Saturday, January 18, 2014


I recently took the BuzzFeed quiz about the city that's right for you, and was not at all surprised to learn the answer was Tokyo. I've still never been to Tokyo, or Japan, or East Asia, or Asia except for Israel, but Tokyo's so obviously where I'm meant to live. As someone stressed by not being in a dense, busy city, and who wants to eat Japanese food basically all the time (I think my "sushi" answer determined the outcome, although sushi's the least of it), this seemed so right.

But Japan is far from New Jersey. Much closer, but potentially more expensive: the Dover Street Market. Others have spelled out exactly what it is, but the short version is, it's a seven-story Japanese-ish concept store from Rei Kawakubo of Comme des Garçons. The clothing was a mix between gorgeous (the Simone Rocha section may as well be named the What Phoebe Would Buy If She Had More Marketable Skills wing; some of the other stuff was space-age and great), Edina Monsoon-ish (outrageous and kaftan-y, with a designer label), and street fashions at a concept-store price point (the inevitable over-$100 t-shirts, and I say inevitable because one of my other experiences at a concept store, in Paris, involved balking at a 90-euro plain white tee). There are CDG knick-knacks that look like the cheapo Marc Jacobs stuff they used to sell (or still do?) on Bleecker Street, set off in its own section, even, except that it's all expensive as well. There were also plastic salad dressing (?) containers, at $25 a pop, in the sadly limited housewares section. I have no idea.

But don't think of it as a store. It's a fascinating space, and an avant-garde clothing museum. One of the men working there was so chiseled I genuinely thought he was a mannequin. Many others were wearing the kind of clothing (was this the Rick Owens?) that could only plausibly be worn by someone whose job is to sell that clothing: medieval potato-sack skirts, or black pants whose crotch is almost at the floor. It's the kind of "store" where the anticipated bourgeois response (and one that I, a bourgeoise visiting from New Jersey, duly provided) is 'gee gosh would you look at that? How weird! How impractical!' When I thought of it as a store (and noticed the twelve-foot-tall, gorgeous woman who'd bought a ton), this was my reaction. When I did not, I had a fabulous time at what may well have been the best fashion exhibit I'd ever seen.

Lunch was at Kayser - French, not Japanese, but with branches worldwide, including Japan. I ordered something that was smoked salmon, a soft-boiled egg, and "accoutrements." I asked what the "accoutrements" consisted of, and learned that "accoutrements" meant bread. (My husband's salade niçoise did not come with accoutrements.) When the food arrived, we noticed that the lox was piled high. Was there something underneath it, we wondered? No - it was something like a pound of lox. The entire dish was $15 - pricey for brunch, but less than this much lox would be at a store, even without soft-boiled egg and accoutrement toast. Despite my valiant effort - and my husband's help - I have finally encountered a quantity of lox that is impossible to finish in one sitting. We - and Bisou, in a sense - got the rest to go.

There may have been a trip to the Strand where a Japanese novel by someone other than Murakami may have been purchased. But on a non-Japanese note, there was also a visit to a place I'd been very excited to see, and which ended up being maybe not so worth the trip. There's an Australian-by-way-of-Williamsburg coffee shop and Strand pop-up in the Flatiron Club Monaco. Club Monaco, meh, but coffee! books! I did notice they had (priced absurdly high, though) the vanilla glazed Doughnut Plant doughnuts, but given that Kayser was the next stop (what post-lox pain au chocolat? I never get into the city...), I restrained myself. The books, though... I mean, you can just walk a few blocks to the actual Strand. This was Strand-as-curated-boutique.

And then of course, Sunrise Mart. I was convinced that I'd need to horde more Tsubaki after the NYMag story encouraging people to buy it, but lo and behold, not everyone had gone and done so. I got a bit more of the deep-conditioner, just to be safe. And some groceries, or as I prefer to think of them, accoutrements.

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