Okinawa Day 1

August 8th, 2016

when one thinks of Japan, they’d usually think about Tokyo or Kyoto; which yes, is two of my favourite places as ones super high-tech and another is full of traditional stuff. but near Taiwan, there lies Okinawa, an island that’s pretty under-rated and is said to be better than Hawaii by some. (it is also named the Hawaii of Japan!) lucky for me, the tickets from Seoul to Okinawa was pretty affordable and there’s a direct flight so I decided to pay a visit to the other end of Japan!

after doing some homework, I found a list of places to go and things to eat and I couldn’t fit all of it in my 4 day 3 night schedule. so I’d recommend going there at least for 5 or 6 days! what I will not be covering is the cave diving and turtle watching in Zamami (I’d recommend to stay in Zamami for at least one night!) which I would really want to see but there was just not enough time T__T.

so are you ready for day 1? let’s go!

I landed just in time for a late lunch! so right after landed, we went to our guesthouse (which was really affordable esp in Japanese standards at 2,500yen per night per person for a twin room!) and asked for a recommendation on where to eat.

DSC00007 copy

I lived near International Street or Kokusai Dori where there are a lot of tourists and food’s super expensive due to that. =(. but lucky for us, we found the recommended restaurant which was pretty secluded inside the roofed shopping street smacked right in the middle of Kokusai Dori.

DSC00024 copy

and it’s this restaurant! it looks pretty shabby and run down but their famous Soki Soba (similar to Okinawa Soba but just with different parts of pork meat) is only 390yen for delicious bowl of hot Soba!

DSC00011 copy

the interior was really old-school and it is exactly the kind of restaurant I like ^_^.

DSC00018 copy

and after only 2 minutes, the Obasan whipped out this bowl of  simple yet delicious Soki Soba! the soup’s super fragrant and clear and the meat was so soft and yummy it felt like it has been stewed for hours. it was soooo good, I literally had this everyday ever since I went to Okinawa. well, this or Okinawa Soba which is pretty much the same. I had it in many different places but still this was the best!

DSC00025 copy

after a hot bowl of soba, we were literally dying from the hot and SUPER humid weather. so we stopped by Blue Seal, Okinawa’s very own local ice cream chain that’s only available in Okinawa for a cup of ice cream! it’s famous especially because of the wide array of flavours that’s only served in Blue Seal!

DSC00026 copy

there are special blue seal flavours like ube, salted cookies, beniimo, Okinawan lime and sugar cane!

DSC00030 copy

I tried the sugar cane while Megu got the salted cookies which tasted like butterscotch to me. I actually really liked the sugar cane!

DSC00040 copy

ohai! I’m at Kokusai Dori!

DSC00044 copy

and waiting for the monorail. or what they call the monoreru. it’s really expensive but you can get the daily or two day pass if you’re travelling on the monorail for more than twice. after lunch, we rushed to the famous Shuri Castle which requires a short bus ride from the Shuri Castle Monorail stop and a hefty entry fee of 800yen.

DSC00066 copy

say hi to Okinawa’s famous Sisa! which are lions put outside of shops, gates etc. where people believe it to be their guardian.

DSC00071 copy

the entrance of Shuri Castle!

DSC00074 copy

if you buy the one day or two day monorail pass, you can even get a 140yen discount for getting into Shuri Castle!

DSC00077

but man was it beautiful. although it’s really small. T_T.

DSC00123 copy

the cool thing is that you get to go into the castle although taking pictures at most places are forbidden.

DSC00125 copy

spam.

DSC00162 copy

also, A&W is probably the only place in Japan where you can find root beer. Japanese people mostly find the taste of root beer revolting because of the similarity of it with the Japanese muscle-pain patches. but because of the amount of American soldiers here in Okinawa as there’s an army camp here, there’s A&W!!! along Kokusai Dori =3.

DSC00164 copy

just another night at Kokusai Dori~

DSC00165 copy

there are many steakhouses available in Okinawa again, because of the army base there and they all claim to be the best. but we did our research and found out that Jack’s Steak House is the most popular and also the oldest. and it’s pretty dominated by the Koreans. well, actually the whole Okinawa’s filled with Koreans. xD.

speaking of which, I was there when Leeteuk and BoA was there and I bumped into Leeteuk!! there was so many Korean people around but it felt like only me and Megumi recognized him and he even said hi!!! *faints*

DSC00167 copy

after waiting for around 30minutes (we went at around 9pm), we finally got a seat.

DSC00174 copy

the many sauces available for their super diverse menu. and to be honest, for such yummy and quality food, the prices were super reasonable.

