Alo – Toronto

For my birthday this year, passing the “Mid-Twenties” mark, tfung very sweetly (and excitedly) booked the top restaurant in Toronto currently. We struggled with scheduling but were able to make it work and rushed to get to our reservation on time, for which we were 15 minutes late, and they were extremely nice and understanding about it.

The decor inside is gorgeous. It’s bright, light, with mid-century modern chairs in a soft but gender-neutral blue. The booths were covered in a soft dirty-periwinkle blue, and the cylindrical chrome hanging lights captured my attention from where we were sitting.

Alo provides a tasting menu that is changed fairly frequently, from specific ingredients in each of the dishes being shuffled daily to suit whatever is freshest, to the whole dish being switched out either weekly or bi-weekly. As a result, their menu is completely different if you come back in 2 months, keeping the restaurant running at high capacity for new patrons as well as returning.

Because we were going for drinks later on that evening, we did not opt for any of the cocktails or other alcoholic beverages at Alo. I definitely would go back to try some of their cocktails, as they looked extremely interesting. We had a chance to look at the menu, and it was constructed with 2 appetizers, and 3 mains, from which we could choose one of two options.

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We started off with puff pastry filled with a thick savoury cream, with torched onion powder on the top. The bite-size was more than enough, as we got two each, and the cream had a nice consistency and thickness, but was not too overpowering in flavour that took away from the onion powder or the pastry itself. Beneath that dish, at the base of the pedestal, was a passion fruit meringue sandwiching thin slices of cooked heart of artichoke, topped with coconut cream. This was my preferred amuse bouche, using different and interesting ingredients that we normally would not imagine together, and constructing an interesting piece out of it, again in a form that we would not normally imagine. The heart of artichoke provided the softer texture of a cooked vegetable, with a slight sourness in flavour to offset the fattiness of the coconut cream and the sweetness of the passion fruit meringue.


The first appetizer was an English Peas dish. There were fava beans, english peas, and snow peas, that were both in its fresh, slightly blanched form, as well as made into the form of a purée.

Following the Peas, were a Hamachi (done 3 ways) and zucchini pairing. The generous portion of hamachi sashimi filet was fresh, still a cool temperature, and presented on a thin smear of light cream sauce. There was also a small portion of hamachi tartare served on top of the filet, which was creamy and had a nice fatty mouth feel. The flavour of the hamachi was not as pronounced in the belly as it was in the sashimi or the cured hamachi, which was surprising. The cured hamachi, was served in a small portion on the side, topped with some chopped up dried cranberries. The dish was served with scattered zucchini, both steamed and grilled, as well as a sensational key-lime sauce.


There were three mains to the dinner. The first was a choice between Morel mushrooms and Dungeness crab, the second was a choice between sea bass and scallops, and the third was a decision between lamb and pork.

Morel vs Dungeness Crab

I chose the morel mushrooms as I actually had never had them before. This is tfung’s favourite type of mushroom, and one that he introduced and taught me about. The dish came with a generous serving of large pieces of morels., soaked in an extremely rich and flavourful almost beef bourgingon sauce, as well as a thick cream sauce on the side made with shallots.The dish was topped off with fried chicken skin bits and some green onion and shallots for garnish. This was probably the most disappointing dish of the bunch. It was extremely salty, to the point where it was difficult to taste the true flavours of the dish. I’m unsure if it was caused by the broth, or if it was the morel mushrooms that might have received too much seasoning, which seeped into the broth, but either two was the culprit. Definitely did not expect such a slip from a restaurant like Alo.

Tfung picked the buttery dungeoness crab dish, with bite-sized pieces of crab, mostly submerged in a seafood infused butter sauce, and topped off with a foam, which added a nice contrast in texture as the whole dish was extremely monotonous.

Sea Bass vs Scallops

The seafood portion of the night featured probably the two most popular favourites by the public. I am never that impressed with scallops, so I opted for the Sea Bass. The bass was cooked to the point of being just underdone, which is how I like it and believe fish should be eaten. The skin was crispy with a nice flavour without being too powerful or aggressive. The dish was a little saltier than I typically like, but I tend to cook quite blandly at home which could have attributed to how I perceived the saltiness. My favourite part of the dish was how big the white asparagus looked, and how it kept us intrigued visually. The green asparagus sauce gave it a nice contrast in colour, was lighter in the intensity of flavour, and the herbiness of the undercooked asparagus balanced out the richness of the cream sauce.

