Vay Cay to Jay Jay – Part Eight

Another beautiful day in Japan today! I love that we’re experiencing gorgeous warm weather. I think I might have to move here during the Winter months in Adelaide!

One thing I don’t understand is how the majority of people seem to be slim when their food is so processed and fried. The supermarkets are full of ready to go meals. Most of them are fried.
There are so many places that sell those delicious looking pastries and cakes and they all seem to be so highly processed!
You won’t easily find diet soda’s here and in fact there aren’t many “soft” drinks around. Actually it’s not really that hard to find it, especially as the West continues to have an influence, but it’s not as common as you’d find back home.

IMG_3817Hubby and I are almost out of ideas for what we want to do.
This morning we decided to walk to Ueno, have another look around and then maybe, eventually, make our way on foot to the Tokyo Metropolitan Building.

We stopped for a coffee at Starbucks. See that pic on the right? That was in their cake display. Alongside the delicious looking cakes they had a meat pie!!

We sat there enjoying the scenery in Euno park. It was very relaxing!

 

Next stop was Harajuko. I seem to get these places mixed up. I just didn’t remember going to these shops before!
Hubby says it must be wonderful being me, it’s like I’m experiencing it all for the first time every time I go there…
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We walked down Takeshita Street again and this time I noticed the huge Candy Canes!

Can you see it on the left?

It doesn’t look as big in her hands as it did when a four year old was holding one.

There was a huge line to get these as well!

We’ve been noticing a few places here that do Kebabs. I can’t imagine that they would be like “our” kebabs but today curiosity got the better of us and we had to get some.

 

One Beef and one Chicken.
They actually tasted not bad!

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I don’t know if you can notice the meat as it’s cooking.

Chicken on the left and beef on the right.

This guy was quite busy too!!

And alongside him was a place that was selling fries…

Moving right along…
After walking past the high end stores of Harajuku again, we decided to walk to Shinjuku.
I have to confess, I really love saying it. Shinjuku. There’s just something about that name!

IMG_3825We walked past the Meiji shrine and were amazed at how close it was to the station. Last year when we’d come here we’d gone via another station and walked a few kilometres to get to it.
The more you walk, the more you realise that so many stations are so close to each other that you probably don’t have to take the train as often as you think.

I found the display of the old wine and sake barrels very interesting.
Hopefully you can read the information in the pics below.

 


I just LOVE the Metropolitan Government Building.
Firstly, because it’s free to go up it!!

 

There’s great views of Tokyo from there and on a good day, you can even see Mt Fuji.
Today was not one of those days but we did see Fuji last time we were here.

 

Secondly, I like coming here because there’s a couple of gift shops and a restaurant.
Yes, the gift shops are slightly over priced but there’s not many people around and while hubby goes to have a coffee in the restaurant, I can take my time and really look at everything they have for sale.

I came away with a few goodies that are now tucked safely in my suitcase!

 


Another thing we love about Shinjuku is Brooklyn Parlor!!
We stumbled across this place last time by accident and this time, sought it out.

There’s just such a great atmosphere here!!! Hubby and I were definitely the oldest ones in there though.
We had a couple of drinks and shared some fries while giving our feet a bit of a rest.

As we made our way back I couldn’t help but wonder what side of the road we’re actually supposed to walk on. They drive on the left so you’d figure when walking on paths you should keep left. This is especially true as you share the path with so many bikes!!! Yet people don’t tend to keep left. I don’t think they stick to any side actually!

At the train station they have signs keeping you to keep left or right. Sometimes it’s left, sometimes it’s right.
When riding escalators, everyone keeps to the left… or right… (I love how they do that!!!) Leaving the other side free for people that want to race on by.

I was too late to take pics of our dinner but dumplings and rice made another appearance (not surprising)
I do like the food here but I’m not one who says I LOVE the food. I kind of miss having different vegetables and fruit. While you can have those things here, a lot of them tend to be very expensive and I don’t see them as a common thing being offered in restaurants.
I could be wrong, just what I’ve noticed in the short time we’ve been here.

Tomorrow is our last full day in Tokyo… I’m not sure what that day has in store yet!! Time to plan.

Vay Cay to Jay Jay – Part Seven

We spent a good part of this morning trying to decide what to do.
We’ve looked at day trips out of Tokyo and River Cruises but nothing really appeals within the time frame we have.

So I went online and found a market area that is supposed to be really popular with tourists and better yet, it was in “walking distance” from us (It’s all relative)

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The Nakamise market was a couple of kilometres from us.

As we approached we saw a whole lot of bicycles parked.

