Lost in Japan, Memoirs of a Geek: Day 5 – Mount Fuji and Hakone

Have started my new job as a freelancer for some of my old colleagues, but this is only a temporary thing until things have settled. It’s a bit of a slow-paced job compared with my previous job – pretty much free to do my own thing, so we’ll see how it goes for now…

Wednesday 3rd April 2019

It’s my last morning in Tokyo as I was scheduled to go on a coach trip to Mount Fuji and Hakone, so I woke up early. I knew I wouldn’t be able to have any breakfast, so the night before I bought some breakfast – milk and a couple of onigiri’s.DSC_2073

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Milk in Japan tastes like full-fat milk. But I also used this for my morning coffee.

Uh, I actually didn’t like these… Too healthy I think. The rice was basically sugar-free!

Salmon and Seaweed flavour… Hmmm. Very bland. DSC_2075

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Pickled plum and red shiso flavour. This was better but really sour.
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Luckily I had this cake which I didn’t eat the night before! This wasn’t too sweet.   DSC_2079

So Bamba Experience booked me on a trip with Sunrise Tours.  But my starting point was at another hotel (Tokyo Metropolitan Hotel), hence the reason why I woke up so early as I needed to be at the nearby hotel by 7.15ish – something like that. It was a little trek getting there, and had to stop once as I had no idea which street I needed to turn into, however I found the under-passage… The map below shows different routes to the hotel. It says 13-14 minutes, but I would say allow yourself half-an-hour due to luggage and not knowing the area so well.

When I arrived at the other hotel, I asked reception desk, and they said to wait in the waiting area. I was actually confused a few times, as I wasn’t sure of how this tour worked… So I kept asking around. Confused and lost!!

When one of the tour guides arrived, I finally understood what was going on. We were given our confirmation slips an a sticker to wear for the trip. Then it was off to another hotel, pee stop, then off we went for 2-3 hours to Mount Fuji! Woohoo!!DSC_2082.JPG

We arrived in the Kanagawa area around 10-ish, around we could see Mount Fuji! In Japanese classes, Mount Fuji was always mentioned in lots of scenarios. ^_^

Our tour guide explained to us that we were very lucky as the sky was clear, hardly any clouds and we could see the top of the mountain very clearly. Just so lucky!!!

Instead of going to the 5th Base, we ended up at the 4th Base due to some hazards at the 5th Base – not sure what it was. It was fairly cold due to the snow, but was bearable. Unfortunately my small jacket wasn’t warm enough!

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After viewing the top, we moved back downwards for lunch. We had a small lunch at the Highland Resort Hotel.
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Pretty decent, but too small for me! I wanted more food!!DSC_2123

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After lunch, I really needed a loo break. The toilets in the mountain area is fairly busy, and each coach has only half-an-hour to be up there…

After the loo break, I went outside to have my last viewing of Mount Fuji. It’s so spectacular from the bottom! DSC_2130.JPG

So after lunch, we speeded up to the next destination. Our tour guide did not want us to miss this boat trip.

Thankfully we made it in time! Phew!!

We found ourselves going for a ropeway ride… We were only allowed a short period of time up there.

The view is spectacular from the top!!

After this ropeway trip, I think I could have made my own way to the next hotel, but I stayed on the coach so that I can see which station I needed to get to for the next day! (That was a wrong idea really!).

We were dropped off at Odawara Station. And I had to find my way to get to Gora Station.DSC_2172.JPG

There was one station change, which I didn’t mind…DSC_2174

However after reaching Gora, I needed to get onto the tram. The hotel was all the way uphill!!! Grrrr!!! So I needed to purchase another ticket for ¥250 (~£1.72) as they don’t accept PASCO cards or any other cards.DSC_2175

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From my experience, it was the worst part of this whole trip! I was in the middle of darkness, and I think I should have got off the next stop… instead the station staff said I should get off the stop beforehand. Hmmmm. I should always trust my Geek Instinct. Anyway, I went up one path, then uphill another… 😦 This Geek was not happy. I was frigging lost, and needed the loo so badly. Thankfully a resident in the area was able to direct me in the middle of the darkness… I was at the back of Resorpia Hotel!!! WTF!

I was able to check in by 7.30pm. But needed to rush to my room and walk swiftly back to be able to have dinner by 8pm.  I should have bought dinner at Odawara Station.

I was quite irritable at this stage, and I needed food. This restaurant part of the hotel is for reservations only. The staff said I didn’t have one, but reception said I did… ¬_¬” I was not amused.  I asked in Japanese where I could buy food nearby… No answer… I guess there’s no place to find food in the middle of the night.

