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