Exploring Jianghan Road, Wuhan

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When I booked a flight from Tokyo to Madrid, I didn’t imagine I’d be dragging my suitcase round a night market in central China. But that’s exactly how things played out.

A layover of 8 hours in Wuhan forced my hand; there was absolutely no way I was going to sit in an airport that long when a 24-hour transit visa exists. An adventure beckoned.

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Review: Shibasakitei (ramen!) at Tsutsujigaoka

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Shibasakitei / 柴崎亭

If you can walk away from a ramen place and not feel heavy and bloated, you’ve possibly found a good thing. Even more so if you’ve eaten tonkatsu and tempura only 2 hours beforehand. Not that I did *cough* *splutter* Let’s move on…

Shibasakitei is a small joint to the west of Tokyo, not far from Chofu. Squeezed in alongside the Keio line tracks, this store is a couple of minutes’ walk from Tsutsujigaoka station. However, it takes its name from Shibaskitei, the next stop west where it was originally located, but moved for slightly more spacious premises.  Continue reading

Review: Szechuan Aun, Yushima – Tantanmen

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“It’s like hanging out with a junkie. You’re already planning your next hit.”

My friend was surveying me with disbelief. I wasn’t paying him much attention though because I was bouncing on and off the pavement, and doing mini star jumps.

The cause of my happiness? Some really good noodles. What else?

As a matter of fact, I had eaten at Aun more than a year ago and had been itching to go back ever since. The anticipation – combined with the fact that I generally adore tantanmen – had elevated my mood to levels probably beyond that of normal human beings. I was also deliriously babbling about trying to go back the next day to eat more. Hence the druggie comparisons. I needed my next hit. Continue reading

Review: Tsuta – Michelin star ramen

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You’ve probably heard a lot about ramen – to be honest, it’s almost old news. Whereas sushi was the first morsel to whet the appetite for the fetishisation of Japanese food, ramen was surely the next.

As if to demonstrate they’re down with the cool kids that like to serve triple-cooked chips with a side of truffle oil to highlight that finer ingredients can indeed be used to exoticise the more mundane comfort foods we crave, the Michelin Star judges awarded Japanese Soba Noodles Tsuta, a tiny ramen joint in Tokyo, a Michelin star in December 2015.

As a matter of fact, Tsuta’s ramen actually does come with truffle sauce. And so it probably wins the Michelin Star Epitome Award. Continue reading

Recipe: Easy Punjabi Chicken Curry and Mixed Vegetable Dhal

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I love spicy food. And when I say spicy, I don’t just mean chilli heat that burns your tongue off. I mean food that is really rich in spices, with flavours that have tantalising layers and aromatic depths.

So, admittedly, it’s quite tragic that I fell in love with Japan where flavours are clean, simple and precise – with an emphasis on minimalism to bring out the essence of the original ingredient.

This has its place, but sometimes I just want a really tasty curry. Even better if it’s one I can make in under an hour… Continue reading

Review: Blacows, Ebisu

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I got into a heated discussion this evening about burgers in Tokyo. I have yet to have one that can live up to Honest Burgers glory (see praise here, here and maybe here). Meanwhile, see Tokyo horror stories from Village Vanguard Diner and JS Burgers here.

So the challenge is on! First of all, time to clear my burger review backlog…

Blacows, Ebisu

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This is one of the highly recommended burger places in Tokyo, always making top cut lists. Their website is full of alluring rhetoric of how much care they’ve put into everything in the burger. They don’t just put bacon in their burgers, they put bacon from “enzyme-fed Chiba Nadeshiko Pork, abundant in oelic acid which has been shown to have positive effects on beauty and health.”

Yes, they actually imply that eating their bacon will make you beautiful. I have rarely enjoyed a burger webpage so much… for the wrong reasons. This webpage didn’t invoke immediate salivation but more like grins of disbelief… Continue reading

Review: Cafe 8, Roppongi – So many penises

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Have you been to the dick restaurant? is a totally legitimate question you might get asked if you’re living in Tokyo.

Cafe 8, in Roppongi, notorious foreigner playground territory, is somewhat infamous for its phallus paraphernalia, the centrepiece being an extremely large golden member. Move over, Jason, your fleece impresses me not.

The restaurant is part of a chain of  seven stores in Tokyo, serving up Chinese cuisine. It is particularly famous for the Peking duck. Which meant, when organising in a group an outing to this place, there was some confusion as to whether we were going to a “dick restaurant” or a “duck restaurant”. In this case, you can fully have your cake and it.

At least, that’s what we thought. Little did we know, the staff were going to try to take us for a ride – and not an enjoyable one at that. Continue reading