Gunma hotspring trip DAY 1


0712170007Minakami(水上) station in Gunma(群馬) Prefecture. From Ueno station in Tokyo, it is about two and a half hour to three hours by train. There are a few souvenir stores right in front of the station, but other than that, the town is very quiet.


Very nice grilled curry gratin rice in Caffe Restaurant ASIMA near Minakami station.

We stayed in Ousenkaku(汪泉閣) of Takaragawa hotspring(宝川温泉). The hotel sent a bus to pick us up from Minakami station.
Reception room where we were served tea and were introduced to the facilities in the hotel. The Japanese staff spoke really good English and Mandarin(!!). That’s probably why there were quite a lot of foreign visitors. We wanted to save up money, so we stayed in the cheapest room without toilet and bath inside. There is a toilet right outside our room and we took shower before going into the hotspring anyway, so it wasn’t that bad. The whole stay including dinner and breakfast is less than 10,000yen per person(there were two of us). The contents of the meals are exactly the same whichever room you stay in.
View from our room.
You need to cross a bridge to go to the hotspring.
Breath-taking views!
Bears in cages!


Entrance to the hotsprings.
There are 3 konyoku(mixed-gender bathing) hotsprings and 1 female-only hotspring. Females are allowed to go into the mixed hotsprings with bath towels wrapped around their bodies(usually you cannot put a towel into the hotspring water), but we were still too chicken and went straight for the female-only one.
Okay you are not supposed to take pics of the hotsprings…but we were early and there was no one there. ^^;;
The stream is right next to the hotspring.
Dinner time! If you pay more, you can have dinner served in your room. But we just ate in the restaurant.
Some river fish’s sashimi and its roe. Chawanmushi and tempura.
Beef kaminabe(paper hotpot).
Grilled fish, mushroom and root vegetables.
Grilled chicken. Bear soup. I asked the waitress about the bear soup and she reassured me that the bear meat is from Hokkaido and NOT from the bears we saw earlier. ^^;; The food is really tasty. I especially like the beef, and also the bear soup which has many goodies like different kinds of taro, root vegetables and chewy floury things. I was so so so stuffed by the end.

0712180097Breakfast. You can choose either Japanese or Western.

Hong Kong 2007


From HK$450 lunch course. Pumpkin Velouté with Chestnut Cappuccino and Fresh Herbs. Crispy Pork Belly with steamed Brussels Sprouts and Sauce a la Diable. Citrus Pear and Caramel Napoleon with Carambar Ice cream.

Went to this expensive French restaurant inside Four Seasons Hotel twice before(see tag old entries). The food was not exceptional but still good in my previous visits but this time turned out to be a disappointing experience. The quality is mediocre and the portion has become so small just like Japan. My sister and my mom ordered their beef medium but they both came out well done. We didn’t want to wait so didn’t complain – I am sure they are willing to make new ones for us. But the manager came to ask us how the food was so I told him about this and he gave us all these reasons about how the beef was supposed to be like that blah blah. I couldn’t help but pointed out that he should have mentioned all those things BEFORE we ordered it. Also we had to wait forever for the desserts to come. Anyway, we had the window seat so the view was nice.
Menu here.

Dong Lai Shun (東来順)
Restaurant inside the Royal Garden(hotel) serving Beijing cuisine. Food is delicious, price is reasonable, environment is nice. Unfortunately the service is very spotty – not rude or anything but most of the staff don’t seem to know how to serve and they don’t seem to care either. There is no pork in the menu due to religious reasons. I have been there twice and tried many things and most are good. The Crab menu is a must try: steamed crab dumplings, crab glutinous rice, crab and tofu hotpot, crab and lobster on rice crackers(left pic) etc. The soup, which has a large variety of choices, is also very nice. Spicy fish(right pic) is tongue-numbingly hot but super yummy. As for the desserts, go for the hot ones, like taro pancake or sesame dumplings.

