I decided to take the day off to take care of some personal business downtown. I had a bit of a frustrating morning, so for lunch I treated myself and my friend Liz to a long, luxurious repast at the Grand Central Oyster Bar , where we shared fried oysters, oyster stew, Oysters Rockefeller, and Clams Casino (which I washed down with a bottle of Brooklyn Lager), finishing with some really rich slices of Key Lime pie.
After I finished my business, I stopped by Dean & Deluca to pick up some bread and Italian coffee, and then got my shoes shined very nicely while reading the latest issue of the New Yorker. I was too full from lunch to even consider eating dinner; otherwise, I might have stopped by Nathan's Famous for a chili cheese dog on the way home.
As you have presumably figured out despite the Big Apple name-dropping, I'm still in Tokyo, and I'm referring to New York restaurants with branches/franchises here. There's a certain fascination with foreign brand names, especially those associated with New York or Paris. The Tokyo version of the Grand Central Oyster Bar, for example -- complete with the meticulously reproduced tiled ceilings and archways of the original -- can be found in the still-fairly-new New York Dining section of the Shinagawa train station shopping arcade. The arcade styles its look after New York -- one of the little dining spots has a couple of booths in a mock-up of a NYC subway car -- and it even has a branch of Dean & Deluca.
I find it all rather strange to think that though I've been to New York twice in my life, I'd never set foot in such New York landmarks as the Oyster Bar, Dean & Deluca's, Nathan's Famous, the Doughnut Plant, Barney's New York, or Brooks Brothers until I came to Tokyo. That they all have branches here is a status thing, presumably: here is a World City, where the all the famous and high-status brands can be found. Which is why I can find real mozzarella di bufala in many places but never matzo-ball soup or matzo meal.