busy busy bee
I’ve had a pretty busy week. Or, more accurately, I’ve had what felt like a pretty busy week. Whether or not it was actually as busy as it seemed is a point that is up for debate.
On Wednesday and Thursday Eric and I went straight from work to CC Lemon Hall (once upon a time known as Shibuya Koukaidou and now named after a soft drink) for concerts by the Japanese band Buck-Tick. The shows themselves were pretty good, though heavy on new songs. This was to be expected as they are touring to promote their most recent album, but I still missed hearing some of my older favorites.
We go to a number of concerts throughout the year, since Tokyo is a hotspot of musical activity, and making sure that we have time to eat can be a bit of a challenge. Because of the rigid work and train time restrictions, most Japanese live performances adhere to the same rough schedule. Almost every show we’ve ever been to on a weekday is set to open doors at 6:00 pm and start at 7:00 pm. On weekends and holidays they usually get bumped up an hour to doors at 5:00 pm and show at 6:00 pm. There are exceptions to this, but usually only for very specific reasons.
For most of the time we’ve lived in Japan, concert days mean eating out. We often meet friends at concerts, and it’s nice to be able to have dinner with them and make it into a fun social event. Of course, this has always posed a problem, these shows are held during our usual dinner time of 7-9 pm, and those of us who live in Tokyo are generally coming straight from work.
The two options available to us were always: A) grab something quick right before showtime; or B) eat a substantial snack before the show, and have dinner after the show at 9:30-10 pm. We have done both of these over the years, and food has always been a primary concern on concert days.
For the last several months, though, I have taken to packing extra sandwiches on concert days to save time and money, and ensure that we don’t end up having to eat at places we would normally avoid. I’m not sure why it never occurred to me to do this before!
On Wednesday we packed bagel sandwiches to eat outside the venue before the show, but Thursday we decided to go with option A) above and stopped at a nearby Freshness Burger for dinner.
Freshness Burger is a local Japanese fast food chain in a similar market to McDonald’s, Burger King, Mos Burger, and Lotteria. However, they are so much better than the others that its hard for me to list them in the same category. In addition to being the only chain offering vegetarian options on their menu, Freshness Burger also uses only fresh, natural and organic ingredients and bakes their own buns and sweets on-site. I’m sure you can understand why they would be my fast food chain of choice.
For dinner on Thursday I went with my favorite combo, the 3-bean veggie burger and an organic iced latte. Eric got a double classic cheeseburger and onion rings, of which I stole two or three. I did not actually get the (very good!) salad this time. That picture is from several months ago since I did not snap a decent on our most recent visit.
On Friday I met up with Jessica, as I do most Friday evenings, for dinner, tea, and conversation at our old standard tea room, Afternoon Tea. We have not been visiting Afternoon Tea as much as we used to lately, due to work and various other reasons, but there was a point at which we went there almost every week for scones and tea.
This week we were slightly disappointed to find that they were on the last week of the Fall menu, which we’d already sampled; but that just means we’ll have go back again soon to check out the new seasonal winter selections.
We split two pastas for dinner, our favorite Organic Tomato & Mozzarella pasta, and a new Broccoli & Prosciutto Carbonara (I ate around the prosciutto). Our pasta sets came with half-sized portions of the seasonal cheesecake and pumpkin pudding cake, which we split.
We also snuck a bite each of the Doughnut Plant Pumpkin Cake doughnut I’d bought to bring home for Eric, and for tea we both started with a pot of Assam, and then moved on to Afternoon Tea’s special Apple Chamomile blend. Yum.
As always, I had a fantastic time talking and decompressing with Jessica. We have plans to hit up a fancy buffet we’ve never been to in a couple weeks with a coupon her husband managed to acquire, and have decided that it’s also about time to declare a start to nabe season. I am looking forward to our first nabe this year.
Jessica is one of my absolute closest friends here in Tokyo, and she will be starting up her own blog on November 1st. Tales from a Tokyo Kitchen will focus primarily on real Japanese home cooking from the perspective of a foreign transplant, and include information on the customs, ingredients, and methods she has learned in her time here. Jessica is a fantastic cook, and knows far more about traditional Japanese food culture than I do. She is has had the opportunity to learn a few things from the talented Japanese cookbook author Elizabeth Andoh, and has also managed to find herself a wonderful Japanese husband to help her out along the way.
I’m looking forward to seeing what she has planned with her blog, and highly recommend checking out her writing if you are interested in learning about the more traditional side of Japanese food culture.