Category Archives: Travel

Non-smoking Japan: The Shinkasen Bullet Train Contradiction!

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Shinkasen platform, 8th carriage, Shizuoka JR Station!

There is a big contradiction in common transport betwee local trains and Shinkansen Bullet Trains in the Shizuoka Prefecture and in all the stations between at least Tokyo and Osaka!

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Poster found at the bottom of the stairs leading to the Tokaido Local Line in Shizuoka JR Station reminding commuters and passengers that the whole area including the platforms are non-smoking!

All local lines, including the Tokaido Line trains have been non-smoking for quite a while and the responsible authorities have been quite aggressive about it with a flurry of new signs being stuck everywhere.

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Sign seen in Shiuzoka JR Station!

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Bi-lingual, so no arguing, that is unless you want discuss the grammar!

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Same sign inside Fujieda JR Station!

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The non-smoking “box) on the Shinkasen platform inside Shizuoka JR Station.

Now, why are the rules not only different but confusing for the Shinkansen trains!
Interestingly enough it seems that the East Japan Railways have a different attitude as they seem to be the only line (between at least Tokyo and Osaka, and further?).
I recently rode Shinkasen trains moving east/north from Tokyo and they are all entirely non-smoking!

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At least smokers on the Shinkasen tracks in Shiuoka JR Station have been asked (only very recently) to damage their health on their own cubicle at the very far side of the platform in front the 16th carriage door!
By the way what do they mean by “for adult smokers only”?

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The only problem is that the 16th carriage is non-smoking!

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Non-smoking signs are posted above heads and….

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and at your feet, but….

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Only the No 8 carriage is indicated as smoking allowed,…

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But once you are inside the train you find out that the No 8 carriage is non-smoking!

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Now somewhere in the middle of the train a map clearly indicates that carriages 10 and 15 are smoking allowed, a fact which is not advertised on the platforms!

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Smoking allowed in carriage No 10 (Green Car=First Class!)!

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Smoking alllowed in Carriage N0 15 (Second Class!)

From past experience I can tell you that cars No 9, 11, 14 and 16 had better avoided too as the smoke has a way to pervade into them!

RECOMMENDED RELATED WEBSITES

So Good Sushi Restaurant in Nice France
Navigating Nagoya by Paige, Shop with Intent by Debbie, BULA KANA in Fiji, Kraemer’s Culinary blog by Frank Kraemer in New York,Tokyo Food File by Robbie Swinnerton, Green Tea Club by Satoshi Nihonyanagi in Shizuoka!, Mind Some by Tina in Taiwan, Le Manger by Camille Oger (French), The Indian Tourist, Masala Herb by Helene Dsouza in Goa, India, Mummy I Can Cook! by Shu Han in London, Pierre.Cuisine, Francescannotwrite, My White Kitchen, Foodhoe, Chucks Eats, Things that Fizz & Stuff, Five Euro Food by Charles,Red Shallot Kitchen by Priscilla,With a Glass, Nami | Just One Cookbook, Peach Farm Studio, Clumsyfingers by Xethia, PepperBento, Hapabento, Kitchen Cow, Lunch In A Box, Susan at Arkonlite, Vegan Lunch Box; Tokyo Tom Baker, Daily Food Porn/Osaka, Only Nature Food Porn, Happy Little Bento, J-Mama’s Kitchen, Cook, Eat, Play, Repeat, Bento Lunch Blog (German), Adventures In Bento, Anna The Red’s Bento Factory, Ohayo Bento,

Must-see tasting websites:

-Sake: Ichi For The Michi by Rebekah Wilson-Lye in Tokyo, Tokyo Through The Drinking Glass, Tokyo Foodcast, Urban Sake, Sake World
-Wine: Palate To Pen, Warren Bobrow, Cellar Tours, Ancient Fire Wines Blog
-Beer: Another Pint, Please!, Beering In Good Mind: All about Craft Beer in Kansai by Nevitt Reagan!
ABRACADABREW, Magical Craftbeer from Japan
-Whisky: Nonjatta: All about whisky in Japan by Stefan Van Eycken
-Japanese Pottery to enjoy your favourite drinks: Yellin Yakimono Gallery

Non gastronomy must-see sites by Shizuoka Residents

HIGHOCTANE/HAIOKU by Nick Itoh in Shizuoka City

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Gastronomic Destinations: Kamakura & Enoshima (January 2013)!

