Travel #01: Narita to Taipei

I was lucky in this Taipei trip. I took China Airlines this time. I ordered my air ticket on the Internet, and they gave me a priority coupon, which allowed me to have a priority check-in, a pass to their lounge, and a priority tag on my luggage. My flight was at around 2pm, so I left Shin-Yokohama at around 9:30am, and then went to YCAT to take a Limousine Bus (shuttle bus) towards Narita Airport.

At 11:30am, I arrived at Narita Airport, but the check-in counter was still closed. So I bought new batteries for my camera to be ready to take some pictures and walked around a little bit to see if anything interesting. Narita Airport was not crowded on this day.

The check-in counter opened at around 11:45. I immediately checked in my big luggage, and rushed to the lounge. I used to have a chance to enjoy United lounge, but now they charge us to use it, so I barely take United… I miss their better services. The lounge was actually empty. I was the first one, and then one business person came in right after me.

Their food menu was alright. They had some cookies, breads, onigiri, noodles and so on. Reasonable, but nothing special. Regular drinks were ready. I was hungry, and I knew I could not eat an airline meal, so I picked two Onigiri (rice balls) and a small cup noodle. Too much? ^^;

I stayed there for an hour--writing articles for the blog and killing some time, then headed off to the gate. It was relaxing time at the lounge... It only took for four hours or so to get Taipei Taoyuan International Airport, and as I predict, I couldn't eat an airline meal.

Yes, I am here in Taipei now, and it has passed a month already. I am trying to stay here for 6 months or hopefully a bit longer to improve my Chinese skills.

If you know good restaurants, especially "good" Italian Restaurant, please let me know!


Restaurant #24: Shabu Shabu Onyasai, Shin-Yokohama

This dinner became a last meal with my friends in Japan. ShabuShabu place, Onyasai, is located near by on Shin-Yokohama station. This restaurant becomes a big chain and several restaurants are already located in Sapporo. I heard about them, but this was my first time to try.

I had a chance to meet with my Hokkaido friend. She moved to Tokyo area a few years ago. She went to the same college in the USA. I was glad to meet her in such a short notice. I introduced my other friend to her, and three of us went to Onyasai together having a dinner.

The décor was pretty. It was a bit dark and Jazz music was played as the background music. Workers were fine, but I felt they were not friendly enough. It was late, so they might be tired... Unfortunately, my camera was out of battery, so the pictures were taken by one of my friend’s mobile phone. (I think it looks amazing! Thank you, my friend!)

Shabu Shabu Set

The menu is complicated; we have several choices for soup, meat, veggies and other side dishes. It is fun to choose each of them, or you may feel much easier to order set menus. Since we were not that hungry, we ordered Shabu Shabu Set (1580 yen), which came with your choice of soup, meat, veggie, and Shime Mono (〆物) for two people.

They used Chinese hot pot, so we could enjoy two different kinds of soup. One came with the basic Konbu soup, and the other was our choice, soymilk soup. It was healthy, and it also provided Yuba (湯葉: tofu skin).

Japanese Kuroge Beef set and Veggie set

Meat set that we chose was "Hayashi Farm’s Mochi-Buta and Japanese Kuroge Beef Set" (林牧場のもち豚と国産黒毛牛セット), which was served with three types of meat; Mochi-Buta Prime Rosu (prime pork loin), Mochi-Buta Prime Kalbi (prime rib), and Japanese Kuroge Beef Prime Rose. All were tasty and tender, but I especially liked prime pork loin. It matched with both kinds of soup.

Our vegetable choice (食物繊維たっぷり野菜の盛り合わせ) looked gorgeous; yam, spinach, Daikon (大根: Japanese radish), Gobo (ごぼう: burdock root), carrot, lettuce, Eringi (エリンギ: emperor mushroom), brown Enoki mushroom, and Nameko mushroom (なめこ). I preferred eating vegetables with Konbu soup, but amazingly, Gobo really matched with soymilk soup. Earthy flavor of Gobo easily becomes strong among the others, but with soymilk soup, it turned to the creamy, gentle flavor. Gobo is a very healthy vegetable, it really help us to digest foods well.

