaka beef with aubergine and sweet potato, and the deer with chestnut puree and blueberries.
I love innovative cuisine, but my fun stops at dessert as I find the more daring mixing of ingredients never fares well when it comes to sweets: an avocado and mango dish that Akemi really enjoyed, a yogurt in textures, a back and yogurt lollipop, a raspberry macaron (that tasted minty and reminded me of toothpaste), a berry and pepper jelly, a lemon bonbon, and a wine bonbon. We were served tea accompanied by a fragrant dry ice five-spice display.
A terrific meal and, to top things off, our waiter was a huge Stargate fan!
Alright. Off to bed. Tomorrow is our last full day in Tokyo and I have a lot to pack in including the Mori Arts Museum, Akihabara, Omote-Sando, and Coco Ichi, a Japanese curry chain!