Everyone rides a bike and you’re constantly looking over our shoulder to see if one is about to whizz past you!

 

I really don’t know how there aren’t more accidents with them here.

 

 

 

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Before we shopped at the market we walked through Senso-ji Temple which adjoins the market.

 

 

 

There were some food stalls along there and hubby and I tried some of the Crab Meat on offer

 

 

(At least, I hope that’s what it was)

 

 


You would have a hard time being here if you don’t like crowds. Wherever you go there are just crowds and crowds of people. I found myself getting anxious a few times but you just have to go with the flow.

There are soooo many shop stalls to look at and we didn’t really get to look at everyone but we did spend a lot of time there.

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I had read about the many themed cafe’s here and one I particularly wanted to visit was based on Alice in Wonderland.

It was called “Alice in an Old Castle”

 

Unfortunately no one was around so I just took a few photos (it was really dark in there) and then left back through the winding staircase.

 

 

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It looked like a pretty cool place so I was sorry we couldn’t even just have a drink there.

 

Maybe next visit…

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

We wussed out at lunch time and went into an Italian place.

I seem to think we’ve eaten at this chain before but hubby says we haven’t. I love the message on their napkins!

 

 

Then it was time to walk around Ikebukuro.
There’s a department store there called Seibu and on the basement level, you will find all sorts of food that will be wrapped, packaged, then packaged again for you to take home.

 

 

The pictures I took were mostly of the desserts/cakes because that’s what we were after but they had lots of meat and savoury products too.

Hubby and I got a large share of cakes and snuck off to find somewhere to eat them.

One thing about Japan is that you can be hard pressed to find public seating and rubbish/trash bins!  Yet it is mostly always clean. We haven’t seen litter apart from the odd cigarette butt, but there are no bins around.

We walked for a bit then found a sunny spot that we thought was behind a walkway. We sat down and started greedily devouring our goodies when all of a sudden, people started rushing by.

Turns out we were in a walkway through the train station.. Whoops. So much for trying to be discreet.

But that’s ok, no one knows us here….

We walked around some more and spoke to a few locals that approached us speaking English.

So many things to see. There is always something happening.

Hubby and I often look at each other saying “Where are all these people going???” because it’s like a major rock concert or something has just let out and everyone is rushing to go home.

But in Japan it’s just another regular night where crowds, loud electronic music and dress ups are just part of everyday life.

I think today was the first day since we’ve been here that we didn’t have dumplings! Who would have thought that there is a limit to dumpling love.

I can hardly wait to see what tomorrow is going to have in store for us!

Vay Cay to Jay Jay – Part Five

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We’ve eaten like locals, we’ve settled in and feel right at home handling money and interacting with other Japanese people so what to do today?

So far hubby and I have gone to places we visited last time and wanted to see again. Today it was time for something different!

We didn’t get to Roppongi last time so we decided to start the day with a trip to Roppongi.

I had a quick look online and saw a couple of places I wanted to visit.

One of the places I read about was the Nogi Shrine.

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I won’t go into details  here but it’s worth having a google and a read and it made the place all the more interesting to visit.
Lastly, being slightly arachnophobic, I had to visit the great Maman!

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It was impressive!  If you look up and underneath here, you’ll notice she’s carrying eggs as well.

Now we knew we wanted to eventually get to the Rainbow bridge today but didn’t have set plans and figured we were brave enough to use public transport from wherever we were so we just walked.

IMG_3638Up to now, every place we’ve visited (mostly tourist places) were just packed with people and interesting to see. As we walked we noticed less and less people and less and less shops and restaurants. We were entering a business district? At least that’s what we assumed.

I should give a special mention to these cute Westerners risking their lives on the streets in these interesting vehicles!!

The drivers at the back were actually dressed in onesies and gave us a friendly wave as they drove past.

We walked on thinking we’d hit something interesting soon but after almost an hour of walking we set our google maps for Tokyo Tower and headed back into that direction.

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It looked pretty impressive as we approached it.

On the way we passed the Australian Ambassador’s residence and that was interesting to look at too.

Hubby and I weren’t really interested in going up the Tower, we just wanted to sit and have a look at the shops.

My eyes lit up when I saw there was a food court inside! It just makes ordering food so much easier AND they had a place that was doing beef/rice bowls! Alright!!

 


My beef bowl, topped with runny egg is in the left and hubby had some pork/rice thing. They were both delicious and both came with Miso soup which was really tasty too!

