August 2011


Food: Home Cookin' and General and japan15 Aug 2011 08:55 pm

While I love my space here at crazy white girl, I kind of felt like I was missing my audience on Okinawa centric blog posts. They get lost in the volume of posts from Edmonton, and I am certain that most of my readers from Canada do not give a damn about restaurants thousands of miles away.

So, since September last year (!) I have been trying to start a dedicated blog about food and restaurants in Okinawa as well as any other areas I may visit while I am here. It is hard going for English information on restaurants here – many of the blog posts by English speakers tend to be about restaurants close to the bases, and frankly, do not look that appetizing.

I enjoyed rebuilding a blog, especially one with a specific purpose. It took a long time, though, with many breaks as I contemplated my fate in this country.

Each post offers English information about the restaurant, as well as a map. I am hoping it will soon become a resource people can rely on. There are easy to browse sections by location, cuisine type and information about Japanese ingredients as well as shopping for food products and cooking in Okinawa. When comparing it to crazy white girl, there are bigger pictures, better tagging and more features about food in general here in Japan.

There are still a few glitches and changes I am making, so excuse any bits and bobs left lying around there as I move into my final preparations to really promote the hell out of this thing.

I will still be posting here about home cooking experiments, more general Japanese food tidbits and my travels, but most of my blog posts about Okinawan restaurants will now be posted on Eating Okinawa. If you are a regular reader, you will notice a lot of duplicate content up there so far, but from this point on it will be all new. So please be sure to visit EatingOkinawa.com for all your Okinawan food needs.

Think of it as a first year in Japan anniversary present to … ME!

Food and Food: Asia and japan and Travels09 Aug 2011 11:33 am

We left Okinawa at 3am or some other ungodly hour. Everyone in Japan travels at three times of the year – Silver Week in September, Golden Week in May, and July/August. So my choices for cheap flights were really cut down and our options were leave at 3am or pay $300 one way for a flight to Tokyo.

Arriving at 7am, we hit the ground running and were on a train and headed into downtown Tokyo in no time from Haneda. This is the beauty of Japan.  We grabbed a snack, stored our stuff in a handy locker (they make them big enough for a standard rolling suitcase and a backcountry backpack) and went to pick up the bikes we had reserved with Neil at Tokyo Rent A Bike.  Despite being exhausted, I was elated to have our bikes and be on pedal power the rest of the day. It was exhilarating, and I will absolutely do this again and recommend it to anyone who is traveling to Tokyo.

With a general route mapped out, our first stop was the Tsukiji Fish Market. After visiting Sushi Dai three years ago, Mike had another place (Sushi Bun) in mind, but it was unfortunately closed. No worries – have bike, smartphone and back up plans – and will travel. We biked a short distance to a street in the outer ring of the market and tried to find a restaurant called Uogashi Senryo just after lunch rush.

It is not known for sushi (although they do serve it), but for chirashisushi bowls. It is behind a dried fish shop and kind of blends in with the other shops. The quality is not the best you can get in the area, but it is popular for a reason. I think my two kinds of tuna bowl was excellent, and Mike’s uni ikura bowl was salty, creamy and hit the spot. Just what we needed after an early morning of travel and bike riding, and just what we needed to power us up the rest of the day.

Uogashi Senryo from the street. They do have an English menu.

 

Recharged we rode around east Tokyo, circling back to the bike rental office while hitting a few big sights and neighbourhoods along the way. Again – I cannot emphasize this enough; renting a bike was insanely easy, relatively cheap and very safe. They come with wheel locks so you can park and lock wherever you are, there are bells to ring and let people know you are coming at them on the fancy shopping Ginza shopping street and 6 gears to make climbing hills in Roppongi easier. Most people ride on the sidewalk, and this is accepted and perhaps even expected (pedestrians beware!) Many many people in Tokyo have bicycles, if only to get them to the nearest train station. It is insane to think that the world’s largest megacity is bike friendly to even the lowly tourist, but it is. If the Neil the bike guy had not been going on holiday I would have totally rented for a few more days. Next time, Tokyo. Next time.

Food: Asia and Travels08 Aug 2011 10:32 am

I have been wanting to visit Another Hound for years. I remember strolling around Siam Paragon a few years ago with my brother and seeing the cafe and wanting to go in so badly – but I was intimidated for some reason. This time, I finally made it happen with my mom for a quick lunch on my last day in Bangkok.

Greyhound is a Thai fashion design house who happen to make clothes I really like. I actually thought that their cafe might be kind of crap they were so good at fashion, but I was wrong. The concept here is Italian bistro x Thai spice, and although that sounds like a recipe for disaster, it works here. Prices are good and the atmosphere is classy. A lot of black, crystal and silver, and a nice view of Siam from the windows.

The restaurant was full of lunching ladies and HiSo (the Bangkok term for high society) kids with too many shopping bags. Service was brisk, and they were sold out of a few things, but we still managed.

