Tuesday, December 30, 2008

Food Safari

I've been traveling to 5 cities during my first week only in this country, what a tight and tiring schedule since I got to catch up with some friends and join my big family's gathering, yet I did enjoy my trip and off course my food hunting!
Here are some of my yummy pictures taken during my year-end holiday trip, started with the famous Singapore Chili Crab.

Singapore Chili Crab at Long Beach Restaurant, East Coast-Singapore

Kangkung with garlic at Long Beach Restaurant

Nasih Gudeg Manggar (Rice with gudeg) from Eva Coffee House in Bedono-Ambarawa, Central Java. I was on my way up to Bandungan, a highland resort in Central Java.

Gudeg is a traditional food originated from Yogyakarta a city of Central Java, made from stewed young jackfruit, slow cooked in coconut milk and usually topped with egg, chicken, tofu and spicy ox skin.

Bubur gudeg (Porridge with gudeg) served on banana leaves at Gudeg Yu Tien Muntilan, it was my breakfast in Muntilan, 30 minutes drive from Yogjakarta.

Fried Rice with egg, beef jerky, baked bean and chicken nuggets.
It's my breakfast at Susan Spa and Resort, Bandungan-Central Java

Nasi Pecel, a famous local food at Goa Maria Kerep, Ambarawa
(Rice with pecel, a mix of vegetables, bean sprout, and noodle with peanut dressing)

Soto Sangka, my favorite Soto (Soup with chicken, bean sprout, peanut) from my hometown

Wednesday, December 24, 2008

Pasta de Waraku

My second day in Singapore.
I have been to this city a few times and I have been to most of the tourist spots and landmarks in this tiny country yet beautiful, so this time I had no desire to visit those tourist spots like Merlion and Sentosa island instead I'd like to relax and indulge myself with some yummy food and feel the Christmas season along the famous Orchard road at night. So... the next lunch was Japanese Pasta at Pasta de Waraku in Central Shopping Centre just off the famous riverside of Clarke Quay.

This Italian food comes with a Japanese touch like the Pasta which topped with a raw egg, the salad comes with the mayu sauce (sesame oil) and even a seaweed pasta!
My pasta set comprises salad, corn soup, small pizza, carbonara pasta, and a prawn gratin.

This yummy pasta topped with raw egg

My prawn gratin was soo cheesy...

Crispy tiny pizza

The Corn soup was creamy but light

The pasta set menu

This cafe has a nice display of every items on their menu

Monday, December 22, 2008

Kushin-Bo Japanese Restaurant

My first day in Singapore.
Arrived at T-3 Changi airport at 5.30 pm, 10 minutes earlier than scheduled and got the airport transfer to my hotel around City Hall area by a very comfortable coach. It's really a convenient location with the MRT station only 3 minutes walk from the hotel. I walked down the tunnel through the City Link mall all the way to Suntec City Shopping Mall to have dinner. I had decided to have a buffet Japanese food for dinner as it was a recommendation from my Singaporean fella, she said it's the best Japanese Resto in town so I'd like to give it a try. It's quite easy to find this Kuishin-Bo Japanese Restaurant on the third floor, it was quite full but I got my seats straight away without queuing.

The $42 (SGD) buffet dinner worth the price for a full range of sushi, sashimi, yakiniku, soup, seafood, tempura, noodle, and the special menu was Lobster Mornay which was cooked by order. I ordered this Lobster twice :) I also grabbed some Crab and Prawn from my favorite seafood section and got salmon, chicken and wagyu beef from the yakiniku ones.

They were my first round only :)

My prawns and crabs

Seafood corner

Ginseng and Scallop soup

Seafood soup

The deserts

If you are a seafood lover and a 'big eater', you will get what you pay from this restaurant.
Sunday, December 21, 2008

Singapore Sling

It was a long flight, 7 hours from Sydney to Singapore but I did enjoy the flight though, watching some Japanese and Korean movies on board while sipping my Singapore Sling and Baileys Irish Cream with ice.
It's a Singapore Sling Premix sold on board

Singapore Sling is a red, sweet and fruity cocktail. It was created at The Long Bar of the Raffles Hotel in Singapore around 1915, it was known as Straits Sling and then officially renamed as Singapore Sling some time around 1930.The Singapore Sling was meant to be a woman's drink, hence it has pink color, but some recipes turn out red. The recipe varies from one source to another since the hotel admitted not having the original recipe.

