Inside Park Hyatt Tokyo: Weekday Lunch Buffet

September 26th, 2014

Although I have eaten dinner at the Park Hyatt Tokyo‘s New York Grill on several occasions (though none since the Diamond free drinks were moved to the Peak Bar, taking away some of the fun of the NYG experience), I have never had the chance to eat this restaurant’s lunch buffet.  The hotel breakfast is quite filling, so when we stay, we always tend to have a light lunch, either through room service or one of the basement restaurant options.

However, after reading a follower’s review of the lunch experience, I knew that this was something that I would have to experience for myself.  A month later, the stars finally aligned enough for me to take a late lunch from work to check it out!

I can’t compete with Ms. Sakamoto’s excellent review (she does food and picture taking far better than I), so I will just fill in some of the blanks.  First off, the menu:

A choice of six main courses, plus all you can eat appetizers and desserts.

A choice of six main courses, plus all you can eat appetizers and desserts.

I didn’t quite get the price in that picture, but the base price for the appetizer buffet, dessert buffet, and main course is 5,000 yen.  This includes neither the 13% service charge nor the regular 8% tax (sadly, Park Hyatt Tokyo has chosen to post tax exclusive prices, which Japan law has allowed since the sales tax increase from 5% to 8% on April 1st), pushing the actual minimum cost to just over 6,000 yen.  While I would have liked to have tried a beef dish, all of them would have incurred extra cost that would have pushed my lunch into five digits.  Ms. Sakamoto’s review already shows the chicken and the lamb, so I decided to order the penne.

The appetizer buffet is set up at the large table in the New York Bar:

Kind of loses its mystique in the daytime...

Kind of loses its mystique in the daytime…

There are many different kinds of cold meat and vegetable dishes to choose from, but it was hard to distract me from the shrimp cocktail:

Protip: In Japan, it is rude to take the entire bowl back to your table.

Protip: In Japan, it is rude to take the entire bowl back to your table.

Shrimp cocktail like this is quite rare in Japan, and usually quite expensive.  I have paid upwards of 1500 yen for just six shrimp of these size, so at this point I was already feeling like I was getting my money’s worth.  And this cocktail sauce was awesome…not quite “homemade ketchup that comes with the duck-fried french fries awesome”, but still among the best I’ve tried…tangy, a little bit spicy, but not so much that it overpowers the flavor of the shrimp.

Of course, man cannot live on shrimp alone, so I picked up a few other items as well.  My favorite of the rest was the Caesar salad…tasty crispy bacon, plenty of Paramasan cheese, and a bold dressing that puts the store-bought varieties to shame.

When I returned to my table, I was pleasantly surprised to find the freshed baked bread that I often enjoyed at dinner.

You get a full loaf even when eating alone.

You get a full loaf even when eating alone.

After two such heaping helpings of appetizers (27 shrimp in total!), the penne arrived:

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Penne Rigatte Gragnano

To be honest, I was underwhelmed with this.  It seemed to be technically well-executed, but I’m not a big fan of Arrabiata sauce to begin with.  I wish they had two different kinds of pasta to choose from, a tomato base and a cream base.  Actually, I wish they had an option to do without the main altogether;  I would have been happier going back for another round of the appetizers.

But at this point I was already quite full, so I had to turn my attention to the dessert:

Placed right next to the food so as to taunt you. I very nearly topped my Caesar salad with a brownie.

Placed right next to the food so as to taunt you. I very nearly topped my Caesar salad with a brownie.

I couldn’t quite try everything, but everything that I did try was marvelous.  My favorite three were:

3. Key lime pie.  I’ve been a key lime pie fan since I was a kid, so I’m fairly fussy in this regard.  This was a bit lighter than I’m used to in a key lime pie, but the flavor was well-balanced and quite delicious.

2. Chocolate brownie: Thick, moist, and fudgy. Perhaps my favorite brownie in Japan.

But number one, by a large margin, was the strawberry ice cream:

Strawberry ice cream is on the right. My stomach vetoed coming back to try the frozen yogurt on the left.

Strawberry ice cream is on the right. My stomach vetoed coming back to try the frozen yogurt on the left.

I do not know if this was their own special recipe, but I do know that I cannot go back to eating Haagen-Daaz after knowing this.  So fresh.  So creamy.  So strawberryey!  My words can’t do it justice.  Next time I stay at this hotel, I am definitely ordering this ice cream again from room service, regardless of what it costs.

The staff certainly does its best to earn their 13% service charge.  They brought me a newspaper without asking, water was always refilled quickly, and no matter how many times I went up to the buffet, somebody was always waiting to tuck in the table cloth for me when I returned to my seat.  Unfortunately, the only hiccup was a significant one for me;  it took over 20 minutes for the check to arrive once I asked for it, delaying me from getting back to work quite a bit later than I was hoping for.  But it’s hard to hold this against them;  they certainly aren’t gearing their services to the salarymen, and the rich Japanese housewives that seem to make up the majority of their clientele probably couldn’t care less about extending their time in the restaurant…I certainly would if I could!

