Wednesday, 31 October 2018

Japanese Wagashi Restaurant Mai

Wagashi means food in Japanese style. Not the westernized kind.
Fish and Seafood are a main component, but chicken and beef too.

The restaurant is a part of the Hotel I am staying in. In the morning they have a huge breakfast buffet that can satisfiy most cravings.

At 5 pm they change into a restaurant.
Some advertising outside showed Highball as a special drink. It contains a bit of Bourbon, lots of ice and soda water.

I was hungry, so I ordered a serving of french fries with ketchup first. Not very traditional Japanese, but who cares.

Then rice and miso soup as a staple.

The chicken was grilled with yuzu pepper and soft and very tasty with a good glazed skin. Strips of yuzu went with it.

Monday, 29 October 2018

Shredded Pancake

This pancake recipe has an Austrian origin. The Kaiserschmarrn is a classic there.

I made an easy bastard version of it. But it tasted great after a holiday in Japan. It was the perfect combination with the bowl of freshly made fruit salad.

Fruit salad was something I was looking forward to eat. The first stop at the supermarket was the fruit section. I loaded my shopping basket with a wide assortment of fruits for 11,50 €. After my experience with Japanese fruit I would have paid there about 45 € for the basket.

Back to my shredded pancake.

3 free range eggs
100 g flour
1/2 tsp baking powder
1 tbsp vanilla sugar
1 pinch of salt
120 ml whole milk
1 1/2 tsp melted butter
20 ml sparkling water
2 tbsp brown sugar
2 tbsp butter

Beat eggs, melted butter,vanilla sugar and salt together. Add flour and baking powder. It makes a thick paste.
Loosen with milk and sparkling water. Let the batter sit for 30 min.

Heat up the grill in your oven to 180 C.
Brush rapeseed oil in a wide 26cm pan and heat it up to medium high heat.
Pour the batter in and reduce the
 heat to medium. Wait until you can loosen the pancake from the sides of the pan. When it has taken a bit of colour, stick the pan under the grill. After 5 min check.

When it is risen and dried out, get the pan back on the hob and take 2 spatulas and shred the pancake. Add butter to the pan and start to stir the pieces. After a couple of minutes, sprinkle the sugar and bake until done.

Sunday, 28 October 2018

Spaghetti Neapolitan

All Italians will cringe and protest when they read this.

On many Japanese menus serving westernized food or Joshoku Food, you can get this pasta dish.

My favourite YT from Tokyo - TabiEats - made the recipe. It is made with Ketchup!

Our known tomato sauce did not reach Japan as the wish for this kind of food came. Available was just Ketchup. The US Army brought it to the country.

If you like Ketchup, you will like the dish.

Use the sausage you like or get, some Wiener or soft Salami, a bit of onion and greem bell pepper and give all of that a good time in some canola oil in the pan. Season with salt and pepper. Drain your spaghetti and toss them in with 3 or more tbsp of Ketchup.
Ready to serve.

Saturday, 27 October 2018

Curry and Katsu Curry

A Japanese Classic!

This is one dish that is eaten by everyone here in Japan. It is one of the most loved home cooked meals too. And convient stores like Family mart, Lawson or 7/11 all have microwave curries to take out.

The first one here was a plain one without any added extras and it was medium hot. I ate it at a reststop on a motorway. Pretty good and filling and with 650 yen for a plate inexpensive.

Today we've been to one of the 3 most beautiful places in all of Japan. Why there are only 3, I am not sure.
Amanohashidate is one of them, the other is the island of Miajima near Hiroshima (been there 2 years ago) and the 3. one are the small islands near Sendai in the north.

After we did a lot of sightseeing, it was time for lunch.
Katsu Curry was my choice. Curry with fried pork cutlett on top. 880 yen was ok for it.

Friday, 26 October 2018

Clear Latte - so strange

This year in spring I saw several YT videos showing the new clear drink trend in Japan.

A lot of people tasted it and their reactions ranged from cool to so strange. When I got here, I wanted to try it myself.
Japan is the country where you can buy cold or hot drinks from vending machines everywhere. Different brands in various machines.

Since I came here I checked lots of these machines and the convenient stores, but these clear drinks did not appear. I started to think that the new trend already was over and that I was too late.

