Food: Home Cookin'29 May 2012 03:32 am

I think one of the most fun parts of being home again has been outfitting our new, super nice kitchen. This is, without a doubt, the nicest kitchen I’ve ever cooked in, let alone had full access to 24/7. Ample drawers, fancy features I did not even know I cared about, a gas stove… While we are still figuring out where to fit all of Mike’s pottery, we have dedicated an entire drawer to spices, which is pretty much a dream come true.

Being in Canmore now has benefits, like being less than an hour from Calgary. Calgary has a really great spice store in Inglewood called Silk Road (they also sell at the Farmer’s Market there). And if you are not near Calgary, never fear – they do ship to many countries.

Nice Mexican selection, with many chiles that can be hard to find north of the border with the United States.

Such a nice look to the store. Sort of old timey spice trader. It reminded me of World Spice Merchant’s in Seattle. I do not think this is an accident.

The store also has a wide selection of bitters, which seem to be the newest darling in the bar scene, atleast in Alberta. They had just about every kind you can imagine, but we just got orange bitters to start.

Lots of pre packaged gift sets, too.

We filled up this basket to the brim with what we needed.

Back at home, I chose the coolest darkest corner of our kitchen to store most of the spices. Some of the more volatile ones went in the fridge so they will keep longer.

Do you know how long I’ve dream of such a thing?

 

Thank you Silk Road!

Food: Asia and Food: Edmonton07 May 2012 12:51 pm

I think I heard about this event via Twitter, and I was immediately intrigued. I haven’t had ramen (outside of prepackaged broth bought in Fukuoka) since leaving Japan in January…and I’ve been craving it.

The idea was for a one night only affair with two kinds of ramen. (That’s the “pop up” part.) The noodles would be handmade and the space would be in the where the old Duchess once stood. Chael MacDonald and Clayton Kozak did a great job conceiving and running the event.

We arrived just before 6pm, and there was quite a line of people waiting for one of the 32 seats. After about an hour, we finally made it in. Time passed surprisingly quickly. After that point, there was no real line to speak of. The plan for the pop up was to go until they sold out or it became 8pm, whatever came first.

It was simply, but nicely, decorated with paper streamers. We received steaming cups of genmaicha, and ordered a few bowls of the chicken and pork ramen and one bowl of the miso dashi with tuna. Beer was available, too.

The menu is pretty tiny in this picture, but the two offerings were:

Choice 1: dashi miso broth with albacore tuna, egg, mushroom, wakame and nori seaweed $10

Choice 2: chicken broth, pork belly and shoulder, egg, pickled shiitake, napa cabbage, nori $10

The pork belly chicken ramen. The noodles were perfection. Absolute perfection. The broth was deep in flavour but not overly salty, and the additions of pickled mushrooms and negi (green onions) were great. While I enjoyed the chicken, the pork belly itself was a little dry and tough. But that was the only misstep – I was, quite honestly, blown away. Even the egg rivaled those I’ve had in Japan. Boiled in broth, it had a gentle brown exterior and a creamy, just underdone center. Well underdone to some.

I considered it perfect.

The miso dashi broth with tuna was savoury and delicious as well. I was never really a fan of miso ramen, but this might convince me otherwise. (I loved shio, or salt, and tonkotsu, or pork, ramen best) The wakame and nori seaweed were also nice touches. The tuna was all right as well. But I think the group favourite was the chicken pork ramen.

All in all, a fun event and worth the wait and a great way to satisfy a craving. I’m hoping this means there might be a great ramen restaurant in the future for Edmonton… but that might also mean Duchess loses its full time croissant pâtissier and Elm Cafe would lose Mr MacDonald. Sacrifices!

Food: Home Cookin' and japan04 May 2012 01:59 pm

I always feel like a bum when I duplicate content from my other blog, Eating Okinawa, but it seems like a lot of people who read this one do not read that one…so here you go.

