Sunday, February 28, 2010

Japan Trip: Going Home

It was a sad day yesterday... It was the last day we'd be in Japan and it was time for a long flight home. I felt excited to sleep in my own bed but I knew I'd miss all the delicious foods we had on our vacation. It was a bittersweet departure.

Oh... and talk about the airplane food. Ugh... yet again.. it was a disappointment. Justyn's wasn't so bad because it had rice and chicken but mine was disgusting. I'm surprised I didn't throw it back up. At least the wine was free. Needless to say, the trip back wasn't as smooth as the trip going into Japan. *sigh* Think about it... you go on vacation to escape work.. but when you come back.. you get to come back to all the messes and emails. Ugh. I think that made the meal worse than it was.

Anyway.. we had to stop off at Seattle since we didn't have a direct flight and since that was the case, we decided to take advantage of the situation. A while back, Food Network did a segment on Mario Batali's dad's restaurant called Salumi. We had already decided that we were gonna visit his deli just to see what all the hype was about. *sigh*... What can I say? We stood in line for about 10 minutes before the place opened and the sandwiches weren't even that great. My mind wasn't blown and we rented a car just to get to his place. So not worth it... but at least Batali's dad was nice and adorable. I was surprised to see him behind the cash register. Now, to give this place some credit, I did enjoy the sandwich when we got home. It actually tasted better.. but maybe that's because I was hungry and craving Japanese food again..

Anyway, I hope you guys enjoy all of these posts... Tomorrow I might work on a couple cards inspired by a Vogue magazine!

Japan Trip: Last Day in Japan

On the day before we left Japan, my friends Bri & Yuichi wanted to take us to a gyoza stadium. Gyozas are basically minced meat dumplings. OH... MY... GOD.. hell yes... this would make for a great last night. A stadium of dumplings?? It was as how I imagined it except a little smaller. This place was basically inside of a mall near the Ikebukuro station. Wow.. they had all kinds of gyoza from traditional kinds to ones made with cheese and even ones that looked like egg rolls. Also ones from Yuichi's grandma's region.. (my favorite). They all tasted soo good. I would call this my 5th favorite meal.

You can't have dinner without dessert right? Right next door to this place was an ice cream area as well. When I say area, it was almost like a whole floor dedicated to ice cream. Needless to say, this place was pretty big. Bri, Yuichi and I decided to try out weird flavors of ice cream such as shark fin soup, natto (rotten, fermented soy beans & chicken wings).. yeah I'm not kidding when I say there were weird flavors. They even had charcoal flavored ice cream. Really? Who would eat that crap? I guess dumb adventurous Americans is all I can think of..

After gross ice cream, what better way to have more fun than with games? We played Mario Kart and I rocked it each time.

Japan Trip: Denny's & Okonomiyaki

Justyn had been telling me about his childhood trips to Japan with his mom and how he went to Denny's. I had to try it and you know what? It wasn't bad. I know the Denny's in the bay area sucks and I would never go there in a million years for a meal but I was in Japan.

I ordered the omrice with an ebi fry, salad and hamburg steak. Don't judge me.. I was hungry! Justyn ordered nearly the same thing except his was topped with egg and didn't have the omrice and came with corn and veggies. Before we entered the restaurant he asked me if I was sure we shouldn't turn back. Hello? It's Denny's AND we're in Japan.. of course I wanted to go in and have a great dinner.

The day before we left I was watching a local Japanese TV show where they showed okonomiyaki. It's basically a pancake stuffed with savory ingrediants. Not only did we find a place that served it, but we found a place where you can make it yourself. Score! Justyn got his with bacon whereas I had mine stuffed with bacon, shrimp, fish cake etc. I had to go all out!

Saturday, February 27, 2010

Japan Trip: Hanging out with Bri Again

Another kinda random post because I'm not sure when I took these...
This is what I had for breakfast one day.. from AM PM. Can you believe it? I kinda wish we had these here in the US.

We also ended up going to McDonalds for a quick snack. Justyn really wanted to try the McPork which was SO not good. It was almost like a breakfast patty with Italian dressing and sprinkled with onions. Yuck. The bacon potato pie was alright except you could tell it was really bad for you.

I think the first time we hung out with Bri and Yuichi was when these photos were taken. We went to a photobooth to get our pictures taken. Wow... the photobooths there are nothing like here. You can modify in any kind of way you like.

At some point we went to a bar with Bri to meet up with Yuichi & his friends. If I remember correctly, this was the 3rd time we were at the same bar but at a different location. Hey.. I can't turn down happy hour heh.

We also ended up visiting a nearby coffee shop which was Italian themed called Segafredo. I really enjoyed this place because you could sit and relax with a cup of coffee without feeling like you were in a chain like Starbucks. Oh yeah, they had beer & champagne too :)

Have you heard the song where they reference "whiskey drink" called Tubthumper by Chumba Wumba? Well here it is.. and it is disgusting. It tastes like fizzy whiskey.

Japan Trip: Yokohama's Chinatown

At this point I'm sure you can guess that I was seriously craving some Chinese food. Well, not really but I could sure use some kind of comfort other than Japanese food. Justyn decided to take me to Yokohama's Chinatown which is about 40 minutes from Shinjuku by train. We didn't really have anything in mind until we got there. I saw a bunch of pork bun stands and I knew before we went back to the hotel, that I would absolutely have to have one of them. Before that, we needed to get lunch. We ended up settling on a noodle shop which featured hand carved noodles which suprisingly, I had never had before. It was decent but did not quench my hunger for Chinese food. We ended up getting a bun from a local shop but to my dismay, it was a sweet bun. Stupid me.. I wanted to be adventurous and try a bun that I didn't recognize. It was filled with black bean paste which I despised. Ugh... Oh well..

The funny thing about this picture is that Justyn crossed the street so that he could get a shot of me posing in front of the archway into Chinatown. Little did I know that a truck was trying to make a left turn and almost ran me over!

PS - On the way to Chinatown we stopped at the Shibuya station which is on the way to snap this photo. If you don't know the story, it's about a guy who died and the dog he owned kept waiting everyday at the train station for its master. The Japanese built a memorial for the dog since they were so impressed with the dog's loyalty to its master. Before this picture was taken, a couple Japanese teens were trying to tell us to take their picture and though we couldn't understand what they were saying, we ended up understanding what they meant so we took a picture for them. It was a very lost in translation kind of thing.

Japan Trip: Yakitori

During our trip we hit up a couple yakitori places. "Yaki" basically means grilled and "Tori" means chicken. We have restaurants local to us here that serve it but it's super expensive. Why? I have no idea. It's just chicken and not even the good parts at that. I was looking forward to having cartilage and chicken skin but the first place we went to had no idea what I was talking about. So instead we just had their combo plate with some pork stomach stew. Don't wrinkle your nose at that. It's good. It didn't taste gross or unpleasant. In fact I kinda wish I had eaten that with a bowl of rice instead of having yakitori. Our meal started with some gobo root salad, followed by the pork stomach stew, fried tofu smothered in teriyaki sauce & finally yakitori. Delicious...

I couldn't leave Japan without having yakitori one more time. I wanted to visit the Ginza district that had a yakitori alley but we ended up being lazy and visited another near by yakitori restaurant. This one was less impressive than the first although it was still decent. I suppose we weren't really hungry enough or something.