2 week Japan Trip Report and Vlog! (Tokyo/Disney/Osaka/Kyoto)

Sarahboo

100% geek
Joined
Feb 28, 2007
Oh man, you're going to have an awesome trip!

Chris is a musician (plays bass, writes the music, and is the lead vocals in a nerd rock duo) so we find that we end up building relationships over music a lot.

I don't even remember what I said in the beginning of the report, but we actually have 4 kids (aged 11-19), so this was a big dealt go for 2 weeks without them and travel like we were young again. :lol: We took them to Mexico for Christmas, and here are a few pictures from that trip:










Anyway, back to Japan...

We didn't get a super early start on Thursday, because we only had three things planned:

Tsukiji Outer Market
Pokemon Center DX to get a present for my son
Dinner at Tapas Molecular


Coffee became the bane of our existence in Tokyo. We generally got moving before most places opened, so we spent a lot of mornings on our way to the train station at the Starbucks overlooking Shibuya Scramble Crossing. It was much busier at night than during the day - but it was kind of a fun ritual over our stay to grab a cuppa joe and watch the pedestrians. This Starbucks is across the street from Shibuya station:




Oregon is known for its recycling. When we have friends visit from the midwest or east coast they ALWAYS comment on how many different recycling receptacles there are, but it was nothing like Japan. This is what you see when you're ready to discard any remaining coffee or the cups:



Because we got a bit of a late start, the train was BUSY.






The tuna auction moved in 2019, but we didn't ind because we weren't planning on getting to the market early enough for the tuna auction anyway. We were there for the street food. We had a GREAT time here. It was busy, and huge, and I'm sure we only saw a fraction of it, I mean look at this map of all of the vendors:



We had so much food here. So. Much. Food.

Tuna steak cooked with a blowtorch (delicious!):



THOSE SCALLOPS. HOLY MACKERAL:



EEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEL:





I want to eat Strawberry Daifuku every day. EVERY DAY.




We met this super cool vendor who had us try a bunch of his stuff, and we purchased some glasses of this alcoholic HORNET WASP ginseng:



The hornets in that thing were HUGE. We also had some beer and some black sesame ice cream:





No eating while walking - and keep an eye out for those ding-dang birds:



The bird looks so pleased with himself:





When we had beyond full stomachs, we took a trek to the Pokemon Center on our way to The Mandarin Oriental. My son wanted a stuffed bulbasaur. It turns out that Pokemon Sword and Shield were coming out THE NEXT DAY. If we pre-ordered both games they came in an exclusive set like this with figures of the new characters and an art book.



So we ordered that knowing we'd have to get back there before we left Tokyo - but we thought we'd be able to manage the next day without too much hassle. We didn't eat at the Pokemon Cafe, but we definitely would have if we had the kids with us.




We poked around the area a little and then we had time to kill before our reservation at Tapas Molecular. We headed up near the Mandarin Oriental (where the restaurant is), and then we explored a brewpub, a shrine, and some other stores:









There was a museum in the same building as the hotel/restaurant, so we went in search of that.
 

Sarahboo

100% geek
Joined
Feb 28, 2007
We had an awkward amount of time, so we went in the lobby of the building to look for the museum and instead discovered that I could make a Hanko Stamp which is something I really wanted so we took a few minutes to choose my kanji and then they needed about an hour to carve it, so we told them we'd pick it up after dinner. We headed toward the elevators in the small first floor hotel lobby. They had an umbrella locker which I just thought was kind of funny because no one locks their bike up anywhere, but there was a location to lock up your umbrella:




Chris and I decidedly do not look like we can afford anything at the Mandarin Oriental, and I am still wondering if the elevator guy followed us everywhere because we looked like we didn't belong or because it was high service. When we got off the elevator, he walked us to the hostess stand to make sure we had reservations before leaving us on that floor.

We hung out by the insane windows and had a cocktail before dinner started.



I wish I could put panoramic photos up because it's pretty spectacular. But there's a taste.



While we were drinking The World's Most Expensive Moscow Mule (tm), Chef Ping was getting the chef's table ready. Tapas Molecular does two small seatings a night so you can really interact with the chef and the food. We opted for the early seating since it was pretty far from where we were staying and there were only 7 of us total eating that night. There was a group of 5 young Japanese adults (early-mid 20s) celebrating a birthday and then there was Chris and myself. Chef Ping is the Executive Chef (he's worked for the Mandarin Oriental all over the world, his stories are awesome) and he was our guide because he spoke English. The other chef was the chef for the group of 5 and they all spoke in Japanese.