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Finally, I was able to have dinner – they said I had a reservation and payment was made after checking out. This dinner costs ¥12,000-15,000 (~£82.76 – £103.45) I think. An expensive dinner! :-O

Well… A decent dinner. I was filled to the brim!! Happy Geek came back. ^_^

Nice chandelier by the way!!

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Tired Geek went back to her room, and a very peaceful night.

End of Day 5.

Lost in Japan, Memoirs of a Geek: Day 4 – Ikebukuro

Oh for goodness sake, I failed my driving test for the fourth time. Pedestrians, if you see an learners car near a test centre, please don’t walk in front of them. They could be doing their test. Just one silly fault that’s cost me. Grrrrrrr. 

And now back to Japan… ^_^

Tuesday 2nd April 2019

After two heavy long days of walking around Tokyo, I decided to keep things light for this day. I finally received a message from the reception desk that my package for my JR Pass arrived, so I where to the desk first before breakfast.

This time I had a lighter breakfast. Normally in London I would hardly eat breakfast this big in the morning, but it seems my appetite got bigger after arriving in Japan. ^_^DSC_2048

They made some special mochi for this day (and the day before, they made a fluffy cake). Yummy. Inside was some sweet red beans. Umai!DSC_2049

Because I think the coffee cups are particularly small for breakfast, I had bought some DIY drip coffee sachets from the convenient store the day before. So I actually drank some decent coffee… with some mini Kit Kat’s. DSC_2050

Question to Nestlé: Why can’t we have decent Kit Kat flavours in the UK? Or innovative Kit Kat ideas like the Japanese in the UK?

I guess I’m a big Kit Kat fan (see previous posts on this blog). I haven’t checked out the recent flavours here in the UK because unfortunately our local tuck shop/newsagents is closed down – not even sure why… Maybe they’re planning to knock the building down.

So these two Kit Kat sizes in Japan are genuinely new. The first one here is the Ruby Chocolate flavour. What is Ruby chocolate anyway? There wasn’t much, so I ate them all. ¬_¬””DSC_2051DSC_2053

And this one is the Milk Chocolate flavour. I think I liked the Ruby one. It was much sweeter than this one.DSC_2054DSC_2055

Ikebukuro is in the north west of Central Tokyo, it’s a bit out of the centre, but so easy to get to take the Yamanote Line using your JR Pass/Suica/Pasmo card – whatever you’ve got. A lot of Japanese flock here, not sure why, maybe because of the small shopping area. It’s like a smaller version of Akihabara.DSC_2056

As it was before 10am, I had to walk fairly slowly before the shops weren’t opened. Most of the shops in Japan don’t open until 10am or possibly 11am. I think it’s because they open till late – and possibly for workers to avoid coming in during rush hour, which is usually between 7am and roughly around 10am (or earlier).

First shop I went into was Tokyo Hands, which is like a department store with many floors. I liked all the things there, especially the bags and stationery, but I honestly resisted as I had spent so much on stationery in China last year, there was no point in me spending on anymore. Hehehehe. So I only bought food-related things such as a chopstick case and a food bag. I really needed those as the MUJI in London don’t supply the sizes I want, and they don’t sell drawstring bento bags anymore!DSC_2057

I went into a few stores after this, like a secondhand bookstore, which is a few doors before Tokyo Hands. Ahhh, if only I can read Japanese fluently, I would have bought many books as they are so small. Sometimes I wished the UK could make their books more pocket sized. I know the font would be compromised but Japanese people seem to be able to manage it, (even Chinese people manage too).

Anyway, one reason I think people come to Ikebukuro is because of this SEGA store, I didn’t go in, but I think you can play arcade games there. DSC_2058

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I think Uniqlo (pronounced uni-klo) was doing a Gundam special. I love the large figurines in the window. There was one episode or movie I had watched as a child and I really loved one of the songs, but I’ve forgotten which one it was… I’ll have to ask Mr Stingy. He’ll remember. (Edit before posting: I liked Macross Do You Remember Love, the Cantonese version, not Gundam! Thanks Mr Stingy!).DSC_2060

After this mini shopping spree, I actually walked down south – as in walked the other way from the hotel to see what other things were there… To be honest, there wasn’t much to see, just a few independent shops, some restaurants including a Coco Ichibanya and a small supermarket that I ventured into. I purchased my lunch in the supermarket, and walked slowly back the other way.

