Tuesday, December 29, 2009

Sapporo - Blessed by Snow

Saturday, December 26, 2009, New Chitose Airport in Sapporo scrubbed 40 departing and 32 arriving flights due to blizzards and poor weather caused by a low-pressured system that passed by that southern coast of Hokkaido island, dumping heavy snow that overwhelmed its snow-dozing capacity, said the official.

How lucky I was as I had left that island on Christmas day, just the day before! Otherwise I'd be camped out on the airport's seats and I'd need to reschedule my trip in Japan.

Visiting Sapporo in winter time really is an unforgettable experience full with fun and a joy of white Christmas! I spent 3 nights in that beautiful and dazzling city famous for its fresh seafood and ramen!

Here are some of my photos from strolling around Odori Park enjoying White Christmas Illumination and German Christmas Market, Clock Tower (only 2 minutes walk from Odori Park) and TV Tower.

The beautiful view of Odori Park from TV Tower, Sapporo

Sapporo White Illumination at Odori Park

German Christmas Market at Odori Park

Clock Tower

Sapporo city's night view

These are the authentic Sapporo ramen shops in Sapporo Ramen Kyowakoku (Sapporo Republic Ramen) at level 10 of ESTA building next to Sapporo station east/north entrance.

Sapporo Ramen Kyowakoku

If you need any info about Sapporo, some friendly staffs at Tourist Information desk always ready to help you, just find The Hokkaido Sapporo Information Center inside Sapporo JR station on 1F, West Concourse, North Exit (North6, West 4). They open from 8:30am – 8:00pm year round (JR Information window closes at 7 pm) phone: 011-213-5088
Friday, December 25, 2009

Go Hyaku en Kaisen Don

A restaurant named Ekini Shijo on upper level of Hakodate Morning Market has been on my list since I planned my visit to Hokkaido few months ago. This place was recommended by a blogger friend, Onsen Soaker on her blog. This place located just next to Hakodate JR station served Kaisen Don, a bowl of rice topped with fresh seafood for 500 yen while other places serve for the cost around 2,000 yen. Lucky that I managed to find this place at Hakodate morning market, thanks to you Onsen Soaker-san :)

(Hakodate Morning Market building, picture taken from my hotel room)

(The entrance to Ekini Shijo from outside)

(My go-hyaku Kaisen-don, a bowl of rice topped with bountiful fresh seafood)

(This grilled fish was for 1,000 but really worth it)

(The entrance of Ekini Shijo from inside the fresh seafood market building)
Wednesday, December 23, 2009

White Christmas in Hakodate

I have been to Japan couple times but it's my first trip in Hokkaido. I love most big cities of Japan but never thought that I would fall in love with Hakodate, I expected the minus 10 degree Celsius and thought that I'd be a frozen meat! But the chilling extreme winter and the heavy snow are nothing compared to the bliss.

I just arrived in Sapporo last night after three and half ours journey by super hokuto train from Hakodate but I just can't wait to share some of my photos, so here are some photos from Hakodate.

The stunning view of Hakodate at night from Mt. Hakodate, one of most beautiful night views in the world. Hakodate-yama Ropeway, the best way to enjoy Hakodate night view. From Hakodate JR Stn walk 2 minutes to Hakodate–mae station, take street car (tram) for 10 minutes to Jyuj i-mae stn (passing by Shiyakuso-mae stn and Uoichiba-mae stn), 10 minutes walk to Sanroku Ropeway Stn. Admission fee : 1,160 Yen for round trip.

(Bay Hakodate)

(Bay Hakodate Christmas Fantasy)

Here are some pictures from our stroll around Goryokaku Park:

(Goryokaku Tower)

(The beautiful view of star-shaped Goryokaku Park from the tower)

I've got a bunch of pictures from my Hokkaido trip but I gotta go now, heading to Otaru today!
Mata ne :)
Saturday, December 12, 2009


Do you like mayonnaise? I do! Especially Japanese mayonnaise, I just love this creamy dipping sauce for most of grilled meat, seafood, omelette etc. I just tried a new kind of mayo sauce called Perinaise, a unique creamy blend of mayonnaise with Peri-Peri sauce from Nando's, my favorite grilled chicken. I got the Perinaise original which means one with medium heat level but if you are an extreme hot chili lover there is also Perinaise Hot ready to burn your tongue.

