Posts in Category: food

El Sabor by El Cielo

El Sabor

El Sabor

I’ve had Mexican on my mind for a while now and El Sabor has been on top of the wishlist in that regard since Los Amates closed down. We had dinner with some friends on the weekend, an odd couple where one eats mostly meat, and the other veg so we thought Mexican would probably serve them well as there are a lot of meat options as well as lots of vegie dishes too. So we headed out to North Melbourne for some delicious Mexican tucker.

El Sabor: Queen of the Night

El Sabor: Queen of the Night

According to my lovely wife (credit for most of the foodie photos btw), there are actually a bunch of other Mexican restaurants all over Melbourne worth trying so I guess we might have to start up our Mexican flavour tour, how apt that we got back on the horse at El Sabor (the taste for those non-Spanish speakers :D). I’m sure even our (picky) son will find plenty of food that he will love.

El Sabor: Nachos

El Sabor: Nachos

We started off with some nachos to share while we were waiting for our friends as Oscar was super hungry and needed something that he could actually eat and that we could share later. They’re covered with melted cheese (can’t go wrong with that) guacamole, and beans, we went with the salsa roja (I think salsa verde might be spicy?), the “chips” are yellow (as you would expect) and also brown (not what you would expect) but I couldn’t really discern the difference as I made sure each one was drenched in the flavourful sauces, yum.

El Sabor: Mushroom Quesadilla

El Sabor: Mushroom Quesadilla

Next we had some tacos, pollo pibil (chicken), pescado (fish), carnitas (pork), and a mushroom quesdilla. I didn’t get a picture of the tacos, but to be honest, apart from the carnitas they weren’t that memorable (and at 5$ a pop, a bit insubstantial). The mushroom quesadilla turned out to be the majority of Oscar’s dinner, it was different to what I expected, more substantial and packed. It was for Oscar otherwise I would have ordered a chicken or beef one.

El Sabor: Elotes

El Sabor: Elotes

Our initial order finally consisted of the elotes, sweet corn on the cob covered in the cheese and chipotle mayo. Corn is always one of my favourites, this one probably could have done with a bit more mayo (hehe) but was pretty tasty. Having seen this I knew we needed to order some more food, so we went with something new (I think), and tried the Enfrijoladas and kept some room for dessert too.

El Sabor: Enfrijoladas

El Sabor: Enfrijoladas

It was either enfrijoladas or tostadas but the choice was made and we ended up with the slightly fried tortillas filled with chicken, topped with (an absolutely delicious) bean sauce, cheese, cream, and onions, guacamole, also with a serve of rice (fried with tomato paste?). This was my favourite dish of the night, I was a little unsure at first but after a taste I couldn’t get enough, and it hit right spot and filled me up good. You can see from the picture I completely forgot to take a picture and ate half of it before I remembered to take a snap. Maybe that can be the theme of my foodie posts, the foodie in-progress.

Everyone got in on that one (except maybe the vego) and we wrapped it up with some churros for dessert (with chocolate dipping sauce). I’m pretty sure the churros were out of a box or something as they were very “perfect” but they were at least freshly fried. I’m not sure that they needed to be covered in cinnamon sugar but I will never say no to churros, that’s a guarantee.

Overall, a good return to some authentic Mexican food, and certainly thumbs up from me (a bit pricey though) and here’s hoping to more yummy Mexican food in the near future.

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Caveman 1961

Caveman 1961 exterior

Caveman 1961 exterior

I had a hankering for some Korean Fried Chicken near home, and Caveman 1961 seems to be pretty new to the Mount Waverley area. I should rebrand this blog as some kind of suburban eats thing at this rate, I’ve got another foodie post coming after this one but it’s in North Melbourne so not so suburban. It’s located in the Pinewood shopping centre which has a lot of restaurants so there must be some pretty stiff competition. However, the other places in the area seem a bit more conservative and probably not catered to the same kind of crowd so Caveman 1961 definitely has a chance.