Here is the recipe claimed by Dale DeGroff as an original recipe based on what he was told by Raffles Hotel:

· 35 ml Gin
· 1 shot of Cheery brandy
· 8 ml Cointreau
· 8 ml Benedictine
· 75 ml pineapple juice
· 1 dash of Angostura bitters
· 10 ml Grenadine
· 10 ml lime juice
· 1 slice of Orange
· 1 cheery

Shake well all the ingredients and garnish with orange slice and cherry.

My Singapore Sling on board

Saturday, December 20, 2008

Christmas Holiday

I am going for holiday, yes! Christmas Holiday for a month! Going back to my hometown to visit my beloved family and friends, can't wait to have mom's cooking..:)

SQ 232 SYD-SIN, just checked-in online and got favorite seats for us, the two seater down the back of the isle so I wouldn't disturb the passenger sit next to me when I need to go the toilet or vice versa! and I can adjust my seat as far as I want without worrying the passenger behind me.

It’s the only airline I have been flying with over the last 5 years, of course apart of the domestic ones. I considered this as my favorite airline since the overall service is quite outstanding, full range of drinks on board including my favorite cocktail Singapore Sling, great entertainment on board, and the list still goes on..

Once again everyone, wish you all a joyful Christmas time and a Happy New Year too....
Sunday, December 14, 2008

X'mas Card

Back then years ago when the word 'internet' still sounds like a 'luxurious' thing, around this time of the year I would be busy sending out Christmas cards to relatives and friends, also expecting the postman would stop by and deliver some X'mas card for me.
Since internet became a 'basic need' for our daily life, especially for those who can't go to bed before surfing the web and blogging :) we used to send e-card for any occasion including this greeting season, so I reckoned X'mas cards have gone out of style.
I can't even remember when the last time I got X'mas card in my mailbox, but last week I got one in my mail box! It's a Sanrio greeting card from Japan mailed by a best friend in Kobe!

It's really a unique pop-up card with sushi design. The card opens to a sushi restaurant with food on a revolving belt, the opening and closing motion of the card causes the belt to move! It's really great for a sushi lover like me :)

The Christmas greeting reflects the sincerity and it's really meaningful, I would cherish that nice Christmas card, Arigato gozaimasu Kumi-san!
Friday, December 12, 2008

Scampi Sashimi

Here is another favorite Japanese cuisine in town: Sakae Japanese Restaurant, located at 116 Liverpool street in the city. They have a great range of sushi, sashimi, lunch and dinner set at reasonable price.

Last weekend I had Scampi Sashimi and Teriyaki Beef for my lunch at this restaurant. The Scampi Sashimi was really fresh and oishi..! It's not an everyday sashimi you will find in a Japanese restaurant, also they have some other sashimi like King Fish, Scallop and Mussel Sashimi.
The entree sashimi (9 pcs) costs about $10-$12, and main sashimi (15 pcs) for $15-$16. My Scampi Sashimi was on 'Today's special' and it was only $6.5

My Teriyaki Beef set comes with rice, miso soup and salad which comprises lettuce, corn, peas, cucumber, carrot, and raisin! Yes raisin in a salad! it was the first time I got a salad with raisin and it mixed well with the veggies. The Teriyaki Beef was very tender and really yummy, I would say it's the best Teriyaki in town.

Wednesday, December 10, 2008

Snow Monkey

After watching ‘Season of Snow’, which filmed at one of the snow resort in Hakuba where the Snow Monkey lives inspired me to make a post about this unique species native to Japan.

The Japanese Snow Monkey (Japanese Macaque) is very famous in Japan, this species lives in mountain area all over Japan except Hokaido and Okinawa, they survive winter temperature below -15 Celcius. This species has a red face and famous for their habit soaking in onsen (naturally heated volcano hot spring) during winter, who doesn't love bathing in onsen during winter time? They really know how to indulge themself by bathing in onsen while the snow drops on their head.

One of the famous tourist spots for observing Snow Monkey in Japan is Jigokudani Yaen-koen which literally means Hell’s valley. The Jigokudani Monkey Park is located in the valley of Yokoyu River that flowing from Shigakogen area of the northern part of Nagano prefecture. This natural park has an onsen made especially for the monkeys.

