Tuesday, May 19, 2015

Mabo tofu and tantan noodles for dinner with an old friend at Tokyo's best Szechaun restaurant in Shibuya. And how I missed Robert de Niro at the opening of the Nobu Hotel in Manila.

I missed the opening of the Nobu Hotel in Manila last night. It seems everyone who went got their photo opportunity with Robert de Niro.

But in Tokyo, living a #Travelife, instead I had dinner with M, who is one of my oldest friends in Japan. We met as college students in Tokyo, about a lifetime ago, and I still remember to this day how this came about.

I was at a inter-university AIESEC seminar for a weekend in the hills of Hachioji, about an hour from Tokyo, and I was the only foreigner among hundreds of college students.

M was assigned to be my roommate in the dormitory-style accommodations mainly because she could speak English confidently enough.

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It was late at night on Day 1 and I was already in bed when she came banging in, all forward and aggressive. A student of Keio University, one of Japan's top private schools, she was obviously a very strong-willed girl.

Upon meeting her that night, I was sure I wouldn't like her, so I quietly bemoaned my fate stuck for the weekend with her.


What do you know?

We ended up becoming excellent friends and until a few years ago, she was pretty central to many things in my life.

But then I moved away from Tokyo, and as many of my friends know, I'm quite poor at keeping in touch with people who are not within my line of vision, so it's mostly my fault that we lost touch.




I've tried to rationalize why I'm so bad at keeping in touch with people I don't see often.

I can only guess that when you write 10,000 words and fly 10,000 miles a week, there's little energy left even just to stay focused on people within your line of vision, so I reserve all my remaining energy for people I do see often.

And then, of course, there's always the problem of time in a never-ending #Travelife. But as we all know, we can't have everything in life, although I'm certainly trying to have all my cakes and to eat these too right now.


In Africa until last week,
living a #Travelife...

But while I was in Africa, living a #Travelife, M got hold of me via common friends in Tokyo, and we arranged to meet up for dinner tonight at Tokyo's best Szechuan restaurant.

This is the restaurant Chen, by the way, at the Cerulean Tower Hotel in Shibuya.

The venue wasn't really important, but I tried to think of a place that was convenient and conducive to talking, and I came up with this restaurant that I last ate in many years ago but have good memories of.


It's still known for having the best mabo tofu and the best tantan-men in the city, and it certainly didn't disappoint tonight. Many Chinese restaurants in Japan serve these two favourite dishes, but few do so with such refinement.

As many Szechuan food lovers will confirm, the key to good mabo tofu, for instance, is not in the amount of spices but in the special pepper used. Tonight, I could taste the difference of this pepper so distinctly.

And the tantan noodles here are really unlike any other.

As for our catching up, it was like we had just met last week, even if a million things had happened since we last saw each other. Especially in my never-ending, and never-endingly eventful #Travelife. 

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