Thursday, January 31, 2013

Hakodate Asaichi @ Hakodate Morning Market

A stone’s throw away from Hakodate morning market is this squid ink icecream café. Right smack infront of it is a pop up grill. Freshly torched scallops were sold and I must say, watching the whole process was interesting. The owner would whack the poor shell fella groggy before cooking it over the fire till the shells split open, with a steady snip of a scissors the intestines were gotten rid off and with another squirt of flavouring it was left to bubble on the grill.

Wait, I got carried away with it.

icecream

Here's the shop!

cones

Crispy wafer cones.

squid ink

The café sells a variety of other flavours but squid ink was the main attraction. The aftertaste is all of milky, creamy and then squid ink. Light enough to go unnoticed but obvious enough to recognize it’s squid ink. For novelty’s sake at least!

Hakodate Asaichi (Squid Ink Icecream)
Hakodate Morning Market

Wednesday, January 30, 2013

Hakodate Morning Market

Rise and shine for morning market expedition! I love wet markets in Japan because they hardly smell and look like one.

market

Real near the touristy Motomachi district! We realise that's where all the night action is and it comes at a painful pricetag of a 30 minute walk in plunging temperatures. 

hawker

Nowhere near the dirty and smelly wet markets that we have locally. These actually smell good!

squid fishing

As touristy as it is, we spotted a Singaporean tour group there as well. Loads of activity going on in the market even without a famous tuna auction – squid fishing, haggling and hustling for tourist business and we still managed to find a non descript decent looking Japanese restaurant on the second floor.

shop

I say figures speak louder than words – 500 Yen for a seafood don, SOLD.

shop

At the doors which we hovered on quite a while.

inside

It was a sparsely furnished restaurant with waitresses who barely understood English yet we still got our orders right.

 seafood bowl

Seafood Don

Fresh, fresh, fresh. I cannot reiterate how the tastebuds have been spoilt rotten with the amazing food I have been partaking the whole trip. Having fishy food served up is cardinal sin and down to the rice grains, it is nothing short of heaven.

salmon bowl

Salmon Don

The shade of salmon seems darker here, possibly a case of deep sea and shallow water salmon?

sashimi

Sashimi platter of the day's catch. It has become staple so much so that upon return, nothing would come close in terms of freshness.

appetizer

Braised octopus for an appetizer.

squid

Squid

The cheapest and largest portion of protein available. The chewy squid is hardly rubbery!

I wanted to buy a snow crab to get it cooked the next day but no luck with that. They usually go for 8000 Yen and 1000 for cooking, until the next time I suppose!

squid buns

The lady was probably trying to flail her arms to prevent me from snapping a shot of a squid ink pau. Squid ink's all the rage in the market ranging from squid ink cuttlefish to paus and well, someone should just have squid ink udon or soba?

more crabs

Pricey crustaceans.

crab

That could have been my breakfast and set me back by JPY 8000.

seafood

Tons of dried seafood for snacking.

fish

So full of roe! I'm only thinking about my sky rocketing cholesterol levels.

salmon

Bright red salmon.

That ended the brief foray into the morning market and off we headed for more adventures!

Hakodate Morning Market

Tuesday, January 29, 2013

Ramen @ Hakodate

Winter is dreadful not just because of the snow but because shops close so early, dinner becomes a chore. Finding a decent place at pocket friendly prices is a task, especially so in a sleepy town like Hakodate. There was shabu shabu going at 4000 Yen per pax but ramen at 600 Yen was a friendlier option.

shop

Godsent find in winter, else risk going to bed hungry!

chop sticks

Usual ramen suspects.

bowls

Prepping for the hungry folks.

chef

That's the chef with a funky hairdo.

sea urchin

Drawn by the crab claw and sea urchin ramen picture, we made it our dining location for the day.

slurp

The alkaline taste was too strong to ignore, somehow causing the dish to lose quite a few points in the taste department. Cooked sea urchin loses its amazing texture and taste as well. I choose not to label this terrible yet I am not a fan of this.

ramen

Also available with soup broth and char siew.

char siew

Extra topping of cha siew, these were fatty!

gyoza

Gyozas are a must with ramen, as with peanuts and beer. Thin skin wrapping around a lean meat stuffing, somehow these tasted better.

roe

Generous topping of roe, looking at it brings a huge smile!

