Saturday, June 25, 2016

Japan: Tousuiro Kiyamachi, KYOTO

While Tokyo is known for modern takes in the food scene thanks to international influences, Kyoto is known for its traditional cuisines. There are various restaurants in Gion boasting this type of cuisine and if you are a tofu lover like me, you would want to try out Tousuiro Kiyamachi, a popular restaurant whereby its menu revolves around organic, homemade tofu.

Reservations is ideal to avoid disappointment and if you are short of time like me, best to rock up early to nab a table. The staff are very approachable and attentive - be sure to remove your shoes upon entry.

An 8 course meal costs around aud$50 which isn't too bad considering you get really good quality meals.

Appetizers ~ the Japanese pay a lot of attention to detail when it comes to meal preparations and each plate was well presented despite using simple ingredients.

How did I find their tofu? First up, you will be provided with a water bath to warm your tofu in and this bath device also comes with a sauce jug that extends into the water bath (keeps it warm too!). After 2-3 minutes of simmering your tofu in the water, scoop out your desired amount of tofu, drizzle the sauce over it and top it with freshly minced ginger and thin slices of spring onion.

The waitress kept an eye on our water bath and once we have finished one round of tofu, she kindly came around to offer us another round of it - you don't see this everyday and boy, was I delighted!

Freshly sliced sashmi with tofu skin ~ loved how even the byproducts of the tofu production is not wasted and transformed into a delicious ingredient. The tofu skin was very refreshing and has a gentle, soothing taste on the palate - no pungent tasting items served here :p

Tofu skewers with sauce ~ at this point, I was beyond amazed at how many dishes can be made with tofu and this one was the icing on the cake. Never would have thought of tofu this way and when served with a sweet, sticky sauce, you might never turn back to meat again.

Chawanmushi aka steamed egg custard ~ simplicity at it's best I daresay. Love the silky smooth custard consistency that has a mild fragrance of miso lingering in it. Slightly warm to touch but oh so satisfying.

This time round, we received the solid version of tofu that has vegetables embedded in it. So yummy.

Tempura vegetables ~ now comes the "naughty" part of our meal but really, the oil used to fry them is clean/ not recycled and each piece is not greasy to taste.

 Rice is usually served to finish off the meal (before desserts that is). This is the restaurant's take on ochazuke but rather than using green tea as the broth, I believe it was a soy bean based broth. Rice still held its shape well whilst I snapped away and those little anchovies are so immaculately prepared and aligned in the bowl. Well done.

 Pickles are always served to cleanse your palate after the entire meal.

We ended our meals with a scope of ice cream, the perfect way to freshen us up and cap off the entire experience. Would I recommend this place? Yes because 1) its prepared with minimal oil 2) each meal is thoroughly thought of and that shows in the presentation and 3) excellent showcasing of each individual ingredient. 

There are two restaurants available and for further details, check out their website here 

Friday, June 24, 2016

Japan: Matcha up to in Kyoto

After the sister and I departed Tokyo, we headed towards Kyoto, Japan's capital once upon a time. I will blog about what we have been up to in Kyoto but for now, I am buzzing with excitement about one of the few things that you MUST do whilst in Japan - celebrate their matcha culture.

Tea is definitely a big part of Japanese culture just like how coffee is so important to us here in Australia. There are various types of teas available, be it green or brown, roasted or fresh - it is an experience itself.

Today's blog post is dedicated to all the matcha dessert outlets I have visited whilst in Kyoto.  There are so many different brands to choose from but sadly, we could only squeeze a few into our agenda although, there's always a next time, right?:)

Gion Koishi

Conveniently located towards the end of Gion's main street, this place is famous for its ameya (Japanese candy) and also for its kokutomitsu (black sugar) syrup. Testers are available at the front counter and the lady boss was kind enough to give us a couple of rose flavoured candy on our way out - which tasted amazing and its far better than a boring hard factory manufactured candy.

Green tea parfait ~ loved how there are set menus to choose from and was fortunate to find a mini parfait as we weren't hungry yet. Strong kick of matcha ice cream and copious amounts of jelly to counteract the bitterness from the matcha.

Kokumitsu with warabimochi ~ Warabimochi is made from bracken starch and has a doughy mochi like texture to it. True enough, the black cane syrup was sensational - neither too sweet or too dull for the palate. Wished I had grabbed myself a bottle of it as a souvenir:(

To sum up, this place is a must try if you love candies and would want an assortment of sweet items to try out. Their jellies are silky smooth and refreshing, especially after a long, tiring day.Highly recommend you try out their kokumitsu syrup;)


The sister and I managed to sneak some time to visit Uji aka Japan's tea capital. Walk across away from the JR train station and across the river and thou shall be rewarded by the green tea gods.

Green tea soba noodles with mackerel ~ I love how green tea leaves are utilized as pickles here and whilst I could only taste faint essence of green tea incorporated into the soba, it was still an excellent homemade soba noodles worthy of a try for those seeking savoury options.

