Tokyo and Kyoto – Part 4 – Day 2 Maisen Tonkatsu

We had tried some Tonkatsu in Hong Kong the last time we were in Asia, but we wanted to have the “real deal” in Tokyo. Maisen is one of the most famous Tonkatsu restaurants, and is known to have massive line-ups. Outside the front of the store, there is permanently pylons and rope outlining a snake line-up.

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We arrived at 11am, when they opened, and we were seated promptly. The restaurant filled up in less than 15 minutes, affirming their popularity.

We ordered the kurobuta (black pig, 黒豚), and the regular tonkatsu. Because we had just finished Bills Omotesando breakfast, we only ordered the set for one of them. In the end, we were so stuffed it was difficult to finish.

The fluffy batter and tenderness of the tonkatsu was something that is difficult to describe, but also something that I still remember well to this day (almost 8 months later). It was so light, and easy to bite into, but still retained that satisfying crunch we seek. The crunchy fresh cabbage on the side went well with the fattiness of the meat. The side dishes were quite interesting, my favourite was the dashi-soaked pureed daikon.

In terms of the difference between the kurobuta and regular, kurobuta is definitely more fatty and tender. However, for my own preference, perhaps because of my profession, I tend to like the regular tonkatsu better. It is too fatty for me, and even though it’s more tender, it just leaves me feeling a little too queasy.

We were glad we didn’t have to wait in line for Maisen, and would definitely recommend this to our friends and family. I would also try their curry katsu next time as well.

Food: 8.9/10
Service: 4/5
Atmosphere: Traditional, quiet, white table cloth
Cost: ~5000¥ total 

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Tokyo and Kyoto – Part 3 – Day 2 – Bills Omotesando

 

Because I fell in love with brunching during my time in Montreal, we had to go and have a proper brunch somewhere whilst we were travelling. We found this very popular breakfast place, opened by Bill Granger, a chef in Australia who opened the “best breakfast in the world”. Needless to say we had to come and try.

The interior was very chic, bright, and tended to attract more feminine clientele. But its neutrality and simple design welcomed all types of people. We arrived at around 9am, and the restaurant was almost full. The terrace was packed, so we unfortunately were not able to enjoy the breeze and the outside air with our breakfast.

We ordered a chia pudding with coconut milk, and berries. The ricotta pancake with banana and honey, and the scrambled eggs with toast.

Everything was very fresh and plated very nicely, in keeping with the simple feel of interior of the restaurant. However, we didn’t feel that the dishes were exceptional tasting. The scrambled eggs were fluffy, but also felt a little plastic as well.

The pancake was fluffy, but only a little fluffier than what I had managed in my own kitchen. There wasn’t much ricotta taste, which is just as well since I am not a fan of ricotta. The honey and banana was quite good, but didn’t seem to blend with the flavour of the pancake very well.

As for the chia seed pudding, it was mediocre, and again nothing I couldn’t make out of my own kitchen easily.

Overall, the breakfast was good, but definitely not “best breakfast in the world”. It is the interiors that make up for it, as it seems it is what most of the patrons enjoy anyway.

Food: 7.6/10
Service: 3.5/5
Atmosphere: chic, simple, clean, bright, modern
Cost: 3000¥

Tokyo and Kyoto – Part 2 – Day 1 Sushi Dai

 

So our first destination was of course Tsukiji Market. We always plan and recommend this to be the first thing on the agenda because in order to minimize wait times, you will need the be there at 4 to 4:30am to line up for sushi. Since most of our friends are from North America, you may be jet lagged, and what better advantage do we have against others than already being awake? Yes, it’s worth it if you love sushi because it’s both affordable and incredibly fresh. You will not be able to get this freshness and simplicity in sashimi unless you go straight to the source.

Sushi Dai is fresh (AF), simple, and to the point. They do not dwell on anything fancy or excessive, not striving for creativity or inventions, they take the best quality ingredients and present it to you in what they feel to be the most optimal way. They are efficient, and the service lasts for about 20-30 minutes.

