Tuesday, February 3, 2009

Polestar, Marunouchi

Truly, the Otemachi metro area is a mysterious place. Things are not always what they seem, so watch out! Strange beasts infest the darkened crevasses, gnashing their nicotine-stained teeth as they drink weak coffee. Weird sounds emanate from the ghostly security men who guard the entry gates at the fortresses of corporate Japan. And restaurants abandon all sense of decorum to serve nothing but teishoku and curry for lunch!

After venturing deep into the forbidding valley under the Mitsubishi Trust building and finding buried...well, something buried, the Exploration and Discovery Team here at EOUITwJ was bold enough to try again. Today featured a choice between two warring kingdoms distinguished only by the colorful standards they flew overhead, the light blue nautical motif of 'Polestar' and the darker, richer blue of 'Vin de Vie'. When we radioed back to the Wine Consumption Team at headquarters, they advised that VdV was a pleasant name that promised all the delights of the table, while PS was, frankly, kinda weird, and light blue was for sissies.

Unfortunately, by enlisting the services of the Katakana Menu Reading Team, we were able to decipher the hieroglyphics (all the ancient-civilization metaphors are getting confusing now) at VdV. We discovered that this bastion of commodious comestibles, featuring a dark-wood interior and copious quantities of emptied wine bottles that spoke of days gone by, nous proposon for lunch...a choice of 4 curries. Mmmmm-hmmmm. We went to Polestar.

More like a cafeteria with tablecloths than anything (except said tablecloths are green and plastic-impregnated, for easy washin'), Polestar is one of those places that's less impressive on the inside than the outside. It's enormous in a faceless sort of way.

The lunch choices revolve around those Otemachi yoshoku standards: pasta! san-do-wicchy! fry! They come in various combinations for Y1000 to Y1600 (that's for the steak, cooked 'a la Civilization Ancienne', no less). I had the Mixed Fry, a favorite of the Mayans, while my companion opted for the Sauteed Salmon with Spinach and Mushrooms, much beloved of the Inca people. In fact, today Chile contributes roughly 25% of the world's salmon production (Norway is the biggest at around 40%), mainly in offshore 'farm pens' used to produce Atlantic salmon. Pacific salmon (Chinook, Sockeye, etc.) are raised primarily through ocean ranching, wherein the salmon are partially fished at sea but allowed to continue the migratory breeding patterns made famous by Marty Stouffer's Wild America and other wildlife documentary programs. But I digress.

The mixed fry was fine - two shrimp, an oyster and a crab croquette - but I felt compelled to drown the whole thing in sauce, so perhaps there was something lacking. Flavor, maybe? The salmon was described as 'flavorless' and 'tasteless', variously. The sandwich/pasta set that I saw go by looked quite passable, almost like a pastrami sandwich.

Being part of the way down to the Maru Biru's, this is a healthy little walk from central Otemachi, and a healthy walk is just what the doctor (errr, medicine man? Shaman?) ordered after a big fried lunch. Polestar - a tolerable diversion, but far from the long-dreamt-of hidden jungle clearing hiding a city of gold...

Based on this post, I've got to suspect they're putting something funny in the coffee.

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