I thought this was an interesting post to share because it gave some insight into the cooking challenges I had in Japan when I really wanted to eat something from “home”. It was by no means the most challenging thing to do in my life there, but sometimes after a day of complicated communication errors, long work days and crappy weather, I did not really feel like menu planning or hunting for the ingredients for whatever I was craving. This was a favorite recipe that I found super easy to make and modify for the Japanese supermarket. Because I did not have access to the American bases and their magical supermarkets, I sometimes felt like the ingredients I had access to were a bit limited, so I was happy to make spaetzle, a sort of poor woman’s dumplings when I craved perogies from back home. Really they are just a type of soft, fresh egg noodle.

It’s a pretty versatile recipe; I often would eat it with braised red cabbage when cabbage was in season or with a mushroom cream gravy or pasta sauce. They are great just fried up in brown butter, too. I totally recommend it if you are tired to death of pasta, rice and bread – who can say no to dumplings?

Spaetzle

  • 1 cup flour
  • 1/2 tsp salt
  • 2 eggs
  • 1/2 cup ricotta (or yogurt, or buttermilk, or sour cream or even whole milk!)
  • 2 tablespoons of water, if needed
  • Sometimes I would add a few spices. Cumin, paprika, and cayenne all add a spicy kick. I even added some Ethiopian berbere we were lucky enough to have on hand one night. Add to taste.

Set a pot of water to boil on the stove, 4-6 cups should do. In a medium sized bowl, whisk eggs together with the ricotta (or yogurt or whatever you have on hand) until smooth. Add the flour and salt and any spices or seasonings, if desired. The mixture should become a thin and gluey batter. If it’s too thick, add a bit of water. It should not be sticking to a spoon too much and should come off the spoon on its own (see photo below).

When the water is boiling, take out a regular teaspoon. Dip the spoon into the batter, filling it about halfway. Push the dipped spoon off into the boiling water in one smooth motion. It will make a sort of flat dumpling shape. When the spaetzle float, they are done.

Scoop them off as they cook, then add sauce or vegetables or whatever you desire. Grated cheese and fried onions, beef stew…even sweet style with grated apples, honey, cinnamon and a bit of butter…yum!

I only had soft cream cheese on this day, but the recipe still came out great. This is the brand I used, Megmilk Snow. It’s a lot lighter than the “American style” cream cheese you will find in Japanese supermarkets, and is more like ricotta.

There is also a sweetened version, so I had to be careful when I bought it. I learned to look for the crackers, not the tiramisu, on the label!

Mixing my eggs and flour

This is too thick!

I added a tablespoon of water, and it thinned out. It should “flow” off the spoon.

The floating ones are done!

Pushing the batter off the spoon.

Pushing the batter off the spoon.

A close up! There is no “right” way to do it, just get reasonable sized clumps of batter together when you push. The hot water will do the rest.

After I boiled them, I fried them with some butter until they were a bit crispy. This is not necessary, but it does make them more delicious in my opinion.

I also made a simple enoki mushroom cream sauce. I sauteed the enoki in butter…

Added some whipped cream and seasonings and poured it over the pan fried spaetzle. SO GOOD! SO EASY! SO CHEAP! A taste of home!

 

Food: Edmonton28 Apr 2012 07:19 am

Since I got home, I have eaten out about 10 times, if that. I of course missed some staples in the Edmonton food scene – King Noodle Pho, Tony’s Pizza etc – but I’ve just been too in love with being able to COOK again. Not to say that we never did that in Japan, it’s just way less hassle to meal plan here, and I’ve been loving it.

Mike and I went to a movie at the Garneau last weekend, and I proposed a stop in at the new Three Boars Eatery nearby just to break the eating in cycle. It’s been open about two or three weeks now, and I wanted to see if was any good. “Plates and Pints” never sounds wrong!

