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New Straits Times - - Jom! -

ADAM,” says Ohada-san, the staff at Keio Plaza Ho­tel’s Club Lounge, hold­ing a food card from the buf­fet break­fast with “Ba­con” writ­ten on it. “This is pork, okay? You can­not eat this.”

Call it in­tru­sive or car­ing — which­ever way you view it, that’s Ja­panese hos­pi­tal­ity for you. As guests, they will do all they can to make sure that you are com­fort­able and that in­cludes re­mind­ing what you can and can­not eat.

I am at Do­minique Ansel Bakery in Omotesando a few days later, want­ing to try the Frozen S’mores, the video went vi­ral and is be­ing en­joyed by more than half of the pa­trons when I walk in.

“The S’mores has gela­tine in­side. Pork gela­tine. Are you okay with that?” asks the per­son be­hind the counter.

While it’s hard to wax lyri­cal about a city so busy and densely pop­u­lated as Tokyo, I will al­ways have a soft spot for Ja­pan’s cap­i­tal, and its soft-spo­ken and help­ful peo­ple.

And my stay at Keio Plaza Ho­tel is all I need to re­mind me why Tokyo is my most­loved Asian city.

THE VALUE OF LUX­URY

It’s 11am. Fol­low­ing a bad flight from Kuala Lumpur and af­ter episodes of stom­achache and re­stroom hop­ping, the only thing I need is a place to rest. I ar­rive at the Club Lounge of Keio Plaza Ho­tel af­ter an 80-minute train ride from Narita Air­port to be greeted by smil­ing faces and ush­ered to my room, which I am told, is al­ready wait­ing for me.

My Pre­mier Grand room on the 37th floor is a piece of real es­tate heaven and all the lethargy I suf­fer through­out the flight van­ishes when I step into the newly-fur­nished room. The room is very spa­cious by Tokyo’s stan­dards, with a work desk, two sin­gle seaters and a side ta­ble, and still enough room to move around.

Ameni­ties-wise, it ticks all the right boxes — a cof­fee ma­chine, Ja­panese tea pot with cups, USB ports next to the bed to recharge your phones, au­to­mated toi­let, py­jama and a breath­tak­ing view of the Tokyo Met­ro­pol­i­tan Gov­ern­ment Build­ing.

I am con­vinced that I am in heaven. I take a shower, change and the mo­ment I lay down on what I call the Goldilocks bed — not too hard, not too soft — I sleep for three hours straight, some­thing I don’t do when I go to a for­eign city be­cause I’m big on ex­plor­ing. But when you are in heaven, the world can wait.

FOOD RULES

Break­fast is served at the Club Lounge and I re­quest for Ja­panese set. There’s grilled salmon, rice, pick­les and the best miso soup I have ever tasted in my life. It’s tasty with­out be­ing too dense and while the miso taste is un­mis­tak­able, it isn’t like any­thing I have tried be­fore.

Ja­panese break­fast is served on Arita porce­lain, made in a re­gion famed for its din­ner ware. A lit­tle pam­phlet is en­closed so din­ers can learn about the sig­nif­i­cance of porce­lain and the mean­ing of the pat­terns and colours.

Keio Plaza Ho­tel, owned by Keio, which runs a rail­way line, is a lux­ury ho­tel that in­cor­po­rates Ja­panese cul­ture into its business.

Every month, it holds an ex­hi­bi­tion on Ja­panese cul­ture at its lobby. In July, it was porce­lain. In June, it was the Noh, the pre­de­ces­sor to per­for­mance art Kabuki, where ac­tors wear masks in­stead of paint­ing their faces.

The ho­tel or­gan­ises tea cer­e­monies for pa­trons who’d like to learn about the tra­di­tional art. It also has ses­sions on learn­ing how to wear the ki­mono and the yukata.

It even has Ja­panese suites — with tatami floors, tra­di­tional Ja­panese bath and folded mat­tresses that guests can sleep on. Even the win­dows of th­ese rooms are tra­di­tional Ja­panese win­dows, mak­ing this a ryokan si­t­u­ated in­side a mod­ern build­ing. Bril­liant.

Where was I? Food, yes. Aside from the miso, I fall in love with its pump­kin soup served the next day. Su­per-smooth and creamy, it is just a lovely, sim­ple dish done to un­der­stated per­fec­tion.

I come to re­alise that the ho­tel food is ex­cel­lent. It doesn’t boast a wide va­ri­ety but qual­ity is on point. There’s green juice in the morn­ing and an egg sta­tion where you can re­quest for Eggs Bene­dict.

LO­CA­TION, LO­CA­TION, LO­CA­TION Lo­cated just min­utes on foot from Shin­juku

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