I ended up eating in the park behind the hotel.DSC_2061

Ah man, I really like Japanese fried food. I had a potato croquette and egg sandwich, lemon tea and freshly made skewers of fried pork and egg that wrapped around the pork. The skewers were very crunchy. Too loud for the park, but I ate them all in one sitting. ¬_¬”” They were amazingly tasty.DSC_2062

After lunch, I went around the back streets and then onto a main street. Shopped in the clothing section of MUJI. I bought a couple of skirts, which thankfully fit!

Then I headed back to the hotel room and had a long nap… zzzzzzz (my body said I needed it).

It was around 6pm or some time afterwards when I woke up. I really didn’t want to go out, but I needed to eat my dinner.

I passed this ramen bar a couple of times, and I thought I’ll try it. To translate, this place is called “Yokohama Family Ramen” 横浜家系ラーメン.DSC_2067.JPG

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I decided to have the one with everything, medium bowl size.DSC_2065

The ramen reminded me of the time Miss Pinky and I tried to finish that massive bowl of ramen that was filled with veggies. Heheheheh. Don’t worry, I finished this but didn’t finished the soup. A bit too salty.DSC_2066

Forgot the cost, but it was under ¥1000 (less than £7).

Address: 1 Chome-22-14 Higashiikebukuro, Toshima City, Tokyo 170-0013, Japan

Went back to the hotel with a few drinks and my breakfast for the next day. It was going to be an early start!

Edit: I did have two puddings before I went to bed! The cake ring was left for breakfast!DSC_2068

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Back to sleep I go, heheheheh.

End of Day 4.

 

Lost in Japan, Memoirs of a Geek: Day 3 – Ueno, Nezu and Shinjuku

This post is quite a long one… I’ve been procrastinating to write it… ^_^

Monday 1st April 2019

Happy April Fool’s Day! Well it’s not that big in Japan but it’s actually a very serious day for every Japanese student and job hunters – my Japanese uni friend explained to me that evening.

Refreshed (kind of) and ready to go (kind of). I actually woke up around 2am to go to the loo, and I think around 5am because of jet lag. Well, at least I slept.

I decided to have the breakfast… and since I was up so early, I thought I’ll go just after 7am – people were there already! The hotel breakfast wasn’t bad – apart from having a really soft hamburger in the morning… weren’t sure about that! The coffee cups are really small, so I needed another coffee to wake me up!  

The rubbish is sorted into different sections, so you have to be quite careful where you throw your rubbish.DSC_1880

Didn’t think I was full, so I went to the convenient store on the first floor (ground floor) next to the hotel. DSC_1881

Ate the filling curry bread. It’s filled to the brim with curry filling. Yummy!!DSC_1884

Cold coffee in Asia is always the best, and they always have them in bigger bottles. DSC_1882

CoCo Curry House even have their own crisp out in Japan – I didn’t eat these until much later. There’s actually too much in the pack, and the crisps are too hard and crunchy making it impossible to finish in one go. DSC_1883

Before heading out, I needed to sort out my data sim card which I had pre-bought online from www.simcardgeek.com. Ideally buy your sim card beforehand if you don’t want to go to the hassle and getting it from the airport or somewhere in Japan. This is the best link I found online: https://pretraveller.com/best-prepaid-data-sim-card-in-japan-for-tourists/. Unfortunately my mobile phone wouldn’t take it because it’s not unlocked, and the wi-fi hotspot modem, which I bought, didn’t work with the sim card – resulting in me having to reset the frigging modem! Thankfully, with some clever thinking, I took my unlocked iPhone 6  with me on holiday (yes, I have an iPhone – mainly for the apps, as my mini iPad doesn’t have the capacity) and placed the sim card inside. ^_^ I had to use a sewing needle I had brought along to open the card slot bit (learnt my lesson from last year to bring a sewing kit for emergency circumstances!). And finally I had a hotspot I could use!! Woohoo!!

Now onto the day’s trip!

Last time I went to Ueno, Miss Pinky and I only made it to the train station – not even sure which entrance we had came out at the time… However, this time, I really, really wanted to go to the park as well as the zoo! 

Inside the station there’s a massive panda welcoming the spring.

Not sure which route I took to the park, but I had turned right, straight down a road, crossed over and up some stairs. Followed Google Maps all the way until I saw the the cherry blossom park trail… sugoi ne!! They weren’t in full bloom yet, but it was so nice to see. There was a crowd there already, so I had to walk, and keep walking.

