Day 1: Tempura-ture
October 17 2007, Wednesday.
Upon retrieving my baggage, I realised that my Samsonite had better seats than I did.
Oh well. It did cost more than the price I paid for my air tickets. It was 17 degrees when we arrived. Took the airport bus to the hotel in Ikebukuro, but it was still too early to check in, so my folks decided to go duty-free shopping in Ginza.
Ginza did nothing for me. Drab, grey buildings. Enormous, expensive shopping malls. OLs and SM dressed in earthy tones and black suits. But Ginza had one thing the other areas didn’t:
Delicious, inexpensive Shabu–Shabu set lunches. This restaurant, found on the second floor of the Ginza Core building, is well-reputed, and while we were there, several individuals joined us at the counter for their meal. Strangely, it was 3pm. We wondered if they escaped from work at this time to avoid the crowd and hike in price during dinner. Where can one find such an authentic and unforgettable experience in Singapore?
We stayed at the Crowne Plaza Metropolitan. Service was wonderful, room was spacious, amenities were delightful. Bath salts, hair-clips… these were not expected at all. We even had a tray of fruits waiting for us on the desk with a note from the GM. “Okay, you’ve got me good. I will pay exorbitant amounts of money to stay at your hotel again the next time.” I wanted to write back.
Dinner was Tempura at another well-known traditional restaurant, literally translated as the Big Black House. We had to walk past all the little shops at Nakamise–dori outside the Asakusa Kannon Temple. Let’s just say that we over-ordered. Soft yet flavourful, the batter was something out of this world. Drenched in radish and gravy, stained with dark sweet sauce, laid lovingly over bowls of sticky, short-grained rice… I didn’t take any photos because they wouldn’t do justice to the taste.
And so, my first night there sort of summarised my trip there this time. We were eating as if all Japanese food were going to be extinct.