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Just came back from a 3-day trip in Kamakura City, Kanagawa prefecture!
Here is a simple picture report on what you could find in and away from the touristic landscape of this famous city not far from Tokyo which deserves a good visit!
Note that this is the off-season now and I would advise you to visit it at such a time as crowds can be a real pain in that beautiful corner of Japan!

Tobira Restaurant

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Tobira
Kamakura City, Komachi, 1-6-20, Tobira Building, 2F
Tel.: 0467-25-0505
Opening hours: 10:30~19:00
Closed on Mondays or on Tuesdays if Monday is a National Holiday

You will find Tobira on the left just outside kamakura City JR Station.

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The boxed lunch as served!

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The boxed lunch opened!

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Plentiful and yummy!

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They also serve a great omuraisu/rice omelet!

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A lunch fit for a Westerner’s appetite!

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that omelet is a real delicacy, fluffy and light!

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You will find this sign in the main street of Kamakura City atop a famous cake shop. See below:

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Kamakura is famous all over Japan for its biscuits, especially “Rabbit Half Moon#!

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Once you start you’ll never stop eating them!

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They also make some exquisite wagashi for vegans!

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You will find plenty of shops selling Shonan Craft Beer!

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No, you cannot eat clothes sold upstairs, keep to ground level!

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All local beers and japanese sake!

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Kamakura City is also famous for its sembei/rice crackers!

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Hot work, even with temperatures below zero outside!

O Sakana Tei Japanese Restaurant

248-0025 Kamakura City, Shichirigahama, 3-1-9
Tel: 0467-31-9890
Opening Hours: 11:30~15:00, 17:00~22:00
Closed on Thursdays
Cards OK

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Kamakura Craft Beer

O Sakana Tei is an old but very traditional Japanese Restaurant serving great sushi at very reasonable prices.
The specialize in local sardine cuisine!

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Great craft beer indeed!

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The specialty of the house: Deep-fried sardine sandwiched in shiso/perilla leaves!

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Sushi plate!

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Delicious Japanese soup with sardine surimi balls!

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Kamakura sake?

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Only in name as it is brewed in Gunma Prefecture for a private label!

Tobicho Japanese Restaurant

251-0036 Fujisawa City, Enoshima, 1-6-7
Tel.: 0466-23-0041
Opened from 11:00 a.m. till evening
Reserve!

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This time we managed to have lunch at Tobicho, a place where you will have to join endless queues on week-ends or in peak seasons!

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Have a good look at the seafood they also sell outside including local shirasu/sardine whiting!

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Like in most Japanese restaurants you can also have a look at a plastic model of the dish you are looking for displayed outside!

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A great way to allure customers inside, isn’t it?

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Very simple and explicit menus, too!

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This is the limited seasonal menu that the Missus chose!

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Simple, but beautiful and yummy!

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Salmon, octopus and albacore secured on thin slanted slices of cucumber!

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My order!

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Japanese style crab omelet on a bowl of rice topped with shirasu!

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During our visit to a temple in Enoshima Island we found this food store atop the mountain…

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What is he cooking?

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Paper-thin senbei/crackers made with real fresh octopus!

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A very rare treat!

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If you have the time do try and visit the natural grottoes at the back of Enoshima Island which have been used by humans since AD 552.
You will even find a dragon hidden inside!

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Atop Enoshima you will find a small diner (Japanese-style) with a terrace overlooking the sea called Uomitei/魚見亭.
A great place to enjoy craft beer.

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This one is called Shonan Enoshima Beer!

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Unfortunately it is brewed in Niigata Prefecture as a private label!

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Back in Kamakura City we couldn’t escape from the beautiful sembei/rice crackers!

Ocean Harvest COCOMO Italian and Oyster Bar
248-0016 Kanagawa Prefecture, Kamakura City, Hase, 2-8-8
Tel./fax: 0467-33-4584
12:00-25:00(Last Order-24:00)
■Lunch Time
12:00-15:30(Last Order-15:00)
■Cafe Time
15:30-17:00(Last Order-16:30)
■Dinner Time
17:00-25:00(Last Order-24:00)
Closed on Wednesdays
HOMEPAGE
Credit Cards OK

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Along the Shonan Beach there are some restaurants of note and our favourite is Cocomo, an Italian oyster bar!

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Local vegetables Banya Cauda!