Passion the ramen chefs have about their job, watching them busy themselves or even neatly fold gyozas is a point of reflection. When was the last time I was this passionate about my job?

Ramen place next to hotel
Hakodate

Monday, January 28, 2013

Lucky Pierrot @ Hakodate

view

Hakodate is a 3 hour train ride from Sapporo and it is a quiet town or so we discovered. The view when the sky is bright is pretty awesome as with the night view but in winter, most shops close so early! Shopping is way limited and I'm talking about fashion generations back - ok, not so bad but it is dated.

night

An idea of how dark it gets by 6pm in December. Even fast food restaurants close early! We were lucky enough to grab an early dinner on one of the days there.

Hakodate’s answer to fastfood. Strange or not, I hardly saw any MOS burger joints throughout the trip and Lucky Pierrot is exclusive to Hakodate. Ask any Hakodate citizen and they gladly pointed us in the right direction of this fast food restaurant.

lucky pierrot

For a lack of a good word, the restaurant looked clownish with a touch of carnival. I was looking forward to my first whale burger – the largest mammal in water. The online folks are probably outdated but their famous whale burger has since been removed, replacing it is a menu that looks rather ordinary save for their megaweights which are limited in quantities of twenty daily.

merchandise

Merchandise for diehards.

mayo fries

Fries

These came in a mug (not for takeaway) and a dollop of mayo. Ordinary fried fries.

packaging

Burgers came wrapped and taped - just like MOS Burger. I'm beginning to think this is the Japanese way.

chicken burger

Chinese Chicken Burger (JPY 350)

Major surprise that a Chinese burger could be tops in their menu replacing whale burger. The sweet sticky sauce made this burger distinct but I was not a fan.

lucky pierrot
Lucky Cheese Burger (JPY 390)

I was hardly happy after eating the burger, the beef patty lacked flavour and was mostly mushy. I figure the sauces need some getting used to as I found it a mismatch with the burger. If anything, their sesame encrusted burger buns are delish!

massive

Hakodate Mountain Burger (JPY 1100)

A burger that is likely to appear at most eating competitons with three layers worth of ingredients. Only for the hungry with an appetite to match! While the companion did not say much, he wiped it out – too hungry methinks.

green tea

An average fastfood joint with top notch service. In their halting English they maintained their service levels even taking back wrong orders with no questions asked. Two thumbs up Lucky Pierrot! Smoking is allowed on premise which made it somewhat annoying.

Lucky Pierrot
Hakodate

Sunday, January 27, 2013

Jinbei @ Stellar Place East

jinbei


It was a random visit to Stellar Place basement and we chanced upon this eatery that was decently filled and Japanese. The point about every other cuisine apart from Singaporean is that most of the restaurants overseas are of the cuisine of the country and the Japanese still patronize the Japanese eateries more fervently than the other cuisines.

jinbei

I liken napkins wrapped in plastic old school.

salad

Toasted Salmon Poached Egg Ceasar Salad (JPY 700)

Salad with japanese dressing somehow tastes different - less calories and double the flavour!

salad

Poached egg done well, we all loved this salad.

trio

Mochi Style Potato Balls with Camembert (JPY 500)

cheese mochi

Fried till golden brown, these cheese nuggets were actually cream cheese wrapped in mochi. Deliciouos much but it would have been better with mozzarella.

skewers

Kebab Set (JPY 1000)

Always game for skewers, I possibly did not have the luck with bad yakitori. All were well grilled, smokey and delicious!

beef

Hokkaido Beef Steak (JPY 1200, 150 Grams)

Steak for the carnivore, there could be something about Japanese beef that makes it all different. Somewhat more fatty, more melt in the mouth, more delicious.

hotpot

To end off in true chinese style, hot pot! The fish soup was hearty and perfect for winter!

