Friday, July 27, 2012

The food you can't eat

Do you love food? Are you looking forward to eating all the delicious things you've been going without in order to fit into your dress / suit? Ready to drink everyone under the table?

Then make sure you eat before or after the wedding party. Seriously, there's no time for the bride and groom to eat! A standard Hirouen goes for about 2 and a half hours, and as detailed here, by the time you've had speeches, entertainments and all the 'events' (with a zillion photos), you'll barely touch your plate. At our party, the staff were kind enough to cut up our steak for quick bites and they didn't whisk the plates away from the bridal table, urging us to eat whenever we had the chance.

These very pretty dishes are from the Conrad Tokyo, Gordon Ramsay wedding menu. Not cheap!

But fear not, you'll have a chance to try everything before the big day. We went to a Bridal Fair at the hotel we booked, about 2 months before the wedding. For about Y3,000 each we could try the whole wedding meal with free-flowing alcohol, which normally costs around Y15000 or more. Some people had brought the whole family. They stage a faux wedding with all the trimmings, to hopefully up-sell you to the fancier flowers, elaborate candles, dry ice entrance, etc. It was like being a wedding guest without the boring speeches and without having to dress up. When I found myself getting emotional for the fake couple, I knew I had to ease off the wine!

The Chinese course appetizers - various kinds of seafood - prawn, abalone, crab,  etc.

The French course appetiser - salmon mousse, and a pyramid of gelatin with cubes of something, on more mousse. Pretty, but didn't taste great.

A sample dessert - blancmange with white chocolate 

A sample table setting. There were about 15 tables set up with different arrangements.
Here's the kids' menu. We asked our friends with kids what they'd like to eat. They chose the simplest one, with sandwiches, hamburger, etc.

At hotels here, for a seated lunch / dinner, you usually have a choice of cuisines: French, Italian, Chinese or Japanese. We tried the French and the Chinese. I liked the French course for its visual appeal - it was elegant and colourful, while the Chinese course tended to a lot of similar colours and cooking techniques. However, for taste, the Chinese course won hands down. And we had to think of the guests - would they prefer salmon mousse or steamed abalone with ginger? I know I'd go for the abalone! In the end, we compromised with a mix French, Chinese and Japanese. As a "food story", it wasn't perfect, but there was a little something for everyone. You have to think about who your guests are and what they would like, not what you like to eat (since you probably won't get any, anyway). Whatever the cuisine, basically every wedding meal I've tried in Japan has had some variation on filet mignon, seafood, roast vegetables, soup, plenty of bread, dessert and cake. No one will go hungry! Vegetarians and allergies can be handled, but there just isn't much awareness here - so you will need to be proactive.

This is a sample table arrangement at the Hotel Lungwood. Really, less is more!

Costs: Expect to pay between Y11000 and Y19000 ($120 - $180) per head, plus alcohol (around $25 - $35 per head). Wedding cake will be about another Y900 per person. You can also opt for a buffet style dinner, which will save you a bit of money.

Wedding cakes are chosen from a catalogue of pictures, unless you want a custom cake. There are no cake toppers, but fresh fruit is very popular. The standard cake will be a sponge with fresh strawberries and cream. It will be quite simple, but pretty and tasty. No heavy fruit cakes or elaborate fondant flowers.

Apparently it cost Tomkat $10,000???

Typical Japanese wedding cakes cost about $350 for 40 people

This is similar to what we had.  If you want something more elaborate, you can order a custom cake. 


  1. Do you get free test cakes like you do here? I've always wanted to fake a wedding for the freebies.

  2. You don't get to taste the cakes :( but since they're all basically the same plain sponge with cream and strawberries, I guess there isn't much point.