Tokyo Food Porn: Part 2

A full week has officially passed since we landed in Tokyo, and it’s mostly been spent working on Monstress.  Still, a girl has to eat.  Here are the best three meals of the last couple days, in order of consumption:

Sapporo Dominica

Best. Soup. Curry. Ever.  That’s all you really need to know about this small upstairs restaurant in Ginza.  This was our second time at Dominica — we found it on the last day of our last trip — last year — and haven’t stopped talking about it since.  Being food nerds, we made sure to get there five minutes before the doors opened (we remembered the line we faced before).

For those wondering, soup curry is a richer-than-average broth with as much spice as you can handle (or not).  It comes with a side order of saffron rice, which is delicious on its own, or mixed in with the soup.  I had the original chicken (melt off the bone), but there’s a version with a hamburger patty, which is also hands-down delicious.

It’s a small spot, and like I said, there can be a line if you don’t arrive early.  It’s worth the wait, though.   Here’s the official website, and the address is: M Ginza Bldg. 2F, 3-4-1 Kyobashi, Chuo-ku, Tokyo.  If you’re taking the train: Kyobashi Station (Ginza line), exit 3.

IMG_8182IMG_8178

It's best to arrive right when they open -- this spot fills up super fast, and there aren't many seats.

 

Usagi

We met some dear friends here on a cold rainy night, right around the corner from Harajuku.  It’s another small restaurant with amazing okonomiyaki: a savory  “pancake” filled with everything from veggies, batter, seafood, meat, eggs, etc.  I’ve had more versions than I can count — from Hiroshima to Tokyo to Berlin — and each one is different, regionally specific, and delicious.  It’s a comfort food for me, right up there with dumplings and pie, and the problem generally is that I tend to eat myself into an okonomiyakicoma.

Usagi has other specialties, too.  Yaki-onigiri (the grilled rice ball pictured below, which in this case was packed with fish…amazing, amazing); grilled veggies, steak, tofu with yam (we also said, “huh?”, but it was good); and more.  If you go, don’t forget dessert: a pancake wrapped around a sweet red bean paste and dusted in chocolate powder.  Aiyeeee.

I can’t find their address, but here’s a website in Japanese.  To be honest, this is a place that might require a native speaker (we were with local friends).  I’m not saying you shouldn’t try coming in, but it’s just a heads up.

IMG_8197

Tofu steak covered in a yam pancake.  Yes, it was delicious.
Tofu steak covered in a yam pancake. Yes, it was delicious.

IMG_8194IMG_8200
IMG_8203
Last up, we have Akira:

We discovered Akira last year when we read a review about their chicken sashimi. I was leery at first (some might say that’s an understatement), but we finally went — and it was, of course, delectable.  Japan is the only country in the world where I’ll eat raw chicken, happily.  Unfortunately, I didn’t take any pictures of the chicken tartar (I dove right in), but pictured below is the fried chicken skin (excellent) and the grilled goodies.

Reservations are highly recommended; the restaurant is located along the canal that runs through Nakameguro, and is only a five minute walk (if that) from the station.  They do have an English menu, too.  Here’s their address: 1-10-23 Naka-Meguro, Meguro-ku, Tokyo (Ph: 03-3793-0051)

IMG_8232  IMG_8234That’s it, for now!  Back to the comic book!

Tokyo: Eats

I’m not saying I’ll blog every day about this trip to Tokyo, but there are some things I’d like to talk about that can’t fit into 140 characters — such as food, for example.

I like to eat.  More importantly, I need to stay fed or else…bad things start to happen.  Low blood sugar is not a good look on me.  Fortunately, Japan is the one country in the world where it’s impossible to go two steps without there being food for sale.  I’m not exaggerating, either.  Food is everywhere here.

Earlier on instagram I posted this picture:

I don’t go to Asia so I can eat Western food. That said, the best burger ever is in #tokyo. And I just ate it.

A photo posted by Marjorie Liu (@marjorie_liu) on

Of course, I failed to mention the most crucial piece of information: specifically, where I got that burger.  I wasn’t trying to be a deliberate tease — it’s just that I still had ‘burger head’.  It’s impossible to focus when all I want to do is salivate over a second slab of meat.

So here, let me fix my oversight: the burger joint is called Fellows, and it’s located in trendy, hip, Omotesando.  It’s probably the most adorable spot ever to chow down on a burger, as you can see below:

IMG_8053 IMG_8051I mean, really.  I totally want to live there.

Cute factor aside, however, the burger really is phenomenal.  The bun collapses, and it’s got a crispness to it that’s super tasty.  People always forget the importance of a good bun when rating a burger — but this one is supreme.  Juicy patty, too — a ton of avocado (my favorite topping on a burger) — and fresh lettuce, tomatoes, etc.  Delicious, all the way through.

We found the place by accident last year, when wandering down a side street near the gallery our dear family friend owns.  Took one look at that sign, and were too curious not to give it a try.  We are so glad we did.

Now, that was lunch.  The afternoon consisted of a gorgeous walk, followed by dinner at Warayakiya in Roppongi (they have another larger spot in Akasaka). This place was discovered last year when a friend brought us — and we just never stopped going.  Warayakiya specializes in cooking with straw, which apparently burns at temperatures of up 900 degrees.  Hot, hot, hot.

