Tonkatsu and Zakuro Shabu Shabu

We have been staying at Tokyo Park Hotel which is around a 10 min walk from Shimbashi station (JR line). Every day when we walk to the station, we saw this shop underneath the Shimbashi station complex. They sell onigiris and rice soup. It’s designed for a quick eat going to and fro work. There is a vending machine and you choose your meal and they ask whether you want a big rice or small rice. We just wanted to share this rice with some salmon and seaweed. It’s a nice breakfast.

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Rice Soup with Salmon and Seaweed

It was a shopping day today, so we went to Shinjuku and checked out some of the department stores. IK wanted to eat Tonkatsu, so we ventured up Takashimaya department store to Katsukura. We ordered a Rosu Cut Tonkatsu set. Rosu is the more fattier cut, whilst HI RE is the leaner cut. Obviously tastes better when its fat. There’s a few appetisers included in the set. Some veges to start.

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Appetisers

IK wanted the tofu.

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Tofu Appetiser

all these Tonkatsu restaurants usually comes with a Tonkatsu sauce and sesame that you grind first and dip in. Also is a ponzu sauce for the sliced cabbage. (I can eat a kilo of this I reckon)

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Condiments

You can see the fat lining one side of the pork. It was divine. Crunchy on the outside, the fat rendering gives that juice and makes the pork much more moist.

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Rosu Tonkatsu

It was a rainy day so there wasn’t much excitement. We were meeting up with my host family which I was quite excited about. They took us to have Shabu Shabu in Nihonbashi station called Zakuro. It was quite hidden, you had to walk down some stairs to get to this place. I knew it was going to be an expensive place as the staff come and greet you and take your belongings to store. It’s a place where lots of businessmen take their clients and do some PRing.

Started off with some sesame Tofu.

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Sesame Tofu

Some more fish testicles…. Shirako with lemon. Love this stuff. Just love fish balls.

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Shirako (Fish Milt)

Now I have totally forgotten what I ate here. It was a savoury jelly. I couldn’t remember what was in it though…

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Jelly appetiser.

Check out these big pots where you shabu shabu in them. Host family told us its called shabu shabu because it mimics the sound when you move the meat around the hot pot.

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Shabu Shabu Pot

Lady pouring some more hot water in.

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Lady pouring more hot water in.

Just love the shabu pot.

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Shabu Shabu pot

Comes with a few sauces when you have the wagyu meat. The sesame or the ponzu sauce. Both were nice.

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Sauces that come with it

Look at the warble of the meat. Snow in meat.

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Marbling

And more just for you.

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More marbling

I really don’t know how this gadget works but it is just fascinating. The water has to be boiling hot.

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Looks like a little chimney

Had some noodles as well to finish off. this was cooked in the shabu shabu pot after we finished our meat.

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Egg noodles

Some pickles with the noodles.

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Pickles

Dessert to finish off. Red bean with mochi.

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Red bean with mochi

Group shot!Oh yes, we had aprons as well!

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I’ve been to better shabu shabu places, but it was nice to have a meal and catch up with your loved ones. My host brother hasn’t changed too much, still really couldn’t understand his english at times!

Next up we’re going back to Hongkers! JAL first class lounge review and Cathay 777 First Class review.

Asakusa’s Sensoji & Kitasenju’s Ajihisa izakaya

Next stop was Asakusa’s Sensoji. On the way we saw this cool mural on the wall. So artistic.

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Mural

Sensoji is Tokyo’s oldest temple and most historical. It is the ground for the famous festival – Sanja Matsuri. Probably one of Tokyo’s most iconic tourist spot.

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Entrance to Sensoji

Famous for its gate in the front – called kaminarimon (Thunder Gate) In the middle of it hangs a giant red chochin (lantern) which is 4m tall and 3.4m in circumference.

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kaminarimon

Heres another shot of it from the front.

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kaminarimon

And another one.

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kaminarimon

Heres the famous street (Nakamise Dori) with many shops leading to the Sensoji.

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Nakamise Street

We had some Red bean sweets on the way to the shrine.

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Red Bean sweet shop

Even had a knife shop. Looks pretty sharrrppp…

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Knife Shop

You can get many souvenirs and many other things to eat along the way.

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Nakamise Street

Once you get to the end you see Hozomon (Treasure house gate) which has two statues and 2 giant sandals.

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Hozomon
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Hozomon

Theres another lantern here, not as big though. It states the name of a town Kobunacho.

