In my trip this year, I went to Kobe for Kobe beef again, but at a different restaurant. I think the restaurants in Kobe tend to serve Kobe beef teppenyaki style (the restaurant I ate 2 years ago in Kobe also served it Teppenyaki style) while the one in Tokyo that I went last year served it steak style. Both are delicious with the difference being that you get to see it being cooked in front of you if it is Teppenyaki-style and it tends to be cut into small cubes. Kobe beef in Kobe are actually cheap, they have courses starting from 3,000 yen in most restaurants although the cuts are not the ones with nicest marbling but if you are on a budget and still want to try Kobe beef, you can try that course.
This time, I went to Kobe Plaisir, located at the first floor of the B' Hotel Kobe. They have an English website and they serve Kobe beef in different style (steamed, shabu shabu, teppenyaki). I chose teppenyaki style of course.
This is the menu.
We ordered Course B Kobe Beef Sirloin. As mentioned earlier, 3,000 yen course tend to be rump meat etc (less fats, not as beautiful marbling). I will recommend going for sirloin or fillet.
This is my appetizer (I chose vinegar cos it is good for the skin). The appetizer was good.
Pumpkin soup (I love pumpkin so i was very happy when they served this)
Kobe beef + veggie (sirloin steak. this is the portion for 2 btw)
Fried rice (you can choose normal & fried rice but I chose fried rice cos I love fried rice + they actually use kobe beef chips in your fried rice)
I ordered the sparkling drink. The green juice is for you to wash your palate (very healthy btw).
After your meal, you will be brought to another area for dessert. The yogurt mousse is so good omg. I wish they sell take-away for that (+ the vinegar drink).
The bill. the additional 850 yen was for drink that we ordered. if you didn't order drink then it will be just your meal + tax.
I highly recommend this shop for people who want to try Kobe Beef. The portion might seem little (100g) but the beef is really good and the other side dishes are good as well. Very satisfying meal.
Reservations are highly recommended. I made my reservation 2 weeks earlier and some slots were already fully booked. Click here for reservations. They will send you an email after you submit the reservation form on their web. Just reply to confirm & they will send another email nearer to the date of reservation. Similarly, just reply to confirm.
When I went to Hokkaido in July, it was the Lavender season and so I was really looking forward to going to the Lavender farm. We wanted to visit Aoi Ike - Blue pond in Biei as well and it is such a hassle to transfer from train to bus and back to train again when we want to visit the Lavender farm. As we were staying in Sapporo (too lazy to move our luggage & change hotel), I initially had all the train routes planned out (took me so long to do so) & it was so troublesome and far my goodness. Hokkaido is like, seriously big and I would like to have a month or more to slowly and fully explore the areas.
That was when I found out about the one day bus tour offered by Hokkaido Chuo Bus. WHY DIDN'T I FIND OUT ABOUT THIS BEFORE I PLANNED MY TRAIN TRIP T^T. Anyway, I decided to take this trip because it is still cheaper than getting train tickets and less troublesome (no need to change trains, bus etc). This website offers quite a variety of bus tours in Hokkaido, so you guys can check it out if you are interested. The tour that I took is not available now anymore (probably cos lavender season has ended).
Point of boarding was at Sapporo Station Bus Terminal located at Esta Building Level 2 where you can get your tickets from. I reserved my tickets online beforehand and many did as well, so if you are interested in a course it will be best to secure a seat by reserving online and then pay & get your tickets at the counter on the day itself. They will send you a confirmation email and a map telling you where you can collect the tickets. There will be many people queuing to collect their tickets and there are many bus groups so please reach earlier (30 mins earlier or more) to pay & collect your tickets.
My tour cost 7,200 yen per pax and the itinerary was something like this (I Know I don't take the best photographs but you guys can always google the pics ok~):
Sapporo Station Bus Terminal (boarding) - Rest Area (toilets, food etc) - Somewhere we can take photos (Sorry I don't rmb the place; but there's white corn and food here too) -
Blue Pond , we were very blessed because if it rained any day from 3 days before, then the pond will be green in color (it was green when my friends went).
Goto Sumio Museum , ok we had our lunch here (included in the tour) and it was so good omg. The pork was so tender and the melon was so sweet. Satisfying. Then we went in to see the art exhibits (also included in the tour). To be honest, this place wasn't in our visit list when we were planning our trip. It was out of the way and I have no idea how to get there unless you drive (ok, maybe a bus will stop here). It was a blessing in disguise because the art pieces were so amazing. You can see the amount of efforts put into the paintings, which could take 10 years or more to complete (we can;t take photos inside) but I got some postcards though. -
Farm Tomita (Lavender Farm) , The lavender ice cream that I wanted to try omg. This place, like all other tourist attractions were crowded. Aoi Ike was crowded but this place was even more crowded and I didn't even know if I was taking photos of the flowers or of people anymore. Somehow, I just gave up on taking photos and instead chose to enjoy the view instead. They were selling lots of lavender products, Be sure to check it out. If you can (if you are driving), you can visit earlier to beat the crowds (hopefully). -
Rest Area - Sapporo Red Brick warehouse - Sapporo Clock Tower - Sapporo Station bus Terminal.
