Photo dump of food that didn’t make it into any other travel posts!

Richard has had various Japanese foods during the trip including tonkatsu, curry (cheated by having the two-in-one tonkatsu curry rice), ramen, karaage and yakiniku. The next on the list is sushi, and we wouldn’t accept any alternative, even if it means having airport sushi!

There weren’t a lot of restaurants available after customs at Terminal 2 of the Narita International Airport, but thankfully Asian Cafe Bowl Bowl on 3F had a sushi meal on display. For 1,450 yen (~A$15.60), you get a meal with miso clam soup. There was also a 1,600 yen option with a small udon noodles.

Asian Cafe Bowl Bowl: Table and Buzzers

Asian Cafe Bowl Bowl: Table and Buzzers

We received a buzzer that we’re meant to use on our table sensor. We both got the sushi meal with clam soup, and the food was delivered to us shortly. There was a little confusion about the extra drink that Richard ordered, and I was surprised that the airport restaurant staff didn’t quite understand English, but all was good in the end.

Asian Cafe Bowl Bowl: Sushi Meal w Clam Miso Soup

Asian Cafe Bowl Bowl: Sushi Meal w Clam Miso Soup

The meal actually looked very similar to the plastic model display and far surpassed my expectations of airport food. I enjoyed it them — I ordered two of these for myself because obviously one can’t possibly be enough now. tongue

In true foodie spirit, I took a picture of almost every course I ate at the hotel we stayed at for the ski trip, and split the food section into this entry of its own! As mentioned in the post for Hotel Oak Forest (ホテル オークフォレスト) itself, the meals included in our ski package were daily Western breakfast, and Western plus Japanese style dinner.

Hotel Oak Forest: Breakfast

There’s one individual hot breakfast dish every morning on top of a buffet section with common Western foods such as salad, cereal, bread, coffee, milk and juice.

The Western breakfast buffet:

Turned out I didn’t even need to fruit up, because there’s one available at the buffet every morning. It was oranges on most days, and pineapples (beautifully presented in pineapple peel boats) and grapefruits on others. I was very happy with their breakfast options, but I may be biased because I’m a caffeine addict and this time I didn’t have to supply my own coffee every morning.

The Western breakfast hot dishes:

The hot dish was a combination of sausages/ham/bacon and scrambled eggs/omelette.

Hotel Oak Forest: Dinner

We had dinner at the place on all but the last night (where we went out to town to have yakiniku). I thought the dinner servings were small at first, but got used to it eventually and riced up as appropriate.

Hotel Oak Forest: Dinner Table with Room Numbers Unlike breakfast where the individual dishes were served as soon as you’re seated, the next course of the five-course dinners wasn’t served until everyone at the same table has finished their previous. White rice, green tea and water were available as self-service. Other rooms who opted for the Japanese dinners have their kaiseki meal arranged on their table before their arrival.

For our five-course dinners, there’s always the sashimi salad as the first course, a soup, a seafood entree, a main meat dish with a broccoli floret, mashed potatoes and three pieces of carrot, and last a dessert. On several nights Richard ordered a beer with his dinner, which was added to the room bill as extra charges that we paid at checkout.

Night 1 Dinner

First taste of the food at Hotel Oak Forest. We had a salad with three very thin slices of salmon sashimi, a mushroom broth, a small piece of mackerel with a small piece of daikon radish, pork with a white mushroom sauce, and a dessert that tasted like light cheese with whipped cream on top.

I didn’t mind the mackerel too much even though both Richard and I thought there were far better ways to prepare fish than cooking it through the way they did. The pudding was quite tasty once you knew what to expect from the second mouthful on.

Night 2 Dinner

Second night, we had an octopus sashimi salad, pasta soup, fried crab claws, chicken, and some sort of processed/preserved apple slices.

The fried crab claws turned out to be the best seafood entree of all nights.

Night 3 Dinner

Third night, it’s a very fishy sashimi salad, an almost creamy soup, white fish fillet in tomato sauce, an unnaturally tender beef (I think) steak, and a small slice of apple cake.

Richard said the super fishy sashimi salad reminded him of fishing baits and didn’t touch that course. I wasn’t a huge fan either, but adopted his plate anyway because food was scarce.

Night 4 Dinner

Fourth night, it was back to the salmon salad for the first course again, which had us worried that there were only three dinner sets on rotation and we’d exhausted their options. Following the salad this night, though, was an again almost creamy corn soup, mackerel in miso sauce, chicken, and a jelly.