Caveman 1961: Cave salt chicken wings

Caveman 1961: Cave salt chicken wings

The menu is pretty simple, there are some sides, fried chicken, and drinks, that’s pretty much it, there are some other things (traditional Korean dishes) but we didn’t look into those. We ordered a cheesy corn grande, which is sweet corn kernels and cheese served on a sizzling hot plate, a soft tofu pot (spicy Korean soup with silken tofu and an egg), and 15 chicken wings (ten with signature cave salt, and five with sweet lava which is basically sweet chilli), which are actually wingettes.

Caveman 1961: Sweet lava chicken wings

Caveman 1961: Sweet lava chicken wings

Interestingly, the wings can be ordered from five pieces up to 150 (given that they’re not big, but that’s still a lot of chicken), they’re a little different from the other KFC places we’ve been to. The chicken is deep fried I’m pretty sure but either with no or very little batter (perhaps just a dusting of flour), so they retain the crispy texture but without the bloating batter. They’re quite good if a little pricey for what they are, we actually used their facebook promotion to get ten of the wings for free.

Caveman 1961: Cheesy corn grande

Caveman 1961: Cheesy corn grande

The cheesy corn grande was pretty sweet, not sure if they added anything or whether the corn itself was that sweet but it went well with the savoury cheese, I mean corn and cheese just go together don’t they.

Caveman 1961: Soft Tofu pot

Caveman 1961: Soft Tofu pot

The soft tofu pot was an under the radar star though, the tofu was very soft and smooth, and the soup (while tending a little too spicy) was a good offset to the sweet corn and the sweet wings, we also had some pickled radish which helped too.

I think I’ll happily go back to eat the chicken again next time I have a craving for KFC, considering how local they are (just five minutes drive) and the lack of quality food options nearby. So while the price is a little on the high side (compared to regular take away options as opposed to normal eating out) it’s definitely worth a look (or taste) down in the south eastern suburbs.

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Lights in the Attic for breakfast

We had a very early start in Hawthorn last Saturday so skipped breakfast at home, so after getting our errands out of the way we ducked into Lights in the Attic in Hawthorn for brekky. It has a Korean vibe and decor, they even have a KFC (Korean Fried Chicken) burger on the menu which I would have tried had it not been 8am in the morning.

Breakfast: Sweet Benny

Breakfast: Sweet Benny

The menu is quite varied and looks to have a lot of good options, although maybe not too many for pregnant women! I ended up going with my usual eggs benedict (Sweet Benny), although this one with a twist, the salmon and poached eggs (perfectly done) sit on top of a couple of sweet potato hash browns with pea puree on the side (pea sauce lol). It was pretty good (but I probably have to needlessly add that I prefer regular potato to sweet potato), the eggs, salmon, and crunch of the hash browns work really well together.

Breakfast: French Toast

Breakfast: French Toast

Emmy had the french toast (apparently her only reasonable option ;)) which is not normally something she would order, considering it’s usually dripping with sweet stuff. Surprisingly, she praised it mightily, calling it the best french toast she ever had! The bread, I’m not even sure you could call it that, it seemed almost like a sponge cake was soft and fluffy and all the elements together.

It was a cold morning and I was still recovering from a cold so I went with the can’t fail lemon and ginger tea. Emmy tried the hot chocolate which I think was a bit sweet (for her), it doesn’t seem to be on the menu so it’s probably not some 90% dark chocolate blend? All in all, for first thing in the morning breakfasts, they were quite filling and got us through to lunch time easily and flavourfully.

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Mum’s Burger Kitchen

Mum's Burger Kitchen

Mum’s Burger Kitchen

We finally had our end of basketball season dinner, and at our captain’s insistence it was at Mum’s Burger Kitchen. This is not the place I would normally frequent (due to location mainly) as it is in very remote Boronia :D, Which is pretty much a regional area of Victoria, way out in the eastern suburbs. This place has been getting a lot of publicity in recent months, as one of those favoured new burger joints, but also to some self promotion as well.

We’ll get straight to the business because that’s the type of food we’re talking about here. I had the Trent which is a pretty standard burger, patty, cheese, lettuce, tomato, onion, beetroot, bacon, and sauces. I didn’t take a picture of it but it was pretty tall for what is included. I got Oscar a kid’s meal (pictured) which was supposed to be a bao with chicken filling, but it looks more like he had a slider to me (I won’t complain because captain is friendly with the owners so we probably got the better deal anyway), a side of chips and a drink.