Today I just cooked my okonomiyaki with mixed topping of Japanese mayonnaise and Perinaise, yum..!

(My okonomiyaki with perinaise)
Thursday, December 10, 2009

Happy Christmas!

My posts have been slowing down lately, it's merely because I have been flat out over the past month with tonnes of workload, working back every single day including Saturday! Well, it's Christmas season, the busiest season of the year and I even feel this season is the busiest ever in term of my workload.
I am not sure if it's a bit too early to wish you all a Happy Christmas but down here in my city the Christmas season kicked off with Christmas celebration in the city on 26 Nov (I missed out this time) a month before the Christmas day, followed by Christmas parade (I missed out this too) and then Christmas trees lit up on every city's corner. So I wanna wish you all a Happy Christmas and hope you enjoy this festive season!

My tiny Christmas tree

Thankfully, I still enjoy this Christmas season apart from my business and I am looking forward for my Christmas holiday soon :)

Tuesday, December 1, 2009

Love Plus

Love Plus is a DS game by Konami, basically it's a dating sim where you can choose the girl you want to date, then you try to get her fall in love with you and after you've got the girl you can email her, call her, and even kiss and touch her (on the cheek, arms, etc) via the touch pad!

Last week I read this unique news on Sydney Morning Herald about a Japanese man known by his nickname SAL9000 who married Nene Anegasaki, her virtual girlfriend, in an official-looking but not legally reception in Tokyo last month. He even took her on a 'honeymoon' to Guam!
The reception included a priest, an MC, a DJ, speeches from friends and family, photo slideshows, wedding music and even a bouquet. The entire event was streamed live on a Japanese video-sharing site, of which SAL9000 is a prominent member.

I recall a friend saying 'we are victims of technology', is that true? wonder if romance and sex could be replaced by technology? Back to 'Love Plus', in a real daily life a couple occasionally come across a conflict, and if you wish you could avoid a conflict by 'switching your spouse off' anytime you want to, you'd better try this dating sim plus :)

Only in Japan..
Friday, November 27, 2009

The Kingdom of Robot

Reading an article about International Robot Exhibition 2009 in Tokyo reminds about 'The secret of Karakuri', an event by Japan Foundation in Sydney November last year. No doubt! Japan is the Kingdom of Robot, just name it: industrial robot, house hold robot, pet robot, chef robot, cute humanoid and the list still goes on. Among all of those stunning hi-tech invention, the Robo-chef is my favorite one, sounds like I really am a foodie?

(Okonomiyaki robot, picture courtesy of : Mainichi)
This Okonomiyaki robot demonstrates its ability to cook Okonomiyaki during the International Robot Exhibition 2009 in Tokyo on Nov.25, 2009. The robot, which has 15 joints, can take verbal orders from customers and use standard kitchen utensil.

Japan's Kawada Industries Inc.'s newly developed industrial robot 'Next Age' cuts ribbon with honored guests at the opening of the International Robot Exhibition 2009, the latest robo event organized by Japan Robot Association. (picture courtesy of AFP photo)

Japanese engineer Tomotaka Takahashi introduces the new robot 'Ropid', the fastest runner and best jumper, 'Ropid' also responds to voice commands, with either action or speech. (picture courtesy of AFP photo)

Only in Japan..
Sunday, November 22, 2009

Heart and Star Onigiri

I am always fascinated about Japanese food, not to mention about their 'kawaii' food, and since we read that 'Hana Sushi' book (see my previous post about Sushi dolls), we've been learning the art of creating that 'kawaii' food especially sushi and onigiri. Here are another onigiri from my kitchen, heart and star shaped onigiri.

(The star shaped onigiri topped with ham and a slice of boiled egg)

I am not an expert onigiri maker so I got this handy onigiri makers with heart and star shaped mold. It's an easy-to-use kitchen stuff to make your own onigiri, you can see the product's review on this Jbox link.
Once again, I give the credit to my wife for her patience creating these 'kawaii' onigiri!
Monday, November 16, 2009

Sushi Dolls

Here are another creations from our kitchen: Sushi dolls!

