Akemi: When I was a kid, I had big eyes. Like everyone in my family.
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.
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.
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.
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?”
Ah, 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:
We returned to the hotel to gather our strength for the night ahead. A little downtime, a little snack:
And we were ready to head out once again:
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…
We dined with Akemi’s family – mom, dad, brother, sister, and new brother-in-law – and had another great meal.
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!
Yamazaki-san does his thing:
Star Bar: Sankosha Building B1F, 1-5-13 Ginza, Tokyo
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:
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
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:
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:
The more I consider it, the more I think I could actually give it a go here in Tokyo. Of course, the move wouldn’t be as simple as just picking up and shifting my life over to the other side of the world. Some issues would have to be addressed. Chiefly: 1. What would I do with my days? 2. What would I do for work? 3. How would I get the dog shere? Well, last things first. I won’t compromise the safety of my dogs so flying them over from Vancouver presents a bit of a problem. I can’t see them flying carry-on, nestled under the seat in front of me for the 10+ hour flight, and given the horror stories I’ve heard about dogs flying cargo, I’ll dismiss that option outright. Short of chartering a private jet, that leaves me with no other options. But let’s say, for the sake of argument, that Air Canada adopts that pet-friendly policy I’ve been talking about for years now, and they suddenly realize the financial benefits of offering pet-friendly flights in which pet owners are actually permitted to purchase seats for their furry companions. In that case, problem is solved and we could all fly in style.
Which brings us to issues #1 and #2. Well, I’m sure I could always find something to occupy my time. I could look into the dark, mysterious and oft-frightening world of freelancing. Granted the type of money I’d make would be nowhere near the sum I could bring in show running, but certain sacrifices would have to be made. Hell, I’ve calculated that if I sold my place in Vancouver, I could make enough money to rent a very nice place and live comfortably for quite some time. QUITE some time. But that’s defeatist thinking. IF I can make a modest living, find a nice place, and can move my dogs without hassle, Tokyo could be a viable option…
In which I’d enjoy days like the one I enjoyed yesterday. Following a leisurely morning spent updating this blog, Akemi and I dropped by the Pierre Marcolini Cafe, her former haunt, to say hello to her former co-workers…
From there, it was a short, three-block walk over to my favorite sushi-ya: Sawada. It was my third visit there in as many years. The first time I went, I was blown away. The second time, I brought Ivon along and he was so impressed that he declared it the best meal he’d ever had. Yesterday, I brought Akemi along for my third visit and she was blown away by the quality of the sushi, the presentation, and Sawada-san who a delightful host – friendly, humorous, and full of fascinating information on the various ingredients and the painstaking process by which he produces his delicious creations. For instance, he had a special refrigerator to allow for ice-cooling, lets certain fish rest for days before serving, and prepares his rice thirty minutes to an hour before each service. Any rice that is left over after lunch is thrown out because he feels the flavor is compromised after an hour, and he starts from scratch for the dinner service. He served us two types of sea urchin and explained how he washes one with water from Hokkaido because that’s where that particular uni hails from, just north of the island where it feeds on its famed kombu (seaweed). He served us some otoro, aburi-style, and told us how it was the inspiration for kobe beef. And the taste, texture, and look of the aburi proved remarkably similar to the famed, well-marbled beef:
There was a strict no photo policy in place so as not to distract the other customers so I can’t offer the visual rundown I’ve done with previous restaurants, but suffice it to say we enjoyed yet another remarkable meal.
After lunch, I finally got to hit Akihabara, aka Electric Town, aka Otaku Central, home of the electronic deals, anime merchandise, and roaming geeks. On our way out of the station, we stopped by Doughnut Plant and picked up two doughnuts: the tiramusi and the vanilla. Fondy remembered these doughnuts fondly from her days in Tokyo.
The verdict? Meh. Even Akemi was somewhat disappointed, claiming they weren’t as good as she remembered. Alas, they never are. We gave the doughnuts to a homeless man and moved on.