Here’s what it looks like:

IMG_8127 IMG_8129 IMG_8132
Highly recommended. Take a seat at the bar and feel the heat of that fire on you while you taste that delicious, scrumptious, chicken.

More tomorrow!

Appearances: Boskone & MIT

I’ve lived in Boston for four years, and have never attended Boskone.  The timing was always off — either I’d be out of town, or…well, out of town.

But this year it’s different!  I’ll be signing and reading from one of my novels, and participating in two panels — one on superheroes, and the other on women in comics.  Also, I have another event this week on February 12th — over at MIT I’ll be in conversation with Bobbie Chase, Editorial Director of DC Comics.  The public is welcome to attend.  Here are the details:

Join Bobbie Chase, Editorial Director of DC Comics, and comic book writer, Marjorie Liu (Monstress, Astonishing X-Men, Black Widow), as they discuss the current and future state of the comic book medium, including DC and Marvel’s place in the industry, and how creator owned projects are helping to evolve the face of publishing.

MIT Building 4, Room 231
February 12 – 5:00 pm – 7:00 pm

And here’s my schedule for Boskone!

Are We Living in the Superhero Renaissance?
Saturday 10:00 – 10:50, Harbor III (Westin)
Marvel and DC heroes and heroines keep ka-powing at us from every screen and page, reviving the comics industry along the way. Why is the superhero biz suddenly so mega-ultra super? Why is this kind of storytelling so compelling? Is it just the special effects — or do we yearn for superheroes to save us from ourselves? Or from something else?
(Carrie Vaughn, Jack M. Haringa, Daniel M. Kimmel, Marjorie Liu, Marshall Ryan Maresca)

Autographing: Jeffrey Carver, John Langan, Marjorie Liu, Michael Swanwick
Saturday 13:00 – 13:50, Galleria-Autographing (Westin)

Reading: Marjorie Liu
Saturday 17:30 – 17:55, Independence (Westin)

Women in Comics
Sunday 12:00 – 12:50, Marina 2 (Westin)
Do women get the same opportunities as men in comics? Do female superheroes receive fair representation? Are female superheroes ‘over-sexualized’? Let’s examine trends in the comic book industry over the last decade regarding the ‘fairer sex’ in comics. (Carrie Cuinn, D. Lynn Smith, Marjorie Liu, Jane Yolen, Brenda Noiseux)

Monstress

Well, yesterday was a big day.

I took the stage at Image Expo to discuss my new creator-owned title, MONSTRESS, which I’m working on with Sana Takeda (who is brilliant and kicking ass).  I gave an extensive interview at Newsarama, so check that out — but in short, it’s a privilege and honor to be creating this book with her at Image, where we can finally stretch our wings.  We’ve also got Rus Wooton on letters and design, and editing is being handled by Jennifer Smith, my former assistant editor at Marvel.

I’ll be writing more about Monstress, but in the meantime, here’s a full rundown of all the art we showed at the release — and it’ll give you a hint of what’s in store for readers this summer.

“Monstress is about an outsider, a young woman who belongs nowhere; it is about young women who fight, who tame, who are consumed—and who become monsters in their own right,” said Liu. “I wanted to tell a story that encompasses all these things, and more. A story about women, young and old, picking up the pieces after surviving the horrors of war—and finding a home for themselves in a world that has otherwise exploited them. Set in an alternate history to our own, where immense Cloverfield-like monstrosities have conquered half the planet, and spanning the steppes of a shattered Asia, to the destroyed heart of a fallen Europe, Monstress is an epic adventure of frontiers and empires, and the rise of a young woman warrior, whose power may either doom or redeem the planet.”

monstresspromo

sketch00_A sketch01 sketch02 sketch04

VONA

If you had asked me ten years ago — or even a couple years ago — whether I could ever see myself teaching I would have said, “No way.”  I didn’t think I was cut out for it.  But I began to realize that for those same ten years I’d been poo-pooing my ability to talk coherently about writing, I’d been doing just that: discussing process, structure, character, and more; on panels, in interviews, on this blog, to other writers.  So when I was invited to teach a some masterclasses at various literary festivals and conventions, I didn’t say no.  When I was asked to teach a writing workshop at the MFA program at Stonecoast, I dove in.  And guess what?   I really enjoyed teaching.  More like, I loved it.  And after teaching at VONA and MIT, I love it even more.

Speaking of VONA, it’s that time of year again.  The program is open for applications, and will be until March 15th.  For those who aren’t familiar with it, VONA/Voices is “the only multi-genre workshop for writers of color in the nation…The mission of VONA is to develop emerging writers of color through programs and workshops taught by established writers of color.”

This year (and for the foreseeable future) VONA will take place at the University of Miami, and the amazing faculty (Junot Diaz, David Mura, Tananarive Due, and more) represent multiple genres that range from fiction, playwriting, memoir, to poetry. I myself teach a week-long workshop on Popular Fiction, where we cover all the sub-genres of Romance, Mystery, Urban Fantasy, YA, and more.

If you’re a writer of color, and you’ve got a week in June to spare, take a chance on VONA.  It’s an important program, but it’s also a place where writers can find their voices and take chances in a safe environment.

Learn more at the VONA website.