Tuesday, January 02, 2018

Travelin' Tuesdays: Tokyo!

Update Reviews, 2017 Visit

As you've been reading for the past few months, I took a trip to Tokyo in 2017 that featured a very different style of dining than my previous visit.  Far fewer Michelin stars.  More focus on unique, niche experiences.  Lots of dining at convenience stores (yes, really!).  And a whole ton of soft serve ice cream.

This is just a master reference, to provide easy access to the slew of reviews, and, share some highlights.

Convenience Stores

  • 7-Eleven, for salads in pouches that I really did like
  • Tasty egg sandwiches, not so tasty fried chicken, from Lawson Station ... another convenience store
  • Even convenience stores have soft serve ice cream machines, like Ministop
  • Yes, Family Mart convenience stores have good desserts

Japanese

Other Restaurants

  • An interesting concept, pairing food to wine (rather than the other way around), with a fantastic foie gras ice cream sandwich, at Cork
  • Longrain, one of my Sydney thai favorites, just opened a legit Tokyo outpost

Ice Cream & Desserts

  • TOP PICK: Fascinating ice cream parfait creations, with the second best soft serve we had in Tokyo, at Mother Farm Milk Bar (top pick because it was more interesting overall)
  • TOP PICK: The actual best soft serve, Cremia, from Silkream (10 years of development paid off ... the richest, creamiest soft serve I've ever had)
  • Mediocre ice cream stuffed melonpan, from Sekai de Niban-me ni Oishii Melonpan
  • Really good packaged vanilla ice cream, from Dean & Deluca (only in Japan)
  • Good soft serve covered in crispy bits, at Zaku Zaku (along with pastry cream stuffed crispy pastry sticks)
  • Wendy's First Kitchen (yes, the same Wendy's you know) has a great lineup of Japanese ice cream desserts, like mochi, red bean, and jelly topped soft serve
  • Packaged puddings are everywhere, like Kobe cheese pudding

Hotels / Flights / Airports

Original Reviews, 2014 Visit

Dear readers, it is time to travel again!

As you know, I normally focus my reviews on establishments in San Francisco, but after my successful Travelin' Tuesdays series on Boston and New Hampshire, I've decided to do it again.  But this time, we are going somewhere far more interesting: Tokyo!

Epic does not even begin to describe my recent trip to Tokyo.  You'll just have to read all about it.  It was a business trip, with a few days of vacation thrown in.

Next Tuesday, I'll start with the actual travel, not something I normally review, but in this case, it too was epic.  I spent 7 hours in SFO, so I got to experience all the cuisine the assorted airline lounges have to offer.  And then, I flew on Cathay Pacific for the first time, to Hong Kong, and then to Tokyo.  No, neither the Cathay flight, nor the time in SFO were planned, but, I turned them into culinary adventures.

The adventures continued once I reached Tokyo, the land of sushi and Michelin stars, both things I clearly enjoy.  Let's just say that in my 3 days of free time, I consumed 8 Michelin stars.  I went to two of Joël Robuchon's restaurants, sadly, not the flagship 3 star, but settled for two star La Table de Joël Robuchon and L'Atelier de Joël Robuchon, and netted another two star, Tateru Yoshino Shiba, along the way.  However, we were in Japan, and couldn't exclusively eat French food, so we also went to Michelin starred sushi at Sushi Kanesaka, and Michelin starred tepanyaki at Ukai-Tai Omotasando.

When we weren't busy eating stars, we went to more casual establishments with our co-workers, all Japanese cuisine, like Sushi Seizan for more sushi, President Chibo for okonomiyaki, and Beehive for ramen.  And of course, because I am me, a few pastry shops were also visited, like La Maison du Chocolat and La Boutique de Joël Robuchon.

And, for ridiculous factor, we may or may not have visited the Ganpachi, aka, "The Kill Bill Restaurant" and ... a robot restaurant.  Let's just say there was a pretty large mix of experiences on this trip.

It all concluded with what I am sure will go down as history as one of the most memorable experiences of my life: a flight back, via Hong Kong, on Cathay Pacific, First Class.  I literally spent the entire flight from Tokyo to Hong Kong dining in a ridiculously long, drawn out zillion course kaiseki meal.  Even the time spent in the airline lounges in Hong Kong was mind blowing (they have cabanas!) and sooo many food options ... but not so much the Haneda lounge in Tokyo.  But the truly amazing part was the flight from Hong Kong to San Francisco involved caviar.  I'm ruined for all future travel.

So stay tuned, over the next few months, every Tuesday will feature a new installment of Travelin' Tuesdays: Tokyo.  I'll update this master post with links to the individual posts.  Enjoy!
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