 

When I reached the end of the trail, there’s a section where all the food stands are, and a temple at the very end of those food stands.

 

I decided to head out to Nezu Shrine at this point. Just be careful going down the stairs at the park as the steps are quite wide. It’s about a 20-30 minute walk from the park and as I was following Google Maps, it probably took a little longer. For some strange reason, Google Maps likes you to go through some back streets… maybe it wants me to explore.

 

After the walk, I found Nezu Shrine. Not many tourists come to this shrine as it seems out of sync with everywhere else, and it is a long walk from the park. It’s a really pretty shrine – it’s like a mini version of the one in Kyoto.

 

After looking at the shrine and the koi fish for a bit, I headed back to Ueno Park…

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And had a small snack of squid, (I was still full from breakfast). It’s amazing how big these squid rings are!!DSC_1955

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I really wanted to go to Ueno Zoo – surprisingly it was opened on this day, as it’s usually closed on Mondays. The single adult ticket is ¥600 (~£4.13), it’s really cheap compared to the prices in London, and the zoo is much bigger! However the queues for certain areas is long… The queue to see the pandas was a 40-50 minute wait, I don’t think I had the patience to wait that long.

 

I actually saw a real Secretary Bird. I watch the anime Aggretsuko a lot, because it reminded me of myself being in a company and having to do a lot of work. The secretary bird in the anime is a good friend of Aggretsuko’s… Didn’t realise they are so big!!

 

Finally, on my way trying to find the way out (you actually have to go back near the front entrance), I managed to see a panda just lying there… Hahahaha! Thanks to the people already standing around – I just had to wait for them to move before I could take this picture. ^_^

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After exiting, I took a few more pics of the park again…

 

At Ueno Station, I just had to take a pic of this game advert.

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My next destination was to find the Government Building’s Observatory Tower in Shinjuku. The afternoon suddenly became cold and windy, so I had to put my jacket on. It was really cold!

The Observatory Tower is free to enter but there is a security check before you’re able to enter the lift. If you want to save money, and don’t want to go all the way to Asakusa to see the Sky Tree, then come to this building! The most you’ll probably spend up there is half-an-hour before you have to queue again to go back down.

 

If you hover around the 2nd floor (1st floor) you get to see the Olympics and World Rugby stuff… it seems they’re counting down to the Rugby! ^_^

 

It was time to head back to the hotel and rest for a little bit, so I bought a very light lunch… Sandwich and cold tea. DSC_2033

I have no idea what these strip sweets are. I took these back to London and finished them off.DSC_2036

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So it was around 5.30pm when I left the hotel, I had to go back to Shinjuku to meet my old uni friend, who is almost like Mrs Travels’ other best friend in uni… we were all good friends to each other really!

The trip to Shinjuku was a bit ugh to me. Very busy, Very crowded. That’s a no-no for me. It took my friend and I a long time to find each other, I had used a lot of text messages to let him know where I am. Shinkjuku is one of those nightmare stations with too many exits. Even my uni friend said he’s not familiar from this station…. Ahhhhhhh! People were a bit surprised when we conversed in English – they probably didn’t think I was foreign. LOL!! I remembered him as tall and skinny with glasses – but it looks like he may have shrunk, or I may have got taller. ^_^ He said his glasses were not prescription ones, it was for fashion! Whaaaaaa~~~~! All this time Mrs Travels and I thought he wore prescription glasses.

So it took him a while to decide where we should go. I said I wanted to eat ramen. Japanese ramen… so we went to Ore no Sora Shinjuku. It took me a while to find the name of this place online as I forgot to take a pic of the outside, and I didn’t want to bother my friend afterwards… ¬_¬”” The ramen here was awesome! The meat looks like duck meat, but it’s definitely pork. The soup is of pork and fish base. You can actually taste a bit of the fishiness. The waiters didn’t seem to understand why we were talking in English.DSC_2038

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Good choice uni friend!!

Address: Japan, 〒160-0023 Tokyo, Shinjuku City, Nishishinjuku, 1 Chome−3−13 I&Kビル

Was afraid my uni friend’s wife would tell him off for going home late, but he says it’s fine as he hasn’t seen me for 16 years! So we moved onto Café Bon, which is about a 5-10 minute walk from the ramen place, it’s in a basement and they serve drip coffee, tea and cake. The teacups look quite old-fashioned, and it seems each tea cup has their own story. Coffee was great! Cake was ok.

