Monday, May 31, 2010

Genki Sushi

I prefer sushi bars over Kaitenzushi just because I like everything to be authentic. But from time to time I want to have sushi at Kaitenzushi restaurants for two reasons: a) Every sushi is very cheap, b) You can have irregular sushi that are not available at a sushi bar. So my friends and I decided to have lunch at this "Genki Sushi" this Sunday. You know, Genki means "fine" in English, so when you see your Japanese friends, you can ask them "Genki? (How are you?)".

As far as I know there are several Kaitenzushi restaurants in my city, and I'd like to introduce one by one in future. The two Kaitenzushi I've introduced were "Toppi" and "Hamazushi".

Clockwise from left: sardine, bonito, and salmon. They weren't on the same dish but I put them together so that you can see them in one picture.

"Aburi Benizake" or roasted sockeye salmon. These were pretty yummy, and I had another dish of this. I'm liable to have salmon at sushi restaurants since it includes the nutrition called Omega 3.

When i was in the USA, I had some very strange sushi, but you can have hamburger at this sushi restaurant. I guess it was for kids.

I felt hungry after having all those sushi, so I ordered this Udon. Not that you can have Udon at every sushi restaurant, but this was more delicious than those sushi. I didn't come here for Udon though. You can see Tempura called "Kakiage" on top of it.

And I had this dessert that had pieces of orange, cherry and yogurt pudding. You can have some kinds of cake as well here, and the reason why they offer such sweet things might be they want children as customers. Children alone can't come here, so they bring their parents as additional customers. I could call this Genki Sushi a "family" sushi restaurant.

Friday, May 28, 2010

Rental dvd shop

I told you before that we often rent dvds or cds instead of downloading them off the Internet. It is because renting those discs are really cheap. For example, at this bookstore you can rent a dvd for only a dollar and you can keep it for as long as a week. And Blue-ray dvds often go for the same price. There are shops where you can rent dvds only, but usually we rent dvds at bookstores where they also sell magazines, manga, stationery, and even snacks.
 J-drama that were so popular tend to be released as movie. Are Japanese movies well-known in your country? I tend to watch foreign ones only. These are all dvds of J-movie.

This one is called "Ikigami" and it features Shouta Matsuda, whose father was a now deceased actor Yuusaku Matsuda, who was active in the '70s and '80s. You can go to the website of Ikigami by clicking this.

This is a movie (Koizora) that was popular among high school girls in Japan. The original story came from its novel that was available on cellphone. Then it was released as a book and then a movie. This movie features now 21-year-old Yui Aragaki, who is basically known as an actress. 

On this day, I could rent dvds for half a dollar. I think this is because people are pinching pennies amid this recession and this kind of rental bookstores are forced to lower the price.

As I told you, this store sells manga as well. It doesn't sell so many manga as Wondergoo, but very popular titles seemed to be available. What you can see in the center is "Baka to Test to Shoukanjuu". Its story is on students taking exams in high school. 

This manga "Kuroshitsuji" or Black Butler is popular among girls mainly. It is popular enough to have so many volumes as this, and it was also released as anime and drama CD's, with which you can "listen" to the story that often varies a bit from the original one.

Wednesday, May 26, 2010

Trattoria Genova

I'm not sure if I told you this before, but I'm a huge fan of Italian food. Around 2000 or 2001, many Italian restaurants opened in my city, and those places were where people visited often for lunch or dinner. In those days, our economy was stagnant, albeit not so bad as this, but we kept going to those Italian restaurants until 2007 or so, when the Japanese people started to refrain from dining out at expensive restaurants. Instead, people started to prefer cheap restaurants like ones where they serve a 1 dollar-a-dish sushi. But I have to admit I still like Italian food.

I usually don't like restaurants that are in malls, but I think I've tried every Italian restaurant in my city in the past decade. Trying a new restaurant is always exciting for everybody, right?

I ordered a set that has three dishes plus a soft drink. I always wonder why we can't have more salad than this at an Italian restaurant.

As an antipasto, I had this. From left to right: chicken, bean sprouts, and rolled egg. I wish I could explain more about these, but I doubt I could even in Japanese. These were good enough to stimulate my appetite.

This is a pizza that we call Margherita, which is supposed to have basil leaves, Mozzarella cheese, and tomato sauce. I like the pizza of Pizza Hut too, but I sometimes like it plain.

As an additional dish, I had this pizza that had pieces of bacon, some spinach, boiled egg and cheese. I've heard some Japanese chefs are better at cooking Italian dishes than true Italian ones, but honestly I doubt such hearsay.

