Thursday, December 30, 2010

Freshness Burger

As the 24th of this month is over, I was asked by some foreign friends about how I spent the day, but according to an article that I found on the Internet, as many as one out of three people doesn't want to do anything special on the holy day. I was a bit relieved to know that I'm not so special as I just watched a film on dvd on the night.
 I don't know if this burger shop "Freshness Burger" is available only in Japan, but it is as good as MOS burger, which I introduced in this post.

 The interior of the shop was somewhat old-fashioned. I like something old-fashioned in the American way.

 I chose a table in the 2nd floor, and I could see cars running in the street in front of the shop. But some people were smoking and I didn't like it.

 This was a Salsa Burger set, and it comes with salad and a coffee. The amount of the coffee was more than enough. As a coffee aficionado, I'd say this coffee was okay. 

You can see some old stuff displayed in almost all Freshness Burger outlets. In my opinion, very good burger shops always have bottles of mustard and ketchup.
I wish I could write more times a month, but recently I've been a bit busy like anybody else. 

Tuesday, December 21, 2010


I think some of the people who read my blog live in the USA or Europe, and they would be busy preparing for Christmas. Japanese people also celebrate the birthday of Jesus, but people normally don't associate the day with Christianity. And I'm one of those people, and think I'll just have some KFC at home on the night of 24. 

An ad said this restaurant "Fuufuan" served a set of soba and Katsudon for less than 1,000 yen, so I drove more than 30 minutes to have good lunch on Saturday. The meaning of "Fuufu", is " husband and wife".

At traditional Japanese restaurants, there are often tables and "Zashiki" where you have to sit on the floor with your legs folded. And we chose the latter.  

The waitress delivered the soba first, and this soba was as good as some we can have at a very good soba restaurant. While we were waiting, a congressman of my prefecture approached us and he gave me his name card. Guessed this restaurant was frequented by lots of local people. 

I think I introduced this dish called "Katsudon". The fried stuff you see underneath the raw egg is sliced pork that was deep-fried. As there was a little soba in this set, this Katsudon was just what I needed to fill my stomach.

The 23rd of this week is a holiday in Japan, and it is the day when our current emperor was born. 

Monday, December 13, 2010

Nakaminato (harbor)

It was very warm last Saturday, and the high was about 17 degrees Celsius. So I decided to go to a harbor to buy some fish and have sushi. The prefecture I live in is called Ibaraki, and basically people in Japan have an easy access to the sea wherever they live. 

Please click this link to see where Ibaraki prefecture is. I had to drive just 2 hours or so to come here. And God of weather was on my side on this day.

Basically people were selling fish that were caught around this area, but I could see some foreign fish as well.

 As you can see so many kinds of fish were available. The reddest fish in the upper center is called "Kinmedai" or alfonsino. Its price was about 35 us dollars.

 This is "Zuwai Gani", and considered a very expensive crab that can be caught around Japan. People eat its arms and legs mainly, and those limbs are often put in a pan with hot water. The pan is called "Nabe" in Japanese.

Japanese amberjack. We boil it after dipping pieces of it in soy sauce with sugar. And the dish is called "Buriteri". "Teri" is the same word off the well-known Japanese word "Teriyaki".

 The cut-opened fish on the right is called "Hokke". It is easy to eat fish like this when it is opened and its guts are removed.

 One thing we can enjoy at Japanese seasides is of course "sushi". This restaurant was Kaiten-zushi-styled, and I had heard all the sushi of this restaurant was so fresh.

Do you know the lever of a fish called "Ankou"? This lever has an alias "The steak of the sea", and its taste is so thick. This dish cost only 300 yen, but the taste was better than any Ankou lever I had tasted. I suppose the English name for "Ankou" would be "sea toad". 

This was nothing like the renowned seafood market in Tokyo called "Tsukiji", but nevertheless I enjoyed looking at so many kinds of fish. I did see some foreign people as well here. 

Tuesday, December 7, 2010

Bad ass coffee in December

I'm not a kind of person who enjoys walking around in malls, but malls in Japan sometimes have unique coffee shops that you wouldn't see anywhere else. And my area is a bit rural, and we can have coffee at a unique coffee shop in a mall that can be usually seen in Tokyo only. 

