JAPAN 2017 | Tokyo: Tsukiji Fish Market; Asakusa; Shinjuku

Tsukiji Fish Market

First things first, we decided to have a sushi breakfast (!!) at Sushisei, my friend said it had great reviews, and the line outside proved its popularity. The wait wasn’t all that long though, and we were seated at the sushi bar, definitely the best seat in the house imo.

I went for the Omasake set, and seriously, best sushi I have ever had. The freshness and the quality of the seafood was unbeatable, and one of the reason of why I love sushi so much is that although undeniably decadent, it’s still very light, leaving you feel satisfied, but never overly full after meal (unless you choose to have 10 plates at a sushi train restaurant of course, which I did later down in the trip).

The chef prepared the food with such precision, and was extremely friendly, he was telling us about Japanese alcohol, and after hearing that I have never tried plum wine, he even offered me some to try!

Sushisei
4-13-9 Tsukiji, Chuo 104-0045, Tokyo Prefecture
+81 3 3541-7720

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Omakase

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Chirashi

After the best breakfast I’ve had in a long time, we strolled around the market, there was plenty of fresh sashimi if you are still feeling peckish, and a large range of fresh produce for locals to purchase. Dried food also seemed quite popular, there were black beans, kelp, teeny tiny crabs (!) amongst other things. Processed with VSCO with a6 presetProcessed with VSCO with hb2 presetProcessed with VSCO with hb1 presetProcessed with VSCO with a6 preset

Asakusa

We headed off to Asakusa next, and if you want a good bird’s eyes view of the area, including Tokyo Skytree, then definitely head up to the top floor of the information centre!Processed with VSCO with a6 presetProcessed with VSCO with g3 preset

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The street that leads towards Senso-ji was filled with shops that sells snacks, drinks, crackers, and other bits and bobs, and I had a great time browsing/eating my way through it. One thing to take note is that in Japan, even street food is eaten in an orderly manner, and by that I mean once you’ve bought something, you have to eat it within the proximity of the stall, and throw away whatever rubbish you have in the bins provided.
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Senso-ji sat at the end of the main street, and it was packed full of people! My friend and I decided to try out the omikujis, and both of us got the great curse, which meant we had to tie them up to leave the bad luck behind!

We took a side street to walk back to the station, and I spotted a melonpan shop, and oh my goodness they were AMAZING!!! It’s kind of like a turned up version of a pineapple bun, where the exterior is super crispy, and the inside was soft and chewy, it may not sound that great on paper but trust me, it was amazing. I got it with cream inside but I’d advise against it, the cream kind of overpowered the subtle sweetness of the bun itself.

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Shinjuku

Just to get some shopping out of the way, we headed off to Shinjuku, and of course, we went to Zara aka my happy place. I feel like Zara in Asia is so much cheaper in comparison to Australia, and I really had to put my self-control into test in order to only pick up a few things.

After some more shopping and browsing around, we had dinner at Marumo, a restaurant that was in the food court level of the shopping centre we were in. I got the hamburger on rice, what I imagine to be Maruko’s favourite meal (man I miss that cartoon), and yup, ended the day in food coma.Processed with VSCO with a6 presetProcessed with VSCO with hb2 preset

Spending Tracker

Sushisei: 2500JPY ~ 31AUD
Sweet black beans: 700JPY ~ 8.6AUD
Daifuku w/ strawberry: 300JPY ~ 3.7AUD
Omasake: 110JPY ~ 1.4AUD
Agemanju: 140JPY ~ 1.7AUD
Melonpan: 350JPY ~ 4.3AUD
Grilled scallops: 600JPY ~ 7.4AUD
Crackers: 1800JPY ~ 22AUD
Zara: 4870JPY ~ 60AUD
Uniqlo: 2145JPY ~ 26AUD
Marumo: 1480JPY ~ 18AUD

Total: 14995JPY ~ 184.1AUD

JAPAN 2017 | Tokyo: Tofuro

Narita International Airport → Tokyo

After I arrived in Narita Airport, I made my way to B1, where the Skyliner was located, buying the ticket was pretty simple, I bought a one way Skyliner ticket and the three day subway pass. I also exchanged my JR Pass at the JR office, located on B1 as well. After that, I was all ready to go with my Skyliner.Processed with VSCO with hb2 preset

I arrived at my friend’s house at around 5pm, and she had picked an izakaya for us to have dinner, so after a quick change of clothes, we headed out to Ginza.

