Wednesday, December 25, 2013

Best of a Travelife 2013: The unagi breakfast at the Chinzanso in Tokyo




As 2014 approaches, we look back on the amazing year that was and remember the best of 12 months of truly wonderful travels and fabulous adventures. 

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THE BEST BREAKFASTS OF 2013

When I was thinking about my favorite breakfasts for 2013, staying in some of the most amazing places in the world, living a never-ending Travelife, these were some of the breakfasts that made it to my shortlist:

1) The congee breakfast with the works of the Shangri-la Paris
2) The eggs benedict brunch of The Alphen Boutique Hotel in Cape Town
3) The raw juices and vegetable soup breakfast at The Fusion Maia in Danang, Vietnam
4) The eggs benedict breakfast at the Cape Grace Hotel in Cape Town


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THE GRILLED EEL BREAKFAST 
AT THE CHINZANSO IN TOKYO.
AVAILABLE ONLY IN THE SUMMER.

But if I really have to think about it, the unagi breakfast the Chinzanso in Tokyo (formerly a Four Seasons Hotel) is the clear top placer.

The Chinzanso only offers the unagi breakfast in the summer (July and August), and its kitchens only make 20 sets a day.

I stayed at the Chinzanso in Tokyo for four nights over the summer, and I think I had this unagi breakfast every single day because it was so good.

Breakfast with a view at the Chinzanso in Tokyo

I've had all kinds of Japanese breakfasts over the years in Tokyo.

However, the Japanese breakfast at the Chinzanso, Tokyo's most unique hotel, that was built on the grounds of the estate of Baron Fujita in the old, aristocratic part of the city, is my favorite for 2013 because of its taste and relatively reasonable price.


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CHANGE OF MANAGEMENT

The Chinzanso was once one of the two Four Seasons hotels in Japan.

On January 1 of this year, it reverted to the sole management of its Japanese owners.

They've pretty much continued the hotel as it has always been run, with some minor changes.

JAPANESE BREAKFAST AT THE CHINZANSO

Unagi on hot white rice at the Chinzanso


The Japanese breakfast at the Chinzanso is served at its Miyuki restaurant.

There are several choices, but the current seasonal offering of unagi on a bed of hot rice with ice-cold dashi soup to pour over it is my absolute favorite.



Unagi is very popular in Japan for the summer because the Japanese believe it helps combat heat.

It costs 3500 yen, which is about US$35.

If you're used to the cost of living in the First World, or if you're comparing this with breakfast prices at five-star hotels in LondonParis or New York, this is a very reasonable price for a full-course breakfast at one of Japan's most famous hotels.

JAPAN'S TOP WEDDING VENUE

This was my second favorite breakfast at the Chinzanso.
It's an absolutely delicious seafood and seaweed porridge.

The Chinzanso is a luxury hotel that is Japan's most famous wedding venue.

Many people want to get married here because of its romantic atmosphere and beautiful gardens. You're still pretty much in the center of Tokyo, but you certainly feel like you're somewhere else -- in another place and another time.



During peak season, the Chinzanso handles 60 to 70 weddings a day -- would you believe?

I almost fell off my seat when one of the Chinzanso staff told me this.

THE SCIENCE OF WEDDING MANAGEMENT

The accompanying condiments for a Japanese breakfast...


But apparently, the hotel has the wedding business down to such a science -- talk about Japanese efficiency here -- that none of these 60 or 70 brides a day ever pass each other in a corridor.

None of the wedding guests or hotel guests feel like there are 60 or 70 weddings going on in a day either.

AMAZING KITCHEN SET-UP



But I only mention this now to emphasize what a sophisticated kitchen set-up the Chinzanso must have -- and how they must have access to the best suppliers of all kinds of food.

Face it.

The Chinzanso breakfast comes with pickles, salad and egg custard

Breakfast in any major luxury hotel is bound to be a mass production effort.

There's always a set menu and most things will have been prepared in advance to cope with so many people eating at the same time.

But the breakfasts I've had here have been extremely good -- and the perfectly delicious way to start another wonderful day in my never-ending, and never-endingly eventful Travelife.




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