Aww the veggies were really good, so we ordered another Basic Veggie Set (880 yen); lettuce, cabbage, Hakusai (白菜: napa cabbage), Mizuna (水菜), Nira (韮: Oriental garlic chives), carrot, Daikon, Shungiku (春菊: chrysanthemum greens), bok choy, sprout, and spinach. I was not a huge veggie lover before, but once I passed the certain age, I was able to taste the freshness of the vegetables and feel more appreciation to farmers. Oh well, am I just getting old? Shungiku and Nira might have strong flavor than others, but I ate both easily with soymilk soup.

Finally, Shimemono (〆物) came. “Shime-mono” means a closing item of the dinner. After the main dishes and drinking, Japanese commonly eat not only delicious but also like taste rice / noodle item, such as Onigiri (おにぎり: rice ball) or Ochazuke (お茶漬け). Since we chose the soymilk soup, shimemono was “Soymilk Cheese Risotto”. They adjusted the quantity of the soup first (add more or take it out a bit), and add some rice. Over the rice, they shredded the fresh cheese and grinded pepper. It only took a few minutes to complete creamy risotto. It tasted different than I expected, in a good way, since the soup was soymilk. It was a great item to finish up the gathering.

Overall, I and my friends enjoyed this evening with healthy vegetables and tasty meat. Shabu Shabu is becoming popular even in the U.S.. Doing Nabe (hot pot) is a cultural thing for Japanese people; family and friends gather and eat hot pot together in cold season. America’s shabu shabu use a small pot for one person, but we use a huge pot, and put all veggies and meats, and eat them together. This is Japanese/Chinese style, and I always enjoy it!

Total: about 6000 yen (set menu for 2 people, some drinks for each)

Shabu Shabu Onyasai
しゃぶしゃぶ 温野菜


Café #04: Lettre D’Amour, Shirokane

I apologize that I have not updated my food diary for a while, and the article is getting behind…

On the way back to the hotel, my friend and I found a cute dessert shop called “Lettre D’Amour”, located at Shirokane-Dai, Tokyo. They sell sweets at the first floor, and at the second floor, a fashionable cafeteria offers the relaxed place for us to enjoy their desserts. I felt lucky because it is not easy to find such a fancy place at Tokyo, unless you know the area well. So we decided to have a tea in here.

Such a sweet little building. Two workers welcomed us carefully when we opened the door. Then a lady guided us to the upstairs. There were only four or five round-tables in the cafeteria, and well-trained waitress brought us a cute menu. Most of items had pictures so it made us very difficult to pick, because it all looked gorgeous.

My friend chose chocolate cake and hot café au lait. Sorry I forgot the name of the cake. It was too fancy to memorize it. :D It looked gorgeous, and I liked the snowflake on the cake. The red sauce on the plate was raspberry sauce.


Beautiful color combination! Creamy, rich flavoured Litchi’s mousse, called "Fleur", was served artistically with the red (pink?) shell. Blueberry on the top nicely provided a slight sour taste. The shell around the mousse was actually a white chocolate! It was amazing. The chocolate was pretty sweet, but it helped to keep the nice balance of the sweetness between the mousse and the chocolate.

Hot Tea with La France flavor

I ordered hot tea with the aroma of La France. La France is the one kind of European pear, and Japan also produces one for picky Japanese customers. The pear itself is pretty expensive, compared to crispy Japanese pear, Nashi (梨). Luckily, my mother bought some La France for me this summer, and it was so fresh and juicy. I still remembered the sweetness of the pear. This hot tea reminded me of that taste. I also liked the cute idea of the sugar stick. While the tea was hot, you put the sugar stick into the tea, and waited for a few minutes. The sugar started melting.

Lettre D’Amour means a love letter. Chef de Patissier, Mr. Katsuhiko Kurashima, won second place for Grand Gateau division at Japan Cake Show Tokyo 2008. If you have a chance to visit Tokyo, it is worth to stop by this shop.

Lettre D’Amour
on Platinum Street
5-17-1, Shirokane-dai, Minato-ku


Restaurant #23: Maharaja, Yokohama

Cubic Plaza became a symbolic mall at Shin-Yokohama area. They provide foods, clothes, bookstore and some nice restaurants. I didn’t have enough time to take a look each floor, but I went to the 10th floor to eat lunch with my friend.

