Monday, November 22, 2010

Eating in Kyoto

Kyoto was the second stop on my Japanese adventure. It was so different from Tokyo. Where Tokyo is all about modern Japan, Kyoto felt like it was all about traditional Japan. What better place to try okonomiyaki?

We stayed at a great little hostel called the Capsule Hotel that had showers right in the room with blue lights inside them (romantic? sexy?). They also gave us a little guide that showed local restaurants that were near where we were staying, economical, and had various types of Japanese food. It was so helpful! The first night we went for okonomiyaki at Chabana. The one above is seafood and the one below is chicken and leek. It is like a savoury pancake - batter poured over "fillings" and cabbage, topped with Japanese mayo and a sweet sauce. They were really good, but very rich, so by the end you feel crazy full.

After, even though we were stuffed, we stopped at a "standing bar" and couldn't resist splitting tempura ice cream. To die for!

While in Kyoto we visited the Nishiki Market. It was crazy! Read the sign below the octopus lollipops. We saw a guy buy three! Also, check out the sack of fish row. It was the size of a small salmon.
In the middle of our big temple and shrine touring day we stopped for our favourite: Tonkatsu.

One evening we went to an amazing Yakitori place. Basically Yakitori is grilled skewers of chicken, but not just chicken breast, all sorts of chicken parts. We had chicken skin, chicken meatballs (middle right), chicken hearts (top right), a lot of chicken thigh and leek, and then we took a break from chicken and had some mushrooms wrapped in bacon (bottom left), and some littleneck clams in a wine and butter sauce (yup, as good as it sounds - bottom right). Oh I wish I could have more.
In the mornings we didn't have breakfast buffet like in Tokyo, so we stopped at a little bakery. The one on the bottom was almond paste in a pastry that was dense like a bagel, and the top one has eggs, bacon and cheese baked in. I liked that one the best.

In the morning we would also get ourselves vending machine drinks. I like the iced coffee, even though at home I don't really drink coffee, because it was heavily sweetened. My husband got hooked on Royal Milk Tea, which is basically half tea, half milk, sugared to within an inch of its life. It is served cold as well.

And what is a trip to a foreign country without a stop at McDonalds to try things we don't have at home. We got a Salt and Lemon chicken sandwich (left) and a German Sausage Chicken sandwich (right), neither of which we were very impressed with. We also got a Shake-a-Shake-a Chicken (a breaded filet with a package of seasoning in a shaking pouch). It came in pepper (good), cheese (a bit too Kraft dinner for me), and lemon (didn't try). My husband loved the white grape drink.

Unlike Tokyo, I feel like I have "done" Kyoto now, so I am not sure I will be back, but it was really nice and some of the cultural sites were amazing! It was also cute that we were approached by many groups of school children asking us to do a quick interview in English. How did they know? Haha.


Sunday, November 21, 2010

Almost Pocky

I thought it would be a cute idea post-Japan to give home-made Pocky out as a Christmas treat, so this weekend I roped Court into helping me out. As she said, our efforts were "not quite Not Quite Nigella" (whose recipe & instructions I pinched). The dough was not the easiest to make without a stand mixer but I managed, and the results are remarkably close to the real thing. It also made for a fun afternoon of decorating, even if our artistic skills are approximately Grade 4 level (and I'm being generous here). For toppings, we had dark, milk, and white chocolate, and some green tea chocolate made by mixing matcha into white chocolate. Everything else was whatever I could find in the pantry: - dark chocolate shavings - yellow & pink decorating sugars - cashews - dried cranberries - ground almonds - candied ginger - kinako powder - sea salt - pepper - chili powder


Monday, November 15, 2010

Eating in Tokyo

I went to Japan! It was amazing (and much too short, but better short than not getting to go at all). For those of you that read and actually know us, it should be noted that Brooke also went to Japan, for much longer than me and has been back more than long enough to have posted first.... Anyway, here are some food pics from Tokyo. I loved Tokyo. The food was great and cheap, and the people watching was unreal (but the fashion didn't translate well for 30somthings in Canada). The above was from one of many 270 Yen places. It is 270 Yen for anything on the menu (just over $3). We had chicken skin and chicken thigh skewers, sushi, and fried shrimp (which turned out to be fried shrimp heads).

We ate a ton of Tonkatsu. This one was from a vending machine restaurant and only cost about 700 yen.
Speaking of vending machines, getting drinks anywhere at anytime was no problem. Here are some of our favourite alcoholic selections (the Chu-Hi was like a cooler but not sickly sweet like the ones here can be).
One day we went to a place called NamjaTown (which seemed to be some sort of kitty themed amusement place). It contained GyozaTown and Ice Cream City, both of which we gave a try.

When my brother was on tour in Japan, they visited Yamachan a lot for wings and then insisted we go too when we got there. It was a good recommendation. How to describe their wings? Sweet, salty and spicy all in one in perfect proportion.

A tempura restaurant on the restaurant floor of a mall.

Mmmm fried chicken (they keep a lot more fat on their meat than we do, and it is a good move taste wise) and BBQ beef in a Korean BBQ sauce. Korean BBQ sauce is everywhere and delicious!

and just for laughs, this was part of the breakfast buffet at our hotel (the B Ikebukuro). I am pretty sure it is just rice and milk, but calling it gruel is pretty funny.