Tuesday, April 17, 2018

Tokyo Tales Part 2 - Lining up for Luke's Lobster in Shibuya

Unless it's for my favourite ramen or tonkatsu place, I hardly ever line up for food in Japan.
If the restaurant/izakaya/yatai/coffee shop or even the convenience store is full,  the food in
the next less crowded spot will assuredly be just as good.
It's almost impossible to eat badly in Japan.
However, on this last trip to Tokyo I was herded to a popular sandwich shop by my
friend's young daughters.  And so that's how I found myself standing in line at New York based
Luke's Lobster in Shibuya.

Luke's Lobster is a popular US franchise.   You can find one of its Tokyo branches in a side street 
off youth-crowded Omotesando.  The little shop is very popular among young Japanese who enjoy 
the authentic Maine lobster rolls.  

While the lobsters used in the sandwiches are flown in from Maine, Luke's Lobster also offers 
locally sourced crustaceans which cost much less than their US cousins.  The lobster roll is 
the star of the show but if you are lobster-averse (as one of my friends was)  you can order shrimp 
or crab rolls or even a combination of both. 

It's hot and sunny but the crowds continue to line up.  See the guy in the blue t-shirt -- he's Luke's Lobster's maitre d and keeps the line from spilling into the street.  Having someone run over by a passing car would certainly be bad for business.

That day there was a special --  three rolls of your choice for a lower price.  Left to right is the shrimp roll, the lobster roll and the crab roll.

I thought the lobster rolls were the best of Luke's offerings -- the store isn't called Luke's Lobster  
for nothing.  
The  lobster meat was soft and piled generously on a toasted warm well- buttered bun.  
It was mixed with a light tangy, citrusy mayonnaise dressing. 
One six inch roll was just perfect for a quick lunch before heading back into the Shibuya shopping swarm.  

Tokyo Tales Part 1 -- Ginza Lion reunion with my BFBDs (best friends beyond D....)

The best perks of my career were the work friends that I made.
Work friends usually start off as casual relationships among people thrown together by time
(at least 8 hours a day) and tension (budgets, requirements, client demands etc etc) but over time,
(or yes, on overtime usually) these relationships deepen and true and lasting friendships are forged. 
Aside from all the friends I made in the office, those that I  "struggled" with and laughed hysterically
with every day, I also made very good friends  within our regional network.
I saw these people regularly but not that frequently  yet we managed to form close alliances that
soon turned into strong bonds of friendship. We were confidantes, "co-conspirators", comrades in arms.
Our merry little band of four had not seen each other since I retired a couple of years ago so I was happy when our plans for a reunion  finally fell through.

We all converged in Tokyo some months ago.  Booked in different hotels, we agreed to meet up in our old happy hunting grounds, Ginza.  
Tokyo's premier shopping, eating and entertainment district is a short stroll away from our head office -- the bright lights were always an irresistible lure particularly after a long and tiring day of meetings and presentations.
For tonight's reunion, we headed to one of Tokyo's landmarks, the 100+ year old Ginza Lion Beer Hall.  
Sumimasen, in my excitement to meet my old friends I completely forgot to take a photo of the restaurant facade ... take my word for it, it's that lit yellow sign on the left side of the street. 

Ginza Lion opened in 1899 and is the grand daddy of beer halls in Japan.  You can see from this 
glass encased figure how its waiters used to look like -- spiffied up in western attire and carrying 
huge german style beer steins.  
As you enter the ground floor, you feel transported to a European beer garden.  Even the menu 
is western in orientation and would not look out of place at the Oktoberfest. 

Kanpai!  Thankfully the beer now comes in regular mugs and not in gigantic steins.

Don't look for typical izakaya fare in Ginza Lion.  We passed on the wide selection of charcuterie since two of my friends do not eat pork.  The beef stew was a good alternative.  The thick, slightly sweet sauce reminded me of japanese style curry.

We also ordered a  tender veal schnitzel, grilled tuna and tenderloin, medium rare.  
And yes, I'll have a  large fries with that please!

The food was incidental -- the company was the main thing.  Here is our little group of four.  
I call them my BFBDs ... best friends beyond Dentsu (where all of us met). 
We are the Asean bunch ... left to right, Malaysia, Singapore and Indonesia and the distaff side, 
the crazy Pinay from Manila.
Long may our fellowship continue to thrive!


Through more than fifteen years, our friendship has extended to include  wives, husband (although Jay was not able to join this trip) and children.  
There is a worn out saying that says you can't choose your relatives but you can choose your friends. 
My  BFBDs are people I have chosen to think of as family.