I used to have an Indian friend in California, and she cooked me some Indian food before. I really liked it, especially a curry. This Indian restaurant, Maharaja, offers lunch menus with a large quantity of curry. The décor was simple, but neat and clean. I liked it. There were two Indian waiters serving. It seems that their menu is a mixture of North India and South India’s local menus.

My friend and I ordered Today’s Lunch, 900 yen, and Malai Kabab (2 pieces), 600 yen. Lunch set came with a salad, today’s special curry, and choice of nan or rice. Wow that was huge quantity for me… It made me full easily.

Today's Lunch

Today’s special curry was a chicken curry. I tried to memorize the name, but they said it was not on the menu… I forgot the full name… But it was extremely spicy and tasty! I tried with rice, and my friend tried with nan. This curry was matched well with rice, but the rice was too much. I wish I could’ve brought some to the hotel. Japanese restaurant doesn’t offer the boxes, so we need to eat everything.

Malai Kabab was also a great item as a second dish. However, we were full with the curry, and had a tough time to finish up everything. I am not sure how they cook Malai Kabab, but I could taste Indian spices and some creamy taste; it could be some whip cream or yogurt. It had a strong flavor because of the spices, but it was my taste than tandoori chicken.

I tried Indian food several times, and now I am getting into it. Next time I go back to Japan, I definitely want to try out some restaurants. Oh well, I will find some here in Taipei… If you have some Indian friends, you should ask them some popular recipe.

Total: 2400 yen (for 2 people, without drinks)

Maharaja, Yokohama
9F, Cubic Plaza Shin-Yokohama
2-100-45, Sinyokohama, Kouhoku-ku
11:00-23:00 (L.O. 22:00)


Restaurant #22: Teppachiya, Yokohama

I used to live in Kanagawa province for about a year, due to my job. So I have some friends in this area. Luckily, I could meet up with one of my friends in short notice. She took me to Japanese Teppanyaki restaurant, called Teppachiya (てっぱち屋). Some of you may imagine something like Benihana, but actually, our teppanyaki style is quite different than Benihana. Either customers cook by themselves or the stake chef cook quietly and elegantly in front of you. Not that much entertainment as Benihana. Although I like Benihana style, this restaurant was the place that you enjoy “teppanyaki” with your friends.

Teppachi Tamagoyaki

“Teppachi Tamagoyaki with Ground Chicken and Cheese” (てっぱち玉子焼き 鶏そぼろ&チーズ) (730 yen) was a fantastic item to start with. My friend and I could cook, but we asked the waiter to do teppanyaki for us. He quickly beat some eggs, and put onto the heated Teppan.

Cooked ground chicken, shredded cheese, sprout and green onion were added immediately.

Right after he put all ingredients, he started wrapping it with Tamagoyaki.

Then cutting in four…

There you go. It’s done! Delicious Teppachi Tamagoyaki! Taste was fine. I liked the taste of cheese, though I thought that the ground chicken was a bit too sweet. They probably used the sweet soy sauce. Tamagoyaki (玉子焼き) is a type of Japanese omelet, usually made by rolling together several layers of cooked egg.

Fresh Cabbage

Fresh Cabbage (ばりばり塩キャベツ) was 330 yen. Don’t forget to eat enough veggies!

Tomato Pork Maki

Six pieces of “Tomato Pork Maki” (トマト豚巻き) (530 yen) looked cute and was fun to eat. Petite tomatoes were wrapped with slices of pork and Shiso.

Put the stainless cover on it and wait for about 10 minutes…

Beautiful Pork Maki is ready! Because tomatoes were small, Shiso taste was pretty strong. If you like shiso, then you should try this item! Tomatoes became hot, and pork slices were juicy with rich flavor of Shiso. Three different tastes were magically mixed.

Kujo Negi with Pork

“Kujo Negi with Pork” (九条ねぎまるごと豚巻き) (690 yen) was a dynamic item! We enjoyed cooking this. Loooong Kujo Negi was wrapped with slices of pork. The waiter grinded the fresh salt and pepper in front of you.

It was a simple item, but fun to cook and taste great. Just need to cook the pork, so negi was still fresh and even close to raw. The pork was juicy. I loved the contrast of the firmness. I also thought that the color of the head of green negi whetted my appetite.

Avocado with Red Wine and Shoyu

Last item we chose was Avocado with Red Wine and Shoyu (アボガドのワイン醤油焼き), 530 yen. The waiter brought us some slices of avocado, butter and red wine. He told me to put the butter on the Teppan first, cook avocado for five minutes or so, and then pour the red wine right before we eat it.

