I'm back from Tokyo and sitting at the bar in Shultzy's -- traveling is fun, but it's good to be home. And I did try to do some "homework" over there, too.
The first exercise was palate broadening. We had an informal tasting of unusual tidbits this morning: strawberry-chocolate coated Cheetos (consensus: not good), Ritz Bits sandwiches with coffee-flavored filling (consensus: great coffee aroma would go well with Van Gogh Double Espresso Vodka shots), and melon-flavored white chocolate crunch (no consensus, but no one liked the pale green color).
Then there were the things I had to try there and couldn't bring home. First Kitchen is a major Japanese fast food chain with a broad menu and many limited time items. This trip, I ate a Curry Dog, and it was surprisingly good; the dog had a nice snap to it and the curry was surprisingly spicy. Maybe we'll have to explore that one in the R&D Lab.
I saw, but did not manage to eat at R-Burger which sells burgers on Chinese "Bao" buns. R-Burger is a small chain with two locations that sells burgers featuring marine collagen, insecticide-free Shiso leaf topping, and a burger sauce with 19 ingredients. I'd like to try one and see what it's like; the fillings seem tasty, but I'm not so sure about the buns -- it seems like they would be too filling and sticky. I'll have to try it next visit.
I also didn't get a chance to eat at Tokyo's Madison Park Cafe. Really! MPC is the restaurant's name, like a tribute to its namesake Seattle neighborhood. They even serve Seattle's Best Coffee there! They feature hotdogs with intriguing names like "Tokyo Taxi Dog", "A Dog That Swims", and "Hold The Dog". The one that sounds most appealing to American palates is the "Pig Dog" with bacon, lettuce, tomato, avocado & horseradish sauce. That'll have to wait for next trip, too!
I did some drinking, too. I found Hoegaarden on tap in Kabukicho, and had 0.25L for about US$8.00 (yikes!). But, given that a bottle of Bud at the same place was $7.00, Hoegaarden wasn't a bad deal at all. The bar also had Bass Ale, Guinness, and Asahi Super Dry on tap.
And finally, just when you thought outsourcing was the only threat to jobs these days, there's the robotic beer pourer. Japan has actually had these for a while; they're a standard fixture in most airport lounges. It's a machine that pours a perfect beer every time using a spigot that starts at the bottom of the glass and then recedes as the glass fills. You get a perfect beer with a perfect head every time.