Archive for the 'Japan' Category

Day 5 and 6 in Osaka: The best Tempura, Universal Studios & Takoyaki musuem

If the key word of my 2009 was change, the keyword for 2010 seems to be volatility. Whether it’s my job, relationships, health, anything and everything has been up and down, hanging by a thread, emotions have been running wild and all over the place. Perhaps another word to describe 2010 so far would be exhaustion. I’m just hoping  that the year ends quick and 2011 can be all about peace.

I’ve been thinking about home a lot. Maybe it’s because I always associate Kuching with peace and quiet. The place where I have dreamless nights and deep sleeps. The soft sinking couch with a good book. My funny ah ma with great anecdotes and fun chats. My wise ah pa with kind words and a lot of music. I miss the rest of my family too. The best part of the food stall events, truly, was selling food with Jo. That was the highlight for me. The thing about families, you know that at the end of the day, they will always be on your side, on your team.

Maybe because I’ve been thinking about family and home so much, I wanted to do another Japan post. It has been a long time since April but the trip is still very clear in my mind. To look back at the photos, of the food, of the silly hat pictures, it makes me feel much better. And everything suddenly seems more clear.

Day 5 was about shopping in the Namba area and the best tempura lunch. I can’t remember the shopping mall that this restaurant was located, but Jan and Andy ate the tempura lunch at this restaurant some years back and just loved it so much they swore to return. And so they did, and they brought us along too (^__^).

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It was a posh looking restaurant and I remember that we got a beautiful room of our own. I can imagine businessmen having big parties and dinners in that room, getting drunk and eating lots which talking business. Lucky for us, they still had the tempura set that Jan and Andy so loved.

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We didn’t even have to peruse the menu, the tempura set it was. And it was such a lovely set too. Even now, I remember that the tempura was perfectly battered, light and crispy. And the tempura dip was drinkable good, in fact, I’m not sure whether it was Jan or someone that poured the remaining dip into their rice.

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My favourite bit of the tempura was the shiso leaf. How did they manage to coat and fry the shiso leaf I don’t know, but what came out was a refreshing, minty and crispy leafy bit, very yums.

sashimi

We also ordered some sashimi which my mum loved, she really likes sashimi. It’s a pity she lives in Kuching where the best sashimi is err.. I’m not sure where. I do remember accompanying her to Sushi King in the Spring where there was a fly stuck inside one of the lids on the sushi conveyor belt thingys. Uuurgh. We do kolo mee so much better.

After the delightful meal, we walked around the shopping center, I think it was the day when Jo bought a lot of sakura themed hairpins and clips, and we bought pretty bracelets and cute postcards. Everything was so pretty and beautifully packed. Sigh.. dear Japan.

After that, Jan brought me to my idea of crockery heaven. I can’t remember the name and had to google it, but I think the place was called Doguya-suji (Jan correct or not?), a stretch of shops filled with cooking accessories, they had everything, pretty matching chopsticks, crockery and plates of all shapes and sizes, handy kitchen utensils. I wanted to bring them all home.

crockery

Sadly, common sense prevailed and I was only able to pick out a few little bowls for home. And some matching chopsticks as well. It was such a shame to leave all those gorgeous plates, bento set boxes behind.

lanterns

The alley sold everything a restaurant might need, even these lanterns that we see hung outside Japanese restaurants. If I were ever to open a Japanese restaurant, this would be place to be at.I can’t remember what we did for the rest of the day, but I’m quite sure a lot of shopping was involved. Osaka had lovely spring fashion then, and even now Jo and I are still wearing our Japan purchases with pride and joy.

Day 6 started with Universal Studios. Since we’ve been to Universal Studios in other parts of the world, we weren’t so keen on the rides but did go for a special few.

spiderman

Such as the new Spiderman ride. My favourite thing about theme parks, is that everything is themed, i.e. you’re in a completely different world, far away from the realities of life. For example, the best part of Disneyland, is when you’re walking in and suddenly everything is Mickey mouse shaped, all the buildings and rides are out of this world and Disney songs are piping out from every corner. Universal Studios is the same, except you’re immersed in the movie world where movie theme songs pipe out from every corner.

pork

Even theme park food is extra colourful. Note how their carrots are cut out in the shape of stars haha. I think this was my mum’s pork medallions dish.

hambagu

Some of us went for hambagu, but it wasn’t as good as the one we had at royal host. I remember it being very very oily, there was a pool of oil on the dish afterwards.

