Monday, 21 September 2015

Japan Holiday Day 2 - Harajuku and Dinner at Beige Alain Ducasse

Our broad plan for the day was to wander around Harajuku and Omote-Sando, and we met up for breakfast at Tokyo Station in Tokyo Ramen street where there was a particular ramen shop (Rokurinsha Tokyo) that opens at 730am.  We got there before opening time and there was already a big queue!

Fortunately the queue moved quickly and we sat down at a table and got our food.  There are 3 types of ramen sold there - there was the basic one which gets served quickly, the second one has egg and the third one has shrimp.  We ordered a basic one and an egg one, and they even brought out a bit of broth for the kids to share the ramen with us (no extra charge as far as I could tell).  It was also another of those places you place your order via machine first and then someone takes your ticket and gets your food. You could probably get by there with no Japanese, as their English is basic but it's easy to communicate with gestures towards the machine.

After that we headed off to Harajuku to line up for the Pompompurin Cafe that I was dying to try. Pompompurin is a Sanrio character and there is a cafe full of Pompompurin themed food and decorations that is super cute and popular with females in Tokyo.  We travelled by the metro and got off at the MeijiJingu-mae station which put us right in front of the Meiji shrine (as the name says) and it was a quick walk to our destination.

Harajuku is known for being the funky, hip and "young" part of town where you can find people in outrageous fashions (there are places you can go for people watching) and many things cute and outrageous can be found there. I liked this MoshiMoshi Box clock, it seemed to typify the kawaii (cute) culture that can be found here, whereas the heavily stickered Harajuku sign above also typifies the goth/punk culture that Harajuku is also known for.

Lining up for the cafe starts at 930am, and they give you a ticket to return at a later time.  You can actually line up any time of the day and get a ticket for a later time, but I wanted to have the earliest sitting possible.  We got into the first sitting at 11am. Pompompurin cafe is in in Takeshita street at the Cute Cube.

Takeshita street was not that busy when we first got there but by 1030 it was jam packed!

OMG look at the size of these fairy flosses!
The inside of Pompompurin cafe is sooo cute. Hubby complained that there were only 4 males in the whole place, including him and our son. Still, they had a good time!

The little souvenir shop in the corner is cute and you pay for these at the same counter as you pay for your meal but it has to be on a separate transaction.  Not sure why that is.

The food was absolutely adorable! It wasn't cheap, but the meals were well presented, the taste was decent (not the best in the world but not the worst) but the kids enjoyed it.

This curry chicken rice had the rice shaped like PomPomPurin and sauce used for the hat and face.  he vegies are cut into shapes like spoon and fork, hearts and stars.  My son loved eating this!  It was supposed to be mine but he ate half of it.

Two different types of pancake meals.  The second one comes with a container that has syrup that you pour on your pancakes and they give you one to take home (that's all nicely packaged and clean) but only if you buy that meal.  The banana pancakes on top was cute because of the the pancake shaped like Pompompurin.

The pudding comes in a pot shaped like Pompompurin - this one you CAN'T take home, so don't be naughty!

These adorable drinks are the mango soda and almond milk berry shake.  So cute!  The ice cream Pompompurin are floating on a chunk of ice so they don't slip into the drink.

We met up with our friends at Omote-Sando, which is a long street leading out of Harajuku full of fashion stores and some amazing architecture.  We found them outside Kiddyland on Omote-Sando, which is an amazing toy shop over 5 levels. It's more than just toys though - I think it's best described as a collector haven for all things kiddy, such as Disney, Star Wars, Harry Potter, Snoopy, Studio Ghibli and other Japanese anime characters and many other things too numerous to mention. There are also toilets within the store on a few levels so it's a great place to stop off with young kids and their annoyingly small bladders.

I felt sorry for these guys dressed up as these characters - I was feeling hot and bothered, so they must be absolutely roasting inside!

We went to Meiji shrine after that and walked around a bit in the gardens.  The kids entertained themselves collecting acorns, Totoro-style.