DSC00195 copy

our bill came up to around slightly more than 3,000yen! well, because we ordered something else rather than just steak.

DSC00197 copy

the super juicy steak mmm.

DSC00206 copy

now look at that, that’s what I call medium rare xD.

DSC00208 copy

the taco’s were mediocre but the sauce that came with the tacos were.. absolutely amazing.

DSC00209 copy

you can choose to have bread or white rice together with your steak (Japan.) and we opted for the super fragrant buttered bread. and eating it like this with the pork and onions? simply the best!

DSC00215 copy

the night felt a little early for us so we went into a bar and ordered the famous Orion beer which was 500yen and tasted like the cheap beer widely available in Korea. I still don’t see what’s the hype with Orion beer and everyone travelling to Okinawa. everyone told me “remember to try Orion beer!” but nah. I prefer craft beers available all over Tokyo. and the famous Minoh beer of Osaka’s still my favourite!

DSC00218

we ordered another Okinawan favourite, the Umibudo! or, the seagrapes. although it has a slightly salty taste to it, it was absolutely delish! especially for those who like Ikura, this will be super yums! especially after dipping it in Ponzu, a type of citrusy soy sauce. MMMM.

DSC00224 copy

we also ordered pork knuckles as another side! which was really yummy mm. Japan. you never fail me!

that’s the end of day one!

[Tokyo] Pineapple and Chocolate Ramen?! Papapapapine!

May 21st, 2016

if you’re a hardcore rocketnews24 reader, you might’ve run across this restaurant that serves pineapple ramen so good, they came out with the instant noodle version of it and it can be found at selected convenience stores. except I’ve yet to come across it during my 7 month stay in Japan.

IMG_8395 copy

so Papapapapine is known for their pineapple ramen. but what’s that above? kakakakakao. get it? well, other than its famous pineapple ramen, it is also known for its notorious innovation when it comes to ramen. they had strawberry ramen, banana ramen.. well.. you name it. while their seasonal menu changes all the time, you’d always be able to find pineapple ramen in this shop.

IMG_8387 copy

since it is located at a humble town called Nishi-Ogikubo (not to be confused with Shin-Okubo), the lines weren’t that bad despite the 7 seated bar.

IMG_8388 copy

like every other ramen shop, you need to buy it with the vending machine. but fret not, because I was once a tourist (still kind of am) and I once had no idea what was written on the machine, I just simply went in and seek for help from the very kind and friendly ramen guy. =D.

their best selling is the shio (salt base) and they have it cold too for the summer!

CIMG7602 copy

the interior was.. everything that relates to pineapple. there’s even pineapple wine if you want to try.

CIMG7604 copy

this was the first time when I went. and I ordered the Pineapple ramen. and guess what? I actually loved it! instead of the salty ones with a strong taste, this one was rather light and refreshing! I wouldn’t say that I like this better than the Tonkotsu ramen, but this place really gives ramen a great twist from the usual ones when you’re bored with it.

IMG_8392 copy

and this year, I went back and in conjunction with the valentines week, I braced myself and ordered myself a bowl of.. kakakakakao. you got it right, chocolate ramen. but chocolate ramen?! really?! EW! and with PINEAPPLES?!

well.. it really tasted like chocolate and it was like nothing I’ve ever had before. the first few bites were really good but uhhhhhh…….. towards the end I just kind of gave up hahahaha. still a good experience though.

until the next time.

東京都杉並区西荻南3-12-1
Tokyo, Suginami-ku, Nishiogiminami 3-12-1
3 minutes walk from Nishi-Ogikubo station.

=).

[Mitaka] Ghibli Museum

May 12th, 2016

I am not sure if you know, but I am actually a huge Ghibli fan. other than the few latest movies I watched almost all of Hayao Miyazaki’s popular creations and I LOVE IT!!! up till the point that I need to restrict myself from going into a Ghibli store before I spend all my savings on fan items I know I shouldn’t buy.

but this time, since my sister came to visit me in Tokyo last winter, I decided to go online (you can check the availability here) and book the tickets 1 month prior to her arrival. holy cow! one month?! yeap. one month.

IMG_6051 copy

so how do you get the ghibli museum ticket? well.. it’s really easy for those who’s living in Japan. and for those who isn’t living in Japan, you may want to find someone to help you get it in Japan. there’ll be a machine that looks like an ATM machine in LAWSON (a convenience store) and you can buy your tickets there! there are 4 time slots a day and the earlier ones tend to get sold out quickly. and weekends gets sold out faster than the weekdays too.