Dinner at Tofuro
1-10-6 Ginza | B2F Ginza 1st Bldg., Chuo 104-0061, Tokyo Prefecture
+81 3 3563 3033

Tofuro is a slightly more up-scale izakaya, with lots of private booth and different sittings, the whole place was very serene, with pops of red contrasting against dark wood. There was even a bridge over a tiny creek!

The food was quite delicious too, featuring lots of local produce around different regions of Japan, including Aomori, where my friend is from!

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Little fishes for us to snack on

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4

Tamagoyaki

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Fried Tofu

6

Grilled Squid

7

Soba Set

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It was a great way to start off my time in Japan! After dinner, we went to three (LOL only in Japan) convenience stores, and bought lots of snacks and lollies, as well as a permanent marker LOL, seriously Zebra can do no things wrong.

Spending Tracker

Drink from Family Mart: 149JPY ~ 1.8AUD
Stamp (I sent out the postcard when I was flying out from Tokyo): 70JPY ~ 0.9AUD
Skyliner + 3 days railway pass: 3500JPY ~ 43AUD
Public transport: 140JPY ~ 1.7AUD
Tofuro: 2683JPY ~ 33AUD
7/11: 803JPY ~ 10AUD
Family Mart: 216JPY ~ 2.7AUD

Total: 756JPY ~ 93.1AUD

JAPAN 2017 | 9D9N itinerary

At the beginning of January, I went on a three weeks trip to Japan and Korea, having been to neither countries before, I was extremely excited!

Over the course of the three weeks, I took an obscene number of photos (naturally), and I thought long and hard about how I should document my experience, and I’ve finally decided to first, start off with a brief overview of my entire itinerary, and then go into details about each day in separate posts. Unlike my previous travel posts where I separated things that I did and food that I ate, they’ll be mashed up into daily posts this time round, just because, well, I think it makes more sense that way. I will also include a spending tracker after each post, and I’ll be working out a more detailed log, basically summarising what I spent my money on, and how much I think is reasonable when travelling in Japan and Korea.

A few things to note before I start, I went during the middle of Winter, I was on my own most of the time, and I wasn’t really on a budget, but I didn’t splurge either. There will be some additional posts that address tips when travelling around these two countries, best way to get around Japan, and things like that and how much money I actually spent (yes I was super OCD and recorded everything down).

Okay enough rambling, here’s my itinerary for the nine days I spent in Japan!

Day 1: arrive in Tokyo; having dinner with a friend in Tofuro, Ginza

Day 2: Tokyo: Tsukiji Market; Asakusa; Shinjuku

Day 3: Tokyo: University of Tokyo; catch the Shinkansen from Tokyo to Yokohama;
Yohohama: Shin-Yokohama Ramen Museum; catch the Shinkansen from Yokohama to Osaka

Day 4 part 1: Osaka: Osaka Castle; Kuromon Ichiba Market

Day 4 part 2: Osaka: Owl Cafe; Dotonbori

Day 5: Osaka: Universal Studios Japan

Day 6: Catch the Shinkansen from Osaka to Kyoto;
Kyoto: Kinkakuji; Kiyomizu-dera

Day 7: Get from Kyoto to Naoshima (took a few trains and ferries, hence ‘get’ instead of catch the Shinkansen, if only);
Naoshima: Benesse Art Site Naoshima

Day 8: Kyoto: Fushimi Inari Taisha; Arashiyama; Nishiki Market; Kichi Kichi Omurice; catch the Shinkansen from Kyoto to Tokyo

Day 9: Tokyo: Shibuya; Shinjuku; Harajuku; spend the night in Narita Airport (yay)

FOOD DIARY | Bali

As usual, we ate out pretty much every meal in Bali. Being a city in Southeast Asia meant that the food were all very affordable, compared to Australian standard that is. You can get a meal for as little as 5AUD, however, if you do choose to eat at more westernised restaurants, the prices does go up quite a bit.

Warung Kecil
https://www.facebook.com/warungkecilbali
Jl. Drupadi II no. 10, Denpasar, Bali 80361, Indonesia
+62 851 0002 0002

This is hands down our favourite place to eat in Bali, pretty sure we went back four or five times. They do a great selection of brunch dishes, as well as some more traditional Balinese food, which come in the form of Nasi Campur, where you get to choose one, two, or three dishes, and it comes with either brown, white or yellow rice.