We paid 500 yen per person to enter a garden with a well which was actually a pleasant walk.  It seemed to be quite popular amongst older men to be playing with birds flying into their hands looking for seeds or food to eat.  The kids entered for free.  The pond has turtles and fish for the kids to look at, and I amused myself taking pictures of fungi.

Back to the hotel for some rest after that, and I had to get ready for dinner out with the girls. I had booked Beige Alain Ducasse that evening, which is a one Michelin star French restaurant in the Chanel building in Ginza.  It was a quick walk from my hotel, so I had a pleasant stroll through Ginza admiring the night lights and buildings.

I didn't get a picture of the Chanel building (since I was on that side of the road) but I did take some pictures of the entrance and lift to Beige. The lift door even looks like a Chanel weave! And the buttons inside the lift had the Chanel logo. Very classy, I thought.

Onto the food. Beige is a French restaurant, and I thought that in comparison to most French restaurants I had been to, the food was rather subtly flavoured and light.  I usually find French food with all those sauces rather heavy. We ladies had a glass of rosea champagne with our meal and embarrassed ourselves because when we did our toast, the clink sounded like the glasses were made of plastic! Even when we tapped it with our fingernails it had that weird dull sound. The waiter asked us what we were laughing at and we told him (thinking how cheap is it that this fancy place has plastic champagne glasses) but he laughed and reassured us that the glasses were crystal.  And lo and behold as we went further along with our drinks and they emptied, the glasses sounded more like crystal.  Weird!  So here is what we ate:

The pre-appetiser (pour patienter), which was eggplant and fig tartlets. Eggplant was subtle, not very strong flavoured and the fig was sweet but not cloyingly so.
The next pre-appetiser, which was potato icecream in a tomato gazpacho. Being an icecream, the potato was not like mash, nor even a light and fluffy mash, it was creamier and smoother.  The whole dish was chilling but refreshing.
Lemon bread and I forget what the other bread was. The lemon was subtle, I liked that.

Chilled courgette soup, sea urchin and kegani, delicate gelee was the description.  The sea urchins were lovely, fresh and not overwhelmingly fishy, but the crab beneath them was more fishy and really didn't taste much different to crab sticks, in m opinion.  The fish jelly was nice.  The girls didn't like how fishy the whole thing was, but to me it was the crab which was disappointing in this dish.
Blue Lobster, Peach and cucumber, crushed fresh herbs.  This dish was decorated with three fine slices of winter truffle. I love truffles normally but I could hardly taste these, which I suspect is because they are winter truffles and don't have that lovely strong earthy flavour that truffles have.  The lobster texture was fine, but one of the girls said it was too chewy.  The rest of the salad mixed in well.
Matsukawa karei fish, seared seasonal vegetables, cooking jus.  I don't know why it's not mentioned in the description about the lovely porcini mushroom but that was lovely,  The fish was pleasant but not OMG amazing.  Still nice though.

Beef from Osaki, tender aubergine, tomato and girolles, delicate zabaglione. I wish French people didn't drown their meat in sauce. I do like my meat rare, and the various different preparations of meat here were tasty but as it always happens at the end of the meal, you start to feel a bit full.

Roasted mango, exotic fruit and coconut sorbet. This dish does not look impressive and the taste was sweet like a dessert should be but really only felt like a mango with a dollop of coconut cream on top and some fruit.  I wish this could have been done better.  Luckily this wasn't my chocie of dessert, but we did all share it.
The Chcolate-praline Chanel square was much more impressive as a dessert and obviously a signature dish, being in the Chanel building.  The chocolate was sort and lighter than it looked.
Berry-fromage blanc vanilla composition. There was granita in this dessert also, and it was quite a hit. Still, not an AMAZING dish but a satisfying dessert.
In the petit fours, that lemon tart was sublme.  The lemon just melted in the mouth, though it was very liquid still within it's shell.

Overall an enjoyable experience, and perhaps it was a one star, but it certainly wasn't a 3 star michelin restaurant.  I think that the design of the menu was made to appeal to the Japanese palate which tends to enjoy more subtle (read that as bland) flavours than some other cultures.

Boy did I sleep well that night!

No comments:

Post a Comment