Tapas Molecular was a 14 course, Michelin starred Molecular Gastronomy Restaurant. It was actually my birthday present from months before and it was totally worth it. We did the wine pairing as well.

This was hot water that you poured on the little disc, and it grew into a hot towel. The bandana was our napkin for the night and it's wrapped around a tool box that had a variety of utensils to use.



Here are our various utensils and the tape measure pulled out and had all of the courses written out on it - it served as our menu during the meal:




I'll do my best to remember what we ate, but it's been almost two months now. He uses a seasonal menu - and they gave us a copy of the menu at the end of our meal. Oh! I just went and found the menu and it's written out quite nicely.

Ok, Course 1: Salmon Roe and Roe (This was three different types of salmon roe but one was ponzu juice that had been transformed in tapioca balls to appear as roe:



Course two was Saag Paneer - This was awesome, we injected some sort of spinach and foie gras concoction into a crisp hollow egg and then you eat it in one bite. It was an explosion of amazing in my mouth:



Dynamite Roll - Kuruma Ebi, Caviar, Chili:



Blizzard - a Hakkaido Scallop with a vinaigrette that they froze in dry ice and then dropped on the scallop like a snowfall. This also had radish, sea grapes and micro tomatoes (they are fully grown at that size):



This was Bendict - Brioche, Lobster, Hollandaise:



The Mushroomed Egg - THIS IS NOT EVEN AN EGG. Molecular Gastronomy is amazing. It's Barley, Truffle, and Broth that has been molecularly gastronomized (I made that up, but it works) to appear and feel like an egg:



For the next course - Fish Meuniere - we ground up our own seasoning thing:



It was Amadai, butter, and lemon:





Peking Duck - bean curd skin, cucumber, spring onion -



Autumn Ranch - Lamb, hay, sprout:



Look you guys, this is all way too much food for any one person to eat. After the scallop I had to start eating only half or less of each course because I was afraid I would never make it to the end of the meal. I did however drink all of the wine - I like to think it helped to wash down the food.

This is my husband's favorite thing he's ever eaten - Confused Wagyu with garlic miso and romaine lettuce. This is a cut of A4Wagyu that has been cooked Sous Vide to PERFECTION.



Just when you thought you were going to explode - they move into dessert courses.

Mushroom - Chestnut, chocolate, truffle



We poured a hot chocolate sauce until this and it was so delicious I could have died right then and there.

Very Berry Chai - Blueberry, Ginger, hot and cold

This was like a reverse lava cake. Instead of cooking it partially to make the outside solid and the inside liquid, they put it in dry ice and it froze the outside but left the inside runny:



Pina Colada - Coconut and Pineapple:



And finally - After 8, mint/cocao - again a play with liquid nitrogen. Let's hope this video works (related: I have a ton of video from this meal and I'm hoping Chris finds a way to make it into a longer video):






After all of that food, we rolled back to the subway. I'm 99% sure we stopped at Akira's bar on the way home - but it's a little fuzzy from all of the wine. :)
 

Iceman93

DIS Veteran
Joined
May 2, 2004
My stomach hurts just reading about it, but my mouth is watering too. That seems like one AMAZING meal, and I can only imagine that the wines they paired were perfectly chosen to complement each item. Wow... just wow!
 
  • Sarahboo

    100% geek
    Joined
    Feb 28, 2007
    It was a COMICAL amount of food. There was no possible way for me to eat it all, but trust, I tried. The first two courses I ate it all up and then I was like "Wait. There are TWELVE MORE COURSES COMING. I NEED A PLAN.":scared:
     

    nono

    DIS Veteran
    Joined
    Jun 30, 2005
    I want to personally thank you for NOT getting to the gastronomy portion of your report until I got back from Japan....I would have likely caved and gone. I will be putting it on the list for the next trip and my kids are already saving their money.
     

    Sarahboo

    100% geek
    Joined
    Feb 28, 2007
    I want to personally thank you for NOT getting to the gastronomy portion of your report until I got back from Japan....I would have likely caved and gone. I will be putting it on the list for the next trip and my kids are already saving their money.

