Checking out: Bird Land Ginza

IMG_4507Some say Bird Land Ginza which specialises in yakitori is over-rated.  Some say it wasn’t even worth making a trip down to but well, we just wanted to give it a try and find out how it compared over the traditional yakitori places that we’ve been frequenting in Tokyo.  My top pick for yakitori in Tokyo has gotta be Fuku Yakitori! (thanks to a rec by Fashionista Cat)!  There has been no turning back since then.

IMG_4511We tried securing reservations when we were in Tokyo for a short break in Dec 2013/ Jan 2014.  Unfortunately, during that time, the restaurant was closed for a long break.  This time round, we had a week in Tokyo and since I kinda wanted to give new places a go, decided to ignore the criticisms and give this place a try.

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IMG_4512How did it all measure up?  Well, turnaround was pretty quick.  We were seated at 7pm and by about 8.30pm, we were out of the restaurant.  Reason why it could be so quick is because the chefs really cook up the skewers rather quickly instead of taking their time.  Is quality compromised?  Nope.  Most of what were served to us were pretty tasty.  IMG_4533 IMG_4534 IMG_4518No fancy sauce was used for most of their skewers.  Chefs here kept it clean and simple, using only salt to marinate the chicken meat and with some sauces used for the vegetables to help complement the flavours.  They had my fave Spring vegetable – Soramame available so we ordered that to share.  They also had a cheese skewer but sigh, nothing comes close to the AMAZING smoked cheese skewer at Fuku.  That’s really DA BOMB!!

Would I come back?  Does the place deserved it’s one Michelin star?  For the former question, well, no. I think I would rather stick to Fuku Yakitori and my next trip back to Japan, no questions asked, I’m just going to head back there.  As to whether the place deserve it’s one Michelin star?  I didn’t really think so for there are better places around.  Perhaps they just did a better job in terms of marketing their items?  I don’t know what the appeal was but when we were there, the place was pretty packed with customers so I guess it can’t be all jazz.

Bird Land
Address: Tsukamoto-Building B1F, 4-2-15 Ginza, Chuo-ku, Tokyo 104-0061
For reservations in English, click here.

Back again: Sarashina Horii Soba

IMG_4491While planning what to eat for the day, I casually told the Man that I would like to head back to Azabu Juban for some of those yummy soba noodles that we used to have while living here.  My request was granted and we found ourselves back into this cosy hood for some heart-warming soba.

We had some dinner plans that may potentially morph into a big dinner so we decided to keep lunch simple and shared most of the items.

IMG_4488Yuba – essentially, it’s beancurd skin eaten with wasabi or straight up.  We love this starter or rather, we simply just love beancurd skin.  :)

IMG_4489Next, tamagoyaki.  Egg omelet!  Another favourite of ours! This one is done rather well too, just the right hint of dashi stock infused with the egg.

IMG_4490Now for the main meal that we shared and our server raised her eyebrows at us when we said we were going to share everything.  Not so usual in this restaurant perhaps?  I peeked over and saw patrons from the other table each happily slurping on their soba noodles while we shared everything else.  Oh never mind!  :)

The cold soba noodles served with warm duck broth were just as good as before.  Well, after all, this is an old soba establishment with over 200 years of history attached to its name.  The duck broth is really good as a dipping sauce with the cold and firm soba noodles.  Don’t be in a haste to drink up all the soup as it can get a little salty.  If you want a taste of the soup, do ask your server for some soba broth and they will be happy to bring you some which you can add to the duck broth to make it a little lighter for the drinking.

This place sure brings back fond memories of our good times while living in Tokyo and I’m glad that somethings still taste just as good.  :)

Sarashina Horii
Address: 3-11-4 Moto Azabu, Minato-ku, Tokyo
Tel: 03-3403-3401
Website: http://www.sarashina-horii.com/en/
Credit Card: No
Open: 11:30am-8:30pm

Checking out: Tenmasa

Wasn’t quite sure which tempura restaurant we should head to during our recent trip to Tokyo, so I left that out from the planning.  There are many good tempura restaurants in Tokyo and the ones that I particularly enjoyed are Rakutei, Tempura Karasawa and Shinmizu. The Man had a tempura craving the second day we were in Tokyo and so we asked the concierge where’s a good place he would recommend.  Tenmasa it was and since it was close to where we stayed, we headed there without much hesitation.