The scallops were done very well and featured a cumin mustard sauce. The sauce I felt lacked a kick that I would have expected but was much more interesting than the usual mushroom or truffle sauce that I have seen in the past with scallops. As usual, the presentation was great and inviting, and the magenta of the radishes added a nice contrast in colour.

Duck Breast vs Pork Chop

Of course, I chose the duck, as I’ve always loved duck breast and duck magret. The duck dish was done in 3 ways, again a presentation that is very popular in many tasting menu restaurants, as well as one that I enjoy a lot. A duck sausage presented into a ball with duck prosciutto wrapped around it, with a small amount of foie gras in the center, and the duck breast itself, seared on the skin and cooked to medium rare. The rich duck breast was decorated and contrasted with the deep purple of radicchio. The presentation wasn’t the most exciting compared to the other dishes, but the flavour and juciness of the breast spoke for itself.

The porkchop held for a more fun experience in enjoying the different components of the dish. There was the porkchop itself, with several asparagus stems cooked to perfection. The pork chop that was generously salted and peppered were to be eaten with an array of different sauces that included a lime and bean puree, a sauteed chives and garlic mixture, a relish condiment made with cabbage, and finally an onion and shallot mixture. The pork chop was again cooked to a good tenderness, and was a little more on the medium side but still retained its juices very well.


Almond cake with rhubarb sorbet

The almond cake made for a nice light flavour after the heavier main dishes. I didn’t enjoy the cake itself as much as I did the cooked rhubarb and rhubarb sorbet that came with it. Although overall I thought there was not much surprise to this dessert dish.

Chocolate Ganache cake with Mint and Basil Icecream

I was quite surprised at a second dessert as this was not outlined in the menu. But after a slightly disappointing previous dessert with the almond cake, I was quite delighted to come across a much more familiar looking cake, with the exception of the green ice cream resting on top of it – that was melting fast. As expected, the chocolate cake was extremely rich and heavy, and was made with a refined dark cacao. It had different textures throughout, including the thick ganache, a lighter mousse, as well as a dense cake base. The crunchy nougat on the top was also pertinent to enjoying all the different textures of such a rich dish. But the cherry on top and what I believe to be the star of the dish had to be the basil and mint ice cream. The flavour was definitely something you would not typically expect from an ice cream, being so fresh and light – which probably was due to it not being too rich in cream. The contrast of this lightness and bright, fresh flavour compared to the deep dark richness of the chocolate was key.


As with most tasting menus, it is all about the fun in trying different combinations of the dish, and tasting very different flavours within dishes as well as between dishes. I believe Alo definitely achieved that, even though some of their dishes were a little less innovative, which serves as a nice anchor for those of us who wish to feel the sense of familiarity. It is a delicate balance between being new and adventurous, as well as showing that you can do the “plain old boring stuff” well. Further, Alo’s service was impeccable, having great attention to detail and being a little overstaffed which made for handling different requests or celebrations easier.

The openness of the kitchen gave you a distraction between the dishes, and the decor was just absolutely stunning without being too gender-specific. I also love that you can be very casual about the dining experience, as well as perceive it to be very formal. The space and attitude of the restaurant were very versatile and is dependent on how the patrons wish to experience their time and meal here.

I definitely think Alo is a place to visit, especially for a special occasion. If not for a special occasion, their à la carte dining area by the bar is also a great alternative, especially when we don’t want a full-blown tasting menu meal.

Food: 9.2/10
Service: 4.7/5
Ambiance: new age, scandi, modern, gender-neutral, classy but not stuffy
Cost: $250/2 people

Le Mousso

Le Mousso is a relatively new restaurant in the Village in Montréal. My awesome friend Eva made the reservations and had planned for us to go when I was visiting MTL, and she did not do us wrong! The restaurant is opened by Antoin Mousseau-Rivard, a man with the vision of exploration and experiencing new things. I definitely think Le Mousso is a must-go for all foodies.

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Amuse Bouche

Continue reading “Le Mousso”

Saturday Dinette

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On the first day of spring of 2016, although it was -4˚C, it as a beautiful sunny Sunday. So naturally, I wanted to take advantage of the natural light and go brunching. I had been eyeing this brunch spot for the past month, but never really found the time and right schedule to check it out.