Inspired by lovely miniature Sushi dolls on Hana Sushi book, we tried to make our own Emperor and Empress Sushi dolls using sushi rice for the bodies, quail eggs for the heads, wrapped in elegant kimonos made of ham and omelet for the empress. We used mustard green for the Emperor but actually I'd recommend using lettuce since it's more edible, we just couldn't find any lettuce in the kitchen so we grabbed mustard green instead. Some pieces of carrot and mushroom for the accessories, a bit of red chili and using black sesame seed for the eyes.

I give the credits for my wife for her patience creating these Emperor and Empress Sushi Dolls.

Hana Sushi book, a wonderful Sushi book full of colorful and fun creations of Sushi by chefs Akiko Namiki and Eriko Teranishi.
Saturday, November 7, 2009

Refreshing deserts

Summer is just around the corner with the temperature soared above 33 degrees Celsius last week. I am a kind of person who prefer the chilling winter than scorching summer, so in hot day like last week, all I want is having some refreshing deserts.

Here are some beautiful refreshing deserts made by my wife, fruit salad and chocolate pudding.

(fruit salad)

It's a light, smooth yet firm pudding with strong chocolate scent and topped with a piece of tortilla chip, mixed berries and kiwi fruit to give a beautiful finishing touch!
Almost forget, it's not a Japanese food nor related to Japan but it does have a bit of Japanese touch, can you find it? yes, the Pocky! a famous Japanese stick coated with chocolate
Wednesday, November 4, 2009

Chicken Karage with mayo

(chicken karage don with mayo)

Here is my chicken karage don with mayo from Kimama Kitchen. After my first visit couple weeks ago to this Japanese kitchen right at the heart of Chinatown I came back for their popular Chicken karage with teriyaki mayo. They offer two dipping sauces for the karage, mayo or sweet chili sauce, and without thinking twice I chose Japanese mayo! my favorite sauce for dipping, just name any dish you want to dip, seafood, chicken, beef, tempura, this Japanese mayo goes well with any kind of food. The karage don comes with miso soup which you can refill as many times as you like, a generous offer you rarely find from a food shop in a food court. With special price of 9$, this big portion of Karage don more than enough to satisfy my craving for Japanese food!

Friday, October 30, 2009

Maid Cafe

I have been discussing about Maid Cafe with some blogger friends over the past few days. It started when I asked advise from an Osaka-jin blogger friend about restaurant and cafe in Osaka, then the thread goes on discussing about Maid Cafe and Butler Cafe in Japan. I don't consider myself as an Otaku but I do love anime and things so I love to visit one of the most unique cafes in Japan:Maid Cafe!

This kind of unique theme cafes originated in Akihabara, Tokyo around the year 1999. The service staffs of these restaurants (or bars) dress as elegant maids or as butlers. In a standard maid cafe the female employees dress up as French maids and refer to the customers as either Master (Goshujin-sama) or Mistress (Ojo-sama) and if for those who are happy to pay extra will be allowed to take picture with the maids. In other stores, the outfit and even the setting itself change. In school-themed cafes, customers are referred to as Senpai instead of Master or Mistress. Other themes include, little sister (imoto) and shrine girl (miko). Recently, with the booming of Maid Cafe, additional related service have become popular. These include ear cleaning, a foot or hand massage, photography session or even 'dates'with maids, but don't get it wrong, it's definitely not a brothel or that sort of things.
The popularity of Cosplay restaurants and maid cafes has spread to other regions in Japan, such as Osaka as well as other countries, such as Hong Kong, Taiwan, Singapore, Mexico and Canada.

I found a link for you who like to search for Maid Cafes in Japan, this Maid Cafe link makes it easy for you to search by region/city, theme and even some extra infos such as their menu and coupon. The link is in Japanese but you can easily translate it by using Google Translate.

By the way, the Este ears service from Atelier Mimi sounds really interesting :)
Only in Japan..