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Kobunacho lantern

You can also try your luck with omikuji (Lucky charm paper), pretty much tells you your future lol. Basically you shake this tin with sticks which are numbered. Then you go the corresponding box and get your lucky paper. It was all good things on our paper so you get to keep it. If its unlucky, then you tie it up on a piece of string!

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Omikuji

Asakusa main hall

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Main Hall

Then you have these massive barrells of sake (probably empty) right next to the shrine.

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Barrels of Sake

Here is one massive sandal!

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Massive Sandal

So Mr Dora then took us to have “hoppy”. So next to the shrine there was this street where there are  lots of eateries.

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Next to Sensoji Streets

Just in case there are some horses that go through this area!

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Sign saying get off your horse!

You can buy very random things on this street. IK bought a squirrel brush for her make up.

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Streets of Asakusa

here we are. Izakaya Tonpei!

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Izakaya Tonpei

He wanted me to try this… Hoppy. Pretty much a non-alcoholic beer, and we added some shochu in it.

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Hoppy

Then had some small eats Nikujaga or something like that.

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Nikujaga

IK wanted to have okonomiyaki. So we took a train to Kitasenju where Mr Dora lives. We went up to have Monjayaki and Okonomiyaki.

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How the okonomiyaki comes in.

So you cook it yourself in Japan. Firstly, learn from the pro. You mix it, add a bit of sauces like soy sauce etc.

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Mixing the mix first
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Keep mixing…

Then pour it on the hot sizzling plate. This one is a monjayaki which is more watery and has lots of salmon roes in it. Apparently this is what kids eat as snacks in Japan.

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Cooking up Monjayaki

You use these little cute utensils to eat it as well!

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Monjayaki utensil

Now for IK’s turn to mix the Okonomiyaki.

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Mixing okonomiyaki

Then you layer it on the hot sizzling plate in a circular shape.

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Slapping it on the sizzling plate

Then flip it after a couple of mins. Then sprinkle some nori on top.

 

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Okonomiyaki
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Sprinkle some nori

Then some bonito flakes that wriggles. Then some Mayo on top and wahala Okonomiyaki DIY. Mr Dora shook his head when he saw the couple next door cooking it. Telling us its the WRONG way to do it. Tip for you – go with a local. well someone who loves to eat as well!

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Bonito sprinkling
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Mayo on top

We were pretty full by the time we actually had the real meal lol.We went to this very local but delicious izakaya – Ajihisa.

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Izakaya Ajihisa

Some Japanese pickles to start and some starters.

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Japanese Pickles

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Theres another fish market second biggest apparently near here and this is where that sashimi comes from. Big CHUNKY pieces yet so FRESH.

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Sashimi Moriawase

Next some clams, they were pretty big.

Clams
Clams

Fried oysters next. So damn good.

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Fried Oysters

Next, some fried chicken with lemon.

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Fried Chicken

Then a massive tempura platter

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Tempura platter

Fish testicles anyone? They were creamy and with some ponzu sauce, it was quite nice actually.

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Fish testicles

Then we had some Gingko nuts which was on top of some hot salt. Funny taste indeed, a little bitter, but texture was not hard, but more like chestnut texture.

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Gingko nut

I was seriously about to puke soon, I have certainly gained some weight during this trip and this monster nabe comes. My god, its got salmon, prawns, shittake mushrooms, clams, tofu, cabbage, enoki mushrooms, oysters as well.

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Seafood Nabe

Oysters were so good. Can’t beat a nice nabe in Japan. Ultimate dish.

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Nabe with oysters

Mr Dora was the last to finish eating. Can’t blame him, we had so much food!

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Mr Dora

Bottom line 

To really experience the local cuisine, nothing beats a local bringing you to places. I think Ajihisa was probably my favourite out of this trip. Being able to dine amongst locals without having a english menu and eat what they eat was amazing. Love to have some restaurant like that in Melbourne one day.

Izakaya Tonpei

This place reminds me of the local street food shops in Taiwan/ Hong Kong.

2 Chome-3-17 Asakusa, Taitō-ku, Tōkyō-to 111-0032, Japan

Go here for … : hoppy!

Rating : Only had a few dishes and hoppy so no rating for this place.

Ajihisa Izakaya

19-7 Senjuasahichō, Adachi-ku, Tōkyō-to 120-0026, Japan

Dish of the day : I think all of the dishes deserve some credit but the sashimi was just so fresh and chunky.