Here is the transport guide to Jigokudani Yaen-koen from their official website:
from JR Nagano Station, take the Nagano Dentetsu train to Yudanaka, from Yudanaka, take a bus or taxi to Kanbayashi Onsen. From there, it's about a 15 min walk to the Jigokudani Yaen-koen entrance.

Courtesy of photography.nationalgeographic.com

Sunday, December 7, 2008

Season of Snow

Sunday afternoon, the cinema was packed with Japanese film’s mania, lucky that I booked the ticket last week to save the hassle and reserve the seats, still the best seats available was on the 4th row from the front.

Season of Snow is a sport melodrama movie with a bit touch of humor which vividly showing the stunning view of the majestic white mountain of Hakuba. The story taken place in snow resort town, this ‘mogul town’ is struggling to compete with their next-door resort by offering a white snow wedding package in a snow chapel. The first customer is Nanami (Rena Tanaka), who came early without the groom in order to practice skiing as the wedding ceremony requires the couple to make their way off the chapel on ski. Gin (Eita) who called himself an ‘Alpine Handyman’ offers to teach Nanami to ski for 20,000 Yen per day.

The problem starts when Gin and his two friends causing an avalanche and destroy the white chapel just one day before the wedding! Meanwhile Nanami discover Gin’s past as a ski champion who given up his dream after an accident during a championship, but Nanami herself got her own reason coming to this snow resort. Will they forget their past and make a comeback?

I found some different titles for this movie in Japan: Giniro no season, Silver Season and Limit of Love.

Click on the banner below to check the trailer from the official website


It’s definitely a movie I would recommend to anyone who loves Japanese movie and the stunning beauty of Snowy Mountain. The main characters Gin and Nanami are adorable, the skiing show is awesome and the view of White Mountain is just spectacular!

There was a lucky draw before the movie starts showing, and yes I was very lucky to win a show bag from The Nagano City tourism. The show bag comprises a black jumper and T-shirt (my favorite color), a set of books from Nagano City tourism, and a pack of Japanese Kit Kat :)

The shooting location was in Hakuba, which is famous for snow resort and Snow Monkey.It's the only place where you can see monkeys bathing in onsen! I will make a post about Snow Monkey later on then.
Sunday, November 30, 2008

Christmas Parade

The Sydney Christmas parade hit the city today! The start line was near Circular Quay, going down George street and finished at Tumbalong Park, Darling harbour where the folks enjoyed the entertainments at Santa's village and the kids didn't miss the opportunity to take photo with Santa.

It wasn't as 'spectacular' as their publication but still brought the fun and Christmas cheer to the city with some giant balloon, dancers, singers, and marching bands.

Thursday, November 27, 2008

Christmas Concert

Christmas is just around the corner!

After a bloody busy week today I finished early, wrapped it up at 6 pm-not that early actually, but compare to the past few days it's a bit relief, popped-up in the city to enjoy Christmas Concert at Martin Place.

Every year the City of Sydney presents a Christmas Concert right in the heart of the city at Martin Place (between Pitt and Castlereagh Streets), which for this year is on 27 November. The 20-metre high tree has been an icon for the festive season of this city, which twinkle day and night. The concert started at 6 PM and hundreds of children waiting patiently to see Santa and ‘little angels’ coming and giving away some chocolates and candies. There were some entertainments for children on the stage and Santa arriving in his sleigh to light up the giant Christmas tree and the fireworks. There were also some live entertainments at Hyde Park as a part of the Christmas on the Green project.

Wednesday, November 26, 2008

Summer Scent

I just read a friend's post about a Korean Series and it reminds me that I have been addicted to Korean series, movies, including the soundtrack.
I watched this 'Summer Scent' three years ago and really like the soundtrack, I have been listening to this song over the past year without any clue what does it mean. Eventually got the lyric in English, the title 'Bimil' means 'secret', let me know if you like this song too..

