Thursday, December 18, 2014

Sweet Taiyaki (Japanese fish-shaped cake) and Kasutera (Sponge Cake Mini Balls) !

Taiyaki literally means "baked Sea Bream". In Japan, the Sea Bream or in Japanese it's referred to as "Ma Dai" is prized for its flavor and is often served during New Year's and other festive events such as weddings. I got the opportunuity to have fresh Sea Bream sashimi and it was really delicious. Reminded me of the Amberjack Tuna for its buttery but yet really clean fresh taste. But this post isn't about the actual fish but the dessert!

Taiyaki is a Japanese fish-shaped cake that usually has some fillings inserted. The most common is the red bean paste filling from sweetened Azuki beans but you could also have custard, chocolate, cheese, or sweet potato. It's made with some kind of waffle or pancake batter and is poured into very detailed molds. I ended up getting the custard one as we recently had Azuki red beans in our Dorayaki (Click Here for the Details)!

They also had another popular pastry called Kasutera which basically were sponge cake shaped into tiny balls.

You can kind of think of it as a lighter, fluffier, and most likely healthier version of a Boston Cream donut. What do you think? Let me know!

The place we went to was called Kasuteira Taiyaki. We just randomly came across it and it was found near the entrance of a subway station called  Tsuruhashi in Osaka.

Name: Kasuteira Taiyaki
Location: Tsuruhashi station
Google Maps: Click Here

Store Front

Hello Fishies
Insertion of Red Beans
Sea Bream!
Inside Custard!
Kasutera- Sponge Cake balls

Wednesday, December 17, 2014

Delicious Domestic Beef and Weird Stuff Grilled and in a Stew!

We were walking around the Dontonbori area which is a very food centric area in Osaka for a place to grab lunch. After browsing around many shops, we decided on this place! Unfortunately I don't know what the place is called but I took a picture in front of the restaurant for reference! I also captured the approximate location of where it is.

Store Front
 This place served Wagyu/Domestic (black cattle) beef to grill and it was super fatty and delicious. Keep in mind that because it's so fatty that you don't need to grill the beef for too long or you'll overcook/waste them! They used some coal I believe as the heat source for the grill. I tend to prefer beef to be cooked medium-rare. 
Mmmm...reasonable set
Domestic Beef Set
Weird Cuts Set (intestine, stomach, heart, ???)
Tasty Morsels
 We also got a stew with random pieces of meat that aren't commonly eaten in the United States. We probably got stomach, intestine, throat, and crotch? I saw penis on the menu but hopefully we didn't order that hahaha. I'm very glad that I kept an open mind about it because the stew was mindbogglingly amazing. Full of flavor and had a very rich taste to it but at the same time not overpowering to my palate and relatively clean taste. Only minor inconvenience I had was that people are permitted to smoke inside. I'm not a smoker nor enjoy the smell of it as it tends to give me a headache so aside from that, everything about this place was perfect!

Stew of Weird but Super Tasty Stuff
Stew after the flavors are all Fused In
Epic Stew!
This place is worth a try! Let me know if you have been here before!

Google Maps: Click Here

Monday, December 15, 2014

Dorayaki - Red Bean Pancake Sandwich!

I was referred by a local Japanese friend that there's a place in the Ueno district of Tokyo that serves great Dorayaki so I thought I'd check it out on a recent visit to Japan!

Dorayaki is a red bean pancake which has two small pancake-like patties stuffed with sweetened Azuki red bean paste. The current shape of how Dorayaki is made was invented in 1914 in the same area! Talk about going to its origins!

For all those people that love Japanese manga and anime, there's a popular character named Doraemon who loves Dorayaki and falls for any trap involving them every time!

Have you had one before? If not, here's just the place to get one for only 180 YEN (slightly more than $1 USD).

Name: Ueno Usagi-Ya
Google Maps: Click Here
Website: Click Here
Store Front

om nom nom!

Yummy Deluxe Chirashi-don near Tsukiji Fish Market

We were pressed for time so we didn't get the opportunity to try Sushi-Dai as the lineup was a bit too long to wait but it's okay there are lots of other dining options in the area. The best bets are to go to places that have some lineup but not too long so you don't waste too much time just for a place to eat. Luckily after constantly browsing through the Tsukiji Fish market area we found a place! It's called Sushi Zan Mai. Yes it's not one of a kind as it has over 30+ locations in Tokyo but I want to primarily go to places that locals go to and a ton of locals eat here.

As you may or may not have noticed but the Bluefin Tuna is a highly prized fish in Japan and this place just so happened to have bought the most expensive Bluefin Tuna for 2014 which usually gives good fortunes for the year on the restaurant/owner that owns that title for the year and from the looks of it, they are doing pretty well this year based on the popularity of their many locations I passed by throughout Tokyo. It's not the very best cuts of fish but for the prices and quality presented to us, it's a pretty good deal.

