Monday, April 30, 2012

Our Last Couple of Days in Tokyo

“Own only what you can always carry with you: know languages, know countries, know people. Let your memory be your travel bag.”
Aleksandr I. Solzhenitsyn

The weather over our final two days in Tokyo was rainy, so not too much sightseeing. We did however, explore Tokyo's vibrant food scene. On Saturday, I met a very nice Japanese businessman named Jun Kato. He lives in Tokyo but was staying at our hotel for one night to celebrate his wife's birthday, which was April 20th, the same day as mine. When he told me that they had dinner at a restaurant called "Ukai-te", I told him that I had reserved at the same restaurant for Sunday (too much of a coincidence). He then called the Manager of Ukai-te and told him that his American friend was coming to the restaurant and that he should give us special treatment.

Ukai-te is a "teppanyaki" restaurant. It is what we mistakenly call "hibachi" in the United States. Teppanyaki means (teppan "iron plate" + yaki "grilled) where the food is cooked by a chef on a flat iron surface in front of you. In the United States, it is more of a show where the chefs perform with their various knives and other utensils, whereas in Japan, it is all about the quality of the food and the way that it is seasoned and cooked. It was a very delicious meal and the steak was among the best that I have ever eaten in my life. The Manager treated us very well.

I called Mr.Kato and thanked him and he proceeded to invite us out to dinner with his family on Monday night. He took us to a cozy restaurant which was well known to the locals which is a "yakitori" style restaurant (yaki "grilled" + tori "chicken or bird"). We were accompanied by Mr. Kato's lovely wife and his 5 year old son. In a yakitori restaurant, a cook prepares mini-skewers of chicken and grilled vegetables. They will grill every part of the chicken for which us Americans is interesting if not novel (thanks in part to Andrew Zimmern's "Bizarre Foods" television show). The most interesting part was when they brought us something which they called "fresh chicken" with soy sauce, which I quickly learned was "fresh" in the sense of "raw". Next course, please!  Overall, the meal and the experience was great thanks to Mr. Kato, his wife and son. THANK YOU KATO FAMILY!!!!!!

Tonight, we will leave Tokyo for the 5 hour flight to Hong Kong. We will miss Tokyo and want to return. I leave you some pictures of the restaurant and the Shangri-La Tokyo Hotel, which has been our home for the last few days.

BTW, Mr. Kato drove us to the airport (such a nice person) Enjoy the pictures!!

Celebrating my birthday in Tokyo (the  best gift- a rich chocolate cake)

My friend,  businessman  Mr. Jun Kato, He and his lovely family entertained us while in Tokyo.

Mr." Hiro" and Ms. Tomoko from the  Concierge Lounge, the "Horizon Club"

The girl dressed in red, Shion, made sure that we never got lost while navigating the labyrinthian Tokyo train station
Ashley at her Origami class

The finished product-she has become a true master of the art

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