Disappointing thing : They don’t have desserts…

Rating 15/20

Next up : Zakuro Shabu Shabu and JAL first class lounge and Cathay Pacific First class experience

Tsukiji & Ueno

Bit of a foodie day today.The run down is as follows

  • Tsukiji for sushi/kaisendon
  • Ueno for Anmitsu (Mihashi)
  • Asakusa for Hoppi/Izakaya
  • Okonomiyaki  in Kitasenju
  • Local Japanese eatery in Kitasenju

We left mid morning for Tsukiji which is walkable from our hotel. This is the view from the Tokyo Park Hotel. The hotel’s lobby is located on level 20 or so, not on the ground floor, but the views you get from the reception area is just amazing. You can over see the roppongi area.

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View from Tokyo Park Hotel

Took us about 20 mins to walk to Tsukiji. We got out a bit later than we wanted to and even on a weekday, the market was packed. I’ve been to the market before and if you want to see the tuna auction which is so famous for, you gotta be there bright and early 5 am or something. A good experience and then you can have your favourite sushi afterwards. Theres quite a lot of shops to choose from, but the queues were just wayyy too long. So we chose the sushi place with the shortest queue.

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Tsukiji market packed in the morning

Here was one which was packed and the queue started into the street. There were quite a few Chinese tourists, and people in the restaurant can even speak some chinese now! Talk about following the flow.

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Kaisendon Restaurant

Instead we went next door to Bentomi sushi.

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Sushi Bentomi

You can peer through the windows to see what they’re eating, but there were very limited seats probably 10-12 max and all on the counter.

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It’s open, salivating but we can’t get in yet!

Peering through, you see the chef at work. There were 2 sushi chefs and an employee working in this small sushi restaurant.

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Sushi chef at work

The menu consisted of some sets and kaisendons.

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Bentomi Menu

You can also order a la carte if you can read Japanese. They had a “Today’s special” which i was able to read and IK had that.

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Bentomi Menu on the board

I naturally went for the kaisendon. This was so friggin good. The uni, the crab, the popping roe and salmon and tuna. hmmmm.

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Kaisendon

This is IK’s gentei which included 10 pieces of sushi.

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Today’s Special

And a front view. She gobbled it all up in no time.

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Today’s special

She also wanted to try the chu-toro (Tuna belly) which is very nice as well.

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Chu-toro

And also a Anago (sea eel) which was delicious.

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Anago

We were pretty content with this meal and after a short work, we went to Akihabara! Akihabara is known for its anime/electronics/manga books, and cosplay (girls dressed up in anime costumes ) I just wanted to be one for 5 secs…

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Akihabara!

We were walking towards ueno and were already salivating. Gindako is known for its Takoyaki and have a few franchises around. They had to have some anime posters since its Akiba after all.

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Gindako

Recognise this? Ippudo famous ramen. They have it in Hong Kong so didn’t bother trying this out.

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Ippudo

Finally we got to Mihashi (known for its Japanese sweets)

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MIhashi front of shop

Recommended by our friend.

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Mihashi

Anmitsu is well known here.

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Mihashi

We had a few to share. This was kuri-zenzai. A chestnut and red bean soup/dessert. This had a hot mochi inside, and a side of salty konbu to neutralise the sweetness. Very interesting indeed!

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Kuri Zenzai

Had 1 type of anmitsu (fruit cream) with soft serve. Quite nice.

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Fruit cream anmitsu

and a macha icecream anmitsu which was amazing as well.

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Macha icecream anmitsu

This shop is the main shop and has very famous Japanese desserts. Highly recommend this place if you’re around Ueno.

Mihashi

4-9-7 Ueno, Taito-ku
Tel: 03-3831-0384

Bentomi Sushi

Tsukiji Market Central Wholesale Building no. 8
Tokyo Metropolis, Chuo Ward
Tsukiji District, 5 Chome 2-1-8-4

Next up – Asakusa and Kita Senju for a local but awesome dinner.

 

Tokyo Sky Tree and Bistro Bizen

We wanted to check out the new Tokyo Sky Tree Tower which was quite close to Asakusa. We took the train and got off at Oshiage station and walked the Tokyo sky tree.

How to get there…

to climb this beast.

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Tokyo Sky Tree
Floor guide…

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Our friend who has been working in Sapporo until recently has never been, so we went together. The queue was crazy, it was like a maze of humans and one of our other friends told us he waited 3 hours last time! My god… Luckily we waited maybe 30 mins. So theres 2 observation decks. The first one goes up to 350m (Tembo Sky deck) and then you pay to go further up to 450m (Tembo Galleria). Galleria was smaller, also had 360 degree views but was less crowded.

