Sake to me Baby – Japan Day Eleven

I’m so sad that today is our last day here in Japan. I’ve just loved being here. I wish I could take the whole country home with me.
While I couldn’t live here permanently, I could see myself living here a few months of the year.

We packed up and left our room close to check out time. I think we just wanted to make the most of it. Our Air BNB room was just fantastic! The only thing missing was an iron which I was silently happy about because I didn’t have to iron hubby’s shirt. I hate ironing.

And I know you’re just busting to find out… yes, the television is STILL on mute. We didn’t win that battle.
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First thing we did was hop on a train using our wonderful JR West pass, to Osaka Station. From there it was a hop skip and a jump to Starbucks. Hubby hasn’t been as obsessed with Starbucks this trip as he has in previous years.

We walked to the Umeda Sky Building. We had no choice after a kind Japanese man saw us looking at an information board. We did want to go there, but just wanted to know what general direction it was in because apart from anything else, we wanted a bathroom break before going.
But he said “follow me” in a heavy accent and we had no choice. Every now and then he kept looking over his shoulder to see if we were following. He only had a few words in English so I didn’t know how to tell him we weren’t planning to go there just yet.

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But, the bathroom had to wait as he led us most of the way there.
This is an impressive building no doubt! I didn’t take many pics as we have done this on a previous visit.

If you want to see my previous entries showing more pics, you can click here and here

Here are a few pics I took of the building today and around it as well.


Then we walked back to the station towards the Hep 5 building.
Here’s a few pics I took along the way.


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Both ravenous and still in search of some Okonomiyaki, we stopped at a place in the Hep 5 building.

I thought we’d scored! There’s Okonomiyaki right there on the menu!

Now I know there’s lot of different types of Okonomiyaki. I don’t mind them as long as they don’t have anything fishy in it.

When ours came out, it was fishy. No!!!
I tried to eat it but I just couldn’t. And those little flakes on top move as if they’re alive and it’s just so off putting!!

Hubby and I asked for ours without any of the sauces because I just don’t like the heavy sauces they use. I find it ruins the taste of the food.

This is what ours looked like. Our cute little server couldn’t believe we didn’t want sauce and even brought our dishes out with sauces in little jars on the side in case she had misunderstood us.

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I’m not sure what that thing the Okonomiyaki is placed on is called, but I can tell you it’s more or less a rice omelette. There’s rice inside that yellow stuff and THAT part was delicious!!!!

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That’s what it looked like inside!!

It’s making my mouth water just looking at it.

They use egg with just about everything here!!

And meat is terribly expensive. Especially if you want anything of a half decent quality.

I’m not a big meat eater so I don’t mind but that’s probably why they have a lot of egg and fish.

We were just killing time so decided to get on the train to the airport. We’re always so unsure when we get on a train. Don’t let me put you off, it’s pretty straight forward but so often we find ourselves on the platform still waiting for the English to come up and there is the train coming! So we just trust our gut and get on.
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We’ve only been wrong once and that wasn’t this trip but still… And even with this train to the airport. We got on it and after a few stops we heard the announcement that the first four cars of the eight car train were going to the airport, but the last four were going to be uncoupled at some stage to go somewhere else! I mean imagine we’d been sitting back there and hadn’t heard the announcement?

So now we’re at the airport waiting for our flight back to Australia.
I’m so sad this time is over. We’ve had an amazing time here and if you have a chance to come, I’d definitely recommend it.
You’re not coming here for shopping, you’re coming here to experience a different culture. We could all learn something from the Japanese.

Japan, thanking you for having us once again and we look forward to coming back soon!

Oyasuminasai

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Himeji Restaurant

Today on the Dining Diaries…

Beautiful memories of Japan resurface,
Slight horror at realising shoes were going to have to come off and
Waiting a long time for our meals benefits us as staff proactively offer us a selection of desserts for our patience!

DSC03909.jpgDiners today we were at the lovely Himeji Restaurant on Grote st, in Adelaide’s CBD.

What a little gem of a place this is. Walking in we were immediately hit by amazing aromas. The restaurant was full and there was a lively atmosphere happening.

I’d been so excited to come here, especially after looking through their website and seeing how passionate the chef was about the food and wanting to bring a true Japanese experience to the people of Adelaide.

fullsizerenderWe were a party of four tonight and were ushered into a room that had two tables in it.
I’m not entirely sure why, perhaps something to do with the flooring, but we had to take our shoes off in this room.
They supply a little side cupboard for diners (pictured right, next to the chair) to keep their shoes on. Luckily, none of us seemed to have stinky shoes otherwise it could have been a bit awkward!!

