Wednesday, August 29, 2018

Cavalock and The Second Obligatory Tokyo Food Collage of The Year

This Tokyo trip, we got the opportunity or rather the Baker-at-Home had the opportunity to chat with at least a couple of young English-speaking Japanese sales staff on two separate occasions. As kinda expected, both were very enthusiastic when it to came talking bout Singapore. One even grew up and studied in Singapore before moving back to Japan. The usual chit-chat bout the local weather like where's hotter right not Tokyo or Singapore, where did they learn their English and all that. We had to sort of dampen their enthusiasm a little by telling what life really is like here. Hah!

Just like always, I got our trip's obligatory photo collage right here, right now! The slice of gorgeous wagyu beef was our first dinner this trip at our usual favourite shabu shabu joint. Damn, I love that pix, never fails to make me hungry.

So everyone's talking bout Crazy Rich Asians and it kinda reminded me of something funny. Before I get into that I gotta say, this ain't the kinda movie I'll watch. Nothing bout it being Singapore or anything like that, I just don't buy movie tickets for a rom com anymore. Limited time means I gotta watch what I watch, if you know what I mean. Rom coms are more like "downloadable" movies to leave playing in the background when one is doing work around the house. Movie tickets are reserved for Marvel/DC blockbusters. big budget action movies, the kind better watched on the big screen. But really, let's be realistic here, the success or failure of that movie is not gonna make a difference in the lives of most average Singaporeans here. And to all the folks out there who are kicking a fuss bout "representation", it ain't a documentary, it's a work of fiction. It's like expecting all Italian Americans to be members of the Mafia after watching The Godfather.

Anyway, hearing about Crazy Rich Asians and all the hoopla it's causing reminded me of an episode of my childhood. Now I gotta clarify that I am definitely and absolutely NOT rich at all! I prefer "middle lower-income". Just that it reminded me of how when I was a wee little kid, me Mom would constantly tell me that we are "a poor family" and that if anyone asked me (no one has ever asked me!), "tell them you are from a poor family". So in my mind and majority of my childhood I honestly believed that we were a poor family. The point isn't whether or not our family was poor, the point is I believed her. I mean, what kid wouldn't believe their own Mom. Right?

It's pretty funny looking back. I mean, I remember whenever I wanted a toy, my family would say something like "we can't afford it." and I guess that kinda reinforced my belief that we were poor. Back then friends in school and elsewhere never really talked bout our families' income level or anything like that. So I never really had any reason to doubt my family's claim.

It was only much later in (adult) life that I realised that I kinda grew up in a bubble. As a teenager, I was perfectly happy with my TV shows, my BBC Worldwide Radio, my books, magazines and comics and later my computer games. There was no Internet or social media so almost everything I learned bout the outside world was from devouring media content from the West. Speaking of which I never felt the need for "inclusiveness" or "diversity", as in I never felt the need to see an Asian face whenever I read a Marvel or DC comic book or watched American or British sitcoms. Maybe if you are an Asian American, Crazy Rich Asians is a big deal cos you are constantly surrounded by all them nasty white folks? But I digress.

I love my crazy (not rich) childhood and I miss my cozy little bubble! Thank gawd there was no Internet when I was growing up. <^;^>

Monday, August 27, 2018

Cavalock and The Inexorable Tokyo Food Haul

It's not just lemons that are in season right now in Japan, it's also all things peachy as peach season is also upon us. Now if you are planning on buying peaches like we did, get the ones from Yamanashi prefecture. I swear they are the juiciest. They are at least double the price back home here in Singapore. Besides hauling back the usual fruits and veggies, it's also perfectly common for us to buy back bout a gazillion packs of snacks and confectioneries. Anyone who has ever been to Japan knows one does not merely come back with only a few snacks. Just walk into any food basement in a departmental store like Isetan or Takashimaya in Tokyo and you'll see locals lining up for the latest seasonal snacks. In case you are wondering, Tokyo Bananas is soooo 1990s! Small part of me is glad I'm now outta the rat race cos otherwise I'll likely buy twice as many snacks for folks in the office.

Beef Pringles! Not sure if it's all artificially flavoured or not. Bought it for a friend who's into such savoury goodies. Don't think you can find this outside of Japan. Speaking of things you can't find outside Japan, that Snoopy tin below was purchased at the Snoopy Museum and I was honestly attracted to the tin box more than what was inside it. Plan was to use it to store my smaller board game accessories or some Warhammer figures. It was only when I got back home, did I realised the Cigare roll cookies inside were by famous Japanese brand Yoku Moku! Good luck getting that once the Museum closes next month! Hah!

Saw a queue of folks queueing for these financiers. Didn't see this brand during our previous trips to Japan so figured we'll just buy a box. Butter Butler is really really buttery as well as moist and extremely BUTTERY. Needless to say, I loved every bite of it. Of cos there were lots more delicious snacks that we brought back, most have already passed through digestive systems or given to friends. I guess more hours in the gym for us.

