Gyu Katsu

IK found Gyu Katsu in her guide book. Fairly local place in Shibuya and we have heard good things about it. There’s alot of construction going on around the area so took us a bit longer to find. Gyu Katsu opens at 10 or 11am so we were the first ones there. after 20 mins, there was already a long queue. This only seats about 10 or 12 people max in a small basement. Here is the sign outside.

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Gyu Katsu

Obviously know what it is famous for. Similar to katsu chicken its just katsu beef. (Deep fried)

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Gyu Katsu

People queue even on the stairs to check this place out. Most of the customers are young students or overseas visitors and you could see why it is so popular. It is pretty cheap and good quality.

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another sign down the stairs

The menu is pretty straight forward. All they have is Gyu Katsu and pretty much nothing else. So you just choose which size set you want and whether you want to have taro or no taro on your rice.

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Gyu Katsu Menu

They have all the cabbage ready for the customers.

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Getting Cabbage ready

What was interesting was this little small stone grill. You can grill your beef as it is pretty much medium rare inside a bit longer if you like it a bit more cooked. It gives a different texture and flavour.

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Mini Stone Grill

For foreigners, they even teach you the ways to eat gyu katsu. You could have wasabi and soy sauce, horseradish or just with salt.

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How to eat menu

Here it is. I think ours were like 150g or so. We didn’t want to have too much as we usually like to have more than a few meals throughout the day.

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Gyu Katsu

I chose to have taro as well. you can have one more bowl of rice if you’re hungry. I heard a young man say a second BIG BOWL please and it was as requested mountain high.

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Bottom line

It was delicious. Maybe i should order the 300g or whatever size up they had next. It was just enough but just so delicious and juicy and tender.

Tip : go there early!

Rating 14.5/20

Address : Address: 3-18-10 Shibuya | B1F Ono Bldg. 2-Gokan, Shibuya 150-0002, Tokyo Prefecture

Rue D’Or St Regis Osaka Review

We were pretty tired and didn’t want to venture out too far for a meal. So we went shopping and sightseeing till late and came back to eat around 8pm at St Regis’s own restaurant. I called to book this during the day at the downstairs Rue D’Or french restaurant. Usually Japanese have good French/Italian fusion cuisines.

Menu was an IPAD! thats interesting. im not sure whether i like this idea or not. I always think a piece of paper/menu is always better and special.

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Ipad Menu

 

St Regis guests have a special menu which is slightly cheaper and better. This is today’s menu. I had to prompt them for this menu however.

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St Regis Rue D’Or Menu

I opted for the 3 course wine pairing for I think 3000 yen which was cheap.

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Glass of Champagne
Amuse Bouche to start. 
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Amuse Bouche
Next up was Lobster, Cavier and gratin served in a shell. I think you get all the good stuff in one hit. Check this out. It was pretty good. 
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Lobster, Cavier and gratin served in a shell.

Gotta have some bread in a French restaurant.

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French Bread
My next glass of white wine. 
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White Wine

Next up was a sweet garlic galette with a salad of asparagus and plum tomato.

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sweet garlic galette with a salad of asparagus and plum tomato

A bit of a soup next which was an chilli avocado soup with tortilla chips

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chilli avocado soup with tortilla chips

interesting interior.

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St Regis Rue D’Or interior
Next was a John Dory Fillet with aubergine caviar and olive tapenade. We were pretty full at this point. But there was more to come. 
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John Dory Fillet with aubergine caviar and olive tapenade.

Final dish was duck breast with lavender, fennel and peach puree. It was wonderfully presented. The chef was French and you can see the French cooking and presentation.

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Duck breast with lavender, fennel and peach puree
Finally, dessert! I think this was a reaspberry creme brulee. It was made to perfection. 
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Raspberry Creme Brulee
The St Regis Bar was quite popular according to reviews and it looked awesome. It was hard not to come in as you had to past here to get back to your hotel room. As platinum guests, there was a special where you buy one whisky get one free. 
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St Regis Bar

Before dinner, we saw a couple and the girl had some flowers as well. Anyway they eventually moved into the bar. Probably has dating her or was about to propose? Who knows. Quite funny seeing Japanese couples date. The interior had some Japanese painting (obviously of Osaka seeing the castle there) But there was also a touch of New York.

