Sunday, January 31, 2016

Kagoshima Prefecture Kirishima [Tsukada Farm] / 鹿児島県 霧島市 「塚田農場」

This is actually a chain restaurant but we decided on going here before checking out our friend's show.  Light drinking and some snacks.


First, a bowl of cucumbers and cabbage.  You dip this into miso.  Great drinking snack.


I really wanted to try this dish, available for a limited time.  The kuro fuki gyoza.  If we had more time, we could have finished this pot with some ramen using the remaing broth as soup.


Very delicious, what else is there to say.


This next dish is also on the menu for a limited time.  Kuro satsuma minced meat mabo daikon.


A favorite of everyone's - maguro toro avocado marinade.

皆が好き ー とろまぐろとアボカドのマリネ。

These are not chicken nuggets!  No, this is pork!


Sasami mentai harumaki.  These were yum too.


After a beer and a sour, I had to try this.  An orange sour that uses an entire orange in its drink.



And finally, before heading out to our friend's show, I returned to having a beer.  I got a little surprise as there was a heart printed in the foam.


And off to the show we go!


Saturday, January 30, 2016

A Walk around Hanazono Jinja / 花園神社のお散歩

After eating ramen for lunch last week, we headed off to meet our friend Reiko in Shinjuku.  We would meet her at the entrance of Hanazono Jinja.


This is not the main entrance to the shrine but one of it's alternatives.


Hanazono Haiden / 花園神社 拝殿
Haiden / 拝殿
Shrine grounds / 境内
Osame Daimyoujin / 収め大明神
Haiden / 拝殿
Kagura-den / 神楽殿 
Takaramono-den / 宝物殿
There was still some snow leftover from last week.
Itoku Inari Jinja Torii Tunnel / 威徳稲荷神社の鳥居トンネル
Itoku Inari Jinja / 威徳稲荷神社
Otori / 大鳥居
Hanazono Shrine Seal / 花園神社の御朱印
We'll be meeting up with more friends at 6pm and will look for a an izakaya to have a few snacks and drinks before catching our friend's show at a live house called Lotus.  The band Tough Box will be playing a full 90 minute set.  Our friend has a solo spot too.
We were on our way to Yotsuya Sanchome through Shinjuku Nichome, Tokyo's famous gay area.


Wednesday, January 27, 2016

Yokohama Ie-Kei Ramen [Machida Shoten] / 横浜家系ラーメン 「町田商店」

Last Sunday, one of our friends who plays drums for a band was having a show this evening in a small venue in Yotsya.  We were going to meet his wife before the show, walk around Hanazono Jinja, then meet up with some friends for a few snacks and drinks before heading to live house.  But as my wife and I had a very small breakfast, we left the house early (had to do a little shopping for Mom) and decided on having some ramen before heading out to Shinjuku.  We decided on this ramen shop called Machida Shoten.


Do you think being near the largest Tower Records shop has something to do with their sign inside.  For those of you not familiar with Tower Record's catch copy, it is "No Music! No Life!"

渋谷店タワーレコードが近いからこういうサインが店内にあったのかね。No Music! No Life!のパクリか?それとも尊敬か?

I ordered the aji-tama ramen.  The soup is a tonkotsu (pork-based) broth.  You can choose if you want the flavor to be a little more robust, or a little light, or standard.  You can also choose if you want your noodles a little stiff or not.  The noodles are thicker than most tonkotsu ramen eateries, but thick enough that the broth sticks to the noodles for one flavorful ramen.  The aji-tama was perfect.  The charshu just right and I always enjoy nori in my tonkotsu ramen!  There are also a host of condiments that you could add to your ramen as well which is set on the table - pureed garlic, karamiso, pepper, etc.


The shop is located in Shibuya right across the street from the Tokyu Hands store.  I may have to go here again soon.


Sunday, January 24, 2016

Furusato Festival Tokyo 2016 / ふるさと祭東京 2016

I decided to work backwards on my posts starting with my most recent adventure.  It was that time of year again.  The annual Furusato Festival at the Tokyo Dome.  From January 8 through January 17, you can check out the cuisines of all 47 prefectures under one roof.  But this festival isn't only about the food.  It also features some major festival exhibitions, the rice bowl competition, sweets street, character mascots, craft beers, and so much more.  My wife and I along with our friends Yukio and Reiko went to festival last Sunday.

今から、最新の情報を先書き込んでみます。今年もあの祭が戻ってきました。1月8日から1月17日まで東京ドームで開催された「ふるさと祭 東京 2016」。この期間、日本47の都道府県のご土地グルメが一つ屋根の下で楽しめるイベント。料理だけではございません。有名な祭の会場で再現、全国ご土地どんぶり選手権、スイーツストリート、ご土地ゆるキャラ大集合、ご土地の地ビール、等等。私たちは友達と4人で最終日の17日に行きました。

After last year's experience of standing in a long line and waiting almost an hour to get in, we decided to head out early.  The event opens at 10am.  We decided to meet our friends at the Tokyo Dome at 9:30am.  And even though we made it to the Dome before 9:30am, there was already a long line formed in front of the entrance. 


A view of some of the floats and props to be used for different Festival exhibitions.


You can see the food booths off to the right of the float.