On the way back they gave us 3 places where we could choose to alight (all near Sapporo).
Seats on the bus are assigned btw, so just find your seat number after boarding the bus and relax.
I highly recommend this tour for people who are:
1) Not driving; it is actually cheaper to join this tour and less troublesome than getting on an express train then switching to a local train then switching to bus to aoi ike then bus back to the train station then train to the farm and then train back to another station for the express train back to Sapporo.
2) With kids (Refer to point 1)
3) Lazy to plan
So, I finally went to Hokkaido this year (YAY - I’ve been saving for a year omg). I went to Japan in July 2016, wanting to catch the One Piece Premier show at USJ (Totally worth it seriously, all One Piece fans should go if you know Japanese, although I'm certain you will still enjoy it even if you don't).
As we went to Japan in July, it was freaking hot (I hate summer), I couldn't stop sweating and was suffering from mild dehydrated (starting to feel giddy, headaches etc). People, if you travel in summer, please please keep cool and remember to drink lots of water, apply sunblock, bring caps and umbrellas as well.
To escape the heat, we squeezed in a 6-7 day Hokkaido trip this time. BEST DECISION MADE. It was way cooler in Japan and the food was so damn good (good cheesecake, good milk ice cream, good ramen, good milk, good melon, good seafood).
I LOVE THEIR MARKETS SO MUCH.
Alright, I went to the Nijo market in Hokkaido cos I wanted to eat kaisen don and wanted to walk around the markets (I didn't have much time to walk around at Nijo Market cos I had to get to the airport to fly back to Osaka in like 2 hours time or smthg), but I had a greatly satisfying meal to end the Hokkaido leg of my trip.
Find out more about Nijo market here.
The shop name is Ohiso (大磯), I walked there from my hotel and it took about 20 minutes or more.
Here's the English menu.
I ordered the small Uni, Kani, Ikura and Salmon don (2,880 yen), I added a hotate for 500 yen). You can also add prawn for 500 yen.
A photo of the don with my hand for comparison. My hand is about the size of an Iphone 6, just in case you guys are wondering. The shop staff will show you plastic models of the sizes before you order, so you can order the regular bowl if you are a big-eater. As I went in summer, I did not have much appetite. more of fatigue but I still really wanted to eat the don. All I can say is, Hokkaido seafood is so fresh and as the bowl is deep, it is surprisingly filling. It might not be considered cheap especially if you are on a budget but I think an occasional splurge is fine.
Comes with miso soup. All I can say is, it definitely is worth the money. The seafood is fresh and they are generous with their seafood. The seafood that I ate in this trip are the sweetest and freshest I have ever tasted. It probably will cost like 3 times or more in Singapore and the quality wouldn't even be as good.
One last pic, cos it's so good. I can't wait to go Hokkaido again!
Find out more about Nijo market here.
The shop's website here.
Okay, Tokyo Cheap buys series #2!
I will be recommending the takeya store at Okachimachi station (one station away from Ueno station on the Yamanote line)
Takeya is actually made up of various buildings located beside each other (talk about wow shopping huh) & you can get tax rebates (for tourists too). Get more information from their website (well it definitely is a tourist attraction considering the fact that they have like the web up in English & Chinese too. Think they have Chinese speaking staff as well, not sure about English tho)
okay, takeya actually sell a wide variety of goods, ranging from women’s fashion, men’s fashion, electronics, food, home furniture, home accessories and so on (they have like 8 buildings or more)
web flyer here (only in Japanese)
& oh, they sell, marked down branded goods (gucci, coach, ferragamo at discounted prices too)
they only accept cash if I am not wrong, so do bring lots of cash if you are planning to splurge there ^^
download map here
this will be more of a place for grown ups than gyaru fashion tho (pls note!)
Okay, I am sure many people have said shopping in Tokyo is expensive (so is eating and whatever, no thanks to the exchange rate)
But, i have something to say : if you want to shop for cheap(er) things, don’t go to the tourist/ high-end areas, since the things there are definitely more expensive. Shibuya109 is definitely an expensive place for you if your budget is like 30 bucks and under for a one piece (dress).
