Yaki-Tate Melon Pan 焼きたてメロンパン – Not a normal melon pan!

What’s a Yaki-Tate melon pan (焼きたてメロンパン)?And how is it different from the normal melon pan sold at convenient stores and supermarkets?

As you may know, melon pan is a melon-flavored bread. Bread in Japanese is ‘パン’ pronounced as ‘pan’. It is a round-shaped bread with rough sugary texture that looks like checker prints. I personally love this ever since I came to Japan. But last year, I found something even better than normal melon pan-Yaki-Tate melon pan 〔焼きたてメロンパン)!  This literally means it is a melon pan that is fresh out of an oven. It may seem to be not so different from the normal melon pan, but I can tell you it really is.20130429-111350.jpg

One day when I came out of my station and about to walk home, I saw this melon pan van. The smell was mouth-watering but I did not pay much attention and just walked away. 20130417-184712.jpgThe second time this van, there were so many people waiting in line and I thought…maybe this is good. So I bought one melon pan just to try if it was special. There were Hokkaido and butter flavors. I chose the butter one. The bread was freshly-baked from the oven. I took a bite and then…I LOVED IT! So soft and it tasted really good. Since then, I loved it and I looked forward to this van coming to my station every week. This is definitely different from normal melon pan sold at supermarkets. Obviously, it is sold in a van and since it is fresh out of the oven, it is hot, soft and just yummy!

This just started to sound like a confession from a FAT GIRL AT HEART. 😉

Apparently, it is not that easy to find this melon pan van. After I moved from Tokyo to Yokohama, I never saw this again until last month when I went to view sakura in Naka-Meguro 〔中目黒). That’s when I found this van again. Judging from the long line of people, I guess I’m not the only one who love this!20130417-185259.jpg

I also found a website with schedules of this melon pan van ‘HAPPY HAPPY’. Check the schedule to see if you’re close by. It’s delicious. Definitely my favorite although some people may find it too sweet. (I have a sweet tooth) 😉 Website: http://www.happy-happy.jp/

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Other than the van HAPPY HAPPY in Tokyo, I also found one right near my place in Osaka. This van has even more flavor…even strawberry flavor. They also sell apple pie and others as well.

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If you haven’t tried, I suggest you do so. 🙂

Bill’s Restaurant – Pancakes

A few restaurants in Tokyo-Yokohama area have been very popular for their authentic taste, style, and concepts that are new to Japan especially breakfast-all-day places (particularly PANCAKES)!  A lot of us could say that we can just make good breakfast at home and although that is true, these restaurants are still new and rare in Japan. That’s probably one of the main reasons why these places are popular besides the style, taste, and others.

After the disappointment at Eggs’ and Things, I decided to go for another famous restaurant called “Bill’s”. This restaurant has been opened for many years now but the first one in the central Tokyo was opened in 2012 in Omotesando. This restaurant is owned by an Australian named Bill Granger and the food is supposedly very good. Apparently, some people call it “best breakfast in the world”. Bill’s is not a breakfast all day place but it is famous for Ricotta pancakes and scrambled eggs. The ricotta pancakes are served all day so you can order that anytime of the day.

This was actually not the first time I went to Bill’s. Last year, around April 2012, I went to the newly opened branch in Tokyu Plaza, Harajuku. I went there at 10 AM and the place was packed! They told me that if I write my name down, I can get my seats at 2 PM! So I gave up and went to another place. Yes, it was unbelievably packed and still is today. So, this time I reserved my seats and successfully avoided having to queue up for hours. 🙂 Bill’s allows reservations which is a good thing! Some places like Eggs’ and things doesn’t allow such thing.

I went there on Friday night. Reserved a seat for 2 at 7 PM. Got up the elevator to the 7th floor and saw this right in front- the entrance of the restaurant.

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I told them my name and they led me to my seats. It was pretty crowded with about 10 people waiting in line but not so bad at all. The atmosphere was nice.

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Then, we started ordering some food. They gave us dinner menu. We felt like pasta..I decided to order Prawn and chili linguine and my friend ordered Orecchiette, fennel sausage, kale and Buffalo mozzarella. We didn’t know what to expect but from the first bite, it was heaven! I really enjoyed it. The taste was just right with the spices, shrimps and the sauce…I loved it! I also tried my friend’s one and liked it a lot as well. 🙂 Both dishes was 1,300 yen but for me, both tasted like about 2,000 yen.

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Then, we ordered the famous Ricotta hotcakes, fresh banana and honey comb butter which is included in the dessert menu for dinner. It was AMAZING! They gave us a honey syrup as well. I finally understood why this menu is so famous. It is absolutely divine. Best pancakes I have had in a very long time! It was very satisfying. 🙂

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I actually wanted to try their rhubarb menu. One of my favorite desserts is rhubarb crumble topped with vanilla ice cream but I could never find this menu in Japan. I only got to eat this when I was in England. My host family planted rhubarb trees in their backyard and baked rhubarb crumbles themselves. But at Bill’s, although it is not rhubarb crumble, they do have “pavlova, rhubarb and cream”. That will be the menu I will try next time…and maybe the scrambled eggs or the blueberry pancakes which is a special menu in Yokohama-Redbrick house branch.

