Monday, December 27, 2010

Happy New Year!!!

Another video and some photos for your enjoyment since I don't have enough time for a real post with pictures!

My sister had wanted to go to Edo Wonderland, a theme park built to look like old Edo and people dress up in period costumes and experience how it's like in old time Japan. However, we decided to stick around closer to Tokyo and Kanagawa and Edo Wonderland's all the way in Nikko. So we compromised and picked a sort-of Edo themed onsen (well, more like a sento, since none of the baths are actual natural sulfur hot spring water) called Oedo Onsen. Plus after reading this post from Nic Nic, I was convinced my sister would enjoy this place and I was right! Actually, we all did lots of relaxing there and enjoyed our time immensely! I will definitely post pictures from our visit to Oedo Onsen as soon as I have a moment to breath.

Anyway, on the way there, we got to ride on this fantastic train ride from Shimbashi Station to the Telecom Center Station right outside of the Oedo Onsen. The train is above ground, and you get a beautiful view of the famed Tokyo Rainbow Bridge and a glimpse of the Tokyo Towerand of Ginza as well! Unfortunately, my camera battery died at the most opportune moment and so this video is taken with my sister's camera. This video was taken on our trip back after dark, of course, since it was still earlier in the afternoon when we got there.

Watch our train as it loops around after emerging from underneath the bridge (yes, the bridge has 2 levels, automobile upper, train + even more automobiles lower!).






Here's a glimpse of the Tokyo Tower all lit up at night.

Happy New Year!!!

Saturday, December 25, 2010

Happy Holidays!!!

My brother and sister are visiting so I won't be able to post for a while, but Happy Holiday and Happy New Year!



In the mean time, enjoy a couple of videos and lots of pictures, filmed/taken from the top of theLandmark Tower in Minato Mirai, Yokohama, sort of like the Empire State Building only not as tall ^.^ The videos were taken with my camera and pictures taken by my sister.




My sister was able to score this spectacular photo of Minato Mirai under the full moon that night with minimal glare from the glass window! Isn't she an awesome photographer?

With the moon

No moon here

Me and my sis




Back on the ground, my sister got yet another shot of the permanently docked Nippon Maru,according to Wikipedia is the "flagship of daimyo Toyotomi Hideyoshi's 16th century fleet," and the moon.


A night view of the Pacifico Yokohama and the Cosmo Clock 21.

That's all for now! Take care, keep warm, and Happy Holidays!!!

Wednesday, December 22, 2010

Shin-Yokohama Ramen Museum

For one of our stops, hubby and I took my sister and brother to the Ramen Museum at Shin-Yokohama for lunch. Hubby and I have been there before, so this is our second visit. And to be honest, the "museum" part is a bit of a, umm, scam, because it's really just some illustrations, some framed items and descriptions along the wall with the rest being a gift shop.


The real attraction, in my humble opinion, is the basement floor, where 9 ramen shops famous from 9 different regions of Japan gather. The whole basement is built to look like Japan during the 60's, however every now and then they will sound air raid sirens as if it was during WWII, so the whole thing is a bit...out of placed and, erh, kind of messed up.


And then on certain days they'll have demonstration of some kind, most of them loud and obnoxious targeted at kids, or adult children :P


I didn't take any photos of the basement, but my sister did, so I'm posting her photos for you :P For more pictures of the basement of the museum where all the ramen shops are, visit this website!

Anyway, on our first visit hubby and I could only stomach 2 shops, and we had ramens fromKomurasaki (Kumamoto Prefecture) and Harukiya (Tokyo). I didn't take any pictures that time so we'll have to make do with stock photos from the museum's official website.

The Komurasaki ramen was a heartier ramen in a rich miso-based broth, and you can choose the regular version or a stronger version with more black sesame seasoning. Hubby picked this stronger version and it was fantastic! It almost didn't taste like Japanese ramen and had more of a "Chinese" flavor thanks to the bean sprouts and black sesame seasoning in the broth.

Komurasaki Ramen from Kumamoto

The Harukiya ramen was unfortunately bland and very, very, salty. Yes, yes, I know it's a given all ramen are salty, but this one was especially salty! It was as though we were eating a block of salt and not ramen! So this shop got a thumb down from the both of us.

Harukiya Ramen from Tokyo

This time around, we also tried 2 different shops, Ryushanhai (Yamagata Prefecture) and Sakamoto (Kasaoka City, Okayama Prefecture).

