By Sarah Noorbakhsh
Iconic resident of the Shinjuku skyline, the Park Hyatt Hotel is an unexpected destination for drinks in what may be one of the biggest watering holes in the city. A walk through the hotel is an experience in and of itself; marble floors and mirrored walls envelope visitors, making the walk to the elevators much like a stroll through a labyrinth.
At the 52nd floor the doors open to the vastness of Tokyo, a sea of endless lights that surround the building and set the mood for Park Hyatt’s pride, the New York Grill.
The bar opens into that famous space where Bill Murray and Scarlett Johansson spent many insomniac nights together in Sofia Coppola’s Lost in Translation, and as the waiter led us through, past flirtatious couples and a fantastic jazz band—flown in direct from the States—the restaurant seemed to be humming with the energy of the open kitchen.
As we relaxed on softly cushioned seats we analyzed the extensive wine list, centered on a healthy variety of North American wines. The menu itself plays to New York’s multicultural heritage with a decidedly international selection of dishes, featuring meats and fish from several continents. The list of appetizers stretched down the menu, tempting us with delicacies like Taraba crab cakes and slow cooked veal loin, and after oh-so-strategically planning our feast, we finally settled on the confit guinea fowl with foie gras and lentils and the shredded duck salad topped with hazelnuts, thyme and honey. The lentils lent an earthiness to the creamy guinea fowl, which met well with the fruity tones and light flavor of our Chardonnay Grand Reserve 2005. The duck salad was crunchy, thanks to both the generous use of fresh greens and the hazelnuts, and honey added a sweetness that soaked into the tender meat and left us craving more.
Mouths watering and appetites aroused, we rejoiced upon the arrival of two large plates arranged with Yonezawa beef sirloin and tenderly roasted lamb saddle. The sirloin caught us slightly off guard, as visions of a thick juicy steak were greeted by a thin slab of carefully grilled meat. Its taste belied its appearance, however, with a melt-in-your-mouth tenderness complimented by just the slightest hints of salt and pepper. The lamb was a dream: thick and juicy with a lovely golden brown color and unmatchable aroma. Our waiter kindly directed us through a list of California wines towards two selections of red, this time a Cabernet Sauvignon Grand Reserve 2005 for the sirloin and a Cline Zinfandel 2005 for the lamb. With a side of the most buttery mashed potatoes this side of the Pacific and roasted mushrooms, our wine glasses vibrating softly to the smooth tones of the stand-up bass, it was easy to forget we were 52 stories above the bustling Shinjuku streets and not New York or Chicago.
The waiter had warned us that ordering another appetizer or main to share would be too much food, and any incredulous thoughts we may have had were slumped in the back of our minds as we gazed sleepily at the city lights below wondering if we’d be able to walk or have to roll down to a taxi. Suddenly the dessert menu materialized before us with a number of temptations, but as visitors to this New York enclave we had to go for the cheesecake. In a city with so many “rare” pudding-like cheesecakes, it was heaven to let this firm and lemony dessert melt in our mouths. The graham cracker crust was sweet and crunchy with nuts, and matched with a bitter coffee it was the perfect end to our New York getaway.