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Succulent grilled oysters!

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Their fries is a must!

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They also eminently enjoyable pasta!

KOSUZU Soba/Buckwheat Noodles Restaurant
Kamakura City, Komachi, 2-83-4
Tel,: 0467-25-6210
Opening hours: 11:30~18:30
Closed on Mondays

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Back in kamakura City, away from the touristic center and along the way to the Tsuruoka Hayata Jingu Shrine stands a very good soba/buckwheat noodles shop we regularly visit, namely KOSUZU!

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This is the hot soba the Missus ordered!

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For a closer view of a real healthy meal!

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For my part I ordered cold soba with all kinds of toppings!

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For a closer view!

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A pot full of soba soup will be served to accompany the leftovers inside your bowl! Yummy!

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Vegans and all must try the exquisite warabi mochi (soft rice cakes)!

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Finally along the same street keep ypur eyes open for venerable shops such as this Japanese liquor shop!

RECOMMENDED RELATED WEBSITES

Kraemer’s Culinary blog by Frank Kraemer in New York,Tokyo Food File by Robbie Swinnerton, Green Tea Club by Satoshi Nihonyanagi in Shizuoka!, Mind Some by Tina in Taiwan, Le Manger by Camille Oger (French), The Indian Tourist, Masala Herb by Helene Dsouza in Goa, India, Mummy I Can Cook! by Shu Han in London, Pierre.Cuisine, Francescannotwrite, My White Kitchen, Foodhoe, Chucks Eats, Things that Fizz & Stuff, Five Euro Food by Charles,Red Shallot Kitchen by Priscilla,With a Glass, Nami | Just One Cookbook, Peach Farm Studio, Clumsyfingers by Xethia, PepperBento, Hapabento, Kitchen Cow, Lunch In A Box, Susan at Arkonlite, Vegan Lunch Box; Tokyo Tom Baker, Daily Food Porn/Osaka, Only Nature Food Porn, Happy Little Bento, J-Mama’s Kitchen, Cook, Eat, Play, Repeat, Bento Lunch Blog (German), Adventures In Bento, Anna The Red’s Bento Factory, Ohayo Bento,

Must-see tasting websites:

-Sake: Tokyo Through The Drinking Glass, Tokyo Foodcast, Urban Sake, Sake World
-Wine: Palate To Pen, Warren Bobrow, Cellar Tours, Ancient Fire Wines Blog
-Beer: Good Beer & Country Boys, Another Pint, Please!, Beering In Good Mind: All about Craft Beer in kanzai by Nevitt Reagan!
-Japanese Pottery to enjoy your favourite drinks: Yellin Yakimono Gallery

Non gastronomy must-see sites by Shizuoka Residents

HIGHOCTANE/HAIOKU by Nick Itoh in Shizuoka City

Gastronomic Destinations: Taiwan

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just came back from a very short stay in Taiwan!
Although my sojourn lasted only two nights, one day and a few hours, I still had time to form a first idea of the country, its people and food!

Until my next trip I can already affirm that:
-The general welcome felt better than I had expected. Warm people, comparatively soft-spoken and very helpful in spite of the language barriers.
-A lot lot lot cleaner than I had expected. No smoking in any buildings. No spitting. Old, sometimes very old buildings, but always clean inside. Old facilities, but clean. Station scrubbed to perfection.
-Great safety, Well I don’t know the seedier side (there is one even in every big city, even Tokyo!), but i flet safe walking in back streets at night.
-Last but not least great food, although nots as spicy as expected.
In a single sentence, i had to forget my expectations and learned a delightful lesson!

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having really little time and a dragon to deal with all the time, I took whatever pictures I could. I hope they will give you a little idea of what to expect!

Taipei Railway was spotless clean and the many shops reminded very much of Japan.

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They even served Taiwan-style oden!

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Peking Ducks in a small shop in Yingge!

As trains and taxis are really cheap ( a thiid of Japan!) we traveled to Yingge/鷲歌/Eagle song, a city famous all over Taiwan for its ceramics. Check Yingge Ceramics Museum!

Yingge is a small city full of sights worthy of a longer visit!
Like every city Yingge is full of small bikes and one has to be careful before crossing a street, the only drawback I found in this lovely country!
I took the picture a bove as I was waiting for the green light!

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Now, what does 金牛角/Golden Bull Horns stand for?
Taiwan-style Croissants!
Apparently very popular!