After picking up a new Evangelion cell phone case for my iPhone (it’s nowhere near an effective protective cover as the one I was using, but it’s an Evangelion cover!), we headed over to the Sega centre where Akemi sought to recapture some more fond memories (these from her high school days) by doing some purrikura which, it turns out, isn’t a hallucinogenic but Japanese slang for “print club”. We went upstairs and entered one of the numerous little photo booths, then used to the touch screen to select our picture frames – something suitably saccharine – then posed for various shots. It took me a while to get the hang of it as there was a full one second disconnect between the sound of the click and the actual flash –
Once we were done, we proceeded to a second booth at which you input your various little doodles, comments, drawings, and symbols onto the picture. Once that was done, you proceeded to yet another booth at which you input your email address (so they could send you tiny, poor quality copies, natch) and printed up tiny, poor quality copies of your session.
I must say, I was dubious at first but I think it did a really great job of capturing my youthful exuberance and big brown eyes…
Damn. If only I’d known about this when I was here with Ivon last year.
After that, we walked around Akihabara and checked out some of the shops (or, should I say, giant multi-level complexes). I’d like to bring a new anime series back to Vancouver with me but there are so many of them, I’m having a hard time deciding. Anyone out there know what’s new and great in the world of anime?
Well, I didn’t find an anime series to check out, I did come across plenty of interesting sights…only in Akihabara…
We ended up running out of time as we had to be in Roppongi to meet a friend of Akemi’s for dinner, so we hopped on the metro and caught the Hibiya line to Midtown. Inside the station, I snapped pics of some of the subway warnings. Check out the smart Japanese raccoons schooling the dumb foreigner…
Seriously. If not for stupid gaijin, these warning signs would be wholly unnecessary.
By the time we got to Roppongi, it was already dark.
We ended up meeting at the Jean Paul Hevin cafe. Dinner consisted of a chocolate extravaganza: four chocolate cakes, chocolate ice cream, and chocolate sorbet. Oh, and a Perrier for me as I’m trying to watch my girlish figure.
Akemi got the chance to catch up with her old friend and I even managed to catch a few words here and there. I think that the only way I’m going to improve my Japanese conversational and listening skills is by going full immersion. Similarly, I think the only way I’m going to really learn to read Hiragana and Katakana is by picking up some Japanese manga and going through the laborious process of translating each and every panel. It’ll be difficult at first but, eventually, much easier in time.
We left Midtown and Ayaka, then headed outside where we grabbed some dessert –
We were on our way back to the hotel when I received an email from my friend Moro-san. She was interested in hitting Star Bar after work. How could I say no? We met up. I had a couple of Moscow Mules. I practiced my Japanese and we were treated to a demonstration of ice craftsmanship:
Major D. Davis writes: “ALL THAT FOOD.”
Answer: Yeah. It’ll be oatmeal for breakfast when I return to Vancouver. By the way, Major, nice to have you back.
Lewis writes: “How different is the weather there from what it normally is in Vancouver this time of year?”
Answer: It’s actually much colder here in Tokyo!
JeffW writes: “I’m thinking about trying LDP’s Kale Chips this weekend.”
Answer: How does he make them? I like them oven roasted after being tossed in olive oil and a bit of sea salt.
Kabra writes: “The purple yam thing, hmmm can we get those here?? Are they really grown in that colour??”
Answer: They’re pretty damn purple naturally but I think that, in the case of the cakes, their color may have been enhanced. I think I’ve seen them in Vancouver. Akemi claims purple potatoes are healthier. As a result, I no longer feel guilty eating those cakes for breakfast.
for the love of Beckett writes: “Akemi, has Joe said anything funny or amusing in Japanese recently?”
Answer: Akemi says to stay tuned for her Shit My Canadian Boyfriend Says twitter account.
for the love of Beckett also writes: “Do you see many dogs strolling Tokyo? Any Shiba Inu?”
Answer: I’ve seen a surprising number of dogs strolling about, mainly small breeds (chihuahuas, shibas, a couple of french bulldogs yesterday) but a couple of bigger dogs as well (a doberman and a golden retriever).
