Nov 052012

Probably the food I might miss the most over here is good sushi.  We had heard that there was decent sushi at Osaka here on the Peninsula.  While we were viewing apartments with our broker, he mentioned it was going to be torn down and relocated (to build an apartment complex) so we had better go eat there soon.  Osaka is one the pricier side, but we had decided that we should do one nice date dinner a month, so this was our date night. =)  It’s located further down on the Peninsula closer to Oyster Bay near Toure Drive.  There’s a yellow Savannah Cider ad on the street you have to turn on off of Toure Drive with “Osaka” on it.  It’s hard to find if it’s dark and looks like you’re pulling up to someone’s gated house.

Inside, it’s a big thatch roof covered outdoor area with red and white Japanese lanterns hanging.  Very nice ambiance.  They actually had 4-5 teppanyaki stations in there so I felt like I was at Benihana!  I love Benihana growing up and we used to go every year for my birthday.  Good memories.  We didn’t sit at a teppanyaki station since it’s better for a big group or you have to wait for other people to show up to share the station.  There were several big tables having teppanyaki though and they put on a show just like at Benihana!

Inside Osaka Restaurant

Once a Month Date Night

We started with a shrimp and avocado salad, which was good and fresh and had a miso-like dressing on it.  The avocados are good here and remind me of home in California.

Yummy Shrimp and Avocado Salad

We ordered a sushi combo with nigiri and one roll.  The fish was actually really fresh and tender, didn’t taste fishy at all!  Very impressed.  The only thing was these were definitely pre-made and put in the fridge—you can tell since the rice was cold and stuck together stiffly.  You know, I can’t complain, the fish tasted good, so maybe sashimi next time versus nigiri?

Sushi Combo – Nice Presentation Right?

For our other entrée, we got a teppanyaki grilled steak with garlic sauce that they cook in the kitchen.  The meat was really tender and had great flavors.  It came with a side of sautéed vegetables too.  Overall, we enjoyed the dinner and will definitely check out the new location when it opens up.  It is pricier than the other restaurants here though.  Our bill with two drinks came out to about $60 USD, which I guess is nothing compared to what we used to spend in NYC, but a lot with our new adjusted budget for living here.  Glad we tried it though and I got my sushi fix in.

Jul 172012

The standout place that we’ve eaten at since we’ve been in LA is Nozomi (Carson and Western next to Mitsuwa in Torrance). Why, you ask?  Because they have a huge bowl of uni over rice!!  We love uni so this is the best thing ever.  Usually one piece of uni nigiri (sushi) can run you $7-9, and at Nozomi you can get a huge bowl of it for $20 and it comes with miso soup and ice cream.  Not bad.

Big Bowl of Uni Heaven

The uni was super fresh and tasted amazing.  Mike and I finished our entire bowl.  We will definitely be coming back for more!!

 July 17, 2012  Posted by at 6:15 pm California, Food, Los Angeles Tagged with: , , , , , , ,  No Responses »
Jul 062012

We only got 4 hours of sleep, but we dragged ourselves out of bed to leave at 3:30am for Tsukiji Fish Market.  In order to watch the big tuna fish auction, you need to get there early since they only allow 120 visitors.  Registration opens at 5am (sometimes at 4:30am if there are a lot of people) but our hotel told us in order to be guaranteed a spot you should be there at 4am.  A $40 cab ride later (flag drop is $9 in Japan!), we got to the Fish Market at 4am and were the 12th people in line.  Doh!  I think we probably could have used that extra half hour of sleep.

Woke Up Way to Early!

After registering at 4:30am, we still had to wait an hour in the holding room before we could go in and see the fish auction.  I took a short nap on the floor hehe.  Even though it was so early, the fish market was hustling and bustling.  All these men were walking around in galoshes and trucks were whizzing around filled with Styrofoam boxes filled with seafood.  Tsukiji is the world’s largest seafood market.  In the tuna auction room, all these enormous tuna are on the floor and tagged.  Men walk around inspecting the fish very thoroughly.  They slice off a chunk of the tail and the inspectors come by each fish to pick a chunk out, rub it, and look at it closely with a flash light.  They can tell the quality just by looking at it and feeling it.  It was funny because most of the men kept coming back to a few select tuna—they must have been the ones that would get the most competing bids.

