Sunday, June 9, 2019

Japan - Kuromon Ichiba Market and Foodie Day

Day 8 - 19 January 2019

Breakfast at Kuromon Ichiba Market

This is a definite must go place when in Osaka! It is a such a wonderful market with so much fresh seafood and delicious food.

As the Chinese always believe, never start with cold or raw food on an empty stomach. Therefore, we started our breakfast with piping hot beef (4129 Yen)! The meat is so juicy, tender and well-flavoured. It will definitely go very well with some warm Japanese rice. The higher quality beef actually does not have much of the beefy taste and is much more acceptable for my palate.

Our next choice of food was an absolute bad decision - Grilled scallop on stick (750 Yen). The 3 scallops on stick are neither hot nor cold and seems to be partially cooked kind. Maybe it is supposed to be like that but this is not for us.

We followed up with another butter grilled scallop (1000 Yen) and that is heavenly! The fresh scallop is washed and cut into pieces before being cooked over the grill on its own shell. It absorbed the sauce and butter in the process and the final product is way more flavourful than the one on the stick.

In the same shop, we ordered the expensive sea urchin (3000 Yen) too. You have to pick the type you want and they will open it up and wash it properly before serving. They top up a bit more in addition to the one unit bought.

The sea urchin just looks so fresh, orangy and moist. I don't know how to describe the taste of sea urchin because you either like it or you don't. It is creamy and sea-like, similar to the taste of the juice of the prawn head. A packet of crispy seaweed was given on the plate, and the combination is just wow.

Then, we refresh our taste buds with some really awesome sweet melon (1410 Yen)! I insisted on having the fruit as a whole by itself, rather than having the melon juice in which the fruit is already sliced into thin pieces. You know that crunch as you bite into the fruit, and then that sweetness of the juice bursting out? We also tried the milk ice cream (350 Yen) by itself after that. It is just so amazing and rich.

And then I had my best-est oyster tasted ever! I never liked raw oyster especially after having a stomach upset from my very first oyster experience. I reckoned my stomach was weaker when I was younger and a little trigger can cause big reactions. And then last year, I tried it again and it all seems quite nice. I was even craving for it and I have no idea why because I don't actually like it.

Now I know what it feels like! The 1000 yen raw oyster is so damn worth it. Although it is rather salty due to the saltwater, you can really taste the freshness of the sea. Coupled with their citrusy sauce, that slurp down cannot be described with words. My only regret is not having another one.

Our next indulgence was the snow crab and the big prawn (7000 Yen). After making our selection, they will grill it for you while you sit at the table. Unfortunately, I think steaming may be a better method of cooking. The crab and prawn served were lacking of its natural moisture. Only the crab pincer is slightly better with some juice within. The amount spent here was totally not worth it.

And then we came across an alcohol shop and bought a cute little pink sakura sake (756 Yen). The round bottle with a whole sakura flower within it is definitely what attracted me to this particular one. The drink is sweet and smooth, and just lightly warms me up in the cold. We tried a strawberry mochi with chocolate filling and it was a good way to end our foodie adventure at the market.

There are several snack shops and drug stores too. I bought my beauty pack from one of the stores and got tax rebates. For snacks wise, the corn snacks featuring a character that looks like doraemon is something you should try.

Be considerate and mindful of your cameras here. Some of them have clear signs put up that they do not allow photography or only allow just food photography. I guess it's understandable for such a touristy place.

Lunch at Tsurutontan Soemoncho

The husband squeezed this place in for lunch as it is recommended by NOC. It was still packed with people waiting for their seats at around 2pm but we did not wait that long to get a seat on  the second level. Here, we have to remove our shoes and store them in the locker with wooden keys.

I felt like having something cold and light since we had quite a bit at the market. Therefore, I opted for the chilled whitebait & grated radish sudachi udon. I just googled that sudachi is actually the fruit similar to lime. Its critusy taste really makes the dish appetizing. In addition, the chilled udon taste so chewy and firm.

On the other hand, the husband chose the hot one with grated radish too and lots of vegetable. The yuzu taste in the soup is quite strong and this combination is a unique one. We tried the sweet shrimp but have no idea what the red thing is on top. It is super salty and weird. Thankfully, we have our sweet mung bean mochi dessert to cover up the taste.

My absolute favourite will be the salmon sushi. The raw salmon is the most similar to the best one we had in Hokkaido. It goes so well with the fish roe and the slight spice.

This place is recommended for people who like a different style & taste. (Total: 4190 Yen)

Dinner at Nikugekijou

With all our barang barang of snacks and facial products, we went back to the hotel before coming out for dinner. We have been passing by a long queue which never fails to appear before the shop even opens. It is a yakiniku restaurant that is similar to Yoshinoya.  But why the hype and long queue, we thought. 

And so because of our curiosity, we queued for almost 2.5 hours. I even went walking around and back to the hotel to put our Don Quixote stuff and the queue continues. The restaurant is small and only seats around 15 pax at one time. We even spot people taking away but still waiting around 30 minutes.

When we finally stepped into the store, we ordered via the vending machine and had to further wait a while more for the food to be served. We chose a mild sauce and spicy sauce respectively for the rice. You can also choose your rice bowl as a set, with a drink and an upgraded soup.

I would say that the assorted meats are really flavourful and tender. The taste is way better than fast food standard. Both the sauces compliments the warm rice so much. The upgraded beef soup is also rich and comforting. We were so hungry we gobbled down our food with satisfaction (Total: 2580 Yen).