Shiny writes: “I’m going to move to Japan and sell cute wool caps to all these folks wandering around in the cold with not hat on.”
Answer: Great. Let’s go into business together. It’s either selling wool caps or working at the Butler Cafe!
Kathode writes: “Anyway, my suggestion for another superhero-of-the-week movie would be “Super Fuzz.”
Answer: Why have I never heard of this movie? It looks absolutely dreadful – and thus perfect for our SuperMovie of the Week Club!
dasndanger writes: “Oh, forgot to tell you what the dream was about. You updated your blog saying you were back in Vancouver, and I was baffled because I never saw an entry saying that you had actually left Japan.”
Answer: Weird!!! Were you able to get back to sleep?
SebiMeyer writes: “The legends surrounding the Kappa are quite disturbing. It feeds on human large intestines, which it accesses by crawling up their butt. The cucumbers are just offered so if doesn’t do that to you.”
Answer: Thanks for that educational – and disturbing – tidbit.
Sue Jackson writes: “How do eat all this stuff and not get fat? Do you jog every morning?”
Answer: The secret is in walking everywhere. It just eats up the calories. One year of this and I’d probably be at my peak physical shape, ready to box Carl Binder for the championship belt.
ILyes D. Vex writes: “and the pudding cake thing, isn’t it called Anpan or something???”
Answer: Anpan is something different. I believe it’s a sweet bun filled with red bean paste.
max writes: “Has your dog-sitter mentioned if your other dogs look confused that maximus isnt around anymore?”
Answer: She says they’re doing great and don’t see to be acting or reacting any differently. Of course that may change when I get back. I took Maximus away with me for the Christmas holidays so they may well be expecting his return with mine.
Debra writes: “You can have a vacation home there, but we won’t get you back on US TV shows if you move there full time so not going to encourage THAT.”
Answer: I have been considering going the alternate route of simply getting a vacation place.
Pontytail writes: “What do you think Akemi’s mom thinks of you?”
Answer: She seems to think well enough of me to not force Akemi to pack up her bags and move to Osaka immediately. So far, so good.
Jenny Robin writes: “I’m so sorry.”
Answer: Thanks, Jenny. Long time no see. How’s the book business?
I woke up from my previous night’s sleep well-rested, with ten hours of uninterrupted snoozing under my zzzzz belt, ready for a big day. The great thing about traveling to Asia is that jet lag actually works to your benefit provided you’re not a night owl looking to party. By the time 10:00 p.m. rolls around, you’re utterly exhausted but when the sun comes up at 7:00 a.m., you’re ready to go! Or, in my case, update my blog! One of these days, I’m going to take the aryl morning stroll down to the Tsukiji Market for a sushi breakfast or actually hit the hotel gym for a rare vacation work-out or, at the very least, put on my running shoes and sweat pants and walk down to find out where the gym is located.
Anyway, yesterday, following a leisurely morning lounge, I met up with my good friend Moro-san, my guide on this day…
It was my first time visiting the Naka-Meguro neighborhood which, I suppose, I would have enjoyed more had it not been so damn cold outside. And windy! Moro-san was surprised, assuming I’d be used to this sort of weather coming from Canada and all. I informed her that, while certain parts of Canada are certainly much colder, Vancouver is actually much more pleasant – minus the rain.
Moro was calling the shots on the day and suggested we go have pizza for lunch. I’d had pizza for dinner the previous night so I wasn’t as enthusiastic as I could have been but, hey, I’m just a guest. And so, we wound our way through Naka-Meguro to find the unassuming little Pizza Serinkan…
Although the menu offered host of starters, when it came down to the star of the show – the pizzas – there were only two choices: Margherita and/or Marinara. No “pepperoni and cheese” or “well-dressed” or “with corn and mayonnaise”, the topping I’ve heard the Japanese enjoy but that every Japanese person I’ve ever mentioned it to denies having ever eaten. I needed some convincing…
And boy, was I ever convinced. I guess simple is best because the pizza at Pizza Serinkan was the best pizza I’ve ever had. Fresh tomatoes, cheese, garlic, basil and olive oil topping an astoundingly tasty pizza dough. It was all about that delicious, slightly chewy dough! These pizzas were nothing short of revelatory and I vowed I’d be back! Provided I could find the place again!
