Two Saturdays ago, I spent a perfectly wonderful day with my friend Philippe, a Parisian I met during my first year in Seoul who has been living in Tokyo for the last two years. It was, sadly, his last day in Tokyo, as news of my arrival prompted him to move to Shanghai. Not really. But after two years, he and la famille are somewhat reluctantly relocating to China for business. Philippe graciously spent his last day in Tokyo passing the torch my way, with a fantastic afternoon tour of his favorite secret spots in Harajuku and Omote-sando.
We began with lunch at Kurkku Kitchen, a darling little eco-happy restaurant in Harajuku that serves locally grown foods. I’m learning that lunchtime deals are where the real eating out happens in Tokyo. Restaurants that have $80+ fixed course dinner menus serve $20+ lunch course menus. Salad, entree, tea and dessert. There is nothing quite like a long, languid lunch with an old friend.
Armed with only one roll of film in my camera, we roamed around the tiny side streets of Harajuku, stopping in a fabulous community art gallery and exhibition hall, discovering bookshops & design stores, and crawling through tiny little pathways between buildings. Exactly what I expected Japan to be.
We wandered for hours, fueled by Pierre Hermé and iced lattes, committing to memory every secret and insider tip I could absorb in my one short day with the local. Excellent crêperie, check. Tiny secret temple garden, check. Find high-quality screen prints here, check.
At 7:30, we hopped the JR to meet Philippe’s friend Gregoire for dinner in Ebisu. I don’t even know where to start. Shall I start with the hundreds of girls in kimonos dancing under pink lanterns outside the train station? Or the magical automatic door that opened to a secret world of delicious? How about scallops in sake butter, the three types of tuna sashimi, or the fish baked in miso?
Too much? Then I won’t tell you at all about the night cap at Piano Bar in Shibuya, without a doubt the tiniest bar I have ever stepped foot. (You have to click to see…I ran out of film before we got there and you must, must see this.)
Philippe, merci merci merci. I dare say you made Tokyo feel like home.