    Haha! I don't even remember how I found the restaurant, but I suspect I looked for a molecular gastronomy restaurant in Tokyo because I knew Tokyo has some of the best chefs in the world and I've always been fascinated with Molecular Gastronomy. Once I found it I couldn't stop thinking about it.

    It was easily the BEST meal I've ever had in my life, and I'll stand by the meal we had wine tasting the previous Sunday as a close second. It was SO GOOD, and Chef Ping was awesome as he guided us through the meal. I have some video footage of it (Chef Ping encouraged us to take photos and videos) so Chris might make a video of the footage I do have. I wish I had taken more, but I also wanted to be in the moment as soon as I could.
     

    nono

    DIS Veteran
    Joined
    Jun 30, 2005
    I wish I had taken more, but I also wanted to be in the moment as soon as I could.
    Understood!

    My kids eat like linebackers and are only 5'0"...hence why they are already saving. My daughter is insisting on an official Temple University Japan visit, so I have them on a 24 month budget. They LOVE food, all food, and are still talking about everything relative to the trip. I showed them your post, and they are so ready to go. I also bookmarked the sake places for next time. We got close to going this trip, but the striking Christmas displays wreaked havoc with our "relaxing" time. :o
     
  • LovesTimone

    Christmas Day 2017
    Joined
    Apr 29, 2009
    The fish market looks really cool... and the Tuna Steak cooked with blow torch... so cool and looked amazing... I really like tuna, DH is just so so about it... I showed him the octopus on a stick... he was like okay.. you can try it first... LOL... In looking at the photo of the fresh seafood, it all looks so amazing... It looks like they will cook it for you right there? and the pricing was that each piece or for so many piece?... scallop's are my favorite...

    What a wonderful Birthday gift... I showed DH last night and he was blown away by the all the course, and the presentation, and the fact that it is a small group, and that it is interactive... so cool... as well as the view really something to see... So this went to the top of our list... We do one really nice meal when we travel, to celebrate us.

    Wow, really sums it up.... what a incredible experience... This is a moment in time that you both will never forget... and share forever... really special...

    I do have a food allergy to coconut and some melons.. so I am wondering if we choose here... how to handle it, as the menu is planned way in advance... normally when dinning more on the upscale restaurants, the chef will come out and speak to me... here I feel that I would have to let them know in advance ... and I don't want to be a pain booty ... Thoughts on this? ...

    On the wine pairing... We enjoy wine, me more than DH, he is more a beer guy, and loves Kirin, and Sapporo... We enjoy a couple of drinks... but are not big or heavy drinkers... Was wine more along the lines of a tasting size... or a half glass pour... full glass pour ?
    I ask this as we were invited by friends for their anniversary several years ago, they treated four couple's to dinner at their country club ( super fancy , long dress and suit and tie fancy) and they offered chef's table in Atlanta... So 10 of us... Aperitif, wine pairing with each course, then dessert wines, and coffee's and Digestifs, it was over whelming... the pours were more half glass, to full glass pours each course...most of us stopped drinking about the 3rd of 4th course... I know that we ( DH and I were just sipping a tiny bit at each course)... and they did keep the water glasses full all night - Thankfully.. The thing is that it was so much that I could not even begin to imagine drinking all this at one sitting it was like 4+ hours from start to finish...and I felt bad as it was just wasteful, and I'm sure very expensive so another waste... So if we choose this as our big night out... I would like to do the wine pairing... but not if its going to be insane amount like with our previous experience...

    Loving your trip report... can't wait for the rest...
     
    Last edited:

    Sarahboo

    100% geek
    Joined
    Feb 28, 2007
    The fish market looks really cool... and the Tuna Steak cooked with blow torch... so cool and looked amazing... I really like tuna, DH is just so so about it... I showed him the octopus on a stick... he was like okay.. you can try it first... LOL... In looking at the photo of the fresh seafood, it all looks so amazing... It looks like they will cook it for you right there? and the pricing was that each piece or for so many piece?... scallop's are my favorite...

    What a wonderful Birthday gift... I showed DH last night and he was blown away by the all the course, and the presentation, and the fact that it is a small group, and that it is interactive... so cool... as well as the view really something to see... So this went to the top of our list... We do one really nice meal when we travel, to celebrate us.