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We found this small noodle restaurant in the Ceramic Street, a site you must absolutely visit, but I don’t know how to pronounce its name.

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The small two characters at the top mean “Yingge”. And the last means “noodles”, but I don’t know how to pronounce the first two characters.
Maybe Tina can help me?

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The menu written in three languages was very useful!
You mark the orders on a special leaflet, you pay beforehand 8cheap!) and wait for the food!

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Look at both sides of the menu!

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Pork noodles!

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Appetizers: Simmered tofu, boiled eggs and seaweed!

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Seafood noodles!

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It was then back in Taipei in the rain and the dark looking for a restaurant called 杭州 小龍湯包 famous for its steamed 小龍湯包/Xiaolongbao located near the Chiang Kai Shek Memorial.

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As usual we last our way but finally found it by sheer luck after interminable arguments!

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A very popular place with the locals!

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As in Yingge, same system with a menu to choose from and a leaflet on which to write your orders. This time you pay after the meal at the entrance.

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Our first taste of Taiwan beer!

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We had come for the sole purpose of sampling those 小龍湯包/Xiaolongbao!

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Steamed pork 小龍湯包/Xiaolongbao!

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Juicy Royal 小龍湯包/Xiaolongbao with pork and crab brains!

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And then it was back in the rain, loosing our way again and finding our destination by sheer luck again after many arguments again! the restaurant was supposed to be only 5 minutes from Taipei Central Railway Station….!
The dragon wouldn’t give me the time to take a picture of the restaurant sign board….
It is very famous (with quite a few Japanese businessmen among the guests), and the old lady taking the orders could speak English and Japanese!
But I somehow found the name as HAW JI or Haoji Dan Zai Noodles/好記担仔麺! Address in Taipei: Address: Qi Lin Lu 79, five minutes from Railway Station.

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A very interesting concept:
First you choose your orders pointing at the ingredients exhibited outside the first small eating room.

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one of the three kitchens!

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And then you move to the larger restaurant at the street corner where you are given a table and served!
You pay on your way out.

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More Taiwan beer!

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Fried rice and crab steamed inside bamboo leaves!

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Pork and shrimp noodles!

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Fried string beans and minced pork!

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Mapo doufu/麻婆豆腐/”Pockmarked-Face Lady’s Tofu”!
Not as hot as expected by the Dragon, but I personally loved it!

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Deep-fried prawns and pineapple!

We were absolutely full and satisfied after these two dinners!

This time we came to the hotel by taxi!

Looking forward to my (our?) next visit!

RECOMMENDED RELATED WEBSITES

Kraemer’s Culinary blog by Frank Kraemer in New York,Tokyo Food File by Robbie Swinnerton, Green Tea Club by Satoshi Nihonyanagi in Shizuoka!, Mind Some by Tina in Taiwan, Le Manger by Camille Oger (French), The Indian Tourist, Masala Herb by Helene Dsouza in Goa, India, Mummy I Can Cook! by Shu Han in London, Pierre.Cuisine, Francescannotwrite, My White Kitchen, Foodhoe, Chucks Eats, Things that Fizz & Stuff, Five Euro Food by Charles,Red Shallot Kitchen by Priscilla,With a Glass, Nami | Just One Cookbook, Peach Farm Studio, Clumsyfingers by Xethia, PepperBento, Hapabento, Kitchen Cow, Lunch In A Box, Susan at Arkonlite, Vegan Lunch Box; Tokyo Tom Baker, Daily Food Porn/Osaka, Only Nature Food Porn, Happy Little Bento, J-Mama’s Kitchen, Cook, Eat, Play, Repeat, Bento Lunch Blog (German), Adventures In Bento, Anna The Red’s Bento Factory, Ohayo Bento,

Must-see tasting websites:

-Sake: Tokyo Through The Drinking Glass, Tokyo Foodcast, Urban Sake, Sake World
-Wine: Palate To Pen, Warren Bobrow, Cellar Tours, Ancient Fire Wines Blog
-Beer: Good Beer & Country Boys, Another Pint, Please!, Beering In Good Mind: All about Craft Beer in kanzai by Nevitt Reagan!
-Japanese Pottery to enjoy your favourite drinks: Yellin Yakimono Gallery

Non gastronomy must-see sites by Shizuoka Residents

HIGHOCTANE/HAIOKU by Nick Itoh in Shizuoka City

Shizuoka Tourism: Shizuoka Fujisan Airport in Shimada City!