Delay aside, the New York Grill lunch buffet was a wonderful, luxurious experience.  Not something that I could pull off everyday, but it would be great way to celebrate such accomplishments as discovering gold in Shinjuku Central Park or defeating the Kraken.

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Introducing…The Hyatt Regency Tokyo Point Card

June 8th, 2014

Of course, as does every Hyatt hotel in the world, the Hyatt Regency Tokyo participates in the Hyatt Gold Passport loyalty program.  But did you know that they also have their very own, completely separate loyalty program?

Well, they do, and it’s called the Hyatt Regency Tokyo Point Card.

Brought to you by the people that named their newest eating and drinking establishment "Lounge".

Brought to you by the people that named their newest eating and drinking establishment “Lounge“.

I would like to share with you how to get a Hyatt Regency Tokyo Point Card, but all of the information related to it, including the application form, is only available in Japanese. And the application is a paper form that must be filled out in Japanese.  However, I’ll explain the benefits and, if after reading them, you really want to enroll for this card, then contact me and I’ll see what I can do to hook you up (or ask someone on site about it the next time you visit the hotel)

First off, the bad news: you do not earn Hyatt Regency Tokyo Point Card points (henceforth referred to as just “points”, but understand that I am not talking about Hyatt Gold Passport points in this article) by staying at the hotel.  There are only two ways to earn points with this point card:

1. Receive 5 points for every 100 yen spent at a Hyatt Regency Tokyo Restaurant (not including room service)
2. Receive 2 points for every 100 yen spent at Joule Spa & Wellness, the spa within the hotel.

There are two ways that you can spend these points which you earn:

1. Each point is worth one yen of payment for hotel stay, at hotel bar, restaurant, spa, and pastry shop.
2. With enough points, you can buy certain hotel gift certificates. These range from lunch and dessert at hotel Caffe for 2,800 points, to one free night in a suite for 63,000 points.

The good news is that, once you earn 25,000 lifetime member points, you are upgraded to the Hyatt Regency Tokyo Premium Card!

You can tell that it's premium because it has the word "PREMIUM" on it.

You can tell that it’s premium because it has the word “PREMIUM” on it.

The benefits of the premium card are:

1. Double points earning over regular point card (10 points per 100 yen spent at restaurants, 4 points per 100 yen spent at restaurants)
2. 10% discount off of the Hyatt Daily Rate for stays (Hyatt Gold Passport Platinum and Diamond members get 20%)
3. Late checkout until 3pm (Hyatt Gold Passport Diamond members get late checkout until 4pm)
4. Free parking
5. Free use of pool and fitness gym (already free to all Hyatt Gold Passport members)
6. Wedding gift of 30,000 points

One more thing to note: unused points expire two years from the date of earning.

In summary, the practical benefits available to card holders are:

1. 5% rebate on your hotel restaurant purchases
2. If you spend over 500,000 yen at restaurants, you’ll get double that, free parking, and you’ll have earned almost enough points to consummate your marriage in an Atrium Suite.

If all of that doesn’t convince you to enroll, then here’s the clincher:  you will have one of the most exclusive, coolest looking cards in the world.  Show this card off, and you can have any guy or gal in the world that you want.

Just don't get married until you earn the Premium Card.

Just don’t marry them until you earn the Premium Card.

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Free sparkling wine at Weekend Buffet in Hyatt Regency Tokyo

June 6th, 2014

In the good old days of 2013, the Japanese coupon sites would regularly offer 10% off deals on many of the Tokyo Hyatt hotel restaurants.  However, even in the wake of the recent sales tax increase from 5% to 8%, when the hotels should be looking to drum up additional business, the coupon offers have largely dried up.

The only offer I have been able to find is this one, good for a free glass of sparkling wine with the purchase of the weekend buffet at the Hyatt Regency Tokyo restaurant Caffe:

Good for one glass of sparkling wine for each person in group (maximum of 10) Good until September 30th.

Good for one glass of sparkling wine for each person in group (maximum of 10) Good until September 30th, 2014.

You must either bring a printout of this image, or show the image to the staff via your smart phone or some other manner.

If you want to have some fun, tell the staff that the Tokyo Hyatt Fan sent you, and enjoy the confused look on their faces!

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Tokyo Hyatt Tweets: Special Kaiseki Dinner at Kakou

June 2nd, 2014

I have let the Park Hyatt Tokyo monopolize the tweet reporting around here, but the other hotels are busy as well. Here’s news that will please fans of the Hyatt Regency Tokyo’s Japanese restaurant Kakou:

“To commererate the five year anniversary of the hiring of chief Japanese chef Tadashi Fujii, the Japanese restaurant Kakou has prepared a special Kaiseki dinner starting June 1st. The menu will change monthly with ingredients delicately incorporated to complement the changing seasons. This special Kaiseki will be available until August 31st.”

I regret that I have yet to try this restaurant (I have been partial to the fabulous Chinese restaurant Jade Garden to this point), but I have heard rave reviews about the Japanese breakfast that they serve, so it is high on the list of the Hyatt Regency Tokyo restaurants that I wish to try.

This Kaiseki sounds good, any of recommendations out there?

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