The lingering effects of jetlag have worn off and I finally had a chance to sift through the many photos of our time in Japan.  Upon checking in to Cerulean Tower Tokyu Hotel {conveniently located near Shibuya station, right in the thick of things}, we were upgraded to a spacious room with a breathtaking view of Tokyo’s awe-inspiring cityscape … dense urban sprawl as far as the eye can see.

We knew about the sheer vastness of Tokyo and its maze-like layout, but the message hit home when our seasoned taxi driver had to enter Kadowaki restaurant’s address into his navigation system as we headed out for what would be the first of many memorable meals. Look for Kadowaki’s discreet little entrance {pictured} located off a narrow sidestreet. Kadowaki’s chef Toshiya Kadowaki famously turned down a Michelin star listing when Michelin rankings first came to Japan.  Judging by the furtive glances and nervous looks from the apprentice on duty, Andy and I were on our best behavior.  With chef Kadowaki at the helm presiding over dinner, out of respect {and feeling a little intimidated} I did not take pictures, but the meticulous preparation and precision with which the chef prepared our meal was a sight to behold … a study in ultimate efficiency on a small counter space against a backdrop of hundreds of neatly stacked dishes, plates, and bowls, everything with its own singular purpose.  Though there were many, outstanding dishes for me were the truffle rice and crab egg custard {hot} served with squid ink and shrimp sorbet {cold}. Dessert was truffle honey over strawberries and ricotta cheese sauce.  Simply heavenly.

The next day, we took the subway over to Ginza and wandered around Mitsukoshi department store where we worked up an appetite before our reservations at Alain Ducasse’s Beige restaurant atop the Chanel boutique.  I recall working on clearing the BEIGE trademark years ago and reading about its opening in WWD, so it was a treat to experience the place in person.  The dishes were delightfully presented as well as delicious, and the decor was predictably chic.

Beige, Alain Ducasse, Tokyo, Japan, Ginza

Ginza, Mikimoto, Tokyo, Japan

After lunch, we made our way toward Tokyo station, which in and of itself would take days to explore, and then somehow managed to locate the bus to Tokyo Tower, a smaller orange version of the Eiffel Tower.

Tokyo train station, Japan

Tokyo, Japan

Dinner that night was at Narisawa, perhaps the most innovative cuisine I have ever experienced to date, engaging all senses along with the imagination.  No wonder it is haled as the best restaurant in Asia.  The theme of the night was inspired by the forest in springtime and dish after dish was a wholly new and magical take on the natural wonders of the forest.  The first dish quite literally resembled the ground covering and dirt, but tasted like airy morsels of tempura-ed vegetables.  Captivated, we watched as the dough for our bread rose slowly in a glass sitting in heated water.  Then it was transferred into a sizzling hot stone bowl and seared-baked right in front of us.  The result was a bread like no other with a perfectly crunchy shell and soft doughy goodness inside.  Another wondrous dish of Spanish mackerel and onion essence arrived under a glass dome containing smoke from cherry blossoms, its delicate scent quickly evaporated as the dome was lifted.  Everything was exquisite … an unforgettable evening, indeed.

Les Creations de Narisawa restaurant, Tokyo, Japan

Streets of Tokyo

Tokyo shrine

Scenes from our wanderings … a small shrine tucked between modern buildings amid a bustling mid-day market.  Much more to come.

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