Sunday, May 31, 2009

Japanese Microbrew Tour - Nara Prefecture / 日本地ビールツアー ‐ 奈良県

Back to the tour of Japan's Microbrews by Prefecture. Check out Nara Prefecture's Sonikohgen Beer.


Sonikohgen Beer - Altbier

曽爾高原ビール ‐ アルト

Sonikohgen Beer - Pilsner

曽爾高原ビール ‐ ピルスナー

Sonikohgen Beer - Kolsch

曽爾高原ビール ‐ ケルシュ

43 more Prefectures to go.


Saturday, May 30, 2009

Kankoku Shokudo / 韓国食堂

Not too long ago, Mikako was watching television when some program featured a one-coin Korean restaurant called [Kankoku Shokudo] (which translates to "Korean Diner") in the neighborhood of Shimokitazawa. As that area is within walking distance from our apartment we decided to go there for lunch. We are big fans of kimchee chige (a one pot meal) which is what Mikako ordered while I had there shundoubu chige (not sure how it's really spelled) which includes clams and a poached egg. Delicious. And they really are just one coin - 500yen. Well, my meal cost 100yen extra but that's okay. The meal comes with a bowl of rice and some kimchee.


Kimchee Chige / キムチチゲ

Shundubu Chige / シュンドゥブチゲ

Don't forget the kimchee.


Bon Appetit!


Thursday, May 28, 2009

Ern's Monthly Page Turners (May 2009)


Just in case some of my non-drinker readers were getting bored of checking out Japan's micro brews, I thought I would write up my monthly book reviews a few days early. I managed to read more than four books this month as there were no 1000 page monsters.


JAPAN: 6000 MILES ON A BICYCLE by Leigh Norrie - You know, I usually enjoy people's travel essays on Japan and elsewhere in the world, but I must say, this is the most badly written, poorly edited, travel across Japan I've ever come across. Granted the author wrote a blog while traveling which I probably would have enjoyed more as I'm sure there were color pictures and short video clips to show us what he's seen and where he's been. Although Norrie was inspired by Alan Booth's "The Roads to Sata", who walked the entire length of Japan, Norrie decides to bicycle through all 47 Prefectures of Japan. Unfortunately, you don't even get a inkling about the people he meets or the places he sees. The writing reminded me of high school on Mondays where you were sure to hear things like "Man, I got so fucked up this weekend." "Dude, I got so wasted on Saturday", and I believe you get the picture. No, for us, the reader, the title should be changed to "Japan: 6,000 Miles of Constant Whining, Drinking, and Smoking". The blog should have never been adapted into a book. Just go and read the Alan Booth book or Craig McLachlan's "Four Pairs of Boots" instead.

TOKYO: CITY ON THE EDGE by Todd Crowell and Stephanie Forman Morimura - Now here we have two authors writing about my adoptive town of Tokyo. Just one city, and this was by far more interesting and entertaining than the previous plight through the whole of Japan, via Leigh Norrie. This is definitely not a guide book to Tokyo. You won't find the best places to shop or the best restaurants to eat at here. No, you will find out little things you probably never knew about Tokyo, such as being able to experience a large earthquake in a simulated environment. Checking out the girl's fashion in Harajuku (of course, Harajuku fashion has come into its own with magazines like "Fruits" and Gwen Stefani singing "Harujuku Girls"). There is the Marunouchi Financial District - the chapter is interesting but doesn't really make me want to go explore it. Or how about the odd museums this city is full of - The Lighter Museum, The Salt and Tobacco Museum, just to name a couple. And when you feature Tokyo, one must also give few words to the nearby towns of Yokohama and Hakone. The former with it's large Chinatown and Ramen Museum and the latter featuring short weekend getaways from the city. I plan on featuring this title on my friend's "Asia By the Book" blog.

WAR CHILD: A BOY SOLDIER'S STORY by Emmanuel Jal - It was only a matter of time before one of the "Lost Boys of Sudan" would write his story. I'm sure many critics may compare this to Ismael Beah's "A Long Way Gone" but Jal's story is just as intense. Where as Beah had to deal with the Revolutionary United Front (RUF) who's main goal was not freedom, but controlling the diamond trade. The civil war in Sudan isn't really about the Northern Muslims fighting against the Southern Christians - it's all a power grab for the vast amounts of oil!! Its a sad state of affairs when 7 year old Jal is first witness to the start of the conflict. At 9 he"s sent to Ethiopia to go to school. But when he gets there, he finds himself living in a refugee camp. At 11 he's left the camp and has become a child soldier. This sad but true and sometimes disturbing story of overcoming impossible odds will have you riveted to your seat. Jal may have escaped the conflict which continues to this day in Darfur. Peace and stability is still a long way off, and there are still "Lost Boys" who haven't escaped.