Night 5 Dinner

Fifth and last dinner at the hotel for us, it was calamari sashimi salad, pasta soup, white fish fillet, beef, and back to the processed/preserved apple slices.

I still haven’t figured out what they did to the beef and apples.

Hotel Oak Forest: Food Summary

Breakfast was awesome; dinner less so but decent. The strangest thing overall with the meals offered was the meat. You could never quite tell on first bite that “Oh yeah, that’s beef/pork/chicken.” It’s almost always like a mystery meat of sorts. Food presentation was excellent, but sadly one can’t ski on visual excellence; I could really use bigger portions for dinner. I guess at least you could have as much rice as you wanted.

Hotel Address: Japan 〒399-9301 Nagano-ken, Kitaazumi-gun, Hakuba-mura, Hokujō, 3549

Richard and I finally joined the rest of the guys out for dinner in town tonight, the last night of our ski trip. It’s yakiniku time! The hotel was kind enough to take the six of us to our restaurant of choice tonight: Marukame (まるかめ) — a sumibi yakiniku place about a 5-minute drive away from our hotel, or 10 minutes from Hakuba Station (白馬駅).

Full gallery:

I’ve been to other yakiniku restaurants in Japan on my previous ski trips before, but didn’t quite expect the place to be as smoky as Marukame. Turned out the vent above the table next to us wasn’t working properly and was really smoking the whole place up.

Marukame Hakuba: Smoky Interior

Marukame Hakuba: Smoky Interior

We ordered many plates of delicious wagyu (loin, ribs, tongue, diaphragm) and pork, and Kenneth took up the task of barbecuing most of the meat for us. We also really loved the beef muscle rice bowl (スジ丼), and managed to order other food not on the menu like edamame. They didn’t have miso soup (also not on menu), and the super polite waitress was very apologetic about it.

Marukame Hakuba: Yakiniku

Marukame Hakuba: Yakiniku in Action

For just over 3,650 yen (~A$40) per person (with 3 draught beers in the order), it was really quite a cheap meal. We left with a happy belly, and of course clothes that smelt like yakiniku for days. smile

Address: Japan 〒399-9301 Nagano Prefecture, Kitaazumi District, Hakuba, 大字北城3020−351

A lot not pictured, but foods ticked off the list for this trip, in alphabetical order:

Savoury:

  • Curry fishballs (咖哩魚蛋)
  • Fried dumpling (鍋貼)
  • Pork chop bun (豬扒包)
  • Seafood, Hong Kong style (海鮮)
  • Siu mei, Hong Kong style roast meat (燒味)
  • Steamed meat and vegetable bun (菜肉包)

Sweet:

  • Egg tart (蛋撻)
  • Egg waffles (雞蛋仔)
  • French toast, Hong Kong style (西多士)
  • Pineapple bun with a huge slab of butter in the middle (菠蘿油)

Logged eateries tried in Hong Kong, in alphabetical order:

  • Din Tai Fung (鼎泰豐)
  • Honeymoon Dessert (滿記甜品)
  • McDonald’s (麥當勞)
  • New Tak Kee Seafood Restaurant (新德記漁村海鮮酒家)
  • Pizza Hut (必勝客)
  • Sun Yuen Hing Kee (新園興記燒臘飯店)
  • Super Star Seafood Restaurant (鴻星海鮮酒家)
  • tea cafes (茶餐廳)

Macca’s and Pizza Hut totally count. tongue

I wish I had kept a better record of the various other restaurants we visited on our ski trip in Ishiuchi Maruyama other than the meals we had at the lodge we stayed at, or that Italian restaurant we visited near the summit. For now, this photo dump with captions will have to do!

Balena (バレーナ) is an Italian restaurant near the summit of Ishiuchi Maruyama (石打丸山) that required skiing to and going up several ski lifts, so it wasn’t quite an everyday restaurant that I could just pop in to try. The group had been there before and told me the food was really good; actually, they used it as the main motivation for me to get to the summit. tongue

Balena: Decor

Balena the Italian restaurant (interior) near the summit of Ishiuchi Maruyama

There weren’t a lot of people at all when we went there a little late for lunch.

They had a large menu with various Italian dishes. We ordered at the counter and food was brought to us to the table. I got the cheese pizza; the rest of them got various pasta dishes. Yummers!