So while we were away in Tokyo, me 84-year-old Dad was busy making his own way, criss-crossing the island and snapping his usual bird pix. Here are some of the few thousand shots he took over the two weeks. Enjoy!

Saturday, August 25, 2018

Cavalock and The Soba Tempura Revelation

Hands down, our favourite meal this Tokyo trip. Kyourakutei's tempura soba at Kagurazaka. This Michelin-starred restaurant was on our list of places to visit back in March but that place was closed when we dropped by the area. But we did stumble upon an award-winning beef Wagyu beef joint that time. Anyway, Kyourakutei was open when we reached the place around noon. Not a very big place, I guess you could even call it cozy especially with the slightly dim lighting. We got counter seats which is usually our preferred kinda seating at Japanese restaurants for the obvious reason of getting to see all them talented chefs at work.

The pictures may not do it justice but the tempura was fantastic. They were lightly fried and delightfully crisp. And sitting at the counter also allowed me to ogle at the meaty octopus one of the chefs was preparing, that naturally led us ordering some tasty octopus tempura. Notice how incredibly thin the fried batter that's around the three pieces of octopus meat below. Of cos, the soba was top notch as well and we managed to snap a pix of the soba being made right in front of the restaurant.

I have mentioned how convenient and better it is to shop in Japan than Singapore on more than one occasion. More choices, more exclusive stuff and much cheaper too. I have more or less stopped filling my wardrobe with anything bought in Singapore. It's summer in Tokyo and that means the stuff on sale are usually just right for our hot weather. Breezy shirts, light pants and cool t-shirts. Besides the usual suspects from BEAMS this trip, I grabbed a pair of Japan made shoes! Oh, and socks too. I bought a ton of socks, from Japanese brand Tabio. Best socks ever!

Wednesday, August 22, 2018

Cavalock Returns to Karuizawa

So we found ourselves back in the mountain resort of Karuizawa after our last visit there a year ago. An absolute delight and it turned out to a great opportunity to escape the heat too. I thought it would be hotter here but it was actually cooler out here. Well, the early morning Shinkansen ride from Tokyo Station was already a chance to take a post-breakfast nap to re-charge for the rest of the day's excursion.

We didn't visit the central town of Kyu-Karuizawa like last time. Instead we saw this Hawaiian burger joint Kua Aina and since it's touted as the "best burger from Hawaii", we knew we had to have that for lunch. My burger was huge, really big and this was probably the first time in a long while that I couldn't finish a burger. It tasted great, I like it a lot but that's a damn big burger and the fries were amazing too. Nothing like that monkeycrap McD sells. Think I finished all of that. The Baker-at-Home was raving bout her avocado burger too.

Out in the Karuizawa countryside, it was much cooler than on the streets of Tokyo. That's me taking some time out and sitting under the tree in a garden park, enjoying the light breeze all by my lonesome self! Not that hot at all, even under the sun. The Baker-at-Home snapped this shot after she was done with her shopping.

Hey, in my earlier post, I mentioned bout losing the downloaded Japanese Netflix shows when I got home. Well, a friend offered a solution for that, simply switch your iPad to flight mode till you watch all your downloaded stuff! Long as your iPad doesn't 'know' you are back home, you are good to go.

Monday, August 20, 2018

Cavalock and The Hot Summer Observation

I was asked if I preferred the cold or hot weather in Tokyo. Well, I prefer visiting the city during summer cos you don't need to pack extra thick outfits and also there's lots more shopping to do in the summer! This year, there must have been a lemon surplus or something cos lemons were everywhere. Don't remember that much lemony items on sale past summers. We ate lemon desserts, drank lemonade, watched variety shows of women drinking booze with lemons, etc. (No, she does not take her clothes off after drinking that!)

Outdoor beer gardens are pretty common during summer too I guess. Although I can imagine them being around almost all year round except winter. There are definitely fewer trees along the streets of Tokyo compared to Singapore and maybe all that concrete is partly to blame for the raising temperature?

And of cos, what would Tokyo be without the queues. Summer exclusive releases! We saw queues for various kinds of new releases, from console games to limited edition streetware. No, we didn't join them. But if it was food, we probably would! Hah! However a certain queue caught my eye and and that was for the lottery. I assume there was a big upcoming lottery draw that weekend cos of the long snaking queue. After purchasing their lottery tickets, punters would ask for blessings at a little shrine right next to the lottery booth. That's something you don't see at your neighbourhood Singapore Pools outlet.

Another thing I noticed about Japan is you tend to notice more than a few elderly couples hanging out together, as in eating at restaurants, shopping, etc. Just them doing stuff together. I think that's great. I hardly see old couples doing that in Singapore. I mean, when you see old folks in restaurants, it's usually on weekends and with their kids and grandkids. Nothing wrong with any of that. Just something that got me thinking.

