Japan day 11: food bucket list

Yesterday I talked about a food bucket list and a reader asked what else there is on my list. The list didn’t exist (yet) on black and white, only in my head. So here is my food bucket list for Japan.

To eat:

– good sushi, tuna sashimi, salmon sashimi [✓ ate today]

– desserts from Dominique Ansel Bakery Japan

– tempura, fried stuff

– yakitori, meat on a stick [✓ ate today]

– chicken wings from Yamachan

– natto on rice, fermented soy beans

Already ate:

– Kobe beef

– onigiri from 7eleven

– flan from 7eleven

– curry bang

– ramen

– okonomiyaki

– takoyaki

– meat over rice, beef don

– udon

– shabu shabu, hotpot

– Coco curry

– Kura Sushi, win a toy

– ekiban, lunch box in the train

Good sushi

Today we finally ate sushi. It was at a small store near Nijo castle. When we arrived no one was there yet. So I have been able to film some sushi action. I will make a video about the restaurant, because the experiences were so pleasant.

Inside there were three old chefs. One chef could speak some English, so he took our order. Luckily the menu had photos. We picked a sushi set with tempura and one with a mini hot pot. Two chefs skillfully started making the sushi in front of us. And in the back the third chef was preparing the hot stuff.

The sushi was just perfect. Soft tuna with fluffy, light flavoured rice. Every sushi piece had the perfect mouthfeel and taste. There was a small bowl of rice with egg pancake slices, fish eggs, unagi and fish meat. The taste was so well balanced. Every bite was perfectly flavoured. The hot pot soup was also very good, sweet and salty. This has been one of my favorite food experience here in Japan. One chef also advised us how to eat the sushi, which sushi not to dip in the soysauce and how to eat the hotpot. Very nice of him to teach us some food culture.

Yakitori, meat on a stick

For dinner we had stick food. It was not that mind blowing. Just okay sticks. The chicken+leek was the best. I think we need to go to a better place to eat yakitori. So my food bucket list for Japan is almost done. Still 4 things I want to try.

Tomorrow: back to Tokyo. More ekiban on the train!

Japan Kyoto day 9: cultural differences Japan vs Netherlands

I feel that the photo stories are getting boring, so today I will talk about some interesting things I have noticed. Some cultural differences compared to the Netherlands.

Cultural differences

Stay left. In Japan they drive on the left side. Walking on the street is also on the left. Standing still on the escalator is also on the left. Walk on the right. In Osaka they do it the other way around. In the train and subway stations you will see arrows on the ground for guidance.

Run for the traffic light. People often run towards the traffic light when they see it is green or when they know it will be green soon. I have never seen this in NL. Only when the green light starts to blink, I will walk a bit faster.

Food lines. Often you see lines in front of restaurants, but I noticed, it doesn’t mean it is totally full inside. I think they do this so they can give you full attention inside. When we went to the 550 year soba restaurant with the line, there were quite some tables free inside.

Mind your own business. People in the train really keep their eyes to themselves. They won’t stare at Western people, unlike in China. Also people walk very considerate. They notice you from afar and will walk a bit the side. Europe and China experiences are more like *bump bump*.

Less bowing. 8 years ago they bowed more. These days no one has bowed for us. Interesting… But I like this much better. A lot of bowing made me feel uncomfortable.

Toilets. The toilets here are the best advanced inventions. A comfortable heated seat, water sprays for you bottom area, music for hiding pooping sound. Every station has very pretty and clean toilets: nice interior, better lighting than the station part and even a make-up area. I wonder when Japanese people go to Europe and try those cold seated toilets. Do they think: “Wow, what an ancient toilet.. but man! Do they have thick and soft toilet paper!” I wonder…

Also the showers are so comfortable. In our hotel we have a whole little room for scrubbing you body first in front of a mirror and a bath tub next to it. You can make the whole room wet, because every corner is water proof. And there is a very good exhaust system to get rid of the water.

Photos of the day

We went to the bamboo forrest. Was okay to see, there were a lot tourists of course. When I played Okami (PlayStation game) the bamboo forrest was more magnificent.

Shrine at a shopping area.

Ramen at Ippudo Nishikikouji. This was my favourite bowl till now. Chicken like broth, but is was pork, not too strong flavour. Medium thin noodles, firm bite. Fatty pork. Nice spice kick. Haaaa… I just love ramen <3

Tomorrow Kobe! To eat Kobe beef 😋 nomnomnom…

Japan Kyoto day 8: Kiyumizu-Dera temple

On a lovely autumn day we went to the Kiyumizu-dera temple. The journey was long and a lot of streets were battled. Finally we were there, but the building was under construction. But fear not, the view of red, yellow and orange trees made it all up. And the inside interior of the temple was still nice to behold. The end.

More stories

Below are some fried potato croquettes. I tried the Kobe beef version and it was sweet and savoury.

A cute raccoon, at least, I think it’s a raccoon…

For dinner we had CoCo Curry, a franchise which specialises in curry. It had a light curry taste, but it tatses really good. I had 3/10 spice level, which has a good kick.

Arcade games

Lazy Bear won a Tako from the grabber machine! After two tries! Woohoo! We also played some games at the namco arcade. There are so many arcades here with shooting games, rhythm games, grabber games, coin games, photo boots etc.

Another The End.

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?