 

Address: 3 Chome-23-1 Shinjuku, Shinjuku City, Tokyo 160-0022, Japan

After having a long catch up with my friend about life, work and realisations, (and lots of personal juicy gossip which I can’t talk about in this blog – that’s a shame, I know), it was time to head back to the hotel.

It was a long, long day… snore!

End of Day 3.

Lost in Japan, Memoirs of a Geek: Day 2 – The Missing Transfer and Super Geek Energy

Sunday 31st March 2019

So I arrived in Haneda Airport around 7.30am. Thought it would be easier to get from Haneda Airport to the hotel in a very short space of time with the transfer…

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However, when I passed security, my transfer wasn’t even there!! I waited around for half-an-hour before making an executive decision, in the meantime I had emailed Bamba Experience, tried calling the emergency contacts – but the numbers weren’t even working! Ugh. Luckily I had my old Pasmo Card from five years ago, so I got that topped up at the tourist stand as I couldn’t top up at the airport machines… I made my own way to the hotel in Ikebukuro.

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I arrived in Ikebukuro before 10am, but because there are so many exits in this station (like with all major Japanese stations), it took me a while to find the right way. I went out the West exit, but should have really gone out the East exit. But anyway, it was nice to look around.

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Finally arrived at my hotel Ikebukuro Keio Presso Inn, it’s not far from the station, but it really felt far as I had a suitcase with me. As check in time was not unti 3pm, I was left to do go out and do whatever for 5 hours.

So, the first place to go to was a Mos Burger place – suggested by a friend from my Japanese class. I used Google Maps and data roaming from my phone to find the nearest one near the hotel… So this one is at the end of one long street. About a 10-15 minute walk (depending on fast you walk).

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The Japanese have already thought I was Japanese from the first glance (I truly do not look Japanese), but I ordered in mixed English and Japanese. Then the waiter thought I might be from Mainland China, and so ended up saying xiexie (thank you). LOL! I speak Cantonese peeps. My Mandarin speaking is not great at all.

This is what I had… Cream Cheese Teriyaki Burger, a normal Teriyaki Burger and a Melon soda. Total cost came to ¥1000 (~£6-7). Mega cheap.

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The cream cheese one was awesome! The teriyaki sauce was salty and sweet but was toned down by the cream cheese.

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The normal teriyaki one was too salty – but it was so much better than the BA meals!

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Address: 1 Chome-32-5 Higashiikebukuro, Toshima City, Tokyo 170-0013, Japan

After sitting around for a little while, which was what some people were doing when I got there, I moved off back to Ikebukuro Station, and headed off to one of the famous streets in Harajuku! The easiest way to get there is to take the Yamanote Line and get off at Harajuku. Straight in front of you is Takeshita Street.

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You would think Oxford Street and Regent Street was worse in London, but this was quite terrifying. You’re practically pushed and squeezed because of the amount of tourists and locals who were there – plus it was a Sunday, and many Japanese take that day off from work!

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I didn’t like the crowds, so I swiftly walked away, looked at Google Maps to go to my next destination. Shibuya.

I followed Google Maps for the next half-an-hour and found myself snapping away…

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The main reason why I wanted to come back to Shibuya after all these years was because I missed out on finding the Hachiko Statue outside Shibuya Station. Lots of tourists around this spot too!

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Next stop was Tokyo Station. I love seeing this station!

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Especially the basement for their shopping… Didn’t buy much, so swiftly moved onto my next destination.

I was defo tired and sleepy at this point, but I really needed to push myself.

And I promised Mr Games that I would fine the Square Enix Café in Japan, so I went to the one in Akihabara. Snap, snap, snap, took my pictures, and moved back to the hotel!

It was almost 3pm, but I think the people who were already there including myself were able to check in. Hoorah!! So tired!! But I didn’t take a nap… All I did was bath and changed clothes.

Before I missed the moment, I went to one of my favourite Japanese restaurants – Nakau. The machines have English instructions but I think I had to try twice, because I think I ordered wrongly. ^_^”” Total came to ¥980 (~£6.75). I’ve missed the flavoursome chicken, and the super soft purin!! Aaaaaahhhhhh~~~~ I was in Heaven! I ate it all even when I was full to the brim I chowed down all of it!

Address: Japan, 〒170-0013 Tokyo, Toshima City, Higashiikebukuro, 1 Chome−28−1

I made sure I relaxed that evening and went to bed ASAP – Didn’t sleep in those 24 hours! I really don’t know how or where I got the energy from – maybe because I took a week off before going on holiday, and slept as much as I could. LOL!!

p.s. I really like this lemon super chu-hi… I need to find this in London!!