I wanted to order everything on the menu, but I opted to at least try two things. And this was the best decision I’d made in a long time. I ordered the mushroom on toast with a fried egg on top, as well as a kid’s serving of buckwheat pancakes. My friend got a coffee, the beans were from Jimmy’s coffee (Kensington). However, the French presses they used were probably all in poor shape because even after they remade the coffee when we pointed out the coffee grinds floating around, the grinds still persisted in the second batch. Definitely will opt for another beverage option the next time I come, or perhaps none at all.


Oh, my. The pancakes were absolutely scrumptious. It was slightly crunchy on the outer edges, quite fluffy for being made of buckwheat, and the maple syrup was perfection. Even when the center of the pancake soaked up the maple syrup, the texture was maintained (again, thanks to the buckwheat). Furthermore, the syrup wasn’t revoltingly sweet (as it sometimes can get, at least to me), but instead, the perfect amount of sweetness with an extra kick from the icing sugar sprinkled on top.

The mushroom on toast was quite good as well, the mushrooms carried an earthy flavour and a slight rosemary aroma as well. The texture of the mushrooms was also done well, not too overdone, as can often happen with many dishes like this. Being the egg yolk lunatic I am, I let the whole wheat toast – the foundation of the whole dish – soak up all the yellow yolk. The yolk was underdone and spilled out of its casing when popped with a honey viscosity. It’s a little weird for some people, but this is one of the most mesmerizing things to watch for me. The egg was a little too salty, which was seasoned as it’s just about to be plated. So perhaps next time I will try to ask them to be a little lighter on the salt, but I doubt this will be easily adaptable based on the setting of the kitchen.


My friend ordered the Little Reuben, with again a perfect fried egg, melted cheese and pork belly inside the toasted two pieces of whole wheat bread. Again, he also remarked that the egg was just a little over-seasoned, but did not ruin the dish in any way.


Overall, I thought Saturday Dinette was a positively amazing brunch spot. They were quick with seating (perhaps we were lucky, and also we were only 2). The pricing was reasonably affordable for students, which is always a plus. The only thing I wish they could have improved is the coffee, but not everyone is obsessed with coffee like I am, and also there is Boxcar Social just a block south of where SD is, so it would be as easy as walking down to get a cup of good cortado. I definitely recommend this brunch spot and will easily become my #1 in Toronto!

Food: 9/10
Atmosphere: diner, fast-paced, busy, hustle
Price: $15/person

Saturday Dinette Menu, Reviews, Photos, Location and Info - Zomato

~ kehwon

je t’aime, Montréal

It’s so interesting coming back to MTL after several months of moving out of the apartment I’d grown to love after 4 years. I don’t even know where to begin sharing my experience over the last few years, the things I’ve learned, the feelings I’ve felt, the people I’ve met ❤

Of course, most of my close friends know how in love I am with this place. Though there are elements that are indescribable, I try to show them my experiences by taking them to the spots I have loved.

Coming back now, I’m visiting old spots and new, and the feeling is both so familiar but so different. Perhaps it’s because of my more care-free life now, no longer a student, but not fully employed.

Here are some spots I’ve visited on my most recent trip:

Dinner at Hoogan + Beaufort, a new restaurant

Cafe Kitsuné, an old favourite

Dinner at Le Mousso

Here’s a sneak peek, but check out the full blog post!

Squid ink pasta on charcoal, Macaron with Caviar, Maple syrup cotton candy with foie gras center
Squid ink pasta on charcoal, Macaron with Caviar, Maple syrup cotton candy with foie gras center

New cafe in McGill metro

It always seems to be my curse that amazing cafés open in places I frequent the most after I move. Having a quick chat with the owner, Bertrand, I learned that they were merely 5 weeks, and pull from all Canadian roasts (and all roasteries and cafés I frequent!): Dispatch from Montréal, Transcend from Edmonton, and De Mello Palheta from Toronto 🙂

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Lunch at La petite Maison

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Coffee at Dispatch

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Coffee at OSMO

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Breakfast at Panacée

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New Cafe – September Surf Cafe


Buck15 – of course a must-go for me


Obviously the whole trip was amazing because I got to experience mtl in the mentality of a graduate, without school work or internship looking down on me. I was able to really feel what it’s like to live inMontréal as an adult. I was also able to see my friends and had some really amazing bonding moments and conversations with them, which was also great.

If anyone wants a personalized itinerary for Montréal, please don’t hesitate to message me!

