Saturday, January 27, 2018

Japan: Uobei Sushi Dogenzaka TOKYO

Second time in Tokyo and this time, I wanted to test out as many conveyor belt sushi outlets possible. Had been out shopping and knowing that I would end up in the Shibuya area, it was fortunate that Uobei sushi is within walking distance albeit having to navigate through a few smaller streets.

Priced at 108yen for most plates, there are a few limited selection plates that can range from 200 to 250yen. Each customer is designated their own ordering ipad and a maximum of 3 items can be ordered at a time, enabling the mini trains to accommodate accordingly.

There are three train tracks in this outlet and they do move very quickly so be careful to avoid injuries (or wasting food). Once diners have removed their plates of sushi from the train, merely press the release button which will send the train back to the kitchen.

Verdict? Definitely a lot more affordable compared to eating in Australia. The bill came up to approximately 20aud per person and we were quite well fed. Won't say that these are the finest cuts in Japan but for the price tag attached, I can't fault them and would happily navigate around Shibuya to get here.

Japan: Otaru, HOKKAIDO

Located about an hour out of Sapporo, Otaru is a small town utilized as a trade and fishing port in the 1800s, where to this day, many old warehouses and former trade office buildings are preserved. Welcomed by the aroma of freshly baked bread from a bakery strategically situated in the train station, my eyes were fixed on the glass works displayed at the entrance.

Aside from it's picturesque canals reminiscence of a stroll into it's past, Otaru's glass industry had superseded its declining herring industry and is now one of it's main attractions. Each attraction is easily located within walking distance from each other. Just mind the slippery patches of ice dangerously hidden underneath a thin blanket of snowflakes. Oh the countless number of times I had almost slipped and embarrass myself.

Start off with a walk along the canals which will lead you to Sakaimachi Street aka the shopping street loaded with souvenirs and restaurants. I have spent a great deal of time in Kitachi's hair accessory shop, mostly refraining myself from overspending.

Worthwhile noting that this company has quite a few shops streamed along Sakaimachi, each with a different theme such as household decoration or kitchenware. Pick one that you would really want to see else you might never leave Otaru.

Whilst some reviewers have raved about it's local cuisine, I won't really recommend coming here if you are after the ultimate bowl of chirashizushi don or sashimi platter. Fresh it was but I did not think it was different compared to the ones I have tried in metropolitan areas.

Last spot was the Music Box museum, a place that I found therapeutic and reminded me of my childhood immensely. I have always related music to my memories be it joyous or unpleasant and felt at home here as I slowly recall certain life scenes.

Will be back and next time, I shall attempt to conquer Mt. Tengu as well as to witness the snow light path event:)

Tuesday, January 23, 2018

Light Years, Hawthorn MELB

Chanced upon this cafe when I was around the area covering a few shifts and decided to bring the siblings here in exchange for companionship to a Japanese grocer. The cafe's table seats were already fully occupied at a quarter past ten in the morning and the entire cafe was filled with the aroma of freshly brewed coffee.

Matcha latte - something I missed during my recent trip to Japan. At least I managed to purchase a little pot of it at one of the department stores.

Breakfast bun - chive scrambled eggs, crispy bacon, jarlsberg cheese, spinach and tomato kasundi on brioche bun. A simple breakfast item packed with protein and a good serve of fiber.

Pork belly eggs benedict - was looking forward to this dish but was sadly, a little disappointed at the outcome. The pork belly skin still has a few threads of hair prominently sticking on it and had a strong porky aftertaste on the palate. A little difficult to accurately describe this sensation and can only be best described as a item that could improve with more marination time? Aside from that, this is a pretty adventurous dish suited for those wanting to move away from the classics.

Fish and chips - a little disappointed with the portion of the fish here and I initially thought they were tempura prawns. Salad was well dressed and waffle chips were crisp to my liking. Overall dish would have fared better with a more generous serving of fish.

Light Years  Menu, Reviews, Photos, Location and Info - Zomato

Monday, January 15, 2018

Hawker Chan, CBD MELB

Made famous internationally after receiving a Michelin star, Hawker Chan expanded its wings from Singapore into Melbourne, home to many Malaysians/ Singaporeans who are more than familiar with it's chicken rice/noodles concept.

Queued for at least 20 minutes before being told that the roast pork had already been sold out and chicken is the only option available. Waited for another 15 minutes before we could place our orders and give our feet their much needed rest as we watched other eager customers patiently lining up, some smiling sheepishly at the thought of dining at an affordable Michelin starred restaurant.

Chicken rice was priced at $6.80, a decent price to pay but portion wise, it's not enough to fully satisfy oneself. I'd say I was about 70% full after having a plate of it. Meat is tender, well marinated and delicious but the standout for me was the sauce used to drench the every grain of rice. Extremely flavourful.

Had a plate of their dumplings which tasted decent but am dubious about the price of it.

Hawker Chan Menu, Reviews, Photos, Location and Info - Zomato

Tuesday, January 2, 2018

Secret Kitchen, Doncaster MELB

Blessed to be surrounded by fantastic cooks, I am spoilt for choices when it comes to Chinese dishes. Henceforth, there's no need to scout externally to satisfy any Chinese food cravings.

When A’s birthday came about, I was uncertain where to bring a food connoisseur who has just about tried every restaurant in the eastern suburbs. The sister suggested Chinese and not a single place popped to mind. Frankly, a lot of Chinese restaurants are uninspiring when it comes to the types of dishes served and service is always dubious.

After another thorough reassessment of places, Secret Kitchen appears to be one of the highly rated restaurants albeit costing slightly more in comparison to other restaurants. I was happy to compromise price for good quality food and at least a bearable restaurant environment.

Bookings are necessary to avoid disappointment but for last minute decision makers, rest assured that there is ample of seating area in their Doncaster branch so walk-ins may be accommodated easily.

Service is definitely top-notch here as waiters actually paid close attention to our needs such as refilling our pot of tea without us requesting for it, offering to change our dishes when needed and ensuring that dishes on our table are cleared as soon as the plate is stripped clean.

For entree, we ordered the abalone and shark fin soup which was priced at $42.80 and shared it amongst the three of us. Was it worth it? Yes it was. The abalone was tender and braised in a delicious, savoury sauce, of which, I doubt I can replicate. The shark fin soup was delicious as well and neither too salty or bland to my liking.

We begun with the roast duck and boy, did it have a deliciously crisp skin and moist flesh. All of us agreed that this has to be one of the better roast duck dish we have had in Melbourne.

Up next was a plate of stir fry mushrooms and snow peas. A little greasy in my opinion but still a well seasoned dish. Veggies still has a nice crunch to them, an important indication of it's freshness.

Mapo tofu with king prawn - I love tofu dishes and although it wasn’t my birthday that day, I was still insistent on having tofu be it with meat or seafood. Slightly spicy and prepared with the juiciest butterflied prawns, this dish went down well with our bowls of steaming rice. Only downside was that it costs $34.80.

No celebratory meal is without a plate of freshly steamed fish, garnished with spring onions and shallots. I love how the waiter managed to perfectly debone the fish and put it back together as though bones never did exist in the first place. Fish meat was soft and pairs well with the soy sauce dressing that it’s drenched with.

Final thoughts? Yes it does cost more than your usual Chinese restaurant but I personally felt that it was worth every cent spent and have made this my number one place to bring any Chinese cuisine foodie or for important events. Or maybe just to reward myself;)

Secret Kitchen Menu, Reviews, Photos, Location and Info - Zomato