There is no doubt an authentic global flavour and appeal to the acoustic folk duo known as nature airliner. Based in Tokyo, Japan, guitarist Laurier Tiernan originally comes from Edmonton, Alberta. They released their debut full-length record Cardinal last May, a set of songs that are meant to motivate listeners to chase down their goals and ideals, no matter the odds that are stacked against them.
While they have toured extensively throughout Japan, nature airliner have also made many international stops along the way, including the U.S., England, Scotland, and South Korea. With the duo’s Canadian connection, it’s no surprise they have made their way through Canada on more than one occasion. Cardinal was recorded in one of the music capitals of the world, Nashville, Tennessee, at the former Columbia Studio A.
Tokyo is, without a doubt, one of the most unbelievable cities on the planet. With it being the duo’s home base, we connected with Tiernan and his collaborator and wife Eiko for a Top 10 list of their ten favourite Tokyo-based restaurants they’d like to revisit.
“Sharing the premises of Tsukiji Hongwanji Temple, near the historic Tsukiji fish market, this Buddhist-influenced café offers a legendary 18-dish breakfast as photogenic as it is healthy and delicious; and it will set you back less than 20 USD. They also offer delicious desserts, as well as alcoholic beverages at night.” -Eiko
“Nestled in a side street near Asakusa’s Sensoji Temple, this tonkatsu (deep-fried pork) restaurant presents gourmet fare at frighteningly low prices. Pending availability, diners may choose between one of two low tables poised on tatami matting, or a seat at the L-shaped counter with its lovely kitchen views. Cherries on the cake of this fantastic nook of an eatery include stellar customer service, and one-of-a-kind earthenware plates. Eiko prefers the most traditional tonkatsu meal, whereas Tiernan recommends the chicken curry plate.” -Eiko
“Muji brought the concept of ‘no name’ to the Japanese masses; no frills products that get the job done well at much lower prices. I often shop here for blank t-shirts, stationery, and a host of other things. In recent years, they’ve opened a restaurant, and the meal sets are divine; scrumptious as well as nutritious, and exceedingly good value.” -Eiko
4. Egg n’ Things (Ginza Branch)
“Yes, this is Eggs n’ Things, so it’s not purely Japanese, but the localization lends it a relaxing feel. The pancake meals are to die for, and this location makes for fantastic shopping, to burn off calories.” -Eiko
“More than a restaurant, What the Dickens owns the title of Tokyo’s best British pub, and serves as a lovely respite from the city’s craziness. Its decor, akin to Shakespeare’s Globe Theatre, is laid out on two levels, and could easily have you fooled into thinking that you aren’t in Japan at all. Being that its founder, John, hails from close to Glasgow, their pub food is top-notch as well. I often get their fish & chips as well as a pint of London Pride, but anything purchased at What the Dickens will surely make you smile.” -Eiko
6. Thali-ya (Kinshicho Location)
“This is a slightly hardcore ‘eatery,’ in the sense that there is nothing fancy about it, and, in appearance, it offers little better than a cafeteria. However, it also serves some of my favourite curry that I’ve eaten in this town. And, that in itself is worth its weight in gold. There are a few locations around this city, but this one is the one that I frequent.” -Tiernan
“Tenya is a chain of tempura restaurants which may be the Japanese equivalent of KFC, but a 7 USD meal here would easily set you back 40 dollars in North America. Consistently delicious tempura accompanies every single order, but I recommend the noodle and tendon (tempura over a rice bowl) sets. My favourite is the zaru soba (chilled buckwheat noodle) sets with a tendon on the side. Honestly, when visiting Tokyo, you’ll thank yourself for dropping by.” -Tiernan
“Of course, most people who dream of visiting Japan might crave an authentic conveyor-belt sushi experience. Kaiten Sushi Toriton serve this up par excellence. Their prices are stunningly affordable (when I ate vegetarian style, I spent less than 10 USD) and the immersive experience of watching the chefs in the middle of the conveyor-belt track is definitely first-rate. This location being on the sixth floor of Soramachi also gives you the added bonus of visiting Tokyo Skytree.” -Tiernan
“Serving shojin ryori (monks’ fare) at the foot of the Tokyo Tower, this elegant establishment offers one of the deepest culinary experiences the capital has to offer. I took my mother-in-law and wife here when I proposed to the latter, so it stands at that level of sophistication. Many of their dishes are refined soybean-based delicacies, and all is prepared with serenity in mind. An ideal spot for a date night, its premises border on Zojoji Temple as well as an illuminated Tokyo Tower.” -Tiernan
10. Ginza Lion
“Listed as a Tangible Cultural Property of Japan by the federal government, and erected in 1934, Ginza Lion is Tokyo’s oldest remaining beerhall. The tiles of its walls and ceiling would seem suited to cathedrals more than a place where one could go for a drink or a bite. And, for that very reason alone, this establishment is priceless. The vintage wooden chairs and tables also add to its old-world ambiance, and anything you eat or drink here tastes much better for its setting.” -Tiernan