 Can you recognize that tiny Christmas tree? Most of our malls start to decorate themselves with Christmas ornaments in November. 

I didn't know the meaning of "Bad ass"until I looked it up in my dictionary. Japanese people aren't familiar with English, so if they know the meaning of "ass" only, the name would sound only weird. 

 This shop's interior is based on Hawaii, so it was like having Christmas time in summer. I've always wanted to spend December in Hawaii or the southern hemisphere. 

The purpose of this post was showing a dish this coffee shops serves. I showed this coffee shop last year, but then I showed iced black coffee only. What you can see in the basket is bread with boiled egg and bacon. 

Foreign people often ask how we celebrate Christmas, but most people seem to enjoy Christmas in a secular way. I think Christmas is more important for young people who have partners than New Years. 

Thursday, December 2, 2010

Denny's in Japan

This blog should be based on things typically seen in Japan, but it is sometimes hard to find purely Japanese things. But I think even things commonly seen in the USA or Europe differ slightly from our counterparts. And this Denny's should be one of them too. 

 I frequented two Denny's in my area, and one was open from the morning to midnight. And this one is open 24/7.

 I came here last Sunday morning, and I could see customers sparsely. As I showed in the previous post, we push the button to get the attention of the waitresses, but at Denny's you should raise your voice or hand. 

 I think this menu might be seen in Japan only. You can have a soft drink with 180 yen in addition to the dish you order, or with additional 280 yen for unlimited refills. We have something called "Drink Bar" at most restaurants, and in order to vie with those restaurants, I guess Denny's had to introduce this bit different style.

Ehm....I don't remember the exact name of this dish, but it is basically a hamburger steak with porcini mushrooms on top of it. And the sauce was demiglace. Since I was small, hamburger steaks were the main attraction at almost all Japanese family restaurants. It is liked by kids and adults, and you'd feel full without an additional dessert.

Monday, November 29, 2010

Posh sushi bar -2-

This sushi bar is called "Maneki zushi", and I came to this sushi bar for the second time this year. When I want to have sushi, I often end up eating some at a Kaitenzushi as I told you before, but ordinary Japanese people wouldn't be able to suppress the urge to have good sushi for a long time.

I'm not writing this blog to "advertise" certain restaurants and shops, but good restaurants would make foreign people want to come to Japan. I came here with three friends, but two of them were late.

Foreign people in my city like to come to this sushi bar, and as you can see English explanations are written on the menu. While having dinner, I could hear foreign people laughing out loud in the room next door.

Usually, if you come to a good sushi bar, you'd have to speak to a waitress to order, but this restaurant had this button.

This plate cost more than 3000 yen. Of course all the sushi tasted very good, but my favorite was definitely that yellow sushi, sea urchin.

Do you remember I introduced this cat "Maneki Neko"? The shop owner places this cat in his restaurant or shop to "beckon" in many customers.  

I sometimes hear people in NYC like to have Japanese dishes, but imo, our dishes are not so addictive like Mcdonald's. But Japanese dishes are often very healthy, and such dishes wouldn't be liked by people instantly. 

Thursday, November 25, 2010

Tribe (Coffee Shop)

A new cafe opened two months ago in my city, and an ad said I could have a coffee for 200 yen there. You know, a coffee of Doutor costs about 200 yen too, so I think that's the psychological threshold for those who love to drink coffee so often. 

The name of this cafe is "Tribe", and this cafe served coffee made from beans harvested mainly in Africa.

Can you see the pictures on the sides of the counter? I thought those black people represented the word "Tribe".

There were only four seats for customers, and basically you should buy coffee to take out with your own cup. The right brown stuff is called "Karintou", and it is a snack made from wheat and sweetened with black sugar.

The coffee I ordered tasted really good. And the shop clerk roasts coffee himself with that machine and that must be the reason for the tastiness.

I hoped this coffee shop will do good business for a long time to come. I sometimes find good cafes, but some of them go out of business so easily. 

