December 10


The Light-Up Potato Building

Walking around Shin-Okubo never fails to deliver moments of jaw-dropping delight. I mean, who had the idea that this building should be festooned with giant glowing potatoes?

Then right around the corner I was startled by a life-size K-idol standing outside an otherwise ordinary Korean restaurant.

Later I discovered a pyramid of makkori bottles stacked outside a Korean BBQ joint, advertising a promotion. This wicked variation of saké is both sweeter and cloudier than the Japanese brew, and has about half the alcohol (around 6-8%). Which doesn’t mean it’s a safe choice for moderation – it can go down fast with mouth-singeing Korean food. What made me laugh was that this particular brand is apparently for professional drinkers only.

Jonelle Patrick is the author of the Only In Tokyo mystery series, published by Penguin/Intermix.