 

 

 

 

But look at the night views you can get once you’re up there… You just wonder how friggin big Tokyo is.

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View from Tokyo Sky Tree

The views are just spectacular.

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Another view

Just thinking this can never happen in Australia…

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Another shot from the observation deck

There are quite a few interactive screens as well to learn more about Tokyo.

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Interactive screens

We managed to get a shot of santa up there as well.

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Santa shot
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Level
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Shot going up the elevator
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Night View
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Another board showing the landmarks

The views up Tokyo Sky tree are amazing. There were a lot of people so be warned. After checking out sky tree, the boys took us to a French / Japanese restaurant called Bistro Bizen. Bizen is the Japanese pottery. So every dish etc is made out of porcelin or Bizen as they call it.

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Bistro Bizen

We were a bit early by 30 mins or so and they wouldn’t let us in… So typical of Japanese, you have to come back at the RIGHT time. Anyway we felt like a beer and snack so we went to the Izakaya next door to have some skewers and izakaya food.

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Bistro Bizen Entrance
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Izakaya Menu

Fancy some offal? pretty damn good izakaya. One thing I didn’t like is that people can still smoke in restaurants etc.

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Offal Dish

We went back after 30 mins or so and were welcomed by some friendly Japanese staff. It’s only a very small restaurant, maybe 10-12 tables at most. So we sat down and were given the menu. Apparently there were a few items on the menu you MUST have. You choose i think 3 dishes you want to have and thats pretty much it. Our friend on the left is pretty enthusiastic about food so he was explaining each dish.

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Pondering what to have…

Ever had French food with chopsticks? Well you do at Bistro Bizen… Everything is Bizen, even the little vase is made from bizen.

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Pretty flowers in bizen
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Chopsticks… I think the chopsticks holder is bizen

The cutlery are so perfectly arranged. On the right is the menu. There were a few specials

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Cutlery at Bistro Bizen
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Bistro Bizen Menu

The flower arrangement was pretty impressive. A few Chandeliers and a cosy restaurant.

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Flower arrangement in Bistro Bizen
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Mini Flower Arrangement

We were offered some champagne to start. We ordered a bottle and IK ordered pear juice.

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Champagne
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Pear Juice

You’d think these were white chocolate balls. WRONG – butter to start of course. Bread was warm and crispy.

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Bizen butter
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Bread

First up was our entrees. IK had some sashimi with radishes and salmon roe. I had some lobster i think with fresh fruit!

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Sashimi – French style
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Lobster with fresh fruit

Don’t forget the cork.

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Cork

The mains or in between mains and entrees were amazing too. How about froe grois with rice ? Or fancy some abalone? These were french inspired but had this Japanese influence in these dishes. I think they marry quite well. The froe grois was rich and creamy and the creaminess is nullified by the rice.

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Abalone
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Froe Grois with rice

Next was some soup

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The mains didn’t disappoint as well. Lobster and beef. Again Japanese inspired dressings but beautifully cooked.

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Lobster
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Beef

Had to have some dessert as well. We had a mix of a few cakes, truffles, and a little surprise from the restaurant. Even had our faces on it!

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Dessert Platter
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Nice touch from Bistro Bizen
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Truffles

Overall, Bistro Bizen was truely a different perspective of French cuisine. The mains and entrees were excellent and the service typical of Japanese. IK was quite suprised about the crowd in the restuarant. We were the only younger ones, and were wearing just normal casual clothes. The table next to us had 2 couples and IK was suprised how upright the Japanese women sat. They laughed covering their mouths and she felt they were a bit fake. Our friends said, once they get home they don’t act like that. I guess its quite important in Japanese culture they impress and do what the norm does. But i guess having that culture, they seem to perfect everything and this restaurant is no different.

Bistro Bizen 

Address

4-3 Kandasurugadai, Chiyoda 101-0062, Tokyo Prefecture

Rating 16/20

Dish of the day – Froe Grois with rice

Next up : Tsukiji Market kaisen don again!

NAB rewards Rewards Premium Card bonus 40k points

There are quite a few good offers at this time of the year. Time to get your bonus points for your flights!

This popped up yesterday and I signed up immediately.

NAB Qantas Rewards Premium Card – bonus 40k points after eligible spend.

What’s the earn rate?