Balena: Food

Balena: our order of pasta and cheese pizza

I wasn’t going to have dessert, but the rest of them were so I thought might as well while I was there! I got the tiramisu and an iced black coffee.

Balena: Tiramisu and Iced Black Coffee

My dessert at Balena: tiramisu and an iced black coffee

I couldn’t help but noticed a very odd sign on the walls: it actually said that smoking is prohibited during lunch hours. Odd, because I didn’t think Japan cared!

Balena: Self-Serve Area

Balena: self-serve area with two signs that say smoking is prohibited(!) during lunch hours

Absolutely enjoyed the food and environment there. Of course the fact that it was near the summit and I made it to the summit, their no-smoking-sometimes policy, as well as the wonderful company also helped. smile

It was already very late by the time we made it back to Tokyo by bus and checked in at the hotel. Not a single restaurant or grocer in the area was still open, so in desperation, we went into the corner convenience store Famima (short for FamilyMart) and swept every hot food they had off the cabinets.

Famima Heated Food Cabinet with Fried Chicken and Meat Buns

Famima’s heated food cabinet with fried chicken and meat buns; not many left because it was very late at night

Yeah, total lies. We would probably have grabbed the same even if other shops were still open. tongue

Famima Fried Chicken and Meat Buns

Back in the hotel with the unwrapped fried chicken and meat buns we got from Famima

So greasy, so salty, so unhealthy, so good.

We had a table at Kakoiya Shinjuku (かこいや 新宿店) for our ice-breaking ski group dinner of about 14-15 of us. I didn’t know pretty much all of them until I met them for the first time at the station, but most of them already knew one another from previous ski trips. After a lot of introduction, small talks and trying to memorise everyone’s face and name (which I made a special effort to do and actually did quite well!), we headed off to the restaurant.

Kakoiya is located very near Shinjuku Station. It’s on the second floor but had a small lift for access in addition to a narrow staircase for everyone else, which was convenient because our group leader had unfortunately recently broken his ankle and was on crutches. The restaurant was small and dark, and again they had no concept of a separate smoking area, but at least we got a semi-private booth with screen doors.

I believe we got the several-course set menu of some sort. I have no idea which dish is what, but it came one after another in communal serving plates or bowls. There was salad, sashimi, various meat dishes, some more seafood, roasted vegetables, noodles…

The food was quite good and we had a good time eating and chatting away. The hot food was hot, which was nice because we kept feeling a cold breeze at one end of the table. Most of the new friends weren’t very big eaters, so I got to eat a bit more than my share towards the end.

We ended up paying 5000 yen (~A$53) per head, which was probably not expensive for so many courses and drinks, but a lot more than my initial budget for the night. Ouch. Huge spending today.

Tsukiji Tama Sushi (築地玉寿司) is located on the 13th floor of the Shinjuku Takashimiya (新宿高島屋) department store building. We weren’t sure what to have for lunch at first, but I immediately voted for the restaurant when I saw the all-you-can-eat (食べ放題) menu on the front door.

Tama Sushi: Front Door Promo

Tama Sushi: tabehoudai (all-you-can-eat) price and rules on the front door

They charge different prices for male and female customers: male 4860 yen (~A$52) and female 3780 yen (~A$40), so even though there’s no time limit, it’s not exactly cheap. I bet they have also never seen a female customer like me: I routinely eat more than most, if not all, of my male peers.

We got there at about 1:30 pm. The restaurant looked about half-full when we visited, but we had to wait before we were seated. The sushi was made fresh to order, so each platter of 10-12 pieces of sushi took a while to get to the table. I briefly chatted with the couple from Gold Coast sitting at the next table.

Tama Sushi: Sushi Menu

Tama Sushi: the full sushi menu; not all was available that afternoon

Not every item was available (a lot of the expensive ones were conveniently off the menu), but the sushi we did get was all super delicious. Our favourite was the grilled salmon (炙りサーモン); I think we ordered some 20-30 pieces of those.

Tama Sushi: Sushi is Here

Tama Sushi: all the sushi! Yum!

It was a very satisfying meal. The two friends left early after they have had enough. The brother and I stayed for a few more rounds. We could have eaten more, but we had a group dinner coming up in a few hours so we decided against it. After all that sushi, though, we both became very thirsty. What was it? Did they use a lot of salt in their seasoning?

Still enjoyed it a whole lot. I definitely ate much more than what I paid for.