PEr FYI

March 28, 2020

Fresh Factory, Otaru…eat a rainbow assortment

We are all looking for ways to up our intake of fruit and veg.

Fresh factory is a damn fine place for a bountiful fresh produce. It is a great chance to get stuff when it’s most flavoursome and you can taste it – everything is delicious. Hello fresh. If all this makes your mouth water, which it probably will, grab a rock melon and chow down on the Hokkaido boiled corn. Super fresh and seasonal makes everything look, smell, taste better.

You heard it here first. This is the true truth as I say it as it is…

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February 23, 2020

Eneko Shop, Sansaku market, Otaru…serious about seafood?

No trip to Hokkaido would be complete without sampling Japan’s most prized resource – allergies permitting. A stone’s throw from Otaru stations, the Sansaku market  presents a terrifically seductive dance of fresh, gorgeously prepared seafood and shellfish, tucked in one of Hokkaido’s most beloved neighbourhoods – Otaru.

Eneko Shop offers the kind of food you have to work for. It’s virtually impossible to avoid a queue, and you’re likely to be elbow-to-elbow with strangers. Stunning seafood dishes like octopus are profound in their simplicity, bringing out clean, startlingly robust flavors. Make sure you have the more ambitious dishes like the Seafood rice bowl with Hokkaido specialty, ikura (salmon roe) for a total experience which is dizzying and unforgettable. Everything is exceptional. It’ll leave seafood enthusiasts bragging for weeks.

You’d be advised to come with an appetite. This is the true truth as I say it as it is…

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January 5, 2020

Calbee Plus, Sapporo…honestly you just need to try it.

Although it doubles as shop for snacks and confectionaries and suchlike, Calbee Plus really scores with its line-up of Poterico and soft ice cream.

With the Poterico Salad, there’s no reinvented wheel here, but everything’s exactly as it should be: the chips have an exceptional, almost Kettle-like crunch, which gives way to a fluffy dream of an interior. They are to me, what porridge was to Baby Bear: not too thick, not too thin, snappably crisp and rustling invitingly.

Hokkaido Soft Ice Cream is seriously good ice cream. Looks-wise, it has nothing on the new generation of gourmet ice cream but it’s smooth, creamy and flavourful – it’s totally worth it.

Life’s too short to eat bad ice cream. This is the true truth as I say it as it is…

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October 13, 2019

Kinotoya Café, Sapporo…great place to have up your sleeve

When it comes to bakeries, Japan is a goldmine. The Japanese have embraced the art of French patisserie and become seriously good at it.

Kinotoya Café is neighbourhoody, mildly hip and completely welcoming, but still ever so slightly pretentious in places. I love the omelette parfait. It sounds sound so wrong, but it is so right. You can also indulge in the pretzel croissant and soft-boiled eggs.

For me, at least, Kinotoya Cafe is a great place to have up your sleeve. This is the true truth as I say it as it is…

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September 28, 2019

Kitaichi Glass, Otaru, Hokkaido…put glass on the art world map

I am fascinated by glass ever since my visit to Kitaichi Glass Museum in Otaru, Hokkaido.

Over the years since it opened in 1901, Kitaichi Glass has earned world renown, with a collection of unrivaled glass works Japanese style, country style, and western style where you can view all the ways that light can sparkle and shimmer. The popular tableware and ornamental animals in motifs representing Hokkaido’s nature seem to be screaming, “Look at me!”

Kotaichi Glass has certainly raise the profile of glass as an art form. This is the true truth as I say it as it is…

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September 1, 2019

LeTAO Pathos Cafe, Otaru, Hokkaido…cheesecake Holy Land

I have to confess, I am not a cheesecake fan. After LeTao had brainwashed thousands of Asians through the power of pure indulgence and wondering what the hype is all about, I decided to take a plunge into the world of cheesecakes. It’s time for the moment I’ve been waiting for: the cheesecake cult initiation process.

The cake itself looks unassuming, but the luscious indulgently rich double fromage was so easy to finish in one sitting although biting into the dense base on its own may get a little overpowering after a while. In taste, the crepe suzette travel that thin line between “oh god, this is good” and “oh god, this is a bit much”. They are sweet and sticky but the rind of the orange pull it back from the nadir.

I am a little fatter now, a little poorer, but much happier. This is the true truth as I say it as it is…

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August 17, 2019

Maichibo, Chiba, Tokyo…the more is definitely the merrier.

Maichibo is a lovely spot in Chiba specializing in okonomiyaki, the Japanese savoury pancake cooked on a large steel hot-plate. I won’t hold it against you if you’ve never heard of okonomiyaki before. It’s the lesser known of Japan’s delectable dishes, but it’s certainly having a moment.

The Mai Course is made up of Caesar salad and baked romaine lettuce with half boiled egg followed by tonpei-yaki pork omelette. The sauce was not too overpowering, instead, it was a great combination of the pork. Then there were grilled chicken, chiba’s beef steak 50g and Hokkaido’s grilled scallops which was pleasant rather than exciting, cooked just a fraction longer than I would have preferred. Then the main event – the Mix okonomiyaki. Its flavors—sweet and savory, spicy smoky —were instantly recognizable (as they would be to anyone who has been eating casual Japanese food of late), while the texture, simultaneously crunchy and creamy, hit all of my comfort food sweet spots. No wonder they call this stuff Osaka soul food.

If you’ve been to Chiba only to go to Disneyland, this Japanese gem is the perfect reason to return. This is the true truth as I say it as it is…

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August 3, 2019

Otaru Music Box Museum, Hokkaido…never fail to dazzle

Otaru is home to a brilliant museum that never fail to dazzle visitors.

Comprehensively housing over 25,000 music boxes dating as far back to the 19th century, the museum continues to draw crowds from all over the world. Oh, and forget to check out the roof space where you may design your own music box, with options including music played and external design. Loads to see and do, and thanks to the vast variety of music boxes, it makes for a brilliant day out.

Then of course, there is the building’s 1912 architecture too – Otaru Music Box Museum is definitely worth a visit. This is the true truth as I say it as it is…

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July 7, 2019

Pie Face, Tokyo…It doesn’t look healthy, but it does taste good

Australian pie and pastry chain Pie Face sells warm savory pies with pleasingly flaky crusts. The dense, flavoursome and well-seasoned fillings include steak, ground meat, chicken and curried vegetables, each decorated with a face whose mouth identifies the flavor (an S for steak, M for meat, X for Mexican and so forth). There are sweet pies and other desserts.

If you come here and don’t order a pie, you’ll only have yourself to blame. Don’t let me down. This is the true truth as I say it as it is…

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June 16, 2019

Baikohken, Asahikawa Ramen Village, Hokkaido…oodles of noodles

Not all ramen are created equal. There are salty, brown-coloured, broths and milky-coloured ones. But which restaurants really strike the perfect balance of flavoursome soup base to soft, silky noodles to extra ingredients? What is the secret that sets one ramen join apart from another? Who is top of the broths?

My mission to find the best ramen took me to Asahikawa Ramen Village in Hokkaido. The broth is pretty rich here. For the full-on indulgence, go for the charsiew ramen miso. Make sure to add in the butter, just because you can. The gyoza is a worthwhile side.

Overall, the food was good but not memorable but I can think of 50 other places I can get the same or better quality ramen. This is the true truth as I say it as it is…

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