IMG_6052 copy

so about the museum. every little detail was carefully and perfectly made. and I especially liked their washroom. it was very ghibli. the only drawback is that you can’t take pictures inside the museum. so as a blogger, I can’t show you much. but I would like to say that it was a great experience for me as an avid fan of Ghibli movies.

IMG_6053 copy

at the entrance, you’d be greeted by Totoro!!!

IMG_6054 copy

and these cute little furballs =3.

IMG_6055 copy

had to take a picture here xD.

IMG_6058 copy

even with the pre-booked ticketing, the queue was long. seems like nobody forgot their ticket!

IMG_6059 copy

the whole building itself was very pretty. and it resembles a lot of the houses in many Ghibli movies!!!

IMG_6060 copy

there was a merchandise shop inside the museum where you can go crazy with. there was a Ghibli watch where I was eyeing on but too poor to buy it T_T. sigh. they have stuff that you cannot buy outside of the Ghibli Museum like badges and plates that are very very unique. so if you have money and you love Ghibli, you MUST come here.

IMG_6064 copy

me with the giant robot from Castle in the Sky~ this is probably the only place you can actually take pictures with something iconic.

IMG_6075 copy

and uh well.. I found some other spots too. please excuse my horrible fashion sense. hahaha.

IMG_6081 copy

and here too!!! and a glimpse of the inside. I highly recommend it to other Ghibli fans like myself! =D

directions to Ghibli Museum: the site tells you to get there by Mitaka where you can either choose to walk or take the bus. but I am a stingy person and I am fairly familiar with Kichijoji. hence I went to Kichijoji instead (it’s located in between Mitaka and Kichijoji) and walk through the Kichijoji park to get there. there were signs on how to get there and there was also Iseya (a cheap and yummy Yakitori place) at Kichijoji so I just HAD to use the Kichijoji route xD.

[Samcheongdong] Bukmakgol HUGE RIBS!

April 24th, 2016

so there’s this place in Seoul where you can devour beef ribs like as if you’re a cartoon character.

IMG_1866 copy

and it’s this place called Bukmakgol located at the end of Samcheongdong.

IMG_1865 copy

and the best part? you get to dine in an old fashioned looking hanok!

IMG_1854 copy

the banchan! as in side dishes. they serve AMAZING side dishes. like, that marinated mini octopus!!! we loved that so much I think we asked for refill like 3 times. D=.

IMG_1855 copy

AND THE MAIN DISH!!! the great and majestic BEEF RIBS!!! called Wang (king) Galbi Jjim don’t you just want to eat it right nowwwwwwwww? that sauce though. it went really well with that tender beef. this would be like the literal love at first bite kind of dish. MMMMM. and the damage to this is 39,000won (63,000won for the bigger one!). although it’s pretty pricey but I ASSURE YOU that it’s worth every won. you’ll literally finish all those vegetables even if you do not eat vegetables because of that amazing sauce hahaha.

IMG_1860 copy

and their famous bossam. I like it because it was different. the quality of the pork was definitely great and the sourish onions went very well with it making it feel like some sort of light appetizer. BUT, I kind of prefer the normal kimchi and pork bossam as it is heavier =X. this costs 28,000won. the bigger one will cost you 38,000won.

IMG_1861 copy

MMMMMMMMMMM…… 잘먹겠습니다!

IMG_1859 copy

also for sides, we ordered makguksu! (10,000won) this was pretty good too! very homey feeling and they weren’t stingy on ingredients ^_^. the meal here was for 5 of us!

IMG_1857 copy

strongly recommend this place! so if you’re visiting Samcheongdong, be sure to stop by here for their phenomenal beef ribs! =3.

[Tokyo] AFURI Ramen

April 1st, 2016

recently I got the nickname “ramen girl” from my Japanese friend because he stated that Ramen isn’t normally loved by women. but if you look through my instagram a month before I leave Japan, you could probably see my love for ramen, which made me the “ramen girl.”

while the best ramen I’ve ever had was still the one from Osaka, from a chain called.. I forgot (update: it’s called 藤平) but it was near Fukushima station, Tokyo has the widest range of ramen in my opinion. it is like, you can find anything in Tokyo. and I love Tokyo for that reason. if you are living in Tokyo and loveee ramen, then Afuri shouldn’t be a name that is unfamiliar to you as it is literally ONE OF THE BEST ramen available in Tokyo.

IMG_0202 copy

you should know how no ramen in Japan would taste the same, Afuri takes a huger leap away from the weird. they are known for their Yuzu ramen, or in other words, Citrus ramen. how would the citrus’ tangy taste taste like with salty ramen? well, that’s why I went to find out!

