Tuesday, December 28, 2010

Kiaora Japan

Kia ora! It means Welcome in Maori language, yes I am in New Zealand at the moment, in the city of Rotorua, a city well known for its geothermal spas scattered around the region where you can smell the sulfur from every corner of the city. Taking a break after a nine-bloody-busy-week during Christmas season, I am staying in Rotorua for three nights and heading to Auckland tomorrow. Walking around the city, much to my surprise that there are few Japanese restaurants in town, one of them is Kiaora Japan on Tutanekai street, the main street toward the lake.

(Kiaora Japan in Rotorua)

It comes to my surprise when I found a few Japanese restaurants in town, one of them is Kiaora Japan on Tutanekai street, the main street toward the lake. It’s an authentic Japanese restaurant packed with tourists and local people during lunch time serving a wide range of Japanese sake and Sapporo beer on tap.

Here are my lunch dishes today,

The lunch set special is NZD 10 comprises two sushi, teriyaki chicken on rice, salad and miso soup, while the shoyu ramen costs about NZD 12

(Shoyu ramen)

(seaweed salad)

On another note about Rotorua,
Are you a fan of Lord of The Rings trilogy? If yes then you should visit the hobbiton movie set tour located about 50 minutes driving from Rotorua. Despite the gusty wind and wet weather this morning I did enjoy walking around the ‘middle earth’ valley, the farm has amazing scenery of thirty-seven hobbit holes, oak trees and breathtaking views overlooking the valley.

Unfortunately, as a condition of entry you are not allowed to share anything on the internet including facebook, you-tube, and blogs. You are permitted to take as much photos or video as you like but Peter Jackson doesn’t allow you to share anything on the internet so I couldn’t share any picture or further information about this beautiful 'middle-earth' valley.

Sunday, December 12, 2010


Menya Mappen, it's the third shop of Menya Noodle Bar in Sydney located at shop 11, 537-551 George street just a block away from Town Hall station. This self-serve noodle bar specializes in soba and udon while the first Menya shop in Chinatown offers the best ramen in town.

I always love a Japanese restaurant with traditional and vintage decor and yes this Mappen full of nostalgic posters on the wall from old foodie movies to samurai movie posters like 'zatoichi', which reminds me of 'Gokuraku showtengai' in Namba-Osaka, on top of that you can enjoy old Japanese songs while slurping your udon in hot yummy kakedashi broth.

(zaru soba, a cold soba served on 'zaru' or bamboo tray, topped with fried bean curd topping)

(mini gyudon)

A bowl of udon or soba priced around $4-$5 and the tempura topping costs around $1 - $2.50.

(sweet potato and vegetable kakiage tempura)

(how to enjoy mappen)

Saturday, December 4, 2010


Fruit of a dark red to purplish black 'bing', the smooth skinned drupes last longer if picked with stems attached. Sweet cherries should be firm but not hard, they can be eaten as is or used in desserts or baked goods like cherry tarts and pies.

(Cherry pie)

It's the first week of summer when cherry season is in full swing. Last week I went for cherry picking in Young, the cherry capital of Australia, about 4 hours driving from Sydney. It was a bit too early as most of the cherries weren't quite ripe yet and the weather wasn't perfect, wet and muddy farm yet I still enjoyed picking and eating fresh cherry.

Friday, November 26, 2010


I had heard about this authentic Japanese restaurant on Pacific Highway Crows Nest for a while and eventually I enjoyed my lunch at this award winning Asian favorite restaurant. Ju-Rin restaurant looks like an ordinary casual Japanese eatery from outside but when I walked in through the noren I could feel the authenticity of a Japanese restaurant, and the warm welcoming smile from friendly staffs made me think 'it's gonna be one of my favorite place!'

It's a bit hard to choose the meal I'd like to try since all the dishes are really tempting and after rolled down the menu I decided to try the Saikyo-yaki, a sweet miso-marinated grilled fish which tastes so yum... the sweetness of light miso flavor on smooth fish fillet are just perfect.


On top of that I ordered a wagyu set and I can only describe it as.. it melts on my tongue!

