Wednesday, September 7, 2016

Arrived in Japan

OK, arrived late evening after a very easy transition from Hong Kong to Japan.  The flight was almost an hour late departing, but arrived only a few minutes late.  About 35 to 40 minutes to clear immigration and customs. Added some ¥ to our Suica Cards which we kept from our last trip, got the Monorail to Hamamatsucho, and then a short train to Tokyo Station.  An hour and a half from plane to lobby, not bad.  Tadaima!

Connie and I had some energy, so we went into the station, but things were closing up.  We went across the street to Lawson, and purchased supplies.  I bought a big can of Sapporo.  Gotta get my fix while I'm here!

Here is a picture of our messy room.  My standard workstation, and very comfy dual Queens.

The view from our room.  Funny, many complain in reviews about the Four Seasons about the train noise.  To us, it is like camping stream-side, with the rushing of water as a natural background.  There is literally a train going by every minute here, including Shinkansens.

This is why we keep coming back:

The next AM, Tuesday, we went into the station.  Our plans were bold this day.  Started out with a detour to Keiyo Street in the station, where there is a T's tantan.

Cute little cakes.

First destination, Todai (Tokyo University).  This is a very prestigious college in Japan, and high schoolers kill themselves (sometimes, literally) to get in here.  Anyway, I digress.  Dr. Ueno is famous as the owner of Hachiko.  I won't go into the story since everyone should know it by now. This is the brand new statue of Dr. Ueno and Hachiko.

Afterwards, we took the train to Asakusa.  But I forgot that there were two different Asakusa stations, a number of blocks apart...  We eventually got to our lunch destination, Sushi Nova.  This is a modern take on Kaitenzushi.  High tech.  The sushi is delivered on high speed conveyor belts.  They go almost as fast as the Shinkansen, so there is an audible warning before the plates arrive. There are upper and lower tracks. Here, Emily gets her Kappa and Kampyo.

Sammie is thinking that Em ordered what she should have ordered.

Otoro, two pieces for about ¥500!

A hot water dispenser at the table to make fresh tea.

Tablets at each table to order the plates

Our tab for 18 plates, just under ¥4,000.  

After lunch, we walked to Kappabashi.  We were pretty tired by then, so we rushed through.

We needed to get back to our hotel, since we had 6 PM reservation at Tagetsu.  As is my routine, I will give you all TMI.  I had wanted to go to a high end Kaiseki restaurant in Japan for a while.  The closest we had gotten were the experiences at the various ryokans we've stayed at over the years.  And Wakuriya in San Mateo, and at the Hyatt Regency Waikoloa on our honeymoon (eons ago; that place no longer exists).

I researched Tabelog and other various food sites.  Decided on Kohaku, the younger sister restaurant to Ishikawa, the very famous three star Kaiseki joint.  More approachable to Gaijin than the older sibling, Kohaku is also easier on the wallet.  But since this trip was planned fairly at the last minute, we could only get reservations at 9 PM on only one day we were here.  So, we gave it up to find another place.  I started to look at under the radar places.  Found Tagetsu, in Omotesando.  Only one English blog about this place (unlike the gazillion that one would find on Kohaku or Ishikawa). Also, one Michelin star, not that that matters.  Tabelog 4.40, superb.  It's actually the 38th ranked restaurant in Tokyo overall, according to Tabelog...  Got reservations for 6 PM at the counter, and there was only one other solo diner there.  I think he was a regular, because he gave Chef Mochizuki a gift upon arrival.

I had a beer (two, actually, which were served in coffee mugs??)

Fermented sea cucumber on top of Winter melon, Garnished with grains of roasted rice. I'm not sure this was really sea cucumber?  This was kind of bland, maybe a slow ramp up to the sequence?

In the center, Ginkgo roasted in salt, with a really nice crunchy-like texture unlike other ways I've had it.  Two "nuts" skewered on pine needles!  Clockwise from top left, 
Fig with white miso sauce
Pea sprouts with katsuobushi
Pressed minced chicken
Octopus cooked in dashi
Roasted Barracuda with Yuzu dressing

The chicken had an unusual texture, making it hard to eat.  It was like eating Okara, the fibrous remnants of soy after making Tofu. The pea sprouts were very flavorful with a ponzu sauce.

Next was a clear fish broth, with Tai, and melon, with a slice of Matsutake and an "egg tofu." Very light, with subtle flavors.

Sea Bream with partially fried Amaebi. Jellied fish juice cube, and a small piece of Nori.  I am used to eating the whole Amaebi, so I stuck the whole thing in my mouth.  Mistake.  The head was very sharp, and hurt the insides of my palate and tongue!  Flavorful though!  Especially the juices in the head.

Fish roasted in a leaf.  Deboned fish, with a slice of Matsutake in between the two halves. Citrus to taste.

This was Abalone (great texture) and Bokchoy.  A roll of fish cake filled with some kind of jelly.  Garnished with Yuzu.

Uni with rice and nori! Mmm

Beef with a sweet corn sauce

Matsutake rice cooked in a donabe.  Tons of expensive Matsutake.  Obviously, it is in season now. Served with Tsukemono and miso shiru. The whole donabe was for the two of us, and we could barely finish one chawan. The other solo diner ate five bowls!

Peach Panna Cotta with Australian Ice Cream.

An extra, some kind of noodle dish, sweet, not savory.  This was really nice. Coarsely sliced by the Sous Chef.

Here is our doggy bag of the left over rice, back at the hotel.

Saved for Sam and Em.  Vegan.  Little Onigiri's with Matsutake mushrooms and Kombu



  1. Incredible! how much was Tagetsu?

  2. Were the flavors as amazing as the presentation? Wow expensive but seems well worth every ¥ !

  3. I love your corner room workspace. And that nicely written note is a personal touch. We used to get those from our hosts at takashimaya which are heartwarming after a long journey. I hope you eat at Satou again and see Ryu and the combini ramen.

  4. Nice doggie bag! I bet Japanese would be offended by our description of that!

  5. Flavored are subtle. Not overpowering. Liked it a lot! No Satou. Have not seen the Michelin star combini ramen!! Ha! Went to Soranoiro tonight.

  6. Sushi nova also looked very interesting! And the prices are incredible! Did you like kappabashi? You hadn't gone there much before. I hope you go to a don Quixote. Kinda schlocky but we enjoy roaming around.