Saturday, February 02, 2008

Dinner in Tokyo, Day 1: Oli

Background: Two weeks ago work took me, my boss, and a recently hired colleague to Tokyo for a week. We had three and a half days of meetings, punctuated by lots of great meals. Most of these were japanese, a couple were Italian, and I managed to miss the only clunker - a chinese lunch. I'll post as much as I can about these given that I rarely ordered the food, don't know the names of several places we were, and wasn't always able to work out the English words for things with my Japanese colleagues.

On the way to SFO, thumbing through Time Out Shortlist Tokyo, I realized that Narita airport was seventy miles from our hotel. Our flight would arrive at 2:30pm. The very detailed itinerary prepared by the marketing manager in our Tokyo office (30 minutes blocks allocated for checking email, etc.) began with dinner at 6pm. By the time our bus pulled up to the hotel, dinner had been pushed back to 7:00 and we had 20 minutes to pull ourselves together.

We ate at one of the hotel's six restaurants, an Italian place called Oli. I ordered an amarone, described the process used to dry the grapes, and earned wine-ordering privileges for the rest of the trip. No easy task when traveling with a guy who was raised Italian and describes himself as,"the one who usually grabs the book." I had a spot-hitting carpaccio and then pasta with braised guinea fowl.

The next day our host would say that he was trying to take it easy on us by starting with Italian food, but I think he also wanted to demonstrate the degree to which he and Tokyo were international. The wine list featured a lot of well-known wines, dinner started off with an amuse bouche, and the flavors were definitely mediterranean. We all passed on dessert and coffee and headed back to our rooms for sleep.

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