Tapas Molecular Bar – Tokyo, Japan

tokyo-tapas-03above photo © Mandarin Oriental

Tapas Molecular Bar

(81)  33.270.8188
Mandarin Orintal Hotel
2-1-1 Nihonbashi-Muromachi

Tokyo 102-8328, Japan


Open Hours:
11:00 – 15:30     Lunch
18:00 – 00:00    Dinner

While highly-touted, we found Tokyo’s Tapas Molecular Bar more Vegas entertainment than Michelin Star-worthy.  Usually we would not review a restaurant that does not excite us, but here we do as it is so heavily marketed.

Chef Ngan Ping Chow, originally from Hong Kong, is rather entertaining, a very good performer with knowledge of different languages  and the main attraction.  He creates decent examples of current modernist techniques.  This is a good introduction for people not immersed in modernist cuisine, a.k.a. tourists.  Tapas Molecular bar is definitely not for gourmets, as the food is not breathtaking in flavor at all.

On top of  the food quality, the service not to the Japanese high standards.  When you are paying $100’s for a meal, small gaff’s become more noticeable; like most high end restaurants with multiple course menus, TMB hands you a menu at the end of your meal,  the beauty and form in-line with the artistic expression of the restaurant.  Here, we received a simple printout that did not even reflect the meal  we had.

Ok – enough of that – now onto the meal (which admittedly photographs beautifully!)

Dinner commences with a small toolbox containing a small hammer, mini shovel, tweezers, saw and a tape measure  with the menu printed on it (which was pretty slick).  This is followed with a series of dishes.

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Crudités and dip

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Prawn Cocktail
Prawns and avocado in brandy, with deep-fried seaweed and buried in breadcrumbs,
Thousand Island dressing and topped with an Iceplant leaf

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Poatoe foam and three different bonito dashi (cooking stock) gel cylinders filled with Ikura (salmon roe), umibudo (sea grape from Okinawa), and sturgeon caviar.

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Poached fig + raisin brioche covered with egg-less foam hollandaise (made out of potato starch, chive and wine reduction)

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Cigar Leaf
Smoked cherry root and crispy potato crust; lined with an green apple gel sheet and filled with cucumber black sesame ash

Chutney Tobacco
Sauté persimmon with onion purée, mustard seeds, and micro cilantro
mushrooms sautéed in Curry spices on top mini naan bread

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Onsen Tamago
Maitake mushroom with truffles and a poached egg made as reverse spherification.  The yolk (made of pumpkin) and the albumin (made of tofu) are double spherified  in a mold

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Cream and butter in the jigger, foam in the cup,  lobster bisque in the shaker, and lobster on the strainer; all to be mixed, shacked and consumed.

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Steamed grouper brushed with shoyu (soy sauce) served with with pickled seaweed on top of a sharkskin paddle for wasabi and ginger grading

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Scallops from Hokaido on corn paper truffle dots and a fried egg made out of bechamel sauce for the white and bell pepper puré for the yolk.

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Halibut decorated with purple carrot bay leaf and smoke paired with a melted bocconcini  wrapped in a potato crossed.

Melted marshmallow for texture, toasted edamame , passion fruit mustard.
Shoyu -Balsamic reduction. Nori -Blackberry tuile

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Walnut candy shell, field with chocolate mouse, cheesecake with elder flower syrup.

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Mint and chocolate meringue in liquid nitrogen, not much of a desert but great theater.
The idea is you eat it all in a bite and exhale the nitrogen smoke through the nose, kind of funny and cute for children.

Istanbul – Turkey



Istanbul is a truly massive metropolis.   With a population of almost 14 Million inhabitants, spread across 2 continents,  soaring minarets and massive mosques, it is a city that sits at the cross-roads of the world.  Please check our list of detailed posts here.  We really loved our time in this wondrous city!

So just know that the traffic is crazy and by far the best – and most fun – way to get around is by ferry.  You can traverse up and down the Bosphorus for cheap while seeing all the wondrous sites from the water.  Not quite as economic, but much more fun, is the water taxi aka speedboats for hire.  There are a few different companies and your hotel concierge can advise.

We recommend the ferries and then walking.  There is a mini metro system that works mainly in Sultanahmet; with one line going over to the Asian side and a couple others towards the Tunel and Nisantasi districts.

Locals are overwhelmingly sweet and attentive.  Every time we got lost someone would walk us all the way to our destination and answer all our questions.  Being naturally untrusting New Yorkers, we were always looking for the catch; the “what’s in it for them”.  However, in the end we had to admit that there was no catch.  People were truly helpful, polite and caring!

We never had an incident, but that doesn’t mean one should bring the guard down.  Istanbul is what it is because of it’s strategic location between two continents, and is the main hub for human trafficking worldwide.

Like most hyper-touristic destinations, beware of taxi drivers overcharging,  In Istanbul, some taxi drivers might triple and even quadruple the fare.  It’s always good to check with the hotel for estimated taxi fares.  If you feel you are being abused, just step out of the car  and tell the driver you are calling the police – there are standing police everywhere – that will usually take care of the situation and the driver quickly change the rate !

For a magical afternoon, take a casual Sunday stroll in Kadikoy while  watching the people fish along the Bosphorus and marvel at the blue blue water and jellyfish everywhere!




Bosphorus_008above Kadakoy




Santa Caterina Market – Barcelona, Spain

Dan-koniak-staCaterinaMarketabove photo © Dan Koniak

Santa Caterina Market

(34) 93 – 319 5740
Avinguda de Francesc Cambó, 16
08003 Barcelona, Spain


Open Hours:
7:30 – 14:00    Monday
7:30 – 15:30    Tuesday, Wednesday & Saturday
7:30 – 20:00   Thursday & Friday

Santa Caterina Market, is the oldest covered food market in Barcelona, it was built in1865 on the site of the Convent of Santa Caterina.

It was remodeled in 2005, by Enric Miralles and Benedetta Tagliabue, into a modern structure  with a mosaic tile  undulated roof.

We like the Santa Caterina Market as it is much less touristic then the Boqueria.  Here you actually see locals byung groceries – as supposed to the Boqueria’s packs of bus tourists!

The wares are pure Cataluña, with fresh seafood in all its forms dominating the scene. If you are lucky enough to have a kitchen in Barcelona, The Santa Caterina food market is a great place to stock up!


Santa-Caterina-Market_013cintas (cepola macrophthalma)
Santa-Caterina-Market_009sepias (cuttlefish)
Rick-Ligthelmabove photo © Rick Ligthelm