Affordable japanese fare despite its stellar location.

Jinbei
Stellar Place East

Saturday, January 26, 2013

Shiroi Koibito Park @ Sapporo

shiroi koibito park!

This is the confectionery version of a theme park, like Disney Tokyo is a must visit. Okay, I am exaggerating but Shiroi Koibito Biscuits are world famous – it’s almost the same as going to a Bengawan Solo factory (if they had one, locally).

lamps

Directions are clear and easy to follow from the Miyanosawa Station.

 counter

Friendly counter staff.

freebies

Freebies!

nibbles

Delicious much.

pawprints

Cute pawprints to show the way.

factory

There are few parts to the factory – mainly three storeys worth including a must visit restaurant. I found the factory visit interesting – their famous cookies are still very labour intensive. I cannot imagine having to stare at them all day long to see which is out of line or overbaked.

window mosiac

Lovely mosiacs!

wedding cake2

There are weddings held at the park, fairy tale like I say!

wedding cake

So pretty!

performance

There are regular showtimes of energized-super-happy tunes being broadcasted and animals popping in and out of towers – a weebit too childish for me.

hall

The only cafe to rest our feet!

snowmen

Lovely view!

view

Spy the Shiroi Koibito Baseball sports field. 

cake counter

Rows of dessert to pick from!

napkin

Pretty napkins too.

pretty

Tea is not complete without gorgeous tea sets. 

white chocolate

Hot white chocolate

This was a sickening kind of sweet towards the end of the mug - I wonder how much sugar went into it but I ended up with a headache from all that sugar.

milk chocolate

Hot milk chocolate

These were also sweet and available in cans for purchase.

orange liquer

Orange liquer to negate the sweetness. 

Hot bitter chocolate

Possibly the best of the trio with the bitter aftertaste, the sweetness was not as cloying as the rest.

cappucino

Cappucino for the chichi.

white choc roll

White chocolate cake with icecream

The overhype of the famous cookie probably spilled over to their desserts. Soft sponge with the familiar sweetness that punches every dessert they churn out. The soft serve icecream was surprisingly pleasant and not too sweet! That became an instant favourite from the visit.

strawberry

Strawberry sauce to go with the dessert I guess. 

walk way

Loving the festive touches to the stairway.

souvenir hall

The doors to crazed souvenir shopping where the fullest range of their offerings are found here.

park

A walk in a snowy park?

lights

Beautiful lights that makes winter uber romantic.

snowman

Winter ain't complete without a snowman.

shiroi koibito

Sayonara!

A tip or two about picking up souvenirs from their tempting mart, the same items are also available at supermarts and even the airport. However, being the tourist that I was, I still chose to lug them back in the snow – the cute bag jacket that they place over the paper bags so the purchases will not get wet in the snow (so thoughtful!). The park is not a must visit but a good to go if you have extra time on your hands.

financier

I Gateau

financier

A buttery yet light financier! Once again too sweet but would be perfect with a cup of black coffee.


classy

Chocolate Pieces (Winter Edition)

Trust them to fully capitalize on winter and these are wrapped in shimmery paper! Perfect for christmas.


flavours

Doubles of each flavour.

chocs

Flavours clearly labelled - definitely meant for tourists.

milk

Milk Chocolate with Caramel

DSC_0246

It is quinessentially a wafer biscuit with filling and coated with chocolate. Caramel was actually outshone by the chocolate.

dark

Dark Chocolate with Blueberry

blueberry

Dark chocolate somehow fared better than milk, less sweet and complemented blueberry better.


white

White Chocolate with Marron

marron

The white fared better with maroon. They specialise in chocolate biscuits and this expertise is tasted in the white - smooth and mildly sweet. Great as a tea time snack!

Shiroi Koibito Park