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Inside St Regis Bar
Drinks were not cheap but as SPG members, drinks were discounted. The bartender was a female as well! Pretty unusual but cool. I had a negroni and it didn’t disappoint. 
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Negroni
IK had a mojito which was pretty well executed. 
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Mojito

You cannot come to Japan without having one of their famous whiskys. Note some of the prices!

 

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Whisky Menu

I had no choice but to order one! I’m sorry I even forgot what I had!

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Japanese Whisky on rocks

Bottom Line – Japanese can also do good Western Food. This place was quite worth it for the quality and being a St Regis guest, the special was a no brainer. I thought service was a bit lackluster maybe because we came late so everything seemed rush. They had waiters who had fairly good english so we were quite impressed

Tip – have the set menu if you’re staying at the hotel. You get a better price/menu.

Rating – 16/20

Address : Japan, 〒541-0053 Osaka Prefecture, Osaka, Chuo Ward, Honmachi, 3−6−12

Kushiyaki Manten Kyoto Review

It was pouring heavily and the sushi place we wanted to go in Gion was closed this day. We wanted to have kyoto style sushi but no choice, we have to have something else.

Second option was to have kushiyaki and this place was on our list. Its located along this small alleyway which runs right along the Kamo River. We could have picked any place along this alley way;there were so many restaurants but thought I had to go here. We were sharing a small umbrella, feet were soaking wet, we thought to ourselves it better be worth it.

We finally got there and there were quite a few foreigners in here. We thought uh oh tourist trap. Not really!

We got a nice big table and we also asked them for an english menu just in case.

Here is a page of the menu with the usual kushiyaki goodies.

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Menu

Alot of “gaijin” eating here. One thing I don’t like about some of these izakayas in Japan are that they let them smoke inside. Should follow most other countries and start banning them from doing that.

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Kushiyaki Manten

There are counter seats or table seats. I think there is also a second floor. Being on this floor means you can see the chefs show off their grilling skills.

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Counter Seats

Menu was quite extensive. We ended up getting a set and some other things as well.

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Menu

This was part of the set with some asparagus, eggplant and some other goodies. I’ll just let the picture speak for themselves.

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Kushiyaki set

Some giblets, prawns, scallops and other stuff as well.

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more kushiyaki

This was a dumpling with quail egg on top on a hot plate. Served with some soy sauce it was interesting, but not that memorable.

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Dumpling with Quail Egg

This ochazuke was really good. This has eel in it and IK just gobbled it up. quite refreshing on a rainy day like this.

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Eel Ochazuke

Ochazuke is pretty much tea and rice with a few pickles. love it.

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Some more kushiyaki from the set.

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It’s a typical izakaya. busy, lively. We also had some insect roaming around on our table. The girls were staring at it and couldn’t help laughing. They managed to kill it for us so we could keep eating our kushiyaki. Pretty funny indeed.

Their english wasn’t so good but I was fine with my Japanese. But maybe we would have ordered other stuff if we were with a local.

Overall its good to try this stuff in Japan. But nothing memorable really

Rating 13/20

Address

179-1 Zaimokucho Nakagyo-ku Kyoto Kyoto

 

Roan Kikunoi Kyoto 木屋町店

We went sightseeing all morning and our scheduled time for lunch was at 1:30pm. We were pretty excited to go to a 2 star Michelin restaurant – Roan Kikunoi Kiyamachi. This is not the main restaurant but apparently its just as good. It’s located around the gion district next to a bridge and it was quite easy to find.

The owner of the restaurant is Murata-san who is extremely famous in Japan apparently. the ANA meals on the flight are designed by him apparently.

My friend helped me book this restaurant and we didn’t get confirmed until a few days prior. There must have been a cancellation.

