This is not tea; this is how they serve sake at a wonderful restaurant called Mon Cher Ton Ton in Roppongi. It’s a teppanyaki restaurant, so the entire meal is prepared on the grill in front of the diners. We normally order a set that includes a salad, a succulent steak and prawns that the chef puts on the grill live. It’s wild to watch the seconds of squirming before they finally succumb but I have learned to hide my eyes. After the prawns are cooked, we get to eat the body and tail while the chef re-grills the heads, seasons them and serves them separately. Delicious! A month ago my cousins were visiting from New York and they loved the meal from the salad start to the garlic-rice finish. But Susan did look at me and say, “Oh my goodness, I just ate a shrimp head!” The rest of us had a good giggle over it.
Mon Cher Ton Ton is one of those special places in Tokyo where every detail is taken into account, right down to keeping the sake cold. If you look carefully, you can see the middle of the “pot” is full of ice. Japanese people take the alcohol seriously and great service is a hallmark of the culture. Put together, the service of alcohol is always carefully considered and beautiful. At the restaurant, every few minutes a server added a tiny bit of sake to our tiny, little cups so we lost track of precisely how much we were drinking, a common problem in the Tokyo restaurant scene. But if we have to get a little tipsy over dinner, certainly it’s fun to do it with such a lovely vessel for the alcohol.
This weekend, we took the kids to Cold Stone Creamery in Roppongi Hills, about a 10-minute walk from our house in Azabu Juban. Even though it’s been there for quite some time now – about four years at least – we had never taken the kids. There are so many things that are familiar with it, including the logo, the “like-it” and “love-it” sizing, and the blending in of toppings into the ice cream. But there are also unfamiliar things that make it uniquely Japanese: the creations are different and they do not have all of the same ice-cream flavors as in the U.S. Though they have the regular cakes available, the cakes are different too – more in the form of a jelly roll with ice cream in it. I will say, the funniest and best part of any Cold Stone experience is the singing. Of course, in the U.S. the servers sing when someone leaves a
A variety of nicely wrapped cakes for sale as a present.
$1 tip. Here in Japan, partially because there’s no tipping here, they sing while they scoop – no matter what. The two lovely women sang in English, a tune we knew, and the kids, my husband and I made appropriate appreciation noises. But we really loved it. It seemed so genuine. They wanted to please us, and weren’t just doing anything for the money. I love the Japanese orientation toward service. It’s truly lovely.
Regarding the ice-cream product, it’s also different than in the U.S. The Japanese palate would never withstand the overwhelming sweetness that Americans adore in their ice-cream mix-ins. So the ice cream itself is not as sweet and the mix-ins are less plentiful, but no less delicious. Of course their idea of a brownie is again, less sweet than an American idea, but m&m’s are m&m’s for goodness’ sake!
My son, Bailey, loved it - from the first scoop to the song to the eating!
All in all it was a successful and yummy outing. If you’re in the Roppongi area, I’d highly recommend it for a treat.