Red wine gave the accent at the last. Slices of avocado were so tender and melted in my mouth. Especially with the butter, I felt the avocado had much richer flavor.

I really enjoyed their Teppanyaki style. I hope that there are some restaurants with similar style of Teppanyaki in Sapporo. Workers were friendly enough, but could be possible to work faster a bit. Hmmm maybe it was just because we sat at the side of the room. I would like to go back there and try some other items if I have a chance.

Total: About 4800 yen (for 2 people)

Teppachiya, Yokohama
2F, Masuni Daiichi Bldg
2-4-6, Shin-Yokohama Kohoku-ku


Restaurant #21: Ramen Tessho, Yokohama

As I mentioned, I moved to Taipei, Taiwan. Before I came here, I needed to get Visitor Visa, so I went to Tokyo to do some paperwork. I stayed at Shin-Yokohama for several days and met with my friends.

After the paperwork, I came to Shin-Yokohama to find a hotel. I found a reasonable hotel called “Super Hotel Shin-Yokohama”, located at close to Shin-Yokohama train station. I stayed two nights and it only costs about only 7800 yen, including a simple breakfast. The room is kind of small, but it is enough space for one or two. I was so hungry after checking in, so I went back to the station and found a ramen place for lunch, called Ramen Tessho (らーめん 鐵匠).

I used to work in Tokyo area, and I already tried Tokyo ramen several times. The taste was quite different than Hokkaido ramen and did not like it. Sorry! It is funny that I always expect Tokyo ramen to get better taste, even though I already know the taste is still the same… Ramen Tessho has a variety of menus in reasonable price. It seems that they have Chinese style menu. So I ordered Chicken Paiku-Men (鶏パイクー麺: 900 yen).

Chicken Paiku Men

Chicken was thin and crispy—easy to bite. The chef just deep-fried it. I could smell and taste the special Chinese spices (sorry I don’t know what it is called.) Crinkle, curly noodles were thick, and easy to mix with the soup. I personally thought noodle was a bit too thick. Soup is always difficult to be judged, it is because it really depends on personal preferences. I prefer rich flavored soup. Tessho uses duck and chicken for the main broth, so it was “assari” (light) taste. Plus, Paiku is a Chinese-style chicken, so this ramen tasted very different than regular Japanese ramen, although it had an original flavor. The ingredients were simple—Paiku and bok choy.

I was impressed that the chef was nice and friendly. There were only two workers, and sometimes the waitress was busy to take care of some customers. Then, the chef himself brought the dish and welcomed the customers. Those services are sometimes important to attract more customers. People have various reasons to go out to eat. The main reason would be that they want to eat delicious food. Yet, some could be to chat with the chef or workers. It really happens, and the simple conversation makes a customer happy.

Again, ramen is a personal preference, so it is the best that you go and taste it and decide if you like it or not. As I always say, I would like to try all kinds or ramen, but my favorite is always Hokkaido ramen!

Total: 900 yen

Ramen Tessho
Bekkan 1F, Cubic Plaza Shin-Yokohama
2937, Shinohara-cho, Kohoku-ku


Restaurant #20: Ramen Tetsuya, Sapporo

One week passed since I moved to Taipei, Taiwan. I’ve already missed Sapporo’s delicious food, although Taipei food is delicious enough. It is just some of my favorite dishes are hard to find in Taipei. That is all. Ramen is a great example.

Noodle place, Tetsuya, is from Sapporo, Hokkaido, but now, it seems there is one branch in Tokyo area. I don’t know Tokyo people like this kind of taste, but I hope they will be successful. There are 5 or 6 branches in the city of Sapporo, and one is in my neighborhood. I am just lucky!

The décor is very simple. It is neat but small. I only know a few branches, but usually there are only 10 to 12 people can eat on the counter table. That is all.