Did a quick search online with the free wifi that we had on Tenmasa and most online reviews were positive so I guess that’s a pretty good start.  Also found out that Tenmasa received its first one Michelin star in 2014, so the standard must be fairly decent. IMG_4409If  memory doesn’t fail me (yes, I blame them on the pregnancy), there are 3 set menus available for lunch.  We went for the seasonal lunch menu where the tempura master selected the season’s finest picks carefully curated for the menu.

What I enjoyed?  The creativity used by the chef for some of the dishes.  For instance, the deep-fried gingko nuts and soramame bean tempura were particularly enjoyable and the scallops wrapped with seaweed, dipped in batter and then deep-fried to perfection.  Lighting at the place was pretty bad so I couldn’t really capture many of the dishes with the iPhone.  The oil used for the deep-frying of the tempura is also of top-grade and throughout the course of lunch, the chef actually changed the oil at least 3 times.  Must say, it’s rather impressive to witness that for they say that only the top tempura restaurants would do this to ensure that the quality of the oil used for the deep-frying of the tempura is not compromised.

Our set-menu came with a hot bowl of piping rice served over a hot stone and with rich dashi stock, kinda like a thick porridge.  I was way too full at this point in time and think we may have over-done the first meal we had in Tokyo with this.  Food coma set in a couple of hours later so much so I wasn’t in the mood to even think of dinner and just spent the rest of the evening lying down in bed.  Yikes!

Would I recommend this place?  I’d say yes if you are in the hood.  The lower-priced set lunch menu is fairly decent as well so if you are not a huge eater, then go for that instead.  After all, if you are not full, they will come around to ask if you wish to add more ala-carte items to your meal.

Tenmasa
Address: 2-4-1 Marunouchi,Chiyoda-ku,Tokyo Marunouchi Bldg.  35F, Tokyo
Telephone: 03-5220-3170  
Business hours: Lunch 11:00-15:00(LO14:00) Dinner 17:00-23:00(LO21:00)

The progress thus far…

IMG_4699Man, time flies.. can’t believe 29 weeks have just whizzed us by.  Bump is growing well, in fact, it’s a lot bigger now!  Thanks to the good food that we’ve pumped Bun with over the course of the week.  This was taken rather early during the trip where I could still fit into a loose shirt buttoned all the way down.  You can’t really see Bump here but side angle, one could see the protruding belly.  But having said that, we were still extra careful during rush hour in Tokyo.  The Man was my constant protector making sure that  I was well supported while walking up and down the stairs in the subway.  :)

IMG_4551Ok, here’s another not-so-great shot of Bump in the subway.  Yeah, we spend a lot of time in the subway so cam-whored while waiting for train.  I kid you not right?  Bump has expanded like overnight!!  Finding it hard to fit into my usual stash of tees now and wonder how long before I will start raiding the Man’s wardrobe to steal his tees.  Any one of you gals done that before?  Pray, tell.  Or is that strictly a no, no?

IMG_4473On a vain note, I kinda love this pic that the Man took of me after dinner one evening.  I was tired and we had just finished a full meal over at Ropponggi.  I nudged the Man to go for a short walk to see the Cherrry Blossoms all lighted up in pink over at Tokyo Midtown.  He obliged and while we marveled at the amazing sight that nature with the help of technology had to offer.  I turned over and ask him to quickly snap a pic of me.  Lighting wasn’t that great but once he turned on the flash function, I was pleasantly surprised how this pic turned out!  :)  And I didn’t even put make-up to begin with.  Hur hur…

In other news on prep for Bun’s arrival, we managed to get some of her stuff in Toks.  For the big items, we are left with the cot and the changing station which we are determined to get by this weekend.  We’ve also braced ourselves to rough it out at the biggest Baby Fair this coming weekend to get diapers, toiletries, bedding, this Cocoonababy which I’m pretty fixated on getting after hearing a friend plus Mag rave about it, etc.