~ kehwon


Tokyo and Kyoto – Part 8 – Day 8 Tousuiro

After having the amazing Shoraian, we wanted to have more tofu kaiseki. This time, we wanted a pure and traditional tofu kaiseki. So we found Tousuiro in the Kiyamachi district, near the Kyoto City Hall, right by the Kamo river.

There are two seating options – either on the balcony overlooking the river for an extra ¥1000, or inside the store. Since we wanted to be a little more money-conscious, we opted to sit inside – it was also a little cooler inside.

We ordered the Machiya-Zen course each for lunch. It came with a variety of presentations of tofu, exactly what we wanted.

First was a simple cold tofu with a smidge of wasabi to go with.

Next was raw tofu (yuba) garnished with a piece of raw radish and served with some dashi sauce.

Tofu served in a thick, chilled broth was next. This dish showcased the versatility of flavour that the tofu can adapt to, given the saltiness and slight sweetness of the broth.

Changing the texture up, we were served several pieces of tempura, and as this is a vegetarian establishment, it was tofu, mushroom, squash, and beans.

After that was a chilled, smooth and cooked tofu served on ice with julienned carrots and shiitake mushrooms. The texture was smooth, and was refreshing in the hot weather we were having in Kyoto.

Last but not least, we were presented with a rice dish in hot broth and what looked like fried rice floating. It was accompanied with some pickled vegetables, again something I really grew to love in Kyoto. This dish reminded me of the chiu chow style congee, where the rice was cooked, but not so much that it melted into the broth. I actually prefer this type of congee because I love the juxtaposition of the thin broth with the slightly chewy rice.

Overall I thought the dishes were quite good, the price wasn’t too expensive, which made sense since most of the food was pre-made and chilled. I thought it provided a good taste of all the various types of tofu preparations, and showed the soy bean’s versatility. However I don’t think it’s a restaurant I would be dying to come back, as there are many other tofu kaiseki’s out there. But for an affordable option, I would definitely recommend it!

Food: 8.3/10
Service: 3/5
Atmosphere: casual, family restaurant, scenic, traditional Japanese
Price: $25CAD


Tokyo and Kyoto – Part 7 – Day 6 Shoraian

Although we didn’t book an upscale traditional kaiseki (perhaps next time) as was seen on some of the eating shows we’ve seen, we decided we’d try a kaiseki at the amazing bamboo forest at Arashiyama.

Tucked away in the forest, the entrance of Shoraian had a Spirited Away feel to me. It was something that might have been noticeable, and I felt that the seemingly endless path to the place of unknown was going to whisk me away to yet another magical place.

We were greeted by the kind owner of Shoraian, who instructed us to take off our shoes and of course showed us to our table. There was just one other table in that room – two Japanese women chattering away.

They had several set-menu, and we ordered the Shofu set, the third in their four-tiered set menus, at ~¥5000 (it is now ¥6300)

First came a simple tofu dish, likely to cleanse the palette and refresh our mouths. The texture of the tofu was slightly gritty, with a slight soy flavour.

The second course was this amazing smorgasbord of various fried delicacies, including shrimp sushi,

Next was a more Western-inspired dish – a mushroom cheese gratin. Not being a huge fan of cheese, I didn’t enjoy this dish too much, as I thought the flavour and smell of the cheese was too overwhelming that I couldn’t taste any of the mushroom. The large amount of heavy cream was also a little off-putting.

The star of the set dinner was the yudofu (湯豆腐). Generally a dish served in the winter time, it is simple unseasoned tofu boiled in a stone pot, and then eaten with soy sauce. I love flavourful food, and dishes with interesting new marriage of flavours you may not have thought of. However, with Japanese cuisine, I’m more of a minimalist. Thus, this dish really enabled me to taste the high quality of the tofu. It was dense, but soft at the same time, packed with soy flavour, providing that slightly grittiness when you let it melt on your tongue, but was so soft and smooth. The texture and surprisingly full flavour is chilling.

Next was some tempura with small shrimp, providing more umami, fatty mouth-feel and colour than the last dish.

Wagyu beef steak was next, cooked to medium rare. I didn’t think this was particularly outstanding, but then again, shoraian was not known for their beef.

The last main dish was rice with pickled vegetables – a staple in most Japanese households. I actually really love pickled vegetables but try not to eat it too often because of some of the negative health benefits it holds when eaten too often. However, the sourness and slight sweetness of the pickles went so well with the fullness of the lightly seasoned rice.