(Some 'Maids' promoting their Maid Cafe in Akihabara)

Sunday, October 25, 2009

Gumshara Ramen

Last week when I 'found' Kimama Kitchen inside the Eating World in Chinatown, I had to admit that I was wrong assuming that 'I wouldn't find a nice Japanese cuisine in this most-unlikely place'. While I was enjoying my King Curry and saw the folks lining up behind my table, I was wondering what these people queuing for? Oh.. they're queuing for another Japanese kitchen right on the corner. I couldn't hold myself to try this another-gem in a place I had ignored for years!
In less than a week I made my way to this ramen shop inside the Eating World food court in Chinatown. I couldn't even read their shop's name properly in the first place since the name written in a calligraphy style, first I read it as Cumshara and eventually I found out the right name, it's 'Gumshara'. It just looks like an ordinary Japanese ramen shop in a typical food court with black and red noren and the menu written in big cardboard with its picture. What's so special with their ramen then?
Here is their signboard written in English and Japanese: (I just 'copy-paste' their signboard since I didn't manage to take a picture)

Traditional Japanese Ramen
"Our soup is made by traditional Japanese way to cook which only uses only fresh pork bone and water, NO MSG is used. The richness of the soup comes from the marrow of the bone and the soft bone. It contains a lot of collagen, which is essential to maintain soft skin."

(My Tonkotsu ramen)

I tried their special menu Tonkotsu Ramen, when they served my ramen the staff said, 'if you find the soup too thick please let us know and we'd make it less thick. The soup indeed was thick and rich but I wouldn't make a fuss about that, and it's just so tasty! If you don't really like the thick soup, they also have hakata ramen which comes in light soup.
I overhead when some people asked the staff about their ramen and they said that the owner chef mastered the ramen cooking from the famous Muttepou ramen in Kyoto, no wonder!

(Gumshara Ramen inside Eating World in Chinatown)
Monday, October 19, 2009

Kimama Kitchen

It's been a while since my last post about Japanese eateries in town, not that I gave up my weekend hobby but hadn't found a good one worth a post. Last weekend eventually I found a good Japanese kitchen in the city, inside the Eating World Harbour Plaza in Chinatown just right at the end of Dixon street strip. If you enter the Harbour Plaza from Campbell street side, this Japanese kitchen is the first one on your right hand side. There was no name sign when we came to the counter and scrolling down the menu. Don't expect for ambience or good service since it's a food court but once you tried their crispy cutlet and yummy curry I believe you'd comeback to try another menu.

(King curry rice)

The king curry rice served on a 'king-size' white plate in generous portion, there were two choices for the rice, steam rice or fried rice, and I chose normal steam rice. The rice covered with yellow fried egg and topped with crispy chicken katsu. The curry sauce itself was not too strong which is good for me since I don't really like the strong curry flavor. Most of their dishes come with miso soup and the price is very affordable. I'd be very happy to recommend this Japanese kitchen for those who looking for an affordable Japanese casual dining in the city. I'd be back for sure to try their popular Karage don with teriyaki mayo!

(Beef teriyaki don)
Saturday, October 17, 2009

Tokyo Sky Tree

Tokyo Sky Tree, a new tower under construction in Tokyo for terrestrial digital broadcasting will be the world's tallest self-standing tower with its 634 meters high.
At the foot of the new tower will be a 'town with a tower' spans about 400m from east to west, connecting plaza leading from Oshiage Station to the tower lobby on level four of the facility, three plazas in front of the station along Kitajukken River, and Shinsui Park will form a community where visitors and nearby residents will gather.
This tower stands in a major traditional international tourism zone of Japan. Located in Sumida ward, about 1km east of Asakusa and about 2km northeast of Ryogoku (a town famous for sumo wrestling), this new landmark of Tokyo will be open in spring 2012.
(Source: Tokyo Sky Tower)

(Pictures courtesy of: Tokyo Sky Tower)
Tuesday, October 13, 2009


A quick post about the very first Onigiri from my kitchen. Lightly salted rice balls stuffed with some seasoned vegetables (carrot, spring onion), mock abalone, and fried egg. Some were sprinkled with roasted black sesame seed and some others with grated seaweed.