At long last I was able to make use of the aiprort they built in 2008 in Shimada City, Shizuoka Prefecture under the name of Shizuoka Fujisan Airport, that is the airport that welcomes you to Shizuoka, the home of Mont Fuji!
Why did I use it?
Because I paid a short visit to Taiwan.
I traveled from Shizuoka City, and you will discover how easy and practical it has become to travel from and to Shizuoka Prefecture!

The above map will you give you an idea of our location!
Now just follow me!

You can always board the bus from Shizuoka JR Station, platform 4, but even more practical for people who live in Shizuoka Cty is the bus station at Cenova Department Store where you are protected from all nature elements.
First go to Gate 6!

Gate 6!

The route!

The schedule: far right column!

You can’t miss the bus!

Shizutetsu Company Limousine type bus!

You can pay cash or use a Shizutesu Line Prepaid Card.
Fee: 1000 yen per person for a 52-minute trip.

The airport in day time.
Note that drivers can leave their car at the airport for free as long as they want in the 1000-car parking lot!

The entrance at night.

Past the entrance.

Just look around you in the lobby and you will know why the Airport is called “Fujisan/ Mount Fuji”!

A modern rendition of the sacred mountain!

Internet service available (not free, though)!

Plenty of drinks vending machines available.
Incidentally, the washrooms are spotless clean!

Plenty of local souvenirs in wait for you!

Plenty of miniature models! Shizuoka is the world capital of miniature models!

Kokko/Chick cakes!

Green tea, of course!
Shizuoka produces more than 45% of all tea in Japan!

Introduction of Shimada City with a personal greeting to Taiwanese visitors!

Introduction of the nature habitat surrounding Mount Fuji!

An original size painting of Mount Fuji! (not for sale!)

Lots of shopping to do, and basically all local products!

Shizuoka Tea!

Shizuoka sake!
Some of the best and rarest in Japan!

More of them and even rarer Shizuoka shochu!

The perfect gift!

Chibi Marukop, the TV manga character which made Shizuoka and Shimizu Ku, Shizuoka City, famous all over Japan and beyond!

Kameya (Mishima City) Company’s wasabi products!
Shizuoka produces 80% of all premium wasabi in Japan!

Tamaruya (Shizuoka City) Company’s wasabi products!

Miniature models of FDA/Fuji Dream Airlines (Shizuoka-based) airplanes!

If you are hungry. a restaurant is waiting for you upstairs, notably featuring local sushi!

Most of the fish comes directly from nearby Yaizu Harbor!

More food including local unagi/eel!

Plenty of drinks also available!

Practical system!
Select your food or drink, pay and hand the ticket over to the staff!

There is also an observation deck!
Pity it was night by then!

Note that the airport is located in the middle of nature away from cities!

Christmas is drawing near!

Inside view from the observation deck.

And then, it is the next step through the Customs!
Can you see the official trying to tell me not to take pictures? LOL

Another souvenir shop inside the waiting lobby.
I wasn’t allowed to take pictures of the articles on sale, though…..

Plenty of snacks and drinks for those who can wait until they are inside the plane!

Waiting patiently inside the spotless clean little waiting lobby.

Good-bye!
See you in Taiwan!

RECOMMENDED RELATED WEBSITES

Kraemer’s Culinary blog by Frank Kraemer in New York,Tokyo Food File by Robbie Swinnerton, Green Tea Club by Satoshi Nihonyanagi in Shizuoka!, Mind Some by Tina in Taiwan, Le Manger by Camille Oger (French), The Indian Tourist, Masala Herb by Helene Dsouza in Goa, India, Mummy I Can Cook! by Shu Han in London, Pierre.Cuisine, Francescannotwrite, My White Kitchen, Foodhoe, Chucks Eats, Things that Fizz & Stuff, Five Euro Food by Charles,Red Shallot Kitchen by Priscilla,With a Glass, Nami | Just One Cookbook, Peach Farm Studio, Clumsyfingers by Xethia, PepperBento, Hapabento, Kitchen Cow, Lunch In A Box, Susan at Arkonlite, Vegan Lunch Box; Tokyo Tom Baker, Daily Food Porn/Osaka, Only Nature Food Porn, Happy Little Bento, J-Mama’s Kitchen, Cook, Eat, Play, Repeat, Bento Lunch Blog (German), Adventures In Bento, Anna The Red’s Bento Factory, Ohayo Bento,

