Monday, October 31, 2011

Sashimi donburi @ Tsukiji, Tokyo

One thing that every person must do while visiting Tokyo is to have a meal nearby the Tsukiji fish market (the largest fish market in the world). The food and raw seafood served here are believed to be freshest you can get around Tokyo. They have many varieties which can't find in other places. Rather than opt for freshest sushi that you can get, I instead try their sashimi donburi. Most of the sushi restaurant here are full and have a long queue. I not sure which restaurant to choose but I always look out for restaurant that is occupied by the locals rather than tourist.

Taste:10/10(Excellent. Fresh, juicy and well prepared sashimi with sticky Japanese rice at the bottom. The quality is there and make sure you take raw food in order to appreciate this dish).
Price:3/10(Expensive. Reasonable price for the quality of the food. The dishes shown below cost 2100 Yen).

There are 3 rows of seafood/sushi restaurant in the Tsukiji fish market area. You can see there a long queue in one of the restaurants.

I try this restaurant which offers sashimi donburi. Not many people but patronise by the locals. Quite good.

The chef preparing the food.

They have many types of donburi over here. It takes time for me to choose a set which have more salmon, a bit of tuna, some sea urchin & fish roe.

Finally I found my favourite. It has all the items I wish to have. Salmon, tuna, sea urchin & fish roe.

Tasty sea urchin.

Fresh fish roe with popping juice!

I crave for more! I order a small plate of scallop. It is good!

Green tea and some pickles.

The restaurant environment.

Summary of what they have.

Location: Uogashi Yokocho @ Tsukiji fish market. You need to stop at Tokyo Metro Tsukiji station and walk around 10 minutes to reach to this area. You pass by a Jodo Shinshu temple with have a very unique structure which you will not miss it.
GPS/Coordinate: 35.663778, 139.769791
Public transport: Tsukiji station via Hibiya line or Tsukijishijo station via Oedo line.

Sunday, October 30, 2011

Standing sushi bar - Uogashi Nihon-Ichi @ Dogenzaka, Shibuya, Tokyo

After capturing the pictures of Shibuya crossing, I was quite hungry at that night and have no idea on what to have. I walk around the fashion distict of Center-gai and saw this tiny sushi restaurant. Initially I was quite reluctant to eat at this restaurant as they don't provide chair to sit! Imagine walking around for whole day but still don't have chance to sit when eating! But their sushi is quite different and make it quite irresistible. It looks fresh, use lotus leaf and eating while standing :-)

In Japan, people watch TV and read short novels on their cell phones as they commute, making the most of every minute they can for leisure. Some companies started to holding meetings standing up as not to waste time on non-important issues.

Lunches are the same, making standing a bad manner of the past; there are standing bars, cafes, noodle shops. Now there is even a chain of standing sushi bars called Uogashi Nihon-Ichi where you can complete your lunch in 5-6 minutes.

Taste:9/10(Fresh and great sushi although not many selection).
Price:5/10(Moderate. The meal shown below is around 950 Yen. The portion is rather small when compared to other sushi restaurant. Maybe it is due to its location near Shibuya which tend to be more expensive).

This is the restaurant. The chef is busy preparing sushi.

Can't remember what type of fish used for this sushi. But it taste very good.



Squid tentacles.

Slightly roasted fish with light soy sauce.

Salmon sushi.

Address 2-9-1 Dogen, Shibuya, Tokyo.
Open daily 11.30am-11.30pm

Saturday, October 29, 2011

Autumn foliage at Deoksu Palace @ Seoul

Deoksu Palace or Deoksugung Palace served as the King's residence twice during Joseon. The site was originally the home of Prince Wolsan and King Seonjo (1567-1608). They lived here temporary after returning to the capital following the withdrawal of Japanese forces in 1593. Calling it the "temporary palace in Jeongneung-Jong", he resided here because all the main palace compounds had been destroyed during the war. His successor; Prince Gwanghae (1608-1623), renamed it Gyeongun Palace after making the newly rebuilt Changdeok Palace his main residence.

Gyeongun Palace was used as a royal residence again in late Joseon when Goyong (1863-1907) moved here in 1897. Back then, the Joseon state was proclaimed as an "empire" and the ruler began offering rituals at the Altar of Heaven (where Chosun Hotel now stands). The palace halls were rebuilt and the compound was expended to some three times its present size.

However, Gojong was forced to hand the throne over to his son who became Emperor Sunjong in 1907. Emperor Sunjong moved into Changdeok Palace and bestowed the title of Deoksu (virtue and long life) on his father, wishing him a long life. The compound came to be called Deoksu Palace and the former emperor remained here until his death in 1919. The palace compound at that time was some 3 times larger than it is today, encompassing the whole area around the present city hall, Seoul Plaza and Jeong-dong area.

With the onslaught of foreign diplomats and missionaries in Jeong-dong area, some Western-style buildings also appeared inside Deoksu Palace. Built in 1900, Jeonggwan-heon is one of the first European architectural structures to appear on Korean palace grounds. Gojong commissioned a Russian architect to build it.