“Complicated noodle” Noodle sheets + fresh lettuce leaves + minced pork + chili garlic sauce + cilantro. No really easy way to eat these, but they are great, and judging by a quick look around the restaurants tables, very popular. I want to try recreating them at home sometime! 130 baht, or about $4.50

Watermelon mint shake.

My mom’s delicious ham and cheese grill, with a mound of fries. For something so basic sounding she was worried it was going to be a sad greasy tasteless mess, but it was crispy and fresh and they used high quality cheese and ham. About $5.50

 

Another Hound Cafe is a great stop if you are shopping in the Siam area and want to eat at something other than a food hall. The food is imaginative but well done, and the menu varied to all tastes.

Another Hound, Siam Paragon

 

Food and Food: Asia and Travels07 Aug 2011 09:49 am

After a sad high tea in Hong Kong, I was eager to get back on the horse in Bangkok, this time having an enjoyable experience. My mom and I strolled down the street to the Sukhothai hotel one day to take in high tea.

The Sukhothai is one of most serene boutique hotels in Bangkok. The grounds and architecture are stunning, and although it is being dwarfed by some nearby skyscrapers, it still retains a feeling of exclusivity and privacy.

We decided on the classic Sukhothai tea set. I got a Mariage Frères Earl Grey French Blue tea and my mom got a coffee. We also ordered extra scones.

The tower came out quickly, but not TOO quickly as to suggest they were sitting in the back ready to go out.

Delicious sannies. There was a smoked salmon croissant, pate sausage baguette, an italian job with prosciutto and provolone and then a few little fingers with various more classic high tea fillings. Everything was fresh and not cold like some high tea rooms.

The pastries were fantastic, with nothing overly sweet, and a good mix of melting, crunchy, chocolatey and fruity. Berry tartlet, orange almond mini cake, fruit cake, truffles and matcha shortbread.

The fig scones! It was kind of a mistake to get an extra order – although they WERE excellent and so were the preserves and slightly untraditional mascarpone. Just too much.

My favourite was the eclair. I still miss the ones I would get from Duchess in Edmonton.

Vanilla creme brulee. Neither my mom or I wanted it at first – we were too full. But then I cracked it and inside was silken filling I could not stop eating.

And then, to finish, “Green Goddess” dragonfruit lime sorbet. Surprisingly light.

Afterwards we strolled around the complex a little bit more. They seem to be doing a lot of refurbishing. There was also a wedding being set up, for a Japanese couple!

 

High tea is in the main hotel lobby Monday through Thursday from 2-6pm. The Sukhothai also does a weekend chocolate buffet for those looking for more sweets and less tea and sandwiches. Both are around 800 baht.

Food: Home Cookin' and japan06 Aug 2011 09:34 am

Alright. We have been stuck in the house for almost two days now because of typhoon Muifa, and I grow concerned that we will have to start in on the more boring food like packaged noodles and what not. But up until now we have been eating like kings!

I visited the grocery store on Wednesday night for last minute bits and went to a near by chicken rotisserie called Riiko Chicken.

It is kind of a bareboned place – they only sell two things, a whole chicken and a half chicken. That is their menu there. I think maybe at Christmas time (a very popular meal to have at Christmas here is roast chicken) they might do something special, but I am not sure. They were sold out four days before Christmas last year, so we missed the time to order one.

The lady pulls the chicken from the roaster, scrapes up extra garlic and will cut your chicken if you like.

Then it comes wrapped in this wonderful bag. We had roast chicken and crusty bread for dinner that night…

And the next day, Thursday, we had sesame soy dressed hand pulled chicken salad as the storm was rolling in.

I made some bolognese sauce later that day, and it was some of the best I have made. We also had some nachos and a few other special treats to get through Friday as we watched movies and surfed the Internet.

Now it is Saturday and I am ready for this storm to be over, if only to restock on groceries. I made these mango whipped cream pancakes as an indulgence this morning. And also to save the last few pieces of bread for grilled cheese sandwiches later.  A few brave/silly friends have ventured out to convenience stores close to their home, and reported that most of the food is gone, and some of the booze. No one really expected this storm to stick around so long, so it is a reminder for how bad things could be, I guess.

Anyhow, although I am a little bored at times and maybe am not sleeping as well as I could be due to the sound of driving wind and rain, life is not so bad. I worry for all the fields around Okinawa though. It is really agricultural, and I am certain many crops from okra to sugarcane to mangos will be decimated.

Food: Asia and Travels06 Aug 2011 12:47 am

I had originally planned just to do an entry on Soi Convent in Bangkok, but we have been stuck in the house for over 36 hours now because of a typhoon and I need something to do. So this is just a round up of some of the little bits of food we had.

 

Eating at the cafe of the extended stay apartment my parents have a place at.

Margaritas and more at La Monita.

Early morning Caesar and live UFC fight at Home Run Bar.

Lamb kebabs and phad thai at “The Fifth” Food Hall at MBK Center.

2 for 1 margaritas at Coyotes while we waiting for Isao, a Japanese restaurant to open

Bug & Bee is a great 24 hour cafe with a few locations scattered over Bangkok.