Doutou (Eastern Hokkaido) DAY 3

RIMG0821After breakfast at the hostel, we headed for Shiretoko National Park(知床国立公園).

Hikarigoke(Luminous Moss). You can see the moss from the right, but not from the left.
Seseki hot spring(left pic) is a little too open to go in naked…Aidomari hot spring(right pic) is slightly better but still…so I just had a footbath. ^^;; My friend did have a quick dip while we took watch. The water is shockingly hot! Both of them are free.
Had uni and rice for lunch! The one on the right has no “myouban” and tastes much much better(Myouban is an additive added to uni to keep it in nice looking shape). The uni was very fresh so I bought two packs to take back to Tokyo with proper ice pack and foam box packaging, but still they smell a little bad the next day already. Third softcream from the same shop Kaisen Koubou(海鮮工房) we got the uni, turned out to be the best in this trip. Also bought Rausu Konbu as souvenir.
Beautiful scenery in Shiretoko.
Though the bear alerts got me slightly scared…
Five lakes of Shiretoko.
The artificial tasting softcream in the souvenir shop isn’t so good.
Oshinkoshin waterfall(オシンコシンの滝).
On our way back to Tokyo, we bought another popular souvenir at Memanbetsu Airport: caramel sweet from Hanabatakebokujo. It should be eaten chilled otherwise it becomes too sweet…like in our case…

Doutou (Eastern Hokkaido) DAY 2



0805180078After a quick dip in the hotspring and a nice breakfast, we took a walk to the hill behind the cottage with the owner’s dog.

Beautiful Lake Mashu(摩周湖)
Second softcream from Kurimu Douwa(くりーむ童話).
Scallop festival at Shibetsu.
Strawberry milk.
Shame that it was freezing that day and everything got cold really quickly.
Imo-mochi(potato cake).
You need to get a ticket in advance in order to have one go at scooping the giant scallops to take home, but one of the staff saw me looking probably a little sad and handed me a bag secretly! Yipee!
Read about todowara in Notsuke Peninsula here and here.
Kuma-no-yu hotspring(熊の湯). It is free and it is not mix-gender.
Stayed in a cheap(4800yen with two meals included) but very good hostel called Toomawari(とおまわり) in Rausu(羅臼). The owner is a salmon fisherman and dinner is cooked by him. The fish “kinki” is so delicious!

The owner was kind enough to prepare the big scallops from the scallop festival for us. The little ones are included in the dinner.
The deep-fried seafood came one by one but I was just too full to eat any of them so they just accumulated…
We chatted and drank with the owner and his very funny fisherman friend and other people staying in the hostel til really late. Very nice place to stay!

Doutou (Eastern Hokkaido) DAY 1


Nenrinya (ねんりん家)
Breakfast at Haneda airport. Hot Baumkuchen. Not fleshly baked but only warmed in the microwave. They have savoury baumkuchen sandwich too but don’t have the courage to try…Menu here.
First thing we did upon arriving at Memanbetsu Airport(女満別空港) was to grab souvenirs. ^^;;; Left pic is some special limited edition fried potato snack which is only available in Hokkaido(ues only potato grown in Hokkaido) and gets sold out really quickly. Right pic is my friend’s recommendation: chocolate-coated potato chips, which actually can be found in department stores in Tokyo but oh well. ^^;;;
Lake Kussharo(屈斜路湖) in Akan National Park(阿寒国立公園).
Beware of bears!
Fried potato and pumpkin pancake from the eatery inside the souvenir store.
Kusshi(クッシー) is Hokkaido version of Loch ness monster. ^^;;
Sunayu(砂湯): hotspring footbath at Lake Kussharo.



0805170040First softcream in this trip!

A cow blocking our way~. We stayed in this cheap accomodation called Aurora Farm Village(オーロラファームヴィレッジ).
Dinner is Hokkaido mutton barbecue.

Mountain vegetables are hand-picked in the morning by the friendly staff.
Udon added to the BBQ.
Well of course hotsprings!!

Fussa (福生)

A day trip to a place called Fussa where the Yokota Air Base is located – hence slightly Americanized. Somehow we didn’t see any foreigners on the day we went.