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End of Day 2.

Machiya 町家 – London, Panton Street

So what happens when this geek fails her driving test for the second time (thankfully it was just one serious fault instead of four!). The Geek goes on a food therapy session. I was going to go out whether I passed or failed anyway. I’m was just a bit angry at myself at the moment because I almost passed – damned parked cars on a two-way street!! 

I’ve also ended my permanent job after 15 long years in the same company in two different posts… Aaaaah, freedom!

After my food shopping, I actually wanted ramen but there was a queue at Kanada-ya, so I went into their neighbour’s restaurant – Machiya 町家 (meaning: “city shop”).

It looked appealing as I really wanted a katsudon. (I actually wanted a chicken katsudon ~~~ but nevermind ~~~).DSC_1748

Well, this is what I ordered. A pork katsudon, a piece of aubergine sprinkled with different spices and an iced matcha latte. DSC_1744

It looks quite small here, but underneath all of this is actually a lot of rice.DSC_1745

The aubergine slice was surprisingly tasty but maybe I should’ve evened out the spices a little. It was easy to split apart. It was cooked really softly.
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Ta-da! And it’s all disappeared!DSC_1747

Total came to around £24.

My geeky rating: 4.5/5 … wish there was a slightly bigger portion

Good points:

  • Nice customer service
  • Food was ok
  • Not overly expensive

Bad points:

  • A bit slow

Address: 5 Panton St, London SW1Y 4DL
Tel: 020 7925 0333

Website: http://machi-ya.co.uk/

Coco Ichibanya – London, Newport Street

すごいね!ロンドンで CoCo壱番屋は 開きました。
Translation: It’s amazing! Coco Ichibanya has opened in London.
I wonder if the Japanese know I love curry. ¬_¬” I must have mentioned it so many times. Who would have wondered that this Japanese chain company would have started one of their chains in London. I’m quite surprised. びっくりね。。。😮
So I found out via a news article that Coco was opening a branch near China Town. It’s actually taken over the site of Abeno Too (the okonomiyaki place). Not sure if that was a risk but it’s sure doing so well after two weeks from opening.
After viewing the Christmas lights in London Zoo during one Saturday, I decided to go to Coco Ichibanya. The streets was kind of quiet, but it wasn’t quiet in the Piccadily / Soho area. OMG! Thinking that everyone would ease off from shopping at the end of the year – looks like I was wrong. Unfortunately when I got to Coco Ichibanya, there was already a queue. SIGH. It’s one of those London epidemics when a new Japanese food chain opens. すごいね. 

 

 

Well, I queued for half an hour as luckily there was a one seater by the window that no-one had occupied yet. One of the employees asked if I wanted her to ask the people in the front if they wouldn’t mind me going in before them… they said it was ok! Thank you people in the front of the queue. I only had lunch and was already starving! ありがとうごさいました!
I already knew what I wanted, so I ordered fairly quickly.
Pork tonkatsu with omurice and curry sauce. Plus side orders of eggplant (aubergine) and a hamburger. I also had an ice coffee (I said kopi to the waitress – the Korean way, whoopsie! 😅). Forrgot to ask what rice portion I wanted, so I think ended up with the standard portion.

 

The taste of the curry was nothing that special compared to other Japanese curries. It wasn’t sweet. Had a bit of spiciness to it, even though I had forgotten to tell them what spice level I wanted. (I actually wanted a hotter level, maybe next time!).

 

 

 

I added the hamburger (which I think it contains beef and pork mixed) and eggplant in, so that the sauce could blend into the plate of curry. Yuuuuummmmmy!!

 

Look at that egg and rice (topped with cheese). I’m salivating at the moment. 😋

All of it was delicious, wish I had a bit more sauce added. All I could hear in the background was oishii 美味しい. Standard rice portion was the right amount for me.

 

Totally stuffed! But able to walk out the door!
Total cost came to £26.89. Quite expensive, considering that an Indian curry would cost even less. I can even make my own Japanese curry for less. 😹
My geeky rating: 4.5/5
Good points:
– Polite service
– Quite quick with the food
– Nice coffee!
– I love the food, especially the hamburger
Bad points:
– Expensive
– Queuing (unavoidable at this moment in time)
Address: 17-18 Great Newport St, London WC2H 7JE
Tel: 020 3904 5633
Website: https://ichibanya.uk/ (in construction)
The Japanese Website: https://www.ichibanya.co.jp/

