Sunday, December 6, 2015

Thanksgiving 2015

I've spent the last few Thanksgivings in Hong Kong. Two years ago, we went to a Michelin star Italian restaurant for Thanksgiving. I wasn't all that wild about the food. I've been to several hole in the wall Italian restaurants that were much better. A lot of people will disagree with me, but I think Italian food is better when it's made by an old married couple in the kitchen. Celebrity chefs get all the attention, but their revolving door staff can never match what Nonna Leone can do.

Ironically, we went to a Japanese restaurant last year. That was another trendy hot spot with average food. Having been to Japan, I can confidently say that some guy making noodles by the side of the road can match a celebrity chef making Japanese food any day.

This Thanksgiving, Lily and I were in Japan. We could have easily had a better Japanese Thanksgiving dinner than what we had last year, but I wanted something more American. People always tell me it's crazy to seek out American food while traveling in other countries. You're in that country, so you're supposed to eat that food. I mostly agree with that, but I live in China. I don't eat American food every day. I rarely eat any at all. Around here, American food means McDonald's and Haagen-Dazs. We ate plenty of Japanese food during the trip, but for Thanksgiving, I wanted something more familiar.

Tokyo has plenty of Americans and restaurants that cater to our tastes. We heard about several restaurants that had special Thanksgiving menus. We picked a place just south of the Shibuya station called Good Honest Grub because we liked their menu and, this part is important, they had reservations available. Rather than one night of Thanksgiving, they did it all week.

Despite the terrible name, this was a nice restaurant. They're only open for breakfast and lunch, and close when the sun goes down, so they're never going to be famous. But they use a lot of fresh local produce and are a rare non-smoking restaurant in Tokyo.

Something I was a little disappointed in was their pumpkin pie. I've been on a quest to find real pumpkin pie for several years now. Most places in Hong Kong use the cheapest butter they can find in their crust – if they even have a crust – and the pumpkin filling tastes nothing like pumpkin. I think most of them use sweet potatoes or squash instead. Good Honest Grub's pumpkin pie tasted like pumpkin, and the crust was much better, but they seem to have forgotten the nutmeg. Pumpkin pie without nutmeg is like brownies without cocoa.

It was a good Thanksgiving meal overall, and Tokyo has plenty of places to get dessert. Since Thanksgiving is meaningless in Japan, nothing closed early. Ice cream and imagawayaki were available all night.

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