La Fougasse (ラ・フーガス)
First we went to this famous bakery, used to be in Tokyo but have moved here, and bought loads of bread before heading for lunch.

DEMODE DINER (デモデダイナー)
Well there is nothing more American than hambugers.
Onion rings and French fries with cheese.
My “Deluxe burger”. Steak sandwich.

福生バーガーClub sandwich is actually fried chicken sandwich! A basic burger.
Scary “tower burger” is availbale on the menu too…

Cafe du Jardin (カフェ・ドゥ・ジャルダン)
After hanging around the main street and checking out some antique shops, we were ready for cakes.
Strawberry Mont Blanc.
Blue berry cheese cake. Best of all the cakes. The cookie base has walnut in it and is super delicious. Strawberry rollcake.
Ciboust. Caramel something. Chou cream.
We drove to Ome and walked around the streets with a retro feel(great review here). The billboards of old Japanese movies are actually newly painted. Passed by Tama River. There were people fishing.
夏への扉 (Natsu e no Tobira)
A really cool cafe but we didn’t have time(or stomach space) to go in.
鳥福 (Torifuku)
Dinner at a restaurant specialised in chicken.
Chicken and gobo(burdock root) roll. Chicken skin senbei.
Yakitori. Fried chicken wings.
Imo-mochi(potato cake). Miso-marinated Gindara(silver cod fish).
Fried chicken thigh. Free fried fish snack.

The chicken might not be the best quality I have had but really good for the price. This dinner was so cheap that at first I thought the price on the bill was for one person(turned out it was the total for four ^^;;).
Menu(J): 1, 2, 3.

Nagoya 2

あつた蓬莱軒 本店 (Atsuta Horai-ken Honten)
Umaki – Unagi Tamagoyaki. Came steaming hot. Light dashi taste with a hint of sweetness – good!
Hitsumabushi – basically unagi(eel) on rice. Found a good English review here. The instruction says to divide the bowl into four portions, have the first bowl on its own, add yakumi(spring onion, wasabi and seaweed) to the second bowl, add yakumi and dashi to the third, and for the last bowl have it the way you like it.
I like the second bowl the most – mixing the yakumi and eel and rice. Very delicious!
Part of the menu(J): 1, 2, 3.



0806050081みそかつ矢場とん 本店(Miso-Katsu Yabaton Honten)
黒豚ロースとんかつ、¥1680。 豚汁。
Kurobuta pork(menu) loin tonkatsu with miso. Tonjiru. I tried the standard Miso-katsu some years ago which comes in a hotplate with miso sauce already added on top of the Katsu. This time I have some special menu using kurobuta pork from Kagoshima, and the miso sauce comes separately. The pork is really quite nice and the coating, not being soaked in sauces, is very crispy. But then I guess it is not as unique as the signature dish.

Mon chouchou
Left pic: Went back to the same place for the delicious rollcake! (See Nagoya 1)
(Oct 03, 2008) Right pic: Marron rollcake bought in Mon Chouchou’s branch in Tokyo.
0812180037(Dec 18, 2008) Caramel and walnut rollcake bought in Mon Chouchou’s branch in Tokyo.

山本屋本店 エスカ店 (Yamamotoya Honten Esca-ten)
Honzuwaigani(crab) and Nagoya kouchin(Nagoya breed chicken) Miso-nikomi Udon. Different branch from the one I tried last time but it is also near Nagoya train station. The crab is a bad choice but the chicken is nice.