For dessert, we had the most amazing soy milk ice cream and tofu pudding. Again, the soy flavour in the ice cream was amazing, still retaining that slight grittiness, which is something I really enjoy.


And after our wonderful meal, we went for a stroll back to the bus stop alongside the river. The lights and the calmness of the water flowing was incredible. The whole afternoon and night was as if I had been transported to a different world. The bamboo forest as the crowd had dissipated was magical, as if out of a Disney movie. As the coolness of the night settled in, and there were no more tourists around, it was like we had booked out the area, giving us some proper romantic downtime.

Food: 8.9/10
Service: 4.5/5
Atmosphere: traditional, japanese, tranquil
Cost: ~$50CAD

~ kehwon

Tokyo and Kyoto – Part 9 – Ramen Collective

The most awaited post – RAMEN!!

The one thing you MUST eat at when you visit Japan is ramen. It’s a staple of Japanese food and probably the most popular food you will come across in Japan. There is a store selling ramen at every corner on every block. Last time, we really enjoyed Ippudo’s tonkotsu in Ginza, but this time, we ventured out to try the weird and wonderful and let me tell you, it was absolutely wonderful.

Inoue (井上)

Now for our favourite Tsukiji Market walk-in outdoor ramen joint. We just had our amazing Sushi Dai omakase and we needed a top up so we hit this place up. This place really hits the spot in the spring or fall when it is still a bit chilly outside and you need something to warm you up. Inoue customers devour their ramen huddled over their bowls slurping while standing stooped over a standing table on the sidewalk just outside tsukiji market.

Inoue ramen has only 1 item on the menu, Shoyu Ramen, and opposite to Ichiran, they offer no customization. The way it is served is the way you are meant to enjoy it. It comes piping hot in a clear light brown shoyu broth with a liberal amount of scallion. The noodles are medium thickness and slightly on the softer side of the spectrum, but still firm enough to give you some texture when you bite into them. The broth is light, but has enough flavour from the soy sauce to provide that savoury length. The chashu slice are large, but not seasoned much, so it retains a lot of that pork taste.

Inoue is by no means the best shoyu ramen joint in Tokyo, but it has charm, and it certainly hits the spot every time while visiting tsukiji market. It warms the body and the soul.



We started off our ramen tour with a bowl of the famous tsuekemen from Rokurinsha. This bustling ramen shop was at the end of Ramen Street in the basement of Tokyo Station. We queued for about 20-30 minutes. The wait couldn’t have felt any longer because you can see and hear the slurping of delicious ramen by the customers inside.

We ordered the ajitama Tsukemen (original tsukemen with a flavoured soft boiled egg) and the Tokusei Tsukemen (Original tsuekemen with shredded pork). Rokurinsha is very thoughtful. They provide customers with a tie around apron because they know there will be splash damage from the ramen as customers slurp their way through their massive bowls of noodles.

The ramen came in 2 separate bowls. One heaping bowl of cold ramen and a bowl of hot ramen soup (or should I say sauce). The noodles were thick, chewy, and hearty. It was perfect in combination with the rich dipping sauce. The sauce had an incredibly hearty taste of meat from the pork and chicken with a blast of seafood umami from the dried sardines, mackerel, and bonito. The almost overpowering sauce was perfectly balanced with those thick noodles which were able to soak up a lot of the sauce but provided that starchy balance to make it a perfect harmony.



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I loved Ichiran. Other than their deliciously rich and silky tonkotsu style ramen, the other unique thing about Ichiran is that they limit your interaction with other customers and other staff from little to none. Once you pay for your meal at the vending machine and your are seated, you find yourself in a small cramped one-person cubicle with a narrow window in front of you. The window opens and you are handed a customization form for your ramen. You can choose the firmness of your noodles, how rich the broth is, level of spiciness, and the quantity of the toppings you would like included such as garlic, pork, and scallion. Once ready, you ring the bell, the window is opened by the server on the other side, they grab your form, and again the window is closed. In minutes, the window opens again and your ramen is inserted through it and voila, your meal is served.

