Similar article from a while back
I have worked with the Japanese for years. One thing that separates Japanese and American attitudes is that the Japanese are far less accepting of substandard products and service. We Americans will say "good enough". The Japanese tendency to focus on defects of a product does result in mostly superior quality. Sometimes they can get stuck in a rut and fail to move forward when good enough is truly good enough.
This thread could become a stunning blackhole of self-referential "actuallyism" as said Brooklyn hipsters take the opportunity to lecture us on Baudrillard's Simulacra and Simulation - the MFA's version of philosophy.
edit - Baudrillard not Baudelaire
he stops making espressos at an early hour each day, claiming that the spike on the power grid after that time precludes drawing the voltage required for optimal pressure
I like attention to detail as much as the next person but come the fuck on.
this is the same mindset that thinks $500 hdmi cables improve sound quality.
Of course, we never adopt and modify anything Japanese...
According to the article, Japan doesn't make the best bourbon, they just buy it. I'm yet to be impressed by Japanese whiskey. It's not bad, but nothing brilliant, certainly not in line with the scotch it tries to emulate.
I was going to say..
And if someone can make a better bourbon than Bookers (made by Beam) let them be heralded all the world.. I will say this, the Japanese ARE making some very nice spins, as it were, on American clothing.
"Best bourbon, denim and burgers"?
- Maker's Mark and Four Roses just ain't the same now that they are owned by a Japanese companies, meh.
- Sumptuous $500+ Japanese denim is a cruel joke to the idea/purpose/meaning of jeans.
- Japanese premium burgers 'can' be great, but general they are swimming in Japanese high-sugar/fat faux-mayonnaise making them inedible, gack.
Everything from Buffalo Trace is better than Beam and it's already heralded by all in the world that have taste buds.
Makes my evil capitalistic part of me wanting to sell him a voltage regulator that does nothing for lots of money.
Buffalo Trace makes excellent stuff, but Bookers is still my favorite bourbon in the world. I like those two, Knob Creek, (also Beam, of course) Bulliet bourbon and rye, and Woodford.
My favorite restaurant here in San Diego makes their house "Old Fashioned" with Buffalo Trace, though they swap it for Rittenhouse if you want rye.
Er, Baudrillard. Although I guess I like the alternative universe in which Baudelaire wrote that book...
Thanks for the correction! I suppose I should have just spelled it "Chomsky."
I had coffee at BPE in the summer of 2012, and he continued to pull after the supposed 2:00 cutoff time. He's an interesting guy to talk to. We started talking about coffee in NYC and he was loathe to recommend any place because with staff turnover and attention to detail/volume served things change too quickly and by his reckoning you can't really say if you haven't had the product in the last couple of months. He was also telling me about how his La Marzocco machine had recently been serviced but he hadn't been satisfied with it because he noticed his shots were different. He says that he found out they had replaced an elbow joint with a 0.7mm inner gauge with one that had a 0.9mm gauge (or something like that), and that he made them replace it. He said even the repairman thought he was crazy.
I don't have the most developed palate, but it was the best coffee I've ever had. I sent a half kilo of his beans to a friend in Thailand who is quite the aficionado and gets people to send him beans from all over, and he said it was probably the best he's ever had.
I've also had espresso at Bear Pond. It's good—the best I've had in Japan—but it doesn't reach the level of the best espresso I've had in the U.S. I know of several cafes in New York, one in Austin, one in Tulsa, Oklahoma, and several in San Francisco that serve more interesting and exciting espresso. It's possible that it's improved since I was last there, which was in 2009. I think the general observation about Japan's obsession with optimization is true, and one of the things I love about Japan, but they haven't managed it with espresso yet.
Japan is not known for bourbon. Most bars do not even stock it as a standard liquor. I am not a whisky drinker (the stuff usually gives me indigestion) but I have a friend who is - he's a reformed whisky snob, but still has a bunch of his collection - and he would disagree with you.
I think the stuff we usually get is pretty meh, but there are a lot of types of Japanese whiskey so exclusive due to the low volume, high attention production that it's almost impossible to get your hands on it unless you're an expensive Japanese bar or restaurant in Japan.
You have to bear in mind that in Japan you can buy whisky in 4L jugs, so there's a large range of quality.
I've got a friend who buys vintage clothing in bulk from the US and sells it online. It seems like this is what Japanese are really good at: Sourcing rare and unusual things and making collections of them, as the fashion and consumer culture there is so developed that the only way to stand out is get your hands on something that is rare. Louis Vuitton handbags are not very rare if you compare them to vintage Levis from the early 20th century. I cannot find the video I shot but there's one particular store in Harajuku that specialises in them and I once saw a $10,000 pair of such jeans.
This oyster bar in Roppongi will sell you oysters from... pretty much anywhere in the world of note that produces them.
This place, also in Roppongi, has over 400 tequilas and mescals and will empty your wallet FAST.
IRT Japanese takes on western food: it's totally hit and miss. Their attention to detail means that even the fast food restaurants will give you a far more reliably good burger than you'd get pretty much anywhere. Sometimes they really screw it up - I'd contend that most cheap restaurants' take on Italian food would make you cry. The boutique burger shops (the only kind of boutique you'll find me in) are actually fucking amazing. The one that comes to mind is Sasebo Burger. I think there's a couple stores across Japan but I went to the one in Yoyogi (suburb, not park). Their thing is to make uncomplicated burgers that are large.
I agree with most of what you've said.. the Japanese typically don't like to do things half-assed. The mentality is that if you're gonna do something then do it right and be proud of the quality of your work.
That being said the Japanese idea of "service" kind of sucks ass sometimes. In terms of customer relations it's excellent. Staff are usually friendly everywhere, even when dealing with drunk-ass salarymen shouting for service on a Friday night, but in many places if you ask for something that's not specifically on the menu or the way they normally do things you'll be met with the staff and even managers telling you your request is "difficult" - Polite Japanese for "ummmm, no".
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