When we arrived, the place was jammed. And SO hot. I cannot imagine what the kitchen will be like come August. And it remained hot and jammed throughout our time there. We cuddled into a tiny corner along the window bar and ordered a few pints. I’d love to see the staff install hooks under their bar – then there is no need for a coat and purse mountain taking up precious bar space.

Mike got the black and tan (Mudshark Porter with Anderson Valley IPA) and I got the Anderson Valley IPA. The kegs change frequently, so be sure to check in on their Twitter page to see what’s on offer that day/week. There are six taps in total, I believe, so there is always a good mix of local and more unusual beer. At $8, my pint was not cheap, but it was great for what we wanted, a pre going out drink.

My IPA was great – hoppy and fresh, just like a spring rabbit. Mike’s black and tan was unfortunately pretty “black” and the porter the IPA was mixed with really overpowered it. Not the best combination, sadly.

In addition to the decent beer selection (there is also a hefty list of bottled brews, divided by style) there is a wall of whiskey and many different and unusual cocktails, like highballs made with Fentiman’s soda and a few kinds of shandies.

We ordered two plates of food, and it turned out to be a little less than a meal even though one of the items was from the “main” menu of entrees.

First up was the “rabbit food” menu (Three Boars has a great selection of vegetarian friendly dishes) item of wild mushrooms on toast with an egg. I cautiously broke the yolk and dug into this, nervous. Would it be good? Great? Terrible? The first bite was amazing – yolky creamy goodness over fresh wild mushrooms bursting with flavour. Reconstituted from freeze dried, these mushrooms were not. The fleur de sel on top heightened the golden goodness of the egg and the crunch of the toast under neath worked in harmony with the other softer textures. I wish there had been two toasts since splitting one was a bit awkward and it would have made it more of a meal, but it still worked.

Next is the very unphotogenic lamb’s neck poutine. Fingerling potatoes coated with rich gravy, succulent lamb and squeaky cheese curds. The kitchen often mixes things up and will try new kinds of poutine. I’ve seen liver and onions and oxtail on their Twitter page. (Everything changes at Three Boars – the menu is more of a guide than an absolute, and expect to be surprised by specials when you go in.)

Again – not quite enough to make a meal. I definitely recommend getting atleast three dishes for two people, even if one of you is not that hungry as was our case, because you will want to taste everything more than once. Most dishes run $12-15 so it is not a cheap meal out, but the care in ingredient selection and presentation shine, and it is worth it if you are only going to eat out every so often, and you just want a snack for while you are drinking.

Service was a bit jagged, but probably more pronounced by our need to hot foot it up the street to the Garneau Theatre. If we were here for a longer catch up with friends, I suspect we would not have cared as much. Interestingly, it was the food that was up front and centre and the drinks that were slow to come out. I hope that these kinks get ironed out as they get used to their popularity.

Half way through our drinks, seats opened up upstairs so we went up the steep staircase. Upstairs there are communal style tables, so do not expect an intimate meal. This is family style, more of an upscale pub, and it’s pretty fun.

Overall, I think Three Boars makes an awesome addition to the growing cluster of fantastic restaurants north of Whyte Ave on 109th. It’d be great to do a drink and a dish at each place, then walk across the High Level to burn it all off…


Three Boars Eatery http://www.threeboars.ca/
Excellent cocktail and liquor list, local items used in imaginative dishes and a cozy atmosphere.
8424 -109 Street
4pm til late daily

 

Food and Food: Home Cookin'06 Apr 2012 03:00 am

No, this is not a scene out of my window in Okinawa. This is Edmonton, and I am home. It’s been snowing for 10 hours, and about 20-25 centimetres have fallen so far. So, trapped indoors, what’s a girl to do?

Make muffins!

I made some buttermilk cinnamon sour cherry muffins. They’re light and cakey, and so delicious warm out of the oven with a big cozy blanket and a cup of some amazing Transcend Sin Limites coffee.

I have to tell you, while I LOVED the food in Japan (a reminder to check out my other blog, about restaurants and cooking on Okinawa), I have been enjoying cooking and baking and shopping for food at home even more. Distance makes the stomach grow hungrier.
Or something.