Hot matcha ~ the vibrant sight from this cup of matcha was like nothing I have seen before and in terms of taste, oh yes there's a lot of matcha kick to it.

Matcha swiss roll cake ~ a well made piece of cake but did not have much green tea element in it.

Warabimochi ~ whilst not as good as the one from Gion Koishi, it was still an enjoyable treat for the day:)

Green tea parfait ~ my sole purpose for coming here and yes, it was worth the  hype. Layers consisted of ice cream, fresh cream, green tea jelly and matcha syrup, this was an epic way to be greeted by Uji. I am very sensitive towards dairy products but found the cream used here was so fresh and creamy. A must try!

Nakamura Tokichi

With an outlet just above the Kyoto JR station, we managed to grab a bite here after returning from Uji. There is an outlet in Uji and in case you missed out, there's also a branch in Osaka and Sapporo. Lucky Hongkies get a shop as well.

The queue was insane for the JR station branch and we waited for a good 20 minutes before getting a table.

Green tea kitsune soba ~ the sister was again craving for savoury items and went with the soba noodles. I think its comparable to the one from Itohkyuemon, what do you think?:)

Matcha latte ~ whilst not as vibrant as the one from Uji, it was still a good cup to simmer down with and I would be more than happy to lounge with it over a good book.

Green tea parfait ~ green tea ice cream, green tea jelly, sweetened red beans, mochi, rice bubbles and sponge cake. The sister preferred this one as it has an assortment of textural elements in it and I do have to agree with her on the textural bits. It was strangely satisfying spooning into this cup of green tea. Although, I still think the taste of matcha is still stronger from Uji.

Shops along the way

Throughout Kyoto, you will be greeted by a crazy number of green tea shops, all selling good quality green tea snacks and souvenirs to take home. We did try bits and pieces from a few of the shops but after indulging ourselves in Uji, it was difficult to make a comparison. That and the fact that we are usually stuffed to the brim and are a bit more picky when that happens :p

Tsujiri Honten

Were we lucky to have passed by this place else would have missed it. At this stage, the sister had reached her quota of desserts and could only settle for small treats.

Green tea latte and soft serve ~ and so, we ended up with little treats here while we rested ourselves after parading in kimonos for the entire morning. Soft serve never fails to disappoint me in Japan and that cup of green tea latte was gooooood.

More on Kyoto in subsequent posts! Stay tuned

Thursday, June 23, 2016

Pho Dakao Hoang, Springvale MELB

Having had a stressful week whereby I was really under the pump for time whilst not feeling well, I ate rather poorly throughout the week. Just about 90% of what I ate gave me tummy spasms which made it difficult to sleep for a few nights.

I have recovered heaps since then and was so excited at the prospect of eating properly again. I missed enjoying my food without having to worry about it making me feel nauseous and celebrated by feasting in Springvale.

This place was uber busy on that Saturday night and we managed to usher ourselves in after squeezing past a few other customers who were waiting for the larger tables to be vacant. The restaurant looked understaffed to me which negatively affected service - be warned.

Three colour bean ~ not too bad although would have liked the ice to be shaved a little finer.

Diced beef with rice ~ soft and extremely flavour pieces of beef served with a plate of steaming broken rice. Not bad at all.

Combination broken rice ~ grilled pork chop was amazingly tender and has a pleasant grilled aroma to it whilst the pork meatloaf was very robust in terms of flavours. Highly recommended, especially when it only costs $9:)

After sneaking glances at tables around us, I believe it's safe to say that food here is good based on presentation and diner's satisfied expressions. Would have liked to order a plate of fried spring rolls but will have to wait for a subsequent visit - just about every table ordered a plate of it! Only downside that comes to mind would be service and ambiance - not somewhere for little chit chats or for first dates.

Pho Dakao Hoang Menu, Reviews, Photos, Location and Info - Zomato

Tuesday, June 21, 2016

Jyu-Jyu, Clayton MELB

After finishing up our grocery run, we decided on having something convenient in Clayton to fill ourselves up. After all, I am not usually in this area so best to take advantage at the opportunity to try out new places, right?:)

Clayton is conveniently located near a Monash campus which means that restaurants or cafes mostly have student clienteles and some locals living nearby. So if you are after an affordable and quick fix without too much of distraction, this would be a good area to head to.

Jyu Jyu was packed full of hungry students when I walked in on a Saturday evening. Service is quick and in terms of ambiance, I daresay its not a place to hang around for a long time because it is pretty crammed.

Oyakodon ~ I was surprised I could get a meal for less than $10 (with the exception of dumplings). Not a large portion at all so if you are feeling famished for the day, I would suggest ordering two meals. Pretty standard.

Teriyaki chicken bento box ~ comes with salmon sashimi, teriyaki chicken pieces, gyoza and rice. Probably a better with regards to portion sizing but also costs $4 more. Overall, not too bad for a cheap and good fix.

Jyu-Jyu Menu, Reviews, Photos, Location and Info - Zomato