Thursday, November 27, 2008


I won't be blogging until next week simply because the Mandarin experience ended yesterday and I have moved out to stay with some Japanese friends in a real Japanese house. Of course there is internet, but I'd rather spend the time err well exploring wherever I can...

Only 3 more days....meanwhile....

Yokohama harbour on a rainy Thursday afternoon

Soyabean and Chilli Soup Based Shabu Shabu

XOXO back in KL.....

Tuesday, November 25, 2008

10 things I did in Tokyo over the long weekend.

We had a three day break from work, as Monday is a public holiday in Japan

So my 'tour guide', Tee-san took a 3 hr bullet train ride from Osaka to Tokyo to take me around. After this looong weekend, I'm probably much poorer and now have to worry about an overweight luggage.

I've just listed down some 10 things we did.....

1) Eat, eat and eat. Need I say more??

My favourite 'Takoyaki'. Osaka apparently has ze best 'takoyakis' but oh well, beggars can't be choosers. This one we ate was real yummy too.

A type of Wagashi (traditional Japanese dessert) called Gusumochi I tried. Mochi with peanuts and oozing black sugar.

Sukiyaki.. sukiyaki..and sukiyaki...the 1/2 hour wait in one of the restaurants in Asakusa was well worth the wait

2) A visit to Yamamoto-tei. I must say that this must have been the highlight of the weekend - to one of Japan's most beautiful gardens. Just sit down and enjoy the scenery over a cuppa green tea and Japanese dessert.

This garden, however, is located in theDaikyo-Ji temple, a stones throw away from Yamamoto-tei

3) Saw this dude, Taiyo Sugiura at Ameba Studio in Harajuku. Don't know who he is, but apparently ermm....somebody lah! I am not up to date with J-Pop culture. Again, we were not allowed to take pictures of the live interview going on at Studio Ameba in Shinjuku, something like a live broadcast radio station through a glass window.......

4) Went all the way to Roppongi to see Christmas lights.......

5) A quick shopping trip in Harajuku. A place to spot reallllly good looking jap chics and guys!!!! Look at the human traffic. Till now, I am unsure if they were trying to cross the road or getting somewhere on that side of the road. 2 hrs later I am much poorer with 2 dresses and Lala mui's (Laura's) birthday gift.

6) Ermm..again shopping and err temple sighting in Asakusa. About 250m from this gate to the temple entrace, the street is lined with little shops selling Japanese souvenirs.

7) Went to 'kiap' soft toys in Ikebukuro and Akihabara on both Fridays and Saturdays. Failure...not even successful to 'kiap' one. Some people ask why spend so much money, buy one also cheaper la. Ha ha, I can assure you should feel a sense of triumphant once you sucessfully 'kiap' one should be different. Too bad, I won't be able to get this feeling!!!! And some of these soft toys apparently can only be found in these places and you can't buy 'em off the shops - I so set my sight on a white christmas mickey mouse...but sadly....

8) Went to Akihabara. It is a major shopping area for electronic, computer, anime, and otaku (people with obsessive interests) goods - like where I found the 'Domokun' for Calene, including new and used items. Got myself a nice beige laptop bag. Tsk Tsk and I was laughing at my colleague Sharan a couple of weeks back in Singapore when she wanted to get one to replace our old ugly looking black ones. Cost me slightly more than Y3,500.

9) From Akihabara station, we took a 1/2 hr train ride to Nishikawaguchi to try this Tonkotsu Ramen strongly, strongly recommended by Wechard. From the station, another 10 minutes walk in chilly weather to this little shop. I am more a Udon fan and hardly ever touch Ramen, but I must admit that this must be the best pork bone soup base Ramen that I have ever tried in my life. I would have killed him if the ramen did not turn out to be as delicious as he recommended for that 1 hr journey back and forth . It's a MUST TRY for anyone with spare time in Tokyo and wants to enjoy a fantastic and authentic bowl of ramen at a very very reasonable price (approximately Y550 for a small bowl of ramen, which is sufficient for a hungry female).

The thick stock complements the ramen and slices of pork very well......Salivating already thinking about it now

10) Visit a Maid Cafe (メイドカフェ, Meido kafe) in Akihabara. Because no picture taking was allowed in the cafe, I was unable to take any unless I paid Y500 for a picture, which of course again, I am too cheapskate to do so. In such cafeswhere the service staff dress as elegant maids. Compared with service at normal cafes, the service at such cafés involves the creation of a rather different atmosphere. The staff treat the customers as masters and mistresses in a private home rather than merely as café customers. See Wikipedia for more information. Below, a picture i 'stole' from wikipedia- maids distributing leaflets in Akihabara

And below, just some interesting pics I managed to take during the weekend..

Reads 'anal specialist' for those who don't know Chinese

'Women only' trains during peak hours of weekdays where each racks gets jammed pack with people like sardines.

Monday, November 24, 2008

6 more days to go...

Maple tree in Yamamoto-tei, ranked in the top three for three consecutive years by the US-based "Journal of Japanese Gardens

WeChard (or he is better known as Tee-san in Japan) came over from Osaka over the long weekend to take me around Tokyo. We have been walking and walking and walking from dawn till late at night daily, that's why I haven't been able to blog for days. And I have enjoyed myself eating, eating, shopping and sightseeing. I am still balloon-ing from all the eating (wechard, who hasnt seen me for years told me....YOU HAVE PUT ON WEIGHT..the first thing he said to me when he saw me.. sad sad...)

The long weekend ends today and it's back to work tomorrow. Still rushing my report, and therefore won't be able to post tonight. Bear with me, pictures will be up once I am over and done with my work.

