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One of my best friends will be in Tokyo soon. I’m jealous and anxiously awaiting all the details of her adventure. I’ve been thinking about Tokyo a lot lately. Perhaps my friend’s trip prompted my pensive daydreaming about the capital’s city streets, or maybe I’m just long overdue for a vacation? Either way my daydreaming has led me to write this post – to share with my friend and with the world, my favorite places to visit in Tokyo.
I should preface, this list is in no particular order, this list is rather a mind full of musings on one of my favorite places in the world.
The department store of all department stores. My favorite locations in Tokyo are the Shinjuku and Shibuya locations. My favourite areas of the store:
– The beauty section – local makeup brands like CanMake (love their gloss).
– Bath products: Yes I do want 100 options for my bath salts.
– Stationary: Because I love stationary and someday want to write a real letter… You know like I did back in the 80’s
– The Toy Floor
My favorite location again is in Shinjuku. I love this store. I love books, but I really love Japanese Magazines. There are magazines for all sorts of things – like the best coffee houses in Tokyo… or  Nail Art. I could look at pictures of Nail Art forever.
I got my nails done here on my honeymoon and loved them. I highly recommend them. The location that I went to is in Shinjuku. Note that you should ask your hotel to make your reservation as all the nailists mainly speak Japanese. You could also use this handy reference from Universal-Doll for common phrases/ etiquette when getting your nails done in Japan. 
4. Shibuya Crossing – Getting Starbucks at the crossing and watching the world go by. Note – if you get a matcha latte in Japan… It tastes much better as they add more Matcha.
5. Shibuya 109 – I love this mall. Love it. I’ve been able to get some select items years ahead of the trends in Canada, particularly accessories. Tip – Start at the top and work your way down… I find the best stores have been near the top. On the very top floor is a makeup store and HUGE selection of circle lenses. OMG you must get some of these – they are insanely fun. Look closely and you will find a waiver you must sign (all in Japanese) but there is a cheat sheet for us non speakers. NOTE: If you have a prescription pick out 3-5 different lenses you want and bring them to the cash – prescription lenses sell out more quickly so you might not get your first choice but if you’ll brought a few backups you like they should be able to find you your second or third choice.  Shibuya 109 is also a mecca for eyelashes at the same store… the sheer selection is daunting.
6. Japanese baked goods. Especially ones with adzuki beans and or matcha flavoured.
7. Sushi. My favourite places include:
– Genki Sushi: http://www.genkisushi.co.jp
– Heiroku Sushi in Omotesando https://www.heiroku.jp
8. Fast foodish – Japanese Curry from CoCo Curry.
Get ready to Queue though – although the wait is worth it! Ohh and get the cucumber salad… I dream of that salad.
Also known as the inspiration for that famous scene in Kill Bill where Uma Thurman battles the crazy 88 – and on a personal note where my hubby and I celebrated our engagement together.
12. Watami. A popular Izakaya. Ask for non smoking.
Hope you enjoy some of the same places I do next time you travel to Japan.

I was in Seoul for Christmas. It’s was beautiful, cold and busy. The city is home to 10 million, 25 million if you count the greater Seoul area. 
I was amazed by this city. The people are so friendly, friendly even despite my not being able to speak a lick of Korean (ok I can say thank you and sorry but that’s about it). And there is so much food. Food in restaurant after restaurant lining the streets and side streets. Food in tiny tent restaurants and food from street vendors. I liked everything I tried, which truthfully surprised me. I’d previously had so little Korean food I just did not know what to expect but the food here is just delicious. 

So far my favorite Korean foods are:

– Korean BBQ: Getting to communally sit around a flaming BBQ in the winter, grilling your own meat and drinking soju. Why the hell is this not a bigger thing in Canada. It was warm and delicious. Each piece of freshly grilled pork you wrap in sesame leaf with an assortment of kimchi and sauces and salts and then stuff in your mouth like a little porky packet. You eat it all in one mouthful. This was amazing. Korean BBQ, especially outdoor Korean BBQ is all the best things about a BBQ with none of the clean up.  