Ryushanhai ramen was also delicious, though I still like Komurasaki ramen better ;P The Ryushanhai ramen was also heartier with a miso-based broth. The red dollop is the spicy miso that is supposed to be mixed into broth, and the whole thing has a sweet tangy taste instead of just pure savoriness. There was tons and tons of stir-fried cabbage topping which is a rarity, as ramen usually has little to none vegetable toppings. The pork topping was very tender and succulent, over all a very satisfying bowl of ramen, if you would excuse the tiny bit of grease in it.

Ryushanhai Ramen from Yamagata

Sakamoto was okay, not so bad but not great either. It was a soy-sauce based ramen with green vegetable topping and lots of pork. The pork is not your usual ramen pork topping but more along the lines of thịt kho (Vietnamese caramelized pork), so it was an odd ramen dish for me. Caramelized pork is a savory dish to eat with rice, so to pair it with a brothy noodle dish is a bit strange.

Sakamoto Ramen from Kasaoka

Anyway, hubby and I will definitely go back to the museum to try the rest of the other ramen shops!

Saturday, December 18, 2010

Khazana

Update Saturday December 19, 2010.

Hubby and I went back to Khazana for more yummy curries, though we were too late and missed the weekend lunch buffet and had the dinner sets instead. We ordered the Pair Course meal for two for 4,900yen, which is a great deal given how much food we got. We left the place stuffed and still had leftover saffron rice to take home!

The Pair Course meal came with all the below. Drinks were extra.
- House salad
- Vegetable samosas
- Tandoori chicken and shrimps
- Choices of 2 curries
- Saffron rice
- Garlic nan
- Dessert

The house salad was quite yummy and I actually ate all mine! The samosas was good but could have been better because the shell was a bit tough and wasn't crispy enough. However, the tamarind chutney that came with them was delicious! It was a perfect balance between tart and sweet, and all the tamarind chutneys I've had in the past were either too tart or too sweet.


The tandoori chicken was spicy and fragrant and seriously delicious! We got a whole breast including the wing and a whole thigh including the drumstick, pretty much half a freakin' chicken! And you know what the most impressive part was - the breast meat was juicy and tender and was not dry at all! Pretty amazing stuff! And holy smokin' cheese those shrimps were gigantic!

For the 2 curries, we picked the Butter Marsala Chicken in spicy tomato base curry and a Coconut Shrimp curry, which is apparently a very popular curry with women diners. Hubby inhaled the chicken curry in a heartbeat. He wasn't too keen on the coconut curry because he's not a fan of shrimps at all. And while I enjoyed the coconut curry, it was creamy and the shrimps were succulent, I think I prefer the chicken curry too ^.^ The saffron rice was good, but we both like the garlic nan much better. They were crispy and not too overwhelmingly garlicy.


Overall, I'd totally go for that Pair Course again, with 2 different choices of curries until we sample them all ^.^

-----------------------------

Hubby happens to walk through Queens Square on his way to and from school, and looking at Khazana every day makes one nostalgic for some Indian cuisines ^.^ Good thing what we read online were mostly positive, so we decided to try their lunch all you can eat buffet on a weekday, just to sample the curries and whatnot.

The verdict - the curries were great! Sure, we've had better curry in Jersey, but hey, who can beat an all you can eat buffet lunch for only 1,000yen/person (weekdays only, about $12)? I can't even describe how remarkably cheap a 1,000yen buffet lunch is, especially for a restaurant in glitzy Queens Square. Holy cow, how do they manage that kind of rent with these pricing?!?

Anyway, the weekday lunch buffet includes 4 curries (details below), 2 rices (saffron and steamed), butter nan, those addictive cracker chip, sweet chutney sauce, very spicy red sauce, pickled onions, very Japanese-y shredded cabbage salad, and another very Japanese-y seaweed salad. Drinks are charged separately, though also affordable at only 250yen. Weekend lunch buffet are 1,300yen, about $16), and in addition to the same items above, there are chicken tandoori, kebabs, desserts, and a few other things not served during the weekday lunch buffet. Yep, hubby and I are going back this very weekend to try the chicken tandoori and kebab and I will definitely update with more food pictures! ^.^

Here's my (2nd, or was it 3rd?) plate with chicken curry, nan, sweet chutney sauce mixed with spicy sauce, cracker chips, and hot chai (a separate 250yen).


