PEr FYI

May 30, 2020

Kinotoya Bake, Sapporo…what’s not to like?

Kinotoya Bake cheese tarts ranks among Hokkaido’s most iconic foods, on par with Sapporo Beer, soup curry and milk and ice cream.

Kinotoya Bake cheese tart is what makes it “Hokkaido-style,” specifically, instead of, any one of the thousands of cheese tarts eaten all over the world. The tried-and-true recipe calls for a firm, crunchy, buttery tart shell to nestle the sweet, salty, cheese mousse-like cream cheese core. It  tastes more like an angel food than a traditional cheese tart (despite its use of cream cheese). Nevertheless, it’s one of the better dessert options in Hokkaido.

And — if you eat too much of it — it’s a pretty satisfying way to get a tummy ache. This is the true truth as I say it as it is…

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May 22, 2020

Kiki Yococho, Sapporo…yummy as heck and beautifully flavoured.

There is a belief amongst crepe-lovers: if you could catch the crepe with a frying pan after tossing it in the air (with your left hand), while holding a piece of gold (on your right) you’d become rich that year. True or not, this I personally know: whatever filling or topping you choose to accompany a crepe, it’s always a delight – whether for a meal or dessert!

When pondering Japanese food, crepe isn’t the first thing that comes to mind but tucked away in Daimaru Sapporo, Kiki Yococho is a little local gem. The crepes are – and I’m only slightly exaggerating – a firm favourite which was sweet-but-not-too-sweet in that dangerous way that means you could eat it all day. The seating area is small in a typically Japanese bustling way.

You can’t really go wrong with the crepe. This is the true truth as I say it as it is…

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April 11, 2020

Fruitscake Factory, Sapporo… gratuitously enjoyable strawberry tart

If you’re sweet-toothed in Sapporo, you’re in luck – Fruitscake Factory is the creme de la creme of bakeries in the city.

The array of cakes displayed is jaw-dropping and awe-inspiring. You can’t really go wrong with the tarts,  but if you can get it go for their gratuitously enjoyable creation, the strawberry  tart which is – and I’m only slightly exaggerating – divine.

On your marks, get set… eat! This is the true truth as I say it as it is…

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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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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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