THE DIARY OF A WIMPY KID by Jeff Kinney - Meet Greg Heffley who's "diary" this is, or rather journal. In fact he starts off with saying, "Let me get something straight: this is a JOURNAL, not a diary. This was Mom's idea, not mine. But if she thinks I'm going to write down my "feelings" in here or whatever, she's crazy." You see, Greg is in middle school. He has an older brother in high school named Rodrick who is the bane of his existence and also plays guitar for his heavy metal band called Loded Diper, and a very much younger brother Manny, who's the darling of his parent's eyes. Greg's best friend is Rowley, who may come off as a little slow and it seems that Greg is only friends with him so he could play new video games that Rowley always seems to get. I find Greg to be more irritating than Ramona and not so cute as Chibi Maruko-chan (famous Japanese character). But still, you cannot help but laugh as you read Greg's "diary" which is also filled with a bunch of cartoons to depict what he's thinking. Hey, I needed something light to read after "War Child"!

*翻訳あり: 「グレッグの駄目日記」

THE DIARY OF WIMPY KID: RODRICK RULES by Jeff Kinney - Greg says his mother was so proud of him for continuing his journal that she thought it would be an excellent idea for him to start another one for the new year. Greg continues to be humiliated by Rodrick. Continues to take advantage of his friend Rowley (Greg would call it being a great friend), and has a crush on Holly Hills.

*翻訳あり:「グレッグの駄目日記 ‐ ボクの日記があぶない!」 

HOW TO LOSE FRIENDS & ALIENATE PEOPLE by Toby Young - Adapted for the silver screen and starring Simon Pegg and Kirsten Dunst, you just have to appreciate the dry humour of a British national who by own charm or sheer luck, was presented with a job opportunity who could not refuse. To work for Vanity Fair in New York. Filled with images of journalists from the Golden Era, Young is shocked to find that the writers of old are no longer the scribes with the acerbic wit that he was so fond of. He finds that working at Vanity Fair, which is owned by Conde Nast, are full of shallow people with big egos - he calls them the "Conde Nasties". Of course the more you read about his adventure, you will find yourself - "Blimey mate - you're getting what you deserve". But reading about his fall from grace from what some people would consider their dream job - is sad in a way, but he writes about his tragedy in a way that makes you laugh and will find yourself hoping that he will succeed (in something anyway). I may have to watch the film when it comes out.

THE DIARY OF A WIMPY KID: THE LAST STRAW by Jeff Kinney - What do you know. Greg Heffley has started yet another journal in which he finds himself having to do his own laundry, is forced to participate in the neighborhood soccer team, fears that he may be sent a military academy, and is trying desperately to have the nerve to speak to his dream girl Holly Hills.

JAYWALKING WITH THE IRISH by David Monagan - Unlike Evan McHugh's "Pint-Sized Ireland" in which he goes in search of the perfect Guinness, Monagan uproots his family for an adventure of a lifetime. Along with his wife and three kids, they packed up their home in Connecticut and moved to the far distant land of Ireland. Their plan was to live abroad for a year and they picked County Cork. Now visiting a place on vacation and living in a foreign country are two totally different things (I know from experience as I am a current ex-pat living in Tokyo). Their adventure was to continue as they decide to buy a house and plan to settle in Ireland. Of course nothing goes quite as planned but you will still be entertained by the magic of Ireland.

ALVIN HO: ALLERGIC TO GIRLS, SCHOOL, AND OTHER SCARY THINGS by Lenore Look - Middle schooler Greg Heffley might have been a handful, but now lets meet Alvin Ho. He's just about to enter the second grade but he has one small problem - he's afraid of everything. In fact, he is so afraid, that he cannot speak when he is in school. Alvin also has a brother who's two years older named Calvin and a little sister named Anibelly. They live in Concord, Massachusetts. Alvin loves Aquaman, Wonder Woman and all heroes of the world. In fact, he becomes one himself - Firecracker Man. Follow Alvin as he tries to be a gentleman and tries to make friends (even though he doesn't talk to anybody).

アイバンのラーメン by アイバン・オーキン - Which translates to "Ivan's Ramen" by Ivan Orkin. I've featured Ivan Ramen in previous post as Mikako and I went there to eat for lunch one day. Now, you can read (in Japanese) of how a Jewish American boy from New York came to be the first American to own and run a ramen shop in the middle of Tokyo. After watching Juzo Itami's movie "Tanpopo", an idea is formed in Ivan's head to become a ramen master himself. Of course much of his success is owed to his wife Mari who encouraged and helped him achieve his dream. If you ever make it Tokyo, have a bowl of ramen at his shop near Rokka Park in Setagaya Ward.


THE DUST OF 100 DOGS by Lenore Look - A young adult novel that's different, entertaining, and original. Emir was in Irish woman who was sold as a bride to a Frenchman by her uncle after her parents were killed by Oliver Cromwell and his army. Emir escapes the Frenchman and becomes a notorious pirate, but the love of her life is killed and as she kills her lover's killer. But the Frenchman was not quite dead and Emir herself is killed as well, but before she dies, the Frenchman's First-Mate curses her to live the life of 100 dogs before she can return to a human body. Now, after 300 years, she has become Saffron - a normal teenage girl with Emir's memories intact...and now she's on her way to Jamaica.