Thursday, November 20, 2008

Tsukiji Fish Market

Tsukiji fish market (Japanese: 築地市場, Tsukiji shijō) is the biggest wholesale fish and seafood market in the world and also one of the largest wholesale food markets of any kind.

I woke up at 4 am this morning to be able to reach the fish market by 5 and witness the fish auction which starts approximately at 5.20 am. It's really a HUGE sacrifice but definitely worth every minute of it. Top: Buzzing with activities even though it's only 5 am in the morning.

Because the bidding can only be done by licenced participants, we only managed a sneak preview of the bidding with the help of a local fish supplier. Top pic: Bidders taking their pick prior to the bidding, estimating the price and hard at work scrutinizing every bit of the fish.

Below: Auction for other types of seafood.

A true sight of a fish market. Wholesalers all set and geared to bid for their tuna at the ring of the bell. We only managed to stand at the corner and observe this for a mere 5 minutes before we were kicked out of the auction hall.

I was told that some of these tuna are air flown from places like Japan where there is a HUGE market for raw tuna....

From there, we looked around the market and observed many, many different types of interesting seafood. What we see in our local wet markets is nothing compared to this!

A tuna waiting to be cut.
The master hard at work...cutting up the tuna with band saws. Ok, I'm trying to be a smart alec here. Did my research in wikipedia and noticed that these extremely long knives are actually called Oroshi hocho, maguro-bocho, or Hancho hocho.
He'd probably would have done this most of his life to attempt to slice that HUGE fish nicely!!!

....after which, at the end of our 'tour', we proceeded to breakfast at this 24 hr sushi shop.

H ha ha.....yes, a heavy breakfast at 6.30 am for 6 flers...

Once 'tour' is REALLY complete without buying something. Can't believe I ended up buying 1kg of these 'premium' bonito flakes costing about Y3000 (RM36.60 = Y1000). Some of you are probably gonna get these 'flakes' as omiyage when I am back!!

Wednesday, November 19, 2008

Mt. Fuji on a clear day

The minute as I stepped into the lobby of the Mandarin Oriental 38th floor, the front desk personnel excitedly pointed out to me that we could actually see Mt. Fuji today..because of clear blue skies. The first time in the 4 days I've been here.

So here's a picture I took.....Amazinngggg

Tuesday, November 18, 2008

First real shopping stop

...of course to Burberry's !!!!!!!

THE 7 FLOORS BURBBERY IN GINZA!!!!!!!!!! Ahhhhh heaveeeeennnn

Because I stupidly forgot to bring my passport our for the 5% tax rebate, I had to put the Burberry Blue Label bag I set my eyes on on hold and collect it tomorrow!!!! Urrrgghhhhhh....

Almost every woman's dream.....

I am still contemplating....on this other bag (in black)....made from pig skin....I think it costs about Y53,000 after the tax ? Worth it or not? (RM36.60 = Y1000)

Managed to curi the picture from the Burberry Blue Label website....

Yes and finally, just a picture of the Mandarin Oriental Tokyo from the outside at night...the low rise is the Mistui Sumitomo Bank and...Yes, i don't know how my colleague's little head got into the picture.....

Sunday, November 16, 2008

Day 1 Tokyo comes to an early night

The World's Best Hotel 2007 voted Mandarin Oriental 43th on its list. If this is 43rd, I wonder what the best hotel would look like......

My room... for the coming 10 nights

Kenneth, my colleague asked if i felt like 'ultraman' in the hotel. Check out the power showers. The room is even equipped with automated curtains - with one push of the button total black out!!!

Super high tech toilet bowl 'facilities'...and heated toilet seats.....

For lunch, met up with Ken-san and Yossy, his wife and their child Mika-chan for lunch. Ken, who used to teach me Japanese in KL took us to this quaint little shop in Shinjuku called 'Tsunahachi' that's apparently really famous for their tempura.

Located on: 3-31-8 Shinjuku, Shinjuku-ku, 160-0022, Tokyo
Phone No: 03-3352-1012

Just one of the many dishes of tempura we feasted...we had shell fish, ebi, fish, squid.......for sure we can't get the same quality in KL.....

Barely 2 hours after our late-lunch ended, mom's friend, Mr and Mrs Omori popped by to take us to 'dinner'. OMG!!!!I'm stuffing myself ....such gluttony (the digital scales in the hotel weighed 49kg with my jeans and all before lunch, I dread to even look at them now!!!).....even on the first day itself already.....we walked I think > 30 minutes from the hotel to Ginza, into a little alley to a restaurant called Taiga which is famous for it's puffer fish & 'horo horo' tori (some fat and black looking chicken).

Dee-leee-cious 'horo horo tori' yakitori

Minced meat yakitori..

Oooh..the highlight of dinner sashimi 'fugu' (puffer/ blow fish). Well, since I'm still blogging - and not poisoned, I guess the licenced fugu chef(uh...yes u need a license to prepare this lethally poisonous fish)must have done a good job removing all the poison from the fish. I first had it in Hajime KL over a Valentine's lunch but in KL everything is air flown from Japan and to my understanding there are no licensed fugu chefs in Malaysia.

Goes remarkably well with the spicy radish and spring onions....blisss.....

and who's ever heard of 'fugu' sake (can't exaclty remember the Japanese name for it). Apparently, the fins are deep fried, grilled and soaked in hot sake...i had a gulp of it...I must said it had a rather unusual taste to it....

So this basically concludes my Day 1 in the land of the rising sun. I'm so proud I have not started ANY SHOPPING YET. But I did see a rather BIG Burberry Shop in Ginza......
Oh well....minasan oyasumi nasai ...everyone good night!!!!