Tokyo Blond Is Not Porn

Tokyo Blond is not a porn blog, about hair or even, as one pithy friend remarked, a micro beer or late 1980s glam metal band ("Dude, I just saw Skid Row and Tokyo Blond opened and played a killer set").

The purpose of this blog is to chronicle my experiences in Tokyo - poignantly, visually, irreverently - for fun.

Anybody can tag along...that is if I like you. This blog will endeavor to be entertaining and honest and frequent enough to keep those following interested including me.

Wednesday, February 23, 2011

Will You Be My Tokyo Valentine?

Valentine's Day in Tokyo is a two parter.

Apparently, and I found this out after Valentine's day, in Tokyo the women are supposed to give the men gifts, usually chocolate, on Valentine's Day.  Then a few weeks later the men reciprocate with gifts on White Day which is March 14th.  I think I'm going to make out twice this year!

Thankfully Russell didn't get any chocolates this year.  I breathed a sigh of relief after reading this excerpt from while researching White Day.

Don't get too excited when you get chocolates from Japanese girls! They might be "Giri-choko" (obligation chocolate).  A true love chocolate is called a "Honmei-choko."  "Giri-choko" is given to men such as bosses, colleagues or male friends women have no romantic interest in,  just for friendship or gratitude.  The concept of "giri" is very Japanese.  It is a mutual obligation the Japanese follow when dealing with other people.  If someone does you a favor, then you feel obligated to do something for that person.

Russell and I have our own way of celebrating Valentine's Day.  It's also a two-parter.  In America VD is one big marketing smack down.  Restaurants are over-crowed and tragically over-priced. You get shitty service and crappy food. Men are forced to send ostentatious bouquets of roses to their sweethearts (not like that's a bad thing).  So we stay at home on VD and have our own celebration.  It's the same every year: caviar, steamed lobster, baked potato and chocolate cake and a bottle of champagne, maybe a couple of strawberries to wash it all down.  Then when the VD fervor has succumbed we go to a nice restaurant and have a proper romantic meal.

This year we did it in reverse as it was more difficult to get the provisions we needed in Tokyo and since it was our first Saturday back in Japan with Ranger -the-wonder-dog.

Russell took me to this outrageously good restaurant called Les Creations de NARISAWA the Saturday before VD.   He told me to go to the site to get an idea of what we might encounter.

The web site literally says, and I quote:

"Guests should fall under the spell of the season.  They should not only be eating the meal, they should absorb life itself."

"Absorb life itself?!" W-h-a-t? A little deep.  I mean, we're just having dinner right, not joining a cult.

See for yourself.

Well even the website did not prepare me for the overwhelming experience we had there.  I confess at the end of the meal I did say I think it's better than French Laundry, which as everyone knows, is the best restaurant in the United States.

The restaurant was very modern, if not a bit austere.
This was our placemat.
No, Russell, it won't fit in my purse.

Ok, I know this looks like one of those things you use to scent a room.  It's actually yeast.  It's being heated by a candle to the right temperature so that the dough you see coming out of the cup will rise.  The piece of paper next to it is their version of a menu which basically informs you of the theme of evening and what the main ingredient of each course is but not a description.  So this yeast will become, "Bread of the forest" and the first course was entitled "Radish", that's it, just "Radish". 

After the yeast rose to the appropriate height, the waiter (one of five), put it into a hot stone bowl.  The bowl was covered with a wood lid and the bread literally baked at our table.  The finished product is that brown hunk of goodness on the wood plank.  It's accompanied by a bottle of Karl Lawrence, a jammy makes-you-want-to-dance-naked cabernet we brought from home.  So far we've found that Japanese restaurants don't really want you to bring your own bottles.  But with a little coaxing and a humble offer to pay a corkage fee we've been able to pull it off.

Plus we always buy a couple of other glasses.  These were two french wines, a sauvignon blanc and a chardonnay.  Both excellent.  Frankly, there was no need for us to bring a bottle. The wine list here was masterfully executed to punctuate each course.  The whole meal was like your favorite book, so tantalizing, you can't wait to get to the next chapter.

The first chapter was this radish.  Now, I don't usually like radishes but this was outstanding.  It has some kind of spice on it which was supposed to emulate dirt.  Well, it didn't taste like dirt but a gift from the earth.  Oh, oh; I'm starting to sound converted.

These are giant oysters wrapped in charred leeks.
Sounds odd but it was truly inspiring.

Don't be fooled -  this is edible.
A salad too gorgeous to eat but I forced myself.

The salad was dressed with a special olive oil -
made from the first olive trees grown in Japan,
and he poured it from these beakers.

This is fois gras - my all time favorite dish,
artfully prepared with mico greens and strawberry, yes strawberry.

This is beef - creamy, dreamy beef.  
My mouth is watering remembering the perfection.

Believe it or not - this is butter.

It was designed to look like a flower pot.  Indeed it is a flower pot, filled with house-made butter, covered with dirt (which is made out of black olives) and those are literally little baby plant sprouts. The "dirt"was so mild you could barely taste it - the butter itself was rich and creamy and I could eat it with a spoon.  In fact I did.

Langoustine in a broth so rich you want to cry.

This the fish of the day, as if anything here could be so mundane.  
And those artful designs on the plate were so rich and flavorful.
I loved the foam.


This course was truly outrageous.
He's making an "ash" to go with this....

sauteed squid.

When he put the ash on the squid it looked like it was smoking and it was.  This was called "Ash 2009 Wind of Basque."  The best part of it was not the cirque du soleil serving performance but the taste.
It was awesome.  I was truly absorbing life, or at least inhaling it.

And this was the first part of dessert.  An insanely rich chocolate served with breathtakingly aromatic pears served on the bed of the forrest.  After this they brought around a cart.  But it wasn't a cheese cart.  It was a....wait for it......... truffle cart.  It had literally dozens of different truffles and tiny tarts.  It was heaven on wheels.  I don't know why I didn't get a picture of it; probably had both hands full.

Part 2

Valentine's Day at home.....

Not quite the same table dressing as Les Creations, but not bad for a Monday.

We didn't pack any lobster tools so I had to improvise.
These worked just fine.

So did the strawberries and Schramsburg.

Mood lighting and those are the flowers Russell
had delivered to the restaurant on Saturday night.
I keep him for a little while longer.

Ranger with his own "Honmei-choko."

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