Dining out in Tokyo is amazing but I always know that I’m going to have a great time at Tomo and John’s place. They are gracious hosts who throw really fun parties and the two of them are rarely apart from one another. But a few weeks ago John was away traveling in Kyoto with his family while Tomo stayed in town because of work. I’m sure Tomo could have used some downtime after all the wedding stuff, but she had Kayo me over for a girls night in. She said she had some wine she’s wanted to try and would pick up a few things on the way home from work so all I had to do was turn up… I know better than to show up empty handed but she insisted that I just come over, so I really did. My only offering of the night was teaching Tomo a new phrase in English- when the cat’s away the mice will play!
Tomo and John’s apartment has 180 degree views of Tokyo. You can see the Tokyo Tower to the west, Tsukiji Market and Ginza straight up ahead. To the east is Asakusa and the Tokyo Skytree building stretching up to the clouds along the Sumida River.
The spread Tomo put together for us looked fantastic as usual, especially with the spectacular nighttime view of Tokyo.
We opened this bottle of natural sparkling wine called Gazouillis (wild orchids) from the Loire Valley first.
We toasted to the Ginza Mitsukoshi food hall for all the goodies (more on the department store food halls, depachika, later). There was ham, sausages, salad, cold Chinese style chicken, and this beautiful Japanese cheese. Tomo explained to me that Hokkaido is famous for its dairy products and produce delicious milk, yogurt, and cheese. This particular cheese though, was from the Shiga prefecture in the south and its maker was a young woman. This つやこフロマージュ Tsuyako fromage was mild, creamy, and delicious. The terrines (one pork, one veg) were too gorgeous to eat but of course we gobbled them up.
The next two bottles of wine… We realized later that since Kayo doesn’t drink much, Tomo and I basically drank three bottles of wine between the two of us.
Our cozy dinner party for three thanks to Tomo.
We happily chatted the night away but remembered to Skype with Kayo’s son to say goodnight. Oyasumi H-kun and arigatou Kayo’s hubby for babysitting!
Tomo sent us home with these macarons. She wins the hostess with the most-est award.
It was my turn to host a “Girls Night In” at my apartment next. This time Miki was able to come so the four of us planned for a sleepover, just like how we used to do it back when we were all young and single. I ran all over town to get ready for what I knew would be an epic night.
I chose two bottles of wine from Argentina that the girl told me they’d never had before- Torrontes and Malbec. I found them at Nissin in Azabu-Juban, a well-known international grocery store (their wine section on the top floor is excellent). Tomo brought a bottle of champagne, Kayo came with a bottle of Chilean red (and a can of non alcoholic beer for herself- so cute!), and I also got some Japanese beers to round out the booze offerings. The bread came from my favorite bakery in Tokyo, Maison Kayer – I went to their Tokyo Midtown location to pick these up.
The Gorgonzola Piccante and a mini wheel of Langherino came from Eataly in Daikanyama, and the Mimolette came from Precce grocery. I bought the Greek feta, hummus (Black Swan brand from Australia), and the veggies from National Azabu.
The Italian salami and prosciutto from Eataly, and the rest (scallion & chicken salad, pate, squid salad, and the tomato & mozzarella salad) came from my go-to department food hall, the Tokyu Food Show in Shibuya. I put together a rather international spread, no?
We even had a little gift for everyone (thanks K for bringing these sweet smelling candles) and mini cupcakes from Demitasse Cupcake at TABLES (thanks T!)
And the most important part of our evening, the girls! We Skyped with Yuka in Paris to toast our friendship, which is now going on 16 years and around the globe. K and I fell asleep around 3:30AM, but M and T stayed up Skyping with Y until the sun came up. I had makoli in the fridge and Korean ramen noodles (got them from K-town in Shin-Ōkubo), but didn’t get to serve them… In the end, I cooked absolutely nothing for this party but we thoroughly enjoyed everything.
The next morning and day was tough (we’re really not that young anymore), but this sleepover was so worth it. Here is to the next 16 years ladies!
List of my go-to/favorite places for grocery shopping in Tokyo-
Depachika: department store basement food halls. My two favorites are Ginza Mitsukoshi and Tokyu Food Show
Eataly: EATALY 代官山店 Not as impressive or large as the one in Manhattan but stocks Italian cured meats, pastas, cheeses, etc. Standalone store and restaurant in Daikanyama but also has booths at certain shopping malls and department stores (Ebisu, Nihonbashi, etc). ２０-２３ Daikanyamacho, Shibuya, Tokyo (map)
Peacock grocery chain: for Japanese groceries. www.peacock.co.jp
Tokyo Midtown: for Precce grocery store, Dean & Deluca, and Maison Kayer bakery
K-Plus: Korean grocery store in Shin-Ōkubo
I also use convenient stores like Lawson and Yamaya for wine & spirits. Places like Hanamasa is good look around as well. Muji also sells dried and packaged foods, and 100 yen stores like Daiso (huge one in Harajuku) is fun to visit.