Deoksu Palace still boast several historic structures and the grounds and nearby areas are very popular for the visitors for the beauty and tranquillity.

* content from Deoksu Palace leaflet.

As I walk from City Hall station to Deoksu Palace, I saw a bunch of people sleeping on the road side. I am not sure what cause they are fighting for.

Deoksu Palace from outside.

Deoksu Palace guard.

Me with the guards.

Colour changing leaves when entering the palace compound.

National Museum of Art in Deoksu Palace compound.

The surrounding in Deoksu Palace.

One of the halls in Deoksu Palace.

The celling design of the hall.

The stone look like tomb stone.

Coordinate/GPS: 37.565577,126.976783
Admission: 1000 Won ~ 0.90 USD for adult and 500 Won for children. Combination ticket (10,000 Won) which includes admission to other places (Gyeongbok Palace, Changdeok Palace (the secret garden included), Changgyeong Palace, Deoksu Palace and Jongmyo Shrine).
Opening hours: 9.00am until 9.00pm.
Subway station: City Hall station (Line 1, Exit 2 or Line 2, Exit 12).
There is also guided tours available in English, Korean, Japanese & Chinese.

Traditional Korean meal of Haemul Pajeon and Makgeolli @ Hongik University, Seoul

A local Korean who used to work part time in the hostel that I stayed, brought me to this small shop near Hongik University subway exit 8. Here, she introduced two Korean delicacy, haemul pajeon a Korean style seafood pancake and makgeolli an alcoholic traditional drink fermented from rice served in bowl. Haemul pajeon is a pancake-like Korean dish made from a batter of eggs, wheat flour, rice flour, green onions, and often other additional ingredients depending on the variety. Beef, pork, kimchi, shellfish, and other seafood are mostly used. According to review from Seoul website, makgeolli is the best alcoholic drink to try in Korea.

Haemul pajeon. This dish contains a lot of seafood. It is good but it is a bit oily.

Makgeolli. Make sure you don't think this too much or you will be drunk. The taste is nice and sweet but without realising that you are consuming alcohol. Makgeolli is an alcoholic beverage native to Korea. It is made from rice or wheat mixed with nuruk, a Korean fermentation starter.

Drink makgeolli from copper bowl. This is the traditional way of drinking makgeoli.

Coordinate/GPS: 37.556094,126.924635 (approx).
Seoul Metro station: Hongik University exit number 8.

Delicious spicy pork stew @ Hongik University Subway exit, Seoul

This restaurant is quite near to my hostel that I stay during my visit to Seoul. I went there because it is near my place and I am curious to try what they have in the store as I always saw many customers inside the shop. I not sure what is the dish called but on their menu they do have the picture. The dish is quite spicy and stewed with Korean kimchi and they also put a lot of pepper in the dish. Like many Korean restaurant, small dishes of banchan were provided.

Taste:9/10(Delicious. Taste is good and the spiciness is suitable for the cold weather at that time during my visit which is their autumn. The pork is tender and the stewed kimchi compliment with the pork).
Price:6/10(Moderate. Unfortunately, I can't remember how much is the dish but I estimated it to be around 12,000 Won~USD12.00)

Pot of stewed spicy pork in kimchi. As usual, Korean food always comes with many side dishes. Kimchi is always a must!

Wow, look at the pepper on top of this pork stew. The soup is fiery red.

Taste good. Clean bone.

Coordinate/GPS: 37.557783,126.923066
Address: 158-26 Donggyo-dong (200 Donggyo-ro) Mapo-gu, Seoul, South Korea.
Metro Station: Hongik University station exit number 2. This is a corner shop. It is very obvious as there is only one corner restaurant.

Friday, October 28, 2011

Peaceful Jongmyo Shrine @ Seoul

Jongmyo is a Confucian shrine dedicated to the memorial services for the deceased kings and queens of the Korean Joseon Dynasty. It was a primary place of worship for kings throughout the Joseon Dynasty and has been registered as a UNESCO World Cultural Heritage site for its well-preserved ancient customs such as memorial services and traditional music. The memorial service, called ‘Jongmyo Jaerye,’ is said to be the oldest complete ceremony in the world. It is annually reenacted on the first Sunday of May. Jongmyo Jaeryeak, the musical part of the ceremony, is produced by instruments, songs, and, dances that originated over 500 years ago.

This attraction is closed on Tuesday.

The symmetry pillar famous in Jongmyo Shrine.

Long garden area.

Jongmyo Shrine.

Me with Jongmyo Shrine.

They have this guided tour who explain about the history of Jongmyo Shrine.

Coordinate/GPS: 37.574464,126.993882
Address: 155 Jong-ro Jongno-gu, Seoul, South Korea
Seoul Metro: Jongno-3(sam)-ga Station (Subway Line 1), Exit 11
10-min walk from station.