IMG_0201 copy

you might be really pleased to know that Afuri (located in Ebisu and also in Harajuku! and a few other places I think) opens throughout the week and it serves awesome ramen from 10:30am to 3:00am. yeap, 3 in the morning!

IMG_0200 copy

there are two choices of broth and I chose the recommended Tanrei!

CIMG0664 copy

unlike many other ramen bars, there are actually women working here! you normally see manly looking guys serving you the hot bowl of goodness but it was really different here.

IMG_0199 copy

and the famous Yuzu Ramen! it was really good. I was actually very skeptical about it because I ate Yuzu ramen at another popular place at Kabuki-cho which copied Afuri and boy was that a disappointment. this one though was really good! it is quite funky since it’s sour, bitter and salty at the same time. but the noodles were cooked to perfection and the yuzu freshens up my whole meal!

IMG_0195 copy

and this is the Yuzu dipping sauce Tsukemen! I actually preferred this as it was more refreshing. love how Tsukemen noodles are so chewy and the way they serve their dipping sauce cold complements the Yuzu very well in my opinion. it’s more sour and the way the pork was cooked until tender and diced up like that made the whole slurping experience even better.

IMG_0196 copy

the dipping sauce!!! very citrusy but yet less bitter than the Yuzu ramen.

CIMG0668 copy

look at those yummy pork!!! I actually preferred the Tsukemen over their store specialty. so I urge you to try the tsukemen instead!

CIMG0672 copy

went with Ryuta Saru-chan again! (saru means monkey. he looked very funky in this picture so I hid him before he comes complaining to me heheh) long live our ramen adventures!!!

[Ginza] Midori Sushi. is it worth it?

March 17th, 2016

I’d like to label people who come to Midori Sushi as.. smart. because for 3,000yen, you can get as follows:

IMG_5946 copy

12 pieces of sushi, egg + one handroll and a miso crab salad!

although the queue would be quite a misery (normally 2 hours. I only queued for 80 minutes ahahhaha ONLY.) you can actually take a number and come back an hour later and wait for only about 20-40 minutes! depending on which branch you go to really. I went to the Ginza branch and I heard the Shibuya branch has the longest queue whereas the one in Kichijoji has almost no queue!

IMG_5948 copy

with uni, chutoro and otoro on the list, I think it’s pretty worth it already. there’s also a 2,000yen set with lesser pieces of sushi.

IMG_5953 copy

I ordered the 2,500yen set where I get my own bowl of fish liver MMmmm I absolutely adore it as it tastes something like foie gras except with a tinge of fishiness!

12742650_10154024493601979_1043509534284371736_n copy

the 2,800yen set also comes with a mini bowl of miso crab salad which was amazing! super yummy. highly recommended!

IMG_5952 copy

although most of the sushi on their sushi platter ain’t like top quality, they were all descent! I mean, for 2,500yen, I’d say it’s a steal. it’s a satisfying meal. especially for those who’s visiting Japan for the first time (and had never had super high end sushi abroad), Sushi Midori will probably the best sushi you’ve ever had in your life!

IMG_9529 copy

especially their chutoro. not their otoro. their chutoro literally melted in my mouth D=. I mean, I think the chutoro here’s better than the otoro in Sushi Dai. it’s that good!

IMG_5954 copy

so, itadakimasu!

IMG_5957 copy

the walls has everything illustrated to help you in ordering and seems like there were a lot of locals in Midori sushi too despite this restaurant being all over the foreign media. most locals prefer to order only one set of sushi to share and have a lot of individual dishes like sashimi, grilled fish or salad.

IMG_5959 copy

at the end of the meal, a yummy bowl of yoghurt ice cream was served ^^.

IMG_9515 copy

also, all the sets comes with chawan mushi. and boy was it smooth! probably the best chawan mushi I’ve ever had. since the restaurant caters a lot of foreigners, they have all kinds of American sushi like the dragon roll, caterpillar roll, California roll etc where I’ve NEVER seen in Japan while having lived there for around 10 months in total. except for Midori sushi of course. hahaha. they do not usually serve chawan mushi alongside with sushi sets but they do overseas like they do here!

12744521_10154024494081979_6007989859293313754_n copy

the two individual menu’s which I think are the best to order if you feel like the sushi ain’t enough! =3.

verdict: if you are on a budget and want to have some good sushi, go to Midori sushi as their deals are as good as it can get! but if you are into something better and is willing to spend a bit more, I recommend you Hideyuunigouten! I also went to both Sushi Dai and Daiwa! read it here!