We got there at 1:30pm and there’s 10 kappo style seats and a few tatami seats (2 to be exact) for larger groups.

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Roan Kikunoi Kiyamachi

We were greeted by a lady and were led to our counter seats. We were shown the menu with english and also in Japanese.

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English Menu

Japanese menu here.

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Japanese Menu

Everything seemed meticulous as all Japanese are. We had our drinks and I loved how you can interact with the chefs. Our first course was a sake which i forgot to take with a fragrance of shiso leaf to cleanse our palate.

This was our amuse – Fresh uni Tofu, light soy sauce gel with Wasabi and Wakame Seaweed. I love tofu and this was just perfect. the gel was a little thick and perfect with this type of spoon.

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Fresh uni Tofu, light soy sauce gel with Wasabi and Wakame Seaweed.

Our next appetizer (hassun) was the Tai and cucumber rolls, brook shrimp, octopus roe, Hamo (pike conger) sushi, ginger, small abalone, salad of fresh wheat gluten and Aouri (melon) with sesame sauce. Wow even the name itself was long. This was amazing as you can see.

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Tai and cucumber rolls, brook shrimp, octopus roe, Hamo (pike conger) sushi, ginger, small abalone, salad of fresh wheat gluten and Aouri (melon) with sesame sauce

All the chefs were working hard.

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Chefs at work

Next was some sashimi – Tai (red sea bream), Hamo (pike conger), curled cucumber, wasabi, ume sauce. This hamo was amazing. Had some flowers on top as well. You have the hamo with the plum sauce and tai with the soy sauce obviously.

 

 

 

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Tai (red sea bream), Hamo (pike conger), curled cucumber, wasabi, ume sauce.

Next was a soup dish. Tougan, shrimp dumpling, kidney bean, kinome herb sauce, ginger. Japanese kaiseki doesn’t usually have heavy flavours. This soup wasn’t salty, it was a little thick and delicious.

 

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Next was a soup dish. Tougan, shrimp dumpling, kidney bean, kinome herb sauce, ginger.

Next was using the same fish before, Hamo, cucumber, wakame salad. It must be cucumber season as alot of dishes had cucumber in it.

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Hamo, cucumber, wakame salad

This was probably the dish of the day for me. Grilled miso-marinated flatfish with yuzu. It was PERFECTLY cooked, had a light flavour of miso and just melted in my mouth. delicious.

 

 

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Grilled miso-marinated flatfish with yuzu

Also came with some Rice with Hamo, Japanese pickles and another soup Gobou soup. The chef here was getting the rice out.

 

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Chef getting the rice out

The rice was infused with the hamo. The pickles married well to open up your appetite a bit even though the food wasn’t heavy at all.

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Lastly we had a Yatsuhashi icrecream, warabi mochi which is quite famous in kyoto. IK loved mochi.

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Yatsuhashi icrecream, warabi mochi

Once we were done, we were given some toothpicks which looked like they were hand cut.

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Toothpicks

We didn’t finish all the hamo rice and they asked if we would like to have this take away and make some onigiris for us – why not michelin star midnight snack!
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It was an amazing choice to come here and I can see why the chef is so famous. His dishes were made to perfection – traditional and well executed. Lunch is cheaper than dinner so it was quite rushed but we didn’t mind that at all.

Tips : Ask your concierge of if you have friend to book for you.

Rating 18/20

118 Saitocho Kiyamachidori 40-jo Sagaru
Shimogyu-ku, Kyoto 600-8012
Kyoto Prefecture
Japan
+81 75 361 5580
http://kikunoi.jp/english/store/roan/

 

Kinoe Yakiniku Kyoto

I was highly impressed with our concierge at the Westin Miyako Hotel who helped us book Kinoe Yakiniku which my friend from Japan recommended. She printed out a map, helped make our reservation and made sure there was an english menu etc. This place was fairly close to the hotel, maybe 15 mins by public transport. It was in a residential area in the northern part of kyoto. Here it is.