(Wagyu beef set)

I'd definitely comeback to try their new restaurant Hana Ju-Rin which will open at the beginning of December not far from Ju-Rin, located at 300 Pacific Hwy Crows Nest.
Friday, November 19, 2010

Tokyo Walking Talking

Tokyo Walking Talking, a web by a licensed tour guide from Tokyo offering walking tour exploring Tokyo and day tour to Nikko . She is a professional tour guide with pleasing personality, a humorous person with authentic local experience and genuine sincerity.
It was one fine Christmas day when we first met almost three years ago, she picked me up right at the door step of my shinkansen at Tokyo station then took me around Roppongi Hills, Shibuya-Harajuku and Akihabara for one day tour. And it was Christmas last year when she picked me up (again) at Haneda airport before we headed to Yokohama for one day tour, wish I had more time in Tokyo, time flies very fast when you are having fun. I treasure all those memories and wish I'll get to Japan again one day. She is not only an ordinary tour guide I met, for me she is one of my best friends in Japan. Happy Birthday Izumi-san! (sorry a bit late)

So if you want to explore and experience Tokyo with fun, you can book your private tour with Tokyo Walking Talking!
Wednesday, November 17, 2010

All about fish

Craving for fish? I'd recommend Sakae in the city to conquer your craving for yummy fish. I am not saying that the other dishes apart from fish are not good, their bento box menu is good and considerably affordable prices too . If you order one main menu then you can get the special sashimi for a special price of $4.5
It's not a fancy place but the interior is really clean with quick service and friendly service, it's one of my favorite eateries in town.

(Fish teriyaki set)

(Akamai/lean tuna sashimi)
Their sushi and sashimi are really fresh.

This grilled king fish head is on the entree menu but I like to have this with the steam rice. My photo looks a bit creepy but it does taste good! Fresh and slightly salted... the best King fish I ever tasted.
Monday, November 8, 2010

Maid Train

Maid Train = Train with maid cafe, if you are an otaku, you gotta love this interesting news from Japan Today

The Seibu Railway Group has announced plans to introduce a new Maid Cafe-style train service between Ikebukuro and Chihibu Station.

Akihabara's maid cafe culture is closely aligned with Japan's 'otaku' subculture that is rapidly going mainstream. As several animation houses already exist along that stretch of the railway line that runs from Tokyo to Saitama, Seibu Railway officials said they are hoping to promote Japanese pop culture in the area between those stations by solidifying its reputation as an anime production zone.
The emphasis of the new service will be to allow passengers to ride in 'New Red Arrow' trains alongside staff selected from Akihabara's maid cafes. Maid cafe games and competitions will be held and train announcements will be made by the maids. There are also plans to have small photography studio alongside shops around Seibu Chichibu station at which customers can pay to have their photographs taken with a maid.

The fare for a trip will be 3,500 yen for adults and 3,000 yen for children. Each trip will accommodate 360 passengers.

(Picture courtesy of Maid Train, train with maid cafe)

Would love to hop on the train.. can't wait to visit Tokyo again..

Only in Japan..
Saturday, November 6, 2010

Mother's Crepe

It's Saturday afternoon and pretty much nothing to do, despite the wet weather I went out to city and ended up at the World Square shopping centre looking for something to munch on. On the lower ground level at the front of Shushinbou shop there is a new Japanese Crepe stand called Mother's Crepe. The display on the side is very attractive, a range of beautifully presented crepes and the 50% discount for the grand opening work very well for the promotion, people lining up to get their crepes for about $3.50 each. I was considering the ham and cheese since I prefer hot crepe rather than cold one but eventually I couldn't resist the strawberry choco!

(Strawberry Choco Crepe)

The strawberry choco was delightful but for me I like the hot and crispy crepe even when it stuffed with something cold like ice cream, or maybe my strawberry choco crepe was meant to be hot and crispy? So it wasn't crispy enough for me then, but once again it was a delightful snack for an afternoon tea time though.

Sunday, October 31, 2010


Today I went to Kinokuniya and found a book about Maru, the most watched cat on internet. I couldn't stop laughing watching this innocent-looking cat on YouTube.
If you love cat you gotta love this Maru blog.

