FOOD TRIP INTERNATIONAL
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Images by Rufino & Jenny ONG
of Rufino ONG PHOTOGRAPHY
Life is delicious. Let us focus on that. This is the part two ... of our Japan Trip food diary. More food, and some random tidbits about things I picked up and learned. Not to mention, the new things that graced my taste buds & stomach lines. One of the very first things that I had to remember was to stop telling myself "wow - we don't have this in...". Many thanks to Jenny (my favorite person in the world) for showing me a beautiful part of this country and promising to show me the rest of it someday! :)
In the Ginza area, there is a restaurant that focuses on Unagi (Eel) . I am not sure which specific kind of eel it is, but I know it is cooked on a Yakitori style (skewers & grill) how lovely and tasty looking. The image above is a glass window, where I spent 20 minutes just watching them how they make this. It was not enough time, I need years to learn and master this. I will however resolve myself to enjoying these masterful creations. LET'S GO UNAGI !!! (looking at this photo above for a long time) ... it really struck me how something as beautiful as eel, could be so delicious. The way it was skewered and prepared really reminds of the art that is in cooking. Grilled like it was, and still served juicy and tasty (and not charred tasting) was something surprising but then again - not really surprising, considering these are master chefs, devoting their time, career, and their lives to one pursuit. Sometimes, i wonder if they look back and say... did I waste my life pursuing eel... what about mackerel? should I have invested more time in mackerel? or maybe even salmon? .... mmmm
Skewered Eel Liver, glazed with something between salty and tastily sweet. Deep, aromatic, a hint of bitter & sweet (liver taste only). Perfect to start this meal? who else would try this? While I am not new to ingesting guts from random creatures - eel liver seems pretty exotic to me - the flavor however, tastes similar... My skewered meal ... Rice + Unagi + Pickes Items + Soup (not miso soup) + Tea. Not sure why my rice looks like mayonnaise salad. (too tired, too hungry)
Close up: my favorite food item (that I can cook at home) Sliced Unagi (eel) dripping with secret unagi umami sauce! BOOOM!!! OISHI !!! "SUMIMASEH ON MO - ARIGATO !!! " - yah I think i can come up with phrases, as we go along.
Jenny's dish OPENED !! Unagi over rice, seaweed soup, secret sauce, picked stuff, sea weed thins + 2 items that I don't remember (in a square container).
Unago Donburi !!! Some might say that it looks like donuts ...
Cilantro + Naruto Soup?
END of UNAGI restaurant.
Foie gras - super buttery, sweet, unique flavor. (i have never tasted this prior). Made from goose or duck liver.
Four kinds of salt. (in order of closest to view) Salt with secret herbage, Salt with wasabi powder, Salt with something that reminds me of plums, and Salt with salt. (this setup reminds me of candle displays for some reason).
Aah - a Jenny dish. Rice w veggies + green tea soup broth. This was extra-surprisingly refreshing!
Secret item. I don't remember what this was...
Curly Tempura close up ~ totally different from the "tempura" that I imagined (that long, straight shrimp) - where do then even catch the straight shrimps? Well, this one is all curly and crunchy!
I might be mistaken - this one is croquette tempura! I think i love this one! Ah potato a much loved item in this culture of cooking! Such a blessing for us to have this affinity with this root crop! It is quite refreshing and re-assuring that potato, has so much potential and can be used in lots of preparation styles!
Yes - this is the tempura, everything deluxe. It has shrimp, veggies + unagi spine crispified. Totally edible - not a garnish. Now that one is a new thing for me to try! I guess when i cook fish at home - i have a great and wonderful reason to keep the spines & stuff. Another new item learned! We will definitely try this when we get home. Grab some fish ends = dip them in happy tempura batter and super deep fry them! END OF THE TEMPURA RESTAURANT!
ABOUT to enter an ARCADE-ATM Restaurant! (not it's proper name) - we never found out the correct name. (goes to google and searches half-heartedly) It is called Vending Machine Restaurants! really? that's pretty lame - I will call them Arcade-Atm Restaurants! This is my favorite type of shops. They are usually open at odd times, and they cater to just almost everyone. We ate at a few of these (different days at different times). Their food totally can be anything you can imagine, from simple family style food, hotplates, sushis, and my all time favorite curry! The food is honest, fast and good! It's like eating your mothers' cooking - if she was from Japan. Yes - it was that good. This is the last day we are in Japan :( - yes i did not realize how sad I was until I was on the way to the airport. This was the day with the second most walking we did, and also it may have been the most eating that we had to do - thankful to be eating and walking.
THIS is the vending machine (we shall call it Arcade/Atm Food Ordering System Machine)! The first button you want to find is the one that says "ENGLISH"! Then you can simply use your eyes to visualize (ha) and if that's not enough, there's usually some properly translated food description below each tasty image! CAN YOU SAY - let's eat a full breakfast?
NO - the food doesn't come out of the machine. This is only for the ordering, paying and giving change. - DON'T forget your order stub print out item.
Joshy order: Pork-u-Don + Yakiboshi and wasabi + miso soup + sweet sauce!
And my buddy's food ... looks like there's a lot ... and there was! So much for a light breakfast lol.
END of Arcade/ATM Restaurant.
Guess where this is? Yes that lady sitting in the left is Jenny ... but still, guess where we are?! I am a little ashamed to have come to this restaurant - hehehe - but there was something that I wanted to try and know ... did you guess where we are?