Glad to be home.

Food: Asia and Food: Home Cookin' and japan04 Jan 2012 10:19 am

One of my Christmas feast wishes was to eat sashimi for one of our meals. Candy cane striped salmon and Christmas red toro – what could be better? I picked some up from one of the most local places I know.


I bought my fish from the fish market inside the Kochinda Agrihouse farmer’s market. It was early in the morning on Christmas Eve and it was pretty quiet, still. The selection of fish was not so broad – some salmon, toro tuna, squid, octopus and tai.

The salmon and toro were both 500 yen for fairly large portions. I bought the saba, or mackerel, at the local supermarket for about 300 yen.

I also got a root of real wasabi. The taste is a lot more subtle than horseradish faux wasabi. It’s still peppery and zingy, but less sinus clearing and overwhelming. These roots normally cost 900 yen or so, but I got one for 350 yen. A Christmas miracle!

(I recently saw a picture of single roots for sale in Tokyo for $200 and up!)

It was a delicious snack! The next day we seared the toro tuna and made it into tacos.

メリークリスマス!

General and japan and Travels04 Dec 2011 04:18 pm

I sometimes feel bad that updating this blog has fallen by the wayside. So here are some photos I took in November(ish).

 

Food: Asia and Food: Home Cookin' and japan09 Nov 2011 05:02 pm

Taco rice! Sounds like a weird combination, right? Well it is a super Okinawan dish, influenced by the unique relationship the American military has had with Okinawa. It is a perennial favorite here on Okinawa with locals, expats and tourists alike. Although it is a kind of fast food here, it is still kind of healthy. The keys to delicious taco rice are the meat sauce and the dense, moist Japanese rice.

I spent over a year in Okinawa before I tried taco rice. BLASPHEMY!

After eating it, I immediately became obsessed and ate it a few times this summer. However, I grew tired of buying it at the supermarket premade and wondered if I could make it better at home myself…without the prepackaged spice kits they sell. So, I tried.

This is the best recipe I found, based on one from America’s Test Kitchen. Good taco rice meat has to be saucy enough to soak into the rice, and meaty enough to be satisfying. I think this recipe fits the bill.

—-

Okinawan Taco Rice Meat

  • 1 tablespoon vegetable oil
  • 1 onion, minced
  • 3 garlic cloves, minced
  • 2 tablespoons chili powder (I used a mix of ancho and cayenne pepper)
  • 1 teaspoon cumin
  • 1/4 teaspoon cayenne pepper
  • Salt
  • 1/2 pound ground beef
  • 1/2 pound ground pork
  • 1/2 cup smooth canned tomato sauce
  • 1/2 cup low sodium chicken broth
  • 2 teaspoons soy sauce or sake (Okinawan taco rice meat typically uses soy or sake here, but cider vinegar works just fine.)
  • 1 teaspoon light brown sugar


Directions:

Heat the oil in a medium skillet over medium heat until shimmering. Add the onion and cook until softened, about 5 minutes. Stir in the garlic, spices, and 1 teaspoon salt and cook until fragrant about thirty seconds. Stir in the beef and pork and cook, breaking it up with a wooden spoon until no longer pink, about five minutes. Stir in the tomato sauce, broth, soy/sake/vinegar, and sugar until thickened, about 10 minutes. Be sure to leave the meat a little moist, not crumbly and dry. Season with salt to taste.

The filling can be fully prepared, cooled, covered tightly, and refrigerated for up to three days. Reheat over medium-low heat, adding additional water to adjust the consistency.

—-

Make your rice (dense, Japanese rice hopefully), and cover with the taco meat. Then the toppings! The classics are fresh crisp shredded lettuce, plump juicy fresh tomatoes and yellow cheddar cheese, with some salsa or hot sauce for good measure.

