Japan Kyoto day 6: First time…

Today I experienced for the first time…

..eating curry bang (bread)

It’s savoury, taste like curry and has a gentle crust. It’s nice, but I am not a big curry fan, so I wouldn’t buy again.

…eating onigiri

The rice is lightly flavoured. Nice salty salmon meat in the middle. The Dutch onigiri is more sour and salty compared to the Japanese ones.

..standing in line for food

I marked Honke Owariya as good food place on Google maps, but since we didn’t have internet outside, we didn’t know WHAT kind of food it was. So we just stood in line and waited to be surprised.

It was soba and udon! They are already in business for 550 years. They also serve this to the emperial family. It was tummy warming food.

…seeing a geisha/geiko

Tourists, including us, were being like paparazzi around the geisha. But she smiled and walked slowly towards us, so we could have all the time to make a photo. (I actually only have this far away photo xD)

Tomorrow Osaka!

Japan Kyoto day 5: excellent service vs self-service

Ryokan’s excellent service

We stayed at a ryokan for one night, which is a Japanese style hotel with hotsprings and a fancy dinner and breakfast. It’s called Kaiseki, Japanese haute cuisine. A lot of small bites, but when combined it is a big meal. Today at breakfast we also had a lot of small bites. Some interesting textures and ingredients: jelly, crunchy transparent seeweed and squishy tofu.

The service at this ryokan is excellent. From the first email to the last goodbye. We were picked up from the JR station and were given a tea and snack while someone came to check us in. At dinner you get your own waiter who will serve you the whole evening. Our bottle of plum wine was even brought to our room with ice, after we couldn’t finish it at dinner. This costs extra service money ofcourse.

At the end of our stay, we had to get money from an ATM. The staff even drove us to a nearby 7eleven for the ATM. Excelent service.

Self-service

Japan is very good in providing thoughtful service, but is also very good in automation and self-service. So if you don’t like to interact with people, Japan is the place for you!

Some examples of self service:

Vending machines for ordering food. You pick your ticket at the machine, give this to the waiter and your food comes. We experienced this at a halal chicken broth ramen shop called Ayam-Ya. (Scores 4+ stars on Google maps.) Delicious creamy broth with soft chicken. The noodles here were so smooth and chewy.

Self-service hotel

Our new hotel in Kyoto doesn’t have any person at the service desk. You just receive an email with an entrance code and you check yourself in on a tablet. Then you will receive a pincode for your hotel room. No person involved. Even room cleaning is only done once in 3 nights. If you want clean towels, you place them in a box which can be opened from the outside your room. So they don’t need to come in.

Conveyor belt sushi

Our dinner tonight was also self-service. We ate at Kura Sushi, which has a sushi belt with tablet ordering system. You get a ticket for a table or at the counter, wait till you get called and you get a seat number. At the table you have a hot water tap, green tea powder and all the tools. And you can start ordering.

The fun part of Kura Sushi is that you can put your empty plates in a slot machine. With 5 plates you can play a game. A video will play and you can win or lose. If you win, you get a ball with a toy. We already won after 10 plates. In the end we ate 22 plates + extra things which costs 3000 yen, which is about 25 euro. For two persons this is quite a good deal. This simple franchise sushi already beats all the sushi in the Netherlands. Fresher, tastier, better rice, less salty soy sauce. I am betting we will eat there again one of these days..

Oh right, today we also went to the Fushimi-Inari-Taisha Shrine and saw a lot of orange shrine gates. Very cool to see.

Japan day 4: train life Kyoto

Toilet in the train

Even the toilets in the train are high tech. There are two sensors, one for putting the seat up and one for flushing. The seat is heated, so your butt is comfortable while you are doing your business. There is even a security button for if you need assistance. Just wow.. the thoughfullness.

More about thoughfullness, all the seats in the train can be turned 180 degrees. So all the people can sit in the direction of the train driving.

Small size

My height is just like the Japanese people, 1.66m. Lazy Bear’s height is like a typical Dutch, 1.84m. All the chairs, stairs and buildings are a little bit smaller. The chairs are actually perfect for me, but I am not used to it. I am already adapted to the tall stuff in the Netherlands. I jump a bit higher on the stairs and dangle my feet on the toilet. But in Japan the height of the stairs is a bit lower, toilets are perfect.

Ryokan

A fancy dinner today at a ryokan. The food are small items and very delicate looking. The taste is light and you can taste the ingredients well. There were a few bites which had ingredients I have never eaten or were slighty familiar. They use a lot of seasonal ingredients, for autumn it is mushrooms.

Mushroom was also used a lot in our ekiban (train lunch box).

A lot of small bites today, but not much was mindblowing. Is my mouth too spoiled with good food?

Japan day 3: entertainment in Odaiba

Today we explored the Odaiba area, which has a lot of malls and entertainment stuff. We saw a baby seal who has been petted alot. He is not that fluffy anymore. We also saw the big gundam and a small statue of liberty.

In one of the malls they had an interactive arcade themepark called “Joypolis”. They have a rollercoaster with a rhythm game, a hologram concert of an anime figure, racing in moving car and much more. In the photo you see extreme skateboarding. They are strapped in a safety thing and can rotate while gliding.

Food

For lunch we had tonkotsu ramen. The broth is made from pork bones. It was creamy and full of taste. The noodles however, were not that good. Not freshly made, it was still a bit raw.

Dinner was tonkatsu, deep fried pork with shredded cabbage. The meat was very soft, but the batter layer was a bit too oily for me. The first day we had a deep fried shrimps which had a very light batter, which was much tastier.

Toilet time

I am surprised by the all the manuals in the toilet. Every item has an explanation sign. You won’t get lost here. In our hotel we also have a bidet. It’s quite nice to clean your butt with the spray. You can choose the spray hardness and let it sway.