Of course I had a coffee after the meal. I have to say this iced coffee was much like ones served at an Internet cafe. I tend to compliment food served at any restaurant, but since I'm a coffee maniac, let me be straightforward. I could have had a better coffee at Doutor....

Sunday, May 23, 2010


I introduced a Tonkatsu restaurant in this posting, but today let me show you another one that costs you more money. This restaurant TonQ is the best in my city and over the weekend it has many customers who come from a bit faraway cities. "Ton" means "pig" and the reason why it has Q in the name is that if you look at a pig from behind it would look like "Q". 

I exercise a lot on weekends like playing tennis, so I sometimes need to have a dish that has a thick taste and many calories. The Japanese people usually take care not to gain weight, but we can't keep eating rice and vegetables only on end.

This restaurant was showing this pork that came from a farm in Japan. We tend to consider beef, pork, chicken and even vegetables that are bred and harvested domestically as precious. This pork has been maturing for 7 days in this case.

Usually Tonkatsu restaurants get noisy with customers speaking in loud voices, but inside people were having dishes very quietly. I'm one of those people who always like it silent in a restaurant.

I had these pieces of fillet pork and a prawn. I should've dipped the prawn in the white sauce you can see on the upper left that is called "tar tar sauce", but I inadvertently poured Worcester sauce on it. The yellow paste you see on you right is "karashi", which is really spicy like wasabi. 

At this restaurant, people are supposed to dip a Tonkatsu in ground sesame. It's up to you to decide whether you do so,  but a Tonkatsu tastes definitely better with ground sesame.

And this TonQ served some rice that had a wasabi and green tea taste. I've never tried stuff like this, but I could savor a subtle taste of wasabi. You'd love this too, if you're a fan of sushi with wasabi.

These are pickles called "Otsukemono". The green stuff was, as you can see, pieces of cucumber, and the other two were made from radish that tasted a bit sweet. You can have unlimited refills, but I was careful enough not to bother the waitresses. 

Friday, May 21, 2010


Yesterday I went to a Japanese bar called "Danya". It is basically a bar, but you can also have dinner or lunch there. And it seems that the Road Traffic Law on drunk driving has so tightened that this kind of bars in suburban areas turned themselves into places where people can have meals mainly. I mean, you can have alcohol at a bar in a big city as you could go home by train, but you cannot in a rural area since you'd have to drive back home.
This restaurant was in a neighboring city called "Ushiku", and we came here by car. "Dan" off the name of this bar "Danya" means "warmth". You wouldn't want to feel warmth in the summer, but I think Japanese-styled bars tend to have names that sound good in the winter.

This bar had a backyard that we could see through the windows of the room we were in. Without those fences we'd have seen cars running on the road. I think it is difficult to have a tranquil atmosphere in a town.

We didn't sit on chairs but on the floor, which was the Japanese way of having meals until the early Showa period (1926-1989). And as I said before, I don't smoke at all.

As an appetizer we ordered this salad. The brown stuff you see is fried shrimps.

I don't remember the name of this set, but the main dish was sushi. From left to right: tuna, salmon, squid, a kind of shellfish, and salmon caviar. The last one is called "Ikura" in Japanese and favorited by many Japanese people but it's expensive. 

You could say this is another main dish : Tempura. As you can see there are a prawn, a piece of eggplant, and a kind of green pepper called "Shishitou", which tasted bitter. And the white stuff the prawn was leaning against was fish. We have Tempuras after dipping them in "Tsuyu", which is like light taste soy sauce, and we put the ground radish in the Tsuyu that you can see on the nearside of the saucer.

As side dishes, this set had Soba, and "Chawan Mushi". I explained what the latter was in this posting. My stomach tends to be filled with a light meal, but I felt hungry even after having all those dishes. And I think that Japanese dishes wouldn't be enough for most foreign people.

Monday, May 17, 2010

Ryuujin Big Suspension Bridge (Ryuujin Ootsuribashi)

It's already in the middle of May, but I wanted to tell you about an event held on the 5th of this month. It is called "Children's Day", when people hope for the well-being of their children. And in the Edo period (1603-1868), people started to hang streamers called "Koinobori" on May 5th. "Koi" means "carp". People hung them so that their children would advance in the world like carps going up waterfalls. And I came to this place this weekend called "Ryuujinkyou Ootsuribashi", or "Ryuujin Big Suspension Bridge", where a number of big carp streamers were still hung.

It was a bit chilly, and cloudy with occasional sunshine on the day. But I liked those clouds, since "Ryuujin" means a dragon, and it seemed a dragon might come out of those clouds all of a sudden.

You can see many carps hung on both sides of the bridge. I just wondered how many carps there were. You can cross this bridge for 300 yen per person, or 3.2 us dollars.

