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December 18, 2005

Dinner and Karaoke

Last night, I went out with some of our counterparts in the Japan Ground Self Defense Force. It was purely a social function, not official in any way and was a great time. My friend Toshi set it up, and he really did a great job. Melody had to work, unfortunatly, but she gave me a kitchen pass so I could go.

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I took the train up to Shinjuku and we all linked up at the station there and headed off to supper. Apparently, somebody knows somebody who knows somebody, because we ate at the Sumitomo Club, a pretty swanky, exclusive place. It's up on the 47th floor with incredible views of Tokyo below. The dinner, which cost us each less than $50 (Y5000) was one of the best meals I've ever had. It was teppanyaki style, so a chef prepared it on a big grill in front of us. It wasn't quite "Benihana" with the knives flashing around and him throwing shrimps at us; rather, he was quite professional, obviously expert, and took a lot of pride in the creation of the meal. The meal was served in a private was just us five and the chef and a dedicated waiter who would drift in and out constantly keeping your drinks filled, your plates cleared...Customer service in Japan is the best in the world. Hands down.

Chef talking to the mushrooms
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We started off with a beer, then moved to white wine (for the fish), and on to 2 different reds. Here's what we ate.

1. Appetizers:
Beef sushi (deeeeelicious)
Kano (duck) on a stick
Some unidentified raw fish part (with roe on it...) was kind of mushy and pate like.
Egg custard soup

2. Fish (flounder or of those flat kind of fish) cooked on a banana leaf and seared on the top with a blowtorch.

3. Sauteed mushrooms and garlic chips. The mushrooms were juicy and we ate them with "30 million year old salt" crushed right from a block of Pakistani salt. Very unique...and tasty.

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4. Beef. The chef cooked the steaks on the grill, and would cut and place the meat on our plates, one bite at a time. It was incredible, and the way he didn't just throw a whole huge hunk of meat at you just kept you on the edge of your seat wanting more...After he finished all the steaks (3 different cuts), he cooked up the little chunks of fat he'd sliced off and sizzled them up as well. It sounds gross, and probably isn't the best thing for cholesterol-impaired-Americans, but was it ever delicious. And let me highly recommend the combination of soy sauce, wasabi, onions and sauteed garlic on each bite of steak. MMMMMMMMM. Incredible.

5. Garlic fried rice. Again...incredibly delicious.

6. Miso soup. The best I've ever had.

7. Dessert. Chocolate mousse, vanilla ice cream, and a big strawberry.

8. Coffee.

The view...(not the TV show)
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This meal was just amazing. A "normal" meal in Tokyo will run you at least $40-50 per person. If you have a beer or two, bump it up by about $15. A meal like this would be at least $150 or more per person. After we ate and marvelled at the cost (or lack thereof), we headed off to go sing karaoke. But not before we were each given a bottle of the Sumitomo Club wine. Would the wonders ever cease? Here we were, non-members, and we were treated like we were some sort of big shots.

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Finally, we made it out the door and up the street to Big Echo karaoke parlor. It had at least 7 floors of individual TINY rooms with a couch along the wall, a table, and a TV/karaoke unit. It had a good selection of English songs, and we just sat there and sang for about 2 hours.

You actually rent the room for the time (about Y3500 per person) and you can order food (not that we needed more) and drinks that are brought up. We had a couple pitchers of beer and a bottle of wine (I pace myself with water, so I didn't have any problems this morning). All of us it turned out, could sing reasonably well. The musical selections ranged from classic rock, ballads, lots of stuff from the 80s, a few from recent time, and Elvis, Frank Sinatra, Ozzy, Yngwie Malmsteen, the Beatles, and lots more. We had a great time. If you've ever seen the movie Lost in Translation, the experience was a bit like the karaoke scene where Bill Murray was hanging out with that girl. That, by the way, is a pretty good movie if you want to see what Tokyo is like.

Here are a few pics from the Karaoke parlor...

Our cell.
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Chris Pate hamming it up...
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Toshi doing his best Elvis impersonation
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I think we were singing "Let it Be" here...
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The aftermath...
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At around 9:30 PM, we had to leave, as our time was up. We headed back to the station, and I hopped on the 10:17 PM Limited Express back to Fujisawa. Not having mastered the whole getting a seat thing (I usually use the local trains which don't have assigned seats), I ended up in a smoking car. Fortunately, the ride was only about 45 minutes, and I just held my breath the whole way. I was home before midnight.

Thanks Toshi, for setting up a great event!

Posted by djf on December 18, 2005 04:02 PM
Category: Dave in Japan
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