Saturday 6 July 2013

Birthday in Japan and dinner with a food and wine writer!

I seem to be getting a year older much quicker each year!  Yes, that time of year had rolled around again (or in my case, hobbled around again) and I had a few things planned this birthday.  Being my first birthday back in Japan I had a few things planned to catch up with different people.

On Saturday night I caught the train over Tokyo Bay to Odaiba.  My friend Emiko's daughter had also had her birthday recently so a few of us were going to Emiko's house for a joint birthday dinner.

I made a curry for dinner and Emiko made a couple of great birthday cakes for myself and Jessica.  See if you can guess which one is mine....

Emiko has 4 great kids and I always enjoy playing with them.  After a nice dinner, fantastic birthday cake and a great evening, it was with great regret that I had to leave as I was meeting another good friend, Charlie, in another part of the city so I got back on the train and headed across Tokyo to Shinjuku for some birthday drinks.  I arrived at one of my favourite bars in Tokyo Rock Bar Mother.  If you click on the link, don't adjust your computer screens as the website mirrors the lighting in the bar.  It is a small little bar (seats about 10 at a squeeze) that specialises in Rock Music.  You can request music from their selection of cd's and enjoy a couple of beers listening to your favourite rock music played at high volume with other like-minded music lovers.  Here is a shot of inside the bar.

After a few hours there, we left and headed to another couple of bars that Charlie knows and ended up back home in the wee hours of the morning. 

After a healthy sleep into the afternoon I awoke and got back on a train and headed to Shinbashi where I work to catch up with some of the people I work with.  We went to a bar called 300 which some of the other teachers go to often.  It is a nice place and the staff are all really friendly.

Well, time flew by and before I realised it, last train had gone, so it was either a very expensive taxi ride home, or a budget night at a karaoke place.  We (myself and a couple of the other teachers, Yuuki and Miwa) went to the nearest karaoke place

and sung the night away.  We finished off with ramen for breakfast and the first train of the morning home.

After sleeping well into the afternoon again, I woke up and got ready for dinner.  A friend who is also a food and wine writer had told me about a nice Chinese restaurant she knew of that made really nice dumplings (gyoza).  Any restaurant that Eriko (who I met through Charlie) recommends is a winner in my eyes, so after a strong coffee I jumped back on to the train and headed to a suburb of Tokyo that has my favourite place name, Takadanobaba (it just rolls off the tongue really well and has a good rhythm to it!) 

I met Eriko and a couple of her friends (Yuko and Akiko) and we went to the restaurant.

The interior was nothing special, but that is often not an indication that the food is bad, in fact, more often than not, the food is amazing at these little places. 

We started off with a couple of little appetizers (and I'm not including the beer as one of the appetizers...).

We then ordered some fried pork, a tofu dish cooked with mushrooms in a shrimp flavoured broth and something I had only ever heard of before, but not ever tried it.

A Chinese dish known in English as "Century egg" because it looks like it is 100 years old.

It is actually only about 7 days old but looks like this because it has been fermented.  The idea was not at all appealing to me, but I had to try it, I was having dinner with a food writer!  So I did.  Guess what, it tasted just like egg!  The texture was not at all like egg, the yolk was like hard jelly, but it didn't taste bad at all!

Everyone was enjoying themselves by now.

and next out was some spring rolls (harumaki) and liver cooked with beansprouts and greens.

Finally the restaurant's signature dish, gyoza.  They make it in 5 flavours, normal, garlic (each having a whole clove of garlic in it), chili, cheese and curry.

The gyoza were a crowd pleaser!

They were so good we ordered 2 serves of each!  The last few dishes out were some Taiwanese sausage

beautiful tender beef in some kind of savoury jelly

and some Chinese soup noodles.

Feeling very full and satisfied we left the restaurant

and made our way home.

If you take only one thing from this blog post, make it this.  If a food and wine writer suggests a restaurant for dinner, don't argue.  They know best.  A really good night, great food and company and a nice way to finish off a birthday weekend.

That's all for this week.  Thanks for reading and I'll see you again next week


  1. Hi Jason
    Glad that you had a great time for your second 21st! It seems that you are dabbling in a bit of food writing yourself...I don't think that you'll run out of places to review in a hurry!

    1. Hi Nat, at last count (not mine, but the Michelin restaurant guide's) there were approximately 160,000 restaurants in Tokyo, so you are right. If I start running out of places to write about, then I can change to a restaurant review blog, although that won't be as interesting for you or me!