While the male folk perused the menu, we women went for a little walk and I was impressed by how authentic this restaurant was, at least by appearances.


I’ve been to Japan twice in the last two years and this really did seem like the type of place I could walk into in Tokyo.

I’m not sure if it was the room we were tucked away into, or if it was due to the “busy-ness” of the night but the waiter seemed to take a very long time to come back and take our order. We decided to share a few things to get a good idea of the type of food they served.
Although our room was small, it was all closed off and we found ourselves competing to be heard with the nearby table. It didn’t really take away too much from our experience but I definitely will ask to be seated somewhere else when I visit here again.

Not only did we wait a long time for our waiter to take our order, but it was well over an hour before the first food came. I noticed that the same thing happened to the other table that was sharing our room.
We weren’t complaining about it and in fact, as they brought our first dishes out, the wait staff apologised and said they’d spoken to the manager and were going to be offering us a selection of desserts at the end of our meal.

How lovely was that!! We hadn’t even complained and we didn’t even look grumpy! They proactively noticed a situation and offered something to make it better. Big ticks to you Himeji!

When our first dishes came out, Gyoza (pan fried dumplings), we couldn’t help but rip into them. We were just so ravenously hungry.

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It’s true, things do taste better when you’re starving and these were just so amazing! They were very fresh and still very hot! Lovely soft yet slightly crisp outer with beautiful tasty goodness inside.
I ate my share way too fast and could only hope the next dishes were going to be coming out very soon!

When hubby and I were in Japan we really wanted to try authentic Ramen. What we had at Himeji was slightly different to what we had in Japan but that could be due to the meat in the dish we ordered.

Tonight I had Hakuryu – Himeji Original HAKATA Tonkotsu Ramen – Himeji original Tonkotsu soup which has been cooked for more than 8 hours, resulting in a creamy broth. Served with very thin straight noodles. With toppings of half boiled egg, pork loin, bean sprouts, wood ear mushroom, and spring onion. Flavoured with a dash of garlic oil.

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Everything I ate was tasty and I just love noodles however I found the broth to be too fatty. Now that’s probably the way it supposed to be and something I just wasn’t aware of? I can’t remember eating ramen like this in Japan, however the flavours were definitely Japanese and I did mostly enjoy this dish.
There was a very strong pork taste throughout and you can tell that a lot of care had been taken in the cooking process.

Hubby decided to go for a Bento Box so that he could sample a few different things.

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It looked quite impressive when it came to the table! There was also a soup that came with it that I wasn’t able to capture in the photo.
You can see hubby’s hand protectively near the plate, anxious to dig in as soon as the photo is taken!

As per the menu description, this was the SHOGUN Dinner Bento Box – Sashimi / sushi roll / cold noodles / Karaage chicken / Gyoza / Takoyaki / Japanese omelette / Agedashi Tofu/ Miso soup / choice of Teriyaki Salmon rice or Eel rice

This dish proved to be a winner with lots of selections. I tried a few of the items on there and again thought everything had been made fresh and was bursting with flavour. My particular favourite was the Gyoza (As per our entree) and the Teriyaki Salmon rice! What I loved most were the different flavours. Spices and herbs that I wasn’t used to and just couldn’t pick. I could have had a plate full of that rice alone!

The waiter asked if we were ready for our complimentary dessert and it looked amazing when it came out!

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Our only “complaint” was that it was a little difficult to share between four people but we each got to try a little of all six dishes.
I wouldn’t be able to tell you exactly what each one was but the ice cream (top left)  was definitely my favourite.

I should also mention that the prices at Himeji are very very reasonable. In fact, I’m really looking forward to going there again soon to try a few more dishes.
Luckily for me, they are open for lunch and situated very close to my work building!
Oh yes, they’ll be seeing me!

Have you eaten at Himeji?
What did you think?
Let me know in the comments below!!

Till next we chow…

Casuarina Asian Bistro

Today on the Dining Diaries…

Luke-warm food almost makes us cry
We weren’t asked if we wanted more drinks and that almost made us cry and…
Good spicy food wakens our taste buds and definitely did NOT make us cry!

cas6Diners today we were at Casuarina in the Marion Shopping Centre.

There’s lots to love about this place and honestly I don’t know why I don’t come here more often.

One thing to note, this is not a “fancy” place so don’t expect fancy service. You will wait, but you will get pretty decent food and at a reasonable price.

We were dining on a Tuesday night and it was really quite busy at 6.30pm. My guess is it’s because of cheap Movie night at the Marion cinema’s! Whatever the reason, we were kept waiting at the entrance for a little while.
But that wasn’t too bad.

