Sunday, July 24, 2016

Japan: Kyoto ryokan experience

On our last day in Kyoto, the sister and I checked out of our centrally located hotel and into a traditional ryokan. Sis picked Yachiyo which was close by the train line so we didn't have to lug our luggage around for too long.

Upon arrival, we were quickly ushered into our room. Everything was neatly set and probably strategically located as well. Mischievous us propped open our sliding door that lead to the balcony, gawked at the minimalist design of our bathroom and played with our traditional sleeping robes.

Not long after we started fooling around the room, our demure "lady in waiting" (the one who is in charge of keeping us comfortable throughout our stay) presented us with a tray of freshly brewed tea and a small serve of treats.

Oh how I wish I could be there once more and be at ease. I love how the room has a traditional feel to it and plays a rather breezy music note from the surrounding  trees.

Our entire experience costs us about $aud500 each and this is inclusive of dinner. My friends were shocked at the price of our ryokan and although it is expensive, it was well worth a visit. I think dinner probably made up 30% of the total cost but hey, it was a price that would be considered average at any fine dining restaurant here in Australia.

And trust me, the food was good. Oh and did I mention that our "lady in waiting" also came to our room and ushered us to the dining area?

P.s: there's a common area downstairs that guests can utilize for reading newspaper/magazines and also get refills on tea.

Our dining room view had a magnificent sight.

Seafood sashimi was unbelievably fresh and presented in a beautifully adorned box that I would have liked to pocket home but reasonable me acted accordingly. The cube of bright red tuna sashimi glistened under the light along with the other condiments - such an enticing sight it was.

We ended our meal with a serve of rice with red miso soup and pickles to cleanse our palates. Dessert after a degustation course in Japan is often in the form of fruits and sponge cake - something light and refreshing.

The sister plucked up the courage to bathe naked in the public bath area (which probably didn't have anyone there) whilst I lounged in our room inhaling the peaceful moment that it was. I am still in love with our fluffy soft silk clad futon blankets. The sister and I had no trouble sleeping at night at all.

Highly recommended experience if you have not done this before. Budget is a major aspect to consider but do remember that it is, after all, a once in a lifetime experience. My advice would be to arrive early where possible so that you could explore (and re-explore) every inch of the establishment.

Japan: Nara and Fushimi Inari Shrine

The sister and I once again, hopped on our beloved JR train enroute to Nara, Japan's first capital city. Truth to be told, it is probably overshadowed by other prominent capitals such as Kyoto and Tokyo, be it in terms of size and development.

Nevertheless, Nara gave us another reason to love Japan's serene environment and this time, with the help of deers wandering around the park. Be warned - these deers may attack (headbutt or bite) if you annoy them.

Doubt he was impressed that day - no deer crackers for you haha. We basically wandered around Todaiji temple, Heijo castle and Nara Park. We did not have the luxury of time but perhaps, we will on our next visit here.

Rice cracker that has been dosed with sugar - a filling snack, surprisingly.

Mochi - admittedly, I have not eaten a lot of mochi before but this one is pretty smooth textured, in my opinion, and melts away on your palate. Even the sister who's not a fan of anything glutinous ate her fair share of it without much resistance.

After our lunch break in Uji, we made our way to Fushimi Inari shrine before heading back to Kyoto. Follow the torii gate pathway that is hidden behind this shrine - it is a symbol of donations from individuals or companies. Each gate has the donator's name and date scribbled on it.

Some gates were damaged by heavy downfall, some were sunken perhaps due to soil erosion and some were deteriorating due to age. I think it adds character to the age of each gate:)

Yours truly monkey-ing around as usual.

Bershka jacket, Adidas shirt, Pull & Bear jeans, Adidas sneakers.

Thursday, July 21, 2016

Quaff, South Yarra MELB

Among the various alcoholic beverages one can choose from, be it a sparkling, elegant glass of champagne or a man sized jug of beer, wine would always win hands down in my books. I am a fan of fruity scents, especially when leaves a crisp, mildly sweet aftertaste on the palate.

I have recently attended my first ever wine tasting event held at Quaff in South Yarra. We had an event room to ourselves where we were entertained and briefed by a representative from the Leeuwin Estate.

Scallops - I liked how every meal was tailored to suit the wines that we were tasting. Our scallop was lightly seared and topped with fried shallots.  The dressing was Asian inspired and complimented the scallops as well as our sauvignon well - not overly acidic nor overpowering at all.

Pork belly with potatoe croquette - we tried out a few red blends from the winery and being served this lovely piece of succulent pork was a transition stage for us as we slowly moved away from the white varieties.

Beef with mashed potato - no other way to serve a good class of shiraz. Beef was tender, flavourful while the mashed potato was like cream on the plate.

I was looking forward to what was in store for dessert and was pleasantly surprised to be served a plate of cheese and crackers. Would have liked a few more varieties of cheese on the plate but otherwise, it was a light finish to our evening.

Also worth noting would be our courteous and helpful waiters who maneuvered around us bunch of jolly diners skillfully and for their patience with our requests.

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

Tuesday, July 19, 2016

Plume Chinese, Doncaster MELB

Dim sum or commonly known as yum cha, is one of my favourite Chinese lunch time options that I crave for every now and then. A little tip I learnt in Melbourne is, where possible, make table reservations or be prepared to wait. So true especially at lunch time.

Chinese eateries are notorious for the lack of customer service but this was not the case at Plume - we were warmly greeted upon arrival and waiters/waitresses were prompt with our orders as well as at refilling our pot of tea. Oh the joys of not having to hunt down a waiting staff.

Har gaw aka prawn dumplings

Chee cheong fun aka rice pastry - A little more filling and sauce to go with it would improve the dish.

Congee - nothing beats a well prepared bowl of congee for me and this one ticked all the right boxes. Good seasoning, smooth textured porridge and garnished with the right amount of spring onions and deep fried crisps.

Barbequed pork buns - I never forgot to other these or the steamed version. Decent amount of filling in contrast to the width of the bun layer.

Fried radish cake

Steamed barbequed pork buns

Steamed glutinous rice

Egg tart - flaky, warm and smooth custard. Cannot ask for a better egg tart. Would have ordered another plate of it but was already too full at this point ;)

Plume Chinese Menu, Reviews, Photos, Location and Info - Zomato