Shoyu Ramen

Shoyu Ramen (Soy sauce taste: 醤油らーめん) (735 yen) is their signature menu. As you can see, it comes with Negi (green onion: ねぎ), Memma (bamboo shoots:メンマ), Nori (seaweed: 海苔) and two slices of Chashu (チャーシュー). The soup’s broth is basically from pork; they use selected Genkotsu (pork bone), Baraniku (pork belly: バラ肉) and Tonsoku (Chinese Braise Pork Knuckle: 豚足), and cooked the soup for over 12 hours. The broth doesn’t smell the pork at all, and the color is purely white. The soup of Shoyu Ramen is coved with Seabura (pork backfat: 背脂), produced from the domestic pork. If you like lighter taste, then you might feel this soup is too strong. I personally like their kotteri soup a lot!

Miso Ramen

Miso Ramen (みそらーめん) was 840 yen. The ingredients were almost same as Shoyu; instead of seaweed, Miso came with Moyashi (sprout: もやし) and Wakame (wakame seaweed: わかめ). The soup was thicker than Shoyu, because Miso was used. In addition, I smelled the garlic. Ah… Yummy! The noodle (麺) was provided by Nishiyama Seimen, the famous noodle company in Sapporo. “Chijile” (curly), medium thick noodles nicely matched with the rich soup. Miso is also their popular item.

So, which Ramen do you want to try? :)

Total: 2415 yen (for 3 people)

Ramen Tetsuya
1F, Art MS, 2-19, Minami 7-jo Nishi 12-chome, Chuo-ku


Restaurant #19: Nangokushuka, Sapporo

My family went to see Ken Watanabe’s new movie, “Shizumanu Taiyo” (沈まぬ太陽). After the movie, my family and I met in front of the train station and had lunch together. I wanted to try Kyokaro, the Chinese restaurant I wrote before, but this time my aunt told me there is another Chinese restaurant at Sapporo Stellar Place, the building next to Daimaru. OK, let’s try different atmosphere!

“Nangokushuka” is a Chinese chain restaurant, originally from Harajuku, Tokyo. It seems that the décor was modern and cool, although I like Kyokaro’s décor better. We needed to wait for twenty minutes due to the weekend, but it was worth to wait. The waiter and waitress were friendly enough. It is quite different mood compared to Kyokaro. Kyokaro, the Chinese restaurant at Daimaru department store, have more gorgeous, elegant service and atmosphere. On the other hand, Nangokushuka is more friendly and energetic. I like both style.

Su La Tan Men

I chose “Su La Tan Men” (Suan la Tang Mian: スーラー湯麺) (1050 yen). I think I tried the only soup before, but with noodle, it made me full easily. It was an interesting taste. I mean I liked it a lot, but my family told me that it tasted special Chinese spices they’ve never eaten before. Hmm… I guess I ate enough Chinese food and it doesn’t bother me at all. The soup was thick & creamy, and spicy from the pepper with shrimp, squid, scallop, shiitake, bok choy, komatsuna and egg. Even though I am a big eater, this was huge! It would be nice if I share with some friends.

Lunch Set with Soy Sauce Chicken

Lunch menu comes with today’s dish (you can choose one from three choices), one piece of Dim Sum (点心), 2 pieces of side dishes(副菜), Rice or Chinese bread, Today’s soup, Kou no Mono (香の物), Today’s dissert or Chinese tea. Soy Sauce Chicken (愛知県産えぞゆきのした 真狩産ボロ葱入り鶏肉の醤油炒め) (1260 yen) was very tasty enough and made me satisfied qualitatively and quantitatively. Ezo Yukinoshita, known as Enoki, was from Aichi Province, and Chicken and Green Onion sauté with soy sauce was from Makkari, Hokkaido. Chicken was so juicy and interestingly it looked like a pork. Negi (green onion) always matches with chicken. You may sauté with sour and sweet sauce, but my favorite is usually with soy sauce.

Half & Half Lunch Set: Gomoku Ankake Tsuyusoba

Gomoku Ankake Tsuyusoba (五目あんかけつゆそばセット) (1365 yen) was hard to finish up. It was... too much! It was my uncle’s choice. It didn’t make sense that the Tsuyusoba, like a Chinese ramen, comes with today’s soup. They should come with either Dim Sum or dessert. Unfortunately, soup was already getting cold and my uncle didn’t enjoy it. The ingredients, though, were tasty. Fried Rice was great, he said. Simple, but with proper taste. Shrimp, egg, and komatsuna mixed with rice, and they used the special pepper who gives the taste of Chinese.