Giant Tuna Organized By Weight

Inspecting the Tail

Once the auction starts, a man stands on a box and goes through each fish in a sing-song voice.  I guess they talk extremely quickly in every auction?  As soon as the bids are settled, the fish are all tagged with pieces of paper and then get moved to another room to get cut up and shipped to wherever their destination is.

Do I Hear 1000 Yen?

Slicing the Huge Tuna

A quick 30 minutes in the auction area and that’s it!  We woke up at 3:15am for that.  Well, it was a once in a lifetime thing…I probably wouldn’t do it again but it was good to see it once.  My classmates went when we were in Japan in 2007, but that was back when I was 25 and up all night partying. =)  Afterwards, we headed to the sushi restaurants at the market that are known for their extremely fresh fish and you get an omakase set for 3,500 Yen ($45) each.  Sushi at 6am?  Sure!  There was already a long line outside of Sushi Zanmai, which is the most famous.  We didn’t feel like waiting in line so we snagged a spot at Sushi Daiwa a few doors down, which is supposedly just as good.

Packed Sushi Counter at 6am

Omakase Set at Daiwa Sushi

Check Out That Otoro (Fatty Tuna)

The sushi was pretty amazing.  It’s tough coming from New York though, where you have the best of everything.  I still think the sushi at our favorite place in New York, Ushiwakamaru, is king at its price point.  By the time we left, there was definitely a line outside—good thing we snuck in early.

Line Outside of Daiwa Sushi

After breakfast, we walked around the market which sells everything a normal market has: fruit, vegetables, meat, plates, knives and more.

High Quality Japanese Kitchen Knives

Didn’t Know Edamame Came On Stalks

We thought maybe we would have enough steam to keep sightseeing after the fish market, but we were exhausted from such little sleep.  So back to the hotel we went to take a long nap before getting up again!

 July 6, 2012  Posted by at 3:17 am Attractions, Japan, Tokyo Tagged with: , , , , , , , , ,  No Responses »
May 262012

The luckiest thing that happened to us in Chiang Mai was that we happened to be there during the city’s annual Intakin Festival.  It takes place over a week and celebrates the city’s guardian pillar at Wat Chedi Luang.  It was going on May 17-23 this year, so every night we were there!  At night, all these stall vendors lined Phrapokkloa Rd selling delicious treats.  One vendor that we wouldn’t eat off of was the sushi vendor – not off the street in the hot weather!

Street Sushi? No Thanks

What we did eat for dinner was delicious khao soi!  Yay!  We’ve also come to the conclusion that khao soi is definitely not as widespread as we thought.  Only a few places have them (well, local places—not counting tourist restaurants).  But we came across a street vendor selling khao soi at the festival.  So good!  Much better than the last one we had.  Not as sweet and more curry flavor.  Just $1 for the bowl, success!

Delicious Khao Soi!

At another one of the street stalls, Mike tried the fried larvae, ick!  He saw Thais eating it, so he figured it was okay.  I tried a couple too, tastes like fried crunchy things.  Not bad, but I couldn’t eat more than two.  Mike polished off the whole bag.  Me?  I got myself some Lanna Thai sausage of course.

Crispy Larvae

Next door to the temple there was a small carnival set up.  Everyone loves carnivals!  It was really cute watching all these Thai families there playing carnival games and winning huge stuffed animals for the little kids.

I remember loving the balloon dart game as a kid

Inside the Wat Chedi Luang temple complex, it was completely packed with people.  You walk clockwise around a shrine and drop flowers and light candles along the way.  The air was buzzing with energy and it was such a happy celebration.

Packed Temple - There was a line to get in!

There was one giant banyan tree that everyone was stacking with flowers.  It’s said that the banyan tree acts as a solid foundation and if it were to ever fall over, Chiang Mai would surely fall after it.  People were lighting candles (you get one for the day of the week you were born) and placing lotus buds at the chedi as well.

Lighting Candles at the Base of the Chedi

On the stage, there were lots of young girls performing: dancing, singing, and sword dances.  Yes, sword dancing!  They were so young and I’m sure the swords weren’t sharp, but still fascinating all the same.  I could’ve watched the dancing for hours but I think Mike was getting bored. =)

Dancing with Swords

Traditional Thai Dancing

This was probably most fun we had walking around Chiang Mai.  It was nice to walk around surrounded by Thais instead of tourists and watch their celebrations.