Month: March 2014

No Ramen, No Life, Say Itadakimas

I’ve been doing thorough research on great ramen shops prior to landing in Tokyo. Menya Musashi was on my list and I came here right after I checked into my Shinjuku hotel. WOW!! That’s all I kept saying throughout my meal. I slurping my ramen and eating ravenously, while uttering the same word over and over again – “WOW!!”The noodles were thick and perfectly cooked, the broth was amazing, and after trying out about 10 or so ramen places in Japan.

 Menya Musashi's ramen

Black Ramen

True to its name, the soup is a deep dark color and has all of the flavors you would expect from a Japanese-style curry, without the gravy-like thickness.The ramen includes a slice of succulent pork, spinach stalks (at least they tasted like it), and some cabbage and corn drizzled with basalmic vinegar.  The basalmic vinegar might sound a little odd, but I thought it tasted good with the vegetables and chicken, and went well with the flavor of the curry soup. It seems that no bowl of ramen in Japan would be complete with a poached egg, which beautifully contrasts with the dark colors in this bowl ramen.

Special Ramen

One of the first things that stand out about the special ramen is the soup — unlike the usual white tonkotsu (pork bone) stock, this version is a brownish combination of miso and tonkotsu that was very delicious. It also includes seasoned ground pork and fresh cabbage topped with a red spicy sauce, to go along with two pieces of roast pork and black garlic oil.Furthermore, Ippudo uses a thicker, softer, and curlier egg noodle than the white, thin and straight kind that normally goes into their and other Hakata-style tonkotsu ramen. I liked how well the thicker ramen noodle soaked up the soup. However, when you ask for kaedama (extra noodles), they give you the normal thin noodle with pad of butter on top. A little odd, but I still enjoyed trying both kinds with the soup (the thicker ones go better, though)

By the way, if you happen to be interested in tsukemen (dipping noodles) and are unsure about how to eat it, Ippudo has posted an easy illustrated guide.

Steps to follow

Steps to follow

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My nights in capsule, tokyo

So what is sleeping in a Capsule hotel like?

It’s much a like to sleeping in a giant dorm room but with a lot more privacy and amenities. Each bed comes with it’s own set of power sockets, radio & alarm, and television, as well as a set of curtains you can draw or a blind which you can pull down for privacy.My only real qualm with the beds is that the mattresses are very thin and so my sleep wasn’t as comfortable as I was hoping.

The hostel workers speak varying degrees of English – the first worker I spoke with was near enough to fluent whilst some of the other workers just used gestures to communicate with me. Due to this lapse in language it is important to be mindful of customs which the Japanese such as taking your shoes off when entering the hotel.

There is beer and other drinks available for purchase at the hostel, lockers in the reception, and fast WiFi throughout the hotel – perfect!

After spending a lot of time sleeping in hotels in India, capsule hostels which Japan are famous for but with all of the features included inside the capsule, the convenience, and space being at a premium in big cities like Tokyo, it is understandable why they are such a popular option with both locals and foreigners wanting to try something new.

So, what do you think?
Would you like to stay in a Capsule Hotel?

How Travelling Solo Has Made Me A Better Person

I was 21 the first time I set out on my own. I did it again when I was 22. And a third time when I was 23. I am a self-confessed airport crier, last-minute packer, document misplacer and chronic over-thinker who finds leaving anyone and anywhere a huge deal. Yet I have never once regretted going. I have missed things (people, birthdays, my graduation, home cooked meals, etc) but I have never once thought “I should never have gotten on that plane.”

Travelling solo is the best thing I have ever done. It is when I feel that I am more than just alive; I am living. It makes me feel present and proactive and strong. It provides a unique combination of control and freedom that I have yet to find anywhere else. Every time I arrive in a new place I surrender myself to it. There’s no way of knowing what adventures will be had, what people I will meet, what ideas will be shaped or what discoveries will be made there. Yet I have decided to go there and I will decide when I leave. I always have the power to stay and go, stop and start. It’s a power I lack in many other aspects of my life and that’s what makes it so special.

