Quelle surprise! The day after my Toronto nemesis, Tara Yelland, makes a bid to be cast in the potential Dark Matter television series (based on the comic book of the same name) by posing with a copy of the first issue, which came two days after Carl Binder did pretty much the same thing, which came a day after Alex Levine did the same thing, which came a day after Ivon Bartok did the same thing, which came a day after I opened this blog up to casting suggestions for the potential Dark Matter television series, I received an email from our old friend Martin Gero who wrote: “I haven’t had time to do the Q&A yet. Cause I’ve been busy reading both the print and iPad versions of Dark Matter.” and included the above pic as proof. And, quite obviously, as a not-so-gentle reminder of his acting roots. Yep, it’s true. After writing and exec. producing on Stargate: Atlantis, co-writing, directing, and producing the feature film Young People Fucking, writing and producing on HBO’s Bored To Death, and now writing and exec. producing The L.A. Complex, the Golden Boy has set his sight on far loftier goals. It’s no secret where his true passion lies…
Hey, speaking of Dark Matter, my Toronto arch-rival, Tara Yelland, offers a (spoiler-laden) review of the first two issues over at her blog, here: Dark Matter. Check it out. Then peruse some of the other entries that deal with things like highly illegal birthday gifts (The Best Gift), bizarre personal factoids (The Facts), her creepy Winners encounters (Your Kids Will Break Your Heart), and her even creepier tribute to The Shining (A Tribute to the Shining).
So, yesterday, I gave you a list of my Top Ten Disappointments (in no particular order) from my recent Tokyo trip. Today, I offer you the flip side and give you a list of my Top Ten Pleasant Surprises (in no particular order) from the same trip. Keep in mind, these are surprises, so meals at places like Nodaiwa and Ishikawa don’t make the list simply because I was expecting them to be as excellent as they were!
10) Hattendo cream buns!
I happened across this little stand in the Akihabara subway station and, after some consideration, decided to try one of the chocolate cream buns. Then, another. Then a matcha (green tea version). Then a six pack of various flavors! Sweet, creamy, alternately dense and airy, they were a remarkable discovery. I felt like that archeologist who discovered the remnants of Noah’s Ark on Mount Etna!
9) Lindo purple and golden potato cakes
I shouldn’t try the free food items at Japanese department stores because, half the time, I end up buying what I sample. Like, in this case, these wonderful sweet potato cakes that tasted like a cross between cake and ice cream. I’ve never had anything quite like them – and wager I won’t again until the next time I hit Shinjuku Isetan.
8) Henri Le Roux white chocolate/matcha bar
I’ve tried match (green tea) chocolates from many chocolatiers, but none have attained the level of Henri Le Roux’s smooth, creamy, melt-in-your mouth white chocolate and matcha version.
7) Ikura (salmon roe) at Sushi Sawada
Sushi don’t get any better than this. I love taking first-timers to Sawada because the meal is always an adventure – entertaining, informative, and, of course, delicious. Sawada-san serves up an incredibly wide variety of offerings: two types of sea urchin (purple and the famed variety from just north of Hokkaido, (tuna) toro aburi with the texture of marbled wagyu, enormous kuruma ebi, and the finest ikura I’ve ever had.
6) The Kobe Kitano Hotel/igrekplus Bakery’s white chocolate brûlée cup.
An original creation for the Salon du Chocolat. I’m not a fan of strawberries so I decided to order something else. Fortunately, my friend Keiko did order it and was kind enough to allow me a taste – or two (okay, three). Japan is really the only place where my “no fruit with dessert” rule goes out the window simply because their fruit is always so sweet and always so good (a far cry from the sweet and/or sour product you’ll find at your local supermarket). Loved the the brûlée. Loved the cotton candy crown. Loved the liquid chocolate that is poured over top. And, yes, loved the strawberries!
5) Pizza Seirinkan
Who would have known that the world’s best pizza can be found in Naka-Meguro at a place called Pizza Seirinkan. Your choices are simple: Margherita or Marinara. But, really, when the pizza is this good, you don’t need any other choices. It’s simple but delicious and, if you’re going to go, make sure you get there early. Once they run out of pizza, they close up shop for the day.
4) Dim sum at Fook Lam Moon
When Akemi told me she wanted to go for dim sum, I was less than enthused. I mean, how good could dim sum be – even in Tokyo? As it turns out, VERY good. We ended up going to Fook Lam Moon in Ginza where we enjoyed a fantastic meal that covered all the usual suspects: barbecued pork, siu long bao, turnip cakes, and sticky rice purses. I’ve been to the original, in Hong Kong, and have to say that the Tokyo branch beats it handily.
3) Wasabi seaweed (side) served with the tonkatsu at Wako in the Shinjuku Isetan
I mean how typical of dining out in Tokyo. I discover one of my Top 10 Pleasant Surprises at, of all places, a chain tonkatsu restaurant in a department store. And it’s a side dish that accompanies the main! Unlike the neon green version that many North American Japan serve you (purchasable in handy squeeze containers), the wasabi you’re served in Japan is fresh, tasty, and possessed of a borderline sweetness. In this seaweed dish, it was incredible – and actually blew away both the Iberico and Kurobuta pork!
2) The yuzu chocolate at Le Chocolat de H.
More craziness abounds! Turns out my favorite chocolate on this trip was actually a fruit/chocolate combo, a creation of leading Japanese pastry chef and chocolatier Hironobu Tsujiguchi. Sublime. His banana chocolate is also something else.
1) Berserk on the big screen!
“Who goes to the movies while they’re on vacation?”you may ask. Well, I do if it turns out my visit to Tokyo happens to coincide with the release of a feature based on one of my favorite anime series of all time: Berserk. It wasn’t subtitled and most of the dialogue went over my head but that didn’t stop me from enjoying the hell out of Berserk: Golden Age I (Egg of the Supreme King).