The noodles, broth, and other customizations are done to the exact specification that you ordered. The thin type of noodles are my favourite and the normal firmness have enough bounce to make things interesting. The broth is creamy, silky, and rich. I asked for the recommended level of spiciness and found it added a pleasant dimension to the already very flavourful broth. It didn’t overpower the flavour of the tonkotsu broth, but rather complemented it. The chashu was nothing special to write home about, but certainly did not take away from the tasty bowl of ramen.

My quiet, solitary experience was a pleasant one and perfect for a peaceful quick bite to eat in the hustle and bustle of Tokyo.

Kinryu Ramen


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Before we headed into Universal Studios, we had to stop at dotonburi (道頓堀) to get both the famous Osaka takoyaki as well as some ramen.

We were a little disappointed in general with the tonkotsu at Kinryu, as the noodles were too soft and soggy, even at the beginning of the day. The broth was meaty but not creamy rich as tonkotsu is known to be, and undecided in what flavour it wants to resonate through. The mouthfeel was fatty, yet lacked the reason to be, and the pork was stale and tough. Although the it had a fancy sign, the ramen was not so fancy.

Gogyo Ramen


Umami! Umami! Umami! That’s all I can say.

We were so upset when we first arrived in Kyoto and found this place closed for renovations. But, we were determined to have burnt ramen before we left Japan. So, we decided to give it one last try and on our second last day in Kyoto, they had reopened and we were able to have one of our favourite bowls of ramen in Japan. Karen ordered the Shoyu burnt ramen and I ordered the Miso burnt ramen. Both were similar as the burnt flavour overpowers the other flavours of the broth – not that it’s a bad thing.

By burning the fat on top of the broth, it creates a rich smokey flavour that is unlike any other ramen we’ve tried. If you’ve had David Chang’s momofuku ramen, the smokiness is nothing like that. Momofuku has a more woody, wispy type of smokiness whereas gogyo has a fuller and more intense smoke taste that gives the broth a kick of umami.

The noodles were good, medium thickness, and firm. The meat was fatty and held good flavour. But again, as most ramens do, it was the broth that was the star of the show.

Definitely a must visit if you’re in Kyoto or Tokyo, gogyo gives an interesting twist to ramen culture.

Mamezen Ramen

Mamezen ramen was by far the most amazing ramen we’ve ever had. The reason was simply because although it was radical in ingredient choice, it exceeded the richness and fullness of flavour compared to meat-based broths. The broth was incredibly rich, creamy, and smooth, with an aftertaste of tofu umami.

The noodles were thin but chewy, and the silky broth clung on the noodles as we slurped them with excitement. The yuba (raw skin of tofu) was smooth and thin, the texture complimented the creamy broth extremely well.

They also were one of the most difficult shops to find and track down, snuggled in the residential area of upper Kyoto. When we finally made it to the shop, we were greeted by taro himself, the creator of the silken tofu ramen. He was cheerful and patient with his patrons, getting to know us, chatting with us about the snowy plains of Canada after learning where we were from.

We left after tasting mamezen’s tofu cheesecake, feeling satisfied and accomplished after finding the gem of Kyoto.

We highly recommend the trek to find and enjoy this unique ramen, as it changed the way we saw Japanese soup noodles forever.


Tokyo and Kyoto – Part 7 – Day 5 Gyuzen

In efforts to fill all the gaps of trying all types of food Japan is known for, we searched for an affordable place to try wagyu beef. I mean, we couldn’t leave Japan without having some beef! We had done some research and decided that kobe would be saved for the next trip.

Gyuzen was a little difficult to find since we were new to Kyoto’s bearings, having only spent a couple of hours there, and we were a little unprepared as Gogyo (our original dinner plan) had been closed for renovations. Nevertheless, in one of the commercial buildings, we finally set foot in the more traditionally-designed interiors of Gyuzen. Considering its closeness to an equally traditional area, Gyuzen’s interiors gave a great continuation of the traditional streets in Gion.

We decided on the option to have both the shabu shabu (in boiling broth), as well as sukiyaki (grilling on the cast-iron pan with a thicker, slightly sweet sauce).

Regarding the freshness of the food, it was good in terms of all-you-can-eat, but perhaps not of the best quality on a whole. The beef however was extremely tender, melt-in-your-mouth, and fatty, without being overly so. The sauces were just sweet and salty enough to create a great and rich flavour with the beef in the sukiyaki without overpowering the meat and losing all the beefy flavour.

