Monday, April 27, 2015

Japanese Hitou - the concept of secluded hot spring inns

As the shuttle van winding up the narrow road to Tsurunoyu (鶴の湯), where we would be staying on our second night in Nyuto Onsen-kyo in Akita Prefecture, we felt like riding on a gigantic bobsled. With us sitting uneasily at the back seats, the driver maneuvered the sudden twists and turns on an unpaved, unmarked walkway a few kilometers off the major thoroughfare and completely surrounded by snow as high as the van itself as the road was being plowed and snow piled to the side earlier in the morning. I wouldn't imagine a shuttle van driver would need such driving skills.

Friday, April 24, 2015

Second Day in Nyuto Onsen-kyo

Since we have planned to stay in Nyuto Onsen-kyo for 3 days, we were in no hurry to take off after our first night at the lovely ryokan of Taenoyu. The next morning after breakfast, we packed up, left our luggage at the front desk and went out to check out the other hot spring bath-houses in the "village".

Wednesday, April 22, 2015

Snow and Hot Spring in Akita

Enjoy a relaxing outdoor hot spring bath/onsen whilst watching snow flurries slowly falling down has always been something we would love to do one day, but then that opportunity just came totally unexpected as we continued our journey through part of the Tohoku region of Japan.

Monday, April 20, 2015

Practicing what they preach

"Farm-to-table", "Locally sourced fresh ingredients", "100% Homemade"... those were big, attractive slogans that many restaurants use to promote their food these days, but Linguini Fini is one of the few in town that truly practice what they are preaching day in, day out with much success commercially.

Saturday, April 18, 2015

Tempura Uchitsu - Counting the stars

After spending the first evening at a wonderful sushi-ya in Aoyama, on the second (and last) night in Tokyo we came to the neighborhood of Hiro-o near Roppongi for a dinner of tempura. This time during our short stint in Tokyo, I intended to try out places that we have never been before, and while I was doing my research of where to go, one place in particular caught my attention.

Thursday, April 16, 2015

Jajamen on a Snowy Day

Every guide book for Morioka will probably mention the so-called "Three Great Noodles" of this major city in Iwate Prefecture - namely the Wako Soba, Reimen and Jajamen. We set off as our mission to try out all three during our short stay in Morioka. Among the three, my personal favorite was Jajamen.

Monday, April 13, 2015

Seafood Barbecue in Hachinohe

After leaving the onsen resort of Hoshino Aomori-ya, we made a pit stop at Hachinohe, the second largest city of Aomori Prefecture, before continuing our journey south to Morioka. Specifically we dropped by a local market called Hasshoku Center for a casual seafood lunch.

Saturday, April 11, 2015

A story to tell at The Popsy Room

On the last day of March I was at The Popsy Room, a relatively new establishment on Cat Street which is an art gallery by day and a private dining space by night, serving a seasonal, "art-inspired" menu.

Thursday, April 9, 2015

Sushi Takumi Shingo - An evening with 40 courses and 6 sakes

Of course we wouldn't leave Tokyo without at least one proper meal of sushi. This time, we made a booking at Sushi Takumi Shingo, an 8-seat only restaurant in Aoyama Itchome. I am a fan of Chef Keiji Nakazawa and his Sushi Sho restaurant in Yotsuya, which was a league of its own with his unique, old-school style of serving sushi. Over the years chefs trained under him have opened up new restaurants under the same "Sushi Sho" banner and my experiences with a number of them were nothing but superb.

Monday, April 6, 2015

Down the Memory Lane - Re-visiting Hotel de Mikuni

Over the last decade or so we were blessed with many trips to Japan, through cities and villages north and south, and trips that brought us wonderful food memories, from a simple bowl of tonkotsu ramen inside a street-side yatai to the most delicate, eye-opening kaiseki dinner at Michelin-starred restaurant. And this time during our recent Japan trip a few weeks ago, we decided to go back the memory lane to re-visit the very restaurant that started all these, beginning on a cold, rainy Valentine's Day 12 years ago - our first and only real food trip.

Sunday, April 5, 2015

Hoshino Resort Aomori-ya

We swung by three onsen regions in our trip to the northeastern Japan in late March, and Komaki Onsen (古牧溫泉) in Aomori is the first. After spending a night in Aomori City, we took a 2-hour bus ride to Hoshino Resort Aomori-ya resort not far away from the small town of Mikawa.

Friday, April 3, 2015

Making your own Nokke-don

After spending the night in the town of Aomori, we decided to walk over to Furukawa Market just a block away from our hotel for an early breakfast. The Furukawa Market (古川市場), officially known as Aomori Gyosai Center (青森魚菜センター), is where locals shop for fresh produce (Gyosai means fish and vegetables) with rows of stalls selling mostly seafood but also shops selling other grocery products. In addition, working like a co-operative, they also offered something called "Nokke-don"(のっけ丼) for people who want to "dine in".

Wednesday, April 1, 2015

First Taste of Aomori

Before Easter, we set off on a week-long journey to Japan and this time, to the Tohoku region in the northeastern part of Honshu, Japan's main island. Our first stop is Aomori prefecture in the most north, just off the strait from the island of Hokkaido.

Like many, apple is the first thing that came to mind when I thought of food from Aomori, for it being the prefecture's most famous export, but this time, I am more interested in checking out their seafood, given its unique location as a gateway between Sea of Japan and the Pacific, getting the best from both sides of the ocean as far as fish produce goes.