IMG_3650Once we were done with that, hubby asked which train was going to take us to the Rainbow bridge.
I checked out google maps but it was a mass of train/bus confusion and I said “You know, we’re only just under 4kms away, we should walk it!”

I can’t say that hubby agreed but we did end up walking it and I’m glad we did because I think we just see so much more when we walk.

IMG_3651Again, the structure looked impressive as we approached it. They sure don’t do things by halves here!

The pic on the right is NOT the rainbow bridge but the on-ramp to the bridge.
I did take pics of it but unfortunately didn’t load them in time for this entry.

I took a couple of pics from the middle of it though!

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It was such an experience!! Apart from the bridge itself, it was incredibly windy. So much so, I thought I was going to drop my phone a couple of times and felt unsteady on my feet! The bridge was constantly shaking and the traffic was noisy as it rushed by.

I really loved it and was glad we’d made the effort to get out here.

Once we crossed the bridge it felt like we were in a different country or even a different era! Everything was quieter and more laid back.
We walked through a couple of malls, bought some over priced frozen yoghurt then hubby begged for us to take the train back over the bridge. I really wanted to walk it again but we took the train.

We’re a bit sad that we’re not able to watch our favourite AFL team The Adelaide Crows playing tonight. Hubby has been trying to get it via anyway he can but we can’t seem to connect. Must be a country thing.

Aside from that, we enjoyed some more local foods. I think we’ve eaten dumplings every day since we’ve been here!!

 


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And the grocery store saw us once again for some bread desserts.

I bought three this time and opened one as hubby and I walked back to our apartment.
I’m not sure I bought the right thing because although it tasted nice, it was like eating raw dough so maybe I’d bought something that had to be baked some more at home?? could that be possible??
Either way it was nice!!
Now back to trying to get that Crows game happening….

Vay Cay to Jay Jay – Part Two

Today was a day of travelling which ended with us in Japan!!
We went for a beautiful morning walk along the Cairns foreshore, then spent most of the rest of the day in airports or in the air.

I had to get some Japanese money at the airport to pay for our train tickets. Japanese yen… all those zeroes!! Hubby was hurrying me up because there was a line behind me but I was just trying to work out how much money I was actually getting out!!! I saw 50000 yen and I thought oh, that’s about $62. I only wanted a bit of cash for the night… Turns out, I actually took our about $620 Australian. I will get the hang of this money before we leave this country I’m sure!

We got to our Air bnb place at about 9pm. We were quite tired after a full day of travelling (that’s our excuse). Our place looks fantastic! We are so happy with our apartment but I’m not sure that the picture of the couch in the ad was to scale…

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There was a funny thing that happened tonight. Instead of going out to eat, we thought we’d go to a grocery store and pick up a few things to eat in our room.
The supermarkets are just something else!!! We don’t know what a lot of products are. We walked up and down the aisles to find some butter and finally we found something that we assumed was butter but to our surprise there was only ONE type of butter/margarine.
We almost bought salt instead of sugar…..

But back to the funny thing…
We left the grocery store and were walking back to our apartment. We were just yakking away stupidly about nothing when we noticed “our” building.
“Oh, we’re here already” I said in surprise. Hubby agreed saying “I didn’t realise we were so close to it already”
We walked in and tried to use our key to get into the tenants area. It didn’t work at first however someone was coming through from the other way so the door opened..
I said to hubby “This doesn’t feel right, are we in the same building?” But there were enough similarities that we persisted. Plus, I think we were also so tired that we really really really wanted that to be our building.

We got up to the fifth floor where our apartment is and again it felt weird. Wasn’t our apartment in front of the lift? This one was slightly to the side…

Hubby put the key in and turned but the door wouldn’t unlock. I have to say, that although there were little differences, there were a LOT of similarities!! Enough that we persisted for a while then decided to go back down to the ground and retrace the whole experience.

When we got down to the ground we realised we’d walked into the wrong apartment block. The name was the same, but it was an entirely different building!!! So we’d been trying to get into someone else’s apartment! Oh geez….

Instead of carparks, the apartments and stores here have bike parks. Places where you can park your bike.
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They are just everywhere! Everyone rides a bike.

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We got home and ate our grocery goodies….

spring rolls, dim sims, dumplings, bread,
butter/margarine, some fruit etc etc.

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We wanted milk… we assume this is just normal, full cream milk

 

 

 

 

 

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And I got some of that Tea Latte that I liked last time!

 

 

 

 

And a few more items for the supermarket… I hope that was diet cola because that’s what we were after.

Tomorrow we’ll go out exploring!!