As we were rushing to get exchange our rice bowl tickets for the rice bowl competition (one of the most popular events of the festival), I grabbed a free sample of iburi gakko from the Tohoku region.  Iburi gakko is a smoked takuan (type of pickle).


I was standing in line to get our rice bowl tickets while my friend went to another booth and bought us the first round of some craft beers.


We started off with some craft beers brewed by Sankt Gallen from Kanagawa Prefecture.  We started off with an amber ale and a Yokohama XPA (American IPA).

最初に飲んだ地ビールは神奈川県のサンクト・ガレンビール。幸男が選んだのはアンバーエールとヨコハマXPA(アメリカン IPA)の2種類。

Enjoying a beer while standing in line to get my roast beef bowl.


As there were four of us, we chose 4 different types of rice bowls.  I will introduce them individually below.


I chose the A5 rank Enshu Yumesaki Roast Beef Hayashi bowl. 


My wife chose last year's 3rd place winner, Hachinohe seasoned silver tabby bowl.


Reiko chose the Echizen! Crab bowl, topped with crab miso!


Yukio chose the sea urchin bowl!
All four were delicious but we agreed that last year's 3rd place winner was the best tasting this year - the Hachinohe Silver Tabby Rice Bowl.

While feasting on our rice bowls, Yukio had also bought a beef tongue set which included beef tongue skewer, beef tongue sausage, and beef tongue soup.


I also bought a taster of Sankt Gallen craft beers from Kanagawa prefecture.  From left to right are an apple cinnamon ale (strange taste but I liked it), pale ale, brown porter (must have at least one dark beer), and a golden ale.


My wife also bought the Ebi (shrimp) soba.


One of the other ramen we tried was the Hinai chicken ramen from Akita Prefecture.


And these 4 pieces of Oma maguro sushi which cost 1,000yen which means, 1 sushi piece is 250yen.  I wonder if it is inexpensive here at this event.


And another craft beer that Reiko bought but I forgot which one it was.


This was delicious too.  Stir fried miso steak with Awaji onions (which are very sweet).

これも凄い美味しかった。味噌炒めステーキ&淡路玉葱 (淡路玉葱の特徴は甘さ)。

We took a quick look at the Akita Kanto Festival exhibition. 



As we were headed to the Hakodate area, I snacked on a umeboshi.

I bought and shared some grilled scallops from the Hakodate booth.


I couldn't resist buying this Hakodate Beer craft beer because the naming of it was so amusing.  It's called the "Shacho no Yoku Nomu Beer" which translates to "Beer the Company President usually Drinks".


I was amused by the label as well.


My wife found a favorite snack of hers - shoga miso oden.

妻が自分の好物を発見 ー 東北の生姜味噌おでん。

At 12:30, it was going to be the start of the Aomori Prefecture Nebuta Festival exhibition.  As my wife and friend are from Aomori, we bought some snacks and then found a seat in the stands to watch the festival. I tried uploading some of the video pieces I took, but it would upload to this blog site.

12時半から青森のねぶた祭りが始まるので、おつまみを買ってスタンドの席に移動した。 妻と幸男は青森出身なので、やっぱりこの祭りを見ないっと。動画もアップしようと思ったが、なぜかこのサイトにアップ出来ず、残念。

Nebuta float / ねぶた
And munching on some snacks while watching the Nebuta exhibition.  These are deep fried chicken skins.

When I bought the Hakodate beer, the guy at the booth also gave me cup of dried squid snacks for free.  Lucky!
If you ever get a chance to visit Japan in the summer, I suggest checking out or even participating in Aomori's Nebuta Festival which last for a week and stars on the 2nd day of August.
日本で観光に来れたら、特に夏、青森のねぶた祭りは超おすすめ。 見るのも楽しいが、参加するのもあり。
No, we are not done eating.  After checking out the Nebuta Festival, it was back to the food booths.  I wanted to eat the Himokawa udon which I didn't get a chance to do when my friends and I went to the Udon Festival a few months ago.
What makes the oni himokawa udon different are the udon noodles.  Just look how thick they are.
Very thick udon!!
Dessert time - ice cream with mango.
デザートの時間 ー マンゴアイス。
And the dessert I bought?  Cheese covered bacon and corn on the cob.  The mango ice cream was featured in the previous picture.
Oh yes, we had bought strawberry daifuku but forgot about them until we returned home. 
Too cold to go to the beer garden and we were full anyway but I thought the use of this Airstream was cool!
It was still early afternoon when we left the Tokyo Dome, so we decided to walk off some the calories we partook in and went to Tokyo Daijingu.
Gate to Tokyo Daijingu.
Very crowded here today too.  Something about receiving a fuda.
Next, we walked to Yasukuni Shrine, took a short break there and tried to decide what to do next.  Go are separate ways or find a place to have dinner (seeing how it was getting to be around 5pm).
We decided to have dinner together and went to a yakitori place.
Ohitashi / おひたし

 Komai (saffron or wachna cod) / こまい
Sauce yakisoba / ソース焼きそば
 Onions topped with bonita flakes and shishito peppers / ねぎとししとう
Yakitori assortment / やきとりの盛り合わせ
And so ended one full Sunday.  We parted ways after dinner but still made it home by 6:30pm.  I so love the weekends!