Wednesday, January 28, 2009

S. Stefano, Otemachi (Marunouchi)

It's official, I'm reformed. A new man. I used to eat nothing but French food. Now I eat nothing but washoku and Italian. Haven't eaten French since last Wednesday. The first step was admitting that there's a higher power than myself, and one of these days I'll get around to seeing what the other 11 are (I always used to think Step 1 was admitting you have a problem until I actually looked it up).

Italian for lunch again today, and in an odd, tucked-away location. From the street, the Mitsubishi Trust building doesn't look like it would have a promising basement, except for the standard issue restaurant directory by the stairs, which is small. The basement is confusing too - you have to walk around a bit and find the back of the building, which is where the 5 or 6 restaurants are. But from that side of the building, you'd see Dean and Deluca at street level, and that might clue you in that there was something down below (as they say).

S. Stefano's is one of the three European/wine-themed restaurants down there (Polestar, Vin de Vie). It's evidently no relation to the other Italian restaurant called Stefano's in Tokyo, which is fine with me. And it had a table open at 1:30 today, which was also convenient.

Lunch courses are limited - you have a choice of pasta and pasta, pasta and rice, or pasta and meat. You can't choose within these sets - my neighbors tried to substitute a pasta from the pasta-pasta set into the pasta-meat set, and that proved to be 'difficult'. But they're Y1100 (meat is Y1400), and come with a salad (a few sprouts on top and some shredded carrot liven it up), coffee or herb tea (rose with lemon grass) and dessert (tiny, rich, profiterole-shaped brownie with cream and chocolate sauce). Pasta-rice set was tolerable; pork and mushroom pasta, pleasantly heavy on garlic, and tomato rice topped with fuwa-fuwa scrambled eggs (errr...). Service was efficient and demonstrated more class than I usually expect (i.e. working around the things I was reading on the table). 以上.

What smells and tastes transport you? Used to be, in the dark years after I had started visiting Japan but not yet moved here, when I was served shiso it would make me feel like I was in Japan. Now that's not such a big deal, since I never leave Japan (10 months and counting, I think). Now it's lemon grass - I drank the tea today, and had the strongest sensation of being in Thailand getting a foot massage. Or something. Really a great feeling (but nothing at all to do with the quality of the tea).

Wouldn't be my first choice for dinner.

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