For the top 4 banks, it’s probably not the best earn rate compared to ANZ, CBA, Westpac. But it’s AMEX earn rate is the same as the others. The VISA points is a bit disappointing as you can see below.

AMEX – $1 to 1.5 Qantas points

VISA – $1 to 0.5 Qantas points.

What’s good about it?

  • 40000k free points once approved
  • comparable amex earn rate
  • 7 Complimentary insurances (Travel, extended warranty, purchase protection etc)
  • $0 annual fee for the first year. Usually $250.
  • Free supplementary card
  • 44 days interest free if you pay your bill on time.
  • Just need eligible spend to get 40k points. Doesn’t say you need to spend a certain amount.

Hard to apply?

  • You must apply online to get the offer
  • Should get immediate response
  • Should take 10 mins or so

Bottom line

  • Might only need to use it once or a few times and wait for the bonus points
  • Free 40k points – winner
  • not as good as the top bank cards which includes lounge passes etc. But for free, can’t complain.
  • You should all apply!

 

Amex Platinum Edge – Free annual fee and bonus 10000 points for you!

Those who know me, know I love my points. I’m sharing this one because it’s a fantastic deal and one of the best AMEX cards in terms of points earning IMO. other than the reserve which is my favourite, this is my second favourite.

Whats good about this card?

  • 3 Points earned per dollar in Supermarkets
  • 2 Points earned per dollar in Petrol stations
  • 1 Point earned for any other AMEX purchases
  • 0.5 Point earned for government / utility bill
  • FREE annual free for the 1st year – usually $195 dollars
  • If you click on my referral link you can get 10000 bonus points instead of 5000 points from the website.
  • You can transfer your MR points into 9 different airlines. Yes NINE.
  • FREE domestic flight. I don’t think you can do east west coast apparently. My reserve just beats it as it goes to New Zealand, but you can definitely fly virgin to sydney/brisbane no problems.

What does this mean?

  • A hell of alot of points! If you compare paying the best bank amex point earn rates they usually give you $1 to 1.5 point, so you earn double the amount of points per dollar. Winner. (Well only for supermarket spends) but WAIT. Woolworths and Coles have an array of different gift cards partners e.g. BIG W, Dick Smith, Caltex, Myer, Coles Express etc. So you can buy the gift cards and get 3 points per dollar! That might be different say you go to Myer, because you can go to the online mall and buy gift cards for 2 points per dollar plus your best AMEX card earn rate so essentially you can get 3.5 points per dollar that way. So it might be usual for coles express, big W etc. You just need to go to gift card section and see what you want.
  • You can transfer to NINE airline partners. So my favourite use is asian miles which has much better award availability than Qantas and the points required are LESS.

Wheres the link?

  • Just click on here and off you go! I got IK to sign up for it so i could get 10k points and she will too. I already got my 10k points immediately. MR points gets credited almost immediately so theres no real wait like qantas.

Bottom Line

  • Get this deal before the annual free offer ends. No brainer if its free, get 10k points, better earn rate and free flight.

Tokyo Part 1

I’m on a roll here with blogging. Must be my new year resolution for 2015. Theres just quite a bit to blog which is fantastic. Hope you guys are enjoying it. So, we got to Narita Airport quite late, our friend was kind enough to pick us up from the airport and we took the airport bus to Tokyo Station. It’s been a while since I’ve been in Tokyo and I usually take the bus as well. For those who don’t know, it takes a while to get to down town and the cheapest way is to take the bus. Our friend took us to a new company Keisei bus (http://keiseibus.co.jp) which was only 1000yen to go to Tokyo station compared to 3000 yen or so for the airport limo. Mind you, they don’t speak much english, so you’ll need to know where you going and what to say.

We booked 4 nights at the Tokyo Park Hotel which was amazing. (Photos to come). Its in the middle of the Business district and has a amazing view of Tokyo Tower. It is located just above Shiodome Station. Shiodome has the Nippon Television right nearby and also the famous copper clock by Hayao Miyazaki (For those who don’t know him, hes the famous anime director ) of studio Ghibili. Its the largest anime clock in the world!

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Copper clock by Hayao Miyazaki

We met up with my sister and she took us to what she described as “old Tokyo” Nippori. We took the train to Nippori and went to the Yanaka Ginza Market. This market has small shops along the street and some temples.

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Yanaka Ginza Temples

They also have SENBEI shops! (Japanese Savory biscuits). Or little snacks you much whilst having beer.