After crossing this bridge, I took this pic from the other side. I think you can see how high this bridge is. About 100 meters high. Those big and a bit smaller "Koinobori" sometimes represent a family. And of course, bigger ones are parents.

At the end of the bridge, there was this picture of a dragon.

And there was a machine with which you can ring three kinds of bell, love, happiness, and hope. One ring costs you 100 yen. You'd want to ring the love bell with your lover, right?

I was impressed to see those streamers blown by a strong wind. This event had been held until yesterday.

I have often seen this "Ayu no Shioyaki" or Japanese trouts grilled with salt. I wanted to try it, but I had planned to have something more filling on my way back home.

I'm a huge fan of Japanese liquor, or "sake". And at the souvenir shop I saw "sake" named "Ryuujinkyou" or "Ryuujin ravine". I think some of you noticed that the pronunciations of bridge and ravine are the same in Japanese. I mean, "Ryuujinkyou" stands for Ryuujin bridge and Ryuujin ravine.  

This is a sculpture called "The Legendary Red Dragon". It took a month to carve this and surprisingly you can order the same one by calling the sculptor.

And here's a video of the bridge that I shot.

Saturday, May 15, 2010

Walk in Akihabara -9-

continued from "Walk in Akihabara -8-".

I showed a shop called "Sofmap" before, and one of its outlets named "Amusement" sells anime or idol-related dvds, and cds. It is considered a shop that has the greatest number of secondhand discs in Akihabara. When I came here it was still advertising a video gamed called "End of Eternity", which was out on January 28.

An exhibition by illustrators was held at this shop called "Comic Tora no Ana A". This shop sells manga mainly and they sell Doojin manga as well. "Doojin" is manga that was drawn by amateur people, and it often has adult contents.

"Tora no Ana" has an annex called B and there is a section for girls and the shop made it easy for them to get in by making the atmosphere familiar to girls.

And when I got in, the B shop was playing some scenes from the second season of K-ON!!. It was playing this in order to advertise the Blue-ray dvds that will be released. And those who buy the dvds will get a life-size Azusa tapestry.

When I was walking along Chuo Street, there was this section where video games for computer were displayed.

You can actually play all of the video games available there. This is a game called "Unlimited Hearts". You can visit its website by clicking this. I don't have any console, so those pc games were really appealing.

Do you know a discount store called "Don Quijote"? There are many outlets of it in Japan, and people can buy so many kinds of things from Zippo lighters to grocery very cheaply.

And the 8th floor of the Don Quijote in Akihabara has a space for the AKB48 theater. I don't think all anime fans are in favor of this girls' idol group. I'd rather listen to songs by Seiyuu instead. AKB48 is so popular that there were some cheating involving their concert tickets.   

I have often spoken to foreign people under 40, and most of them said they grew up watching anime. Japanese adults still don't understand why anime is so appealing to many people, but it is completely different from Disney's anime, and the storyline of each anime is well-wrought. For example, the Haruhi novel had been already supported by many people before it was released as anime.

Thursday, May 13, 2010

Karaya (Ramen shop)

I didn't like Ramen so much before, but I've tried several Ramen recently and I showed you some of the Ramen shops I visited. And since Tokyo is the city where you can have the most delicious Ramen, my friend and I decided to have Ramen in Akiahabara. As far as I saw, there were several Ramen shops in Akihabara, so I want to try some of them in the future. 

This Ramen shop is called "Karaya" and can be reached after crossing Chuo Street. To me, the kanji "Kara" reminded me of an old Chinese empire that existed from 7th to 10th century, so I was expecting something Chinese.

There weren't so many to choose from, but in my opinion the less choices a Ramen shop has, the better its taste is. And as I walked around for hours in Akihabara on the day, any Ramen would have tasted better than it was.

There were only 8 or 9 seats for customers, but you know, when the shop can accommodate only a few customers then the chefs would see who are kept waiting, and you wouldn't have to wait so long.

My friend had "Waniku Toushou Men". "Waniku" and "Men" means "Japanese meat" and "noodles" respectively. But I don't know the meaning of "Toushou" even in Japanese, sorry.

And I had "Tan Tan Toushou Men". As I showed in this posting, "Tan Tan Men" is supposed to be very spicy. But I think the taste of this Ramen was similar to a Thai dish called "Tom Yum Goong". I went to Thailand 3 years ago, and as I liked all the dishes there, I really loved this Ramen. And my friend also said his tasted like a dish from Southeast Asia. 

It is very hard to find a very good Ramen shop in my own city, but you could easily find a good one in Tokyo, as each shop is always trying hard to have more customers. And you know, a shop that serves very bad dishes would soon go out of business when there are so many Ramen shops in the area.