Tuesday, February 8, 2011

Feeding Frenzy

     Well, it was my birthday last weekend, so naturally I indulged in some gorgeous sweets and delicious food all week. Today we went for lunch at the Tokyo branch of Joe's Shanghai, which is apparently a really famous Chinese restaurant chain (well, if you can call 3 locations a chain) from NYC. I stumbled upon it randomly while trawling the web for affordable dim sum in Tokyo. Which basically doesn't exist. I refuse to pay more than 2000 yen a head for lunch, and most dim sum places only offer a crappy set course menu that is inevitably made up of dishes that I don't want to eat. I was intrigued by Joe's however, because it's mostly known for its xiaolongbao (pork or crab soup dumplings), which I love. Plus it happens to be located one train station away atop the famous Sunshine 60 building, which gives diners an amazing view of the ugliness that is Tokyo's urban sprawl. Best part? It would cost less than 2000 yen for each of us even if we ordered a la carte. Sold!

     The verdict? Amazing. We timed our arrival for about an hour before the last lunch order, which ensured that the place was nearly empty, so we were able to get a prime table. The service was very good, even though it was the discount lunch time and not the dinner seating, in which the same food would probably cost double. We each had 4 pork xialongbao (orgasmic) and a main dish. Nearly all of the dishes had seafood, which I don't eat, but the waiter assured us that they could prepare the fried bean-sprout noodles without the clams, and it was delicious. My fiancee had tan tan men, a spicy ramen that he loves, but which can also give him digestive grief. But I'm happy to report it went down without a fight. We'll definitely be going back there again!

     On the way home, we went to the massive food basement at Seibu to pick up some macarons (of course). Seibu has a small Pierre Herme counter, so we got a few each. We had tried PH a few days before, and while we both agree that Laduree is the best, my fiancee is in love with PH's vanilla and chocolate flavors. I had vanilla and yuzu (Japanese citrus fruit), and unfortunately I remain underwhelmed. Strangely enough, a competing macaron counter (Sebastien Bouillet) was right next to PH. Some of their flavors seemed a bit odd (a lot of vegetable-inspired varieties...no thanks!), but we caught a glimpse of the nougat flavor and had to try it. I myself also tried an Isaphan-inspired one and a cotton candy one (which sounds horrible, but was actually really good). The Bouillet macarons had great texture and were all delicious, so it was a pleasant surprise discovery.
Macarons from Pierre Herme and Sebastien Bouillet

     As of now, my personal macaron ranking is:

1) Laduree
2) Theobroma (Japanese) and Sebastien Bouillet (actually rather similar to Theobroma)
3) Pierre Herme (I just can't seem to like them, is there something wrong with me?!)

Next on the list to try: Jean Millet (at Ginza Matsuya) and Dalloyau (Ginza) and Chez Cima (at Shinjuku Isetan)

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