Monday, April 16, 2018

Cavalock and The Sweet Treat Appeal

As the Baker-at-Home is an avid fan of Netflix's Kantaro, the Sweet-Toothed Salaryman, this Tokyo vacation wouldn't be complete if we didn't drop by at least one of the shops featured in the show. So we ended up back in Kagurazaka for the second time this trip for famous dessert shop Kinozen. The last time we were in this neighbourhood was a couple days prior, we had the incredible wagyu beef set but the popular traditional dessert shop Kinozen was closed that day.


The Baker-at-Home had the above best-selling azuki beans and matcha Bavarian cream dessert. That's what everyone usually orders I suppose. I had the one below although I forgot what kinda beans they were. It looks pretty heavy but it isn't really. Not bad. There were also lots of sweet jelly cubes below them beans and you can imagine once you pour the brown sugar syrup over it, it all turns into this sweet yet nicely balanced dessert.


I thought it was funny how I was the only male patron on the second floor what with everyone else there being the opposite gender, young and old. Came down after the meal and saw all the older gentlemen waiting downstairs for seats. Hmmm.... guess it's one those 'ya-gotta-be-there' moment. Anyway some of the desserts are seasonal which makes it another place that deserves a second visit if we are back ever here again.




Some people look forward to the free booze, others the latest movies. To me, the best part of flying is I get a chance to play retro DJ. I do this all the time. Start with 20 minutes compiling tunes from the 1950s to 2000s cos everyone knows anything after that is just pure monkey crap. Then I'm set for the rest of the flight just mouthing to every song, tapping my toes and drumming my fingers while reading me iPad. It's like a freakin' personal DJ booth in the sky. No other passenger can see me doing all that and that's just the way I like it. Anyway this SQ flight, I got to enjoy the second season of Rowan "Mr Bean" Athkinson's Maigret, all two episodes of it (yes, just two episodes). Based on the novels by Georges Simenon, Athkinson plays the titular character, a Parisian chief inspector solving whodunits in 1950s Paris. So SQ had the 2017 second season and with each show bout an hour-and-a-half long, I finished the entire season under three hours max. Excellent series and refreshing to see the talented actor in such an earnest role. Now all I need is to find a way to get my hands on season one (also merely two episodes!).


Thursday, April 12, 2018

Cavalock and The Obligatory Hokkaido Tokyo Food Collage

I don't know how many folks actually follow me on this blog but this is something I do whenever I step outta the country. Well, I think I do know at least three of your nice folks out there who do, you know who you are. Anyway thanks and now the Obligatory Food Collage returns this year for a double Hokkaido Tokyo treat. Hah!



I reckon the only time I been to Tokyo and not drop by gameshop Yellow Submarine in Shinjuku was during a work trip a lifetime ago. I have been buying sooooo many little Japanese boardgames during my last couple trips that I have yet to play them. Kept it controlled this time and only bought three small games. Unfortunately I have yet to play two of them, so same old again. Any boardgamers out there?






Monday, April 09, 2018

Cavalock and The Omnipotent Omakase Occurrence

Hands down, the best and most memorable meal this Japan trip is the omakase dinner at Sushi Iwasawa. It's a tiny eight-seater restaurant. Yup, just a neat little ol' counter for eight guests and just nice for the six of us. Always fun to meet up with friends who are already in Tokyo. The Baker-at-Home's friend knows a friend who knows a friend (who knows a friend???) who got us first-seating reservations and that's how the six of us ended up having dinner there.


A delightfully intimate and much appreciated dining experience. After six days of travelling and stuff, it's almost therapeutic to just savour a wonderful meal like this. Chef Iwasawa-san made sure the food kept coming and that our glasses were adequately filled. We counted over 30 dishes by the end of the evening! Every single bite glorious although I was a little too busy with the company to remember all the dishes. Bill was little over S$300 per person and worth every cent.


It's also interesting to notice that chefs in Japan would often ask you if you have had your fill when having an omakase meal. The food were all so tasty and fresh, we wanted more! Three more dishes came our way and we were supremely satisfied after that. I don't remember that happening here in Singapore. Back home, once you have your fixed number of omakase dishes, you are out of the door. Or maybe I just haven't been to the classy ones! Hah!

If anyone is interested, you can read up them links here and here. There are other sushi restaurants listed there too.



You can never get enough Star Wars stuff in Japan. There's always always ALWAYS some new Star Wars merchandise on sale during every trip. I'm talking bout Japanese exclusive Star Wars stuff here. This trip, I noticed Star Wars hair wax for the Chewie in you. The Star Wars luggage stickers depicting the various planets and ships were very cool but when was the last you noticed any luggage with stickers on them? ANA's inflight magazine even got in on the act.








Thursday, April 05, 2018

Cavalock and The Miracle Wound Glue

Like I said earlier, this Japan trip it was the coffee beans that stole the limelight. In Tokyo, we went looking for popular coffee joint Onibus Coffee in Meguro. The Baker-at-Home did her homework and deemed their coffee beans worthy of making the journey back home with us.


This is not a coffee joint that's conveniently situated along the main road. Took us non-natives awhile to Google map our way to this tiny two-storey building. We weren't the only Asian tourists that chilly afternoon. I think there were at least some Hong Kongers and two Singaporean girls. You could actually head upstairs to enjoy your coffee but we didn't know that at first! So we ended up drinking out in the cold open air.


This is good coffee. The latte's not too strong for me but the Baker-at-Home prefers hers black and she really likes hers. Nice aroma and just the right level of acidity for me. I wish I could describe the excellent coffee nuances and notes (wait a sec... that's wine right?), and all that other stuff. All I could say is, a warm cup of coffee is always welcomed on a cold March afternoon.