After a little while a nice waiter held up three fingers – yes that was to ask us if there were three in our party and I nodded enthusiastically and he led us to a table… I wonder which two fingers he would have held up if there had been two in our party.

The first thing you notice about Casuarina is that it’s a bright, modern looking restaurant. Lots of people making lots of noise. It seemed like it was a fun happening place.
The menu looked pretty good and had a nice amount of variety in it.

My two friends and I decided to split a couple of entree’s first. We’d ordered our drinks and food at the same time but for some reason, one entree came out, then five or so minutes later, one main and another entree came out.. and still no drinks. One of my friends had to remind the waiter what we were waiting for which shouldn’t have been necessary.

But onto the food!

The first entree we shared were spring rolls which conveniently for us, came three to a serve.

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While the taste was pretty good, it was immediately noticeable that the inside of the spring roll was cold. Had these been frozen and not left in the fryer for long enough? I don’t know, I was just a bit disappointed however, the flavours were good.

We also shared the Steamed Prawn Dumplings which also conveniently came in a serve of three.

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Now they WERE cooked all the way through and they were just delicious pillows of prawn. I loved everything about them. One of the sauces provided was a chili sauce and I’m glad I didn’t try it because apparently it was quite hot!! My tolerance is normally low but I’d recommend this dish,especially if you like a lot of heat in your food!

We were still waiting for drinks at this point which was a little disappointing… eventually our wine’s came but we were well and truly into our mains by then….

For main one of my companions chose the Char Kway Teow – Rice Stick Noodles with BBQ Pork, Prawn, Fishcake, Egg and Bean Sprouts, wok fried with a dark Soy Sauce.

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She said this had a great flavour throughout. The ingredients seemed fresh and it was just really tasty and enjoyable to eat. All the flavours worked well together.

Another of my companions chose the Green Curry Chicken.

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I had a bit of diner’s envy when I saw this come out!!! It looks pretty amazing! She said it was a perfect curry and just what she needed. It was fragrant and comforting and it was a pretty decent serve too!

I, with absolutely no idea, chose the Mee Goreng.

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I’m not even going to pretend to know what  Mee Goreng is supposed to taste like! All I can tell you is that it tasted great! The only complaint is that it was, like the entree, cold to luke-warm instead of temperature hot. There was a tiny bit of heat in here, just enough to wow my tastebuds and wake up those senses! I did enjoy this dish, I just wanted it to be temperature hotter.

Unfortunately no one came to our table to see how our meals were or to check to see if we wanted more drinks. We would have loved a jug of water! And maybe a sneaky second glass of wine….
I guess it’s a bit  of a “you get what you pay for” thing because the prices at Casuarina are really quite reasonable and most of the food is really good, and if you had to excel at either service or food, I’d probably pick food.

My diners and I hadn’t seen each other for some time so we were happy to gas bag and catch up but it was a bit disappointing that no one asked us if we wanted anything else (dessert) until the restaurant was almost empty and it was obvious they were trying to close up.

All that aside, I would eagerly come here again, even with the cold food, as I think they do a fantastic job and I just loved the flavours I experienced tonight.

I’d love to know what regular eaters of Asian foods think of this place!

Have you been to Casuarina?
What did you think?
Let me know in the comments below!!

Till next we chow…

Turning Japanese -Part Eleven

We’ve been pretty lucky with the weather here. Yesterday really was the only day where we had to change our plans due to heavy rain.
This morning, after a decent caffeine hit, we started on our way to the Shitennjoi Temple.
Unfortunately some of it is covered – for restoration I’d imagine, but we were still able to take in some sights.

By the time we were done there, we were looking for some lunch so we decided to walk back to the Dontonbori area.

13315704_10153631295766288_4227150575096631857_nWe’d seen the area by night but were yet to see it by day.
Last time we were here, we’d tried to go to Hiday’s Texas BBQ but it was closed. Today, it was open so in we went!

Immediately we saw this was a teeny tiny place and there was only Hiday – owner and chef – in there.

Normally we’d back out slowly in this sort of situation but we’d been seen and greeted so we couldn’t really go.

It ended up being a really entertaining couple of hours! Hiday told us his life story while he prepared our lunch and we shared our own experiences.

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He took his time but that was ok too because we were talking and time passed quickly.

The food he prepared was amazing!!! I ordered a sloppy jo – western food in a western restaurant. I’ve not had one before so I have nothing to compare it to but it was soooo delicious! The meat was beautifully seasoned and the bread was toasty crunchy. YUM! Hiday makes his own bread! He also makes his own sauces for all the food he prepares.
Hubby had another type of meat sandwich. I can’t remember exactly what it was but he said his meat was really tender and well seasoned as well.