Papaya Juice
Top: Banana Pancakes
Bottom: Zucchini and Rocket Frittata
Nasi Campur – Black Pepper Beef, Long Beans and Eggplant with Brown Rice
Top: Yellow Vegetable Curry
Bottom: Nasi Campur
Drinks: Fresh Coconut
French Toast
Strawberry and Romaine Lettuce Salad
Egg Breakfast
The food were great themselves, but what kept us coming back was the service, specifically, a waiter named Indra. He was just so friendly and kind, and made the restaurant feel like home to us.
Potato Head
Jl. Petitenget No. 51B, Seminyak, Kuta, Kabupaten Badung, Bali 83061, Indonesia
+62 361 4737979

Beef Nachos
Potato Head is one of the many beach clubs in Bali, and probably one of the most famous ones at that. To get a cabana-esque seats by the beach, the minimum spending is roughly around 50AUD, and it’s pretty easy to reach. The ambience was very relaxing, and they had a great selection of music. Make sure you put on plenty of sunscreen though!

The Cabin Coffee Shop
Jl. Drupadi Gg. Rukun no.1 Badung, Seminyak, Bali 80361, Indonesia
Iced Mocha
Steak Sandwich
Chicken Schnitzel Sandwich
Onion Rings

This was another coffee shop close to where we stayed, in fact, it was literally right around the corner. The food were pretty average, and the portions were quite small. The onion rings were good though, with a light crispy batter that puffed up a little.

Warung Ladhu
Jl. Dhyana Pura (Camplung Tanduk), Seminyak, Bali, Indonesia
+62 812 4618 1812

Left: Strawberry Juice
Right: Pineapple Juice
Gado Gado
Mee Goreng
Bintang
Banana Fritters
We came here for dinner because of their outdoor seatings. It kind of reminded me of picnic tables, and just gave off a really chill vibe. We ordered a couple of the Indonesian dishes, which didn’t taste very authentic. The banana fritters we ordered for dessert was great however, it was different from the usual banana fritters, and had a much thicker and crispier batter.

Random Street Food #1

We were getting pedicures at a beauty salon, and the workers were getting these Gado Gados from a vendor that was riding around in a bicycle outside. We were very curious and they were kind enough to give us some bowls and spoons so we could try it out! This is much better than the Gado Gado I had at Warung Ladhu, the sauce was very flavoursome, and the fresh chilli sure packed some heat!

Coco Cafe & Grill
https://www.tripadvisor.com.au/Restaurant_Review-g469404-d3626543-Reviews-Coco_Cafe_Grill-Seminyak_Bali.html
Jl. Kayu Aya, Seminyak, Bali, Indonesia
62734503

Lemon Bintang
Deep Fried Duck
Nasi Campur
Left: Banana Fritters
Right: Dadar Gulung
Dadar Gulung
Banana Fritters
Shisha
Coco Cafe & Grill was located on quite a busy street, I was really excited to see the deep fried duck on the menu, as I’ve heard that it’s a Balinese specialty. The duck leg had a very dense batter, and was fried until crispy. I was expecting a more flavoursome batter with plenty of herbs and spices, regardless, it was still yummy to eat, but then again, what deep fried thing isn’t?
Nameless Restaurant #1
Babi Guling

Babi guling is one of the food I was most excited to try in Bali! It’s essentially a myriad of pork related dishes served with rice. There was curry roast pork, crackling, puffed up crackling, pork jerky of some sort, and a stir fry of pork with some sort of pickled vegetables. The roast pork was a little dry, but the stir fry was amazing! It was packed full of flavour, and I could seriously just eat that with the rice. The soup is also an essential, and my friend thought it tasted like a fish soup her mum makes at home.

Wahaha
http://www.wahaharibs.com/
Jl. Sunset Road Barat 1689 | Barat No.1689, Seminyak, Bali 80361, Indonesia
+62 361 8475655

We wanted some more babi guling but didn’t know where to go, so we seeked help from our taxi driver. There must’ve been some miscommunication though, since he drove us to Wahaha, which was famous for their American style pork ribs. Since we were there already, we settled and just ordered a couple dishes from the menu, since neither of us felt like ribs. The meals were unmemorable, but the soup I had did have a similar flavour to a lot of other Balinese dishes I’ve tried.

Warung Motivation
https://www.facebook.com/pages/Warung-Motivation/1596561297241216
Jln Camplung Tanduk No. 74 Seminyak Kuta Bali

I can’t find anything besides a Facebook page for this restaurant, but it was located close to our villa, and had a sign out front that said they had babi guling! Of course we chose to dine here for our last meal. The babi guling had a nicer presentation than the one we had on the side of the street, and a few more elements were included. However, the flavours were less punchy, but it was still nice to eat.