The chips were ample for a kids meal that’s for sure, and even though Oscar didn’t finish his slider, he had a good go, getting almost half way through and not complaining (that’s a very good effort for him). On the side we also had onion rings, more fries, some bigger chips (like wedges but not wedges), and even chicken wings (spicy). The sauces were good so the burgers had good flavour, and the sides (which were possibly on the house and overflowing) were greasy and crunchy.

I definitely rate them quite highly and would recommend them to anyone in the area (doubt that they need it, since the lines were out the door), it’s a bit cheaper than Grill’d so the value is better and I’d have a hard time choosing between them if location wasn’t an issue. Maybe they’ll open a franchise in Mount Waverley, I can dream. I wouldn’t go unless I was already in the area (we rarely venture out that way) as I’m not that into burgers, but for a greasy, fatty meal, I don’t think you’ll find much better. Oh, and if you care, service was perfectly good considering how busy they were.

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Mrs. Kim’s Grill

Mrs. Kim's Grill: Subconscious barbecue training

Subconscious barbecue training

Well, would you look at that, another post within two days after nothing for two months, something must be going on! Well, I guess we actually got out to eat a couple times which is something but I guess I’ll reveal a bit more at the end. To celebrate the end of the Easter long weekend and also some successful painting projects at home (the house transformation is well on it’s way) we had dinner at Mrs. Kim’s Grill in Carnegie to reward Emmy for her hard work :D.

So after a swim at Monash University we earned some grilled meat, Korean style! I’m not sure if this is the best Korean barbecue in town (we haven’t been to that many) but it’s certainly our favourite from the few that we have tried. We got the Mrs. Kim’s Selection Set for two which (maybe) came with a kid’s item, rice with nori (which just happens to be one of Oscar’s favourites).

Since it is quite dark inside and I only had my phone I don’t have any pictures of the food really, but you get five different marinated meats to grill, plus a couple of salads, and a soup. On top of the regular little sides of kimchi and pickled onions. They used iceberg lettuce which is always a bit sad but we made do, the meat is the hero here and the salad doesn’t make or break the dish (although it’d be better if they used cos lettuce or something). Also, they grill the meat for you, and you get to go home smelling like barbecue, best to clean yourself up before going to bed lest you want to dream about more Korean BBQ.

It’s pretty hard to choose between the beef, and the two pork belly marinades (chilli or garlic) as to which was the best meat but all up with 750g of meat total, we were all very satisfied, there can be no argument about that. I’m sure we’ll be back when Emmy gets a craving for meat again (that’s her steak) and hopefully we’ll be grinning afterwards as well.

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Cafe de Beaumarchais

Cafe de Beaumarchais

Cafe de Beaumarchais

Wow, it’s only been two months since my last post, I thought it’d been longer :(. Oh well, last week (Good Friday it was, actually) we went up to Sassafras in the Dandenongs as it is one of the few places in Melbourne where anything is open on such holy day. Apart from wandering around the local artisan shops – we found a nice, reasonably priced painting (by local artist Belinda Volkmer) at Miloko for our room!) –

Sea Garden painting

Sea garden painting by Belinda Volkmer

we had brunch at Café de Beaumarchais, we’d been here before but with a big bunch of people (who were quite annoying) so maybe we didn’t enjoy it as much last time, thought we’d better give it another chance without any distractions (even the little boy was not with us!).

So only needing to worry about ourselves deciding what to eat was so much easier, drinks first and that’s usually not even a question (as we don’t drink coffee).

Cafe de Beaumarchais: Parisian Hot Chocolate

Parisian Hot Chocolate

Beverages

A couple of Parisian Hot Chocolates thanks, now I’m not sure what the difference between this one and the regular hot chocolate is (perhaps it is darker and less sweet? That’s pure speculation though) but it was good, not that overly sweet stuff.