Orientai – Brighton

Today on the Dining Diairies…

I play “find the beef cheek”
Diners envy takes a strong hold and…
Good company and wine trumps average food….

ls.jpgDiners today we were at Orientai on Brighton rd in Hove.
Now diners I have been to Orientai many times however it’s probably been at least two years since my last visit.
Previously, I had never had a bad experience here. I’d always found the food to be good and the restaurant to be full.

Maybe it was for that reason that expectations were fairly high. I was out with a couple of girlfriends and we just wanted to have a fun night out gossiping and enjoying some good food.

The interior of the restaurant hasn’t changed too much from memory. It’s fairly clean with dim lighting giving it a minimalist modern feel. The shades were put up so we had views outside and it felt good to be in there.

We were greeted by friendly staff and soon found our table and the laughs started pretty much right away.

We ordered a couple of entree’s to share and some drinks while we pondered what we were going to have for our mains.

The staff were pretty helpful in explaining a few things on the menu that we were a little unsure about.
The server also told us that they were fairly busy and the kitchen was chaos. I looked around the dining room and it didn’t seem overly busy to me but maybe they were understaffed.

We chose the Chicken Spring Rolls – Vermicelli noodles & finely chopped vegetables, served with sweet & sour sauce and the Steamed Prawn & Chive Dumpling – Served with mild red curry sauce or spicy soy sauce which conveniently came in serves of three.

The spring rolls were out first.

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I don’t know that I’ve ever had a bad spring roll and this was no exception. The spring roll itself was thick and crispy and you could actually taste the chicken inside! I could also taste the vermicelli noodles which just balanced everything in your mouth nicely. Unfortunately after a few bites, it was all gone! The dipping sauce had a bit of a barbeque sauce taste to it. I’m not sure if it was supposed to be like that. It wasn’t unpleasant.
I should also add that salad was beautifully dressed. It had quite a zing to it!

The dumplings came shortly after and they were also quite a sensation.
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These were really delightful taste explosions in the mouth! They were pretty spicy inside but that sauce just added extra depth. I was surprised to read it was a curry sauce on the menu because it tasted a little “fruity” to me but I really enjoyed it and was really looking forward to our mains.

Unfortunately this would be the one time when I wasn’t too thrilled about the food here…

I was eyeing off a couple of items on the menu and one of them had a little symbol next to it, however the menu didn’t tell me what the symbol meant. I asked the server and she said it meant it was “popular”. Well surely you can’t go wrong with a popular dish right? So I went ahead and ordered the Black Bean Beef Cheeks – 5 hours slow braised beef cheeks served with green beans & capsicum

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I would have raved about this dish if I had actually got some beef cheeks on the plate. What I got was a hunk of fat and a couple of fork fulls of beef. What I did eat was really very nice, but it was about one quarter meat (being generous) and three quarters inedible fat.
I wanted to cry.
The vegetables were lovely. The sauce was a little salty however when I mixed it with the rice we ordered it was really very delicious.
I have to wonder what the kitchen thought of my dish coming back with a hunk of fat on the plate though. I know if that was MY restaurant, I’d be terribly embarrassed and looking to compensate the diner in some way.

One of my fellow diners ordered the Crispy Prawns – Wok tossed with capsicum, mushrooms &roasted cashew nuts. Mmmmm Sounds delicious right? I almost went for this myself just to get the cashew nuts!

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It looked…. ok… when it came out. There wasn’t a lot of  “wow” about it and although there wasn’t anything “wrong” with it, it wasn’t that great. It also looked a lot smaller than a lot of the other plates that were coming out of the kitchen.

The other dish that was ordered was the Thai Basil Noodle (hot) Yellow noodles with chicken, basil and seasonal vegetables

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Again this didn’t look super impressive when it came out. As the person who ordered this dish didn’t like coriander, I scored it. Yum.
She said however that it was not as “hot” as expected. When you put “hot” on a menu, you expect it to be hot right? She also couldn’t really taste the basil which is surprising as it’s on the menu. However she said it was all ok, just not something she would rave about.

I’d also like to mention that the staff were pretty lovely even though they said they were run off their feet and the restaurant seemed pretty  empty this particular night.

We did see some really lovely dishes coming out that looked a lot fuller than the ones we’d ordered and I had to wonder what they were.
As I’ve mentioned, I’ve been here many times and this was definitely not up to par with my past experiences. I really hope it was a once off or maybe it was just the dishes we’d ordered?
I’m sure I’ll dine here again but probably not in a hurry….

 

Have you been to Orientai?
What did you think?
Let me know in the comments below…

Till next we chow….