We’ve also somewhat mentally figured where we will be placing Bun’s cot and some of Bun’s items in our spare room.  We won’t be converting it into a full nursery yet as we are thinking of doing a minor renovation to our place but this will only take place when Bun arrives.  Now, all that’s left?  For me to clear out more wardrobe space so that I properly organise all of Bun’s stuff.  Fingers crossed!!!

Sakura viewing in 2014

Couldn’t have picked for a better location than to spend one of our last trips for the next couple of months before Bun’s arrival than Tokyo.  A trip really different from the rest where we spent most of the time just walking around the city in a leisurely fashion and looked for places to eat rather than shopping.

Speaking of shopping, my buys were far more conservative than the Man’s and Bun’s.  :)  We got Bun several sets of new clothes plus those uber soft Japanese towels that were oh-so-expensive but we figured that the years of mileage would be justifiable.  Oh-kay, I digressed.

L1010140On Monday, we were greeted with warm sunshine and clear blue skies, so we decided to make a picnic out of the afternoon and headed down to Shinjuku National Park for some sakura viewing.

L1010141 L1010143I was also careful what we packed for our lunch picnic after suffering from ‘food coma’ (ie: indigestion and heartburn) the night before, so we bought assorted items and walked away with my fave loaf of Chocolate bread from Johan Paris from Ginza.  That’s our picnic-do that we hastily put together.  Bread, some fruit, karage for the Man and a Katsu (pork loin) with egg sandwich from Maisen.  It made for a satisfying quick-lunch! :)

L1010145With no prep whatsoever, we were thankful for the weather and the dry ground that allowed us to basically sprawl across the green without any picnic-mats.  The rest of the people we saw came prepared but I guess all can be forgiven on our end since we were tourists.  ;p  The Park was pretty crowded too for a Monday!  Guess people just wanted to take advantage of the great weather to view the flowers before they all go away.

So after lunch, we took a leisurely walk around the Park for more photos and just appreciate the wonder of the Cherry Blossoms.

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L1010164This is truly our fave time to be in Tokyo – Spring and Sakura (Cherry Blossoms)!  Simply beautiful and magical!  :)

Once in a while…

20140410-164305.jpg20140410-164334.jpgIt’s nice to just be on my own, have a cuppa and watch the world go by. That’s just what I did today when the Man went off for a work-do and left me wandering on my own. Meandering the streets of Ginza no longer meant I had to rush through shopping. Well, probably because I have lesser need to shop so much these days for myself except for Bun. After hitting a couple of shops, I was satisfied and found myself a nice place to just rest my feet, have a cuppa and just enjoy the present..  Been thinking a bit about life and what it holds, whether some things are necessary or it’s just excessive.  I don’t have all the answers but it’s good to just wonder stuff like these once in a while.

Sweet tooth

Bun has a sweet tooth and I can’t help finishing my meal with something sweet over here in Tokyo!

Here’s what we found the past couple of days even though we have walked past these stalls several times before. Finally decided to try out their offerings.

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First stop one late noon which kinda caused my food coma – Akebono Ginza – a traditional Japanese sweets stall that stood the test of time and still holds a dear place in many of the locals.

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The Man has a soft spot for strawberries so we tried this special rice cake with a juicy strawberry enveloped with red bean paste. Interesting texture and the strawberry was fresh so it was pretty easy to finish this chewy rice cake up.

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Can’t even remember the countless times we have passed by Manneken, a small Belgian waffle stall with long queues. After dinner one evening, we were pleased to see that the queue somewhat eased up so I egged the Man to share dessert with me. Well, he almost couldn’t resist having the strawberry waffle since it was the special for the month. ;)

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Okay, pics weren’t that great but the strawberry waffle we had was really good. Crispy and flavorful with strawberry essence, I truly enjoyed the after-dinner treat. We also shared this waffle sandwich with rare cream cheese thinking that it was ice-cream in between. Unfortunately, it was cream and I couldn’t stomach anymore cream so the Man ate it all up. ;). Phew for me and Bun!


Lady J

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