Food

Cafe de Beaumarchais: Special Croissant

Cafe de Beaumarchais

On to the food which is what everyone is really interested in, we went with the special croissant (pesto, tomato, cheese, can’t remember the cold cut but possibly ham, and some kind of nut (probably), and the three cheese board. Emmy ate most of the croissant so I can’t really comment on that one but the one bite I had was pretty good. The highlight though was really the cheese board.

There was a soft cheese, a less soft cheese, and a harder cheese (like cheddar) to go with a couple of baguettes, pickles, quince paste, and some lavosh (like pappadams but smaller?), and I know, it doesn’t look like a lot, but when you eat at a reasonable pace and with a hot choc as well, it does fill you up quite well.

Cafe de Beaumarchais: Three cheese board

Three cheese board

I love pickles so that was a nice side and the sourness worked really well with the sweet quince paste. Each of the cheeses were great, I’d probably give my nod to the middle softness one, it was just right :D. The bread was good too and had that nice crusty crust even though it wasn’t toasted. It leaves you wondering, where do they source there cheese from and how do I get some for myself! Definitely a more enjoyable experience than last time and definitely a thumbs up and recommend from me.

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Japan 2016: Food Highlights :d

Is this what you’ve all been waiting for? The foodie post? Well, I’ve gone over the Hiroshima okonomiyaki, yummy tacoyaki among other things at Nishiki Market, and the kaiseki in Kyoto at Gion Nanba, so I’m going to post some pictures here and talk about some of the other nice meals we had. We also had omurice, tempura, ramen, and pizza/pasta but I don’t have pictures or specific memories of those so won’t bore you with nothingness.

Kyoto

Coco Curry

Coco Curry

Coco Curry

So back to Kyoto, between instant noodle and/or toast breakfasts, bento boxes from department store food courts, we managed to squeeze in a visit to the famous Coco Curry. We didn’t quite understand how to order but managed to get ourselves a curry each (including one for Oscar), everyone got a mild curry so it was basically gravy, but it was still yummy, this was probably Oscar’s favourite meal of the whole trip as he ate all of his serve and then some.

I ordered a set meal but this didn’t specify the spice level, while everyone else ordered from the combination menu which allows you to choose a base curry, and select the spice level, and then extras and add-ons to spice up the meal (pun totally intended). And yet they still just went with mild curry, but anyway, it was definitely an easy meal.

Kineya

Kyoto: Udon at Kineya

Udon at Kineya

The only other picture of a meal I have is from our old favourite udon restaurant in the Porta Shopping mall, just outside Kyoto Station. We had quite a good recollection of eating udon here the last time we were in Kyoto, the memory was so good that we just had to come back. In reality though, we remembered that there was a pretty good udon place in the Porta shopping mall and didn’t want to run any risks as we were kind of in a rush and needed something that Oscar would likely eat.

That’s not to say that the udon here isn’t good, it’s plenty good and very possible that in a similar situation next time we are in Kyoto we may visit again. I had the cold noodles this time with a chicken katsu set, the noodles are so thick and chewy here, I like it.

Kawaguchi-ko

Even in a relatively small town (or perhaps especially because) like Kawaguchi-ko there are specialties to try. The specialty of the area (Yamanashi) is hoto, which is a type of noodle similar to udon, but the noodles are flatter and wider, the broth is usually filled with seasonal vegies and root vegies (especially pumpkin) and pork based.

Hoto Fudo

  • Kawaguchi-ko
    Hoto Fudo Kitchen
  • Kawaguchi-ko: Hoto Fudo
    Hoto Fudo

So we were strolling around on that cloudy day in Kawaguchi-ko looking for something to eat when we stumbled upon this hoto restaurant just near the train station. We definitely remembered how yummy hoto was, so we stepped right on in and tried this one out (it’s only open from 11am-7pm). Compared to Hoto Kosaku, the actual bowls are a bit bigger (with the amount of food being about the same), there are not as many broth or add-on options here, but it still hits the spot if you’re after pork or vegie based noodle soup. The price for two bowls was about 25$ AUD (or a bit over 2,000¥), I would expect that we would drop by again next time we’re in Kawaguchi-ko :D.