Must-see tasting websites:

-Sake: Tokyo Through The Drinking Glass, Tokyo Foodcast, Urban Sake, Sake World
-Wine: Palate To Pen, Warren Bobrow, Cellar Tours, Ancient Fire Wines Blog
-Beer: Good Beer & Country Boys, Another Pint, Please!, Beering In Good Mind: All about Craft Beer in kanzai by Nevitt Reagan!
-Japanese Pottery to enjoy your favourite drinks: Yellin Yakimono Gallery

Non gastronomy must-see sites by Shizuoka Residents

HIGHOCTANE/HAIOKU by Nick Itoh in Shizuoka City

Shizuoka Ekiben/Railway Station Bento: Oogoshyo Bento

Oogoshyo/大御所 stands for “Lord” or “Leading Figure” in Japanese.
Actually in this case it stands for the first Shogun of the Edo Era, Tokugawa Ieyasu who retired in Sumpu, presently called Shizuoka City!

The Ekiben as I bought it at Shizuoka JR Station today. They call it bento but it is a real ekiben sold inside the station!

The “mon” or Japanese arms/family crest (heraldry) is the mon of Tokugawa Ieayasu!

Clear explanations by Tokaiken Co as usual. I tend to repeat myself, but it shows how the laws are strict about bento and ekiben business in Japan, although the same cannot be said for all…

A piece of translucent paper protects the contents!

Remember that this ekiben was inspired by what a Lord of the Edo Era would eat at a normal repast (more or less…)
Now, what do we have?

I introduced this kind of rice in the previous ekiben.
It is called “sakura han/Cherry tree rice” and is covered with finely flaked tai/ 鯛/red grouper and the rice is a mazegohamn/rice mixed with the juices of the simmered fish.
Actually the whole rice in Japanese is called “tai soboro” and is made with two types of seabream called “madai” and “Himedai” and some egg.

“Sekihan赤飯/” or “red rice”. Red is a color for celebrations in Japan.
This sekihan is made with glutinous rice and azuki beans making for a thick, nourishing staple as served for unknown ages in this country.

Now to the side dish: prawn tempura, grilled mackerel, kamaboko/steamed fish paste, tamagoyaki/Japanese omelette, chicken ball/niwatori dango and soy sauce “bottle”.

The same (clearer picture!) with the opened “capsule” of wasabizuke/wasabi stems and leaves pickled with sake white lees.

The dessert box with the wasabizuke “capsule”. The apricot and the “wagashi” were protected by an extra film of translucent paper.

The two types of wagashi: the one on the left is made with o-mochi/glutinous rice paste and sweetmeats/anko and the second one is a gli\utinous rice ball covered with kinako/soy bean powder.

To be continued…

RECOMMENDED RELATED SITES:
With a Glass,
Bread + Butter, Zoy Zhang, Hungry Neko, Think Twice, Frank Fariello, Mangantayon, Hapabento, Elinluv Tidbit Corner, Tokyo Terrace, Maison de Christina, Chrys Niles,Lexi, Culinary Musings, Wheeling Gourmet, Comestiblog, Chronicles Of A Curious Cook, Tokyo Through The Drinking Glass, Tokyo Foodcast, Palate To Pen, Yellin Yakimono Gallery, Tokyo Terrace, Hilah Cooking, More than a Mount Full, Arkonite Bento, Happy Little Bento; 5 Star Foodie; Jefferson’s Table; Oyster Culture; Gourmet Fury; Island Vittles; Good Beer & Country Boys; Rubber Slippers In Italy; Color Food daidokoro/Osaka;/a; The Witchy Kitchen; Citron Et Vanille, Lunsj Med Buffet/Estonian Gastronomy (English), Cook, Eat, Play, Repeat, Chrisoscope, Agrigraph, The Agriculture Portal to shizuoka!

Shizuoka Ekiben/Railway Station Bento: Haru Chisen

About this time of the year Tokaiken Co. offers a seasonal ekiben at Shizuoka JR Station called “Haru Chisen/春千扇”, or “The Thousand Fans of Spring to celebrate the most important season in Japan! It is slightly more expensive (1,000 yen), but it is certainly worth it!

The box is the color of cherry blossoms, the symbol of Spring!

