Sunday, March 22, 2015

Remembering my college days in Tokyo and one amazing dinner in my never-ending #Travelife



Tonight I had a really wonderful teppanyaki dinner in a part of Tokyo that I don't really go to very often anymore. Although, in another lifetime, as a college student here, this district of Tokyo sure was part of my stomping grounds.

So all through dinner, I kept remembering things from my college days in Tokyo.

And one of my indelible memories is about the very first afternoon that I set foot in my campus. It was early autumn and it was so beautiful that I was breathless with delight until homesickness set in.

REMEMBERING A MEAL OF A LIFETIME


Then, for some reason, I remembered a dinner that occurred in Tokyo almost one year ago.

I'd flown to Tokyo just to join this heart-stopping dinner someone had hosted for just six people at his beautiful home, and it still counts as one of the most amazing meals I have ever had.

And that says a lot, considering I've really had a lot of those.




NO BUDGET, JUST SURPRISES

This friend had hired a world-famous Michelin three-star chef -- almost every serious foodie in the world will know his name -- to prepare a 12-course meal, giving the chef no budget and a free hand to source the best ingredients from all over the world. 

He asked the chef to create the dinner he'd always dreamt about -- meaning the kind of dinner the chef himself had always dreamt about.

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THE KIND OF SURPRISE I LIKE

This guy had told the chef: "Surprise me. Don't think about the cost, and don't even mention money."

He also said: "Make me the kind of dinner that has so far existed only in your dreams. Order whatever you want from anywhere in the world, do whatever you need to do. Just make this dream dinner happen for me."



WINES OF THE CENTURY
FOR THE DINNER OF A CENTURY

Then he had some of the best vintages of the 20th century flown in from his main wine cellar in London, to accompany this 12-course dinner.

He's not only a very big businessman on the global stage and an astute investor, but also a very serious wine collector.

It was a simply amazing night. Unfortunately I can't blog about it. This guy's completely anal about his privacy.




I couldn't even take photos with my little iPod because of the kind of dinner it was. One very eminent couple at the table made it impossible to do so, protocol-wise -- not because they didn't want me to, but because of who they were.

I can't say anymore, even if I really would love to.

But if you're familiar with what kind of VIPs need strict observance of protocol, then you'll have an idea of the very nice couple I was seated opposite at this dinner.

A VERY SPECIAL CELEBRATION



Our host was celebrating something special, and this is why he'd organized this dinner of the century and pulled out all the stops for the evening.

Of course I was flying to Tokyo for this amazing event.

I'm sure you would understand that I would have flown halfway across the world, and not just halfway across Asia, if only I could tell you who cooked dinner and who sat across me at the table for six.

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A PRETTY LUXE WELCOME

When I arrived at Narita Airport, my dinner host sent his driver with the white gloves and his fancy limousine -- one of his two fancy limousines, actually -- to pick me up.

When he rang me on my mobile in Manila just before my departure, to tell me he was sending a car to pick me up at the airport, I'd actually told him: "I can easily take a cab, you know."

This is Japan, after all. You don't have to worry about taking any kind of transportation from the airport, or about taxi drivers trying to fleece you upon arrival.

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But he said: "You are flying across Asia for my dinner. It's the least I can do."

Who's going to turn down a fancy limousine ride? I'll make the motions of turning it down once, but certainly not twice.

HELLO, HELLO



So I got into his car at Narita Airport, and instead of going home directly, I passed by his house just to say hello for a bit.

The big dinner was the following evening, and there would be four other people in the room, so I thought it would be nice to catch up ahead.

I knew he was flying out to Europe the day after the dinner, as well, so there would really be no time to talk in person.



His butler showed me into the house.

Yes, he has a butler in Tokyo, who wears the coat and the gloves just like in the movies. He's the only one I know in Tokyo with a butler, although I do know of two or three people in Manila with butlers like these.

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My friend was in his study, gazing at the computer and I was so sure it was New York or London stocks he was looking at, because of the time, when I walked in.

We didn't indulge in niceties, as we'd already talked on the car phone practically the whole way from the airport into the city, while I was updating this blog, posting updates on Facebook and posting photos on Instagram.


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Without even looking up from his screen, he motioned me over and said: "Take a look at this."

And when I walked over and checked out his monitor, there was the menu for dinner the following night, all ready for printing on menu cards. I have to say that I was speechless.

THE GREAT FOODIE WISHLIST



It was like a menu of everything I've always wanted to eat in this world, combined with wines from some of the greatest vintages of the 20th century. How had the chef managed this? And how had my friend assembled this amazing collection of wines for one dinner?

The answer was simple, actually. With a little help from a chartered plane, some trusted food and wine merchants, a private banker in Europe and some very deep pockets.

Thanks to the above, I had one of the most amazing and enjoyable dinners in my never-ending, and never-endingly eventful -- or perhaps I should say, delicious -- Travelife.








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