Hoto Kosaku

Hoto Kosaku: Pork Hoto

Pork Hoto

This is the hoto restaurant that the hostel always recommends, and with good reason, the hoto here is bloody good and there are many options for broth (whatever you can think of really) as well as extras. We’re always a little price conscious so we didn’t splurge on the higher priced dishes (can’t remember off the top of my head but maybe something like crab or goose, something kind of exotic), I just got the stock standard pork hoto, and Emmy splurged on the seafood hoto.

This place is super busy but the queue moves quite quickly, you basically walk in and have to put your name down to reserve your spot. Once you’ve got your table though, you should quickly work out what you want and flag a waiter/waitress down to make your order as they’re super busy and not looking for customers with empty tables.

Hoto Kosaku: Seafood Hoto

Seafood Hoto

Some tables on the sides have pits where you can dangle your feet but both times we’ve been there we have not had the fortune of such a luxury and had to sit cross legged on the floor. The noodles here are super luxurious, they’re probably wider and flatter than the ones at Hoto Fudo, the broth very sweet and tasty, this is a can’t miss in Kawaguchi-ko. These two bowls cost us about 40$ AUD (or 3,500¥) so a fair bit more pricey than Hoto Fudo for a similar quantity, it’s your own choice whether the extra options are worth your hard earned.

Tokyo

We mostly ate in the shopping mall food courts in Tokyo, but there are plenty of tasty options to be had there as well, although a bit pricier than some of the places you can find elsewhere.

ABC Canteen

One such place that was actually memorable was this place on the eighth floor (if I remember correctly) of the Lumine Est shopping mall (how many times have we been here?). We were kind of stuck for a place to eat and decided to just pick a place on this floor, there were a couple of good options but in the end we were won over by the plastic food of this place.

  • ABC Canteen: Roast beef salad
    Roast beef salad
  • ABC Canteen: Funnel Cake
    Funnel Cake

I had the roast beef on rice (with a poached egg) and side of sald, while Emmy had some kind of deep fried chicken. The beef was pretty tender, but the slices were pretty big and a bit chewy so it wasn’t the easiest thing to eat (no knife either), but it was quite tasty. Meanwhile, we ordered some dessert for the age-old reason YOLO! I’m never going to argue against waffles, and especially not when they are covered with other delicious walnuts, cream, caramel?, and iced cream. This was only the half dessert option, there’s no way we could have done the whole cake, although I’m sure Oscar would have tried his best.

Tsukiji Tamasushi

The highlight of the Tokyo eating time was definitely this place, one which comes with the advantage of knowing a local, as this was a recommendation from Emmy’s friend’s husband. We went looking on a Tuesday night for some izakaya, but his preferred haunts were all full up so we had to settle for a sushi restaurant. Judging by the name this place is in Tsukiji (we were in the Ginza/Tsukiji area), it was definitely worth the money we forked out.

  • Tsukiji Tamasushi: Omakase sushi
    Omakase sushi
  • Tsukiji Tamasushi: Omakase sushi
    Omakase sushi
  • Tsukiji Tamasushi: More Sushi
    More Sushi
  • Tsukiji Tamasushi
    Tsukiji Tamasushi
  • Tsukiji Tamasushi: More Sushi
    More Sushi

As you can probably tell from the menu pictures, the food pretty much matches the picture (maybe with a variation or two possibly due to seasonality), but the big thing to note is the price. Mine is a ten course omakase for 3,100¥ (approximately 40$ AUD), for the same thing here (albeit perhaps served with a bit more pomp) you’d expect to pay upwards of 90$. So what if it was all served at once on one dish for me, it’s fresh and well made and only 40$. That eel (the big one) on Emmy’s dish had a really tasty sauce on it too.

Unknown Okonomiyaki

Monjayaki

Monjayaki

Finally, we have an unknown okonomiyaki restaurant in Yoyogi, this place was near our accommodation which made it easy enough. Emmy wanted to try out this dish, monjayaki, which is sort of similar to okonomiyaki but has different ingredients, but still fried on a flat grill. As you can see from the picture it pretty much looks like vomit, but I can assure you it tastes a hell of a lot better.

