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Tag: Food

So long, and thanks for all the fish…

Sayonara, Tokyo, I’ll miss your Blade Runner views…

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Your bizarre advertising…

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Your determination to fit everything in…

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Your constant battle between order & chaos…

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The way you get around…

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Your almost indecipherable offerings…

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Your constant energy, 24-7-365…

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The way you always try to make me happy…

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Your subtle sense of humor…

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Your many bridges…

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And, of course, your general overwhelmingness….

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As I write this from my hotel room, I just want to thank you for all the good times…

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So long, Tokyo. I’ll be back one day, but until then… sayonara!

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Weirdest experience in Tokyo: a Maid Café!

So, there’s lots of weirdness in Tokyo. Vending machines that sell everything from canned bread to cigarettes to used panties. “Capsule hotels” where you sleep in a glorified coffin. Space-age toilets everywhere, some that even talk to you. There’s even a book store that sells one book. Yep, just one book.

But the weirdest thing I experienced was a Maid Café. What the heck is that, you ask? Well, it’s where young ladies dress like maids and act like children and serve you strange things in bizarre ways.

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Let me break that down… let’s say you and your friends are walking down the street in Akihabara, minding your own touristy business, and this happens…

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An invitation to a café with coffee and drinks? Well, sure, we could all use a tasty beverage. So the four of you go in. Up five escalators. And you’re here…

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When you first go in, one of the maids walks up to greet your party. She calls the men “master” and the women “princess.” She hands you a menu which describes the food, drinks, games, services, and rules…

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Yes, “It is not allowed to take photos on maids…” I think they mean of the maids, but you never know. And “body touch is prohibited,” as is asking the maids for any personal information. So right away you realize, it’s not your usual coffee shop. I had to steal some of these pics off the interwebs. You’re cool with that, right? You perv.

Anyway, your maid leads you into the inner sanctum: a large room with a small stage in front of a counter/bar, with booths in the back. She sits your party in a booth and begins doing weird hand-jive that she calls “magic”…

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It’s so pink and cute in there you think, “hey, I might just barf!” But she explains the menu. Coffee drinks, boozy drinks, sugary desserts, omelettes…omelettes, WTF? Do people actually eat breakfast here? Terrified and yet oddly drawn to the “magic,” you and your giggling friends place your order.

When your coffee arrives, your maid whips out a squeeze bottle and asks, “Master, what would you like me to draw?” Well duh, an octopus, of course…

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She calls the octopus a taco. Okay. One of your friends gets a boozy drink. “Are you ready, princess?” the maid asks. Ready for what? Then she leads you in a “magic spell” that is a lot of cute rhyming gibberish. Yes, four grown-ass adults sit there singing a nonsense song with some girl dressed like a cartoon maid.

After you’re done drinking however much you can take of what can best be described as liquid sugar, you’re called up to the stage for your souvenir photo…

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Then they issue you and your friends a “Master card” (get it?) with your name in Kanji… and, of course, a bunch of cutesy hearts…

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Then you run screaming into the streets of Tokyo. You know, to burn off the sugar. And the cuteness. Oh god, the cuteness!

If that’s not weird enough for you, there’s a toy designer who made a kinky little doll and took it to a maid café for a photoshoot. He walks you through his whole fetish-doll-in-fetish-café experience here. And the weirdest thing is… in Tokyo, nobody considers that weird.

Food… or “your stand-type digging so that you do loose and relaxed”

After a whole day of worky things I can’t tell you about we were famished! Hungry in Japanese is sashimi, right? Maybe not, but it should be. Our Japanese hosts reserved a private room for dinner:

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Very cozy. As the restaurant’s web site says:

The private room becomes your stand-type digging so you do loose and relaxed.

So true! Every time you sit down to eat, at every restaurant in Tokyo, they give you oshibori — a warm towel or a wet-wipe to clean your hands with. So you do loose and relaxed!

And the sashimi was just as digging. The wasabi was different than I’d had before, much lighter in texture, almost grainy. One of ourJapanese hosts showed us how he eats it. He doesn’t mix it in the soy — he takes a pinch of wasabi with his chopsticks, then grabs the sashimi and dips it in soy sauce. The taste is more complex, since the wasabi and soy aren’t mixed. Try it! So loose and relaxed, you will be digging!

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We also had shabu-shabu, which is a dish you cook for yourself at the table. They bring in a big bowl of piping hot broth and gint plates of vegetables and raw fish or meat. You grab it with your chopsticks and swish it through the broth back and forth — shabu-shabu — it’s an onomatopoeia. Also, it’s oishii!

And you know what they eat for breakfast? Japanese food! But they just call it food.

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The hotel had a classy buffet — I know that sounds like an oxymoron but it’s true. On one side they had American food: scrambled eggs, potatoes, waffles, assorted meatpiles, killer French toast, fresh-squeezed OJ, homemade yogurt, even an omelet station manned by a chef. On the other side everything was Japanese: various pickled vegetables, seaweed salad, radish salads, even iceplant salad. Lots of things I’ve never had before. Most of which I liked.

This was a lunch I had, a bento (sort of) called kaisen:

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You put rice in a bowl, then fish on top, then all kids of other tasty bizarreness, then pour tea over it. I wasn’t sure if I was supposed to eat it with the little wooden spoon or chopsticks, so I did the combo move, to make sure I was doing something right half the time. That’s just good policy.

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We didn’t have Japanese food the whole time. The night before a coworker was craving wine so we stopped at an Italian restaurant and had a delizioso Italian dinner, but you know what that stuff looks like so…  Oh, we also had dinner at the hotel where “Lost In Translation” was filmed… but that place is its own story…

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