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Senbei Shop

Front of the senbei shop

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Senbei Shop

Another Temple we went to.

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Another Temple

Another shot of it.

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Temple

A small cemetry to the left and a shrine once you hit the end.

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Temple

Want to make a wish? Simple put a coin in the box and dong the bell and clap your hands twice and make a wish.

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In the temple

Like the craft

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Temple craft

I don’t know why my niece is looking away.

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Family

There was a dorayaki shop as well. ( Red bean in a bun)

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Dorayaki shop

Want some young one? Course she does.

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My niece and my dorayaki

The steps of Yanaka Ginza.

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Steps of Yanaka Ginza

Here it is, the start of the market.

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Yanaka Ginza Market

Haven’t even had lunch yet, and we already want to try some stuff out. This place had some creme puffs and some interesting juices.

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Japanese restaurant in Yanaka Ginza

Nice paintings on the walls.

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Paintings

Here she is airing her mouth.

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Airing

Nice Light.

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Light

Fancy Persimmon juice and fig juice?

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Persimmon and Fig juice

Or maybe a green tea creme puff? Very crunchy but cold. Still good.

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Green tea creme puff

Or maybe some sorbet with some green tea.

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sorbet & green tea

Various arts and crafts along this street. Even buildings are decorated with various arts.

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Building in Nippori

Want to make your own stamp? You can have your name on these stamps and you can choose what you want on it. Cute.

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Japanese Stamps

Fancy some sweets?

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Japanese Sweets

Little cafes as well.

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Japanese Cafes

Feeling peckish. Went for a fried Croquette.

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Fried Croquette

Want some Japanese sandals? You can also get it here.

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Japanese sandal shop

Finally we can have lunch. I’m already full but we gotta have lunch right? So we went to a soba restaurant which was small. They also have non soba items like Tendon.

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Tendon

We shared a oyster soba noodles which was hot.

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Kaki Soba

You can have set lunches as well.

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Set Lunches

The stairs are quite famous, called Yuyake Dandan (Sunset Stairs) Must be quite pretty during sunset.

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Yuyake dandan

After lunch my sister wanted to take me to another place to eat, on the way in the station we saw these dolls.

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Dolls in Nippori Station

Went through Tokyo station and took some photos with some NHK idols. My niece was happy!

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My Niece with her idols

Heres some more.

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and more…

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We took the train to this place in Minato. Le Souffle. Apt name because… thats their signature dish!

 

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Le souffle

Even teaches you how to eat it!

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Intructions on how to have souffle.

Whoops sorry, they also have quiches, which were lovely. I don’t think there is anything not tasty in Japan. As we went in, I noticed one thing, there werent a single male in sight. Yes, its Saturday, all the ladies have having their desserts and I guess men aren’t interested in food afterall? It’s good to be a Japanese housewife afterall.

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Quiches.

There was like a dozen flavours to choose from.

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More quiches

Sauce for the Souffle.

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Sauce for the souffle.

Here it is. Again, there were many flavours, you can tell they used good quality egg white, look how fluffy it is.

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Souffle.

this one was a praline souffle.

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Praline Souffle

Felt like we had like 5 or 6 little lunches. This place was pretty awesome, it can be quite expensive, but for afternoon tea, it’s quite affordable. I’ve never been to Nippori and it was interesting, sampling various snacks.

Le Souffle

Address : 3-13-10 Nishiazabu, Minato 106-0031, Tokyo Prefecture

How to get there : Take the subway to Minato Station and walk 10-15 mins.

Next, we met up with some friends for a very interesting French Japanese restaurant. Ever used chopsticks to have French food? I have! Wait for part 2 Tokyo!

 

Sapporo (Bier Garten, Rouryu Ramen, Picante, Tanukikoji Street etc!)

 

We got to Sapporo pretty late after a long day at Otaru. Takes about an hour or so to drive back to Sapporo. We wanted to have some Genghis Khan (Lamb Mutton) for dinner. We asked our Japanese friends and they recommended us to go to Sapporo Bier Garten. We took the train and walked about 15 mins to get here. DSC_3029

Japanese Bier Garten

When you get there, you have a choice of three Genghis Khan restaurants. 1. The Kessell Hall which we ended up going to, 2. The garden grill and 3. Lilac. I told the guy, my wife loves MEAT, so which one would you recommend? He goes ” They all have meat ” Thanks I know that! But he suggested to go to the Kessell Hall because of the atmosphere. Kessell Hall is a red brick building with ivy climbing up the walls. It is known for its massive cauldron.