Bimil - Summer Scent OST

Actually I am not really into the mellow and teary ones but I did enjoy watching Son Ye Jin in this movie though.
The story is about a girl named Hye-won who got a transplant heart from deceased Soh Eun Hye. Hye Won heart oddly beats faster when she is around a man named Min-woo (Song Seung Hun). Unveiled that her 'new heart' used to love Min-Woo since Soh Eun Hye (the donor) was Min-Woo's girlfriend, the story goes on with more conflicts since she's already got fiance, quite a touching series.
Thursday, November 20, 2008

Japanese Film Festival

My double-pass for Japanese Film Festival arrived today! it's a complimentary ticket from Omusubi, an online magazine from Japan Foundation in Sydney.

The 12th Japanese Film Festival in Sydney will be showing 18 selected Japanese films consisting of different genres, from drama to action/samurai including Anime as well. For you who loves Japanese movie make sure you will not miss this event, showing at Greater Union Cinema in the city from 2 Dec-9 Dec 2008
For details of the movie and the schedule please visit The Japanese Film Festival website.

Here are some snippets from the official website:

Courtesy of Japan Foundation

The opening and closing film

Courtesy of Japan Foundation

Two films I consider to watch:
1. Ichi, just because I love Samurai movie.

Courtesy of Japan Foundation

2. Season of Snow, since It's my dream to experience the snow season in Hakuba and Hokkaido.

Tuesday, November 18, 2008


Omusubi, literally means Japanese handmade rice balls, a traditional and healthy Japanese delicacies, but this time I'd like to talk about Japan Foundation Sydney's online magazine called Omusubi. In this term, Omusubi comes from the Japanese verb musubu, which means to join, to unite or to form a connection. Omusubi features information about the Japan Foundation, Sydney's events and Japanese film screenings, Japan-related event information around Australia, ideas and resources for school teachers of Japanese, and a range of articles focusing on Japanese culture and Australia-Japan related issues.

Last night I got email from Omusubi saying that I've won a double-pass for the 12th Japanese Film Festival in Sydney as a compliment for taking part of their survey, Arigato Omusubi !

This is what Omusubi (Onigiri) look like

Saturday, November 15, 2008

The Secret of Karakuri

As a member of Japanese Foundation in Sydney, couple days ago I was invited to attend an event called ‘The Secret of Karakuri’, a demonstration on the art of Karakuri by two grand masters, Shobe Tamaya IX ( 9th generation) and Dr. Yoshikazu Suematsu.

Shobei Tamaya IX is the last remaining Karakuri master in Japan. He is the ninth generation Karakuri Ningyo craftsman from an unbroken lineage. He creates and restores Karakuri dolls in Nagoya and Inuyama, located in Aichi Prefecture, working closely with Cultural Preservation Committees around Japan. Dr Yoshikazu Suematsu is an Honorary Professor at Nagano University, the Founder of the Suematsu Robotics Laboratory, and Principal of the Toyota National College of Technology. He is considered to be the world’s leading expert in Karakuri, and was a pioneer in robotic visionary systems.

They brought an expensive luggage all the way from Japan, the handmade Chahakobi Ningyo (a tea-serving doll, valued at ¥1,600,00) and the Yumihiki Doji (an archer doll valued at ¥10,000,000).

Mr. Shobei Tamaya demonstrating the mechanism of tea serving doll

It was really an amazing show! All of us stunned by the demonstration of the tea serving doll and the archer doll which known as the masterpiece of Karakuri, an archer doll that shoots 4 arrows in a row with astounding precision! The tea serving doll moves because of the weight of the tea cup so it simply works like a clock-work with no power at all, no electricity and no fuel!

The Archer doll in action

These are some facts about Karakuri as you can find on the Karakuri info website:

The word 'Karakuri' means a mechanical device to tease, trick, or take a person by surprise. It implies hidden magic, or an element of mystery. In Japanese is written as two separate characters, meaning person and shape. It loosely translates as puppet, but can also be seen in the context of doll or even effigy.

The Japanese have always had a fascination with robots. They introduced to the world Astroboy, Asimo, Aibo… and the Karakuri Ningyo, translated as the ‘mechanical doll’, technology that was at its peak during the Edo period. The Karakuri Ningyo is the original robot of Japan.

The beauty of the Karakuri tradition lies in its concealment of complex technologies hidden behind a simple doll-like puppet. Additionally, the doll’s facial expressions are remarkable as they are painted with such accuracy, the finishing touch from its creator. Neutral expressions are applied but combined with the manipulation of subtle head movements, light and shadow, this incredibly enables the doll to convey diverse emotions, depending on the angle viewed.