Restaurant Le Fauchon
Add: 6, Staunton Street, Soho, Central
Tel: 2526-2136
Lunch is about HK$100~120 depending on your choice of the main dish. I had pan-fried sole in red wine sauce. My friend had the spring chicken. Both are a bit too deep-fried. Seems like a popular place as it is quite full at lunch time. Though I thought its quality doesn’t live up to its popularity. Perhaps dinner is better?

Tai Fung Lau Peking restaurant (泰豊楼酒家)
Add: 29-31 Chatham Road, Tsim Sha Tsui
Tel: 2366-2494

2007_11140020Old Peking restaurant famous for its lamb shabu shabu. The traditional coal-heated hotpot is so tall! They give you the sauces at the beginning and you can mix your own sauce. I just added a bit of everything. Thinly sliced lamb is a must. Squid balls with crab in the middle is really good. Try the pork meatballs too. Dessert is fried egg puff with sesame sauce inside and sugar sprinkled on the surface. Nice but the skin is very thick.

Cafe de Paris
Add: 23 Elgin Street, Soho, Central
Tel: 2810 0771
Lunch is less than HK$100, including bread, appetizer or soup, main dish, coffee or dessert. I had leek and potato soup, pan-fried seabass, and carrot cake. Quality is okay-good but not impressive. Though we saw a group of guys ordering from the a la carte menu…and we couldn’t help drooling over their food.

So we went back the next day for the onion gratin soup and the mussels in red wine sauce we saw the previous day – both are fantastic! The staff told us that a la carte(or dinner) menu are much better than the set lunch. Two of us shared the mussels which came with very good french fries and salad, plus each of us had an onion soup, total was HK$380 – not bad at all considering the quality.

2007_11140002I fell in love with Krispy Kreme when I tried it in Las Vegas so when it opened in Japan I was really excited. But after something like a year, I still haven’t managed to eat it because of the crazy queue! 2 hours wait is the norm especially on weekends, especially outside the Shinjuku branch. Just as I heard, it is so much easier in Hong Kong. I swallowed two donuts bought from the branch inside Hong Kong aiport once I arrived, and shared three more with friends in the Soho branch after lunch. Too bad they don’t have freshly baked ones hot from the oven. Apparently the donuts are baked somewhere else and are delivered to different branches. But still, good donuts!

Changwon Korean restaurant (荘園韓国料理)
Add: G-1, Kimberley Street, Tsimshatsui, Kowloon
Tel: 23684606
Very delicious Korean restaurant. Big plates and very cheap. Love the octopus with veggy(left pic) so much! I ate a bowl of rice just with the yummy spicy and sweet sauce. Kimchi and pork is a bit sour(right pic). The staff said kimchi becomes sour when you heat it(really???). Also had spicy tofu soup and Korean leek pancake which are both very good.

Add: 6/F., The Pemberton, 22-26 Bonham Strand, Sheung Wan
Tel: 25446333
Bread has lots of stuff in it – cheese, onion, herb, bacon etc. Very good but quite heavy!
Pan-seared foie gras with glazed apple. The foie gras is very crispy on the surface. The foie gras itself could be a bit richer in taste though. Also the apple is not soft and sweet enough. Still not bad overall.
Seafood soup. Mushroom cream soup. Both are good but a bit salty.
Oven-roasted Australian Rack of Lamb.
Chargrill U.S. Prime Beef Steak, Green Pepper Corn Jus.
Oven-roasted Kuro-buta, Forest Mushroom Sauce.
Mille-feuille with mango.

The main dishes are all very good. The meat are tender and juicy. Sauces are nothing fancy, and all the sides are the same mashed potato and veggy but they are delicious. We were too full so we shared one dessert. Again nothing too impressive but the mango is sweet.

Three-course dinner is HK$338, four-course is HK$368. Glass wine is HK$55. This is not a proper restaurant but a private kitchen. The environment is nice and there are quite a number of tables, which were all filled up when we went on a Thurs night.
Menu(E): 1, 2.

