Wearing perfume? No pork for you
As previously mentioned, Japan is GOOD AT MAKING BREAD. One place where the doughy stuff is particularly well constructed? Bricolage Bread & Co. in Roppongi.
The bread counter was overflowing with pastries and fruit fillings and flour and flakes and crust. So I was overwhelmed. In a panic I ordered… a ham croissant? Sure. And, um…. How about the sweet potato croquant?
The ham snack was exquisite, and I’m convinced there was divine intervention that led me to choosing it (despite it not being kosher? idk).
The croquant, which looked like a toasted block of Thanksgiving-style sweet potato casserole, was crispy. And good enough that after Dan dropped a chunk on the ground, he ate it anyway, declaring: “The five second rule is like seven seconds in this clean country.”
Dan also chose a raisin bun with eggy, easy-to-peel layers. As I ate, my tongue dug into the softest parts of each bite.
Like many Japanese eateries do, Bricolage had baskets under the seat and hangers for purses and coats to be placed tidily. We enjoyed our treats, accessories out of the way.
Coffee balls from above
We had planned to go from Bricolage to the Mori Art Museum across the street. There was a slight issue with that itinerary: The Mori Museum was closed for renovations.
At least the tall building’s sky deck was open. So we went there, on the 52nd floor, and gazed out into a city that is certainly not a grid. It’s hard to make sense of the layout. To me, above, Tokyo looks like a place where skyscrapers jut out at random angles from… well I don’t even know where the center point of the city is. I needed coffee.
And I got some, via a machine that looked like it would serve gumballs. But instead, the balls that the machine dispensed has ground coffee in it. For $5 I had the privilege of getting my own ball of coffee, and combining the grounds with a single-serving dripper machine that looked sleek and bronze.
But really, it was fun. Damnit, that’s a good business plan: Have me pay to make my own coffee. The coffee was fine. And it helped energize us for a museum exhibit on pop musician Hosono Hosono, and some, um, a sound chamber (?) that played eerie music. I don’t recommend.
No perfume allowed
Here’s a sign I’ve never seen at the front of a restaurant before: “If you have perfume you can’t be seated, even if you have a reservation.”
But those were the words (in English and, I presume, in Japanese) that greeted us at pork tonkatsu restaurant Butugami. This was a place that valued taste so above everything else, that strong fragrances were unwelcome. Or, as a waiter explained to me, perfume makes food “not tasty.”
Fortunately, no secondary scents interfered with our lunch, that we finally ate after a half hour of huddling under an umbrella in the rain.
After Dan and I read all of the provided pork literature, which included a diagram of a pig and the names of the different meats available from his body parts, we ordered: sirloin, tenderloin, some indistinguishable veggie. We dipped the pink meat and its fried brown outer layer into grains of salt, then into sweet barbecue sauce. Finally, the pro move: A final dip into spicy mustard sauce so all of the tongue’s taste receptors activated.
The result was heavenly.
We rented a monocle
Comfortably full, we ventured to Aeyoma to do some shopping. But a $450 flannel and a $3K jacket encouraged us to try a different rainy day activity.
Onto the pre-modern Nezu Museum we went. The museum has a small private collection of sword accessories and artwork with birds, flowers and basically anything related to autumn because PEOPLE LOVE AUTUMN here. There’s an entry fee, and also an option to “rent a monocle” for a $50 deposit, which of course Dan wanted to do because when do you ever get to wear a monocle around your neck? It sorta helped us examine the texture of painted flowers and the figures sculpted into bronze wine vessels. It honestly didn’t help much, but monocles are inherently cool, so there’s that.
The real highlight of the museum was its outdoor zen garden, which we perused with umbrellas. It looked like a scene sketched by an Impressionist artist who utilized every tool from fan brushes to pencils and fine paint brushes to produce a canvas with every all possible shades of color from yellow to dark green. They left only a bit of blank white for sky.
One thing that an artist wouldn’t be able to capture: The sound of a hollow wooden tube which fills with enough water to tip, and then seesaws into a rock with a low chime sound.