Ku De Ta
http://www.kudeta.net/
Jl. Kayu Aya, Seminyak, Bali
+62 361 736969

Right: Vanilla Passion Foam

This was another beach club that we paid a visit to. The ambience was quite different, as the crowd was older here. We already had a meal previously, so we just settled for a couple of drinks. The only one that I remember distinctly is the vanilla passion foam, the foam was very fruity and sweet, and seriously tasted like unicorns.

We did take a look at their menu, and things were very pricey, even for Australian standard, so that’s a thing you gotta keep in mind!

Nameless Restaurant #2

Long Island Iced Tea

Before our flight, we had a couple of hours to kill, and what better way to end a trip than some drinks and shisha? The Long Island was on the weaker side of things, which was good I guess. The shisha had a milk, instead of water base, which meant that it was a lot creamier than usual!

And that’s a wrap! If you’ve read my travel diary in Bali, you would know my thoughts on Bali as a whole already. But I gotta say, some of the food were delicious regardless, especially the more traditional ones!

TRAVEL DIARY | Bali

I went to Bali for a short six days trip with my best friend for our 21st back in October, I know I know, this is another long overdue post. I have quite mixed opinions about Bali, but let’s just start with a rundown of what we got up to.

This is the view from our villa, we stayed at a villa on the border of Kuta and Seminyak, which meant we had easy access to a bunch of restaurants and cafes, the food will be in a latter post btw! I’ll link it here once it’s out 🙂

We wanted to take it easy on the second (technically first) day, so Potato Head was the place to be! Potato Head is one of the many beach clubs in Bali, and if you get there early enough, you’ll be able to score yourself a private lounge by the swimming pool. We got there at around 10.30, and got one of the last few remaining ones, you do have to spend a minimum of 50,000 rupiah though, which is pretty easy to reach, since you just have to get a couple of drinks each, or some food to share.

The sunset was breathtaking, and I really enjoyed just laying on the lounge and tanning, while listening to the music. Potato Head had a really chill vibe overall, and yeh, it was a good way to start our trip.

We had an early start on the second day, 1am to be exact. We wanted to do the Mt Batur hiking track, and because it’s a hiking track that people take to see the sunrise, and the mountain itself was around an hour drive away from where we lived, it meant we had to get there nice and early. The hike was pretty intense, but then again, I really don’t have much experience hiking. Each group would hire their own hiking guide, and we had a torch each to see where we were going, and yeh, it was definitely an experience, our guide pretty much had to pull me up eventually.

I fell on the way down though, and scraped my knee, which racked up a $90 dollar medical bill. Moral of the story: always get travel insurance.

Because the hike was so tiring, and I spent a good hour or two in the medical centre, we decided to just call it a day and walk around our villa and grab some food to eat. Oh, and my friend also took an extremely long nap haha.

On our third day, we wanted to finally get some massage around our villa, and that’s when I realised, I HATE MASSAGES. Seriously, how do people like them?! It’s so painful, not relaxing at all, and I didn’t feel better afterwards either. Maybe I’m just weird, who knows. My friend loved them though, in fact, I think she pretty much got at least two massages everyday from then on. Oh and this is some cool graffiti we saw while walking to dinner. The artist, BMD, is from New Zealand actually!

What is this?! They look like dragon eggs to me hahaha.

Unfortunately my camera was out of storage on day four, so no photos from there 😦 But we basically spent the whole day in Ku De Ta!

We finally hit up a temple on day five, it was in Uluwatu, and it’s called Pura Lahur, around an hour drive from where we stayed.

We went to Padang Padang Beach after that, and it was a much less touristy area compared to the rest! We really didn’t do much tbh, but it was just nice to have some more relaxing time again 🙂

On the last day, I did the usual postcard sending, and we had one last plate of Babi Guling before we left – guess you’ll have to check the food post to know what I’m talking about hehe.

I have pretty mixed feelings about this trip up until this day, Bali was a lot more touristy than I expected, and I don’t mean that in a good way. We did have a bumpy ride, but nonetheless, I am grateful for the experience. If I ever felt up to it, I might make a separate blog post on that, but that’s all for now. As always, thanks for reading!

TRAVEL DIARY | Daylesford

If you read my blog regularly, you may already know that in the holidays, my mum and I had a three days trip to Daylesford. Daylesford is a town around 115 kilometers away from Melbourne, and it’s known for its spas – although we didn’t visit one because, well, we just didn’t feel like it tbh haha. We just wanted to wind down a bit, and just chill basically!
We headed off to Daylesford after brunching at Tom Dick & Harry, it was quite a gloomy day, but the drive wasn’t too bad because we had full bellies yay! The drive was just under two hours, and we arrived at our home for the next three days, Musk House!