Personally, I scatter shredded lettuce, diced fresh tomatoes, avocado, pickled jalapenos and spoon salsa fresh or jarred over top, along with a thick yogurt or sour cream. Sprinkle with grated cheese…and you are done. It is seriously one of the most satisfying dishes you might have.

Some variations on the theme might include rolling the meat up in maki sushi rolls or using it as a nacho topping. God, is it good.

{originally published on my other blog, Eating Okinawa}

Food: Asia and Food: Home Cookin' and japan26 Sep 2011 09:41 am

I know I have been neglecting this blog a little bit this month, but that is because I am working so hard on Eating Okinawa. But finally, a post I feel fits over here on Crazy White Girl with a Kitchen! This entry is all about a strange little fruit with a lot of bite: shikwasa. It was probably my favorite blog entry to conceive, photograph and research from this year.

Recently at the supermarket I have noticed shikwasas available in large amounts, for a very low price (compared to lemons and limes). However, I was confounded; how are they used in such large amounts? They are so small and hard to handle I could not imagine juicing any more than five at a time. Additionally they can be so sour, would I even want juice anyhow?

First however – what ARE they? シークヮーサー are very small citrus fruits, about the size of a key lime, 4-5 centimeters in diameter. Their thin rind is green, they are packed with seeds and very very tart, but with an orangey flavour instead of lemon or lime. They originally came to Okinawa from the nearby country of Taiwan. They are said to be high in vitamin C and in nobiletin, which is thought to help control blood glucose levels and thereby keep blood pressure low.

When I cut into them and smell the citrus scent I am almost immediately transported to the streets of Bangkok. You know – where they juice those green oranges at little carts for the sweet nam som or orange juice sold in bottles for a pittance. Smelling shikwasa early in the day makes my mornings a little easier to swallow when I get to think about Bangkok.

I went about making an effort in thinking up seven different ways to use shikwasa. Some ranged from exceedingly simple to somewhat complicated. Most are just reimaginations of other recipes, so nothing too out there. Just enough to get you thinking about using this special Okinawan ingredient in different ways.

I made five out of these seven recipes, and hope to try the remaining two soon.

1: Shikwasa mint syrup for fruit salad

When a food blogging friend of mine from back home Tweeted one morning he was making fruit salad, it got me thinking about a lime based dressing I used to make for my fruit salad. However, limes and lemons can be really expensive here, so I looked to the shikwasas as an alternative, and made my favorite citrus based syrup for the fruit salad.

  • 1/4 cup of sugar
  • 1/2 cup of water
  • 2 tablespoons of shikwasa juice
  • 1-2 tablespoons fresh mint

Combine sugar and water in a small pot, bringing it to a boil on the stove. Turn off once sugar has dissolved. In a small bowl combine shikwasa and mint, pouring sugar mixture over mint and citrus juice mix. Makes approximately 10 tablespoons of “dressing.” Pour by the tablespoon over freshly cut fruit to taste.

This makes enough syrup to keep in the fridge for a few batches of fruit salad.

 

2: Shikwasa water

I really do not like drinking water. But living in Okinawa, you have to due to the heat. I have some packets of Crystal Light to help me get the water down in the amounts I need, but the artificial sweetener can give me a headache. So in the morning I squeezed one of the leftover shikwasas from making the fruit salad dressing into my water and it made it refreshing and crisp and easier to get down. Shikwasa juice is said to help control blood sugar and is credited with keeping aged Okinawans healthy.

3: Grilled salmon with maple-shikwasa glaze

  • 2 tablespoons fresh shikwasa juice
  • 2 tablespoons maple syrup
  • 1 tablespoon cider vinegar
  • 1 tablespoon canola oil
  • salmon fillets
  • salt and pepper to taste

Combine the ingredients in a small bowl. Brush over salmon and grill.

Since we got our little patio grill, The Stache has been a gem and grills at least once a week. I cannot wait to try this glaze out on some of the delicious salmon available at the local farmer’s market.