However, if you ask me if I would queue again. I would probably come earlier or eat somewhere else. Other fast food chains are of pretty good quality too. Waiting in the queue out in the cold feeling hungry is no fun at all.

And because it was our last night in Osaka, I wanted to have my Creo-ru takoyaki and okonomiyaki again (The one I ranked first for takoyaki). Unfortunately, it was late and their hotplate seating area is closed. We sat upstairs at the normal tables and the food does not taste as good anymore (Total: 2883 Yen). 
So full for the night!

Sunday, May 26, 2019

Japan - Kyoto, Fushimi Inari Shrine & Arashiyama

Day 7 - 18 January 2019

Breakfast at Kinryu Ramen

Yes again! I was so in love with this ramen I wanted to have it again. Starting the day with this hot peppery bowl of wanton-mee like ramen is such a comfort to the stomach. 

It's weird though because it did not seem as great as the first time we tasted it. But for me it was still delicious. For my husband though, his ramen which comes with more char siew had an entirely different taste as the marinate of the meat which is mixed with the soup seemed too strong the second time.

Before our noodle breakfast, we stopped by a grilled crab store which seems to open in the day only. For 900 yen, the crab meat is not worth it as there is not much flesh. Grilling may have taken away some natural moisture too.

One day trip to Kyoto - Fushimi Inari Shrine

Similar to our Kobe trip, we went to Osaka Station and took the train to Kyoto station. From Kyoto station, we changed to the Nara line for Inari Station. Only the local trains stop at this station. It is a popular station since most tourists are here to visit the Fushimi Inari Shrine.

Washing our hands and mouth to purify ourselves before going to the main shrine is a must. We did the same at Meiji Shrine on our last trip as well. The water is so cold on our hands! The selfie stick started to be frozen here and cannot work very well.

There are people wearing the traditional kimono and we also spot a couple taking their pre-wedding shoot. 

We walked through the numerous number of orange gates with many other visitors. It was hard to find a perfect moment to capture a nice shot with the beautiful vibrant colored gates. There will always be incoming crowds of people walking to and fro. As you continue walking further, there there will be more gates and the crowd will lessen. Eventually, we decided to walk down instead of heading all the way up since we had to go to another location.

My skin condition was starting to be slightly flaky from the dry weather.  We met so many Koreans in Namba area and their face make-up always look so moisturised. Maybe liquid foundation will help for winter weather. 

We came down to a food street and I was excited! First, we had this bigger and flatter form of dango. I do not know what it is called but it is was grilled and the skin has that slightly burned texture. Not too bad, Japanese herb flavour chewy mochi dipped with soy sauce. Then, there was a chicken grill store, which gives off a super nice aroma. Unfortunately, it looks better than it taste and the chicken was not that hot. Without the sauce, the chicken will probably be a bit bland.

Then, we passed by the steak store with a savory aroma too. Many people were eating it and 500 yen seems like a deal. Again though, this is not yummy at all. Quite tough and hard to bite. Later, we also had a 500 yen crabstick, which is nice with mayonnaise and chilli power. It was selling at S$11 during the Japanese fair in Singapore! Don't know why it is so expensive when it taste like mock crab.

Right after all the snacks, we entered a restaurant to have their Inari Udon set. I did not really fancy the udon and its soft texture. The tofu skin is so different though. It is double the sweetness of the Inari sushi I have eaten.

To Arashiyama Bamboo Groove

The sun was going to set soon! We headed to Saga-Arashiyama station via the Sagano Line. We had some decent photos before it started to turn dark. At that time, there were not many people and it was quite a relaxing walk.

And it was the first time I experienced walking across the railway track. When the train was approaching, the barrier would be down to prevent any crossing. Once it was safe, the barrier would go up again. Before this, I have only seen this scene in movies and anime haha.

As we walked back to the station, we came across a sakura soft serve. It is so creamy and refreshing in the cold night.

For our dinner, we decided to alight at Kyoto station and try a Kyoto Ramen. There are several ramen stores at level 10, and we chose the one that is nearest to the lift as it is a Kyoto style ramen.

Unfortunately, I did not like it one bit. The charsiew is indeed quite soft, but the soup base was not something I enjoy. There are bits and pieces of pork fat within.

Takoyaki Fanatic

Back at Namba, we went to find another brand of takoyaki which is said to be the originator of takoyaki. We ordered the set with different flavours. The size of the balls is smaller and they do not come in any sauce at all. Original taste works for me too.

There is one with some beef within and I find that a unique taste. Other than that, the takoyaki is the softest and most deflated among all, and lack any savory taste. So just like that, this ranked the last.

Since the satisfaction was not achieved, I queued for another takoyaki in central Dotonburi. Juhachiban Sons-Dohtonburi takoyaki looks quite different as they added some additional crumbs, which made the surface look like crabstick filled. While there is no significant difference in taste with the extra ingredient, this takoyaki is quite good and crispy. The mild hint of red ginger within the gooey flour is something I think made the snack more appetizing.

Still, my desire to try more takoyaki kicked in. We went to the opposite store for Kukuru Takoyaki. The service was not too good. I was not sure if the person even heard my order since there was no acknowledgement (To be fair, the staff were not local Japanese). We ordered a Konamon Set which includes takoyaki and yakisoba. The yakisoba was not served piping hot and it can be a bit overwhelming with the sauce.The takoyaki is pretty good in the overall taste and worth the space in my stomach.