Protocol Snow

Park Hyatt Tokyo – New York Grill

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Park Hyatt Tokyo is the hotel featured in the movie “Lost in Translation”, with the New York Bar as a prominent setting in several scenes. Watching the movie was my introduction to the hotel. At over $500 U.S. a night for the most basic room, staying at Park Hyatt Tokyo is pretty much limited to international businessmen and the elite.

Speaking of “Lost in Translation”, which seems to be a polarizing film, I enjoyed watching it but not to the same degree as the fanatics out there. To target these superfans, travel agencies have even created tours that visit every location shown in the movie. These movie tours have always sounded tacky to me.

But anyway, personally Park Hyatt Tokyo lives up to the hype and I find it breathtaking to visit. The hotel is located on the top floors of a three-tiered skyscraper with distinctive pyramid peaks and showcases stunning views of Tokyo wherever you walk.

This was actually my second time coming up here. My first visit last summer was quite memorable and made a very strong impression on me. I had spent the day doing typical touristy activities and was walking back to my Shinjuku hotel (Keio Plaza Hotel). I decided to check out the nearby Park Hyatt Tokyo before retiring to my hotel room, so dressed in typical American tourist wear (khaki shorts and a T-shirt), I took the elevator up to the hotel lobby on the 41st floor.

It was around 11 PM and the elevator doors opened to a very darkly lit atrium. I wasn’t anticipating anything unusual so I was startled by the darkness and the silence. There were a few dim floor lamps and soft lighting from the walls, but other than that, the glass pyramid ceiling let in the moon and starlight. Guests were drinking tea in a nearby cafe and speaking in what seemed like hushed whispers. A few well-dressed people were milling about. I immediately felt out of place in my casual wear.

I’m from the Los Angeles area and have been to Beverly Hills many times. The people-watching there is phenomenal and it’s common to see shoppers who practically smell like money. Park Hyatt Tokyo gave me a similar feeling, but at the same time forgoes ostentatious showiness. From the moment the elevator doors open, Park Hyatt Tokyo exudes an easy sensation of class, sophistication, and luxury. I walked around the floor, seemingly on cautious tippy toes, and breathed in the ambience for a bit before my self-consciousness won over and I went back to my hotel.

One year later (a couple weeks ago), I was back in Tokyo, looking forward to seeing Park Hyatt Tokyo again. This time I had a dinner reservation at New York Grill and was properly dressed with a dress shirt and slacks. Just getting to the restaurant is fun. Again, the elevator ride from the ground floor to the hotel lobby on the 41st floor, this time followed by a second elevator up to the 52nd floor for the bar and restaurant. The elevator doors open to an incredible view of nighttime Tokyo with a sea of twinkling lights sprawled in front of you. My all-time favorite night view is from the Peak in Hong Kong, which I don’t think can be topped, but this definitely ranks up there. Again, the presentation is astonishing: the elevator doors open and you’re instantly greeted with this view. If you’re not expecting it (I certainly wasn’t), it’ll take your breath away.

After a slight miscommunication where we were seated in the New York Bar instead of the Grill (the two are connected right next to each other), we ended up at the right place. All the window tables are for couples only, but we were lucky enough to be seated at a table for four the next row over.

Tokyo Park Hyatt New York Grill

Professional photo from the hotel’s website

Well, this was a long-winded setup, but now for the actual food. During my preparation for the trip, I couldn’t find any sample menus online or entrée prices, only that estimated costs per person are $150-$200. Once I had the real menu in front of me, I was pleasantly surprised to see that the costs are manageable. Sure, eating at New York Grill is pricey, but it wasn’t as bad as I thought. Depending on what you order (and if you order wine), you can easily walk out of there for under $100 a person.

Now, I like reading food blogs and doing my best at cooking meals, but I wouldn’t consider myself a true diehard foodie. For my simple tastes, the food was phenomenal. I had a Yamagata ribeye that was delicious. My brother splurged for the famous Kobe steak and I got to sample a piece. Much like the Matsusaka beef that I had tasted a few days prior (both are part of the legendary Wagyu beef family), Kobe beef is very fatty and has that “melt in your mouth” quality so many people talk about. These two varieties of beef were the first time I’ve eaten anything that actually lived up to that description.

Personally, the taste was a little too rich for me, and while a single bite was delicious, eating a whole Kobe or Matsusaka steak would have been excessive for my taste buds. My Yamagata steak was succulent and savory and I finished it off with delight. I sadly don’t have the food knowledge to describe it properly, but it was the best steak I’ve ever eaten.

The Kobe. In the background is a side of duck fat French fries that was excellent.

The Yamagata cost about $80 with the Kobe being a whopping $180 or so. I don’t remember what my parents ordered (I’m guessing a lamb dish and a prime rib with prices comparable to the Yamagata) but they were just as pleased with the food. Since the restaurant is fairly small, the waiters can easily handle the tables with very attentive service.

Out of the several restaurants I had planned to visit in Tokyo, I was looking forward to this one the most. I had a phenomenal time and definitely want to go back next time I’m in Tokyo. The awesome food coupled with the atmosphere of Park Hyatt Tokyo make for an unforgettable meal.

Park Hyatt Tokyo as viewed from the observation floor of the nearby Tokyo Metropolitan Government building. Ah, how I love the lights of Tokyo. I took this photo last year. Sadly, it’s pretty much impossible to take night photos like this from the TMG anymore because a bunch of shops are now located on the floor with very bright lights. The glare off the windows make photography very difficult and I didn’t get any good photos from there this year.

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Written by Protocol Snow

June 30th, 2008 at 10:35 am

Posted in Food,Travel