In another episode of "Why can't we have this here?!?", we got this amazing ...er... open wound sealer. Well, at least that's what I'm calling it. Remember in those action movies, when the hero gets shot or cut up in some remote location, then he'll have nowhere to turn to except to patch himself up using some kinda glue? Now this miracle Japanese product does just that and it's readily available at over the counter at Japanese pharmacies. I had this nasty cut for weeks and I did almost everything I could to get rid of it. They all didn't work until I saw this Japanese product, it stings like hell when you apply it. It works similar to glue where the slick liquid glue seals and forms a thick clear coat over the wound. And it also smells like freakin' nail polish. But it's all worth it as by the second day, the cut was pretty much sealed. Is there such a thing like in our local drugstores?!?



Monday, April 02, 2018

Cavalock and The Wagyu Beef Set Dilemma

The original plan when we got to Tokyo was to head to Kagurazaka and look for Michelin Award soba joint Kyourakutei. First thing you'll notice bout Kagurazaka is it's all uphill, well, downhill if you facing the other way. Like one long 45 degrees road with lots of interesting shops lined up on both sides. At least it felt like 45 degrees to me! If you wander off through the side roads, you'll find some quaint restaurants too. It's away from the hustle and bustle of places like Shibuya and rather nice.


Unfortunately the soba place was closed that day and we had to look for somewhere else for lunch. Desperate and hungry, we scouted the neighbourhood. Walked past a random, non-descript grilled meat restaurant and a little voice said "why not?". And that's how we ended up at award-winning Kagurazaka Shinsen.


We were ushered to our counter seats. Nice classy decor. Click on the link above to have a better look at the restaurant's interiors and menu. The wagyu lunch sets looked very tempting and while the Baker-at-Home ordered the beef bowl set, I had the grill beef set. That prompted the chef (I assumed the head chef cos he's dressed like a company CEO under that apron coat) to suddenly appear, pop behind the counter, smile at us and begin slicing the beef. Thirty seconds later, he's done. One final smile and he's gone. Kinda like how a comic book hero would show up, save the day and then disappear. Hmmm.... I can't help it, once a geek, always a geek.


This is the kinda place where you grill your own beef slices. Once they got the counter-long charcoal grill set up, you are set to go. The meat is so tender and juicy, you'll find yourself caught in this dilemma as whether to take your time to grill and savour the beef or grill them all and wolf them down. Know what I mean? Wish they had an English lunch menu on their website. Lunch sets were definitely more affordable than dinner. 







Saturday, March 31, 2018

Cavalock and The Double Hokkaido Market Encounter

Nijo Market near Tanukikoji shopping arcade in Sapporo is the place to be! Actually, it's the only place I could be since the other places I wanna go were rendered inaccessible by the snow. Snacked on oysters and scallops, then washed that all down with some fresh hot Hokkaido milk. It was pretty cold and rainy that morning with just a handful of Asian tourists doing what they do best at the market. Think if the weather was better there would be throngs of them. One of the few times when I was somewhat grateful for sucky weather.





Well, it was finally time to leave Hokkaido and head to Tokyo. But Hokkaido's New Chitose Airport (below) still had some surprises for us. As we were on our way to Tokyo, we wandered round the domestic terminal and stepped right into a huge produce market! Seriously, how cool is that? A final chance to grab some fresh Hokkaido produce before leaving the city. Unfortunately we already checked in our luggage so we couldn't buy some of the stuff like cheese. Bought more dried stuff instead like tea and biscuits. Next time, if we are ever back here, I guess we'll know what to do first.

Next post: Tokyo ... again?!?





Thursday, March 29, 2018

Cavalock and The Fried Chicken Quest

The tracks were cleared, the sun was up and we finally made it to Otaru in Hokkaido. A well-deserved lunch at the popular fried chicken joint Wakadori Jidai Naruto Honten. It was quite ... memorable getting there, to say the least. The ICE, the ICE, everywhere the ICE! It's like that new TV series The Terror, all that ice killing a ship's crew. Gingerly, we Googlemapped our way to the fried chicken place after surviving falling icicles, slippery ice traps and fighting frost giants. Well, it felt like we did!


Almost everyone we saw had the signature naruto half-chicken. We had the deep fried tori karaage which is pretty much bite-size fried chicken pieces. They were all right, wasn't really wowed by them. Maybe we should have the naruto half-chicken instead cos that sure looked popular. But the local Otaru beer was refreshingly good. Reminded me of some dry German beer.


Once a geek, always a geek. The Marvel poster at the train station caught my eye. Steller Place mall next to the JR Tower Hotel had a little Marvel coffee event at one of the coffee joints. The mall had a little Avengers: Infinity War exhibition on one of the upper floors. There were movie stills and life size statues of the Marvel characters. The usual promo thing. One of the coffee joints there was given a Marvel makeover and ... er... well, seemed a wee bit too gimmicky for me so I never did try it. 





I really wish I took a better pix of this or at least close-ups of the shoes. Saw this lady at the mall painting them shoes. Really gorgeous work. In Japan, there are often such craft works at malls and major retail shops like Tokyu Hands. The cute little rubber stamp I bought last year was after seeing the lady making them at Tokyu Hands. It's wonderful that talented craftsmen and women are allowed to showcased their talents and cash in on them at retail outlets like this. I know here in Singapore, they are kinda regulated to event places or fairs. Don't think I have ever seen them in departmental stores selling their wares.