Lunch Set with Three kinds of Seafood

Lunch set with seafood sauté (茨城産パクチョイ入り海鮮三種: 天然海老、帆立貝、絞甲いかの天日塩炒め) (1470 yen) was my aunt’s choice. Fresh ingredients from all over Japan were used in this dish. Bok Choy from Ibaragi province was sauté with natural shrimp, scallop and squid. It looked interesting that they also used pumpkins and negi. Yes pumpkins with seafood. I need to taste it next time.

Overall, we enjoyed their food and atmosphere. I was especially satisfied with the quantity of their dishes. That is how the Chinese food is supposed to be: provide the food until the customer can’t eat anymore.

Total: 5145 yen (for 4 people)

6F, Stellar Place Sapporo
5-banchi, Kita 5-jo 2-chome, Chuo-ku
11:00-23:00 (L.O. 22:00)


FastFood #03: Ebi Burger @ Lotteria

As I mentioned before, I love junk food! I never get bored with hamburgers and French fries. Yet, I barely eat beef hamburgers recently since the safety issue of the beef was raised. Japanese fast food restaurants have a variety of sandwiches of chicken and others, besides regular beef hamburgers. One of my favorites is Ebi Burger (shrimp sandwich). Lotteria, popular Japanese fast food chain, created this item in late 1990s, and now McDonald’s even have those.

Ebi Burger

Ebi Burger (290 yen) comes with their original buns and deep fried shrimp croquette, a piece of lettuce, and original tartar sauce. This is one of their original menus, and it amazed people when this item was introduced.

You see many Lotteria stores in South Korea, and people may thinks it is Korean fast food restaurant. However, Lotteria is a Japanese fast-food chain since 1972, then spread to some other Asian countries including South Korea. I believe they produce their original menus. When I go to South Korea someday, I want to try their menus as well.

So far, this Ebi Burger is my favorite at Lotteria.

Total: 290 yen



Bakery #02: Donguri, Sapporo

After eating Gyu-Tan with my friend, we found a great bakery called “Donguri” near by Kotoni train station. This is a bakery chain, so you may find one in your area if you live in Sapporo city. According to my friend, the bakery Donguri became popular because TV program introduced their “Chikuwa Pan”, which I tried this time.

Most of their items looked great. Their items were various and took time to choose. The size was bigger than other bakery so far, which was great for me! I’ve been frustrated to eat petite foods in Japan these days. lol

I bought five pieces of bread, but I accidentally ate one before I took some pictures. From the top right, Chikuwa Pan (ちくわパン) (136 yen), Saku Saku Curry (Crispy Curry Bread: サクサクカレー) (147 yen), Puchi Kuromame (Petite Black Beans: プチ黒豆) (52 yen) and Cheese Age (Fried Cheese Bread: チーズ揚げ) (68 yen). Deep fried breads were so crispy but it was nicely oily, so it is better to have those for lunch.

Among those, my favorite was Crispy Curry. Usually, curry breads are filled with curry sauce, but cannot find any veggies. But this one came with large pieces of veggies and meats, like regular curry sauce we eat with rice! Wow...

Chikuwa Pan

Their signature item, Chikuwa Pan, was an amazing idea. Chikuwa (ちくわ) is a Japanese food made from fish surimi. It is a tube-like food, so they put Tuna into the hole of chikuwa, and wrapped with the bread, mayo on the top of the bread. If you like tuna, you definitely like this Chikuwa Pan!

I definitely go back to Donguri and want to try other items.

Total: 529 yen (for 5 pieces)

1F, Daiei Kotoni Branch
2-2, 2-jo 4-chodme, Kotoni Nishi-ku


Restaurant #18: Oonoya, Sapporo

Gyu-Tan Teishoku

My friend took me to this popular Gyu-Tan (牛タン: Beef Tongue) restaurant, called Oonoya (大野屋), located near by Kotoni train station. Recently, Japanese restaurants need to treat beef carefully, due to the safety issue of US beef. Oonoya had a notice at the door that they use Japanese and Australian beef.

My friend and I went there at 8pm, and we were shocked that they were already closed! What!?!? We saw some people inside and the light was still on. My friend got into the restaurant and asked them if they already closed or not. It seemed that they had many visitors earlier all at once, and they could not handle anymore, so they closed early on that day. Luckily, they let us in and enjoy their delicious Gyu-Tan.