For those that don't know what a Chirashi is, it's simple a bowl with rice at the bottom with various kinds of seasonal fish served on top.

Name: Sushi Zan Mai
Website: Click Here
Google Maps: Click Here

Where is the place to get your Chirashi fixing? Let me know!

Chefs hard at work

Miso Soup
Kanpachi and Abalone Sushi


Thursday, December 11, 2014

Delicious A La Carte Korean BBQ

I usually have been going to all you can eat (AYCE) places to get my Korean BBQ cravings but I thought I'd change it up on my recent visit to LA which is known for their huge Korea town. The place I went to had a huge crowd outside with a ton of Koreans so this should be good/legit. I had to wait close to an hour to get seated here but I'd say it was worth it but of course I would try to beat the rush hours to avoid waiting this long for my meal going forward.

This is an A La Carte Korean BBQ where they specialize in premium quality cuts of meat (mainly Beef and Pork) and the servers do all the cooking for you. Be warned though that Korean BBQ don't usually have the best ventilation systems so avoid wearing nice or clothes that are extremely absorbent to smoke from the grilling of meats/fats.

Store Front
Name: Kang Hodong Baekjeong
Yelp: Click Here!
Google Maps: Click Here!

Prime Rib Eye

Marinated Pork Collar

I decided to try one Beef and one Pork cut which were the Prime Rib Eye and Marinated Pork Collar respectively. When it comes to grilling there's just something magical with Beef that I don't quite get with Pork. Aside from the price difference, the Prime Rib Eye simply tasted amazing and better than the Pork Collar. It was so marbling and flavorful because it was a Prime grade.

I didn't know that there was an actual authentic way of eating Korean BBQ or if it is just nice marketing on their part but these were the steps to eating Korean BBQ.

1) Mix their Baek Jeong Secret House sauce with Wasabi
2) Consume lettuce salad with Baek Jeong Secret House sauce
3) Grab the veggie salad with Baek Jeong Secret House sauce and eat with the grilled meat
4) And repeat!

Have you tried this place before? Know a place that's better? Let me know!

As always, don't like food, LOVE IT!! Cheers!

How to eat Authentic Korean Style

Flavor Enhancers
Steamed Egg

Medium Rare Prime Rib Eye

Marinated Pork Collar

Indirectly Grilled Eggs

Wednesday, December 10, 2014

Flying Sushi - Into the Future

Flying sushi is no longer a thing of the future.  You can experience this at Uobei Sushi.

Uobei Sushi  一貫入魂 魚べい 渋谷道玄坂店
Address: Japan, 〒150-0043 Tokyo, Shibuya, Dogenzaka, 2 Chome−29-11 第六セントラルビル1階
Google Maps: Click Here!
Website: Click Here!
Phone:+81 3-3462-0241

Sure, the plates don't have wings, and the sushi don't come to you on hover boards, but they certainly do "fly" out at you in a mystical and almost magical way.  You will never get the chance to see the people who prepare your food, and it only takes a matter of seconds to minutes for your order to appear.

So here's how it works:
1) You get seated at a bar-like table. All your friends will be seated alongside you. Or you can eat alone. That's a common thing in Japan.

2) You order through a touch screen. There is an English menu. Or you can just go with the colorful pictures and choose what looks appetizing.

3) You may order 3 things at a time. There is no limit on how many orders total you can make, and you can make orders as frequently as you want.
4) Serve yourself some matcha green tea! (free of charge)
5) In seconds to minutes, you sushi will "fly" down the rail on plates like a bullet train and stop right in front of you.

Flying sushi too fast to capture on camera!
6) Take your food. Don't forget to return your "train" back into the kitchen!!
7) Enjoy. Repeat steps 3-7 until you have a stack of plates as high as Mt. Fuji.

Couple of items I ordered:
- salmon (average)

- Uni (it was awful, not fresh, and had an odd bitter flavor)

- Orange clam (chewy but fine)

- Geoduck clam (chewy but okay)

- Unagi (average)

- Hokkaido Scallop (surprisingly okay) 

- Fish Roe and Mayo (don't ever get this unless you really super super salty roe!)

- Chu Toro (Fatty Tuna, average/mediorce)

- Conch (not so good, sandy..)

Eating at places like these, there are it's pros and cons:

- insanely cheap sushi; the cheapest plate is Y105 per plate (<$1 USD for two pieces of sushi)
- fast food, literally
- a fun and innovative experience
- great for groups and friends because it's just exciting!

- when in a group, you are seated linearly
- you don't see the people who are making your sushi
- the quality of the sushi is very mediocre (you get what you pay for!)
- your evil friend sitting just "upstream" of you can snatch your order! Beware!