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Kinoe Frontage

They had huge barrels of Hakushu whiskys as well. hmmmm

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Hakushu Distillery

The menu was a bit complicated. On the back of the page, there were some menus which you needed to book before. So we ended up getting 2 sets of Omi Beef and added yukke as well.

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Kinoe Menu

Ordered a tap beer to start.

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Tap Beer

Came with 3 sauces as well. The waiters are pretty good, they tell you which course is for which sauce.

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Sauces

An appetizer course with some beef and fat.

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Beef Appetiser

We specially ordered a serve of yukke as it seemed famous on the menu.

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Yukke

Then we were served with some salad with japanese dressing.

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Salad dressing

I loved the Japanese yakiniku, they don’t stick and they seemed easy to clean. There was no smoke and it filters back in. Started off with 2 pieces of omi beef.

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First 2 pieces of omi beef

We were a bit worried as we are usually used to huge portions. Here comes another 2 pieces.

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More beef

Don’t forget some veggies as well. Corn and Zucchini.

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Corn & Zucchini

This time with garlic chips. See the fat on the left? They used that to oil up the grill and sear this one. Wonderful.

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Beef with garlic chips

This one is marinated which was also very nice.

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Marinated beef

Another dish of marinated beef.

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more marinated beef

Had some lettuce to wrap the beef up as well.

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Lettuce

Also some asparagus, tomato and beans with some mayo and miso sauce.

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Vegies.

Had to order a Hakushu High Ball which was delicious

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Hakushu High Ball

This marinated beef he seared it for us and perfected it. Only 10 or so seconds each side and straight away melts in your mouth.

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Beef that melts in your mouth

We also had a rice as well as there wasn’t much carbs. Funny enough portions looked small but it was enough for both of us.

Freshened up with some watermelon afterwards and some tea.

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Japanese yakiniku was really good. I’m sure there are other places around but this was perfect. I recommend getting the most expensive set as it might not be enough for 2 people. Beef was good and couldn’t really complain. It was expensive but looking at the marbling of the beef, you are just in heaven.

Rating 14.5/20

Yakiniku Dining Kinoe URL: http://s.openrice.com/UbKSEG3x48500

Add.: 34-1, Tojiji-cho, Oshikoji-dori Yanaginobanba Higashi-iru, Nakagyo-ku, Kyoto-shi, Kyoto, Kyoto Imperial Palace Tel.: 075-211-2991

 

JAL First Class Sakura Lounge & Cathay First Class Review.

As I mentioned previously I used US Dividend Miles to purchase my points. There was a special in which you can buy 100% bonus points. up to 80000 points maximum. So 40000 points and you’ll get 80000 points. So i bought i think maximum 80000 points for around ~$1830USD. I may not be ever going to be able to buy these flights for these points again as US airways are merging with American Airlines and the points required from HK to Japan is more than what US airways require. And Never in my life I would ever buy premium seats without these bonuses. So don’t think I’m loaded or anything, I’m just merely maximising these perks out there and anyone even you can do it.

So, yes we’re flying FIRST class for the FIRST time. We arrived at Narita airport and checked in at the Cathay Pacific Counter. Cathay Pacific – a one world member means you can use the lounge in other one world airlines. I was looking forward to this because First Class passengers and emerald status members can enjoy going into the First Class Sakura Lounge which is part of JAL airlines. Remember – when you visit the airport which is the home of that particular airlines, the lounge is most likely to be much better. We had the choice of going into the Cathay Business & First Class Lounge, why would you when you can enter the FIRST class JAL lounge?

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Sakura Lounge

Only a short walk after immigration, we entered the Sakura Lounge. The lady looked at our lounge pass and they had like 5-6 staff manning the counter. We almost couldn’t get through because they didn’t know the rules.  Once you’re in, there is a spa section where you can have a 15 minute massage. Mind you, you need to book around about 45 minutes in advanced to have your massage. So I put my name down whilst we looked around the lounge. There are some nice views of the tarmac of many JAL planes. There was a cathay pacific plane in the distance as well.