 – Fire chicken: Aka. Buldak. Aka. Flaming butthole. This chicken is flaming goodness. But if your body is anything Iike mine be sure to be near a washroom. Ok to be fair it isn’t that hot. I’ve had hot wings in Canada much hotter. But eating fire chicken twice in one day might have been the cause. I blame my husband who claims we should only be eating fire chicken on this trip.    

 -Makgeolli: Not a food but quite a tasty alcoholic beverage. This drink is made from rice and dates back to roughly 37BCE. It is similar in taste to sake but much much lighter and has a lower alcohol content. The taste is slightly sweet but not overly and can have some carbonation. There are apparently flavored versions as well but I’ve only tried the original. One of the things I love about this drink is how it is served, in small aluminum bowls.  

 – Yakwa: Korean cookies that are made of flour honey and sesame oil and eaten with tea. These are dense and shaped like a flower. We bought ours from a lovely little shop in Insadong where the lady was so friendly and happy, she was just lovely.  

 I would highly recommend a trip to Seoul. The food was lovely, and the people were very friendly. If you’re looking for a food tour, we took this one by O’ngo food communications. We took both the night dining tour and the lunch street food tour both were great but if you’re pressed for time I’d go with the night food tour. 

I’ve been inspired by the amazing ramen I’ve enjoyed recently, to try my hand at making my own from scratch. If you have never had real fresh ramen I would encourage you to try it at your local restaurant or try making it yourself. One of the things that I love about Ramen is the choice of toppings, from soft boiled eggs to mushrooms, sprouts, green onions, to corn tossed in butter. I love any dish where you can personalize it easily to your own taste. 

Soup Base Ingredients*:

  • 6 cups water
  • 2 cups of Chicken stock (I purchased mine at a local butcher shop)
  • 7 Heaping Tbsp. of Miso Paste (I used Skirakiku Awase Miso)
  • 4 Tbsp. Soya sauce
  • 6 Tbsp. Sake
  • 4 Tbsp. Chilli paste (I used Sriracha) 
  • 1 Tbsp. Sesame oil 
  • 3 Cloves of garlic, minced
  • Pepper to taste
  • Salt to taste
  • Szechwan pepper to taste

*I was inspired by this recipe on Japanesecooking101.com but added some additional ingredients and altered the quantities of the original ingredients to suit my own tastes. 

Miso, Ramen before being cooked, Toppings for the soup

Ramen Recipe:

 I used this recipe and directions from Instructables. But I added about a 1/4 tsp of baking soda to the dough… I wouldn’t recommend adding the baking soda, this was an error on 1my part… I’ll have to retry this recipe another time. The noodles were good but lacked the real al dente chewiness that I love about Ramen Noodles.

Toppings

Use your imagination, or whatever you have in the fridge. Here are my favorites.

  • Chicken cutlet (I used a Jane’s Chicken Burger and cooked and cut into slices)
  • Corn (forzen that I just defrosted with some butter)
  • Sliced mushrooms (these are cremini)
  • Soft boiled egg
  • Chopped green onions

 

The finished dish – My husband’s portion

  

The finished dish – My portion (extra corn)

 

Yum Yum Yum – the result was delicious. The soup I’ll make again and I’ll definitly keep playing with the ramen recipe in search of chewy, slurpy deliciousness!

  I love ramen. I really love it. I want to try and make it myself. To make ramen myself I bought some miso paste. I haven’t quite carved out enough time yet to try to make my own ramen but I did put some of the pasted to good use tonight by making my own miso salad dressing. 

Ingredients 

  • One spoonful miso paste (small dessert spoon) I used shirakiku awasa miso
  • 1/8 cup rice wine vinegar
  • 1 dessert spoon of sugar
  • Two squirts lemon juice
  • Pinch of pepper 
  • Dash of sriracha

Stir all ingredients together and voila! So yummy. 

