15 July 2013

Tokyo: Ristorante Sabatini de Firenze

It’s Shelley’s tradition to eat at an expensive, fancy restaurant once on every vacation.  She loves to find a not necessarily vegetarian restaurant – Italian works well – and blow some cash on a nice glass of champagne and an expertly-prepared gourmet meal.  For this trip we had a little trouble finding a place to fit the bill, but in the end the Interwebs did not fail us.

Sabatini sits near the top of the Sony Building in Ginza, affording a 7th-floor view of some of Tokyo’s most iconic central vistas.  The interior is decorated in an understated traditional theme; shining wood paneling and smartly-uniformed wait staff make an approximation of pre-Mussolini Italy.

When we walked in, Shelley had been wearing a dress, but my travel outfit of the day involved a tank top and a pair of bright purple shorts – which were nice, but still shorts.  Looking around, I immediately felt underdressed, so I reached into my shopping bag and started pulling out the dress I had bought earlier.  “I think I’m going to put this on,” I said.

“What?!  Why?” said Shelley.

“I feel underdressed!”

She glanced about.  “You’re being silly.  You look nice!  Look at the guy behind you.  He’s wearing a million-year-old UnderArmour polo shirt.”

I hadn’t even known UnderArmour made polo shirts.  “I just!  I’m gonna go change.  Be right back!”

When I returned, one-strap green dress over my tank top, Shelley relented.  Slightly.  “You’re so silly.  But that is pretty cute.”

“Laugh all you want, but I feel much better, Miss I’m-already-wearing-a-dress.”

Eyerolls ensued.

Ristorante Sabatini de Firenze
7th floor, Sony Building
5-3-1 Ginza
Chuo-ku, 104-0061 Tokyo
+81 3-3573-2371

We shared the Mixed Salad.  Look at that thing.

Beautiful, fresh, and simple.  Our server wheeled a fancy-pants cart over to our table, threw all these chopped vegetables in a bowl, poured some olive oil and balsamic vinegar in, tossed it up, and dished the thing into our bowls.  We even got freshly ground pepper.  I hadn’t been to a restaurant this fancy since I had a baked potato at Kincaid’s when I was like 15.

Our bread was good, by East Asian standards.  Because the flour is different over there, it’s difficult for them to mimic the subtleties of crispy-soft breads of Europe.  But Shelley, having lived in Seoul for 2 years, attested to its divinity.  This stuff was way better than most baked wheat products made in the vicinity.

The main course was slightly tricky to lock in, but we were able to explain to the server that we needed something probably off the menu without meat or dairy.  At best we hoped for a spicy pasta arabiatta, but didn’t say so – we didn’t need to.  He came up with the idea himself after hearing our restrictions!

The pasta was very obviously fresh and tasted like heaven.  Everything about it was perfect – the temperature, texture, appearance, and taste.  Once I applied crushed red pepper, it came to life.  The spice brought out the flavors of salt and garlic, quality ingredients combined in lovely simplicity.

It was expensive, but totally worth it, both for the food and the experience.

As we left, Shelley made fun of my clothing change some more.  I made incoherently sleepy conversation.  We somehow made our way home and called the night a robust success.

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