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Views from the tarmac

The other amazing thing about the first class lounge is a sushi bar. yes a SUSHI bar. The bar doesn’t open until 2:30pm or 3pm so we had about 20-30mins to wait which was manageable. There was also a self serve sake bar, other drinks and some food items buffet style. The chef was preparing the sushi….

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Sushi Bar at the Sakura Lounge

So we got some food which was okay, some salads etc.

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my massage pass and appetisers

I went closer to the sushi bar for another snap. Chef was nowhere to be seen at this minute. Salivating…

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Sushi Bar

So I had no choice but to get some more sake, a compari orange and some, Japanese curry rice and some pate whilst waiting for the sushi.

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Japanese curry rice

Finally, 3:00pm, we lined up to get our sushi. There was only a set so you don’t get to choose what you get. Had some tuna, prawn and tamago. Still you can get it as many times as you like! All you can eat! I think i had 3 plates worth.

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Sushi platter at the Sakura Lounge

So good to have an actual sushi chef making your sushi.

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Chef doing his thing.

After being super full, I had my 15 minute massage. I was expecting a nice hot looking Japanese girl doing it, however it was a guy… Anyway he was great, although fully clothed, you get a choice of back massage, leg and I think a neck massage.

We walked about 10 mins to the gate and it was already queuing up. Even the Business class queue was long. So, being first class passengers, we flashed our tickets and went straight to the front of the queue – first ones in. We got in and they welcomed us, and told us both of you are the only ones in first class so you may choose any seat you like! OMG i thought. I mean theres only 6 seats in the Cathay 777 plane and its a reasonably short flight of around less than 5 hours, I guess at most business class will do most people.

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Me sitting in FIRST class

Ok lets have a look at the seat. The seat width is humongous. I mean you can fit two people comfortably in one of these seats. Theres a massive side skirt where you can comfortably put all your goodies like ipad, wallet etc. Also have the iconic lily in each seat.

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Cathay 777 First Class seat

I was offered some champagne. I was a bit disappointed it wasn’t the Krug I was expecting, but was pretty good regardless.

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First Class Champagne

There’s also an ottoman where you can sit another person comfortably on the other side. I’ll explain why they have that in a minute. Theres a massive screen and there’s no over head lockers, so you just put your carry on under the seat in front.

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Cathay’s First class seat. Includes the ottoman

The flight attendant also gave us a hot towel and a bottle of eviaaaann.

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Hot towel and bottle of evian

First Class menu.

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First Class menu

There were a few choices. There was also a special Japanese Kaiseki menu which IK chose. I went for the lobster and steak.

The Menu is as Follows

  • Starters
    • Maine Lobster with fingerling potato
    • Cauliflower cream soup
  • Main Courses
    • Grilled US prime beef tenderloin with chive garlic, mashed potatoes, glazed baby carrots and mushroom ragout with Madeira
    • Braised duck with pickled chilli steamed jasmine rice, broccoli and carrot
    • Mezzi rigatoni tossed with Parmesan, zucchini cream, carrot and artichoke
  • Cheese and Dessert
    • Stilton, Pecorini, St Pauline, Camembert
    • Fresh Seasonal fruit
    • Mixed berry tartlet

As for the Japanese Meal I’ll go through it with the photos in a minute.

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First Class menu

We had 3 flight attendants to 2 of us in first class. I mean thats just insane. Derek the Chief flight manager had this funny english accent when he was on the PA. Seemed to exaggerate all his words and has this funny tone on all his words. They asked when we wanted our meals, we opted to have it sooner rather than later so we could snooze a bit later.

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Watched a movie or 2

Little light on the side to read your books or do some work.

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Reading light.

We asked for some more drinks. Went for the Cathay delight and it came with some nuts (on some plates of course).

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Cathay Delight & nuts

Was looking frantically to recline the seats, and found this little screen to recline the seat into a fully flat bed.

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LCD screen to recline your seats.

Went over to IK’s seat and took of photo of this.