Monday, October 12, 2009

The 13th Japanese Film Festival

The 13th Japanese Film Festival is coming soon! It will be showing 21 selected Japanese films in Sydney from Nov.14 - Dec.1, consisting of some different genres such as drama, comedy, action, and anime as well. This year the festival will kick off in Hobart too, this is the only time for Japanese film mania in 6 Australia capital cities (Perth, Brisbane, Hobart, Canberra, Sydney and Melbourne) to watch Japanese movies on the cinema. For more information about the movie list, schedule and ticketing in each cities please visit the official website: Japanese Film Festival.

Last year was the biggest and most successful year audience attendance reaching just a record number of just over 10,000 Australia wide. I still remember how excited and happy I was when I won the lucky draw and got a show bag from Nagano City Tourism. Why Nagano? because the movie I watched was promoting Nagano City Tourism, the shooting location was in Hakuba with the magnificent view of snowy mountains. The adorable Rena Tanaka and the stunning beauty of white mountains are just perfect. The English title is Season of Snow and the Japanese title is G-season or Giniro no season, I really love this movie and even bought the DVD for my collection :) If you'd like to view the trailer you can click the banner below:


Here are some snippet for this year Japanese Film Festival:

The Blue bird, a film tackling the age-old problem of school bullying in Japan sees Mr Murauchi, a stuttering substitute teacher, enter in the aftermath of student Noguchi's suicide attempt. The school is trying to forget about the incident but Mr Murauchi persists in using his unconventional teaching method with an important lesson for all.

A masked villain known as K20 terrorizes the streets with his crafty burglary when an innocent acrobat is mistaken for K20 and is arrested, he must find the real masked murderer to clear his name. This movie is quite popular with the star Takeshi Kaneshiro as the heroine.

It seems like dining is on the agenda at Dome Fuji Station, a Japanese research base in the South Pole. Based on a true story, Chef Nishimura delivers mouth-watering extravagant dishes for the team of eight. This is one of scrumptious film filled with food, ice and laughter.

Members of the Kyoto University Azure Dragons are prepared to battle it out in the ancient game of 'Harumo'. Team members summon an army of CGI-related demons in a supernatural combat match to attack opposing teams from another universities.

A period drama set in the late of Edo era, Noe, a widow married into a new family is miserable and unable to adjust to her new life. In the midst of a drought with the added burden of heavy taxes, the farmers are struggling to make ends meet. Yachiro, a samurai in love with Noe, decides to take action, setting in motion some changes in the despondent life of Noe.

A haunting, intriguing mystery about a family's hidden secret that begins to unravel when a serial arsonist leaves behind a graffiti-style clues at crime scenes. Brothers Izumi and Haru are drawn to the events and decide to investigate the matter. Unknowingly, each step brings them closer to unlocking an unexpected truth.

On the run, Kamui is a ninja in search of freedom. His journey leads him to an old fisherman's village where he gradually learns to love. But there are others pursuing him - ninja of his own clan, pirates, shark hunter and a captain of manipulation hatching a plan with Kamui as the prey..

Saturday, October 10, 2009

Murata Seiko-chan

'Murata Seiko-chan', a cute female unicycle-riding robot from Murata manufacturing Co, was showing off her skill on a tiny bar during the Combined Exhibition of Advanced Technologies (CEATEC) Japan 2009, on Tuesday at Makuhari Messe convention center in Chiba.

Murata Seiko-chan
(Picture courtesy of Mainichi News)

Another debut from Nissan was 'Eporo', a group of miniature robots that model fish behavior to move around in groups while avoiding obstacles.

Nissan's Eporo
(Picture courtesy of Mainichi News)

And among the best attractions was 'HRP-4C', the girlie humanoid in a new look sang a song for visitors accompanied by a similarly cybernetic piano player.

HRP-4C, the cute humanoid
(Picture courtesy of Mainichi News)

This Asia's largest electronic show runs through this Saturday and is expected to draw some 200,000 visitors

(Source: Mainichi News)