Posted by: thewhitesintokyo | January 8, 2009


Though transcontinental travel, coordinating family visits, and stocking up on everything we needed from American retailers was certainly tiring, going home for a couple weeks was a nice breath of fresh, albeit frigid, air.

We didn’t see everyone we hoped to, but decided a few days into the trip that we had to make spending time with family the main priority and put off catching up with all our other friends and loved ones until our summer visit home. Our only regret? Although moms, grandmas, uncles, or good friends lovingly cooked up every meal we enjoyed, we never made it to Chipotle. They were closed when we went on New Year’s Day. Oh Chipotle, how we miss you.

In other news, Japan is still pretty awesome, and it’s good to be back. Here’s one anecdote that brought us right back into life in Tokyo…

The other night, we were out shopping for a new camera (a beautiful Canon DSLR, photos will come soon after it arrives in a few weeks) and ran into the former Business Manager of St. Mary’s (our school). When we first arrived in Tokyo last August, Mr. Haku offered to take us all out to a nice Japanese izakaya (restaurant). He made good on his initial offer, but Rachael was sick the night he took all the new teachers out, so he made another promise to take Rachael and I at some point. Since we were near one of his favorite local places, he called “Mama-san” for a quick reservation and we walked a few blocks to the restaurant.

It was underground, as are many restaurants in our area. Walking down the stairs, we had no idea what we were in store for, but we had high expectations (the last time we saw Haku-san in this shopping center, he was buying a specially ordered bottle of Don Perignon). Once inside, we realized that this was a place that we could never go to on our own. First of all, the menu was only in written Japanese, rather than the bilingual or picture menus offered by many eateries. Second, the clientele were definitely high-class business folks, and we were definitely the only customers under the age of 40. The waitresses all wore beautiful, immaculate kimonos. In Haku-san’s words, “Here, you pay for the kimono.” From what I’ve read, this was at least somewhat similar to a geisha experience, where Mama-san doted on us with lively conversation throughout the meal while also serving the huge variety of dishes ordered by Haku-san.

A few of the dishes we shared:
– Sashimi sprinkled with actual gold flakes
– Massive oysters, both fried and fresh from the shell
– Fish “shabu shabu”- For this dish, Mama-san created a broth using a portable burner and ceramic bowl at our table. She added green onions, carrots, mushrooms, and seaweed to boiling water. Then, we dipped sashimi (raw fish) into the boiling broth for a few seconds. This cooked the fish a little and gave it a wonderful flavor. We had done this once before, but with thinly sliced beef (see photo) rather than fish.
– Sake- cold to start, and hot later on…part of the reason the details of this meal are still a little foggy
– Roasted eggplant with sweet miso and sesame seeds
– Some sort of fish egg thing that literally looked like brains. I (Brad) ventured out on this one, later telling Rachael only that the flavor was actually not bad, but merely describing the texture might make her puke.
– Fish/vegetable tempura (the lighter kind of tempura, not the State Fair grease ball kind)
– And a slice of pure deliciousness. The fish we had to end our meal was a marinated piece of a special seasonal fish that literally melted in our mouths. We don’t know the fish or the method of preparation, but it was just plain amazing.

At the end of this exquisite meal, Haku-san “took care of” the meal’s extraordinary costs and led us back out to the street. His brand of absolute generosity and constant kindness is well known at St. Mary’s, and as he will be retiring this year, he’ll be sorely missed. In the meantime though, we hope to have at least one more evening out with Mr. Haku.

One last note- Hearing from so many of you during our visit home that you keep up with our blog regularly was encouraging. We’ll try to keep up with it as often as interesting things happen, and always love to hear from you too.



  1. oh. my. gosh. that sounds amazing. rachael, maybe you could share some japanese recipes you’ve learned (or approximated from restaurants) on the blog.

  2. that sounds amazing. rachael, maybe you could share some recipes that you have learned (or approximated from restaurants) on the blog? that would be awesome.

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