Tuesday, August 4, 2009

Our final day

It's been a long, long road--okay, it's only been three weeks. But we have certainly broken much new ground (and bruised many feet) since mid-July, and finally our time overseas is coming to a conclusion.

So how does Megan choose to go out? With a bang, of course. More of a culinary explosion, really. Let's recap, shall we?

Last night I said we MUST experience Kobe beef while we're in Japan. It is imperative. I'm sure that there are many restaurants that prepare Kobe in Tokyo, but my Tokyo Encounter only mentioned it in one restaurant's description: Seryna, which is in the Roppongi district. (The "least Japanese part of Japan," according to the guide. Full of nightclubs, shopping, a mall which is a completely sustainable life force unto itself. It was neat.) Vin Chou, the French fusion yakitori restaurant we'd visited in my last blog, was listed in the same price range as Seryna so I wasn't overly concerned.


For one thing, Seryna apparently occupies its entire building. Like, multiple floors going up. We're met by a maitre d' who escorts us to our seat adjacent to a pretty rock garden diorama and then we are waited on by geisha-esque girls with immaculate grace and graciousness. If this wasn't enough of a blaring red siren, one look at the menu provided the final push into alarm. Courses for one starting at about $80. Nothing of inferior quality--the best crab, the best tuna, the best beef. Enter the Kobe. Available as a carpaccio appetizer for $50, in shabu-shabu (essentially soup in which you cook your meat) for $140, or cooked on a STONE brought from a northern part of Japan for $150.

Well, you're only in Tokyo once.

I ordered the Toro sashimi. ($60.) Toro is the most tender part of tuna. It was so pale pink and buttery, absolutely exquisite. Alternated between plain, dipped in soy sauce and grazed in wasabi for very different experiences. I was already doing the happy food dance.

But it was rather overshadowed by the sight of our geisha laying thin strips of fat-laced beef on a smooth slab of superheated granite, barely needing a minute to rest before she slid them loose with her chopsticks and flipped them. She arranged pairs of the steak artfully and presented them to us with two different "steak sauces" for dipping--one tomato based, one soy based. Wowee. This steak was so full of flavor and juice and richness. It was a 180 g portion split between us, which I eyeballed as approximately 6 oz each? Not much, in other words. You'd never know it from how delicious and satisfying that meat was. There was no question of hitting up a McD's after THIS meal.

I can't overemphasize how much the atmosphere enhanced the meal. The geisha were immaculate and though we were the ones being served, we felt nothing but respect for THEM. A crystal glass of some iced honey liqueor was brought to each of us before our meal, and cups of hot tea provided throughout. We were one of very few occupants and the air felt...reverent. It made each bite contain a sense of communion. Just absolutely lovely.

Anyway, good eats. I will cheerfully go back to eating my dad or my husband's grilled steaks, but I am definitely glad that we experienced that calibre of Japanese haute cuisine.

Today, we found our way to the Meguro Parasitological Museum for funsies. It was too tiny and too untranslated to really capitalize on the oogy factor, much to my disappointment. A long hike later, we are lost and hop on a transfer line to get back to our hotel. On our way, the Shibuya sub station's "food court" catches my attention. Oh my GOSH, such a buffet! No Sbarros here, that's for sure. This is obviously a place that people come to pick up food for home and parties. Bento ("lunchboxes" filled with artfully arranged snacky treats), boxes of sushi and sashimi shaped into flowers and designs, each of the colors blending with the rest, different combinations of salads and cold cuts. Just fascinating.

So I finally got my unagi (eel) sashimi. It was GOOD. Also a bento of dumplings and potstickers and tempura-fried treats and a shrimp ball.

Tonight, I plan to watch as Tavis packs the last couple of items that he hasn't already packed as I've been typing, and if we recover from stuffing ourselves on subway "fast food," then we may make our way back to Akiyoshi for more skewers of grilled chicken. It's a sad day when I'm looking forward to eating my fruits and veggies again. Oh well, making the most of today!

Rosie and James got back to Korea successfully so we are going to duplicate the train route they took. We will be back before 6pm Wednesday evening! Mass uploading of pics and revision of blog will commence.

I'll save final words for later. This isn't really a goodbye. Just a....good eats.