Last night was one of those reservationless evenings designed to allow us to play things by ear, get some local input on our eating schedule. And so it was that, following a recommendation from the hotel concierge, we found ourselves at Tofuro izakaya. Now, the first thing that struck us was the ancient Chinese prison-like cells, I mean dining rooms. We were told to take off our shoes (no doubt to make it tougher for us to make a break for it) when the time came, then seated in a tiny room after which the (cell) door slid shut behind us. I half-expected a group of waiters to come rushing and beat the soles of our feet.
The second thing to strike us was the size of menu offering everything from Chinese dumplings to hot dog salads. Hell, there were so many dishes that they needed THREE menus to cover them all.
We had various skewers, some fried squid paste, and I got Ivon to sample grilld beed tongue for the first time. All in all, an interesting meal but not a place I’d pencil in for a return visit.
So far in Tokyo, we’ve hit our share of lame bars: Peters in The Peninsula (tries so hard to be hip it’s kind of embarrassing), and the Old Imperial at the Imperial Hotel (smoky as hell, the seats and tables are so small you’d think the lounge had been designed for hard-drinking children). But, last night, we found ourselves at a bar that instantly became our new Tokyo watering hole. Tiny and unpretentious, Star Bar is owned and operated by bartender extraordinaire Kishi Hisashi who prepares every cocktail in the house with deft but easy-going precision. Each drink commands his full attention and it’s a marvel to watch the man work – deftly icing, stirring, shaking, and pouring his creations, then serving them up just so. Ivon had a couple of Whiskey Sours while I started with a Gin Gimlet, then followed with a Sidecar. The Moscow Mules he served up in copper cups to the couple beside us looked great, definitely something I’ll order on our next visit.
After drinks, we took a stroll through Ginza –
I woke up the next day feeling refreshed and ready to hit the streets. Ivon, marginally less so given he was still smarting from the previous day’s massage. Apparently, that seventy year old masseuse may have looked weak, but she worked him over like stubborn pizza dough.
Hey, speaking of pizza, we finally checked out that pizzeria Akemi has been raving about since arriving in Vancouver. Apparently, Vancouver pizza is crap and doesn’t hold a candle to Pizza Salvatore Cuomo. So, we went there for lunch and you know what? Akemi’s right. Vancouver pizza doesn’t even come close. The pizza is fresh, tasty, perfectly cooked, and inexpensive.
From there, it was off to Akihabara (Electric Town). It was a full sensory overload of garish signage, flashing neon, people shouting, car exhaust, and the smell of the nearby river.