We headed downstairs to thank Chef and Owner Kakinuma Susumu. I waited patiently while he manned the oven, carefully turning a pizza, eyeing it’s progress, before pulling it out and depositing it onto a plate – then moving onto the next one. He took a break to say hello. On my second day in Tokyo, my French came in handy as most of the chefs I ended up speaking to – including Le Bourguignon’s Japanese head chef – spoke French. In this case, thank goodness for my Italian as Kakinuma-san had evidently spent some time in Italy and we were able to communicate just fine.
Anyway, there you have it: the greatest pizza in the world. And it’s in Tokyo. You’re job is to find it. I leave you this clue: 聖林館 (せいりんかん)
After lunch, we ventured out into the Tokyo cold for dessert at Cacahouette, a tiny little patisserie on a side street in Naka-Meguro.
We worked off our meal and dessert by grabbing the metro to Roppongi where we checked out a ukiyo-e (Japanese wood-block prints and paintings) collection by Utawa Kuniyoshi.
The place was packed! We wound our was through the gallery, taking in the 420+ works on display. A truly impressive body of work.
Having worked up an appetite walking around the exhibit, we headed over to Tokyo Midtown for a quick pick-me-up at Sadaharu Aoki…
We also sampled some chocolate-dipped macarons which sounded a lot better in theory than they actually tasted.
Fortified, we caught the escalator up to the next floor to visit the Pet Station, a pet boutique offering pet food, treats, outfits and – the reason I was there – spa services for dogs. You can watch the dogs being clipped, manicured and blow-dried behind a glass wall. Well, my gamble paid off. As I walked in, two dogs were being walked out of the spa area – an English bulldog mix and a boxy French bulldog with who I instantly bonded!
We ended up running into Akemi and her mother who were spending some quality catch-up time together. We said our hello’s, then went our separate ways, they to enjoy a vegetarian meal at Yasaiya Mei, we to enjoy a sushi dinner in Ginza.
For dinner, Moro and I went to Harutaka. The sushi was very good. Rather than give you the blow by blow, why not just check out some snaps of the evening’s offerings…
By the time we were done, it was still early. I asked Moro-san if she wanted to grab a dessert and, not surprisingly, she declined. And so, we went for dessert of another sort instead, heading over to my home away from home in Tokyo – no, not The Imperial Hotel…Star Bar.
We arrived early enough that we were the only ones at the bar. We chatted with Yamasaki-san who made us our drinks (a Moscow Mule for me, natch). About a half an hour later, Master Bartender Hisashi Kishi arrived. He’d just come back from an event in Osaka where he’d been mixing drinks to accompany a special meal at one of the city’s 3-star Michelin restaurants. For my money, I couldn’t think of a better person to do the honors.
Apparently, Kishi-san has been checking out my blog, on and off, since I lasted visited with Ivon (both he and Yamasaki-san say “hello to my tall friend” by the way). Being a dog lover himself (he has a six year old Shiba who greets him without fail upon his late-night returns home – while the rest of the family sleeps) he asked about my brood. I told him about Maximus and he was very sympathetic, passing along his condolences – and almost choking me up.
We stayed for two drinks and then called it a night.
Back at the hotel, I checked out some chocolates I picked up from a Kyoto-based chocolatier…
The chocolates are little edible works of art. Much prettier than they were tasty.
Today, it’s L’Atelier de Joel Robuchon for lunch and Ishikawa (third visit!) for dinner. Wish me luck!
We made the most of our final day in Tokyo, sleeping in late and lounging about the hotel until early afternoon before finally heading out. We headed over to Roppongi where we enjoyed a double lunch. Ramen –
Thumbs up from both us. Not as great as Hokkaido Ramen Toro in Shinjuku, but still pretty damn good.