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Sapporo Bier Garten in Kessel Hall

Heres the Giant Cauldron. Bar tenders were beneath this pouring tap beers.

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Giant Cauldron

Obviously we went for the lamb mutton. There were some all you can eat menus, but we thought we can’t possibly eat that much. So we went for a few lamb sets which includes vegetables. They taught us how to grill the mutton. Meat in the inside, vegetables on the outside and they used some lamb fat as oil.

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Lamb Mutton

Closer look at the grill. It can get pretty messy so they give you a paper apron with sapporo Bier Garten on it.

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The Grill

Some Mutton on the grill. I wouldn’t say it was that tasty or that good. There wasn’t much sauce that goes with it. Only came with some pepper and salt.

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Mutton on the grill

We also ordered a side of Grilled Calamari. Standard stuff.

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Grilled Calamari

After some mutton, we walked around Sapporo for a bit. It was getting cold, but thought we should check out what Sapporo was like. We went past the Sapporo Tower.

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Sapporo Tower

During winter and the christmas season, there are many christmas lights near the tower.

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Christmas illumination

The next day we had a list of a few places to go to. First was this place! Ryoryu Ramen. I was expecting a super busy place and a queue. However… there was not a person in sight. This place was out in the suburbs and luckily we had the GPS which accurately took us here. We opened the door and I asked the owner who seemed to be doing this for donkey years ” are you open”. He goes ” errr wwaaiiit please!” Japanese really follow every single friggin step and rules. I mean if they don’t open until 12 they don’t friggin open! He was kind enough to let us sit and told us to wait.

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Ryoryu Ramen

It seems to be a very local ramen place. Obviously no english. It was only run by the old man and his wife. But he seemed like a veteran when making the broth. He scoops a bit of the miso and puts a little bit at a time into the soup to make it JUST right. Sapporo is known for its Miso Ramen.

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Ryoryu Ramen Menu

As you can see Right to Left, Miso ramen is first on the list for 700 yen. About 7 bucks Aussie. Cheap as.

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Menu Close up

IK wanted the butter corn Miso ramen. They actually put a block of butter on top. so rich. It was creamy and so good. The broth tasted so good. And the most importantly you can drink the broth. Most broths I had in Japanese ramen are wayyy too fat.

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Butter corn Miso Ramen

I just went for the normal Miso Ramen. Just as tasty. Probably the best ramen I’ve had for a long time.

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Miso Ramen

Next stop! Picante! Another speciality in Sapporo is the curry soup. Our friend who lived in Sapporo for a few years told us about this place. It’s a pretty weird place actually. The menu is quite complicated.

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Picante Menu

Again a little off the CBD maybe 15 mins away. Snowing quite heavily so we rushed in.

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Picante

WELCOME…

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Welcome Sign

Front of Picante.

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Picante

Lots of one piece inspired menus….

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Random advertisements and one piece ….

So what you have to do is to choose the soup base. They have strange names for their soups. wtf is a GOAN dish anyway. There are also specials for each day of the week.

After the soup, you choose what you want in it. e.g. chicken thigh etc.

Then you choose the degree of chilli in your soup.

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Picante menu

I saw there was some Lasii so IK ordered a mango lasii.

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Mango Lassii

I wanted to be a bit more Japanesy and went for the Yuzu Lassi.

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Yuzu Lassi

We were pretty full from the ramen so we ordered just one dish to share. Fried chicken thigh.

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Fried chicken thigh curry soup

The soup was a bit watery, I preferred something a bit thicker. Maybe because i didn’t know what to order. also came with some rice.

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Rice

After that we went to the Nijo Market. It was a fairly small market with some sushi shops and fresh seafood.

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Nijo Market

Hokkaido CRAB… Looks so good. didn’t buy any unfortunately. My tummy was about to explode.

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Hokkaido Crab

We then went to do some shopping at the Tanuki koji. This place was so long. So long it goes far beyond your eyes can see. Its a shopping district which sells mostly food, souvenirs etc. we bought lots of chocolates back home.

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Tanukikoji

We drove back to chitose and walked around the airport. There is quite a bit to see in the Sapporo airport. IK wanted to have some calbee. I was like okay go for it, and then found out that its bloody calbee with CHOCOLATE. They freshly make the chips for you and add icecream and chocolate on top. Worse combination ever.

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Calbee ice-cream

Here it is. So evil…

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Calbee icecream

After eating some sushi in the airport and a few other things, we took a domestic flight to Tokyo!