I’m not really sure what’s in there, cabbage, probably egg to bind, I think this was a mountain type or something so it had ingredients that you find on the mountains. We also had a couple of okonomiyakis after this because they weren’t too filling. This was a very Japanese restaurant as there were only locals eating there and the staff (all women interestingly) didn’t speak any English. They did work out that we needed an English menu and that we probably needed them to cook for us though (unlike the locals who grilled for themselves), I think we can probably do it for ourselves next time if we do visit another such establishment. There isn’t that much to it really, just stir it a bit to mix it up real good then pour it on to the pan and flatten it out, let it cook until ready. I actually got to do the flip on one of the okonomiyakis, and it was spectacular!

That’s it, it’s only taken three weeks to complete my holiday rundown, that must be a record. I may add some more picture posts as I go through my photos more thoroughly, but for the most part, I’m done, until next time, and there will be a next time.

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Japan 2016: Emmy’s birthday at Nishiki Market

Kyoto: Nishiki Market

Nishiki Market

Well, I’ve already talked about the pottery class we did in the morning and our kaiseki dinner in the evening on Emmy’s birthday, so what did we do in between? Well, the plan was to go from the pottery class directly to Nishiki Market and meet the oldies there for lunch, but they took so long getting there from Kyoto Station that we ended up with only an hour or so to speed through the market and get some snacks in before dinner. It was our second time at Nishiki Market and it’s always fun and tasty, there are just so many great stalls selling food (and all sorts of other stuff) you could really spend a day there, but you probably couldn’t move by the end of it!

Best ever strawberry cheesecake?

Strawberry cheesecake

While waiting for the oldies we weren’t sure whether to get something to eat or not, but decided that we should have some cake for Emmy’s birthday at least, and wandered into the Daimaru food level. These places are bloody amazing, you walk through all of the vendors and you just want to buy everything. The desserts look amazing, the packaged meals don’t look super, but you can bet they’re plenty tasty and better than anything you’ll ever get in Australia. Don’t ever think about walking into one of the bakeries if you don’t want to eat anything, because absolutely everything looks delectable and irresistible. Those croquettes at all of the fried food vendors are so tempting I don’t know how I resisted buying a bag every time we walked past one. We ended up grabbing a strawberry cheese cake which Emmy promptly proclaimed to be the best strawberry cheese cake ever! I won’t argue with here because it was certainly very good and I have very little experience in this field.

It’s so colourful and there are so many people there it makes for some really great photo opportunities as well, one of my personal favourites is the portrait with the people rushing by. It’s not easy handheld but carrying a tripod and planting it in the middle of the market lane is not an option so you do what you can.

Kyoto: Takoyaki at Nishiki Market

Takoyaki at Nishiki Market

It closes pretty early (5pm I think) so we only had about an hour and a half to rush through on this day, but we made sure to snap up anything delicious looking snacks, some grilled squid, all sorts of dried stuff, and of course our favourite from last time, takoyaki. For some reason even though we know the contents are extremely hot we always seem to burn our mouths eating it. We just cannot hold ourselves back and need to eat it fast. There seems to be only one shop in the market selling it ready to eat so it’s always pretty busy but they’re fast so you never need to wait too long.

Outside Gion Nanba

Pouring rain in Gion

It was a bit crazy afterwards as we had to go to Gion for dinner but we wanted to take the oldies (and Oscar) there to see it at night. We only managed to get to Pontocho before the rain really started pouring down, so rather than push our luck we quickly grabbed a taxi and packed them in, it was so close anyway.

Afterwards, well, you know the story so I won’t go into that anymore, we went home after dinner and realised just how close we were staying. Next up, our last full day in Kyoto.

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Japan 2016: Kaiseki at Gion Nanba

Gion Nanba: Frapuccions at Starbucks!

Frapuccions at Starbucks!