Life Organic Health Café
Add: 10 Shelley Street, Soho, Central
Tel: 2810 9777
Lentil soup.
Grilled Eggplant salad: With roasted peppers, pesto, air-dried tomato, wild rocket and manouri cheese with organic balsamic vinegar dressing. This is really delicious!
Spinach and Feta Filo Bake: Spinach, feta cheese and pine nuts wrapped in a filo pastry. served with a crispy house salad and shredded beet and carrot. Nice too!
Homemade vegetable Lasagna: Creamy layers of organic whole-wheat pasta, spinach, zucchini and mushroom with an Italian style tomato and basil sauce, topped with melted cheese and grated nutmeg. Hmm everything is a bit too mushy.
Life’s pizza: An organic homemade whole wheat flat bread base topped with Lebanese zaatar, fresh tomatoes, roasted peppers, onions, black olives and manouri cheese with a sprinkle of rocket. Not bad but wish there were more veggy toppings. Must eat while its hot or the crust will get very hard.
Mexican Burrito: With organic red kidney bean, mozzarella cheese, ground cumin and coriander served with organic red rice, mixed salad and tomato salsa. A bit too much beans stuffed into the burrito. Easy to get tired of the taste. The avocado cream on top is really good though.
Zinger: Orange and Wild berries.
Sunshine Shake: Banana, mangoes, dates and flaxseeds.
Power Lunch Shake: Wild berries, homemade organic soya yoghurt and strawberry protein.
I like the Zinger the best.
Food menu: 1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 6, 7, 8, 9, 10.
Sweets and drinks menu: 1, 2, 3.

Kin’s Kitchen (留家厨房)
Add: 9 Tsing Fung Street, Tin Hau, North Point
Tel: 2571-0913
Today’s soup.
Braised luffa, bamboo with Yunnan ham.
Fried shredded yellow eel with bean thread(vermicelli).
Braised pomelo peel and assorted vegetables.
Menu: 1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 6, 7, 8, 9, 10, 11.
One of my favourite restaurants in Hong Kong. See tag for past entries. Looking at old photos, the “braised pomelo peel and assorted vegetables” seems to have shrunk in size? Also I remember it was much richer in taste. But I like it still. Everything is good in this restaurant.

My friends recommended me cookies from Jenny Bakery, which is truly addictive, and also dried noodles from On Lee Noodle Factory(安利製麺廠) which I bought many as souvenir.


A day trip to Karuizawa! One-way ticket is about 5000yen but a friend got us a cheap 6000yen two-way ticket so there we go. It is only about 1hr from Tokyo station so a day trip is totally possible. My friend brought champagne and olives so we started having a party inside the Shinkansen. She even brought ice to keep the champagne chilled, also wine glasses, which apparently were cheapy ones bought in 100yen shop so we just dropped them into the rubbish bin when we arrived at the Karuizawa station! XD!
Hermitage de Tamula (エルミタージュ・ドゥ・タムラ)
Apparently this is THE place to go for a nice lunch in Karuizawa.
Salmon marinade with rice. There is ikura(salmon roe) and a quail egg underneath.
そばパン。 海の幸と野菜の一皿。
Soba bread. Olive paste is really good.
Seafood and vegetables dish – so pretty! Sauce is beets, tomato and Rucola.
Mushroom pie, with fried Anko(Monk fish).
Kinmedai(Alfonsino) in Shungiku(Chrysantemum leaves) sauce.
Quail with cabbage. Under the quail leg is polenta.
My friends’ desserts. The apple soup is the chef’s specialty apparently.
I had the safe coffee Mont blanc. Petit fours.