Nagoya 1

山本屋総本家 (Yamamotoya Souhonke)
There are many branches(even one in Tokyo which I went before!), and this one is the original shop.
Nagoya’s famous miso nikomi udon. I had the one with both chicken and egg(oyako). The handmade udon is thick and hard-texture type. Served with boiling hot miso soup.
スパゲティハウス ヨコイ 住吉店(Spaghetti House Yokoi)
Nagoya local specialty “Ankake spaghetti”. Thick spaghetti is stir-fried with lard(uh oh) and eaten with starchy sauce(hence “ankake”) which is some special sauce made from meat and vegetables and is slightly spicy. I ordered an omelette-like topping with prawn, green peas, onion, bell pepper and mushroom. It is not as weird as I had thought…actually it reminds me of the spaghetti served in Hong Kong styled cafe. ^^;; You can get ankake spaghetti in many shops in Nagoya, but seems like Yokoi is the most famous.
山本屋本店 (Yamamotoya Honten)
Similar name but completely different from “Yamamotoya Souhonke”. It also serves miso nikomi udon mainly and has many branches. This branch is in Horiuchi building(堀内ビル) near Nagoya station. The very nice pickled vegetables are refillable.
Miso nikomi udon with pork. Comes with rice. 2310yen. I like the miso udon here better. The noodles are softer but more chewy. The soup is less thick and less salty. The pork is not the most high quality kind but good enough, and very generous in portion. There is no Tokyo branch for this restaurant chain so you can only eat it in Nagoya.

0802270003Mon chouchou
A loooooong queue waiting outside this cake shop when I walked past so I got curious. I later found out that the shop is actually from Osaka, and they have Tokyo branch too. ^^;;; Seems like most people queued for the take-out “Doujima roll cake” but you can eat inside the cafe without any waiting. In that case it is more expensive of course and you need to order a drink too. The rollcake is delicious!! Unbelievably soft and smooth, and the cream is so good that I can eat a bowl of it on its own. I thought I was too greedy and ordered too much(it was after dinner) but later I wished I had order more.

Gunma hotspring trip DAY 2

0712180129On the second day, we travelled by train and then by bus to a different hotspring called Ikaho onsen(伊香保温泉). We stayed in Hotel Kogure(ホテル木暮). The hotspring is more modern style, more spa-like than the “hotspring in the midst of the wilds” that we enjoyed very much the previous day. The mountain view(no snow yet in this area) is not as beautiful as the previous one too, but our room is more comfortable as we pay almost double for this hotel, and we don’t have to walk in the cold to get to the hotsprings. The hotsprings are divided into female-only and male-only, and they are swapped everyday such that you can try half of the hotsprings at night, and the other half in the morning. Rooms with private spa attached are also available. There is a bar, there is a karaoke, there is a sauna, there is massage service and ganban-yoku (stone-slab bath) if you are willing to pay. We saw a few employee groups having gatherings in the private halls. Seems like this place is not so foreigner-oriented. When I went to get a beer from the bar, the staff immediately knew my name cos apparently two of us were the only foreigners in the entire hotel. ^^;;;; But the staff are very very friendly.

After we checked-in and dumbed our luggages, we took the “Gunma bus”(群馬バス) to an area which is famous for its “Mizusawa udon”(水沢うどん). A friend recommended Osawaya(大澤屋) so there we went.
Simmered leek and pork, and maitake mushroom tempura are both very nice. The udon is however nothing special…

Many udon shops packed along one small road.
An old temple at the end of the udon road.

0712180128Ishidan-gai(石段街), i.e. stone steps street. I expected more souvenir stores and more lively atmosphere but it was really quiet and felt more like a local street. My friend who was planning to buy souvenirs was quite disappointed. Well, it is a nice stroll. Better pictures from my friend’s camera(my camera died on me at that time): 1, 2, 3, 4. They were taken near the top.

Dinner in the private room of the dining hall.

Abalone was so fresh that it was still moving on the hotplate.
Very delicious rice.
For the rice, the abalone and the beef, the staff told us to wait until the fire goes off, which is fine for the rice and the abalone, but the beef was overcooked by then…but it is still nice cos the quality of the beef is good.
The thick flat udon and the soup are so nice that I finished the last drop even though my stomach was bursting full. I was going to leave the dessert cos it didn’t look appealing, but after tasting a little piece, I couldn’t resist eating the whole thing cos it was so good. Everything in the course is absolutely delicious. Very satisfied!
Menu(J) here.
We got a beer and thought we would relax in the foot spa…but we forgot that the foot spa was outdoor and it was freezing cold even with our feet immersed in hot water. After snapping some pics, we dived right back inside….
Breakfast is buffet. The miso soup has crab in it, very nice! (We speculated that the crab might be leftover ingredients from dinner last night – you could choose two main dishs from abalone, beef and crab.)

At the most perfect timing, Ikaho hotspring was introduced on TV a few days before we went there.