Jan pics

Most fun part of Universal Studios has to be trying out silly hats and taking photos with all the characters. Our favourite characters were the puppets from Sesame Street. I like Cookie Monster, reminds me of myself, hehe.

takotaki

On the way back from Universal Studios, we went to the Takoyaki musuem and tried a variety of famous takoyakis. I can’t remember why I didn’t take photos, but here’s one of Jo outside the entrance of the museum with the cute takoyaki mascot.

I remember for our last night in Osaka, we returned to the 130 yen conveyor belt  place  for sushi . I also remember that we ate almost double the amount from the first time (=^___^=). Sigh, dear salmon toro.

And so that’s the end of our Osaka leg of the trip, I love love Osaka, everything about it was fun, the food was so yummy and good, best of all it was  fun, they have cute round takoyaki balls, thinly fried shiso tempuras, okonomiyakis with all sorts of fillings, and not to mention 130 yen conveyor belt sushis! And who can forget the gorgeous sakuras, the majestic elegant ones in Himeiji castle, and the beautiful shades and colours at the Osaka mint.

Next up on the Japan post is Arima Onsen! One of the best experiences in Japan yet!

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Day 4 in Osaka: A lot of crab @ Kani Doraku, sakura viewing @ Osaka Mint & kuro, kuro, kuro …

[WARNING: Photos overload, 40++ ahead]

Day 4 was all about resting our feet and relaxing after our long walk in Kyoto the day before. We skipped breakfast because we knew that we were in for a lovely treat, an early lunch at the famous Kani Doraku crab restaurant!

big crab

Remember the  moving crab landmark that I mentioned in my first post? That’s the billboard of Kani Doraku, definitely the most famous crab restaurant in Osaka and Japan. My dear father decided that he would treat us to lunch at this iconic restaurant despite our protests (ok, very weak protests) at the extravagance and expensive prices.

Kani Doraku is all about crab, once we entered the lobby of the restaurant, we were greeted with a giant crab in an aquarium. There are several floors to the restaurant, we took the lift up to the third floor, the interior of the restaurant was posh and elegant. My parents and Jo ordered some of their set meals while Jan and I opted for the chirashi sushi (Andy didn’t get to come because he was still feeling poorly).

crab

Crab sashimi, we had special crab utensils to dig out the sweet, cold meat, and had pots to throw our shells into.

crab croquette

Crab croquette, I think Jan and I specially ordered this because we really like crab cream croquettes, these ones were  nice. Sigh, I miss croquettes. Look how pretty the plate is. Kani Doraku has really nice and pretty plateware.

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Crab chawanmushi which was light and again, very pretty. It didn’t feel like the traditional chawan mushi with a lot of egg though.

crab sushi

Crab sushi, this one was ok, quite average.
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Crab salad, I remember liking this salad a lot so I finished most of it. I must learn how to make the citrus ginger Japanese dressing that are always evident in Japanese salads.

crab tempura

Crab tempura, I don’t think I ate this so can’t comment. We had some wonderful tempura in Japan, the best being a Tempura set that we had on Day 5.

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Can you guess what’s in this cute crab hotplate?

crab gratin

Crab gratin with lots of baked cheese and I think rice underneath. My father liked this one because he likes baked cheese dishes, very moreish.

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Time for dessert! Green tea icecream which was really vanilla icecream with green tea syrup.

crab chirashi

I thought the most tasty dish of our meal was actually my chirashi crab, there was lots of crab meat so it was a very generous portion, and mixed with sushi rice and all the only yummy condiments

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The lovely waitress who served us throughout the entire meal, she was very nice,sweet and gentle. It was an exquisite meal, very delicate, very elegant but Jan commented that she preferred really digging and getting into her crab like when we eat at seafood places in Kuching, this was a much more refined way of eating crab.

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After the lunch we were all in high spirits and Andy was a lot better. So we set out for the highlight of the day, the sakura viewing festival at the Osaka Mint! It was a bit of a walk from the train station and we weren’t sure that we were heading in the right direction. But all we had to do was to stop a passerby, say ‘sakura?’ and wait for the look of comprehension to appear on his face ‘ahhhh…. sakura…’. So we didn’t get lost and crossed a bridge to be greeted with this scene, a street line with sakura trees.

