Asia Report #13: the Lost Tokyo post
I forgot to write about Tokyo during last summer's Asia Reports. Better late than never!
Though DMR would continue on to Hanoi and other destinations, Tokyo was my last stop in Asia last summer. There we met up with the inimitable Yu Bando who escorted us around town. First up was dinner at Gonpachi Nishiazabu, the somewhat trendy, bi-level space that was used as the location of the epic fight scene with the Crazy 88s in Kill Bill Vol. 1. Trendiness aside, this was a really handsome restaurant serving some tasty, traditional Japanese tapas.
In addition to many Kirins, the three of us ordered a ton of food including:
- Spinach salad with tiny little sardines
- Gyoza with yuba wrappers
- Sunagimo yakitori (chicken gizzards, Yu's idea!)
- Tebasaki (grilled chicken wings)
- Negima yakitori (chicken with scallions)
A wedge of the homemade tofu served in the bamboo basket it was formed in:
Tsukune, basically a Japanese version of kefta kebabs made with chicken. We ordered it with an egg on the side to use as a dipping sauce.
For dessert, I ordered the kuzumochi, ice cream served with cubes of arrowroot flour mochi and a black sugar syrup. Yummmmmm.
The following day, we headed to the Yebisu Gardens, an enormous complex in Shibuya where Yu works. We got there a little early so Dan could hit a photography exhibit and I the Yebisu Beer Museum. This was my kind of museum. When I walked in, I was greeted by employees in the gift shop who were pouring beers and putting out snack samples. I stuffed myself with beer flavored chocolates, something called Sapporo Beer Crackers and bits of tender beef jerky. I was tips by the time I began the exhibit.
Of course the exhibit ended with a place to sample the brewery's wares. I inserted a few hundred yen (about $3) into a machine and retrieved a token for a beer flight. In addition to four kinds of beer, I got some more Beer Crackers! I wound up buying some more of these and some beef jerky on the way out.
We had some time to kill before meeting up with Yu, so we decided to get some more drinks and snacks at the beer garden that was housed in the Garden Place complex. These deep fried potato balls were my favorite snack. I don't remember what else we ate because by now I was definitely drunko.
Later that evening, we found ourselves at this salary man stand bar called Fujiya Honten.
I'm so glad we had Yu with us because everything was written in Japanese and DMR and I would have been helpless. You have to take a flight of stairs down and there are no seats in this bar. All the cooking and drink dispensing is done in the center of the room and you elbow your way onto the perimeter. We had a variety of tastes, like steamed asaparagus with mayo, some croquettes, eggplant in a delicious, salty miso sauce, maybe some grilled saba. At first we sidled up to a ledge against the wall of the bar, where we could see some of the baseball game that was being aired. Eventually folks cleared out and we were able to get some space along the main bar area.
Afterwards we went to a great rock bar called BYG, and we drank too much.