Minamoto Kitchoan 源吉兆庵 – Japanese Confectionery Store

Feel like I’m back to my old self. Shopping, eating out, and now kind of enjoying driving – not as stressed out as I was last year. Good riddance to 2018! 😎

Before Christmas, I went out with Miss Rock for our annual get-together. It’s actually been almost two years since we last met. This time, we kept it local and walked from Borough all the way to Tottenham Court Road via Strand, through part of Oxford Street, into Regents Street area, then Covent Garden, Waterloo and Elephant and Castle. I thought I was walking really slow, but Miss Rock said I was walking a little too fast. Really? That’s mega slow speed for me! LOL.
On our journey, we stopped by a Japanese confectionery store called Minamoto Kitchoan 源吉兆庵. It’s been opened for more than two years, and this is the first time I remembered to stop by.

We were looking at the prices for most of the products, and most are a tad expensive. Japanese imported things are expensive. It’s a shame, as I would have bought loads if they were at a reasonable price.

We took a while to decide what we wanted.

In the end I chose these. I like rice crackers and mochi, so I chose these.

If you know me, I like a good cheese flavoured rice cracker.

It has powdered cheese covering the whole of the cracker. It has a nice crunch to it, and it nicely softens into your mouth as you taste the last moments of the rice cracker as it disappears in your mouth. It makes you crave for more. There’s only 5 packets of 2 crackers, so save them to the last minute if you can!

I’ve not tasted tomato flavoured rice crackers before.

This actually tastes like red tomato pesto sauce with the herbs that they’ve added to give it an Italian-Japanese feel. It tastes like a pizza. ^_^ Yummy!!

This is a mamedaifuku – a large bean rice cake. Basically a large version of a bean-filled mochi.

I should have bit into it rather than try to pull it apart. Shame of me. Sweet red bean paste in the middle. I would say it’s not that special. It wasn’t too sweet, and I think I would just purchase normal small mochi next time.

I spent £13 in this store. Expensive right? Yes it is. (The Geek has expensive taste… I was born with it 😅).

Address: 448 Strand, London WC2R 0QU
Tel: 0203 490 4747

Website: https://www.kitchoan.co.uk/

Koi Ramen @ Pop Brixton – London, Brixton Station Road

My public sector job has a very high turnover. Reason: yearly rotas across the UK! If you knew where I work, you would understand… I have another 3 months and 3 weeks to go before I leave them. 14+ years is a very long time in one company!
Well, it’s again the end of another rota, and again another get together for some awesome people! First we had ended up in a bar in Brixton – a change of scenery they said! OMG! Here we’re just catching the sunset at the top of a bar…

Finally food time! I feel like this year I haven’t had enough food to blog about. 😕 I’m spending my money and time on driving, plus trying to be stress free and also saving for my next holiday! Next year I promise to do a bit more! (Let’s just hope I pass my driving test by the end of the year!).

Anyway, Pop Brixton has a variety of foods in this mall-like diner. It was quite difficult to find a massive table for us, luckily some people were leaving, and we managed to grab a table. A long one.

I was craving ramen. I love ramen. And I knew I just had to have a bowel from Koi Ramen Bar. It was one of those hit and miss opportunities.

So what did I choose? The tonkotsu ramen with an extra slice of tonkotsu, and a full set of gyoza plus a beer!

With Koi Ramen they add the toppings for you, so if you’re allergic to anything, make sure to let the peeps know! Itadakimasu!
The ramen was cooked a bit soft (a bit too soft to my liking). I tend to like my noodles to be al-dente. The slices of pork were a little on the thin side. The soup was ok, I drank it all as it’s been a little while since I’ve had tonkotsu soup from a restaurant. 😅 Gyozas were ok.
So one of my colleagues decided to treat me with this bun. I miss my past colleagues. They were all so nice to me… and I was kind of mean to some of them behind their backs… (should not try and do that in the future – but some do deserve my somewhat hatred towards them). Anyway, back to this bun!
It was overly topped up with so many ingredients that it was hard to tell what this is! A very messy experience!!

Overall price came to £17! Not inluding the Vietnamese bun. Reasonable price.

My geeky rating: 4.5/5

Good points:
– Located in a very local place and good to experience a variety of different foods
– If you’re craving some cheap ramen around the area, this is an ok spot to try
– Nice pork soup!

Bad points:
– Ramen was too soft!

