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.

Thursday, July 28, 2011

Something's Baking

It might just be our first Japanese friendship.  Last Friday night we had dinner with the Japanese baker we met at the Kenzo Wine anniversary party.  I met him after several glasses of Kenzo wine.  The reason I mention this is because when he told me he was baker, I was taken aback.  I mean, how often do you meet a baker?  When he told me he baked Amish style I thought, wow, I really must be drunk.  But he really does.

He sent us a pie.  Actually it was a lemon curd cheesecake.  It was better than any cheesecake I've ever had in the States, Amish or otherwise.  Well, except for Ben Benson's Steakhouse in New York.  Ben Benson has undeniably the best cheesecake ever made and the steaks are pretty good too.

I visited one of his bakeries in the Ginza.  He sells his unbelievably yummy products in high end department stores throughout Japan and you can order freshly baked delicacies, like pies, from their website.  The only problem is, the website is in Japanese, except for the pictures.

I tried a cookie and a brownie.  They were very small, like everything else in Japan, but outstanding.  The sales staff wear Amish outfits.  No, really.

He suggested we meet for dinner at Lawry's.  Yes, as in the Lawry's from Los Angeles.  I didn't even know they had a Lawry's here.  We brought a bottle of California Pride red.  We knew we were in the right place when the bar was filled with a bunch of chubby guys with receding hairlines wearing shorts, t-shirts and baseball caps - you're basic dumpy Americans.  The thin and immaculately dressed baker was waiting for us at one of the tables outside, all smiles and graciousness.

He knew the owner and the manager so we were seated at an excellent table and set up with some champagne, my favorite beverage. I was curious to see if they served American beef.  They did.  Everything was exactly the same, right down to the 1950's uniforms.  The only thing different was they had added one other cut, the Tokyo cut, for the smaller Japanese appetite. Actually Russell and I were going to order the Tokyo cut when our guest suggested we take a look at his portion size first.  He ordered the Classic cut, so we did too, except for I ordered an end piece.  The piece I received was no Classic cut.  It was more like a gargantuan cut.  It was huge and delicious and if I had known ahead of time you can't take the leftover meat with you, I would have eaten all of it.  I watched it being taken away with a wisp of regret and a sigh.  That was one good piece of meat, even if it was American.

The baker didn't bring his wife.  We assumed he lived in Tokyo, but actually he lives in Nagoya, near Toyota City, an hour and 45 minute train ride from Tokyo.  We felt kind of bad he came all the way into town just to have dinner with us.  We were flattered.

The conversation was as interesting as I thought it would be.  He was very nice, intelligent, and humble.
Sometimes I felt like we were bragging just by telling him what we did for a living back in the States.  The American way is so much more direct.  Some might call it crass.  Oh, that's right, they do.
I had to cajole details out of him on his own career.  We tentatively attempted humor.  Well I did.  Sometimes it went over well, sometimes not so much.   I thought I was funny.  But then I do always laugh at my own jokes.  Someone has to.

The baker is a true American enthusiast.  He was a high school exchange student in Livermore, California 30 years ago.  He said the cultural differences were really shocking then, especially how little clothing California girls wear. Thirty years ago Japanese women were really demure; everything was covered up.  Not so in California - he liked that.  Who doesn't?

He loves America.  He lived with a family for a year during high school and became interested in American baking.  American baking is very different than Japanese baking. The Japanese are infatuated with French baking, not so much American.  So he started an American bakery in Japan.

He has relatives that live in Seattle that are somehow affiliated with the Amish.  Not the Pennsylvania Amish but the Ohio, Amish.  That's how he got into Amish cooking.  He actually went to an Amish wedding and became enamored with the Amish and there traditional ways.  He likened the Amish culture to the Japanese culture.  He feels they are similar in their freedom, that is, freedom to lead a traditional, simple way of life.  He stayed with an Amish family for a few days to learn their techniques.  Pictures of his Amish adventure are posted on his website.

The evening was most enjoyable.   I wondered what he thought of us.  I hoped he liked us.  He seemed to but I've been warned about that.  They say the Japanese never let on how they really feel about you.   He did say next time he would take us to his favorite sushi restaurant.   I'll take that as a good sign.  I bet they don't let gaijin in there without an escort.

Next week we're going out with a Japanese couple we met at the same party we met the baker.  The wife is a master sommelier and I'm a master drinker so it should be great fun.



  1. Sounds like the wine party was a goldmine, friend-wise. I'm curious about the anti-doggy bag policy. Is this a Japan thing, or a Lawry's thing?

  2. I don't know if it's a Japan thing or a Lawry's thing. Usually the portions are so small there's nothing left over for the doggie, or otherwise.