Sunday, December 16, 2012

Shibuya, Tokyo: Meiji Jingu Shrine

The Meiji Jingu Shrine is a Shinto shrine that is dedicated to the deified spirits of Emperor Meiji and his wife, Empress Shōken. It is located in Shibuya, Tokyo. Before entering the shine, you have to wash both of your hands and raise your mouth out. Here's a good video demonstration.

At the shrine, we watched several ceremonies during the Autumn Grand Festival as well as other Shinto activities, like offerings at the main hall, buying charms and amulets or writing a wish on an ema. 

Las Vegas, NV: Raku

After our trip to Tokyo, I was craving Japanese cuisine almost everyday. I knew Raku would hit the spot during our trip to Las Vegas. The last time we've dined at Raku was back in 2009. This place doesn't need an introduction. You just need to know that this is a place where other world-class chefs dine at off the Strip.

One thing I noticed since our last visit was the dining room had extended to second room. Given the number of diners every night, a reservation is a must. A number of diners were turned away since they didn't have a reservation. If you call the restaurant by 3pm, you can snag an early reservation at 6pm.

As soon as we were seated, we knew exactly what to order. We always try to get a few specials written on the black chalkboard and a number of classics. I recommend ordering the house-made tofu. 

Shrimp Balls

Bluefin Tuna Sashimi

Juicy Deep Fried Chicken

Kobe Beef Outside Skirt with Garlic

Kobe Beef Fillet with Wasabi

Yellowtail with Glazed Soy-based Sauce

Chicken Breast with Skin

Kurobuta Pork Cheek

Steamed Foie Gras Egg Custard

Fluffy Cheesecake

Raku will never let me down. The service is prompt and helpful and the food is unparallelled. 

5030 Spring Mountain Road
Las Vegas, NV 89146
(702) 367-3511

Tuesday, December 11, 2012

Tokyo, Japan: Takazawa

I learned about Aronia de Takazawa after reading this article from the Wall Street Journal. It was a two seat restaurant located behind the Sanyo building in Akasaka. Aronia de Takazawa closed earlier this year and reopened as Takazawa in May. The restaurant now accommodates at its maximum capacity of 10 seats.

For years I was intrigued by this small restaurant. As soon as I booked my flight to Tokyo, this was the first reservation I made. Unfortunately, the restaurant didn't take reservations until up to 2 months in advanced. I had to wait 4 months to make a reservation which was probably the longest wait I had to endure for any restaurant. The wait was worth it because I was not disappointed.

The menu consists of dishes created by Chef Takazawa from previous menus. Sort of like the greatest hits of Chef Takazawa. The wine program was superb but we opted to do a partial wine tasting as I get full easily with wine.

Amuse Bouche

Salmon Roe and Rice

Ratatouille (2005)

Vegetable Parfait (2011) 

Pucchin Pudding (2009)

Powdery Dressing (2006) 

Candleholder (2007)

 Hot Balloon (2008)

Dinner in the Forest - Wagyu (2009) 

Macadamia Nut (2009) 

My favorite Japanese wine - Clateau Mercian (2008)

Takazawa's Special Blue Cheese (2011) 

 Petite Fours


I'm glad I found the WSJ article as Takazawa was able to deliver a unique experience like no other. The intimate setting along with whimsical dishes shows that you don't need to have three Michelin stars to have a great meal.

3-5-2 Akasaka Building 2F
Akasaka, Minato-ku, Tokyo, Japan