I did the Lost in Translation thing for the first time and went to the Park Hyatt's New York Grill. I suppose that after living in Tokyo for four years, it was about time. And given the fact that I will be leaving Tokyo in three months back to my home state of California, it was kind of necessary.
Luckily, I had a very fitting partner in crime, Anders. We zoomed up to the 52nd floor of the third tower of the Park Hyatt and found ourselves in front of two sleek black-pantsuited Japanese women.
"Do you hab a rezabeh-shon?" We did not, but that didn't seem to be a problem as they followed up with the question, "May ai hab your na-mu pureezu?" To that Anders replied, "Anders." All the while, I was completely ignored because, we suspect that A) I look Japanese and B) I am a woman. Nevertheless, I am pretty used to being ignored when I am around non-Japanese people in Tokyo so I wasn't that surprised. Pant-Suit Lady Number 1 took our umbrellas and Pant-Suit Lady Number 2 gestured to us, "Misutah Anders-san."
We were taken around the impressive open kitchen with about 20 chefs working intently like elves in a workshop. I had to admit that being on the 52nd floor alone was quite breathtaking.
The whole of Tokyo was visible and even though it was overcast, there was a feeling of magical buoyancy - being amongst the clouds and being able to overlook Yoyogi-park all the way to the Tokyo tower and Roppongi Hills. We sat there pretty as the pretty waiter got us acquainted with the menu. The lunch course, including an appetizer and dessert buffet, and main dish was ¥5,200 per person. He directed us to the buffet table where we were to help ourselves to appetizers. Being the hoarder that I am, I piled my plate with a little bit of almost everything.
The highlight for me was the mushroom saute. The array of mushrooms combined with the baby corn was umami-heaven, albeit I would have held the oil down a little more. The smoked salmon was also worth noting for its tenderness and aiolo-ish dill sauce.
For the main dish Anders ordered the rack of lamb. Very luxurious for a mid-day meal, this was a deal given the generous portion.
I ordered fresh taglierini with eel. This was one of the few times I have had fresh pasta in Japan. The strands were firm and egg-colored.
I was really into the fact that they didn't cut the pasta into smaller strands since rolling up the pasta on my fork was really satisfying. The pasta had just the right density, uniformly twirling up evenly on my fork. The eel was not very "eely" since it seemed to be lightly sauteed with butter. The combination of the eel with the shreds of parmesan cheese was satisfying but lacked the tenderness of Japanese style grilled unagi (i.e. hitsumabushi).
After our main dish, they moved us to the "lounge area" for the dessert buffet. Perhaps Sofia Coppola also got her idea for Marie Antoinette from this buffet spread...
I stocked piled my plate with an array of fruit-based desserts. I loved the fact that each dessert was bite-sized, allowing me to try a little bit of everything.
The favorite dessert amongst the selection was the berry strudel type thing (top right). It doesn't look that impressive, but looks are deceiving. The thin flaky crust on the bottom was in perfect harmony with the vanilla custard lined under the blueberries and fruit.
With a dollop of raspberry sorbet and a hot cup of coffee, I was in heaven. The chairs were comfy as well.
I must admit that being up so high in the air in Tokyo made me feel relaxed and detached from the excessive footwork that is necessary on the streets below. Being in the upper stratosphere of Tokyo is like being in another dimension of Tokyo.
I turned off Lost in Translation halfway through the movie because it annoyed the hell out of me, but I will give it to Sofia Copla for capturing the heavy yet mystical feeling of the Park Hyatt.
PARK HYATT TOKYO
3-7-1-2 Nishi Shinjuku