Ridley: So the tagline for our holiday seems to have become ‘that’s so weird’, mainly because we’re actively seeking out things that are weird, strange and just something you’d never see at home. Interesting is the other word we could use, along with a raised eyebrow!
So with this in mind, we discovered fantasy dining in the Ginza district (I keep calling everything districts, it’s like the Hunger Games, or here, Battle Royal! Mwhaa…). Fantasy dining is where the restaurant is themed and the waiters/waitresses are dressed up. We don’t have this at home, as far as I’m aware (though if we did, it would be epic!), therefore it’s a definite novelty for us! We’ve gone to see both an Alice in Wonderland themed restaurant and a Vampire café.
We first went to the Alice place-Latimer is a fan of all things Alice in Wonderland- it was brilliant and the staff were very friendly. They were mainly dressed up like Alice but there were also a few mad hatters wandering round. The entrance hall was lined with giant ‘pages’ from the book, inside the restaurant the walls were covered in man sized deck cards.there was a hanging light made of top hats over one table and in the middle of the room was a giant cup that was also a seating area. Latimer: Within the giant cup there was a group of people we named the ‘High Rollers’. All night they beckoned to the Alices and Hatters, ringing a bell to summon them for more beers or unusual cocktails. They were hidden inside the cup, away from prying eyes. I imagined them walking into the place in a wave of Yen and dollar signs; “we wish to be part of the atmosphere but not of them plebs. Put us on a step above them all… inside a large white cup, so that we may watch them, but not them us!”. Personally, I think the menu was the most unique thing about the place (and that’s saying something!). It was a box, like a big cube, where one side slid open (the menus were made up of this ‘wall’) to reveal a little diorama and it had a tiny battery operated lamp in it. Latimer: A very cool and novel way to sell the fantasy! Lewis Carroll would have been proud.No point to it really, but it was still fun. There was also a cocktail menu that opened up like a picture book into a glossy hat.
The food was decent too, though nothing spectacular. Though Latimer did get a cocktail with a rose in it and then when it arrived they sprayed perfume on it! Latimer: I don’t know what it added to the taste… but it did smell like perfume. The food didn’t sit well with me, pretty ‘blah’ pre-cooked stuff. Not nice, but you pay for the atmosphere and the fantasy, so I didn’t mind so much.
We’ve never seen such little roses with stunted growth, Latimer decided there must be plant battery farms all across Tokyo growing roses that are destined to be cruelly chopped down before their prime and used in our drinks… Latimer: Ah battery rose, of stunted growth, the casualty of fantasy dining.
We also got bread with a little dish of butter (that didn’t taste like butter, just looked like it) It was provided with a little instruction tag, ‘Eat me’. Just like in the books! All in all, I really liked this place. Latimer: When this dish arrived, Ridley thought it was her starter (garlic bread). Even though it didn’t taste like garlic. When her food arrived she looked confused. Ha.
The Vampire café was freaky, that’s the only word for it. We stepped out the lift and tiny little plastic skeleton heads to our left popped out and screamed at us. Then the hostess popped up, dressed in a black maid’s uniform with white make up and red eyes. Scary! It was the waiter though that was really unsettling….and in a weird strange way quite compelling too, for the half an hours we were there (possibly the bad boy attitude he had going on)…I wasn’t the only one, there were quite a number of giggling Japanese girls there, some dressed up too. He was about half a foot taller than me (I’m 5’10)-he had big platform boots on, so it was an artificial height-he had black eyes, black lips, white white make up, the red eyes and back-combed long hair. He was wearing a sort of robe thing, long flowing and swirled quite well when he moved. But I have to say he was quite abrupt. Maybe that was his appeal in a way, in a country that has smiling, unbelievably welcoming people, he was the exact opposite. Not rude exactly, just…like a superior vampire really…! Latimer: We were laughing our heads off during the whole experience, and maybe he didn’t like that. We weren’t taking it seriously, but as Ridley pointed out with a narrowing of her eyes, “HOW can you take a vampire café seriously?”. Haha. Anyway, in retrospect he was just plain rude.
We were shown to a little booth lined with red curtain (Latimer: It reminded me of how in Pride and Prejudice, Lady Catherine offers Elizabeth Bennett the chance to use her maids piano in her house. She says ‘you’ll be in no ones way in that part of the house’. Implying that Elizabeth should be hidden away from the eyes of the gentlemen and women. It felt like myself and Ridley were being treated the same way!), there was a giant coffin in the centre of the room with dripping red candles on it in a candelabra. And the hall floor was lit up showing pictures of red blood cells…very weird! Haha… The vampire boy didn’t even say goodbye when we were leaving (we said thanks and bye)! I think maybe there was a little bit too much laughing from our booth during our meal, we got a sense that we didn’t take the place seriously enough.
We’d already eaten in a very old authentic Japanese restaurant where we got to grill our own food. It was called Sometaro (2-2-2 Nishi-Asakusa, Taiyo-Ku) in Asakusa. Again google maps did not let us down, put the address in and you’ll find it. We got okonomiyaki (cabbage battered pancakes) there.
Now that was brilliant, if absolute sweltering (it was already 24 degrees out and then add in the heat from the grills)! The place was made of old dark wood, almost like a tavern, there was a real sense of history to the place. We got a lot of food there, we wanted to try everything we could, two pancake type dishes and yakisoba (noodle dish), we realised our eyes were bigger than our stomachs. We had to take off our shoes and sit on the cushions beside a low table that had a large black hot plate/grill that was heated with gas underneath. For one of our pancake dishes, we picked eggs, cabbage, pork, little cuttle fish and onion, they were all mixed up together and cooked by us (well we got help, being the idiots we are!)
Latimer: This place was great. Felt very traditional. Really enjoyable food and atmosphere. As we search out food in Tokyo, I am gravitating back to ramen (my love). I want us to eat at the best ramen place in Tokyo… but where is it? Damn I wish I knew.
Our food journey continues daily…. ichiban (no.1) ramen…. we will find you!