Sunday, May 13, 2012

Dating Between Deployments. (Part 1)

"Scramble" intersection (of Lost In Translation fame) outside of Shibuya Station.

Saturday night was Date Night for Mr. and Ms. Tofu Fox!  Between deployments, night flights, and lack of eager grandmothers living in the area, Date Nights have been hard to come by.  This past fall, we finally found a babysitter who is both reliable and competent (why is that so hard?), and have enjoyed soaking up our corner of Japan in the evening hours.  Usually, we just stay local and enjoy our favorite Thai restaurant and neighborhood wine bar.  But central Tokyo- at a mere 40 minute train ride away- always beckons!  A few of our friends have been telling us about this uniqe spot in Shibuya, one of Tokyo's most famous wards. With time not-so-slowing ticking towards Mr. TF's next deployment, we decided to check it out.

Scramble intersection pre-crossing. Ready, set...

When heading to Tokyo for Date Night (or really, any night), make sure to give your schedule some wiggle room.  You never know what you might have to stop and see!

...GO!  It's a mad house!  Don't get so distracted that you forget to cross before the signal turns back to red!

Our Date Night destination was Mayu.  In English, Cocoon.  Mayu is a snug little wine bar that also offers a menu of limited but excellent appetizers, salads, entrees, and desserts.

The entrance to Mayu is to the right of the sparkly tree and down the stairs.

Earthy walls enfold you as you head down the stairs and through a small tunnel, toward the entrance.  A door at the tunnel's end swings open into a dimly lit space.  Soft music hums as you admire the large wall of wine bottles on the right.  A waiter greets you and escorts you to your cocoon.

Mayu's semi-levels are separated into tatami-matted
personal cocoons.  

Before entering your cocoon, please remove your shoes.  Place your shoes on one of the small shoe shelves, or simply line them up neatly.  You may need to crawl down a small tunnel to reach your cocoon, so this is not the date for your new micro mini's inaugural wearing. After being seated, please wipe your hands with the proffered hot towel and then simply set it to the side (using it to also wipe your face is considered gauche).  The wine menu offers global selections, both by the glass and the bottle.  The food menu, while not extensive, has delicious choices.  If you speak some Japanese, don't forget to inquire about the day's specials.

We chose the Cheese Fondue to compliment Mr. TF's Chianti
and my Cabernet Sauvignon.  Vegetable dippers included lotus
root and mini corn.  Chopsticks made easy dipping tools!

We spent a cozy hour and a half sipping our wine, enjoying fondue, and soaking up the singular feeling of being tucked into our own little world.  We joked about being so cozy that we could take a nap. When we left, we saw a couple in their cocoon, doing just that.  Instead of napping, I decided that I couldn't pass up the dessert menu.  I ordered the Marquis Chocolate with Cognac and Black Pepper. Decadent.

Almost too yummy to share.

Mayu's cocoons seat two to four people.  Limited bar seating is available.  We went at 7 pm on a Friday night and were seated right away, but most of the cocoons were full and stayed full.  If it's a very special Date Night, a reservation might be recommended.  Menus are in Japanese and English, and the staff speak some English.  They are also very generous with photography offers, so don't forget your camera!

Tatami mats are for stocking or bare feet only.  Use the
slippers if you need to slip out to use the restroom.

Mayu charges an 800 yen cover charge, which includes a welcome glass of champagne.  Appetizer prices start at 350 yen (our fondue was 1800 yen).  Wine starts at around 950 yen for a glass, and about 4000 yen for a bottle.  Mayu also takes major, foreign credit cards and is located within walking distance of Shibuya Station.

Note:  Mayu is, perhaps, not a good Date Night destination for the severely claustrophobic.

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