Overall, we wished we stayed at least 5 days in Sapporo. There seemed to be much more to see. But I think we did quite well squeezing all these places in 2 days.

Next up – Tokyo!

 

Otaru Mazasushi

After walking for a while, we wanted to have a late lunch. I mean we haven’t had sushi yet. in Japan and we’re dying to try out some Hokkaido sushi. Here is the Otaru Canal. Quite famous apparently. Alot of boutique shops along the canal.

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Otaru Canal

Here is the glass wear shop. We didn’t have time to go in!

 

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Otaru Glasswear shop

Ro Man Kan – Translated as Romantic shop (something like that). Little ornaments and little souvenirs, jewellery etc.

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Otaru Ro Man Kan

Here it is. Theres a few sushi restuarants along this canal. This is meant to be the most famous one. Otaru Mazasushi.

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Otaru Mazasushi

We sat at the bar because i wanted an interaction with the chef. I told him a spoke some Japanese and he was delighted. I had a sushi set with an appetiser, and IK had another set. Some tofu to start.

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Tofu

My set had some squid and uni with some dipping sauce.

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Raw Squid with sea urchin

Weird looking devil.

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ok… its some sorta devil

Heres the counter. Typical Japanese sushi restaurant.

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Over the counter

Pretty quiet during lunch time. You have to have sushi over the counter, so they can put it on your plate.

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The sushi counter

Heres IK’s set. Typical flare of sushi. It was delicious.

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IK’s sushi set

Mine was a bit smaller because i had the appetiser. Wasn’t bad.

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My sushi set

Miso soup to finish.

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Miso Soup

Rating : 14/20

Thoughts : Well, it was nice sushi, nice environment, but i was expecting a bit more with the sushi. Wasn’t bad, but maybe different types of sushi. Next time maybe we should go for the omakase. Or if a local took us, might have been different.

Dish of the day : no doubt you want sushi…

Address :

1-1-1 Hanazono, Otaru 047-0024, Hokkaido.

Next review : Sapporo!

 

Otaru & Otaru Music Box Museum

After checking out, we drove to Otaru town which was around 10 mins drive. We wanted to visit the Sankaku Fish Market and find somewhere for lunch. It was snowing quite heavily this day, and we took a while to drive around to find parking. Theres no street parking like there is in Aust. Its all pay parking. So there was one right next to the market after going round and round. We parked and stumbled here. Kaisen don! Theres quite a few Kaisendon restaurants in here, some with a fish shop attached to it.

There are so many choices! Prices are fairly reasonable i feel given the size. Look at the ikura!

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Menu of Kaisendon
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Menu in the restaurant

Wanted some humongous oysters as well. They were not that tasty unfortunately. No freshness in the taste.

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Oysters

Lots of photos on the ceiling. I think of celebrities and random patrons.

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Photos on the wall

Flat head fish sashimi. FRESH.

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Flat head sashimi

I went for this Kaisen don. Has Uni, ikura, crab and salmon. Salivating.

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Kaisendon

Another angle just incase.

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Kaisen Don

Fish soup. Very nice.

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Fish Soup

Japanese are known for their vending machines. Cheap as well.

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Japanese vending machines

After lunch, decided to go to Otaru Station. its snowing but its such a pretty little town.

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Otaru Station

Streets of Otaru. Many little shops in Otaru.

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Streets of Otaru

Walked past this place. Kitakaro. They sell lots of sweets, esp biscuits, castellas, ice cream etc. They have lots of tastings, so you can get pretty damn full once you’re in there! WE obviously bought lots of souvenirs.

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Kitakaro

Our main attraction of the day. Otaru Music Box Museum! Nice little historic building on the corner.

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Otaru Music Box Museum

Grandfather clock to come with it.

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Grandfather clock

Lets have a look inside. They have godzillions of music boxes. Its close to christmas, so santa ones, key rings, ferris wheels etc. you name it they have it. They have about 3 floors. I think the top floor is a museum. This was just amazing.

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Inside the music box museum.

Lots of different types of figurines. Who’s this?

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in the music box factory

Even sell lamps. Who’s holding this USA flag?

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Music Box Lamp.

IK spend probably 2 hours here. We bought many little gifts for our nieces and they loved it to bits.

We will probably come back here again very soon. There’s so much to see and we only had really 1 day….

Next up – Mazasushi in Otaru. Famous sushi restaurant in Otaru.