If you haven’t tried their pancakes, go now! But don’t forget to reserve a seat BUT keep in mind that some branches don’t accept reservations or may allow reservations during certain time of the day.  I suggest you go shopping around Harajuku and go there or…walk around in beautiful minato-mirai area and enjoy the best pancakes!

Websites : https://bills-jp.net/

SHABU SHABU! しゃぶしゃぶ

As my social media name ‘luvniku’, you can probably guess that I LOVE meat!

I used to live in a small town called Beppu, Oita prefecture down in Kyushu, which is a very famous place for onsens. Since it is a small town, everything is cheap and that includes tabehobai (all-you-can-eat) restaurants which are usually around 980 to 1,500 yen. The most expensive place in Beppu is probably around 2,500 yen. So, I usually went out to yakiniku or shabu shabu places almost every other weekend. I guess that was how I got to love eating meat so much.

Shabu Shabu is probably my most favorite Japanese food. And it’s so easy to make as well. To me, Shabu Shabu, Sukiyaki, and nabe is quite similiar. Shabu shabu and Sukiyaki both have thin slices of meat as main (mostly beef), but any kind of meat, vegetables and others can be put into nabe hot pot. For Sukiyaki, the flavor is much stronger with soy sauce. The soup is usually sweet. For shabu shabu, the soup is light or sometimes have no taste at all. You put the meat in the hot pot and swipe it in there a few times, then bring it out and dip it with sauces and scallions. Personally, I love Goma (sesame seed) sauce and ponzu soy sauce. I sometimes use Thai spicy sukiyaki sauce as well when I make shabu shabu or nabe myself. It’s delicious!

These days, there are so many kinds of soup for shabu shabu. Even collagen soup which tastes better than I expected. On Christmas, my friends and I went to a shabu shabu restaurant for dinner. It was 3,500 yen – pretty expensive but it seemed like the right choice at that time since the weather was so cold that night. We ordered to kinds of soup – honestly, I’m not so sure what they are but they look like this.

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The soup on the right side came with something that looks like jelly. It melted away as the water boiled. Then we put in the meat. I think we have to put in the meat one by one for shabu shabu, but that’s never fast enough for us so we put everything. 😀

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Note that when the soup gets oily and full of fat from meat, you should skim in out. The restaurant would provide a small tool for you to skim the fat out. And you can ask for them to fill in some more water.

Shabu shabu is always a fun to eat with your friends especially if it’s all-you-can-eat. I’m sure it’s one of the most popular Japanese food to both Japanese and foreigners.

Recommended restaurants

1. MK restaurant – Cheap and awesome! Lunch: 1,580 yen Dinner: 1,780 yen (this is all-you-can-eat prices for kanto region)

This restaurant is Thai shabu shabu restaurant so, of course, I love it. It’s not different from Japanese shabu shabu, only it has Thai spicy sauce and some other kinds of vegetables and meat such as baby corn, shrimp balls, seaweed wrapped pork balls, squip with pork stuffed inside, etc. Isn’t it awesome? 😀

This restaurant also uses a touch-screen device for ordering. You can see the time remaining for your all-you-can-eat menu and you can choose meat or anything from the touch screen and click order! They will come and serve you. Very cool.

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The store in Tokyo is in Shinjuku, not so far from Isetan. The menu in Kanto is a bit more expensive than in Kyushu but still very cheap compared to other places in Tokyo.  Try the Thai sauce if you go there. Don’t miss out! 😉

2. Nabezo – Cheap all-you-can-eat with several different kinds of soup to choose. You can go pick up anything you like from the counter to put it in the hot pot. This restaurant has so many locations so it’s quite easy to go. I went to the one in Shibuya .

These are probably the only places I can recommend since I don’t know a lot of shabu shabu restaurant around here. Sorry for the short list. Most of them are really expensive so it’s probably better to make it yourself at home. I also have my own hot pot that I ordered from amazon for 1,000 yen. It can be used both for shabu shabu and yakiniku so if you like meat like me, get yourself one. 🙂

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Enjoy eating!

PS Don’t forget to eat some vegetables too!

Horse meat 馬刺し!

In the last last post, I wrote about my trip to Mt. Aso in Kumamoto prefecture. I got impressed with Kumamoto and decided to go there again on my graduation trip. It was a very short trip since we went to so many cities in Kyushu on a 4 days trip. This time I traveled with my friend who is from Fukuoka so she knows a lot about Kyushu and introduced me to so many things. When we got to Kumamoto, we had dinner at an izakaya. The food was great and since we were in Kumamoto, she wanted me to try all the famous things there. So, we ordered Kumamoto’s famous horse meat!

To be perfectly honest, it was quite tasty! It was a bit strong but with a special sauce, it tasted very good. As you can see in the picture, the meat looks different, that is because they are from many parts of horse…now I know what you are thinking 😉 ! I liked it and bought a horse meat senbe (thin cracker) back but still, I felt like “I ATE A HORSE”. I think that was the only thing that didn’t make it so OK but I did try and liked it.

Now the question is….

WOULD YOU TRY?

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