YES - Mcdonalds ... in Tokyo! JOSH WHY ARE YOU EATING THERE? - one reason - i wanted to compare the US MCD and the JAPAN MCD. See and feel and taste and smell the difference. There are a lot of differences. Do you know? let me tell you some ...
This burger can stand on its own !!! The meat tastes a little bit more meaty and less science induced flavor, the veggies seem to be fresh (looking at me), and the most important difference that we sensed - WAS the bread. It didn't feel science bread, ask me later what science bread is. It was good. Unfortunately, there are plenty of interesting places to eat here (Japan), so a repeat of this experience will not be in the works.
Passed by a 7-11 store earlier and bought one of their baked goods item (looks like an eclair to me) and I love eclairs. This one was great as well. I would get them again... but its from 711, maybe I can save more room for something else. I don't recall us having much desserts out here. Next time, I will get our friend to take us to happy dessert places! END of MCDonalds Session. Time is almost running out.
We went back and forth to outside of this ramen restaurant. My wife, being the loving & caring person that she is - SHE DID NOT TAKE ME TO ANY RAMEN shops in Tokyo... knowing that I had no affection to the wonderful & curious thing, ramen! Once I realized that she was sacrificing her own hunger pangs, to accommodate my rather, picnicky flavor patters - I had no resolve, Jenny must be able to eat RAMEN! It took much coaxing and grace - to pull her inside this RAMEN RESTAURANT (i don't know the name - SUMIMASEN) - but it was sitting room only - maybe 12-15 seats facing the chefs - one was preparing dishes - one continuously stir fried some veggies (placed on top of the ramen) - and a third one, looking dazed and tired but happily providing assistance to the first two. Their faces and actions were not captured - so as to not show that we are ultra-tourists, taking photos of everything shamelessly. lol
Sitting, facing the chefs ... I have videos of us eating ... but that is only for the "home" videos. If you visit my house i will show you my home videos lol - but those guys, like Jenny and myself, patiently awaiting their food. All the condiments you want, is laid in front of you - the water and cups - aaah feels like a Filipino street restaurant as well ... i like having the freedom to fix my own meal items ~ and I like how they provide you with what you need and may need to enjoy your meal your way! Thank you so much Ramen shop!
This is the JENNY RAMEN order dish! It has that super generous toss of bean sprouts! - one chef - just cooked that in a large wok - again and again, batch after batch!) Notice the broth - super UMAME-LOOKING :) This is House Ramen with Pork Tasting Broth with lots of sprouts on top + egg ramen noodles and happy, hefty cuts of pork in it!
Joshy order = CURRY over rice with Pork Cutlets + bleeding eggs! This was my favorite - it was an uphill battle to finish it. I wish we have this restaurant here. At least this plate of curry dish. I love it. Can I take it home with me please?
Yes this is the Japanese curry. it is dark... like a nightmare. But it tastes like a dream! Add some super jelly eggs with the yellows .... aaah I feel sleepy again!
I look to the left, I look to the right ... almost everyone is slurping their soups!!! oh - i remember - they like that in this culture - it's you telling them - what you made tastes good - that i will make the scary slurping sound to say i like it :) Unfortunately - i cannot make the same sound, having ordered a rice meal with curry on top. END OF RAMEN RESTAURANT. After that fierce eating battle - we are stuffed ... and we still went to the very last restaurant in our race to the next wave of travels after Japan.
This is the conveyor belt sushi. You press your order on a tablet looking thing - located in front of you - a few minutes later - this conveyor belt delivers your stuff ! - super fast and good! Not sure if made by robots or people. We only ordered a few sushi - it was good! Thank you Sushi FAST Place! END OF SUSHI FAST RESTAURANT. END OF EATING - JAPAN Country ... thank you!
And here is the very end of this. Food images from the ANA - Japanese plane company, and my best friend in the world! Enjoying the meals that they always put out for us! Thank you so much for taking care of us in our travels! Items are Hamburger + Sweet Sauce and Rice and veggies, bread and butter and more veggies and pickled stuff! Always good and filling ~ makes travel very enjoyable!
Thankful, I survived all the walking that we did! Apparently, this much travel doesn't faze my lovely life partner Jenny. She is apparently a travel person - I guess, thats one of the reason that I was so attracted to her. Her personal attitude towards new and exciting things can easily match & maybe be more, than my own thirst for life. She did very well to note and remember certain things, and remind me later on - or at least when I was writing for this food blog. It was so cool - to be read her travel diary ( WHICH I HAVE explicit permission to do so!) - how she sees things and how graceful she is about life! Thank you Jenny for not only sharing your time with me, but also your life and experiences! The next set of blogs will reflect some of the images of the travel - not much food photos in those ones but more places... and maybe a blog about the foods that we had in the Philippines. aaah - thank you Jenny for taking this guy to Tokyo and showing me the awesome parts - I look forward to the next travels that we will have! Whether in this life and the next! Aaah - thankful to you - our reader's - for taking interest in what this guy had to show and tell... Life is delicious. Let's live it some more!
Rufino Josh ONG - a husband and now a dad with a camera, is an international award winning photographer from the San Francisco Bay Area, offering photography coverage in Lake Tahoe Nevada, San Francisco, the Bay Area and destinations worldwide.
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