It’s true that less than 1 percent of the Japanese population is Christian, but the fact remains that a somewhat obscure offshoot of the post-Lenten tradition seems to have brushed off on perhaps a larger percentage of the inhabitants of the sculpted isles of Dai Nippon. If the increasing number of hotels and quality restaurants featuring Sunday and holiday brunches could be a measure, perhaps one facet of Easter has influenced some Japanese. If this might seem a bit far-fetched, so be it, but since next Sunday is, indeed, Easter and the end of the fast of Lent, still observed among a majority persons of Christian belief, the Easter Brunch phenomenon is worth considering.
Weekender staffpersons conducted a mini-poll among some of the city’s leading hostelries and cafes to get a general assessment of what’s going down, brunchwise, not only for next Sunday Easter, but also during the rest of the dining calendar.
• Out Disneyland way, the Sheraton Grande Tokyo Bay Hotel & Towers turns their elegant Summit Restaurant, high atop the beautiful facility, over to brunch service on Saturdays, Sundays and Holidays, Easter Sunday on the 3rd no exception. A wide variety of seafood, prepared both Japanese and western styles, abound on the Brunch menu, together with a complete “omelet station” with assorted garnishes; your choice of omelet fillings include shrimp, ham, potato, cheese, onion and herbs.
A massive salad bar is available with nearly 20 exciting types and styles including beet and tongue, rice and ham, escabeche of fish, Norwegian salmon marinated with fresh dill and many others. A dozen lovingly prepared hot dishes are ready for your selection, ranging from soups, sausages, duckling fume, steamed salmon in tarragon cream sauce, braised beef, fricassee of chicken and pork tenderloin. On the buffet grillade are shrimp, loin of lamb, roast of duckling, scallops and halibut.
The pastry buffet contains 13 assorted diet-busters including mousse, crepes Suzette and an ice cream wagon. All you can handle for ¥4,800, not including taxes. The gorgeous view from the 12th-floor Summit is gratis. The Brunch is served from 11:30 a.m. till 2:30 p.m. Call (0473) 55-5555 for reservations.
• One of the most popular spots in town for a weekend feast has proven to be Trader Vic’s Champagne Brunch, held every Sunday and holiday from 11:30 a.m. till 2:30 p.m. in the scenic tropical setting on the 4th floor of the Hotel New Otani Tower.
A group of Weekender chums has gathered there on Sundays from time to time over the years, not only to enjoy the delicious Trader Vic’s fare from the massive Chinese ovens, but also to partake of the endless supply of Champagne which flows without cessation during the hours of the buffet-Brunch. Suffice it so say that the good Mr. Vic did not get rich on the days our thirsty crew descended.
The freshness of the ingredients has always been a hallmark of Trader Vic’s kitchen, under the direction of their general manager, suave Swiss host supreme Rene Ferro. The menu has a definite South Seas flavor and includes a groaning buffet of garden salads, fresh fish, a wide variety of meats—many smoked in the huge Chinese barbecue oven—and sumptuous desserts. Plus, of course, fine Champagne flowing as long as the Brunch crowd can sip ’em down. The tab is ¥6,000 per diner, a price which does include all service charges and taxes. For further information and reservations, which are recommended, call 3265-4707/8.
• Out Shinjuku way, the Tokyo Hilton reigns atop the culinary ladder and excellent, succulent brunches have long been a staple at Richard Handl establishments. The elegant Marble Lounge in the lobby is the site for Hilton’s local Brunches, from 11 a.m. till 2 p.m. every Sunday and Holiday.
Included in the ¥4,000 price tag is your choice of more than 100 items on the buffet menu, plus vintage sparkling wine poured throughout your feast. Of course, among these 100 items are included many of the delicious selections from the extensive menus from the other splendid restaurants in the Tokyo Hilton. For further information and reservations, call the Hilton at 3344-5111.
• Out of the hotel milieu, you might well want to consider Lunchan Bar & Grill, just off Aoyama-dori, near the Children’s Castle. This splendid restaurant features a Champagne Brunch every Sunday from 11 a.m. till 3 p.m. for just ¥2,500. Executive Chef at Lunchan is American David Chiddo, formerly with the Broadway Deli in Los Angeles.
If you elect to fall by Lunchan next Sunday for your post-church Easter fast-breaker, you’ll be celebrating, along with David Chiddo and his staff, the first anniversary of the inauguration of their Brunch service which began last Apr. 4. They’ve instituted a new menu which includes a smoked salmon appetizer; new items white bean soup and Chinese chicken salad. Entrees include grilled duck breast, red snapper, such pastas as tagliatelli alla funghi. Another new favorite is chicken jambalaya. New desserts include Roman apple cake and a pecan tart. Plus many, many other menu items. The wine lists features fine vintages and remarkably low prices.
During the week, Lunchan features a two-for-one Happy Hour from 5 to 7, so you’re invited to rel after work with a calm-me-down beer or cocktail. Lunchan is open daily from 11 a.m. till 11 p.m. It’s on the first floor of Alive Mitake, 1-2-5, Shibuya. Phone 5466-1398 for reservations, or fax 5466-1397. Tell David Weekender sent you!
Several of Tokyo’s fine hotels feature special dining deals similar to a brunch, but not technically a combination of “breakfast” and “dinner.”
• At this time of the year especially, the Fairmont Hotel is a popular spot for diners for one very special reason: some of the city’s most glorious displays of cherry blossoms bloom in a riot of color just outside the large picture windows of the hotel’s Brasserie de la Verdure on the first floor. From 11:30 a.m. till 2 p.m. daily, they serve what we’re told is a really fine menu of Continental and Japanese choice.
The Fairmont, one of Tokyo’s landmarks on the cusp of the Imperial moat, is located at 2-1-17 Kudan Minami, Chiyoda-ku. For more information, call ’em at 3262-1151/9.
• Sandwiches of your choice are the fare at the Sandwich Bar at the Royal Park Hotel‘s Coffee Shop Symphony next to Tokyo City Air Terminal in Hakozaki. Open Monday through Saturday, 11:30 a.m. to 2:30 p.m. For a reasonable ¥1,900, eat as much as you like, choosing from a variety of breads and fillings. There’s roast beef, ham, bacon, smoked salmon, cheese and seasonal vegetables.
It’s a great place to take friends or business partners. The Royal Park is at 2-1 -1 Nihonbashi-Kakigara-cho, Chuo-ku. Tel. 3667-1 111.
• In the busy Shinbashi area, the venerable Dai-Ichi Hotel features a fine sandwich bar in Cafe-Bar Trax, wherein you construct your own sandwiches, presumably as many as you like, for ¥1,800, a tariff which includes one drink. This self-help sandwich deal is in effect at the Trax from 11:30 a.m. till 2 p.m.
The Dai-Ichi is at 1-2-6 Shinbashi, Minato-ku. Make reservations by calling 3501-4411, ext. 7661.