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, March 14, 2012

Mine's Better than Yours - Kyoto Part One

We finally made it to Kyoto.  It only took a year and a half, plus a day of travel.  Actually it only takes a little over two hours on the bullet train from Tokyo station. But when you factor in renting a car in order to take Ranger the Wonder Dog to the kennel, by Narita airport, the opposite direction, then it ends up taking a whole day.  I have got to find an alternative kennel.

Plus we missed our train.  We had bought reserved seats and due to circumstances within Russell's control, i.e. waking up on time, showering, etc, (hey, I forfeited coffee and was bitter most of the morning), we missed our train by, get this, two minutes.  No joke.  I mean if you're going to miss something, a movie, a plane, a train, it should be by something substantial, like at least ten minutes.  And the thing is, when you miss your train you lose your reserved status and they DON'T give you a refund. Seriously?  You would think the extra 3000 yen each (or $36 in gringo terms) would mean greater flexibility, not less.  It seems if your ticket is unreserved you can take any train on the day the ticket is good.  But if you pay more, and miss your train, your F*($&!  Sure you get to take the next train but you have to sit in a non-reserved seat, where you are hard pressed to find two seats together, even though 60% of the reserved seats are empty. I guess the good news is the trains to Kyoto run every 15 minutes so we were good to go when the next one rolled in 13 minutes later, albeit in the cattle car.  

We didn't get to Kyoto until after 4pm.  Most of the sights, excluding temples which are open all day, close at 4pm.  So that meant we were forced to retire to our hotel and have happy hour.  A hardship to be sure.  Especially since we brought a bottle of Hanzell Chardonnay.  Hello butter, meet my mouth! 

We stayed at the Hyatt Regency Kyoto.  While not as nice and with less amenities than the Hyatt Regency in Hakone, it was still efficient and clean and a good base for our Kyoto Odyssey.  Plus we earn more points, so there's that.

Reception at the Hyatt - pretty flowers.
And they're real, which is nice.

Our room.  I thought the Japanese fabric a particularly lovely touch.
And they had a nice bathtub with really hot water.

For dinner that night we went to a highly recommended restaurant called Misogi-gawa in the Pontocho area.  The Pontocho area is a kind of locals only area, locals being Japanese.  It consists of several restaurants and bars situated along the river and a charming alleyway.  During the Summer it's even better because guests can sit out on the restaurant patios facing the river.  Since it was cold there would be no al fresco dining but I really enjoyed the authentic, old time feel of the alleyway with the curtained doorways and fresh produce displayed outside to entice diners. 

Charming alleyway of Pontocho.

Welcome! Come in.  Have a potato.

Love the old school building and lanterns.

This is nice.
That rose is real.

I have no idea where this leads to but it looks good to me.
In America you would need a body guard 
and a shot of Jack to go down this alley.

The restaurant Misogi-gawa is famous for its Japanese/French Kaseki meal.  Kaseki is basically a multi-course gourmet meal served beautifully in-tune with the season. The chef, excuse me "Master Chef", ( I wonder how you get that moniker?), studied in Paris and combines French recipes with the superior ingredients only available in Japan.  The restaurant is located in a century old building once owned by a geisha.  Sounds good to me!  

It was old. The people must have been two feet shorter on average when it was built.  Even I almost had to stoop in some places, almost.  Shoes were removed once inside the entrance. They showed us to a private room up some really steep, rickety stairs.  Thee old hide the gaijin trick I thought.  But then I realized all the rooms seemed to be private.  Ok.  Some of the walls could use a little paint I thought.  But maybe they felt that added to the traditional feel of the building.  The tatami mats were new.  

There was nothing old about the food.  It was delicious.  Russell and I chose two separate pre-set menus.  All menus garnered the same amount of food, but the quality of the ingredients increased with the cost.   The good thing about choosing two different menus is the ability to try multiple dishes.  I like to think I have an educated palate but frankly, both menus tasted high quality to me.  Sure mine came with lobster, but his came with crab.  I'd be OK with that too.  I wondered what came with the most expensive menu.  We had chosen the second and third choices. But even the least expensive menu would have been amazing I think.

The service was great and at the end the Master Chef himself, T. Inoue, came and greeted us.  Ok, this rocks!

Our waitress at Misogi-gawa

Damn it's quiet in here.
They need a geisha playing traditional music
or an iPod hook up.

Appetizer plate.
We both got one.

Both had shrimp and caviar but different sauces.
My sauce was like lobster bisque.

Both foie gras but his had shaved truffles.  
Hey, wait a minute!

Two different kinds of fish.
Mine came with a morel.

 Ha!  Mine is French Onion soup, in a crock!

We both got sorbet.
Mine was strawberry and his was lychee.
Both delicious.

Ok, mine had lobster and truffles.
His was crab in the most amazing sauce ever!
I actually liked his better.

We both had beef but mine came with a side dish.
A side dish of three tiny, perfect veggies.

And of course there was the cheese course.
I mean, we are eating French food.

 His dessert.

Mine.  Now we're talking.

and I get a fruit cup too!
How long did it take to make these little tiny balls I wonder.

and then there were the petit fours.
I am so full.
But there's always room for petit fours.

Master Chef T. Inoue.
Look how proud he is.
Master drinkers - look how bloated my face is.

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