above photo © Le Grand Bleu
Le Grand Bleu
Tokyo , JapanMinato-ku
11:00 – 22:00 Daily
Le Grand Bleu is one of those shops, that unless you are on the inside ultra-hip fashion Industry you would never find or even take a second glance at if you happened to stroll past.
On a quiet street, not far from the Reiyukai Shakaden Temple, sits a true rock fashion boutique. Complete with new and vintage clothing, accessories, and jewelry from all over the world. Every world rockstar touring Japan makes a stop here. The US based equivalent would be LA’s Maxfield., though, Le Grand Blue gives off a much more authentic vibe.
Le grand Bleu is part f a Maniac Corporation group of stores including Circus, Forbiden Fruit and BEDROCK in Omotesando, well worth the visit, if you are into this type of thing.
above photo © Mandarin Oriental
Tapas Molecular Bar
Mandarin Orintal Hotel
Tokyo 102-8328, Japan
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.
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!