A friend of mine recently moved to Tokyo which was instrumental in my decision to FINALLY get around to booking a trip there in the hope of seeing the end of the Cherry Blossom (Sakura) season. I was lucky enough to find flights for just over $700 on Scoot (who I was very happy with – for an additional $22 you can even hire an I-pad for the journey and I was able to watch both Argo and Silver linings Playbook which I have wanted to see for ages! Certainly makes flying on a budget airline more fun when you can add on extras like this) I arrived at Narita Airport with instructions that the easiest way for me to make my way into Tokyo would be on the “Airport Limousine Bus Service” http://www.limousinebus.co.jp/en/which cost me 3000 Yen (around $45) essentially a bus that has several drop offs at major hotels in the city, which I did and my friend came to meet me at the Cerulean Hotel as this was closest to their house where I was to spend the first 4 nights of my trip. I was keen to make the most of my short stay in Tokyo and so after a quick shower we headed into Harujuku to make our way to the opening of the Armani Café in nearby Ometesando Hills (an up market, exclusive shopping area where there are plenty of other designer shops alongside Armani should you have that sort of money to spend!) Even if you are not planning on shopping, I would still recommend a wander around the area as Harujuku is fun to see the Japanese “Harajuku Girls” (even if it does make you feel very old!) and I really enjoyed Ometesando as well.
Armani already have a hotel in Tokyo, a stunning $20,000,000 designed tower by famed Italian Architect Maximiliano Fuksas located in Ginza where you can not only spend a night in pure luxury but enjoy a spa treatment in the world’s first Armani Spa, dine in their Italian restaurant or enjoy a drink in their members only top floor bar as well as take in the latest seasons fashion. The café is their newest addition and is located at their exclusive Emporio Armani boutique in Ometesando. Seating around 30-40 people, this is a place for those who want to see and be seen, where the beautiful people can enjoy a morning coffee or a glass of wine and a light lunch. It would also be a great spot for a little Apero as they list a number of very decently (and very nice) wines by the glass as well as the Ca’Del Bosco Franciacorta Prosecco as well as light sharing dishes such as Scallop Carpaccio, Shrimps and Bottarga with String Beans and Vitello Tonnato, between 4:30pm and 8pm you can choose 3 dishes and a glass of wine or prosecco for around $50.
Glass of champagne in hand and nibbling delicately on a delicious ($6!!!) Armani chocolate (made in Italy and flown in especially for the event) we went to have a sneak peak at the boutique before we decided we would make our way to dinner and leave all the schmoozing to the beautiful people of Tokyo and get on with the serious issue of finding me a beer!
Not far from the main shopping area is a great little local Gyoza restaurant where we decided to have a bite to eat before heading home. Like many restaurants in Japan, they specialize in the one dish – Gyoza in this case which you could have steamed or fried and offer just 4 other items on the menu, Rice with Chicken Soup, a Cucumber salad with Miso Dressing, Pickled Cabbage and Bean sprouts topped with Minced Beef. We ordered a couple of portions of the Gyoza, both steamed and pan fried (my preferred version) as well as one of the Cucumber Salads and some of the Bean sprouts as they sounded intriguing! The Gyoza were indeed outstanding, far better than any I have eaten elsewhere and we ended up ordering several more portions amongst us as the night wore on. The side dishes were also a success, the Cucumber Salad was served nicely chilled and the sweet Miso Dressing was a nice compliment to it. The Bean Sprouts were almost like a Bean Sprout version of Spaghetti Bolognaise, raw, crunchy Sprouts with a rich Minced Beef in a Tomato based sauce on the top, an unusual pairing for me but one that really worked! For 3 of us, with a couple of beers each the bill came to around $35 in total, a very reasonable and delicious start to my trip!
On the way back we went to see the famed Shibuya crossing, a intersection of the road where all the traffic lights go red at once and people from all angles pile onto the street to cross at the same time, quite a sight to see and I was impressed with peoples abilities not to all crash into each other as it really is a massive crossing zone, I don’t think my pictures did it justice but I have posted a few from both my night and subsequent day trip there so you might get a bit of an understanding as to what I am trying to say!