The décor was simple and old. I feel that they don’t spend much time and money for the décor. I feel that the inside was a bit dark. I know they already have enough customers, but if they refurnish the interior, that would attract more customers, especially young generations.

Their menu is very simple. Gyu-Tan Teishoku (牛タン定食) is prepared in small or regular size, and a few other dishes. Since I don’t drink alcohol, I am not sure about Sake menu, but I heard that their Sake menu is various. I ordered “Gyu-Tan Teishoku”, with 5 slices of beef tongue. (2300 yen)

Gyu-Tan Teishoku was served with rice, 5 slices of beef tongues, takana (高菜), and beef tail soup. Those were served with simple, light blue-color plates. In my opinion, it would look better if those were served with white colored plates. It gives the brightness on the table. Beef tongue was very tasty and chewy. Awww… limited 5 slices made me wanting more! Beef tail soup was in great saltiness, and the beef broth had enough rich flavor.

Overall, I enjoyed their food and the service. I hope that they might change the décor or color combination soon.

Total: 2300 yen

Gyu-Tan, Oonoya
1F, Oonoya Bldg
2-jo 5-2-2, Kotoni Nishi-ku
11:00-13:30 (lunch) / 17:00-21:30 (dinner)


Café #03: Starbucks, Sapporo

Filone Holiday Chicken Sandwich and Assam Black Tea Latte

I do not need to write about Starbucks, because it is in everywhere! I want to know some countries that do not have Starbucks these days. Most of their items are the same. Do you like Starbucks, or are you anti-Starbucks? I personally like them, because their coffee is in reasonable price. I cannot believe, however, how terrible their foods are… Sorry if you like it, but hey… I tried sandwiches and some sweets, but I don’t think those were tasty.

Starbucks Japan has similar menu as American ones. Their original menu that I like is “Assam Black Tea Latte” (short: 370 yen). As a tea lover, this is very tasty and they use enough tea leave. It is a royal milk tea. If you pay extra, you can change milk to soy milk, which is even healthier.

I also tried one sandwich this time, called "Filone Holiday Chicken Sandwich" (420 yen). This sandwich was the first one so far that I liked. Thick-sliced roasted chicken came with grilled potatoes, zucchini, and tomatoes over meat sauce and parmesan cheese. It was nicely toasted. I really liked the grilled potatoes; it matched with the tomato sauce.

Sapporo’s Starbucks seem a popular place to hang out with friends. There are always packed and noisy. I sometimes go there to enjoy black tea latte, but not an appropriate place, at least for me, to read some serious books.

Total: 790 yen

Starbucks Japan

Café #02: Mister Donut, Sapporo

Hamburger Pie and a cup of Tea

Mister Donut is a popular donut chain, like Krispy Kreme in the U.S.A.. Their donut menu is amazingly various! Once you enter the store, you need time to think which donut you would choose. All kinds of donuts ask you “pick me, pick me” but you can’t eat everything!!! In November, they just released 13 new donuts, plus some stores have several types of Chinese noodles. Welcome to the paradise!

The ones I ordered this time were a pot of tea (262 yen) and a hamburger pie (168 yen). They made the pie warm for me. I like their pie menu and this would be one of them.

The only thing I don’t like is that the branch that I usually go in Sapporo train station is not completely non smoking. People still smoke in the back of the store, and without any partitions. Therefore, I still smell a cigarette and feel allergic. Otherwise, Mister Donut is a pretty good place to meet up with friends or reading books with tasty snacks and refillable coffee or tea.

Total: 430 yen

Mister Donut


Restaurant #17: Tsuchiyasai, Sapporo

It is tough to survive in Sapporo’s food business. Under a depression, people go out less but still look for great food and service. Many restaurants prepare fresh, organic veggies and meats, but need to provide extra something.

Tsuchiyasai (土やさい), the Nouka Dining, has an interesting idea for attracting customers. This restaurant prepares a variety of vegetable menus and several meat items, which is good for meat lovers. After the meal, they prepare a great surprise for customers. They gave us a bag of organic veggies, for free! Their food and service were appropriate, but I liked the idea of this present. It simply made me happy.

Pink Grapefruit Juice and Mango Milk, with fresh cabbage

We did “kanpai” with drinks. Pink grapefruit juice was very fresh and not sweet that much. People might prefer sweeter one better, but I like less sweetness. My friend’s choice was mango milk. She immediately finished it and ordered oolong tea. She said it was too sweet...