Monday, November 22, 2010

Trip to Nikkou -3-

After walking around in the Toushouguu area, I came to this lake called "Chuuzenji ko". This lake was just a few kilometers from where Toushouguu was, and it was worth seeing 'cause it was so refreshing to see a lake so huge as this.

 I took this pic from a temple that overlooked this lake. I was thinking of showing the temple in this post, but these days I doubt foreign people would enjoy seeing temples after temples.

This fall is called "Kegon no Taki", and considered one of the most renowned three falls in Japan. The water comes from the "Chuuzenji ko" that I showed you in the first pic. I wished the trees had more yellow leaves so that the fall would have looked better.

 And people were selling things that were peculiar to Japan. These are fake swords, but would you still associate Japan with Samurais?

As I showed in the previous post, there was an artifact called "Mizaru", and "Kikazaru". And sure, Nikkou is known as a place where you could see monkeys strolling in the streets. And this is the reason why they were selling these stuffed monkeys.

A street of the town near the "Kegon no Taki". You can see many souvenir shops.

I was thinking of having something typically Nikkou, but all I could have was this Soba with fried "Yuba". "Yuba" is a sheet-like stuff taken off the surface of boiled soy milk, and it doesn't have a taste like Tofu. And I don't think Yuba could be had exclusively in Nikkou.The yellow fry to the right of the Soba was Yuba.

After seeing the garden, temple, lake and fall, we decided to go home, but I was again feeling hungry from walking around. This is a coffee shop near the Nikkou station. The shop clerk said this shop was based on a French style, but what would you think?

I had this cake that was full of chestnuts. The coffee was very good too.

Do you know we have places to rest in called "service areas" on a highway? You can go to bathroom, or buy drinks and even snacks as well. People would get tired after driving on a highway for hours on end.

 Saw these Hello Kitty straps for your cell phones. You can see the Hello Kitties resembling a monkey. The red Japanese reads, "The three Nikkou monkey Kitties". Would you want one?

I really enjoyed looking around in Nikkou, and foreign people would enjoy this area too because of all the traditional "Japanese" things. 

Thursday, November 18, 2010

Trip to Nikkou -2-

I said I went to an area in Tochigi prefecture called Nikkou, and another must-see place is this "Toushouguu". It is a place where the first Tokugawa warlord "Ieyasu Tokugawa" was enshrined. He lived up to age 75, and since then he's rested in peace here.

 There were so many sightseers in front of that gate called "Torii". It was warm on this day, and the high should have been around 15 Celsius degrees.

A plaza where people take pics in front of these traditional buildings. The multiple-fold tower you can see is "Gojyuu No Tou", or a five-fold tower. It was burned down a few hundred years ago, but got reconstructed in 1818.

 I hadn't expected to see this, but you could have taken a ride on this horse. An adult would have had to pay 1,000 yen for a ride.

 This is one of the renowned artifacts in Nikkou. The left monkeys are called "Kikazaru", and the right ones "Mizaru", meaning "never listen", and "never see" respectively. Those monkeys suggest children not "listen to" or "see" bad things and grow up healthily. "Zaru" means "monkey" and "never", a kind of wordplay.  

 I introduced a place where you're supposed to clean your mouth and hands before saying prayer. The ones I showed you before weren't so flashy as this, but almost all the buildings here have gold color on them.

 The main gate called "Youmei Mon". It is said you'd never get tired of looking at this gate until the sun sets, so it has an alias, "The gate of dusk".

 And there were these dragon relieves on the gate.

 This cat is called "The sleeping cat", and in order to see this cat you have to pay more money in addition to the admission fee. The cat is basking in the sunshine, and "Nikkou" means "the sunshine" too. This cat was made by "Jingorou Hidari".

 After seeing the cat you can go up these stairs to see something more. I was almost losing my breath while scaling this stairs .

 But after going up the stairs, all I could see was this tomb. Honestly I wasn't so impressed.

 Do you remember I showed you this wooden plate called "Ema"? You can write down your wish on this "sleeping cat" Ema, and your wish may come true

-to be continued-