I have to say that the shabu shabu was no big deal, and was a little average, but that’s also because we tend to love hot pot at home, with which we can buy fresher and better quality ingredients. We definitely appreciated that they refilled the shabu shabu with broth as opposed to hot water (as some hot pot places will).

The rest of the food included various vegetables, tofu, other soy-based products, fungi, other types of meat, and so forth.

The service was average, didn’t wow us, but keep in mind, this is an ACYE restaurant. As with all service industry in  Japan, they are always polite.

If you’re looking for some quick, wagyu beef without dishing out too much money, this is definitely a place to look into!

Food: 8.2/10
Service: 3/5
Atmosphere: traditional, casual, cozy
Price: $40CAD

~ kehwon

Tokyo and Kyoto – Part 6 – Day 5 Nishiki Market

When you go to Kyoto, you simply must stop at the Nishiki market; there’s no questions asked. Our advice is to go for lunch, with an empty stomach, do not get doubles for anything – just share every piece.

The market is generally open between 9 – 5, most stores closed on Wednesdays and Sundays. Of course this varies by store, but since we lived close to the Nishiki Market, it wasn’t a big hassle to come back if we wanted to try anything that was closed (which did happen – Gogyo)

In the order of the pictures:

The tamagoyaki (egg roll) was quite good, but I actually liked the one from Sushi Dai better. However it was fun to watch them make it. The tamagoyaki was light in texture and flavour, but unfortunately didn’t wow us.

The baby Octopus had a surprise inside when I bit into it, housing a quail egg in the head. Genius, and a nice snack. It is served cold, still retains that crunch of a just-done octopus, and coated in a sauce that is slightly sweet and sour.

There were numerous stalls with various yaki, mostly made of fish. These were good, but nothing we felt we couldn’t get elsewhere.

If you know me, you know I’m obsessed with sugared donuts. When I saw these soybean donuts I almost cried out and ran for it. Almost. Watching the little machine squirt out the dough into the frying oil was mesmerizing as I tried to count the change to pay for the donuts. It was 600¥ for 6 small donuts, and you can choose what powder you’d like as topping; we chose soybean. They were good, interesting flavour due to the soybean but I still like 沙翁 better…

Fermented vegetables are a staple in Japanese restaurants and homes. We really wanted to buy some but really had no good way of keeping it and bringing it back home so unfortunately we had to skip this. We tasted some and they were so fresh and flavourful, but had richness of fermented flavours at the same time. Over the years I’ve grown to love fermented vegetables, especially the extremely sour ones, so this was definitely a treat.

The highlight and star of the Nishiki market however, was the matcha-hojicha ice cream swirl. Holy. This was the best ice cream I’ve ever tasted in my life. So creamy, and so much matcha.We also learned what hojicha is; a roasted green tea leaf, compared to the unroasted green tea powder, matcha. Even though the cone was a common, buy-it-at-the-conbi type, it was still so delicious. I wanted to get another one but when we returned, they were closed already :(. The store is actually a tea shop, 錦一葉 (ask for Nishiki IchiHa) but it was their icecream that seems to be their most popular item.

Nishiki Market is definitely a place where you can easily blow all your money at. Be wary of the amount of food you get, or you might find yourself low on cash! However, it is a must-visit in our books. Especially the ice cream shop.

Tokyo and Kyoto – Part 5 – Day 4 Konoya Curry Udon

Konoya is in one of those massive mall complexes that are very popular in Asia in general. It is located in the Oazo Building, near Tokyo Station.

We knew we had wanted to try curry udon, but didn’t have much of an idea which to try. We decided to just take a bet at this shop as it had received some good reviews in various sites.

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On the fifth floor of the Oazo building, we finally were able to locate this commercial, after-work spot.

We ordered the set dinner, which came with curry udon and a mixed vegetable tempura. The tempura was absolutely amazing, creating an excellent contrast in texture juxtaposed to the smooth creaminess of the curry udon broth. The curry broth was rich, not too spicy but had enough kick, and salty. Perfectly complementing the chewy udon that we love so much.

Of course we looked very silly with our disposable apron (assumed to be for the protection of the businessmen’s dress shirts from the slurping of the udon), we thought this meal was incredibly well put together, and surprisingly tasty. It was a little more expensive than we would’ve imagined for a restaurant like this, but is overlooked since everything was quite well done.

Food: 8.6/10
Service: 3/5
Atmosphere: fast-food, commercial, mall restaurant
Cost: 3000-4000¥