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We decided to skip the festival with all the stalls first and head directly to the sakura trees viewing section, a smart decision because it soon became really really crowded. I never knew there were so many variety of sakuras, different shades of pink, white, purple and even green. It was so beautiful, we were all so enchanted and delighted that we didn’t know where to start, it was picture taking galore.

sakura

Everytime we saw one beautiful cherry blossom laden tree, we would insist ‘must take with this tree!’ then there would be another one right next with it and we would say ‘this one is so beautiful, must take with this tree!’

sakura2

The sakuras at the Himeiji castle were beautiful and majestic especially with the castle surroundings, but this place was different in the sense that it wasn’t about the castle, it was just purely sakuras everywhere which beautiful round clusters of sakuras in every shade and color.

trees

The streets were lined with  resplendent blooming sakura trees. As the sky grew darker, more and more of the viewing crowd came, all armed with cameras and very excited and happy. We decided it was time to go  and headed to the stalls.

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I was very excited about attending the festival because I had seen many of these lovely events featured in my Chibimaruko chan episodes.

osaka mint

It was so fun to recognise all the stalls and activities featured in the cartoon, I felt really fortunate that we happened to be in Japan at the right time and were able to partake in these traditional events and festivities.

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First we had some oden, the aunty manning the oden stall even did a V sign for me, hehe, very cute.

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We chose daikon, tiger fish cakes, bamboo shoots all stewed in a light soy based broth, it was lovely and very tasty.

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Goldfish catching! The key is to catch as many goldfish as you can with these paper nets until your paper circle net breaks of course.

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It was fun and quite easy too, we returned all the goldfish to the owner in the end.

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I was so happy to spot this candy stall, in Chibimarukochan’s cartoon, she begs her father to buy her this candy which is shaped into the shape of animals and flowers etc. by an expert candy maker.

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A Japanese girl takoyaki stall owner for my boy readers.

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Her takoyaki was alright but nothing to shout about especially since we were in takoyaki capital.

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A different style of okonomiyaki with eggs on top, they were so eye catching that we couldn’t help buying one. With a huge dollop of mayo and okonomiyaki sauce and piping hot, it was yummy.

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Grumpy looking uncle with grilled fish, I should have tried some of these fish, they look so interesting.

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Taiyaki, fish shaped cakes with various fillings such as red bean and custard. I think the guys gave us the wrong filling cake and it was ok.

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It was the bamboo season, my grilled bamboo was juicy and crunchy, very nice indeed.

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It was getting dark and time to go home. What a wonderful festival and gorgeous experience, it was one my favourite parts of the Japan trip.

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On our way back to the hotel, we stopped by the ramen shop really near to our hotel. We had been passing by the ramen shop everyday and listening to their advertisement jingle for their black pork belly bun song ‘ kuro kuro kuro …’ it kinda became our jingle for our Osaka leg and always brings back warm and happy memories for me.

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The pork belly bun which was ok, but we had to have one after all the kuro kuro singing.

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The ramen at the shop was not great, but I know they did have nice eggs.

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My father was pleased though, he always likes it when we have ramen for a meal.

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Back to the hotel, doesn’t it look grand and majestic? It’s not really, hehe. End of Day 4, it took me ages to write this just because there were so many photos, I hope you enjoyed this day because it was definitely one of the most enjoyable day for us in Japan.

Day 3 in Kyoto: Philosopher’s Walk, Potoncho and a very smoky diner

Yeah, the return of the Japan posts! It’s taking me so long to blog about the Japan trip that it will be the next sakura season before I finish the posts.

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Mcdonald’s for breakfast! It was my first McGriddle ( they don’t sell McGriddle in Australia) which is a breakfast Mcmuffin except the normal muffin is replaced with a maple syrup infused pancake instead, it was yummy with hints of sweetness from the soft pancakes, I wouldn’t mind having this for breakfast now and then if they sold it in Perth.

The 3rd day was all about Japan’s historical and cultural capital, Kyoto. I had been really looking forward to visiting Kyoto for the peaceful and tranquil atmosphere with its countless shrines and temples. Once we stepped out of the train, the hustle and bustle of colorful Osaka disappeared, we spotted quite a few Japanese women walking about in traditional kimonos, the city was quieter, the pace was slower.