There are two options, 7 pieces or 11 pieces. Pretty much everyone is willing to pay for 11 pieces, so just get the 11. Between some of the nigiri courses (raw fish served on small ball of rice), there are also other foods, including their famous tamagoyaki which is very thin layered egg wrapped on itself. I love their rendition of the tamagoyaki because it is still very wet, like the texture of scrambled egg to my liking, and they incorporated other flavours into the egg, including green onion. They also had 4 pieces of maguro maki served in between.

Sushi Dai was as we had remembered it, and they were nice enough this time to provide hot tea during our wait outside. They were also much more organized in providing order to the line, and telling their patrons roughly how long the wait will be from their position. Overall, they’ve really done well in managing the tourists who come for their amazing sushi. Their chefs often dabble in multiple languages, and are proficient in english. The particular chef that we had on both occasions we were there spoke some Cantonese and Mandarin which was nice, and added a sense of familiarity that many tourists realize they are missing when travelling.

I love this sushi shop and will be sad if they do not re-open upon the move of the Tsukiji Market (date unknown as of yet).

Food: 9.2/10
Service: 4/5
Atmosphere: sushi bar, small
Cost: ~$40CAD

Tokyo and Kyoto

A much delayed update on my trip to japan in the past year. But it was such an amazing experience I still wanted to share it with  you.

We traveled for 2 weeks, heading to Tokyo and Kyoto, as well as Bangkok. It was our second time in Tokyo and we were excited to bring in our new passions and interests to explore what the Japanese has done in these industries. Of course, the trip was centered around food, as all our vacations are.

Japan is always an amazing destination in our minds due to our love for Japanese cuisine, as well as my very superficial knowledge of the Japanese language, making traveling a little bit easier. We had first visited Japan 3 years ago, and it was our first trip together as a couple. This time, we wanted to truly experience and explore the city as much as we could as we would have if we were to live in Japan. We wanted to avoid the tourist spots (and traps) as much as possible. So the obvious choice in accommodation was AirBNB.

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Cafe

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Colette Grand Cafe – Fashion District

So for my birthday (which was about a month ago), tfung took me to the buzz of the town for quite some time, Colette Grand Café. He knew I’d love the décor, and that I was missing the french pizazz as I’d been away from Montreal for some time at this point.

Walking in, the visual impact was stunning of course. As we had an early dinner on a weekday (Tuesday), the place was quite empty. Personally, I prefer this, as it is much more romantic and intimate this way.

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Chef à l’érable – Scena Jacques Cartier

So I finally went to a Cabane à Sucre event, after 3 years of living in Montreal. Thanks to eva for coming up with the place and idea, we booked for three people for the Chef à l’érable event at Scena in Old Port. Since we’re all city-dwellers and don’t own cars, this was the perfect place to go!

Fittingly, it was extremely cold that day, so all the hearty and warm, cozy food was perfect for the weather.

The space is extremely bright and open, which was really nice to just relax and chat in.

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Maison Boulud – Golden Square Mile

tfung and I had the pleasure of celebrating some special occasions all in one. It’s our 4 year anniversary in two months, I’ve finished school and just have internship now, and he had just finished carms tour. We’re moving on in our lives to the next stage and we’re both very excited. So we decided to spend some money on a nice meal. Since he was visiting Montreal, I proposed going to Maison Boulud, which is by the famous Daniel Boulud, a glamorous restaurant located inside the Ritz-Carlton Montreal.

We glammed up for the occasion, which ended up being a little awkward, as when we first walked in, we saw two people in jeans and a v-neck sweater. But I thought, it’s our night, we want to make it special. We were seated near the fireplace, and the waitress came to make sure we were comfortable. She briefly explained the menu, as we had inquired about the tasting menu.

The tasting menu is $95, and +$90 with wine pairing. She informed us that it would be an amuse bouche, and appetizer, a pasta, a fish, a meat, and a dessert. The dishes would come from the a la carte menu that we were given.

In the end, we decided on just getting an appetizer and a main dish each. Thus, the dinner began.

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Town – Centertown

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I got into Ottawa at around 8:30, and we were able to walk to the restaurant that we’d made reservations to within 20 minutes. It was a painfully cold evening, and we were more than ecstatic to get into the restaurant and be seated right away. Although the waiter was slow, we understood that he was also swamped with all the patrons in the cramped restaurant, making it incredibly difficult to efficiently move around. Continue reading “Town – Centertown”