The 4 types of curries served are:
1. Dal, a legume vegetarian curry. Hubby and his friend loved this, but I didn't so much. Don't get me wrong, the Dal curry was very tasty, but I grew up eating beans as sweetened desserts in puddings and whatnot, so savory Tex-Mex bean dishes at home in the states are already trying for my taste buds even though I love, love, love Tex-Mex. Yeah, let's just say I wasn't too keen with this legume curry, even if it was good.
2. Vegetable curry, I assumed this was vegetarian also. It was spicy and had cauliflowers and chopped green beans. Yum!
3. Egg curry...Erhh...none of us were brave enough to try this dish, so... :X
4. Chicken curry, delicious! It was spicy and the chicken was super tender! I ate 2 bowls of this curry haha! :D

Shoes Shopping ^.^

...For hubby, that is :P He happily went with me but begrudgingly looked at the shoes as if they were a great burden. Getting him to try on a pair was like pulling teeth! +.+

I guess this is just how some men (and women!) are when it comes to shopping, although if that is the case I really have to wonder how they get any piece of clothing on themselves! I'm quite sure clothes and shoes don't walk themselves to anyone's house...


Anyway, we intended to get him a pair of casual boots to keep his feet and ankle warm, ...and somehow ended up with a pair of Men's Tenoras sneakers instead! Hey, at least the original mission was successful ^.^


These sneakers are a great pick though! I've never heard of this brand before, but the shoes look well made with very neat and even stitches, and smooth (synthetic) leather-like material. It is very light, and hubby says it has decent arch support and is comfy. Phew!

Don't let this innocent face fool you. He's super duper picky!

Friday, December 17, 2010

Taiyaki Part III

This post is courtesy of my sister who is a 3rd year JET. Her local Taiyaki stand came out with a new, and dare I say a bit wacky, flavor - pizza, so she bravely went out to try and even took pictures for me ^.^



Why is it wacky and why was my sister brave to go out and try it? Well, because taiyaki is traditionally a dessert, a sweet snack, and the shell is supposed to be made of waffle batter, in come cases pancake batter, and some even rarer cases as in the cold Strawberry taiyaki I had a while ago, shortcake-like batter. So yeah, imagine eating pizza with a sweet waffle/pancake/shortcake crust. Vomit inducing, right?


My sister's verdict? YUCK. LOL! But she said the problem wasn't the combination of the waffle shell and pizza filling but rather the marinara sauce - it was disgusting ^.^ Hmm...well, I guess at least the terrible tasting marinara sauce is...fixable.

See my previous posts:

Thursday, December 16, 2010

Happie Nuts September 2010

Where on Earth would you find a magazine called Happie Nuts? Japan, duh! This is a backissue for September 2010, and yes I bought it for the Ravijour white polka dots eco bag and pouch.

According to this website, Happie Nuts caters to the "sexy oneesan who outgrew the kawaii look." Hmm...I don't know if the magazine achieved target audience, but judging from just this one issue it seems "sexy oneesan" means lingerie-model-wannabes.

Perhaps the image of this "sexy oneesan" changes with every issues, but this page looks like it came right out of a Victoria's Secret catalogue! And they're just showing off the freebie eco bag and pouch!

The freebie eco bag and pouch turn out to be pretty generic, but I like them nonetheless. The eco bag is made of polyester, measuring 32(height) x 26(width) cm. The pouch is plastic, measuring 12(height) x 17.5(width) cm.

The eco bag is unlined, has no pockets or closures, and the inside seams are not covered.

However, it is well made with even stitches.


The pouch is plastic with zipper closure at top that actually closes completely!

The polka dots side is clear!


Below are a couple of pages of street fashion. Hmm...do you think Happie Nuts was misspelled and they actually meant Hippie Nuts?

Ahh...much better.

Some pages with makeup tutorials.


The far right column has instructions on how to apply clear tapes to your lids for non-surgical enhancement! It looks kind of freaky before eye makeup but afterwards it doesn't look too bad.

H&M Magazine Winter 2010 (Picture heavy!)

After lunch at Khazana yesterday, instead of going home hubby and I stuck around to walk off the curries. We went into H&M (Hennes & Mauritz) intended to just take a look...and then left with a bag of goodies...Sigh, I'm so weak.

At the check out counter they put one of these H&M Magazine Winter 2010 into my shopping bag. At home I don't care much for these, but since it's the Japanese edition, I thought I'd post it for fun ^.^ Enjoy!

Mariacarla Boscono on the cover














I'm not too keen on these clothes, but that boy toy with the tattoos, where can I get one of those? xD


On second thought, he sort of look like whats-his-face Shia LeBeef...erhh...LaBeouf. Ack, never mind.





The new "Spring Looks" below aren't too bad, actually.

I'm eyeing the knit jacket on the right...

...And both the sweat shirt as well as the button up tuxedo shirt...

...And this color block knit on the left. Or is it a sweater? Can't tell.

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