The hubs and I visited San Francisico this past week and boy did we do a lot of walking and a lot of eating. 

We never like to feel like we wasted an opportunity to try the best that a new city has to offer so we did a lot of research to find the best (and reasonably priced haunts of the city). This list is a culmination of some of the spots we saw were repeatedly well ranked on sf.com, thrillist.com and on sites like urban spoon. We tried all these out personally so can vouch for thief tastiness. 

1. Z&Y Chinese food. This place was so delicious. It’s small so prepare to wait. We had to share a 4 person table with another lady who was very friendly and shared with us that this was the best spot for authentic Chinese in the city. She said the chef was from China and couldn’t be beat. We had Mau Po tofu, this crazy chicken pepper dish, Eggplant in garlic sauce and Wontons in spicy peanut sauce. We order Mau Po tofu and eggplant in garlic sauce quite frequently at home. The biggest difference we noted with the dishes at Z&Y was the complexity of flavours in each dish. If you love Chinese food, this restaurant is a must for your visit. 

2. Tony’s Pizza. I wrote about this restaurant a couple years ago when I visited with my Mom. And it’s just a delicious now as then. When I was scouring the Internet for pizza options I noted that some other newer up and comers in the city have been generating some buzz, but I had to go to Tony’s again. I’m so glad we did. Tony’s is ranked as one of the top pizza restaurants in the US and does not disappoint. We had a New York style pizza called the New Yorker. 

3. The Stinking Rose. I love garlic. Thank goodness that my husband does too because otherwise I doubt he could stand being in the same room as me some days. This restaurant is an ode to the delicious bulb. I’m starting to droll just thinking about the garlicky goodness of their roasted garlic served with bread yum yum. 

4. Mad Dog in the Fog. A nice neighborhood pub in the Haight area. Not to big. Not too small. Awesome service and great beer recommendations. Rumored to have the best beer selection in the city. 

5. Muracci’s Japanese curry. If you haven’t had Japanese curry. Try some. I mean Now! Japanese curry is so delicious. Spicy sweet and full of tangy meaty goodness. We had the extra spicy pork cutlet curry. The curry was so amazing it made me miss Japan a little less. 

If you visit San Fran I hope you get a chance to sample some of its culinary delights. 

Friday night in a foreign land – Syracuse, NY.

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We craved BBQ. I searched for BBQ in Syracuse and found that DinosaurBBQ had a 91% rating on Urban Spoon. But when out hotel concierge proclaimed that she was “raised on” DinosaurBBQ , a Syracuse institution, our dinner plans were set.

If you are in the Syracuse area I would recommend it. The food was down home BBQ at its best. To start we had the fried green tomatoes. Coated in a spiced corn flour batter then deep fried and served with a jalapeño blue cheese dipping sauce; I’m going to dream about these delicious morsels. I’m so sad I didn’t get a pic of these beauties. We ate them too quickly. We washed our appetizer down with a pitcher of Dinosaur smoked porter.

A moment on the beer. I loved the Dinosaur smoked porter. I don’t normally like darker beers. I usually prefer to stick to lagers and IPAs. But the smoked porter had some depth with a touch of sweetness and no bitter aftertaste.

For our mains we each were compelled to try something different. Our kiwi friend ordered , my future hubs ordered x and I had a 1/4 rack of ribs and 1/4 chick

The food was down home cooking lovingly prepared. Everything was good. But the standout favorite for everyone were the ribs. If I ever go back I’m only going to get the ribs. Not only were they huge! They were just slow roasted perfection. The meat was slightly caramelized by the rub and sauces applied and the large chunks of meat were quick to fall off. The ribs were also less fatty than others I’ve tried.

Now don’t get me wrong. I liked the food. But what would make me go back to DinosaurBBQ over and over again was the atmosphere. Servers were quick to laugh and provide their menu recommendations. Patrons were a complete mix of the population. Hipsters sat next to 50 something music lovers. The music was loud. Around 10:30 a live band complete with trumpet, saxophone, guitar, drums and piano took the stage.
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