Right pic is the madam sending off my friends. Lunch is 8400yen. Glass wine is 2100yen so it is better to share bottle wine which we did. Tax is included, service charge is 10%. I like the food alright. With a lovely environment like this, even cup noodles will taste fantastic. XD!! We sat inside in the main dining area but the tables next to the window have a better view of the greens outside. Oh by an amazing coincidence…I bumped into a friend on the way to the toilet!! XD!!
We didn’t actually plan it but somehow we went at the perfect timing – red leaves! It was sunny so we took a long walk after lunch.
Resort houses.
Beautiful pond called Kumobaike(雲場池) which is about half an hour walk from our lunch place.
Red leaves red leaves everywhere.
It was more than half an hour walk from the pond to “Old Karuizawa”. It turned dark very quickly and got quite cold…but I couldn’t resist getting the famous “soft cream” while walking around “Karuizawa Ginza” shopping area. Also bought pudding and cheesecake from Paomu as souvenir.
Kawakamian (川上庵)
Before we took the train back to Tokyo, we went to a popular soba shop, which looks more like a trendy dining restaurant than a soba place! Luckily we booked in advance cos the queue was really long.
牡蠣天ぷら。 鴨南蛮そば(大)。
Oyster tempura and duck nanban soba(large size).


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イノダコーヒー本店(INODA COFFEE)
Breakfast. A massive queue outside the shop! Most of them carrying Kyoto guidebooks….just like me. ^^;;; Beef cutlet sandwich and Premium coffee. Very good but…quite expensive!!!!

北野天満宮(Kitano Tenmangu)
My camera was breaking down so some of the photos are from my friend’s camera, like this one. So pretty.
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豆餅。 桜餅。
Famous “mame-mochi”, same as daifuku studded with whole beans. Also got sakura-mochi.

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八坂の塔・法観寺(Yasaka Pagoda – Houkanji Temple)
Not sure if the two maiko are the real thing, since nowadays “maiko taiken” or “maiko henshin” is popular.
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二年坂・三年坂(Ninenzaka – Sannenzaka)

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Lunch course 5250yen.
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Wasabi leaf, iidako(octupus) with vinegar and miso, fukinoto tempura, kidney beans.
Bream and bamboo shoot suimono(clear soup).
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Bream, flatfish.
Squid, yellowtail.
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Mackerel sushi, maguro sushi.
Ebiimo manju with kakuni inside.
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Grilled yellowtail with miso, fried potato and fried konbu.
Rice cooked with fuki. Pickles.
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For dessert, you can order as many as you want.
Strawberry yogurt parfait. Has yogurt ice-cream, strawberry, coconut pudding, jelly and rice(!) in it. Very good.
Walnut mille-feuille.
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Daifuku made with hattaiko(flour of roasted barley).
Shiruko with green tea shiratama.
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Matcha ice-cream.
Overall the food is very good. The saba(mackerel) sushi is absolutely amazing. Though the main dish(grilled fish) is a bit dry…There were two types of fish for you to choose as the main. I chose the one that is normally more fatty and my friend picked the other. Turned out that my friend’s choice was fish cheek, which we weren’t told – the cheek of a skinny fish will be more juicy than the body part of a fat fish. ^^;;;; Anyway, the main chef only appeared from time to time. Most of the stuff was cooked by the two young apprentices…

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Got a Mackerel sushi to eat on the shinkansen. Unfortunately I bought from the WRONG shop!! My friend recommended this shop. Argh next time! ^^;;

Very short but a great trip~


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Le Petit Mec(ル・プチメック)
Breakfast in a cute bakery cafe.
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Right pic is mine…a sandwich and two tarts. ^^;;

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大原三千院(Ohara Sanzenin)
Ohara is a bit far and we went there by car.
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Creepy but I just love it!!
So cute~~

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Also in Ohara.
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You can hear some “ding ding” water sound from the holes on the wood.
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京・上賀茂 萬川(Mankawa)
Menu here.
1890yen lunch course.
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Sakura sake. Obanzai(Kyoto daily family dishes).
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Mizuna salad. White miso soybean milk.
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Bamboo shoot dengaku(spread with miso and grilled).
Simmered herb pork and Kyoto vegetables in ankake(starchy sauce).
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15-grain rice with yuba ankake.
For a lunch less than 2000yen, the standard is very high. Kyoto food with a modern touch. Very handy if you are short of cash….