What would a birthday in Japan be without a special dining experience? Let’s get the bad out of the way first, I made reservations online for Gion Nanba (one Michelin star) about two weeks prior to the date which seemed to go smoothly, but when we arrived, they did not have our reservation listed at all. I had the confirmation on my phone though, and fortunately it was a Tuesday so they weren’t so busy that they couldn’t slot us in 45 minutes later, there was no one else eating at the counter that night that we saw. I think somehow it would be best to confirm a day or two prior either via email, phone or even in person if you book online, just to be sure. It’s opposite a Starbucks in Gion so we went across the road and chilled with some frapuccinos until our time had come.

So second time around we got our seats at the counter and by this time ready to gorge (as much as you can gorge eating such a meal), I was so eager I pretty much fell into the leg pit and banged my knee. I didn’t realise there was space to dangle your legs at the counter rather than just sitting cross legged.

  • Kaiseki: Persimmon, crab, gluten, and a flower
    Persimmon, crab, gluten, and a flower
  • Kaiseki: Sake bottle
    Sake bottle
  • Kaiseki: Sea eel, mountain potato, spinach, and yuzu
    Sea eel, mountain potato, spinach, and yuzu

Starters

We started off by ordering some sake letting the lady recommend us the type, we had it hot. You can probably see from the pictures how nice the dinner ware is, everything is so intricate and pretty, and especially wabi-sabi (my new favourite term!).

Sushi and Sashimi

  • Kaiseki: Nanba slicing the sashimi
    Nanba slicing the sashimi
  • Kaiseki: Sashimi
    Sashimi
  • Kaiseki: Sushi condiments
    Sushi condiments
  • Kaiseki: Sushi and other stuff
    Sushi and other stuff

Next up were the sushi and sashimi courses, the sashimi consisted of squid, bonito, sea bream, and tuna, while the sushi (and other stuff) had anko fish liver (top right behind the lead), salmon roe, mackerel sushi, and shirako (a river fish) spem sacs (yes, you read that right! Top left with the spring onion garnish). All the usual suspects here except for the fish liver and the fish sperm sacs, the liver didn’t taste like liver but I’ve never had fish liver before so maybe that’s what it normally tastes like, it didn’t seem to taste like mercury at all (:D). The sperm sacs, well this was actually one of the most memorable items on the menu that night, it tasted really good once you forget what it is you’re eating. The texture is like custard and it’s a bit salty, and a bit sweet, the hard part was getting over what I was eating, it wasn’t that hard, I just needed to eat it.

Turnips, Soba, and Rice

  • Kaiseki: Spanish Mackerel, pickled turnip
    Spanish Mackerel, pickled turnip
  • Kaiseki: Nanba Chefs at work
    Chefs at work
  • Kaiseki: Soba
    Soba
  • Kaiseki: Steamed turnip, snapper, and gingko nuts
    Steamed turnip, snapper, and gingko nuts
  • Kaiseki: Rice and Miso soup
    Rice and Miso soup

Down to the staples now with soba, rice, and miso soup, clearly turnip is in season as there were two dishes with turnip, and it was really cool that it was done two ways. That petal shaped bowl was very interesting as well.

Dessert and Matcha Tea

  • Kaiseki: Raspberry iced cream, grape, pear, and wine jelly
    Raspberry iced cream, grape, pear, and wine jelly
  • Kaiseki: Mochi
    Mochi
  • Kaiseki: Matcha tea
    Matcha tea

We finished with some very yummy desserts, especially the wine jelly, it all sounds very sweet but it really wasn’t, just really, really well made, in great harmony and balanced so well as you would expect. I’m not 100% sure if the mochi wasn’t extra (as an apology) or not, I don’t remember seeing the people before us getting that. And then washed down with a traditional tea ceremony style matcha green tea.

This was almost three weeks ago, and you may have noticed that I didn’t actually comment on the taste of the food that much, unfortunately I didn’t take detailed notes on the night (preferring to just be in the moment, I didn’t even take these pictures!) and obviously I can’t remember how most of the dishes tasted now, but I can say this, if there was anything subpar I definitely would remember it. We can safely assume that this meal was a highlight and that we enjoyed everything, except the whole “didn’t have our reservation” issue. It was a great meal, especially seeing the ingredients that were used, you wouldn’t normally think of a lot of this stuff. And watching the chefs at work up close and being able to see the utensils that they use, the pots and pans, and the oven, it was all very cool.