Integrated Ticket of Palaces
- Four Palaces ((Changdeokgung (including Huwon, Secret Garden), Changgyeonggung, Deoksugung, Gyeongbokgung Palace)) and Jongmyo Shrine
- Ticket costs KRW 10,000, and must be used within one month of purchase.
Without integrated ticket:
- Adults (ages 19 and over): KRW 1,000
- Youths (ages 7-18): KRW 500

Guided tour:
[Free Tour] Mar.–Sep. 09:00-18:00 / Oct.-Feb. 09:00-17:30
(Free tours available on Saturdays only.)

Most faithful dog - Hachiko @ Shibuya, Tokyo

Hachiko is remembered for his remarkable loyalty to his owner, even many years after his owner's death. The dog belongs to Hidesaburō Ueno, a professor in the agriculture department at the University of Tokyo. Hachiko always greeted his owner at the end of each day at the nearby Shibuya Station. One day the professor had suffered from a cerebral hemorrhage and died, never returning to the train station where Hachikō was waiting. Every day for the next nine years the dog waited at Shibuya station.

Many of the people who frequented the Shibuya train station had seen Hachikō and Professor Ueno together each day. They brought Hachikō treats and food to nourish him during his wait. This continued for nine years with Hachikō appearing precisely when the train was due at the station.

Each year on April 8, Hachikō's devotion is honored with a solemn ceremony of remembrance at Tokyo's Shibuya railroad station. Hundreds of dog lovers often turn out to honor his memory and loyalty.

Hachikō was the subject of the 1987 movie Hachi-kō (Hachikō Monogatari) ハチ公物語 (literally “The Tale of Hachiko”), directed by Seijirō Kōyama, which told the story of his life from his birth up until his death and imagined spiritual reunion with his master. Hachiko: A Dog's Story, released in August 2009, is an American movie starring actor Richard Gere, directed by Lasse Hallström, about Hachikō and his relationship with the professor. The movie was filmed in Rhode Island, and also featured Joan Allen and Jason Alexander.

Source: Wikipedia.

Hachiko was born in Odate, Japan in November 1923, a white male Akita dog. At the age of two months, he was sent to the home of Professor Ueno of the Agricultural Department of the Tokyo University. The professor's home was in the Shibuya district of Tokyo. The professor commuted to the agricultural department in Komaba and the agricultural experimental station in Nishihara.

Tragedy struck on May 21, 1925, when Dr. Ueno did not return because he had suffered a stroke and died at the university. Hachiko was eighteen months old. The next day and for the next nine years, Hachiko returned to the station and waited for his beloved master before walking home, alone. Nothing and no one could discourage Hachiko from maintaining his nightly vigil. It was not until he followed his master in death, in March l934, that Hachiko failed to appear in his place at the railroad station.

Hachiko was sent to homes of relatives or friends, but he always continued to await his master, who was never to return, at the train station.

The fidelity of Hachiko was known throughout Japan, owing to an article, "Faithful Old Dog Awaits Return of Master Dead for Seven Years" in the October 4, 1933 issue of Aashi Shinbun (Asahi News). Upon his death, newspaper stories led to the suggestion that a statue be erected in the station. Contributions the from the United States and other countries were received. Today, the statue of the Akita, Hachiko, pays silent tribute to the breed's faithfulness and loyalty. A bronze statue of Hachiko was put up at his waiting spot outside the Shibuya railroad station, which is now probably the most popular rendezvous point in Shibuya. Hachiko was mounted and stuffed and is on now on display at the Tokyo Museum of Art.

It was a great story of loyalty of animal to human being.

Me with Hachiko statue.

Coordinate/GPS: 35.658739,139.701085
Behind the smoking area of Shibuya station. Tokyo Metro Shibuya Station.
Near the stairs leading to the Tokyu Food Show of Tokyu Department stores.

Mega shopping of Dongdaemun @ Seoul

Dongdaemun Market is the large commercial district comprising traditional markets and shopping centers in Jongno-gu, Seoul, South Korea. Here you will find mega size shopping complex in Seoul. I would recommend either go to Migliore or Hello APM. Doota is more on branded products and it is more expensive. Only go to Doota if you would like to find branded products and fancy about VAT refund. Most of the shopping complex here open from 10.00am until 5.00am and closed on monday. And some of the shopping mall even open for 24 hours a day.

Dongdaemun Migliore. Inside Migliore, there are many small boutiques selling many kinds of clothes. Both fashionable and affordable.

Many men suit selection. The price is around USD120 per suit.

Doota is a high end shopping complex. It offers VAT refund but the their price is on up scale and cater for tourist. When you come to Doota, you can see many China tourist in the shopping centre.

DooChe is a famous cafe here. Located just below Doota.

Street food stalls along main shopping area near Dongdaemun Market and Cultural exit.

Me selfie with Doota shopping complex.

Disco jump game. Located just behind Doota.

Many shops behind Doota which you can indulgence for good food after tired of shopping.

Many restaurants and if you can speak chinese/Mandarin, language is not a problem. Doota is mostly patronise by China tourist and the shops here learned Mandarin over the years.

Coordinate/GPS: 37.566513,127.007783
Seoul Subway: Dongdaemun History and Cultural Park station exit number 14.