Tokyo – A (Too) Short Rendezvous (Part 1)

4 days and 3 nights. Or rather 3 days and 3 nights. The shortest trip CH and I have ever taken but it was certainly no less enjoyable than the others. Mainly because we, or rather I, love love love Tokyo – the city, the incredible vibe, the efficient, user-friendly transportation system, the blinding bright lights when night falls, the politeness of the people, the availability of top quality products and the excellent, marvellous, fantastic food!

For the accommodation of this trip, we stayed at CH’s ex-colleague OJ’s place in Hikarigaoka which was about two hours away from Narita by train. It was a big place by Japanese standard with three bedrooms, living and dining areas. OJ, his lovely wife Wei, and their two adorable toddlers Min and Sheng made us feel very welcomed, at home and comfortable.

Thank you so MUCH, OJ and Wei!   🙂

 

And, these are what we were up to in our four days in Japan:

Day 1

Day flight, all of 7 hours to Narita Airport

Day 2

Morning – I fulfilled the glutton in me with a visit to Hidemi Sugino’s fabulous patisserie. Everything there was perfect! More on that in a later post.

After indulging at the patisserie, we took a short 30-minute walk to Ginza to visit Mariage Freres. I just love the look and feel of the little store with its weathered wooden panelling. It was an absolute pleasure to the senses, to be greeted by the aroma of tea, and rows and rows of black and yellow tea canisters once we entered the charming store. Unfortunately, photography was not allowed inside.  

Never a shopper nor an avid  tea-drinker (a light sleeper, he is ultra sensitive to the effects of caffeine), CH nevertheless patiently waited as I indulged, sniffing and marvelling at the aromas and the pure artistry of the teas brought to me by the knowledgable store help. 

By the end of the session, after sniffing countless teas, I bought Sweet Shanghai (a beautiful green tea infused with lychee and flowers), Bolero (the MF book says, “A refreshing blend with the aroma of Mediterranean fruits. Velvety taste” and I say, “Mango and passionfruit scented tea – MUST have it!”),  The Au Sahara (a blend of Rooibos, mint and rose), Bouddha Bleu (beautiful tea – green tea with royal blue cornflowers) for OJ, our wonderful host, and Marco Polo, a favourite of mine, for J. 

We met up with OJ later and had a short tour at the Sony Building, taking in all the fascinating new electronic inventions the Japanese are so good in producing. We saw a futuristic looking glass tube speaker that would be a conversation starter in any home. The sound it produced was beautiful and according to the salesperson, because of its design, the volume heard from anywhere in the confines of the living room would be the same (quite true). I am sorry but I so don’t get the Rolly – it’s really cute but do people actually buy that??

Lunch – Our first proper meal in Tokyo, discounting the sugar fest at Hidemi Sugino. OJ took us to a famous ramen place in Harajuku. My noodle connoisseur CH LOVED the ramen. The noodles itself was faultless – springy without being too chewy and most importantly, there was not a strong taste of alkaline. The soup base, in my humble opinion, was the star of the show! I had my noodles in a soup base made from boiling pork bones for hours – a favourite among the celebrities in Japan, I was told by OJ, as the soup was ultra-rich in wrinkle-preventing collagen. Lusciously thick, sweet and deftly seasoned, the soup was absolutely delicious! I couldn’t finish the generous amount of noodles but sipped every drop of that wrinkle-busting soup. Hey, I could feel my crow feet tightening up already!    😉

Afternoon – We took a trip down to the Shinto shrine, Meiji Jingu. There we took a walk down the tranquil path to reach the shrine where devotees and tourists alike bowed their heads to pray for what their hearts desire.

We walked all the way to Shibuya after that. OJ and CH were wonderful and nice to the glutton in me, as they scrutinised my scribbled address and maps to take me to… Pierre Herme’s main store in Tokyo! Not wanting to over-indulge (can’t abuse metabolism too much after the big THREE ZERO!), I bought just a Plaisir Sucre.  

It was beautiful – so aptly named as the different layers and contrast in texture of chocolate (hazelnut dacquoise, praline, ganache, chocolate whipped cream and chocolate sheets) brought about a glorious sensation in the mouth! One day when I am feeling adventurous and when there are people to share the calories, I will attempt this gorgeous edible piece of art that comes with a six-page recipe in PH’s Chocolate Desserts!

Evening – We accompanied OJ to Roppongi as he made a short trip back to his office to do some work (yes, on a Sunday! And you wonder why bankers are being paid so much!  ;P )

The main event for the evening was a trip to another famous ramen place in Shinjuku, just opposite the city’s red-light district.

I would just say these about the ramen – it was GOOD! Everything about it – the flavourful soup, the fatty pork that melts in the mouth, the springy noodles. Humble and comforting at the end of a long day but no less impressive. Good food does not have to be fanciful. 

What a fantastically gluttony way to end a fantastic day!

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