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View from the plane

Here’s the first course. Braised whelk, fish cake with crab meat, scallop with pepper, stewed smelt with lotus root and chestnut. It was very Japanesy, and catering from Japan, you can’t expect less I Guess. I should have chosen this!

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Frist course – Canapes

They also give a little card hand written of course to say it’s a pleasure to look after your during this flight etc. Nice touch.

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Bon Appetit card

Here it is close up. 

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Bon Appetit

I obviously went for the lobster. the potatoes was a let down, dry, basic simple. The lobster was also a bit cold and didn’t seem that particularly fresh. It was okay only.

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Start – Maine lobster with fingerling potato

Now, you see why the ottoman can be useful. They can pull out a table and you can have dinner with your loved ones up in the air! How cool is that. My only problem was dinner was about almost 2 hours long, so i was missing out on a nice throne seat ! Anyway, can’t beat having dinner with your loved one.

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Having a dinner date in the air

Check out the view now of somewhere over Japan.

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View from the air

The appetizer was a shrimp meat with wasabi, sea urchin, smoked snapper, smoked tuna served with green apple liqueur. This was lovely, even though IK had it. Very delicate, very fresh.

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The appetizer

A close up shot for you.

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Appetizer

Apple liqueur was really nice too.

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Apple Liqueur

My other starter was the cauliflower cream soup. Reading about hte meals on first class on Cathay, the entrees are usually the best and the main course is usually very average. I can see why. The soup was great though.

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Cauliflower soup

Braised Dish – Bean curd, fish roe, mushroom and pumpkin

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Braised Dish

Heres my steak. This was really average I’m afraid to say. The flight attendant did ask how I wanted to meat. I said medium rare, and this was overly cooked 100%. But a hint of redness at all… Potatoes wasn’t sieved through enough and the vegetables were just vegetables. Didn’t finish this as it was too average for my liking. Plus I was too full from the lounge!

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Prime beef tenderloin main

Next main dish – Broiled Black cod with sea urchin sauce and rice powder dusted crab claw. This was great. I love how Japanese cook their fish. So delicious.

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Kaiseki Main dish

also came with

  • Scallop, pickled sea cucumber, anglar livery, globe fish skin julienne, green shiso vinegar radish
  • Noodle – Yuzu soba noodle and buckwheat noodle
  • Rice served with assorted pickles and miso soup.

This meal is amazing. Because I wanted to try out the other mains so I could review it for you guys. Otherwise I reckon we both should have had this. Wonderful.

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The mains in a tray.

So back I go, otherwise I would have wasted the rest of the time sitting on the ottoman when I could sit on this huge seat. There are only 6 seats in first class in a 1 – 1 – 1 configuration. The best seats are usually on the Left hand side of the plane as theres only 2 seats with one walkway. So we had those 2 seats until the flight attendant wanted us to move to this side so we could see each other. And BS you can’t even see each other as you can see each site is quite private. Even if you stick your head out, and if your partner / friend doesn’t stick their heads out you cannot see each other. Next time, I’ll know better!

The flight attendants were also able to sit on the otherside to have their meals. Nice to be working in first class!

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The First Class seat

Oh I forgot we had cheese too..

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Cheese Assortment

Came with some bread, crackers & quince.

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Cheese assortment
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Cheese assortment

The lighting changed before landing and I had another opportunity to take another photo of this wonderful product.

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Cathay 777 First Class

Bottom Line

Overall, I highly recommend the Cathay First Class product. The service is second to none, and it can be so comfortable once fully reclined. We didn’t ask to have the turn over service to get the beds made but what the hell, more than enough for a 5 hour flight. The service was amazing and almost a bit over the top really but having 3 staff to 2 was just too much really. The JAL Sakura lounge was worth the visit and we had a wonderful experience. I don’t know when we will travel on first again, but to travel at such a massive discount is worth it IMO. Play hard, work hard right?

Cathay First Class Rating 

16/20 . Sorry my mains was a let down but the rest was just perfect!

Next up – HK and Taiwan! Also Michelin star restaurant in HK – Caprice!

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!