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He gave hubby a pickled plum to try too. I wasn’t game but Hiday says he has these for breakfast.

He showed us the photos of “famous” people he’s cooked for. He’s obviously very proud of the food he prepares and rightly so!

It was kind of sad to leave there. I felt we’d made a friend. Definitely a recommend from me if you ever find yourself in Osaka!

We were looking to eat Japanese tonight and I’m sorry, but if it’s not in English, I don’t know how to tell you what we’ve ordered but here are the pictures

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Of those three dishes, the middle one was the best. It was some sort of noodle omelette.

The bottom one had some sort of strange tasting “meat” and a spice on top I could have done without.

The first one… Well I didn’t try that one but I’ve noticed a lot of theses type is dishes are served with an egg on top.
Tomorrow we leave for Australia.

I’ve been thinking about what I’m going to eat when I get there all day!!

 

Turning Japanese – Part Eight

We woke up to a drizzly day in Osaka. The first day we’ve had here with rain.
Not to worry, our airbnb host has umbrellas in our room so after googling a few places we wanted to visit, we were off… on foot…

I think you get to see a lot more if you go on foot. The only thing you have to be conscious of are the people on bicycles. I would love to know what the accident rate is here.

Our first stop was the Kuromon Market. This place is just amazing!!! Wall to wall people. We were there on a Sunday and I’m not sure how that compares to other times during the week but it was difficult to walk through!
I’ve heard that vendors come here to purchase produce for their restaurants.
If you were a seafood lover you would NOT want to leave this place!
Unfortunately, I’m not a seafood lover and the smell was making me feel ill, however, for everyone else, it was heaven.
I’ll share a few pics I took while in the market with you.

 

After wandering through the markets we found a place to have some lunch. I’ve seen this chain around the place in Tokyo and in Osaka – Italian Tomato – Yes, we went Western again.

Although I’ve been told Italian food is not that great here, I didn’t mind it.
I have been craving pasta and bread though so maybe that had something to do with it.
I chose a spaghetti bolognese
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The menu says that the meat is angus beef.

As I told hubby while I was eating it, if I’d been served this in Fasta Pasta, I probably wouldn’t have been happy however everything was ok. The pasta was ok, the sauce was ok… the parmasen cheese on top was ok…

As “ok” as it was, it was exactly what I wanted so I was happy with it.

Even as it repeated on me for the next couple of hours,  I was happy.

I love my pasta…

 

Hubby chose the doria with hashed beef and soft boiled egg. What is doria I hear you ask… Doria was originally created in France however now is found almost exclusively in Japan. It’s basically a rice gratin. The rice is either flavoured or topped with other ingredients such as bolognese sauce or sauteed prawns, covered in white suace and cheese and then grilled.FullSizeRender-32

 

Hubby was really happy with this. The egg was gloriously runny.

Unfortunately we hadn’t ordered bread with it otherwise it would have been good to mop up that egg with some bread.

There were quite a few people in this restaurant and all were using forks…. another comfort for me even though I’m becoming quite a pro with chopstickts.

 

 

 

FullSizeRender-40I’ve got to show you a pic of the napkins in this place as I thought they were pretty cute.

 

Don’t you just love them!! Loving, singing, eating.

 

It’s all about me and not necessarily in that order either!

 

 

 

 

 

 

When we left that place we got a scrumptious cake from the bakery next door.

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How could I go past it? It has my initial on the top!!!

It was filled with smooth sweet custard and such great value! This cake was only 100 yen.

The food here is just amazing.
Hubby and I walked to another food market which was about two kilometers away. Again, wall to wall people. Where do they all come from!!! We got another pastry from there and then walked back to our room for a little rest before dinner.

For dinner, we went to the same place we went to yesterday. We’d seen these enormous bowls of noodles going out of there yesterday and we wanted what they were having!
This time, when the server saw us coming up, he immediately got one of his work mates. Apparently the workmate spoke English.
I really applaud him for trying but we didn’t communicate. I pointed to what we wanted on the menu but I had no idea what it was. If I’d thought about it I would have taken a picture to share with you guys, then someone might have been able to tell me what we’d eaten!

In any case, two enormous bowls came out. They were full of noodles and veggies and it was so goddam tasty!! I just loved it!
I left my hand in the pic so you can get some perspective of how big this bowl was.

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And look at me using those chopsticks like a champion!! (Not really but it’s a photo and I can get away with writing that)

Tomorrow we’re hoping to get to Kyoto!! Can’t wait!