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Our main activity of the day was walking the  Philosopher’s Walk (哲学の道, Tetsugaku no Michi)  which is a pedestrian path that follows a canal lined with sakura trees  in Kyoto. Around 2 km long, the path is named after Nishida Kitaro, a famous Japanese philosopher  who used to walk this route every day for daily meditation while walking to Kyoto University (he was a professor there).

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Imagine a winding stone path lined with sakura trees, most of the trees had blossomed by then and there were lots of fallen blossoms, but it was still pretty and very peaceful. It felt like we were peeking into other people’s houses, looking at their house plants and peering into their beautiful Japanese gardens while admiring blossoms, taking photos and chatting along the way. Sigh, I miss my family.

I was thinking of using this as my blog header, we were pretending that this was our house, imagine how beautiful their garden must be inside!

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It was so tranquil with scenes like this fat cat drinking lazily and leisurely from this little pool, he wasn’t in a hurry at all.

We passed by many shrines and temples along the way, but didn’t really visit any in particular.

By the end of the walk, the McGriddles were long gone and we were hungry and tired. That’s when we spotted THE cafe/tiny restaurant by the road. The cafe was tiny with about three tables and was run by a very stressed out looking husband and wife team. There were only about 4 items on the menu,  the husband could only take one order at a time so ignored Jan and Andy while cooking our orders. It felt like something out of a Japanese drama scene.

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I think it was my salmon bento that started the smoke. Suddenly the whole restaurant filled with smoke and we looked at each other with alarm and raised eyebrows. But the uncle didn’t seem too fussed and we tried not to giggle out loud. It was turning out to be a very interesting lunch. Sadly, despite all that smoke and drama, my bento wasn’t spectacular.

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Jo’s omurice which was huge, it was ok, but we had some really nice omurice in Tokyo afterwards which made this one very ordinary indeed.

Jan and Andy had the curry rice which they said was yummy. Only problem is Andy was sick afterwards and the day after, it could have been the curry ….

After the walk, Jan brought us to the Potoncho area of Kyoto, which used to be (or still is) the red light district in Kyoto famous for its geishas.

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It was a picturesque  narrow lane lined with numerous restaurants and bars.Unfortunately we didn’t manage to see any geishas but did take pictures of geisha lookalike waitressed scurrying into the bars, they walk very fast!

dessert

Then it was back to Osaka for shopping and food. Dear dear Osaka. Jan, Jo and I stopped at a family restaurant (can’t remember the name, Jan remind me) near our hotel for some dessert.

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Jo ordered a hambagu and we all shared it dipping the sauce with the crusty bread, it was delicious and one of the best hambagus we had in Japan.

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I can’t remember what we did for dinner, I have a feeling we went to Takashimaya or Daimaru’s food basement and bought miscellanous things like this sushi bento for dinner.

I bought dango, even though these mochi like things don’t taste very good, I’m always fascinated with them, maybe because they look so cute and resemble fishballs (love fishballs) ?

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Ichigo (strawberry) daifuku for dessert, I love the packaging. I really like daifukus but I reckon strawberry daifuku is my favourite.

Especially when they contain giant, sweet and juicy strawberries like that!

Another ichigo dessert that we shared, very soft sponge layers with strawberries, and so pretty. I wish we had pretty cakes here too.

While Jan and I indulged in strawberry desserts, Jo had sakura themed dessert. This was her first sakura jelly, can you spot the sakura floating on the top layer?

Her other sakura dessert, which one do you think is prettier? Taste wise I think they were only average, but once Jo saw the word sakura, she had to get it. Crazy sakura woman.

Ok, that ends my Day 3 post of Japan, hopefully the next Japan post won’t take another 2 months, haha, just kidding. I’m looking forward to a WorldCup filled weekend, I have been neglecting World Cup for the past week and even received news of Brazil’s shock departure from of all people, my AH MA!  Even my mother is more up to date than I am, our MSN conversation went like this:

mum: brazil out loh

me:what?! brazil is out! omg, I didn’t watch that!

mum: you don’t know meh?  holland beat them, 2 -1.

me: that is shocking. wow.

mum: poorly. at first 20 mins already put in one goal, brazil i mean

me:eh you are watching ah? how come u know so much?

mum: then i was like, oh oh, holland si liao ( meaning die already in hokkien)

me: hahahaha

mum: and then after that i woke up and it was 2-1 and only 5 mins left and then ah pa said, boh kiu liao ( no hope in Hokkien)

Is my mum funny or what?!! Hahaha. (^________^). Good start to the weekend.

