Greetings from rainy Tokyo! Despite the wet weather, my spirits remain undampened – although the same can’t be said for the rest of me as I was strolling through the side streets of Ginza when I got caught in the downpour.
Today, I had lunch at one of my wife’s favorite places – a Korean restaurant named Daigo which is tucked away in one of Ginza’s seemingly innumerable malls. I ordered the wagyu (Kobe beef) which I grilled at my table, as well as a bowl of spicy ramen. “Motto karai!”my waiter warned. Yeah, yeah. He was talking to a guy who has dedicated the entire top shelf of his refrigerator to hot sauces. I can’t tell you how many times I’ve gone to restaurants and been told “It’s very spicy!” only to be disappointed. So I had the “Motto karai!” ramen. And how hot was it? Well…pretty fucking hot! There was a point late in the meal when I was skirting the fine line between endorphin rush and passing out. I could just imagine my waiter walking by and finding me face down on the hot grill, sizzling somewhere between rare and medium.
From there, I wandered the side neighborhood, eventually locating my next target – The Pierre Marcolini Café and Ice Cream Shop – only to discover a line-up outside! Rather than wait, I decided to continue my walk and come back at a later date. Armed with my map and portable GPS, I made my way down Harumi Dori and scoped out tonight’s dinner destination, Ukai-Tei. As I stopped to snap a shot of the display out front, an elderly Japanese man stopped to chat. I explained “Sukoshi hanasemasu demo zenzen wakarimasen!” (I speak a little but understand nothing!) but that didn’t dissuade him from chatting away, especially when he learned I hailed from Vancouver, Canada. He insisted I go check out some kabuki and then, while I was trying to thank him for the recommendation in stammered Japanese, he simply walked off. “Arigato gozaimasu!”I called after him, finally finding the words.
A somewhat sleepless night last night. I was out at 10:30 p.m, then up at 3:30 a.m., then out at 5:30 a.m., then up at 9:30 a.m. I would have been up a lot earlier but since today is a national holiday here (thus the line-ups at the high end chocolate shops), the Tsukiji Fish Market was closed. I figured, hey, if I can’t have sushi for breakfast why bother having breakfast at all? Instead, I slept in, got in a work-out (the hotel has some gorgeous facilities – a beautiful pool and spa, and great cardio equipment, but a surprisingly dinky weight room comprised of dumbbells no heavier than 10 lbs and one of those universal gyms that resemble an all-in-one medieval instrument of torture.
More strolling and snacking this afternoon. Tomorrow, I branch out and check out some of the other wards. I’m thinking maybe Roppongi Hills, the Beer Museum, that new wave tonkatsu restaurant that serves limited quantities of Spanish Iberico, and the Absolut Ice Bar following dinner at Hamadaya.
Not one but two videos today: the promised Tokyo Toilet Tour and The Weird Food Purchase of the Day: Tokyo Edition. Today, I sample something called Pocari Sweat.