Today in Kyoto I went shopping at Nishiki District and stumbled upon a DAISO. The largest 100 yen store chain in Japan. After buying some kitchen gadgets and other items I passed a drink section and Clear Latte caught my eye.

Next to it a bottle of Clear Matcha Latte. But I only bought the coffee. Back at the hotel I put it in the fridge to get real cold again.

Opening the bottle I took a sniff. Smelled like strong coffee.
I poured some in a glass, looked like water. I took a sip open eyed and it tasted strange of a weak cold iced coffee. I closed my eyes and it tasted like a good cold latte.
The bottle says: Espresso with Milk.
But zero calories, no dairy, no caffeine.

I had the strong tastes of espresso still on my tongue after 1 hour.
Strange - or what!

Oyabe River Motorway Reststopp

Japanese Autobahn Reststopps are the best.

Local produce and local specialities are sold there. You can get seasonal apples and kaki fruits or fresh and preserved veggies. When they bake or cook special stuff, you can eat or buy it here.

This region is well known for their white shrimp. Tiny clear looking ones you eat with head and shell. They are a good source of calcium.

The special here at the stopp restaurant is Ramen soup with shrimp and miso broth, topped with a lot of these tiny and crunchy creatures, a thick slap of charciu pork and some bok choy.
Finished with grated dikon radish and chili strings.
A pestel and mortar sat on the tray filled with roasted sesame seeds. You crush them yourself and add to the soup.
An amazing lunch.

As a dessert a red bean (anko) and vanilla ice cream. Wow.

Thursday, 25 October 2018

Udon Noodle Shop in Nagano

Nagano was made famous by the Olympic Winter Games.

The city has developed into a centre of commerce and agriculture, the apples from Nagano Prefecture are well known in the Country.
KitKat here are sold with a great tasting apple compote cream.

We stayed at the Tokyu Riu Hotel just across from the central station. I could see the sign of MIDORI from my window. 
Midori means green in Japanese and is also a large department store. Situated in the 2 top floors of the station.
To reach the place I did not need to go outside and cross the road. Our hotel had basement excess to the train station and lower entrance of Midori.

After checking out the goodies, I found an Udon Noodle Shop there.
I waited until 3 young women went in to grab the trays and just followed and did the same.
Easy way to act like a Japanese person and not like a stupid tourist.

I had a large bowl of Udon with beef and fried tempura batter, spring onions and a light broth.
Two pieces of tempura veggies on the side. One was fried sweet potato, too dry for my taste. The other a carrot and daikon mix.

Afterwards I finished my day with a green grape smoothie. Very refreshing.

Wednesday, 24 October 2018

Japanese Set Breakfast at the Hotel

As usual our tour guide told us about the time to leave on the next morning and when and on which floor to have breakfast.
She surprised us with the information, no breakfast buffet was there, but the Washington Hotel in Takayama offers set breakfasts. You only have the choice of Japanese with green tea or Western with coffee. She was very surprised that more than halve of the group choose Japanese.

The tray came with a small burning stove with a dried leave and local miso paste on top to heat up. Salmon, konjaku, fish cake, radish, tamagoyaki omlette, 3 pickled plums rice, miso soup, tofu and Apple jelly from local apples. A ceramic jar of green tea sat on the side.

Good breakfast that needs to be repeated.

Sukiyaki in Takayama

Our group had an organized free dinner at a traditional Japanese restaurant in the old part of town in Takayama.

Their speciality are Sukiyaki dinners.
The 33 of us were seated in a seperate room on medium low tables with some kind of Kindergarten chairs.

The places were set already and the waitress came and lit the fire under the pot with different vegetables and grilled tofu in a soy based sauce.

We had to stew the veggies first for about 5-8 minutes. That gave us time to check out the rest of the ingredients sitting in various little bowls. Most of the others were mystified about the raw egg. I told the 3 on my table that Japanese egg are absolutely safe to eat raw and that the beaten egg is used to dip the just cooked beef in before eating.

The small plate with brown stalks caught my eye. I have never eaten burdock root and it was very tasty. When I find some at the market in Kyoto in pickled form, I am going to get some home.

