Another ‘Only in Japan’: Insane Wine List

So I get a text to meet at this restaurant and when I looked it up I could barely find information on it. I decide to put myself in his hands because this guy knows food and wine, more wine than food but he knows enough about food to be a good dining partner.

I walk into the restaurant and a bit taken aback, it makes zero sense. If a thrift store for theater companies threw up the furniture and props into the room, this place would be it. The interior is cluttered with tchotchkes of gnomes and Japanese figurines, empty bottles of DRC (Domaine de la Romanée-Conti) and magnums of rare Dom Pérignon. The table has a bell to ring for service.

I am confused.

Well. I open the wine menu and I finally got it. Here is only part of it (not even a 1/3).

I’m no wine expert but even I was able to pin-point some rare names and vintages. But, I think the best part of the menu, was ‘other country’ sections and some of the best wine producers from countries other than France were added towards the end of the menu like an after-thought. LOL.

This weekend was full of firsts; more to come on my Saturday.
Ahhhh Japan, you are the best!

By the way, this is what we had:

Comtes de champagne and Corton-Charlemagne 2005

Mirror Pancakes in Aoyama

Mental flapjacks I fondly nickname ‘egg shell pancakes’ because they’re so crazy smooth, the surface almost mirror like. Located in Aoyama, you’ll definitely wait an hour or two but go during off-peak hours on a weekday and you may just skip the line. Pro-tip: this spot is known for the pancakes but if you look at a local’s table, everyone has an order of the soufflé. And for good reason: it’s another perfect soufflé in perfect Japan Land! 🥞🥞🥞

Ginza West Aoyama Garden
1-22-10 Minami Aoyama
Website click this
*no reservations

Precision at its Best

Perfect strawberries on a perfect parfait. Everything served at Ginza Shiseido Parlor is precise and perfect, using prime ingredients from all over Japan. This day, the Fukuharu-ka strawberries, an original species from Kagamiishi Farm in Fukuoka, were of course … perfect. White table clothed tables, Christofle silverware and custom flatware in the restaurant the omurice (on my Insta) is served. The Salon de Café, where the parfait is served, has a retro-glam feel. Pamper yourself with simple perfection that is another ‘only in Japan’ type spot. A Tokyo must visit 🍓🌸💞 福島県 鏡石農遊園産「ふくはる香」のスペシャルストロベリーパフェ、まいうー😭

Shiseido Parlor Ginza
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東京都中央区銀座8-8-3 東京銀座資生堂ビル

Tacubo 


It’s no longer a secret the Japanese make unbelievable Napoli pizza (David Chang just filmed a segment for Mind of a Chef in Tokyo) but don’t write off the Italian food cooked with Japanese ingredients. Take this stunning primi piatti from Tacubo in Daikanyama. Open for less than a year, they have already attained a Michelin star and quickly rated a top 5 Italian in Tokyo. The antipasti and pastas are beautiful but the real stars are the meats cooked to perfection in the maki yaki (薪焼き) firewood grill. The lamb is 💯🐑🐑🐑

Bookings are still not impossible but pretty soon, they will become another restaurant with hard-to-acquire reservations so if you are planning a trip here, I suggest visiting sooner than later.

Tacubo
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東京都 渋谷区 恵比寿西 2-13-16 ラングス代官山
03-6455-3822

*Reservations are a must

Conversations with Gen-san: Oishī

“Maybe the character for oishī (delicious) is beautiful「美しい」 and taste「味」because in the Japanese culture, we express appreciation for food in two parts: we note the presentation when something is first served, the taste, once we consume.” Gen-san and I wondered. “Makes perfect sense as utsukushī「美しい」is used when describing art and aesthetically pleasing things, followed by aji「味」flavors.” We both then nodded in agreement, satisfied by our conclusions of the etymology. Turns out that is not the case but it was surely fun to discuss. Always, always learn something new with each Gen-san visit and the reason his 8 seater bar is my favorite place in Tokyo. 

Bar Gen Yamamoto 

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東京都港区麻布十番1−6−4
アニバーサリービル1F

*reservations are required
office@genyamamoto.jp
 // 03-6434-0652

Pelican Bread: Tokyo Must Try


Pelican bread is a Tokyo must-eat and no other spot serves the beloved local treasure better than Cafe de Rope. Every bite has a crunch then a slightly sweet, airy softness, before a delightful vibrance from the creamy, salted butter laces your mouth. Don’t stop to ponder how a stupid piece of toasted bread can make your sensations go haywire because you will never figure it out. The rule here, is to do as Trevor Moran says: “Hurry up and fucking eat it before it gets cold.”

Cafe de Rope
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東京都中央区銀座5-3-1 ソニービル B3F

Afuri

I stopped eating ramen shortly after moving to Japan (I got sick of it) and now mainly stick to udon or soba. Last night, I was dragged to my neighborhood Afuri after dinner and was shocked.

Wait, let me back up since this might be confusing for people who have never been to Afuri. At Afuri in Japan (and a lot of fast, casual joints), you can only order through a vending machine. And in only six months (or maybe longer?) the buttons got an overhaul and there’re now a ton of buttons I don’t recognize! AND they’re also in English!!

Just in case I’ll leave some tips explaining the new buttons (or new to me) because the English translations are weird/not self explanatory:

 

Very bottom right button (and also pictured in the close-up): hand pulled noodles for ¥167 extra
Next to that one is konjak-men: gluten free noodles (they sell them stateside as ‘Shirataki’ noodles)
The little rice bowl on the yellow button is okaka gohan. Okaka is katsuobushi (skip jack tuna shavings) tossed with soy sauce over a bowl of rice. It sounds a bit unapproachable but this combination is a traditional, beloved flavor pairing from centuries ago.

Also, this is VERY important. Afuri is expanding all about Tokyo but the original branch is the Ebisu location. The Ebisu location makes the ramen stock for all the other Afuris and deliveries the stock throughout the day in these big metal cans.

Don’t get me wrong, all of them are good but the Afuri in Ebisu is the only one I eat at and recommend.

You’re welcome.
PS: I also did a ramen round-up here