Address: 49 Brixton Station Road, Brixton, London SW9 8PQ
Tel: 07796 463972

Website: https://www.koiramenbar.co.uk/

Louie Louie – Japanese Okonomiyaki Edition

I haven’t been to Louie Louie for about a year now, so it’s about time I treat myself (even though I’m going on holiday really soon)… I shall start saving again from July, or possibly next year… 😇
In this post, (I haven’t been this excited about blogging for a very long time) I get to eat Japanese food in an English cafe/restaurant. Exciting desu! (エキサイティングです!). Who would’ve thought a Japanese chef would come and cook okonomiyaki in Walworth Road. 😋 
According to their website, Louie Louie will be changing their evening menus every few weeks with different chefs coming in and out, and it so happened that I spotted the typical Japanese restaurant decor whilst on the bus to work… I had to do some fast Internet searching…
The menu had various types of okonomiyaki, so I thought I should try it one evening, before the chef leaves town…

I wanted something differet to drink that evening, so I tried out this white beer called Hitachino Nest. Not bad. Not too bitter. Reminded me of a Heineken.

Tried out these fancy cauliflower tempura… they were amazing! Still hot every time I bit into one. Thumbs up to this!!

I had the kimchi, emmental cheese and mochi okonomiyaki. It came with noodles… Tasted very different to what I’ve had before. Each bite was different. One area had more cheese. Another part had more kimichi and the mochi was so thinly stretched that it was practically unnoticable. I’m generally used to eating okomiyaki with a lot of white cabbage, but the noodles replaced it quite nicely.

So as usual, I never really plan for the dessert, but thought maybe I should try out this Sake-kasu and lime panna cotta… It wasn’t overly sweet, and I thought it had resemblance to a sweet tofu dessert or a solid natural yogurt with berries on top.

I practically became vegetarian that evening. I think I could be a vegetarian if I went to Louie Louie often enough…

Total came to £29.81. Expensive. But worth visiting for this dinner. 😇 ごちそうさまでした!

I think it’s roughly around a week or so to go before it finishes!

My geeky rating: 5/5

Website: http://louielouie.london/

Ichibuns Japanese Restaurant イチバンズ – London, Wardour Street

Finally eating at this place. Ichibuns. It was opened some time last year, but didn’t have time to go and the poor weather stopped me from going out too much. Excuses, excuses as my friends would say!
Ichibuns sounds like a pun for ichiban 一番 (いちばん), which means “number one” or “the best”. (The things you pick up from Japanese language classes and self-learning). So Ichibuns in Katakana is spelt as イチバンズ (ichibanzu) or it could also be this in Kanji 一番図 meaning “The first figure”. 
All in all it just means “Number One/The Best Buns”. 😅😅😅

As always, I was sat by the window since I’m a loner these days when eating out. No way am I ashamed of eating alone. It’s one of the best things ever. No splitting bills or whatsoever. (Sorry my friends, I’m a selfish Geek 😝).

It wasn’t so bad sitting by the window. I got to se the beautiful decor on the walls and ceiling. When you go in, take a closer look at the ceiling, you might be surprised to see what those white blobs are. 😉

I was actually surprised (in Ninja style) how this ended up in front of me! So cute! The owner has a very cute Japanese attitude towards dining. 😄

Here I ordered the Hong Kong Colada at £8.50. Sweet, didn’t feel alcoholic. Was it supposed to have alcohol? Oh well I think it needed a tiny bit more rum. 😆 (I’ve become an alcky!) 

Well this is what I had. The Ichibun Burger and fries. Was not impressed by the slightly burnt out fries. 

I think the cheese was quite salty compared to the beef burger. I think it may have ruined the taste a little bit. Considering the cost of Wagyu beef, I can understand why this burger was quite small. To be honest, it wasn’t the “best” burger I have had. ごめなさい!Needed more onions and sauce to compensate.

All the burgers have to be served medium rare, I guess to get that fatty and raw taste in our mouths.

After eating… I met Arale in the wall. I am very impressed at the owner’s hard core Japanese animé decor!

Total came to around £23 (if I remember correctly – inlcuded service charge I think). You will need to order a few more dishes to be totally full. The food I ordered only half-filled my stomach. 😭

My geeky rating: ⭐⭐⭐⭐🌟 4.5/5 (mainly for the decor)
Good points:
– Very decorative interior – I love the fact that the owner really went out and displayed a lot of my favourtite anime characters on the walls and ceiling (I really, really love the decor!!).
– Polite service
Bad points:
– A little expensive
– Have to buy a lot of miniature style foods to feel full
– Think the fries were way overcooked!!
Address: 22 Wardour Street, Soho, London W1D 6QQ
Tel: 020 3937 5888