Going it alone has, somewhat ironically, also made me more sociable. I’ve always been the kid with two or three very close friends rather than a gaggle of bff’s and tend to find big groups of people intimidating. After a few awkward experiences I learnt that it’s much easier to pull up a chair and nod along until someone asks you your name than lay on your shaky bunk bed and contemplate a night of listening to fellow guests having a great time right outside your door. On the whole travellers are friendly folk and you have the perfect conversation starter in “So where are you from?” Talk will inevitably turn to where you’ve been and where you’re heading next so you already have at least one thing in common. I’ve found that I tend to form quick and intense bonds with people when travelling, some which last long after we’ve gone our separate ways and others which end when the bus leaves. Both are perfect in their own way and completely unique to the time and place. Sometimes, when I think of cities I have visited, the faces of the people I met there are the first things to pop into my head.

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Having said that travelling on my own has also given me what is perhaps one of the greatest gifts of all; the knowledge that not only can I survive on my own but I can feel comfortable and secure in my own company. When I look back on my solo trips, two of my biggest achievements are learning how to dine alone in restaurants and go to the cinema by myself. I know many people, older and more self-assured than myself, who still struggle with being alone in public settings. I also find that when travelling I like to think about things. Not talk about them, just think and maybe jot a few ideas down on some napkins. Travelling is my time to figure out how I feel about things without the input or influence of anyone else.

So to summarize, travelling alone has made me more aware, more conscious, more accepting, more welcoming and more likely to say yes. Because of it I am more interesting and interested. I am braver than I was and I trust myself so much more. But most importantly it has given me stories. So many stories that will make me smile and keep me warm when I am old and taking off with just a backpack for company is no longer an option. Leaving is always harder than staying and people will undoubtedly tell you a horror story about a backpacker who got shot/murdered in a freak attack that would never had happened if they just stayed home and been an office temp, but the experiences you will have will serve you well for the rest of your life. The act of going might just be the most liberating thing you will ever do, after all men have been doing it for years

Day 2 Staying up all night just for SUSHIDAI (Tsukiji Market)

I visited Sushidai that have the longest line in front of the shop in Tsukiji Market.
When I got to the market, it was still 4 a.m.

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But some people was already there. To my great happiness, we could enter the shop just after the opening time 🙂

Almost all people ordered a chef’s choice set (3900 yen) or a assorted nigiri set (2500 yen)
But we ordered some nigiri what I like 😀

Young tuna and filefish with its liver 

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Truthfully speaking, I intended to order my those sashimi as nigiri
But the young tuna was so fatty and tasty. I wanted to have second helping of it 😛

Boiled squid 

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I had  two pieces of it 🙂 It had rich taste of those eggs. It was seasoned with spice. Very good.

Yellow tail

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Tamagoyaki

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Grilled soft roe

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It melted quickly in my mouth …. Smooth….

Monkfish liver

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Ark shell

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icefish

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Traveling to Japan

In few days I will be traveling to Japan, for 7 days, spending most of the time in Tokyo and Kyoto =D Like a dream come true, I have always wanted to travel there!

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There are a lot of things to prepare: first, gathering information about the hotels. I found that most of them believe that hotels in Tokyo have too small rooms, and that traditional Japanese rooms (ryokans) have no beds, and some have no traditional “international” breakfast in their buffets… it is going to be difficult to find hotels suitable for my life style. I enjoy discovering different cultures and life-styles, but not when it may disturb my sleep! Sleeping is a sacre, ubber-holy activity, even more if I am on vacations! I can stand stand barely eating, or drinking, and walking for hours and hours without resting, or communicating with mimics with people that don´t understand English , but don´t mess with me while I´m sleeping or you will have trouble!

Second: what to visit with such few time?! I would like to see the more traditional and medieval Japan, rather than the excesive and modern aspects of Tokyo, but at the same time I don´t want to spend all my days seeing temple after temple. I need information about castles (I would love that!).

Third: Ninja restaurant!

Fourth: Sakura Blossoms

Fifth: Many more like cos plays, anime, Naruto Bridge, Ramen, Dumplings…

anyone from Japan? It would be great to see you there, and a few advices would come in handy