Friday, August 17, 2018

Cavalock and The Return to The Snoopy Museum

This was a pretty tight Tokyo vacation so while there were many things we saw and wanted to do or eat or something, there just wasn't enough time or stomach space. These large jello cakes looked amazing. Unfortunately you had to buy the entire cake, not a slice. We also spotted a Luke's Lobster food truck right outside our hotel in Shinjuku, next to Shake Shack. Had our first Luke's Lobster back in 2015 and I gotta admit that there food truck parked right outside our hotel was mighty tempting.

This is one trip that I didn't drink as much as before. Dunno why really. Still had a couple of Highballs and beer but also quite a few green teas. So many different beers, so little time. There was an exhibition on prehistoric art in Japan in Ueno that looked interesting. That's something I would take a whole half-day off for.

And speaking of exhibitions, we did managed to visit the Snoopy Exhibition once more before they close for good next month. It was originally meant to be a two-year long exhibition anyway. Yah, we were there last year but I'm such a Snoopy Peanuts fan that this time we booked our tickets online before we left home. As a kid, me Mom would read the comic strips to me. Growing up, I thought moms reading to their kids were a commonplace thing, on account of me Mom and American movies and TV shows showing moms reading bedtime stories. But I digress. Had a great time at the Snoopy Museum and am grateful that I got to visit a childhood dream not once but twice.

Wednesday, August 15, 2018

Cavalock and The Japanese Netflix Peek

Continuing our discovery of great Italian food in Japan, the Baker-at-Home and I finally made our way to the famous pizza joint Savoy in Roppongi, Tokyo. There have been numerous articles written about how authentic the Neapolitan pizzas are and top chefs from around the world have all raved about it. And it's cheap too! Only a mere 1.000 yen for an entire pizza meal. We got there bout 15 mins before they opened and stood in the blazing sun, first in line. I believe it's in a kinda swanky neighbourhood on account of all them embassies nearby including ours.

There are only two kinds of Neopolitan pizza to choose from, margarita or marinara, and about a dozen seats in this small and quaint pizzeria. Little counter seats surround a wood-fired oven and you get a front-row view of your pizza being made. We had one of each and they were absolutely hot and delicious. For that price, we will definitely drop by the next time we are ever in Tokyo.

One of the cool things about Netflix is that subscribers can watch the exclusive content of whatever country they are in. That is, if that country has Netflix to begin with. So while in Tokyo earlier this month, we saw a buncha Japanese Netflix programmes. No subtitles obviously and if you thinking of downloading them and then watch them back home, forget it cos while you may be able to download them, they won't work or play outside Japan.

Monday, August 13, 2018

Cavalock and The Horse Meat Heresy

Rub a tub tub! Horse meat in a tub! Or horse meat mixed with beef to be exact. Bet it's yummy and nutritious too! I think this is like one of the coolest things to buy back for your foodie friends! Don't tell them what it is but make them a sandwich with a piece of it. Hah! Not our first encounter with horse meat in Tokyo. I don't think our customs has an issue with anyone bringing it in? Well, the Baker-at-Home forbid me from getting a tub so I guess we'll never know how good it is.

Another unusual item in the grocery store that caught my eye was this apparent cure for snoring. The Baker-at-Home thought it was a little too cruel. Actually tapping up one's lips seems like the easiest solution, wonder why no one thought of it earlier.

You know every year around this time of the year I post a picture of the Washpole Patriot for National Day back here in Singapore. Unfortunately this year, I got this pix instead. Maybe someone squealed and the guy was told not to hang the flag out to dry on a wash pole. Pity. :(

Thursday, August 09, 2018

Cavalock and The Ultimate Gashapon Paradox

So the weather reports coming from Tokyo today seems to indicate that it's raining pretty heavy now over there and there's a typhoon headed their way. Hope everyone stays safe. Well, anyway we heard about this famous Michelin star ramen joint Afuri for awhile now. Wasn't actually planning to look for it while in Tokyo but we stumbled across an Afuri counter outlet at the basement of Lumine 1 at Shinjuku. Immediately made a mental note to have dinner there the next day.

It's one of them ticket-vending ramen joints where you better be quick to make your selection otherwise the folks behind you are gonna be breathing down your neck. Nah, I'm just kidding. This is Tokyo, no one's that rude unless he or she is a tourist from you-know-where.

A couple of things Afuri is famous for is their chicken broth and their addition of yuzu peel in your ramen. That's what really stole the show for me. I went for the roasted pork instead of the sous vide chicken. It's good but I definitely look forward to trying it again one day with the chicken.

Are you ready for the ultimate paradox?!? I give you the Gashapon within a Gashapon within a Gashapon within a ... well, you get the idea. In other words, it's the capsule toy where you'll find another capsule toy machine where you'll find more capsule toy machines! No, I didn't get it cos I couldn't wrap my mind around it!!! How is such a thing within the space-time continuum possible?!?