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一乗寺中谷(Ichijouji Nakatani)
Menu: 1, 2, 3.
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Today’s parfait. Ice-cream is sakura flavour, so nice!!
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Nakatani parfait. Green tea tiramisu.

京都花灯路(Kyoto Hanatouro)
“Light-up” event in March. Pretty nice but not as big-scale as I had expected. It was raining but still very crowded~.
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Dinner. Menu: 1, 2.
Simmered Iidako(octopus). Very soft!
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焼き茄子のゴマだれ。 野菜あんかけ。
Grilled aubergine in sesame sauce. Vegetables in ankake(starchy sauce). The Japanese starchy sauce is not oily and completely drinkable, unlike the chinese kind. Apparently it is very common Kyoto cooking style in winter because the thick starch sauce keeps the food warm.
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Duck manju.
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This place is famous for its kamameshi(From Wikipedia: a traditional Japanese rice dish cooked in an iron pot with various kinds of meat, seafood, and vegetables). This one has prawn, chicken, bamboo shoot and other stuff.
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Kamameshi with anago.
All the food are very good. Traditional Kyoto winter food that really warms you up. We only had tea and no alcohol with the meal and it was 10,000yen for 3 people.


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草喰 なかひがし(Soujiki Nakahigashi)
Soujiki literally means “eating glass”. The owner chef spends 2,3 hours every morning picking wild grass and turns them into wonderful cuisine. My friend told me this is the kind of food that Japanese eat in the past. Somehow I have two serious friends who carried a wild grass dictionary with them and studied it while they ate….Reservation is nearly impossible. My friend’s mom helped to call one month in advance, on the first day of the month starting from 8am…and apparently she kept phoning non-stop for 30 mins until finally she got through the line. It is that crazy.
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“Camellia” made from red turnip, dried persimmon, kinkan(orange), venison seaweed roll. Close-up of the clam rice.
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Fukinoto shiraae(tofu dressing).
Ebiimo and parsley miso soup.
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Grilled Iwana fish.
Koi(carp) sashimi and skin.
Carrot rolled in wakame.
Radish, dandelion, nanohana.
Watercress, wasabi leaf, koi nikogori(gelatin from cooked fish).
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Bamboo shoot, yuba, crab etc.
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Pickles. Rice.
Burdock root and carrot with sesame.
Leek and miso.
Mezashi(salted dried sardine).
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Fresh picked strawberry, buntan, and soybean flour.
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Lunch course is 5000yen. All the veggy and the grass and the flowers have a kind of natural bitterness, but it is not unpleasant. In fact the bitterness is the good part.

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南禅寺(Nanzen-ji Zen Temple)

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祇園小石(Gion Koishi)
Famous Kyoto candy shop.
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Matcha cream anmitsu. Matcha ice-cream is very nice~
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Kokutou(black sugar) chiffon parfait. Kokutou is this shop’s specialty.
Caramel anmitsu.
As souvenir I got this. The kokutou one is super yummy.

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瓢亭MARU(Hyoutei Maru)
This is a casual branch of an expensive washoku restaurant.
Part of the menu(J): 1, 2.
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Warm mushroom and kyona(mizuna) salad. This is good.
Grilled beef with ume and shiso.
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Grilled yellowtail(kanpachi) cheek. Fatty and juicy.
Maru-nabe(Turtle hotpot). The soup is nice.
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Bamboo shoot rice.
Grilled amadai(bream). This one is expensive but a bit normal.
All these food plus 3 drinks, 7700yen. The food is quite izakaya feel. Slightly expensive perhaps.

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Patisserie au Grenier D’or (パティスリー オ・グルニエ・ドール)
The cafe space is very cute but too bad we didn’t have time to eat-in. We bought two cakes and ate in the hotel room. Both are very good!


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Sichuan Spicy Chicken. Noodles topped with spicy ground pork. Glutinous Rice Balls with egg yolk in ginger soup. All are fantastic.
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