The contents are clearly indicated as usual!

As you lift the cover you will find another film of transparent paper protecting the food inside.

Now, what do we have?

Sansai maze gohan: Rice steamed together with wild mountain vegetables. Another indication that we are in Spring!

Shiozuke sakura no hana: edible cherry blossom preserved in salt!

Let’s have a look at the section on the left… beautiful colors!

Flower-shaped daikon pickled in sweet vinegar on na no hana/rapeseed flowers and umeboshi-pickled daikon.

Tara no me/a Japanese wild mountain vegetable.
Tofu edamame fuwafuwa: deep-fried tofu cake containing edamame and other vegetables.
Tamagoyaki/Japanese omelette.

Now, let’s turn to the right section: More colors!

Nimono/simmered vegetables: Carrot, taro, shiitake mushroom, green peas in their pod, bamboo shoot and cherry-blossom-shaped jelly.

Now for the “main dish”: pork shuumai/dim sung, sawara/young Spanish mackerel (from the Suruga Bay) and deep-fried chikuwa/fish paste roll stuffed with umeboshi paste.

By now you should know the color of Spring in Japan!

To be continued…

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Vietnamese Cuisine: Shizuoka Agricultural Products at Annam

Service: Very friendly and attentive
Equipment: Very clean and beautiful washroom.
Prices: reasonable
Strong points: Authentic Vietnamese cuisine prepared by all-vietnamese staff!
Great use of local products.
Entirely non-smoking!

Owner: Ms. Le Thi Hong Vinh
Chef: Ms. Nguyen Thi Hong Mai

Good authentic Vietnamese Restaurants are only found far and between in Shizuoka Prefecture, but here in Shizuoka City we are lucky enough to have the real (and probably the only one!) article: Annam!

It has become such a reference that they will have to move next June to a better suited location right in the middle of downtown Shizuoka in front of Nakajimaya Grand Hotel where they will find like-minded company.

Their menus offer a great variety and they do make a true effort to use local ingredients, especially vegetables. Shizuoka Prefecture being an agricultural treasure trove, it explains why we are blessed with so many top quality establishments!

Actually, they can devise you an entirely vegetarian (or anything else) repast given enough time in advance. By definition, Vietnamese food is healthy and one ought to sample its authentic form (as opposed to fast food oriented diners) regularly.

Since my work is to make discover restaurants that serve high quality, healthy and local food, it was only a pleasure to visit Annam once again, the more for it that their menus keep pace with the seasons!

As I was having lunch by myself I decided to sample at least three dishes and stay away from the carbohydrates!
My first dish ( a pretty long name in Vietnamese) was Sauteed Seasonal Vegetables.

Pan-fried with just the right amount of seasoning, the local vegetables including delicious Jew’s Ear mushrooms were scrumptious, cooked to perfection to allow you to enjoy their true taste and savors.
They also certainly made for great appetizing colors!

The second dish could have been called a “meat” dish, although the latter has nothing to do those big lumps of greasy meat served elsewhere: Sauteed Herb Beef!

The beef is cut into small enough pieces and wrapped in herbs before being fried.

The herbs will trap the beef juices and make for a really tender and delicious morsel.
It is such pleasure to pick the wrapped pieces one at a time with your chopsticks and have all the savors spread through your palate as you bite into them.

My last dish was Chicken sauteed in Lemon Grass.
A curry note was also added to them for the perfect spicy balance.

Everything was cut into the proper dainty size for maximum enjoyment.
I do agree some rice would have been welcome to top it with, but I said I was here to taste!

But I couldn’t escape a dessert: Violet Sweet Potato “Cie”!
A typical Vietnamese dessert, it is concocted with violet Sweet Potato, coconuts milk and tapioca. Just the right sweetness, and plenty of satisfaction without being overwhelmed.
Make sure you keep some space for one of these desserts!

Looking forward to report again in June!

ANNAM
420-0858 Shizuoka City, Aoi Ku, Tenmacho, 17-9
Tel.: 054-250-2266
Fax: 054-250-2323
Business hours: 11:30~14:00, 17:30~22:00
Closed on Monday (or next day if National Holiday)
HOMEPAGE
Credit Cards OK

NEW ADDRESS FROM JUNE
Shizuoka City, Aoi Ku, Koya machi, 6-6, Mitsuhisa Blg, 2F

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Please check the new postings at:
sake, shochu and sushi