Friday, 1 July 2016

The Japanese Food Adventure Chapter 2 - Day 18. A birthday in Yokohama

My wife had nipped out to the supermarket whilst I was still sleeping and returned with this chocolate cake and some dangos, it was my birthday! 

Hanami Dango is a Japanese sweet Mochi dessert, where 3 different Dango balls, pink, white, and green, are skewered onto a stick. These rice flour dumplings are really chewy and incredibly nice

We decided to head to Yokohama to celebrate my birthday, first though we went for breakfast at Dennys in Koenji. We'd been here before and loved the excellent service and great value for money. When you're ready to order you simply press the bell and somebody rushes over to the table.

Just ¥700 (about £5) buys a set breakfast of eggs, sausage and bacon with toast, butter and jam. The price also includes bottomless coffee, salad and a yogurt. 

The sausage was tiny but the scrambled egg portion was generous. There are other options available which also include fried eggs. My wife chose scrambled eggs with spinach and mushrooms for her cooked breakfast.

Once in Yokohama we headed straight to the Ramen Museum close to Skin Yokohama station. It's described on their website as "The world's first food-themed amusement park", this I had to see!

The admission cost is just ¥310 yen (about £2.25), there is an expectation for each customer to buy a bowl of ramen once inside though.

The first floor is where you can read up on ramen and learn about all the different regional variations available. The museum shop is also found here as well as a 30 metre long slot car track.

The next 2 floors take you back to 1958 Japan, the attention to detail is impressive! You can find 9 shops here all serving different styles of ramen with variations on the soup, noodles and toppings used. 

Around the outer edge of the 1958 town you can find narrow alleys to explore, this alley had a really nice old cigarette counter in the corner.

Further along was this old phone booth.

This small shop sold a vast selection of sweets, snacks and small toys. we spent quite a long time in here buying no end of things.

The ramen could be ordered from the vending machine outside each shop, this place served a vegetarian ramen which meant my wife could join in with the experience. Simply pay, press the button, collect your ticket and hand it to the waitress.

My ramen was made with thin noodles and a mild flavoured sauce that combines chicken bone and vegetable broth over a tonkotsu (pork bone) base. The soup included their own specially flavoured oil, and roasted, crumbled garlic chips scattered on top. It was also topped with pork, sweetcorn and seaweed, I really enjoyed it.

My wife's ramen tasted quite similar but was the vegetarian version, she didn't really it though as it was quite heavy on the garlic.

At Shin Yokohama station we caught a train to Yohohama, in the platform vending machine I spotted this. I didn't buy it as I was still full up with ramen, could it really have been ice cream in bottle though? I decided to buy a can if I saw it again somewhere else.

Yohohama looked amazing with it's stunning skyline and port area, sadly it started pouring down with rain though and we didn't have an umbrella.

We dashed to a nearby shopping mall to take shelter, these small towels were at the entrance for customers to dry themselves with, nice touch!

This sweet fish shaped snack was like a chocolate Aero inside, a big hit with my wife.

Once the rain had stopped we made our way towards Yokohama Cosmoworld, I wanted to ride that roller coaster.

It cost ¥600 to ride Vanish, it starts off with a fairly mellow first drop.

Then you realise why it's called Vanish as it plunges into an underwater tunnel! My wife and I were the only ones on the ride so we were able to get the front seats. I loved it and my wife agreed to join me on it as it was my birthday, she seemed quite terrified all the way round though!

Yokohama like other cities in Japan has it's own unique manhole cover design.

We noticed these in a local store, I didn't buy them though and have since deeply regretted my decision.

In Yamashita Park we found this statue "A little girl with red shoes on", the statue represents the subject of a song called "Akai Kutsu" (Red Shoes) 

We were staying in Yokohama for the night and needed to cut through Chinatown in order to reach  our hotel. Yokohama Chinatown is the largest Chinatown not only in Japan but also in Asia, there are roughly 250 Chinese shops and restaurants scattered throughout this district. 

It looked like an interesting area to explore so we decided to return here again tonight for food and drink.

More roadwork barriers, this time pandas!

Kwan Tai Temple in the centre of Chinatown is incredibly ornate.
In the foreground are the stairs and the entry gate, the temple's hall is in the background.

We were spending the night at Hostel Zen, it was difficult to find and is reached by five flights of steps. The first three floors of this building looked tired and felt really depressing, we initially had regrets about booking here. As we reached the fifth floor though we sighed with relief as everything looked brighter and cleaner. We spotted this impressive collection of Manga books by the hosel lobby.

It cost  ¥5600 (about £40) per night for a double room at Hostel Zen. The room was compact but comfortable and the price included breakfast.

These were some of the things we'd bought in the Ramen Museum earlier today, it seemed like a good time to try some.

The thick cut jacket potato flavoured crisps captured the buttery taste quite nicely.

My wife bought these mainly for the box, the sweets were very tough green tea flavoured candy. My wife wasn't sure about these so I finished them off, I wasn't really too keen on them either but can't bear to waste food.

This was amazing and my favourite Japanese snack I'd tried so far! A chewy and delicious savoury strip containing fish flakes and coated in breadcrumbs. 

We headed back into Chinatown, it looked incredible at night. We wandered around here for ages trying to find somewhere to eat, there was too much choice!

We finally decided on somewhere to eat and my wife spent a good ten minutes negotiating with the waitress over a vegetable and omelette dish on the menu. It usually comes with meat but my wife wanted it without. The friendly waitress who seemed to sort of understand eventually assured my wife it could be cooked without. Once more we both realised how we really should have learnt some Japanese before the trip, it's most definitely something we plan to do in the future. I chose a rather nice Chinese pork and rice dish,the pork was really tender and fell away from the bone with hardly any effort at all.

After eating we went for some cocktails, Norge Bar was run by a chap that seemed to have cocktail making down to a fine art. He was a real showman and was really in his element behind that bar, from the shaking of the cocktails down to the very rapid wiping of each bottle before returning it to the shelf his skills were impressive. The first drink we ordered was beer, he noticed one bottle wasn't sitting with the label directly in front of us and came rushing over to straighten it!

Next my wife ordered a mojito and I ordered a cognac based sidecar. Both were exceptional cocktails and had plenty of alcohol in them.

We ordered some more cocktails here and got chatting with the lady behind the bar. We noticed that whenever a customer left here the lady behind the bar followed them out to thank them for coming in, very polite!

Next we tried this bar out, it was an English styled bar that also served cocktails. A lady (possibly the owners wife) came over to greet us and show us through the drinks menu.

The cocktails here were ok but not a patch on the ones from Norge Bar, here the cocktails were mixed in rotating barrel behind the bar. It was interesting to see that the lady here also bid all customers goodbye as they left, a Yokohama tradition maybe?

We'd planned on visiting more bars but they were all closing so we stopped off at 7 Eleven for some supplies instead. The hotel had a roof terrace which was the perfect spot to drink some plum wine and beer, I also scoffed a corn dog covered in mustard up there. It'd been a great birthday and a nice experience to spend it in another country for a change.

One final snack before bedtime, a slimy and delicious octopus strip!

Click here for Day 19
Yokohama Treehouse Cafe

1 comment:

  1. A delicious octopus strip! Reminds me of a 1980s London party.....