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Sunday, September 27, 2015

GAWA Day #12: Ritz Carlton Tokyo Club Lounge--One Step from Heaven

It's Sunday, so in honor of Pope Francis, who had a boffo tour of the USA, the thematic thread of my posting today will have almost a biblical strain.  It was about a year ago that I had the gall to declare that the Ritz-Carlton Tokyo Club Lounge was Heaven. Well, I'm back, and would like to adjust my proclamation.  I've already declared that 15 Craigside is Purgatory.  It is said that after you are thusly purified, the next step is a journey to the Pearly Gates.  So, clearly, there has been a logical progression for me.  Thus, I've now determined that the Ritz-Carlton Tokyo Club Lounge is actually the waiting room to enter Heaven, if there is one.  I expect St. Peter to anytime appear to take me through the Gates.

Here are some signs that convince me that I must be nearing the ultimate terminus.  On check-in, they sit you at a table with a wonderful view from high up and ask if you want a drink.  I ordered a Mimosa:


If clear, that would be Mount Fuji in the background.  Turns out they serve breakfast, lunch, afternoon tea, evening hors d'oeuvres, and, from 8-10PM, sweets and cordials here in this lounge.  So before even bothering to go to my assigned room, I had lunch here, starting with a soba and prepared beef.  This was followed by two kinds of endive, a prosciutto and watercress sandwich, blue cheese and Kir Royale:


Of course, as this is that final processing point, there is no charge for all the above.  While having my meal, I arranged to have Hector do a search for the ideal restaurant where a reservation was possible (this was, after all, a Saturday night), and, now overdosed on sashimi, wagyu beef, bento and the like, I selected Armani Ristorante, an Italian restaurant.

After lunch I walked all of 20-seconds to my room, and they had a birthday gift for me:


The view, of course, is spectacular, being on the top floor of the tallest building in Tokyo:


So, after a short nap, off I went on the Hibiya Line (short walk from my hotel) to the Ginza Station and took exit #B3.  Ten seconds later, there it was:


Giorgio Armani owns the whole building, with the lower floors showrooms and uppers offices for their Orient staff, with Armani, the restaurant, on the top floor.  I was mostly served by Stefano, chief sommelier, with, to the right, Hisashi, the operations manager.


First, a free appetizer with a free Prosecco:


Each piece was exquisite.  I did not order the set menu, for the last thing I need is too much food, so I just had a  risotto and beef combo, with a glass of Barolo:



Stefano said there is no individual glass of Barolo, but he could open a new bottle and would only charge me for one glass.  Seemed extravagant, but it worked out fine.  Here is a close-up of the beef dish, which was somewhat similar to a Wellington, but with some sort of cabbage and bacon combination instead of foie gras and pastry.  To the right is a lump of corn polenta


The risotto was not quite up to the white truffles version I had in Rome, but what is, and the beef was from New Zealand.  All in all, the combination was tasty and worthy.  This was the fanciest Italian restaurant I've ever experienced, and being in Tokyo, it was not inexpensive.  However, the value was fine and service was terrific.  I do hate, though, that bottle of water they bring for which you pay $10. Oh, there were two guitarists providing background sounds, and that was a big plus.  When they were not entertaining, it was fashion music, the kind they play as models parade on a catwalk.  I can highly recommend Armani to my readers if you want Italian cuisine beyond spaghetti and meatballs and don't mind splurging a bit.

I returned to the Ritz Carlton to partake of the sweets and cordials.  Turned out to be more than that, for there is a bar in the Club Lounge, and they serve anything you want until after 10ish.  I started with a bowl of pine nuts, blue cheese, apricots and chocolates, with a glass of cognac.  A couple from Texas, Jackie and Eric, sat at the adjoining table, whose son at the University of Chicago essentially does what Einstein did, and is looking for an academic position.  Otherwise he might have to join the their company and make a lot of money.  I'm now reading a special edition of SCIENTIFIC AMERICAN on the centennial of relativity.  As we chatted, I followed up with a Jameson's on rocks.

After a great night's sleep, I walked over for breakfast, but clouds obscured Mount Fuji:


However, I did get to see Desiree, who bade me goodbye:


So, returning to my passage through Purgatory--what might be something like that scene to the left--my preference, at this time, is for St. Peter to ignore me for awhile, as I still need to complete this Grand Around the World Adventure (GAWA).  Should I survive tonight, next, back to the Tokyo Westin, where I have stored my suitcase, then on to Seoul, and the 50 reasons cited by CNN as being the greatest city on Planet Earth.  #1, incidentally, being Galbi, sometimes spelled Kalbi.  #16 is kimchi, now and then spelled gimchee, credited for wiping out SARS and MERS in the country.

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Typhoon Dujuan at 120 MPH is continuing to strengthen and is waggling a bit such that both Ishigaki and Miyakojia Islands now are threatened, followed by a likely direct hit on Taipei.


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