Here is another link about Maru.
Thursday, October 28, 2010

14th Japanese Film Festival

Japanese Film Festival is on! I still have to wait for about 3 weeks till the opening film in Sydney 'About Her Brother' on Monday 22 November. I still remember vividly the first time I joined hundreds of folk watching 'Kamikaze Girls' three years ago and then the next year I watched 'Season of Snow' and won one of the door prizes from Nagano City tourism.

This year I'd like to watch at least two movies, firstly as a foodie and a Japanese food lover, 'Flavor of Happiness' in on my 'must see' list, and as a big fan of Ryoko Hirosue I don't want to miss out 'Zero Focus'.

(Flavor of Happiness, picture courtesy of Japanese Film Festival)

( Zero Focus, picture courtesy of Japanese Film Festival)

For more information about the festival news, film list, preview or watch the trailers please visit 14th Japanese Film Festival.

Monday, October 18, 2010


Mizuya, this 'izakaya' style restaurant on George street offers private dining rooms equipped with karaoke facility, cozy atmosphere and tempting cocktails on the menu which make it a great place for drinking out with friends. The touch screen ordering makes it easy for you to add something to your order and the service is good. The price is above average but still ok considering the place is right in the heart of the city. They got every kind of Japanese cuisine on their menu from Kushiage to Sushi or sashimi and from sukiyaki to teppanyaki.

I picked the wagyu beef for the hotpot with mixed sashimi as the cold side dish, adding sushi set to my order as I was craving for sushi, then picked the cheese potato mochi as desert.
The wagyu beef sukiyaki for $18 was my best choice as the sushi set and cheese potato mochi were little disappointments.

(wagyu beef hotpot)

(Sushi set)

(Sashimi as side dish)

(Cheese potato mochi)
Monday, October 11, 2010

Collagen Kaki Sushi

I happened to be in Kuala Lumpur over the weekend, staying in a hotel on Bukit Bintang known as the major shopping district in town from the premium mall like Pavilion to the specialty shopping plaza like Lao Yat, a popular shopping center for electronics and IT products.
Right across my hotel there is Fahrenheit 88, a refurbished plaza with Uniqlo, an innovative brand from Japan for fashion, opening their first store in Malaysia end of this month.On level 1, I found a Japanese restaurant called Sushi Zanmai, the menu has a wide range of Japanese cuisine from sushi to bento box. When scrolling down the menu, their sushi and sashimi look quite unique so I picked a chutoro sashimi, aburi sushi set and a Collagen Kaki Sushi which was on special for 6.80 RM for two pieces.

Collagen Kaki Sushi

The Kaki Sushi is an oyster sushi with strong flavor of oyster so if you want to try this kaki sushi make sure you are a fan of oyster. I don't know whether this sushi really contains collagen in it, but it really is a unique kind of sushi.

(Chutoro Sashimi)

(Aburi sushi set)

Overall it's a cozy place, the sushi and sashimi was good, the service was a bit slow but still ok.

On another note, there were wet tissues available on the table and I was a bit surprised when I was charged 0.2 RM for a wet tissue while no price shown for that, neither on the menu or on the tissue's packaging, I thought a wet tissue normally would be complimentary, well... I guess most customers won't even bother for an 0.2 RM?
Monday, October 4, 2010

Tulip Time

It was an extremely busy weekend for me, lucky to have a public holiday Monday..
Went down south to Bowral in the Southern Highland of NSW this morning to enjoy the Tulip Time..

Saturday, September 25, 2010

Cherry blossoms

Cherry blossoms or Sakura represents spring, in Japan a wide variety of Sakura can be found (believed to be more than 200 varieties) and the most popular variety is Somei Yoshino with pure white petals and tinged with the palest pink, especially near the stem.

This spring somehow I couldn't make my way to the Sakura Matsuri at Cowra Japanese Garden being held this weekend on September 25-26, but I did take some sakura's shots around Katoomba and Leura in the Blue Mountain region.

Here are some of them..