Assorted Japanese Pickles

First item served by them was Assorted Japanese Pickles (土やさいの漬物盛り合わせ) (577 yen). Seasonable veggies were beautifully presented. From the left, Daikon (Japanese radish: 大根), Cabbage, Rakkyo (Japanese Shallot: 黒糖らっきょ), Turnip (かぶ), and Cucumber. I personally liked cucumber and cabbage. Japanese usually eat shallots with curry rice. I couldn't eat shallots even with curry rice, kids’ favorite, when I was a child. I simply didn’t like the taste. Now, since I became an adult, my taste dynamically changed, and I can eat anything! These shallots were from Miyazaki Prefecture (宮崎県), and it was pickled with brown sugar, which interestingly brought ginger flavor. I felt brown rakkyo was fruitier than the regular one. Tasty!

Fried Sweet Yam with cinnamon

Fried Sweet Yam with cinnamon (さつまいものシナモンスティック) (399 yen) was crispy, but too sweet as the second item. Cinnamon smelled perfectly, but there was sweet syrup all over the yam. We regretted that we should’ve order this as a dessert or much later. Yet, taste was good.

Vegetable Cheese Fondue

I think this was the main dish for us of the day; Organic Vegetable Cheese Fondue (有機お野菜のほくほくチーズフォンデュー) (1155 yen). Hmmm… smelled good! Tonight’s veggie selections were: Mizuna (水菜), Lettuce, Broccoli, Potato, Carrot, Pumpkin, Cauliflower, and a piece of French bread. All veggies except mizuna and lettuce were lightly steamed and it was still warm. In this season, pumpkin matches with hot cheese sauce and it makes our bodies warm. At the last, eating fresh mizuna and lettuce made us cool down, and again, it reminded us that all the veggies were fresh, just came from Japanese farms.

Besides tasting the delicious food, it was fun to do fondue with my best friend. We talked a lot and laughed a lot. Doing fondue brought us more conversation.

Baked Yam

For me, Baked Yam (減農薬のまんまやまいも焼き) (472 yen) looked too fancy. Ha ha. Sliced yam was baked lightly, then Umeboshi (pickled plum: うめぼし) was sadly laid on it. It could be beautiful, or could be too fancy. Besides that, inside of a slice of yam was fresh and juicy, and outside was crispy. I enjoyed the contrast of food texture. I tried to understand the reason why the chef used umeboshi like this. It tasted great, but it really looked sad… Lonely umeboshi…

Ten-Grain Rice Creamy Risotto with Shrimp and Green Asparagus

Risotto is my all-time favorite, besides penne gratin. I guess I like the taste of cream white sauce with a bit of butter. Ten-Grain Rice Creamy Risotto with Shrimp and Green Asparagus (海老とアスパラの十穀米クリーミィリゾット) (924 yen) came with a taste of tomato sauce. I was surprised that the quantity was much less than I expected, so it helped that we ordered this as our last dish. I could tell that pieces of shrimp were fresh and it was cooked nicely. The color combination (white/green/red) was beautifully provided, and a taste came along with it. Rich flavor of the butter, mixed with tomato sauce, stayed in my mouth for a while. Well done.

Pumpkin Ice Cream and a cup of Japanese Tea

My friend found a coupon to get free dessert, so we got free pumpkin ice cream for each of us. I was amazed by the usage of cell phone in Japan. I knew the functions of a cell phone developed much quicker than American-used cell phones. Japanese people basically use it for the internet and e-mails. I see business people and kids are always busy to type some on the cell phone on the train; playing the game or net-surfing. Once we entered the restaurant, my friend started using her cell, and she found an online coupon. Wow… Thank you, my best friend!

The meeting with my best friend was fun. Healthy food warmed my heart as well. I have known her for 7 years already. We struggled and survived at the same college together. She got marreid now, and I am in and out of Japan--two different lives. I am happy that I still have her as my best friend and am still able to share our stories like the old time.

Total: About 5600 yen (all the items above, plus some drinks. Sorry I don't remember the exact price.)

Agasha Bldg
Minami 3-jo Nishi 2-chome, Chuo-ku, Sapporo
17:00-1:00AM (L.O.24:00)