Based on banter with the lads over a number of lunches, we are slowly amassing what have come to be universal rules with respect to eating in the Big Mikan. Today, as a result of some rather heated discussion at lunchtime, I would like to share some universal truths about eating in this town.
Rule 1 – the bigger the building the lesser the deal
Rule 2 – don’t eat the meat at a vegetarian joint
Rule 3 – if you could get married there, don’t eat there
Rule 4 – the better the view, the bigger the disappointment
Rule 1 is a universal truth. I mean has anyone ever gone to a mall expecting a good meal. The same with large office complexes, the ones in this town usually have a variety of restaurants at the bottom, but usually they are over-priced and sub-quality compared to what you could get a stones throw away. Our excuse for breaching this rule today was simply that the rain was so heavy we were prepared to take a disappointing lunch to save getting wet (a true gourmet cop out if there ever was one).
Rule 2 is also pretty obvious. If you want a good pizza, don’t go to a French restaurant. It is so tempting when visiting a restaurant that specialises in one type of food that just happens to have your favourite food listed at the bottom of the others section in the menu to order. Don’t. In fact don’t even order items at the bottom of the menu (unless it is a bottle of wine, I am with you and you are paying). Menus are like supermarket shelves, the bottom is where the put the shit that they don’t want to you to see, let alone order. It is the restauranters wanting to say we have 50 choices on the menu, but really we are only good at a few of them.
Rule 3 is perhaps more of a Japanese thing. The big fancy restaurants are often used as venues for wedding parties, which every one knows are hugely disappointing life sapping events for the poor bloke paying for it. Why guys spend a huge amount of money to curtain their freedom and spend the rest of their lives with a woman who is only going to get older and wrinklier is beyond me. And true to the spirit of disappointment that is the wedding, wedding venues always disappoint, the food is never enough, it never comes out properly cooked (is it unreasonable to want food at a temperature slightly higher than the optimal breading temperature for e-coli?), there is never enough booze, and it is always, always completely overpriced.
Rule 4 – this is one from RB as a result of a few disappointing experiences in Rome. Nonetheless one both Flying and I agree with. He did have a good recommendation for a McDonalds near the Parthenon in Rome though if anyone needs a suggestion for that great town.
The food: I breached two of the rules today and suffered as a result. Given the pouring rain, we ate in the large mixed office/retail complex we call home (and others call Suck Arse or Suckers depending on their accents). I also chose from the bottom of the menu, fried rice with a spicy chicken cutlet on top. It was shit. The rice was flavourless, poorly cooked and with nothing more than a bit of egg in it. The chicken cutlet was dry, greasy and similarly flavourless. RB and Flying did however say that their beef and green pepper dish was OK (not brilliant, but OK). 15 points.
The price: 1,200 yen for a lunch in a flash new building is not overpriced per say, it is just that people should generally avoid flash new buildings as places to eat. At least it is better in terms of value than the Chinese restaurant on the floor above, which I looks as if it might be the type of restaurant that could be used for a wedding reception . 5 points.
The volume: The cutlet was big enough that even if I do feel a bit queasy, I am not hungry. 10 points.
The extras: Rather average soup and a smallish plate of bean sprouts to share. 8 points.
Bonus: 5 points for not getting wet is about it. The coffee we had afterwards, with a heart mark drawn into it by a lovely with a big smile behind the counter did make up for it though. A generous plug for Espressamente Illy here, not only do their employees smile better than those at *$s but they serve coffee as opposed to coffee flavoured fluffy milk. 5 points.
The details: 1Fl Akasaka Biz Tower, 5-3-1 Akasaka, Minato-ku