2nd day in Osaka: Our first sakuras at Himeiji Castle, okonomiyaki and mentaiko

By demand (actually only one request, and that’s from my sister who went to Japan too -__-“) I bring you the 2nd Japan post!

It was our 2nd day in Osaka but also our first ‘full’ day in the Land of the Rising Sun. Only it didn’t feel very sunny at all because despite being spring, it was pretty chilly in Japan.

We stopped for a bit of breakfast before heading on our long train ride to the Himeiji Castle. Choco cro wasn’t planned (unlike a lot of our other meals, my sister is a great planner and fantastic foodie), the popular bakery chainstore  just looked warm and inviting and already I was craving coffee. Turns out, their coffee wasn’t very good but their baked goods and croissants were yummy! I had a strawberry croissant which was warm, sweet, flaky and crispy, very nice. I like Japanese pastries, especially Mister Donut  (T___T) which is non-existent in Perth.

The train journey to Himeiji castle was quite long but I didn’t feel it because I dozed along all the way. Throughout the ride we pointed out at sakura trees dotted throughout the neighbourhood, little did we know, those little trees would soon pale in comparison once we saw the sakuras at Himeiji castle. Did I mention that my sister named our travel itinerary (yes she made one up! very professional too, my mother was memorising it and referring to it every day like a travel bible, hilarious) the Sakura viewing trip?  This Japan holiday was really about the sakuras.

And how pretty they were at the Himeiji castle.

Everywhere. Sakura petals floating in the air. Sakura petals all over the grass. Sakura trees waving gently in the breeze. Sing along with me ‘sakura .. sakura ..’ Hahahaha. Pink blossoms everywhere. Jo went into sakura fever immediately.  Once we walked into the grounds of the Himeiji castle, she went ‘WAAAAAH’ and ran towards the trees and sat on the grass with sakuras surrounding her. I wish I could show you the video, but that’s how we all felt, or at least I felt. Like ‘waaaaaaaaaaaah’.

If you were contemplating about going to Japan for cherry blossom viewing *looks meaningfully at Wendy* , these pictures don’t do the sakuras justice (btw, should mention that any pretty pictures are probably all taken by Jan, my sister)

Japanese people were picnicking under the sakura trees, I think they call it ‘hanami,  meaning flower viewing, what a nice spot to ‘flower view’ don’t you think?

Himeiji castle was really very pretty, the castle itself creating a beautiful and majestic backdrop to the sakura trees. I think we took about a million pictures here. But I didn’t know then that we would take EVEN MORE pictures once we got to the sakura viewing at the Osaka mint. Maybe because the cherry blossoms season is so short (they only bloom for about 1 – 2 weeks), so pretty and so treasured by the Japanese people, we were totally swept up in the cherry blossom viewing and sakura fever. It was fantastic and so fun.

After all the flowers it was time for food. It was late in the afternoon, we walked around the shopping centre not knowing what to choose or where to eat. In the end we settled for soba, buckwheat noodles. While I’m not a noodle person, I really like soba a lot. It just seems so simple and easy to eat, I especially love eating cold soba dipped in tsuyu sauce, light and tasty.

Mine came in a set with tempura. It wasn’t outstanding, but still very nice. I finished my portion of soba easily.

A lot of friends and colleagues who know that I’ve been to Japan ask me ‘are the portions very small?’ Maybe because Japanese food here is rather expensive and of smaller portions, everyone expects Japanese food to be of tiny portions. My answer to their question, have a look at Jo’s spring soba set! It had everything, soba noodles in soup, rice, pickles, tempura and dessert, a jelly of some sort.

I can’t remember what we did after our late lunch. It’s possible that we went shopping which we did quite a bit (^___^). Sigh sigh Shinsaibashi ….. I miss shopping in Japan, I haven’t bought a thing since I’ve been back in Perth, somehow everything looks grey and drab, or maybe that’s just me.