We took a break to head on back to the shop at the Mori Arts Museum where we both picked up multiple copies of a book highlighting Odani Motohiko’s recent Phantom Limb exhibition (which was one of the high points of this trip). It offers a terrific overview of the his works, in both Japanese and English, and includes photos of almost the entire collection. My only minor quibble is that it should have included a DVD of the bizarre and bewildering Rompers video.
Pleased with our purchases, we headed back out for lunch#2 and R Burger’s weirdly white offerings –
After that, it was back to the hotel for some R&R. We had a big night ahead of us! An okay yakitori and then, the main event:
The master at work:
We closed down the bar and then, as a farewell gift, presented themwith ice wine we’d brought with us from Canada.
They honored us by allowing us behind the bar for a photo!
In typically grand Tokyo host fashion, they saw us off –
And Ivon and I bid Star Bar – and Tokyo – a fond farewell.
An awesome trip! I couldn’t have asked for a better travel companion!
First, the Jelly update. She’s on her way home today!
So last night, I paid a return visit to one of my favorite sushi restaurants in Tokyo: Sawada. I figured that since this was Ivon’s first visit to the city, he should be treated to a true sushi feast. And Sawada did not disappoint…
Then, we moved on to the nigiri. We had ika (squid), what I believe was saury, two different kinds of horse mackerel, clam, ark shell, various tunas, hirame…
We were served up several more nigiri, then capped our meal with a terrific tamago. The verdict? Ivon said it was the best meal he’s ever had. Mission accomplished. Since it was my return visit to the restaurant, I gifted Sawada-san a bottle of ice wine and then we were on our way.
We were feeling pretty good, partly due to the incredible meal we’d enjoyed, partly due to the three carafes of premium sake we knocked back. And so, following a late night stroll through Ginza…
…we found ourselves back at what is fast-becoming our favorite watering hole, Star Bar, where we sampled a few more of Master Kishi-san’s creations…
It was admittedly a rough night after that and I ended up sleeping in to 9:00 a.m. the following morning. Ivon was up at 8:00 a.m. and took a stroll in nearby Hibiya Park where he claims he saw a family of feral cats living in the park. We walked through later that day but there was no sign of feral cats. I wonder what color these feral cats were. I’m guessing pink maybe?
We headed out at about 11:00 for lunch.
After looking for an appropriate lunch spot, we settled on a yakiniku/barbecue grill join on the seventh floor of some building. We were seated in a tiny two-seat table and presented with a menu that broke down the entire cow by cut. We ultimately setttled for something called the “premium” cut. To Ivon’s horror, we later realized that, apparently, “premium” is synonymous with “fat”.
Following lunch, Ivon was feeling a little on the queasy side, so he decided to head back to the hotel for an hour or so to recuperate. For my part, I decided to counter the fat I’d just consumed with my go-to cure-all: sugar!
Ivon was also feeling much better later, so we decided to check out the Ginza area – specifically Ginza Dori which is open to foot traffic on the weekend. As we were walking along, we were stopped by a Japanese television crew and interviewed about the differences between Christmas in Japan and Christmas in North America.
My impression was that, while North American Christmas was a time for family, Japanese Christmas was a holiday for kids and couples. Still, for what it was worth, Tokyo out-Christmases any North American city I’ve ever visited.
They asked us if we were familiar with Christmas cake. Apparently, it’s tradition for the Japanese to eat strawberry shortcake this time of year (which I’d choose over fruit cake any day). They also asked us if we were familiar with the tradition of the Christmas boot, a small plastic boot that is filled with traditional Christmas treats (ie. seasame crackers) and gifted to kids. I pointed out that we hang stockings instead of boots but it’s a testament to the spirit of Christmas that we can come together in communal footwear-stuffing.
And then it was back to the hotel to get ready for dinner.
Next up: Pachon! My toy store haul! Out and about with Keiko!
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 –
This city out-Christmases Vancouver by miles.
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.