4: Shikwasa ceviche

Citrus and fish just go together, and shikwasa works wonders in a ceviche.

  • 1 lb of whitefish – we used a mix of tai (red snapper) and hamachi or yellowtail. It was already sliced thinly as it was sashimi.
  • Juice of 6 shikwasas
  • Juice of 1 lemon
  • 1 hot pepper, chopped finely (I used the Korean kochu pepper since that is all my supermarket routinely carries)
  • half of an onion, thinly sliced
  • 2 tablespoons chopped cilantro/coriander
  • salt and pepper to taste
  • pinch of cayenne pepper

Place fish in a non metal platter with a slight lip. Place onions on the fish. Add remaining ingredients, and cover with the juices. Allow to sit in refrigerator atleast 30 minutes, up to 4 if you can.

I served it with a black bean salad for additional South American flavor. (recipe here, via Fine Cooking)

5: Shikwasa Watermelon mint daquiri

This recipe was born after my fridge froze a very expensive slice of watermelon.

  • 4 cups peeled, seeded and cubed watermelon (about 1/6 of a watermelon)
  • 1/2 cup rum (I used dark, most people use light)
  • 1/4 cup shikwasa juice
  • 2 tablespoons sugar syrup (You can also use 1/4 cup triple sec)
  • two ice cubes
  • 2 tablespoons mint

Blend ingredients together. Serve immediately. Makes 5 cups.

 

6: Shikwasa blueberry muffins

I have yet to make this but I think it would be good. I baked a lot back home but in Japan I find my tiny oven a real inconvenience and prefer not to waste time and money experimenting with temperatures and baking times.

  • 2 cups all-purpose flour
  • 1/2 cup sugar
  • 1 tablespoon baking powder
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 1 egg
  • 3/4 cup milk
  • 1/3 cup vegetable oil
  • 2 tablespoons shikwasa juice (about 2 shikwasas)
  • 1/2 cup frozen blueberries, tossed in 2 tablespoons flour

In a large bowl combine the flour, sugar, baking powder and salt. In a small bowl beat the egg, milk and oil. Pour into the dry ingredients and stir just until moistened. Fold in the blueberries and shikwasa juice. Fill greased or paper-lined muffin cups three-fourths full and bake at 400 for 18-20 minutes. This makes one dozen muffins. You could also turn it in mini loaves.

 

7: Shikwasa pie parfait / Shikwasa curd

This is the most time intensive recipe for using shikwasas, but I thought it was the best use.

  • 1/2 – 3/4 cups orange juice from approximately 20 shikwasas
  • 1 tablespoon lemon juice
  • 1 large egg
  • 2 large yolks
  • 1/4 cup granulated sugar
  • 4 tablespoons unsalted butter, cut into chunks and softened
  • pinch of salt

Pour the shikwasa juice into a small sauce pan over medium-high heat. Bring the juice to a rapid simmer and let it reduce down to approximately 1/4 cup. This should take 2-4 minutes.

Transfer the juice to a measuring cup to cool. Stir in the lemon juice.

In a separate bowl, whisk together the egg, yolks, and sugar. When the juice has cooled to room temperature, whisk it into the egg mixture in a steady stream.

Pour the egg and juice mixture back into your small sauce pan and set it over medium heat. Stir slowly but constantly until the mixture has thickened to a pudding-like consistency – about 6-8 minutes.

Pour the mixture into a clean bowl. Stir in the butter and the pinch of salt while the curd is still warm. Store the curd in a clean jar with a lid. It will keep refrigerated for about a week.

I served this curd over pancakes, and layered with freshly whipped cream and graham cracker crumbs as a sort of “pie.” It would be great on toast, in tart cups…all sorts of situations.

 

In closing, shikwasas are wonderful. They have a load of seeds so straining is almost necessary, but the juice to size pay off is pretty good. Try using a shikwasa instead of a lime or lemon in your favorite recipe – you might be pleasantly surprised.

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

 

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