I finished the meal with 180 ml Sake of the Premium kind. It smelled delicious and had a slight floral taste. Drinking it in Takayama makes sense, because they brew it here for many centuries.

Tuesday, 23 October 2018


After driving along Mount Fuji we said Good Bye to the majestic volcano and drove near the 5 lakes through the Japanese Alps.

We did a 2,5 hrs stop in Matsumoto to visit the Crow Castle. It has its name from the black and white colouring of the building.
We had 30 min for a short lunch break at a small alley lined with craftstores, foodstalls and cafes.
Many parts of the alley smelled of fresh baked waffles.

Since everything is written in Japanese, it took me a couple of minutes ti decifer what was sold. I did not see our usual waffles, but baked fishes.
Then I new what they were selling. And by looking on small shets of paper I found some English words. Red beans, custard, ice cream, curry, chestnut and sausage with mayo.

That was the one that finally let me decide to by a fish or Taiyaki.

Some of our tour thought I was eating fish filled with fish and I has to explaine what Taiyaki actually is.
I called mine a fish hot dog. A bought a donut at a local bakery to eat latet. It was covered in roasted soy bean flour, that tastes a bit like peanut butter. But I forgot to take a picture.

Then we went to see the crow castle.

Sitting on the floor eating Ramen

I am in Gotemba tonight. The only nice thing to say about our Hotel Route-Inn Gotemba is the view from the front windows on Mount Fuji.

After a long day we were hungry and 6 of our group decided to try a Ramen place just opposite from the hotel. All chairs and tables were full of Japanese people and so the waitress showed us to a small side room with two larger tables. No shoes allowed.

One was already occupied and it was the one more comfortable. The very low table stood over a hole in the floor where you could hang your legs in. The remaining table was the same hight, but no hole under it. We all managed to sit some how at this table, most of us uncomfortable.
Our luck was that they had one English menu, but a waitress without any of that vocabulary.

I ordered Shoyu Ramen or Soy Sauce Ramen. With some toppings, but the order later came without them. The broth was a good dashi and beef stock with a bit of fat on top.
The noodles were chewy and took the broth well.

The whole experiance was different from the Tonkotsu Ramen I had in Tokyo.

Sunday, 21 October 2018

Tsukiji Outer Market Food

Just one week before I came to Japan Tsukiji Fish Market closed its doors and went into an industrial area where new buildings with food safety regulations for trading and whole sale fish were opened.

But the charme were not only the Tuna and all other seafood, but the little shops all round forming the Outer Market.

Most of these shops did not leave the aera and so I went there to sample some specialities. Some bigger restaurants went to the new location, but their places have been taken over by others.
They open early and close around 2 PM. So start the day here early before the hordes of tourists come.

The market is famous for fresh made food to grab. They sell lots of items in sticks.
You can get dumplings, filled rice balls and lots and lots of fish. But fresh and pickled veggies are sold there too. Many local old people were buying things.

I started my morning with two sticks, grilled scallops and grilled eel. Fresh and so delicious.

At the end of the small lane is a booth propring tomagoyaki by the pan load. A sweet and dashi tasting folded omlette. I have such a pan at home, now I know to use a tsp of sugar to balance the dashi broth. The omlette was sold on a stick.

Dashi is the next keyword here. I bought 25 small "teabags" sealed in a pouch with dashi stock. Just throw one in boiling water and cook it for 3 min and discard the bag. Best dashi without any MSG.

I went into the sidebuilding. There is still seafood sold. A girl sold ice cream out of this shop and her Dad sold oysters. Wild combination.
3 large oysters for 500 yen (less then 4 €). Soo good.

I sampled various kinds of beans abd nuts, pickled veggies and drank several tea samples. I bought a can of Matcha tea.

A man blow torching tuna caught my eye. Marinated maguro tuna over a coal fire was torched for extra favour. One skewer 500 yen.
I could not resist. Soft and flakey tuna. Just a little salt and pepper added at last.

On my way out were knife shops. But this time, no new knife!
But I found dried fruits, so tasty these Mangos. Next fresh fruits were sold and 1 saw one bundle of yellow grapes sold for 2800 yen (22 €) and fresh figs, a bit bigger then mine, but not a big as the ones sold at home in the supermarket. One fig 540 yen.