I hope you enjoyed this month's choices as I had reading them, with the exception of the first book. Oh wait. At least I read that entire book. I've heard such great reviews books by David Sedaris that I decided to give his first one a try - "Barrel Fever" which features a collection of stories and essays. Twenty pages into the book and I wanted to toss the piece of sh*t into an incinerator. I never got as far as reading the essays because the first few stories were so juvenile and irritating. Sometimes I think I am getting old as I probably would have found those stories hilarious ten or twenty years ago.

Tuesday, May 26, 2009

Japanese Microbrew Tour - Miyagi Prefecture / 日本地ビールツアー ‐ 宮城県

Just a note before I continue along my Japanese microbrew tour - I did not drink these all in one day or at one sitting. Today, I am featuring the craft beers from the Matsushima Brewing Company based in Matsushima in Miyagi Prefecture.


Matsushima Beer (Bock) / 松島ビール (ボック)

Matsushima Beer (Weizen) / 松島ビール (ヴァイツェン)

Matsushima Beer (Dunkel) / 松島ビール (デュンケル)

Matsushima Beer (Helles) / 松島ビール (ヘレス)

Only 44 more Prefectures to go...


Sunday, May 24, 2009

Japanese Microbrew Tour - Shimane Prefecture / 日本地ビールツアー ‐ 島根県

This week, I tried a few craft beers from Shimane Breweries based in Matsue in Shimane Prefecture. A stout, a pale ale, and a celebration of 400 years of something.


Enmusu Beer Stout / 縁結麦酒スタウト

Most of my friends know that I love dark beer. Especially porters and stouts. I'm one of those people who enjoy those beers where you can't see through the glass.


Beer Herun Pale Ale / ビアヘルン ペールエール

Matsue Kaifu 400 Year Anniversary / 松江開府400年祭

Still 45 Prefectures to go...


Thursday, May 21, 2009

Japanese Microbrew Tour - Aomori Prefecture / 日本の地ビールツアー ‐ 青森県

My father sends me newspaper clippings from my hometown from time to time and one article caught my interest. It was about a shop in Federal Way called [99 Bottles]. It's a specialty store that sells microbrews from all over the world. Lately, I've been going in search of Japanese microbrews. I thought I would make it my own project to find microbrews from all 47 Prefectures in Japan. I've featured some of them before, but now I'm going to give the microbrews a post all there own, and I'm going to start off with my wife's hometown Prefecture of Aomori.


Manji Mugi Shizuku / 卍麦雫 (マンジムギシズク)

I featured these Microbrews when I last went to Aomori. These are the Pilsner, Lager, and one other by Manji Mugi Shizuku.


Oirase Beer / 奥入瀬ビール

This pilsner is made with the water from Aomori's famous Oirase Gorge.


Osorezan Lager Beer / 恐山ラガービール

Belgium may be famous for the trappist beers made by monks, but here in Japan, you can also find beers made by temples. This is a lager from Osorezan, a temple famous for their itako - blind women who help people speak to the dead.


Hachinohe Chateau Beer / 八戸シャトービール

Chateau Beer made my Chateau Kamiya in Hachinohe.


Tsugaru Path Beer / 津軽路ビール

And finally, here we have Tsugaru Path Beer brewed from Minami Tsugaru's waters. A draft beer that taste similar to a lot of ales.


I'm sure there are other craft beers from Aomori Prefecture, but these are the ones I've bought and actually drank. Off to another Prefecture!

青森県で他の地ビールもあると思いますが、僕が紹介した物は自分で買って、実際飲んだ物だけを紹介してます。 さて、次の都道府県へ出発!

Tuesday, May 19, 2009

Thai Festival 2009 (Part 2) / タイ祭り 2009 (パート2)

You didn't think that was it for Thai food did you? There's still more!


More Green Curry / またもグリーンカレー

Thai Style Gyoza? (Kuay Chai?)/ タイ風の餃子?

Thai Pastries / タイスイーツ

Shrimp and Chicken Dumplings / 海老の鳥つくね

Rambustan / ランビュスタン

Aside from food, my friend bought himself a jersey featuring Muay Thai.


Beer number what? 何本目のビールかな?

Thai Noodles / タイ風ラーメン

And more Thai Style Noodles / また別のタイ風ラーメン

My friend Gonzui / 友達のゴンちゃん

And I did check out the Sepak Takraw exhibition.


And back to more food.


Squid Skewers / いかげその串焼き

Pineapple Fried Rice / パインアップル炒飯

Sticky Rice cooked in Bamboo with Coconut Milk and Sweet Beans


Spicy Papaya Salad / スパイシーパパイヤサラダ

Thai Sausage / タイソーセージ

Crisp Egg and Mussel Pancake (Hoy Taud) / たまごとムール貝

Phat Grapao? / パットグラパオ?

Larb Muu? / ラーブムー?

And even more Thai Noodles / またしてもタイ風麺だ

And more... / ラーメンがつづく。。。

Thai Spring Rolls / タイ風春巻き

And finally, these years participants.