The Musk House was even more impressive in person! We didn’t know this beforehand, but turns out Daylesford has quite a lot of markets and antique shops, and this was apparent from the setout in the Musk House. A lot of the furniture had a vintage feel to them, and there was so many little knickknacks that made the place feel very unique yet welcoming.

We were both quite tired from the drive, and since it was raining outside, we decided to just have a movie night – well, I watched movies while my mum slept through everything LOL.

Onto the second day, the weather still wasn’t ideal but at least it was dry! But cold, sooooo cold. We drove to Lake Daylesford for a walk in the morning after having some home cooked breakfast from the produce that was provided by Martin, Musk House’s owner. The lake itself was lovely, I think as I’ve grown older, I have definitely learnt to appreciate nature a lot more. I mean, I’m still not all about hiking and camping and all that, but one step at a time! It was so serene, and we enjoyed walking around in the fresh air too.

Oh, and there were ducks!

On the side of the road no less, I felt bad for not bringing some bread to feed them 😦

After that, we visited the Convent Gallery. The gallery had quite a few Australian exhibitions going on, and I loved this statue of a cat! Even though I’m allergic to them, they’re still cute to look at!

We spent the afternoon in The Amazing Mill Market hehe. The market was huuuuuuuuge, and we spent around two hours there, but still didn’t manage to look through everything! The thing is though, it was absolutely freezing inside! We did buy a couple vintage things though, so that’s good yay! For dinner, we went to the Farmer’s Arms Hotel, and it was sooooooo good!

Before I knew it, it was already our last day! Mum cooked up some breakfast with the leftover ingredients, and we went for a stroll on the main road in town.

My friend told me that Pastry King had the best pie, so of course I made a note to visit!

The display certainly looked promising!

The pie was decent, the filling was quite tasty, the pastry was a bit too short for my liking though.

We also bought a bunch of sweets, but my mum ate most of it so yeh, no review on that 😦

We saw heaps of cute little stands selling things on the side of the road, and my mum couldn’t pass on these potatoes!

She also wanted some eggs, but they were sold out already unfortunately 😦

We did drive past Istra Smallgoods on the way too, and bought a bunch of goodies! I especially loved the kabana, possibly the best I’ve had!

Our trip to Daylesford was short, but much needed! Although we didn’t do anything all that exciting, it reminded me how nice it was to just relax. Especially considering the fact that now when I finally got around to blog about Daylesford, I’m one month into my final semester already!

If you ever feel stressed, don’t be afraid to just take a few days off. Go on a road trip, read a book, watch some movies, catch up with friends, whatever it is that you find relaxing and rejuvenating, because you’re not you when you’re stressed (may or may not have quoted Snickers there hehe)!

Bocconcini

It was our last day in Daylesford, and seriously, the weather was miserable the whole time we were there! We decided to tick off another cafe off our list before we headed back to Melbourne, and this time it was Bocconcini, which was actually located right next to Larder.

Passionfruit Tea?

I forgot to take a photo of their drinks menu, and can’t remember what tea we had for the life of me 😦 It was definitely a floral and fruity one though, there was enough in the pot for two cups each, and it was a great way to warm up our day!

Sweetcorn Fritters – $17.00

There were a few dishes that caught my eye on the menu, but I ended up picking the sweetcorn fritters. The fritters had a delicious filling of corn kernels and haloumi, but I wish it was crispier! The housemade chilli relish added some more flavour to the dish, making it simple yet satisfying.

Pappardelle Pasta – $18.00

We seem to always crave some form of carbs, doesn’t matter which meal of the day. The pappardelle were slightly overcooked, but the ragu that was made with Istra pork and fennel sausage, tomato and peas was very flavoursome. Istra Smallgoods is a local store that sells a range of cured meats, bacon, sausages and other goodies, they’ve even been featured on Broadsheet! Their produce is definitely top quality, we actually dropped by and picked up a few things on our way since it was very close to the airbnb we stayed at.

Most of the menu was quite simple, but the price was actually quite steep. Although the dishes we ordered were nice, there was nothing that really stood out. Overall, Bocconcini was a little disappointing I guess, but that’s probably because I’m spoilt by brunch in Melbourne!

How to get there:
Bocconcini is located on Vincent Street, one of the main streets in Daylesford, and being a small town, you just have to take your car there, unless your hotel is close by.

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