    Wow, really sums it up.... what a incredible experience... This is a moment in time that you both will never forget... and share forever... really special...

    I do have a food allergy to coconut and some melons.. so I am wondering if we choose here... how to handle it, as the menu is planned way in advance... normally when dinning more on the upscale restaurants, the chef will come out and speak to me... here I feel that I would have to let them know in advance ... and I don't want to be a pain booty ... Thoughts on this? ...

    On the wine pairing... We enjoy wine, me more than DH, he is more a beer guy, and loves Kirin, and Sapporo... We enjoy a couple of drinks... but are not big or heavy drinkers... Was wine more along the lines of a tasting size... or a half glass pour... full glass pour ?
    I ask this as we were invited by friends for their anniversary several years ago, they treated four couple's to dinner at their country club ( super fancy , long dress and suit and tie fancy) and they offered chef's table in Atlanta... So 10 of us... Aperitif, wine pairing with each course, then dessert wines, and coffee's and Digestifs, it was over whelming... the pours were more half glass, to full glass pours each course...most of us stopped drinking about the 3rd of 4th course... I know that we ( DH and I were just sipping a tiny bit at each course)... and they did keep the water glasses full all night - Thankfully.. The thing is that it was so much that I could not even begin to imagine drinking all this at one sitting it was like 4+ hours from start to finish...and I felt bad as it was just wasteful, and I'm sure very expensive so another waste... So if we choose this as our big night out... I would like to do the wine pairing... but not if its going to be insane amount like with our previous experience...

    Loving your trip report... can't wait for the rest...

    It was per piece and they do cook it right there to order which is super cool. It was a combination of cooking over open fire and using a blowtorch.

    I had to fill out a form and give them a credit card to hold the reservation, and they ask if you have any food allergies. I have no doubt that they would accommodate you.

    So, the wine pairing was 7 wines so there wasn't one for each course, but they chose wines that would work with multiple courses. They were full pours, but it's also like a 2 hour meal. It's a lot of wine either way. You could just choose to have a glass or two of wine - they have a great wine list and I'm sure they would do glasses of the wines from the pairing.
     

    Sarahboo

    100% geek
    Joined
    Feb 28, 2007
    My mother in law is a super talented multi-media artist and she's taking all of our tickets, maps, brochures, some coins, etc. from our trip and making them into an art piece on canvas. We finally put it all together and gave them to her and I found the wine list from the restaurant so I thought I'd share for my fellow wine lovers.

    There were two wine flights to choose from and we chose the less expensive one (which was still expensive hahaha).

    1. Champange Rose
    NV Deutz Brut Rose
    Champange, France

    2. White Wine
    2014 Knoll, Emmerich
    Grüner Veltliner Kreuzers Federspiel
    Wachau, Austria

    3. Orange Wine
    2017 Donkey and Goat
    "Romato" Pinot Gris
    Berkely, United States

    4. White Wine
    2017 Azumino Winery
    Chardonnay Barrel Aged
    Nagano, Japan

    5. Red Wine
    2015 Taupenot-Merme
    Gevrey Chambertin
    Bourgogne, France

    6. Red Wine
    2000 Chateau Musar
    Bekaa Valley, Lebanon

    7. Sweet Wine
    2009 Salvetta
    Nosiola Vino Santo Trentino
    Trentino, Italy



    They refilled our glasses if they were ever empty before the matching courses ended. It was all delicious, I mean, by the 7th glass of wine who knew - but they tasted great to me.



    Interestingly, they also have a mocktail pairing if you don't drink and that is on the other side of my menu, so I'll share it since some of you are thinking about going

    1. Indian Ginger Ale
    Juniper Berry Infused Apple Vinegar, Mango Juice, Ginger ale, coriander, star anise

    2. Autumn Coffee
    apple juice, lemon juice, espresso beans infused maple syrup, clove

    3. Tree Side Car
    Non-alcoholic white wine, lemon juice, kinome, herb salt

    4. Mellow Shrub
    non-alcoholic red wine, cranberry juice, house made strawberry shrub, rosemary, basil

    5. Roasted Beans
    Almond milk, chocolate syrup, hoji-cha creamy, nutmeg



    I didn't have any of those, but they sound delicious.
     

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