As regular followers of this blog know, Keiko and I are “foodies.” For my Valentine’s Day dinner, Keiko selected an Italian restaurant, Chillombo Marina in Ueno, that specialized in fish and wood-fired pizza.
Usually I avoid Italian restaurants, preferring home-cooked meals based on the recipes passed down to me from my relatives. However, our pre-dinner research established that the restaurant’s food was prepared Sicilian-style and given the general food quality of Tokyo eateries I was looking forward to an enjoyable evening but with skeptical expectations.
To my surprise and great joy, the house six course meal we selected was one of the most authentically prepared Sicilian-style meals I have eaten in many years. My “mamma mia” reaction was spontaneous. Every course, accompanied by some Prosecco, Birra Moretti and Sambuca, was a tasty special treat.
In addition to a very satisfying meal, the dining experience prompted many wonderful memories of family dinners of my youth. I feel asleep with images of days long ago, the gift of a great meal with my Valentine.
The photos do not do justice to the kitchen’s outstanding talent, the quality of the service or the welcoming atmosphere. It was truly a fabulous Valentine’s Day treat!
Indeed, I feel compelled to arrange a return visit and with that in mind I have a perfect date already selected: On March 14th, we will celebrate White Day with another dinner there.
By way of explanation, Japan has its own unique way of celebrating Valentine’s Day.
While on February 14th in the United States both men and women exchange chocolates, flowers and gifts, in Japan it is only women who are expected to give chocolates to men on Valentine’s Day! The favor is then returned on March 14th on a day known as White Day, when men are encouraged to give chocolates back to the women who treated them on Valentine’s Day.
Note: Although we follow Japanese customs and traditions, I have always given Keiko a Valentine’s Day gift as well as chocolates on White Day. This year was my first Valentine’s Day in Japan and I received delicious chocolates from Keiko as well as her mom and sister. In observance of Japan custom, I will reciprocate to each of them on White Day.