Turning Japanese – Part Nine

This morning I was so excited because today was Kyoto day!!

Here’s a tip, if you’re going to train into Kyoto, make sure you have a plan of what you want to see there BEFORE you get there.

I don’t know why I thought I wouldn’t have to have a plan. I thought we’d just get off the train and there would be scenic views upon scenic views.

What we did do is find an information map and decided to walk to the Imperial Palace. After all, we’d been to the one in Tokyo and that was interesting.

So we walked down there and only after we got there did we realise that it only opens a few days a year. So we couldn’t really see anything.

We then googled “Things to do in Kyoto” and decided to walk to the observation tower.
We found a few temples and shrines along the way.

At one place, the boars were said to have healing powers; in particular, for leg injuries.
Hubby has foot pain right now and I, being a runner, always have something pulled or not quite right, so we drank from the water and crossed our fingers!

But this is a food blog so you’re probably waiting for me to write about what we ate…

Again, we found it hard to find a place. It’s not really difficult, there are a million places!! We just want to make sure we don’t miss out so we look at every single restaurant we can before deciding where to go…

And today, by the time we got to the Observation tower we were pretty tired and hungry and nothing sounded familiar so when we saw the Octopus Balls (takoyaki) franchise that we’d eaten at before, we went for it.

Don’t be shocked, but I’m not a seafood person. I ate the balls because it was familiar but by the end I was almost gagging. This has NOTHING to do with the food being produced but everything to do with me not eating seafood. The food itself is exceptional quality and anyone else probably would have loved it but I crunched down on one bit too many and I’d be happy if I never see an octopus ball again.

This evening however, proved to be the unexpected highlight of the day!
It started off though with a slight disappointment. We wanted to have dinner at a place called Hidays Texas BBQ. We had read a few reviews about it and it sounded good.
When we got there, we saw that it was closed. Argh!

As we were in the Dontonbori area, another area we’d read about, we decided to walk around there and eventually stumbled upon Red Rock!
When friends knew we were going to go to Japan, they said we MUST get beef bowls and Red Rock had beef bowls on their menu so how could we not.
We watched others ordering… this place has a similar system to the place we went to in Narita. We had to order and pay for our food outside of the restaurant, then give our ticket to someone inside, who sent it on to the kitchen.

I’m not sure exactly what we ordered. Hubby’s was “large” but as you can see from the pictures below, they seem the same size. We ended up sharing and they were BOTH delicious!! Probably the best things we’ve eaten since we’ve been in Japan although I keep saying that don’t I?
The rice was below the meat and there was some sauce through it that made it so delicious. I wish I could give you more information but my taste buds aren’t that refined and I don’t know what the menu actually said so I don’t want to give the wrong information. Just trust me that it was delicious!!

After our exciting dinner, we walked through the streets and took in more sights and sounds. This is such an amazing place. There’s always something new to see around the corner!


Only a few more days left here now and I think we’re going to try to take in a baseball game at some stage!

For now, my bed awaits after a long and satisfying day.

Turning Japanese – Part Three

Today on the Dining Diaries we move from Narita to Tokyo…

This morning I was a bit – I really don’t know how to describe it – I was conscious I was not in a familiar place and while I do like it here, I’m just out of place. I don’t know what to eat, I don’t know how to get to where I want easily, and it’s just throwing me off.

However hubby and I went to Tokyo and found it very diferent to Narita.
I guess it’s to be expected, Tokyo being as large as it is.
As we walked around, we noticed  many more Western sounding restaurants. We didn’t actually go into any yet so I can’t tell you if they are, but they look like they are.

And that’s not to say that we came all this way to eat Western food, but it does bring a certain sense of comfort to know it’s there.

This morning we went in search for coffee in Tokyo.
We stopped outside one place called Gorilla Coffee and were having a bit of a giggle at the sign outside.



I mean don’t they know that name calling is just not nice?

Anyhow, while we were standing there in front of this sign, a polite server came out from the cafe and showed us a full menu. He had limited English but how could we say no?

So we went in and ordered the egg and bacon dish and you know what, it was really quite good!!

The egg was soooo fluffy and creamy and look at the size of those pepper corns!! Hubby loved that. I could have left it but I just loved that this was a simple common dish that was presented and tasted in such a different way.

This evening hubby and I went to the Shinjuku district and were amazed at the lights, the people and restaurants and shops!!
Blinding lights, masses of people and shops with things I’m sure we needed. I’m sure we did!

The restaurants are floor upon floor… going up to 10 or more levels. The tricky thing about that is you don’t know what the restaurant looks like before going there. We’d been walking for some time when some guy in an alley convinced us to go up to his restaurant. If we hadn’t been so weary from walking and not being able to make a choice, we might have said “no, not tonight”
And not that it was a bad choice, but it wasn’t special.
We were brought up to the eighth floor. We were given the choice of a normal table and chairs or traditional Japanese seating. We chose the table and chairs.

We ended up ordering dumplings again as we liked the ones we had yesterday. They were nice! And then some Japanese steak (pictured below) and some fried noodles. It was all quite tasty but there seemed to be something missing.

It did say “Japanese Steak” on the menu but as you can see, there’s very little steak. That was not really surprising as I’ve heard it’s very expensive here.

For those interested, here is a snapshot of other items that were on tonights menu.

I chose a wine I wasn’t familiar with and that wasn’t quite what I was expecting either.
Again, everyone is SO polite and bend over backwards to try to help you even if they don’t speak the language. You have to really admire these people!

Once back at our hotel hubby and I snuck into the convenience store and bought a selection of sweet cakes to take back into our room.
Although we’re still a little unsure we are really enjoying our time here.
My guess is there’ll be more noodles and dumplings tomorrow!!