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Japan 2016: Hiroshima and Miyajima

We only spent one night in Hiroshima, and one morning in Miyajima but we packed in quite a bit. We arrived at Narita Airport on a Friday morning and immediately proceeded to transport ourselves for six and a half hours across the country, and even this didn’t quite go as planned as there was some kind of delay on the train lines (even Japan is not immune). So arriving at Narita at 9am, we didn’t manage to leave until about 11.30am and didn’t get to Hiroshima until about 6pm, tired, sweaty, and smelly. So it was dinner time and we went out and looked for some grub heading back to plan out the day ahead.

Okonomiyaki, Hiroshima style

Okonomiyaki, Hiroshima style

At the station we decided to try Okonomiyaki, Hiroshima style, which is basically Okonomiyaki with noodles fried in. It was okay, not great, probably regular Okonomiyaki is more to my liking. The noodles just end up making the pancake fall apart everywhere. But anyway, that was our take on Hiroshima dining, we didn’t spend enough time to try anything else other than instant noodles.

What did we do?

So the plan we decided on with our very precious time, was to visit the nuclear dome and the peace park in the morning then get down to Miyajima for a wander before jumping on a shinkansen to Kyoto in the afternoon. When we woke up the next morning, some of our party had noticed that a lot of people had been streaming past the building where we were staying all morning. So as we were heading to the station with all of our luggage, we saw the streams and streams of people dressed in red walking the other way. They were supporters of the local baseball team, the Hiroshima Carps, it turns out that Hiroshima is a big baseball town, and they had just won the central league championship, this merited a parade and celebration, and we had arrived just in time to see it, but we decided not to.

Without much time, we put our luggage into a locker at the station and caught the first bus to the nuclear dome, we didn’t plan on visiting the museum as that was most likely going to be depressing and take quite some time. We meandered around the dome building and then made our way across the bridge to the Peace Park (which was quite pleasant). We were a little disappointed that the Autumn colours had not arrived yet, but turns out we got it wrong, and Autumn moves from north to south, so Hiroshima is probably colouring right about now! Little did we know that the baseball parade meant that the bus stops on the park side were not operating and we had to go back to the dome bus stop to get back to the train station to get the train to the ferry station to Miyajima, oops.

  • Floating Torii, Miyajima
    Floating Torii, Miyajima
  • Floating Torii, Miyajima
    Floating Torii, Miyajima
  • Hiroshima baseball champions parade
    Hiroshima baseball champions parade
  • Autumn is coming, Hiroshima War Memorial Peace Park
    Autumn is coming, Hiroshima War Memorial Peace Park
  • Nuclear Dome, Hiroshima
    Nuclear Dome, Hiroshima

The ferry to Miyajima is quite a short ride and once on the island we decided to split up with the rest of the group and meet back in a couple hours.

Deer looking for a feed

Deer looking for a feed

Oysters are a local specialty on Miyajima so we had to try those, even with pesky deer roaming the streets looking for a free feed. This one was nosing around sleeping Oscar and me even though we didn’t have any food, I had to shoo it away before it woke up the little master. On to Itsukushima shrine and the floating torii, it’s quite a nice place to visit and I do wish we had more time there, in my head I have it planned out for next time when we visit Kyushu only. We’ll go and stay in Miyajima for one night and maybe Hiroshima as well (or just visit the Japanese garden there) so that we can walk around the trails around Mount Misen and get all of the best views of the torii with peak light. There are a lot of tourists there during the day, one would imagine in the later afternoon and evening, even in the early morning there would be much less people and a calmer atmosphere.

This was truly a hectic day and half, and travelling to Kyoto as well meant that this second day was as rushed as the first (albeit with some sight-seeing mixed in). We did a fair bit in Kyoto too, so I’ll probably break that up into several posts (possibly one for each day), see ya next time!

Accommodation

We stayed at an airbnb which was so-so, clean (obviously) and with wifi, but nothing great, weird traditional bathroom. I won’t bother linking to it since it was nothing special and you can find anything that will be the same or better.

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