Tuesday, May 31, 2016

Perfect One-dish Dinner: Three Cup Chicken

I was home alone on a weeknight and wanted to prepare something real simple myself for dinner. I happened to have a bunch of fresh Thai basil that I picked up at a specialty grocery store the day before so I thought the "Three Cup" Chicken (三杯雞) would be perfect, something that was easy to make, can be done in less than 30 minutes start from finish and worked well with just a simple bowl of rice for a one-dish dinner, for one.

Friday, May 27, 2016

Celebration of sorts

Wifey wanna do a birthday celebration of sort in May so we organized a mini-gathering with a few friends for a long weekend lunch at our favorite restaurant. It's actually only our first time sitting down for a proper meal at the private room of Caprice tucked away towards the end of the dining room, with a long table in the middle, window in the front facing the harbor with glass cabinet on both sides displaying some of the fine antique porcelain pieces. It's especially spacious for just the nine of us. (room can sit twelve comfortably)

Wednesday, May 25, 2016

Another Buffet Thursday

I am sure it's a pure coincidence that several hotels are using the theme of Korea and Japanese cuisine for their recent buffet meal promotion. Mandarin Oriental in Central is one of them, introducing a series of special Korean and Japanese dishes in addition to their regular offerings for the dinner buffet at Clipper Lounge.

Saturday, May 21, 2016

Arita Ceramics Fair - The Real Deal

True, we had a satisfying shopping session the day before at China on the Park, but as we realized later, nothing compared to the real Arita Ceramics Fair (有田陶器市), held for the entire week starting on April 29 until May 5 this year. It’s the biggest of its kind in Japan, if not the world, with over a million visitors each year. We thought we were early enough to arrive in the town center slightly after 9 before everyone else, but most of the closer parking spaces were gone by the time we got there! Just don't under-estimate the will of eager shoppers to fetch an early bargain!

Thursday, May 19, 2016

China on the Park

One of the main reasons we wanted to travel to Kyushu at this time of the year was to attend the Arita Ceramics Fair, held once a year during the Japanese Golden Week long holiday, at Arita, a town in Saga Prefecture most famous for being the birthplace of modern Japanese porcelain industry, with history dated all the way back to centuries ago. In fact, this year they happened to celebrate the 400th Anniversary of Arita Ceramics  – what a great opportunity to visit the town and the fair on this special occasion.

Tuesday, May 17, 2016

Hip Ryokan in Ureshino

Among many other things, Kyushu is known for its many onsen villages across the island. While places like Kurokawa, Aso, Yufuin or Kagoshima were more popular especially among tourists, this time we decided to check out Ureshino (嬉野) and Takeo (武雄) onsens in Saga Prefecture instead.

Monday, May 16, 2016

Top Morning Market? What?

One place we sorta regret of making a detour for was the Yobuko Morning Market (呼子の朝市) at the northern tip of Saga Prefecture. According to the guidebook, it's one of the "Top 3 Morning Markets" in Japan with street vendors lining up the entire block selling seafood and other fresh or prepared food produce, with many literally just unloaded off the fishing boat onto the dork at the port every morning. So we decided to take a look before we head down to Arita in the south.

Saturday, May 14, 2016

Ryokan by the Park

Accommodation in Miyajima was the part we confirmed last, done just a week before our departure. I scratched the original plan of staying in a larger hotel and instead make a last-minute reservation at Iwaso, a cozier ryokan a few steps up at the foot of the mountain not far away from the Itsukushima Shrine and the famous floating torii-gate, both of which part of the UNESCO world heritage site.

Friday, May 13, 2016

Hiroshima's Okonomiyaki

I guess not having Okonomiyaki while travelling in Hiroshima would be like going to Philadelphia without trying Phillies Cheese Steak. As soon as we hopped back to Hiroshima from the nearby Miyajima Island and checked in to our hotel there, first thing we did was to look for a place to try this symbolic street food famous in this town.

Thursday, May 12, 2016

Seiromushi Pit Stop

With time to spare on our last day of the journey before catching the return flight home from Fukuoka early evening, we made a slight detour to visit the town of Kashima right near the boundary between Saga and Nagasaki prefectures for a morning stroll along the quiet path known as Sakagura Dori, or Sake Breweries Street, lined with sake breweries housed in old buildings dated back to the late Edo period.

Then we headed north and stopped by the town of Saga on our way for a quick lunch at Kira, a restaurant specializes in beef cuisine. The restaurant, with a few branches around Kyushu and in Tokyo in addition to its original Saga location, is owned by JA Saga, the regional farm cooperatives. They are the champions for fresh farm products from the region, especially Saga Beef, perhaps their best known export famous for the rich wagyu meat taste and marbled fat.

Wednesday, May 11, 2016

In Search of the Best Fried Chicken

Fried chicken was probably not what the doctor prescribed as I was still nursing a bit of a flu and recovering from a redeye flight home less than 24 hours ago, but I joined a few others at Jinjuu at Lan Kwai Fong earlier this week to judge at the "Winner Winner Chicken Dinner" and see who won the bragging right for having the "Best Fried Chicken in Hong Kong".

Tuesday, May 10, 2016

Hiroshima Three Stars

When we found out our friend C and J were travelling in a similar itinerary as ours in Japan at around the same time, we made plan to meet up in Hiroshima over a dinner at Nakashima, a restaurant receiving the top honor in the special edition of the local Michelin Guide a couple of years ago.

Monday, May 9, 2016

Abalone Cuisine at Karatsu

After spending 2 nights in Hiroshima, we began the second half of our journey with a road trip across Saga Prefecture in the western part of Kyushu. We took up our rental car early enough in the morning at our starting point of Fukuoka so we managed to reach our first stop, the coastal town of Karatsu right on time for lunch. And we dropped by this roadside diner-style restaurant called Uomata, a place recommended by our friend C whom we had dinner with at Hiroshima just the night before.

Friday, May 6, 2016

One Dish Wonder in Miyajima

We decided to have lunch first before we went sightseeing as we stepped out of the ferry into the picturesque Miyajima Island just off Hiroshima. After all since we were spending the night here there's no need to rush through all the scenic spots like most tourists on day trip had to do. And our first lunch destination was at a small restaurant called Fujitaya, the only Michelin-starred restaurant on this tiny island.

Wednesday, May 4, 2016

Motsunabe Treat in Fukuoka

During our brief stay in Fukuoka, we tried Motsunabe for the first time at a place called Motsunabe Yamanaka, one of the better known restaurants in town specialized in this local delicacy dish.

It may sound a bit too stereotypical, but generally speaking traditional Kyushu cuisine was more rustic and down-to-earth - just think Tonkotsu Ramen, probably the most famous Kyushu export, or food served at yatai, street-side stalls common in Fukuoka in the evenings. I suppose same can be said about Motsunabe, which literally means offal hotpot (specifically, cow intestines) cooked in broth at the table with vegetables, a traditional dish said to be originated in Fukuoka.

Monday, May 2, 2016

Oysters for Breakfast

After bidding farewell to our lovely ryokan in the charming island of Miyajima, we made our leisurely stroll down to the pier to catch the return ferry back to Hiroshima. But just before that, we made a pit stop at Kaki-ya for some oysters as our second breakfast (we had our first at the ryokan before we left).