I finally remember what we had for dinner, thanks to my mum who reminded me in the comments. We had the Osaka famous okonomiyaki! Jan will have to tell you which shop we actually went to for okonomiyaki, obviously it was a well researched popular okonomiyaki specialised restaurant which she chose well in advance. Because the okonomiyaki was yums …

In Perth, we hardly see okonomiyaki on the menu, sometimes it’s there as a ‘starter’, a little Japanese pancake made of flour batter, cabbage etc. and includes condiments such as pork, or seafood, kimchi etc. But okonomiyaki in Osaka is serious business, they have restaurants specialising in this grilled/panfried pancake, serving a variety of creative versions and styles. I remember we tried kimchi, prawn..

These ones came with noodles, called a modanyaki. Everything was really delicious. I love okonomiyaki topped with generous servings of okonomiyaki sauce and mayonaise.

But okonomiyaki isn’t perfect until you add the all  important toppings of aonori (seaweed flakes) and bonito flakes, then it’s perfect!

On the way back to the hotel, we tried another Osaka famous specialty, takoyaki (tako balls, octopus balls)  at one of the popular red devil stalls. It wasn’t the best we had in Osaka, I’ll blog about that when we talk about the takoyaki musuem (quite paiseh and yet proud that we went to all these foodie musuems, hehe).

That’s all you had? And you call yourself a foodie? I hear you ask. Of course we didn’t stop there. No night stroll or dinner around the Dotonbori area was complete without our final stops at our favourite combini stores, there was Family Mart which stocked Jan’s favourite coconut fruit jellies, and Lawsons which was conveniently located right opposite our hotel. It was there that I bought my first onigiri and started my life long love affair with mentaiko.

According to Wikipedia, mentaiko is marinated roe of pollock, meaning marinated fish roe/eggs. Sounds gross? You don’t know what you’re missing. It’s slightly spicy, salty and so so so tasty. Wrapped up in a rice ball with seaweed, it is really really nice.. sigh. really nice. After that, Jan and I sort of went on a mentaiko everything hunt, we ate mentaiko snacks (remember those round rice cracker things Jan? So nice hor), mentaiko pasta, I didn’t bother buying any other types of onigiri except mentaiko onigiri.

Come to think of it, I even bought one to eat on the flight home. My last mentaiko. (T____________T).

Ok lah, this blog is depressing, I miss sakuras, okonomiyakis and mentaiko already!! Time to sign out .. stay tuned for Day 3, I think we’re going to Kyoto for a philosopher’s walk and an unforgettable ‘smokin’ lunch, hahaha.

First day in Osaka : Dotonbori & 130 yen conveyor belt sushi

Our trip to Japan started from our transit point in Hongkong where Jo and I met up with my parents. My mum gave me a prettily wrapped present, guess what was inside?

Yummy St.Honore bakery eggtarts which she bought from outside the terminal, yum yum yum, I love Hongkong eggtarts. The holiday was off to a good start.

By the time we arrived in Osaka, it was late afternoon. We travelled by train to reach our hotel which was located in the famous entertainment district of Namba. I just read that Namba has Japan’s best food culture ‘Kuidaore’ meaning  ‘eat till you drop’ , now I know why my foodie sis chose Namba as our hotel spot, excellent choice Jan!

We were located on Dontonbori which is a fantastic area filled with eateries and lots of shopping. Sigh.. I miss Dotonbori and Shinsaibashi, our favourite shopping arcade in Osaka. The giant moving crab billboard of the crab restaurant Kani Doraku is a famous landmark in Osaka. We actually had a crab meal at Kani Doraku a few days later but that’s a whole other post.

The first night of walking the streets of Dotonbori was  so exciting, there were lights everywhere, people, so many cute things to see and things to eat. We couldn’t stop snapping photos and pointing excitedly at everything and anything.

My father’s first meal in Japan was ramen of course. Both he and my brother in law bought their ramen via vending machine outside the stall, this is pretty common in Japan and very convenient too.

It wasn’t the best ramen we had in Japan but better than anything to be had in Perth or England. My father was satisfied.

There’s something comforting about eating piping hot ramen out in the open by the street on a chilly night. I wish we had nice outdoor ramen restaurants around Perth, I would love popping into one during a cold winter night and having a huge bowl of ramen, ahhh…

The rest of us girls didn’t have ramen because we were hanging out for something even better. First meal in Japan? Sushi of course! And fantastic, fresh, 130 yen for all plates conveyor belt sushi too. 130 yen is around $1.50 AUD, I was expecting food in Japan to be expensive, so  was pleasantly surprised at how cheap and affordable the sushi was. Best of all, it was so good, the quality of the sushi, the fish and seafood was fresh and wonderful, the range available was wide and plentiful, there were many things on display that I had never seen or tried before.