I will introduce you some of the cheaper shops in Tokyo where you can buy things for cheap (or rather at a cheaper price compared to other areas and at a reasonable quality)
First up : Shimamura (will talk about other shops in other posts)
If you have been reading popteen / is a fan of Shiina Hikari aka Pikarin/ reading some other Japanese magazines, you would have probably heard about this shop, well while it is branded-branded (if you get what I mean), the clothes are still cute & suitable for people of all ages (they even have kids’ clothes & toys, interior goods, shoes, stationary, towels etc) and also for people in their 50s and so on, so you can go check it out, since they carry Masuwaka Tsubasa s-leg line (leggings, tights, socks etc as well)
get more information about shimamura here
& the good thing about shimamura is that they have sales items which change like every 3-5 days and they will inform customers on their website through digital flyer. for eg 22/08 -25/08
something like this (see it on the web - bigger picture)
download the map here
okay since the map is in japanese, let me tell you (shimamura is the one that have like a bubble thing popping up and it is sandwiched between Kentucky Fried Chicken KFC & sukiya and it is on the 2nd floor)
Hidemi Sugino is probably one of the famous patisseries in Tokyo. Located in Kyobashi (Walkable distance to Ginza), it opens at 11 and is said to sell out its first round of cakes by 1pm.
More info here : イデミ・スギノ
So we actually went out really early to queue, we reached about 10:30 or early? It’s at Kyobashi and so we alighted at Ginza/ Kyobashi (I can’t rmb the station we alighted at, but it is near Ginza, which is near Tsukiji, so you can probably go Tsukiji for breakfast and come here for dessert or something)
Due to popular demand, each person can only order up to 6 cakes if I am not wrong and there is like 20 over varieties to choose from. YUMS.
menu, and cameras are not allowed I think and so are phones with flash. You are not allowed to take photos of anything except yourself + your cakes. which means you can’t take photos of the display etc.
We ordered 5 cakes to share, which we regretted cos we should have ordered 6 cakes each instead ugh but we were full :’(
We chose not to order drinks and we were actually shocked to see Japanese women eating like 6 cakes each and stuffs (well their appetites are normally vvv small, guess no one can resist cakes huh)
One cake cost about 700yen which is considered pricey? But it is good and ice water is free btw.
My fav cake ^
While it does look chocolatey from the outside, rest assured that you will not get sick of it.
What we ordered. (pay after you eat) and uhm, you can choose to eat-on or take out, but some cakes are not available for take out.
Go check it out if you are in the Ginza area!
Alright, bet many people are saying that food in Japan are expensive (well they are, if you are not looking at the right places or are always dining at expensive/ posh places)
I am gonna introduce a shop, or rather, an outlet shop for desserts. yup, desserts (all the girls say yay now!) While I have not been to this shop myself, I have heard that this shop sell snacks/ desserts that are sold in any other konbini (convenience stores like 7-11, family mart, lawson, sunkus, lawson 100, circle k etc) & btw, I think desserts sold at Japan konbini taste awesome. (and they are cheaper than other patisseries, bakery etc)
Okay the shop that I am recommending is Domremy Outlet which sell dessert at a discounted price (mostly due to the damaged packaging - well you know how Japanese are with their packaging…) so while there is no difference to the taste or quality of the desserts. the slightly damaged packaging or maybe shape of the cake etc might be different or considered unsuitable to be sold in shops. so they are sold here at a discounted price (yay for us!).
The branch that I am talking about is located at Ueno (on the JR yamanote line), near shinobazu pond (1F of coco grand hotel pictured below)
well, the sweets/ desserts change periodically so you might want to go to their web and find more information about their offerings.
download the map here
(simply alight from ueno station and walk towards the direction of okachimachi station) ^^ you can use the map and ask passerby for directions as well ^^
Okay, so you guys have probably heard about Tsukiji & its sushi and tuna auction etc. So, we ate at sushi dai last time, which we actually queued 3hrs + for. This time, the queue was even longer and so we went to Daiwa sushi instead which was faster because unlike sushi dai which has lesser seats and serve sushi to you after you are done, Daiwa serves sushi all at one go and well, you just have to leave after that cos there’s way too many people queuing outside.
More info here
We waited for about 1hr+ to get into Daiwa sushi and it was worth it (btw we think it’s worth it to queue 3hrs+ for sushi dai as well)
You can look into the shop while you are queuing hehe.
& yay, we are finally in. & have to say, sushi Dai chefs are friendlier.
Set meal comes with miso soup with fish in it
The cuts are fresh and super duper thick. we are both ootoro (tuna belly) fans and the set doesn’t come with ootoro and so we ordered one ala carte ootoro each and it is so thick and heavy when we tried to lift it up with our chopsticks, the sushi topple over ^c^v
compare the size of the fish to the rice seriously.