I have to say, it’s very clean in Japan; the things, the buildings and the people are very neat. There are no strange smells on the street. Usually a city has this city smell, but here I am sniffing very hard and not much to discover.

Odaiba area is a very nice spot for shopping, arcade halls, eating (okay food) and enjoying nice views. Today it was not that crowded. So visit on weekdays to avoid crowds.

Tomorrow we will be travelling to Kyoto.

Japan day 1-2: Ochanomizu and Akihabara

The first day was on a plane and the second day started early in Japan. Some hightlights of the two first days.

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1. We got Movenpick ice cream on the plane. Always nice to have an ice cream snack middle in the night (/flight).

2. I have to say, they really are thoughtfull here in Japan. For example, at the airport station they show you which train to take and how it looks like in photos.

3. The weather is lovely here. 10-15 degrees with sun and a breeze. Autumn colors are showing.

4. In our short walk around the area we already saw two temples. This is the exit of a black one.

5/6. Since it’s hard to read Japanese, we are happy that there are photos on the menu. And guess what we have ordered. Coco Curry with soba noodles and tempura don with soba noodles The dish came out after 3 minutes. A fast meal, but very satisfying.

7. We went to Akihabara, anime/game/arcade heaven. So much anime figurines and games. There were two pro players playing an arcade piano game, similar to guitar hero, but way faster.

8. There are a lot of beautiful buildings/houses here. This one looks like it came from a Ghibli movie.

9. A friend of ours who lives in Tokyo took us out for dinner. We ate shabu shabu (hotpot) at 温野菜. Our soup base was half sweet soy broth and the other half was 12 herbs broth. Both tastes so good! Meat quality was also very high. The portions are quite small, but it’s all-u-can-eat, so you can order a lot. A good food start of the food holiday.

First day conclusion: although I was mostly in zombie mode, it was really nice to experience all these Japan feelings again. I have been to Japan before in 2009.

I learned that if you want attention from the waiter, “sumimasen” is a very powerful word. They react instantly to that. English words and waving, not so much. Also “sumimasen” can be used as “thank you”. You are then saying “excuse me” for bothering you. “Arigatou gozaimasu” (thank you very much) can be a bit long to say.

Tomorrow: Odaiba.

Japan travel diary 2017 ~ start

Tomorrow we are finally going to Japan! I have waited a year for this. I have watched million Youtube videos about Japan, to see what kind food to eat and what kind of fun things to do.

Finally.. I will be experiencing it myself!
I will try to post something everyday, so be prepared for an overload of blog posts, kawaii stuff and food.

Look, I am this happy:

Follow me on Instagram for drawings and random photos of the trip: instagram.com/lazypigpassion.

Umami

I am very curious about all the good food. Will every meal be a mind blown experience? What is this umami I often hear about? Well I asked Google and it’s like a rounded, rich and savory taste. Ingredients which have been cooked or cured for a long time get this umami. I think it’s when the Chinese describe food as 香 (xiang1)… In the future I will research umami more, because it makes food taste so good!
For now, have a lovely Friday and talk to you in the next post.

Meram ~ Turkish cuisine in Rotterdam

Yesterday a friend of mine introduced me to Turkish cuisine. We went to Meram in Rotterdam West, a franchise which has a lot of restaurants in Amsterdam and Rotterdam. When we arrived, there were mainly Turkish people there, so then the food must be good! But also, duh, my friend is Turkish, so he know it is good.

The food

My expectations of the food was actually like the lamb skewers of my father, strong in taste and a lot of herb taste. But the food was more subtle compared to that. The quality though was really high, you can taste the lamb flavor really well. I loved it. They served a Turkish bread with sauces as starter. That bread was a lovely experience for my mouth. It was more dense than Turkish bread from the Turkish bakery and it also had this crispy oven flavor.
I actually enjoyed the food so much that I forgot to take pictures of everything. Here is a small collection of the food that didn’t miss my camera.

Manti

Little lamb meat dumplings. A small bite, with yogurt and tomato sauce

Konya Usulü Etli Ekmek

Minced meat on dough, baked in a stone oven (I think)

Beyti Sarma

Lamb kebab (i think it was lamb) rolled in a pancake, topped with sour tomato sauce and yogurt

Lamb pieces stir fried with pepper, tomato and onion. Fragrant rice in the middle

Menu

Also their menu, interior and business card is designed all so well. Props to the designer! Their menu photos are just so beautiful, I can learn a lot from them.

meram menu

You can find their menu online

Coffee

I ended with a Turkish coffee which smelled as rich coffee, cozy and warm. The smell reminded me of a room with a lot of soft carpet on the floor and the walls, dark red color and old men sitting there enjoying coffee. Maybe a bit racist, I apologize.

Turkish coffee

Hot, warm coffee. Not as strong/bitter as I thought. Sweet and fragrant

The taste of the coffee was not as bitter as normal coffee, I actually liked it. They had put in medium sugar in it, but it tasted very sweet. When you are done drinking the coffee there is leftover residue of the coffee grind, which is very thick. You can use that to predict your future, by putting the cup upside down, letting it cool and analyse the shapes in the cup. Just like tea leaf reading.

Verdict

I really enjoyed the food there. I will be going back to try out other dishes. They know their meat, so I can’t wait to try out meat dishes. Also, I saw they have a Meram Burger restaurant chain. More meat!
Thank you Lazy Friend for introducing me to a new cuisine. It’s awesome to learn from other cultures through good food.

Visit them!

Meram (Rotterdam West)
Mathenesserplein 91, 3023 LA Rotterdam
+31 (0)10-478 06 43
meram.nl/rotterdam-west  Check out their website for more locations

Mon-Thu    12:00-0:00
Fri-Sat        12:00-01:00
Sun             10:00-0:00