Saturday, 20 October 2018

Tonkotsu Ramen in a typical Ramen Shop

Small Ramen Shop with 3 young men manning kitchen and service and 12 places to sit and eat. Sanpoman Ramen is the name of the place.

Located in a back street from Eitai-Dori Ave.
This was something I wanted to do on this trip. I was looking forward to it. Tonight's food will be small then.
You pay at a machine, eat and leave.


Pork bone broth with 2 meat toppings, quail and chicken egg, noori sheets and spring onions. The broth is ver8py rich and the noodles are on the thick side. But they hold on to the sauce.

Took 6 min to prepare fresh and the owner was so nice and gave me a paper bib. I had already dirtied one shirt with the frappucchino Halloween Witch from Starbucks.

Friday, 19 October 2018

10 Floors of Food - Gems

Finally after a red eye flight, an hour by bus from the airport and a forced one hour walk - the Hotel Villa Fontaine Kayabacho does not allow check inn before 3 PM - I found a nice Japanese restaurant.

They all open at 5 PM and I was tiered and hungry. Our tour guide recommended an Izakaya near by, but sitting with a bunch of strangers is no fun at an Izakaya. And 3500 yen are the minimum if you want to get full.
I strolled around and found a moving sign restaurant list.   It was kind of strange and I did not see the reason behind it. I walked away, turned around and saw what they had done. A 10 story house with wide glass windows all around and different kinds of decorations.

A stack of 10 restaurants on top of each other. From 3 to 10 floors, you have to use an elevator.

I just climbed up a steep staircase and came into a friendly staffed restaurant. I got a place directly in the front looking out on the water. The light was mirrowed in the water.
They had an English menu on a tablet and so it was easy to order.

I ordered breaded fried tonkatsu - pork cutlett - with shredded cabbage, rice and miso soup and an non alcolic beer.

It took a good while for the food to arrive. A good sign that it was made fresh after my order.

It came a big serving tray with food and I was very impressed from the size and thickness of the pork cutlett.

I was not even able to finish all of my food.

A great choice of restaurant I stumbled over.

Airplane Food

On my way to Tokyo,  Japan, Lufthansa Airlines served good food Japanese style.
The menu said, it was developped by a Japanese Chef.
Very often are these meals on the tasteless or rubbish side.
This time I' ve got surprised.

It started with a small bowl of mixes salad greens with Italian dressing - very Japanese. But it was the same salad they served with the second choice of beef strips and Spaetzle.

Then came a small plate of Buckwheat noodles -Soba. There was a nondiscript little pouch sitting on the food tray, the sauce for Soba.
Since many of the Germans don't know that this belongs together, most plates of Soba stayed on the tray.
What a waste!

Chicken Teriyaki with white shortgrain rice and a little veg was the main course.
As dessert a plum crumble was served.
All in all a good balanced meal.

Wednesday, 17 October 2018

Pizza - not so completely homemade!

When you are getting ready to pack you bags and go on a holiday trip, eating something good and not too complicated is always a good idea. I was not in the mood for pasta.

Our Supermarkets offer roll out pizza dough. There are some good quality ones and there are others.
It takes a couple of tries to find the one that does not taste like cardboard or like a soggy sponge.

Then the preparation is fairly simple. Just roll out the dough with the baking paper on a baking dish and toss all you like on top and stick it in the oven. If just are too lazy to look for your rolling pin, use a glass to strech out the dough a bit more.

When you are lucky and have a pizza stone like I do, that works even better on this ready made doughs. They get enough heat to create a good crust.

I did not fuss with the ingredients, tomato sauce and just some good Italian salami, lots of grated cheese and some dried oregano and pepper.

Preheat the oven to the highest temperature 250 -270  C. Bake for 15 - 20 min.
Transfer the pizza to a wooden board and cut it up with a very sharp knife or a good pizza cutter.

Sitting outside on the balcony and enjoying one of the last warm October days makes going on a holiday trip even better.

Coming down from some stressful weeks and not running until the last minute is something I often do now. I use one more day off to get in the mood.
Years ago I ran until the last minute and hopped on the plane.