Turning Japanese

For those of you who do not possess the same useless knowledge of history/random facts, that’s a reference to an old song. But it serves as a good enough transition to the topic at hand: Tokyo!

I went two summers ago with my aunt, and it was my first time visiting Japan. It was wonderful. I might even say Japan is my favorite country to visit. It’s clean and modern, but also historic and cultural. The buildings are lovely, the people are courteous, and the food is delightful.

We stayed at the Mandarin Oriental, and let’s just say this hotel was jaw-dropping.


(You can bet I tried on those kimonos they laid out for us. If they offer it, I’m surely going to accept.)

The building is massively tall, but the hotel is situated many (think: 30) floors up; the lower floors boast cafe’s and restaurants, while the middle floors are business offices. The effect is amazing views of the cosmopolitan city for visitors like me. The Mitsukoshimae Station is also directly below the hotel, which is quite convenient.

We got complimentary breakfasts at the Oriental Lounge, which, again, had the best views.

Since we were there for several days, I was able to try out their breakfast offerings. Their lobster egg benedict was good — with a name like that, how could it not be?

But the real star was their “special pancakes.” These were not pancakes, but I’ll forgive the puffery. They were cakes. Fluffy, light, airy, delicious cakes. Topped with cream and blueberries. I’m getting hungry just thinking about them.


Our first night, we went to Mon Cher Ton Ton at the recommendation of a friend. As a beef-lover, I had no complaints. The chef actually worked in New York for a while, so we talked a bit about that. I had fish carpaccio (I forgot what type of fish, specifically. Oops.)


And medium rare tender Kobe beef. The portion may not look daunting, but I left dinner quite thankful to have been wearing a looser-fitting dress.


Back at the hotel, we bumped into a few ladies looking for dinner recommendations. I gave them the business card for Mon Cher Ton Ton and explained the concept…and then they asked if it was like Benihana. I did a mental face-palm at that question. 
Also in my belly during my traipse around Tokyo was this $10 lunch at Uokame. (Here is where I need to rave about the hotel. We made a reservation here and listed hotel info as our contact info. Turns out, the chef here knew the sommelier at one of the Mandarin Oriental restaurants, and asked them to contact us, to say that the chef cannot speak English and to let us know about their dining policies. When we got to the hotel to check in, the concierge had printed directions to Uokame in both English and Japanese, ensuring that we’d get there seamlessly. I wish the world functioned that way.) 

That right there, my friends, is fish, rice, soup, sashimi, tofu, and vegetables. All for $10, people!! Uokame doesn’t have a menu. They serve one set a day, based on what ingredients are fresh and in season. You walk in, wait for your food, eat, pay $10. This place filled up quickly, with locals, so I’ll take that as a good sign.

There was also Zakuro, a fairly well-known shabu-shabu restaurant. I had firefly squid for the first time here, and it changed my life. I don’t say that lightly; I always liked squid, but firefly squid is out of this world. Their sashimi is also fresh and their A5 premium beef melts in your mouth into a pool of savory heaven.




Tokyo is just a wonderful place. There’s no other way to describe it. It was the perfect introduction to Japan. If anyone is heading to Tokyo in the near future…mind if I tag along?

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