TOKYO & KYOTO
Japan is a culinary experience in itself, away from the sushi cliche, here are some unique finds.
From Michelin-star take-away to quirky bistro
At Michelin-starred restaurant Gion Nishikawa, you may place an order for take-away which is quite unique. When having lunch there I witnessed two ladies doing so and took my chance.
The dish I ordered was the original kind of sushi which historic roots are in Kyoto and Osaka. It is a large portion of indulgent pickeled mackerel sushi called zaba zushi. It is melting and delicious.
It is the best picnic dish ever and you should enjoy it by a warm night on the river banks with a bottle of wine.
If like me, you feel excited when randomly finding a hidden gem place, then this bistro/teppanyaki/wine bar is for you.
It is called +ebi-ro (next door to an Italian kitchen called 2 Colori, easy to find on Google map).
Located in the Aoyama/Omotesamdo area, this small restaurant could be your best option when you are tired of fancy Japanese food. It first caught my attention because of its glowing Borat face signage above the entrance Don't ask me why ...!
The outside seating looks like a mini puppet theatre and inside, it is super lively and authentic. The beef tagliata was divine and the wine is cheap and good.
Tokyo - A wooden nest for tea time
For those with a sweet tooth and a love for contemporary architecture, a stop at Sunny Hills in Aoyama is a unique experience. The building was designed by Kengo Kuma and makes a stunning contrast with the surrounding buildings.
It is a little intimidating when you enter but upstairs, a shadowed quiet room features a counter and a beautiful wooden communal table. Just sit down and you will be served a complimentary tea and the signature pineapple cake, by a very discreet staff whose outfits remind of the Martin Margiela stores staff's. The only thing you pay is the extra pineapple cakes to take away.