September 20, 2016
Greetings from Japan! I can’t thank you enough for giving me two weeks off from the show to visit Tokyo. It certainly is “the new Paris,” as Jonathan wrote in the preamble to his 101 list, and I couldn’t be more thrilled that you gave me this time to do so much great eating, drinking and market research. You told me the best thing you ate in Japan was pork tonkatsu and I do not disagree. We ate delicious crispy, tender plates of it with rice and frosty Asahis outside the sumo stadium in Sumida. Then there were the slices of sashimi we bought in the basement food hall of a department store and the incredible steaming hot bowls of ramen we slurped underground at Tokyo Station. Don’t get me started on the tempura! Oof.
But you neglected to mention Oktoberfest! One day, when the typhoon rains had abated, we wandered into a pretty manicured green called Hibiya Park. In the ’80s, there were skirmishes here over trade deals. More recently, over nuclear power. However, the day we were there, we saw dozens of people using chopsticks to dip their red, white and green yuzu pork and veal brats into wholegrain mustard in between bites of sauerkraut. Young Japanese damsels in traditional Bavarian garb offered us plates of fried potato dumplings and soft twisted pretzels. Then there was the beer, massive steins of it, imported from Germany and costing just ¥1,500 for 500 milliliters. That’s less than $15 for 16.9 ounces! And they even give you your ¥1,000 back if you return the glass. Not surprisingly, there wasn’t a soul in line for sake. All the while, polka was being piped in from the speakers overhead: oompah, oompah, oompah. And I thought Oktoberfest was just a European and American thing. Wonders never cease. Time to book your ticket, Evan! More soon.
Your supervising producer,
cc: Jonathan Gold, Gary Scott
Photos by Stan Lee, FCS 2016 James Beard Foundation visual storytelling award winner.