One of the highlights was raw horsemeat, my sister dared me to try it and I *gulp* did. It was interesting. But I wouldn’t try it again. It felt very raw, didn’t taste very strong of anything in particular but I kept thinking ‘I’m eating raw horse’, so it didn’t go down very well. I had to gulp lots of strong green tea after swallowing.

The maguro toro (tuna belly) was very very good, best tuna I’ve ever had, so fresh and just gorgeous.

Usually if we have conveyor belt sushi in Singapore or Australia, we look out for raw salmon sushis most of all. But in this shop, we didn’t even bother with the normal salmon sushis but only ate salmon toro (salmon belly) instead, why settle for average salmon cuts when you can have delicious, melt in the mouth salmon belly instead? Best of all, everything was only 130 yen!

Oiishi sushi of such gorgeous quality that was amazingly affordable and so fun to eat (I love conveyor belt sushi, what to pick, what to pick..), what a great way to start our holiday in Japan.

To Ramen With Love

The only other person I know who might love ramen more than my father is Richard. And I stress on the word ‘might’. Because my father is a huge huge ramen fan, seriously, I think he would have happily eaten ramen for every meal during our Japan holiday.

Myself, I’m not a huge ramen fan, I usually prefer rice over noodles. But ramen in Japan, is really something special.

My sister brought our whole family to the Shinyokohama Ramen Musuem located in Yokohama for some serious ramen eating. I’ll blog about the musuem in a separate post, it was a long trek away but definitely worth it, I would do it again in a heartbeat.

So if this is not about the musuem, what am I blogging about?

Well Richard didn’t make it on the trip, while we were downing bowls and bowls of luscious ramen, I couldn’t help thinking ‘ gosh, he would love this’. So the next best thing I could do (besides eating lots of ramen on his behalf, wuahaha) was … buy him a box of instant ramen from the musuem’s souvenir shop!

These boxes of ramen are only sold in the museum and include ramen from the  famous ramen shops featured in the musuem. I didn’t know which shop to choose from, but ended up choosing this shoyu based ramen because my sister and brother in law highly recommended it, my brother in law  liked the ramen from that shop best during their last visit to the musuem (sadly the shop was no longer in the musuem when we visited).

I bought a slab of pork belly and braised it tonight just for the ramen. Just one bowl, all the way from Japan, would it be anything close to the ramen heaven I had in Japan? I highly doubted it. I was pleasantly surprised when I discovered that the packet containing the broth essence wasn’t in powder form but liquid. A wonderful aroma emerged when we emptied it into our pot of boiling water.

Ta-dah! Ramen and shoyu based broth with thin slices of braised pork belly, strips of crunchy bamboo shoots, spring onion and half boiled egg, the essential condiments in a bowl of ramen.

Verdict from the ramen lover? ‘We need to eat more’. ‘Very good’. ‘I give it 8 out of 10’. He found the texture of the ramen springy and smooth. Fantastic combination with the broth which was flavourful, tasty and gorgeous with the fragrance of the spring onions, crunchy texture of the bamboo and creamy egg. My verdict? So much better than I expected, comparable or perhaps better than my favourite ramen shop in Perth, but in comparison with the real thing in Japan? Of course not as good, but still, really not bad at all. I was impressed.

My only regret? I should have bought more!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

Sayonara Sakura days

It is the end of our Japan holiday. I don’t know whether it’s ironic or perfect that I am typing from the very same spot inside the Hongkong international airport where I blogged about embarking on our holiday.

Fast forward 2 weeks and it’s all over. I don’t even quite know how to use the normal keyboards after struggling over Japanese keyboards for the past 2 weeks, I’m pressing all the wrong buttons.

15 minutes ago we farewelled our parents as they had to go to another part of the airport for their connecting flight to Malaysia. Then we said goodbye to my sister and brother in law as they headed for their UK flight. We are scattered all over the world.

We all cried.

So it is bye bye to lovely Japan with the fabulous shopping, culture and food. And back to reality in Perth. (T____T). Perth isn’t so bad but home isn’t really home without your loved ones with you. I am heartbroken.


November 2017
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