Kulinary Kansai (food.foto.spam!)

6 05 2011

One of the best things about travelling in Japan is trying the local specialities. So here’s a round-up of what I sampled on my last trip to Kansai!

Firstly while just getting to Kansai there was Ekiben (station lunchbox) of fried rice and wontons –

And arriving at Osaka I had to eat the classic Takoyaki (octopus balls) with a bit of a different spin, served in a light broth –

The Takoyaki was from this festive shop along Dotombori –

Eating out in Osaka also included Kushiage (fried things on sticks) –

Mexican with a friend –

Mystery Chinese –

And a Yum Cha set –

And moving from Chinese to Chinatown in Kobe, I had some Cha Siu Men –

Before stopping for some fruit tart from a french cafe near Kobe’s old foreigner’s quarter –

And continuing with sweets, in Kyoto I found soft serve ice cream with Yatsubashi (a hard cinnamon cookie) –

Shu cream (cream puff) made with real vanilla and sprinkled Yatsubashi on top –

And Mizuame (water candy) which is very similar to corn syrup according to wikipedia –

And finally some Unagi-don (eel rice bowl) served with sesame tofu at Mt Koya to keep up my stamina –

Yes, I think I did gain 5kg on this trip….

Yokohama Ramen Coma

4 05 2010

Continuing on with the Australian Invasion (of one), the next day trip Lauren and I took was to Yokohama.  Our main reason (my main reason?) for going there was the Ramen Museum, however no trip to Yokohama is complete without a visit to Chinatown.  The Yokohama Chinatown is one of the largest in the world, and its a very bright and lively shopping and restaurant area, with a couple of shrines thrown in. 

Chinatown Shrine

Chinatown Shrine

So we wandered around there for a while, and I stocked up on Chinese pork buns and egg noodles.  Since we were going to the Ramen Museum later we didn’t have lunch at Chinatown, and we made our way along the bay side to the Minato Mirai area.  There we took a ride on the ‘Cosmo Clock 21’ ferris wheel. 

Cosmo Clock 21 Ferris Wheel

Cosmo Clock 21 Ferris Wheel

It really struck me how much the Minato Mirai district has changed since my first visit in about 2002.  It’s a much more international tourist friendly place, and there are more things to do.  From the ferris wheel we spotted a couple of things I want to try next time I’m in Yokohama, like the foot bath at the Manyo club, and putt-putt at Vivre.  Both of which are on top of the buildings! 


From Minato Mirai it was finally time to get our late lunch (or early dinner) at the Shin Yokohama Ramen Museum.  The Ramen Museum is one of my favourite places to go in Yokohama.  Once you enter the Museum and walk downstairs into the basement, you enter a mock-up of what Japan was like in the early to mid Showa era (1925 and onwards). 

Shin Yokohama Ramen Museum

Shin Yokohama Ramen Museum

At any one time, there are about nine different restaurants showcasing different varieties of Ramen from all over Japan.  You can buy large or small bowls of ramen, and traditional Japanese sweets.  We were only able to fit in two small bowls of ramen, so we had Tonkotsu ramen (broiled pork bone soup) from the Kumamoto shop ‘Komurasaki’ 

Tonkotsu ramen

Tonkotsu ramen

and Miso ramen from the Hokkaido shop ‘Eki’  

Miso ramen

Miso ramen

 Both were very delicious, but pretty heavy.  I love trying different types of ramen, and tonkotsu still remains my favourite.  Alas, living in Kanto, the regional flavor of ramen is soy sauce, so I don’t get to satisfy my craving very often. 

And, after rolling ourselves home, that was our day in Yokohama! 

Once again, Lauren made a video, and you can check out her YouTube channel here

Kyushu day 4- Kumamoto day 1

18 12 2009

Today was our first day in Kumamoto. After eating breakfast at the hotel we set off to explore the Kumamoto castle grounds. The complex is actually quite extensive and includes a number of original stone walls, a few original buildings, and a few replicas. The main donjon is a replica, but looks spectacular, and the replica palace in the honmaru was gorgeous. All in all, it was really intresting, and we spent over 4 hours there before we even realised.
Next it was across town to Suienji Garden. This garden was built in the 1600’s, and simulates the Tokaido highway from Tokyo to Kyoto. It even had a minature Mt Fuji. It was very pretty, and mum was particular happy.
We ended the day with some Kyushu ramen (pictured below). Kyushu is famous for it’s tonkotsu ramen, which is my favourite, so I was really happy. We had one tonkotsu ramen, one salt flavored, and one meat and rice dish. Overall a rich meal, but really tasty!