dragging your ass to work on mondays. i know it's never easy. bidding farewell to the retreat of the weekend only to brave the heap of emails that awaits in your inbox. i understand and don't blame you for indulging in one more snooze cycle.
but no monday is harder than the monday after thanksgiving. it's not so much the dread of your inbox or even the return to the daily grind; it's more the, "how the hell am i supposed to haul the new ass cheek i've sprouted over the four day weekend to work?" issue. pants just feel a bit tighter. ok, a lot tighter. your body hasn't managed to resuscitate itself from the food coma you entered days ago. ahh . . . if this describes your monday, then you served your duty as an american on thanksgiving. but that still doesn't mean that this new ass cheek isn't going to be a problem. my advice is to break out the fat pants for now and deal with the "new ass cheek removal" as a new years resolution.
so knowing that most of you are either not ready to think about that thanksgiving spread you devoured on thursday (and then on friday and saturday in my case) or sick of reliving it, i'll offer you a respite and share my thanksgiving feast in a later entry. for now, i'll just share my latest travels and eats from my trip to tokyo.
i boarded my asia-bound flight from san francisco the week before thanksgiving for a five day business trip. sleep and tourism were unfortunately not on the work agenda, but i couldn't leave tokyo without sampling a few of its savories.
a woman serving japanese green tea in yoyogi park
i had been told by several friends that i would love eating in tokyo and not just the native offerings but everything that came out of a japanese kitchen, whether it was japanese or not. and they were right. while i've traveled to many cities in the world and love being in cities, tokyo radiated a unique energy i had never felt in any other city. though just as dense as any other large metropolis, the people of tokyo were incredibly polite, putting new yorkers to absolute shame (though new york city still keeps its number one spot on my favorite cities in the world list). the impeccable customer service reflected the high degree of quality taken in everything. commuting by foot in the mornings, i observed the order of a tokyo morning - men dressed in clean-cut dark suits and women donned in the moddest looks adorned by their perfectly painted faces walking in lockstep to their respective destinations.
old sake barrels in yoyogi park
these were people that cared about eating and cared about the quality of the food they ate. japanese culture emanated in every dish i was served. there, food was served with respect and care. i had heard that in japan, you don't need to go to a high-end restaurant to find high-quality food. after four short days of eating in tokyo, i echo this sentiment. with each dish that is placed in front of you, the attention to detail stands out. with each bite, the attention to quality becomes more and more apparent. although i was in japan, i found myself having three chinese meals. after all, i am not one to resist a steaming bowl of noodles and the soft bite of fresh dumplings. the chinese meals i ate reminded me of those that i had savored in shanghai and hong kong. i discovered the "xiao long bao," a delicate dumpling wrapper housing a delicate meat filling and a surprising spoonful of soup, in the small alleyways of shanghai. the xiao long bao found on the menu at "jin din rou" a cozy chinese dumpling house near tokyo's ebisu subway station delivered the same feeling of the soup dumplings i had discovered in shanghai.
how could you resist this dumpling?
my other meals in japan led me to shabu-shabu, chutoro that truly melts in your mouth, a traditional japanese lunchbox and even subway (which serves fries!). i will return to tokyo next week with a much longer list of culinary to-do's: a piping bowl of ramen (real ramen, not the ten cent bag of instant noodles variety), a bite of tender kobe beef, a trip to the tsukiji fish market, a search for a certified fugusushi chef, and feasts of many more things that i've never eat before.
i experienced japanese sushi way up in the sky on the 38th floor of the ebisu garden tower. the view is free and is a great way to see the texture of the city created by all the buildings. plus, there are many great restaurants on the 38th and 39th floors. i ordered up some chutoro, medium fatty meat found on the belly of the tuna.
real or not? ordering is made easy in most japanese restaurants with wax representations of many menu items
a small stand at the shibuya subway station featuring a spread of onigiri, hand sized rice balls with various fillings wrapped in seaweed
a young girl dressed in traditional japanese attire
a japanese wedding procession i witnessed while wandering to the meiji shrine
a dumpling chef hard at work
i took this guy down in an eating contest