Archive for the 'TOKYO' Category

11
Jul
14

DOCGELO’S CHOICES : REMARKABLE TASTES FROM MEMORABLE CITIES

Traveling and eating.

Food and places.

These are indubitably inseparable.

Each time I set foot in a country that’s absolutely new to my senses, I try my best not to leave without sampling any dish that at least represents that place, or any plateful delight that could make my days more memorable. Frequently, I crave not only for the food itself, but there’s so much longing for vivid moments inked in my memory to be re-experienced, to be replayed.

Imagine my joy when I read the below email sent to me by TheBetsy.com, asking my humble recommendation of the best restaurants from various cities I’ve been to.

 

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Admittedly, it’s flattering (and overwhelming). I’m honored actually. No word is enough to express my gratitude.

So without further ado, here’s my random list of remarkable tastes from memorable cities…

CHAR KOAY TEOW.  PENANG, MALAYSIA.

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Char Koay Teow, from Kafe Heng Huat, Lorong Selamat, George Town, Penang, Malaysia

Dubbed as Malaysia’s gastronomic paradise, Penang boasts of diverse flavors, textures and tastes. Of all the countless dishes from local ethnic groups of Malays, Chinese and Indians, I consider Char Koay Teow as my ultimate favorite Malaysian dish. My taste buds fell in love with every plate of fried flat noodles, mixed with chili sauce, egg, fresh sprouts, cockles, Chinese chorizo or pork sausage and large prawns!

During the years of 2010 to 2013, when I had Butterworth, Penang as my second home, I usually satisfy my craving for CKT by going to the island via buses and ferry, just to indulge myself with such noodle dish, cooked on the spot in a hawker stall in Gurney Drive or in Kafe Heng Huat at Lorong Selamat, Georgetown. Full blog post here : http://docgelo.com/2013/03/16/more-than-a-plateful-of-char-koay-teow/.

 

 HAINANESE CHICKEN RICE. CHINATOWN, SINGAPORE.

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Hainanese Chicken Rice, from Maxwell’s Tian Tian Chicken House, Chinatown, Singapore.

Maxwell’s Tian Tian Chicken House became a word of mouth after Anthony Bourdain gave it a thumbs up.  So famous, that what made it popular became one of my favorite chicken dishes too –Hainanese Chicken Rice…(believe me, this plate tasted so much better than it looks on photo). The rice was boiled with seasoned chicken stock; it’s already tasteful sans the tender chicken itself. Full blog post here : http://docgelo.com/2011/09/07/chinatown-singapore/

BUTTERMILK FRIED CHICKEN. KETTLE, METRO MANILA, PHILIPPINES.

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Buttermilk Fried Chicken, Kettle, East Wing, Shangri-La Plaza Mall, Mandaluyong City, Philippines.

Kettle’s brilliant expression of the usual comfort food, fried chicken left all of us in awe and wonder. From its crispy and lightly battered skin (Sinful. Spells HYPERLIPIDEMIA, I know!), the tender chicken fillets in huge fractions were gloriously seasoned to perfection! They’re beautiful and ultimately delicious even without condiments! However, for complete Kettle experience, you need to dip a chunk of that happiness to its country gravy and drizzle it with cajun honey, toy it in your mouth, swallow smoothly then dunk your fork to those equally tasteful honey glazed cornbread muffins. Bliss! Full blog post here : http://docgelo.com/2014/01/27/kettle-at-shangri-la-plaza-east-wing-inspiring-comfort-food/

 

ONE THOUSAND AND ONE NIGHTS TEA. ARABIAN TEA HOUSE, BUR DUBAI, DUBAI, UAE.

 

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Exotic Chicken Salad, 1001 Nights Tea, Arabian Tea House, Bur Dubai, Dubai, UAE.

My so-called comfort place in Dubai at present is Arabian Tea House in Bastakiya, Old Dubai. I love their 1001 Nights Tea from Sri Lanka. Fruity. Sublime. Soothing. They also have Green Tea and Jasmine, White Tea Jasmine and Marigold, English Breakfast, Early Grey, Fairytale, Turkish Delight, Ceylon Sencha, Exotic Paradise, Milk Oolong, Raspberry and Mint, Mysterious Passion and a whole lot more teas!

From their menu, I usually opt to have Exotic Chicken Salad.  Heavenly!

Served with complimentary Arabic bread, the Exotic Chicken Salad is the most delicious and freshest I’ve had! The fusion of textures and flavors of ripe mango and avocado, cucumber and lettuce was simply divine! The BBQ-flavored chicken also doesn’t disappoint. I can have this simple all-in-one-meal plus that 1001 Nights tea as my last meal when I die. I kid you not. Full blog post here : http://docgelo.com/2014/04/05/bastakiya-al-fahidi-my-favorite-place-in-dubai-to-date/.

 

YAKINIKU BUFFET. KARUNESUTEHSYON GINZATEN, GINZA, TOKYO, JAPAN

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Yakiniku Lunch Buffet, Karunesutehsyon Ginzaten, Ginza, Tokyo, Japan.

Price for lunch buffet inclusive of drinks (sodas, juices, coffee) back in 2010 was Y1,000 and for dinner -it’s a whopping Y3,000/pax!  I don’t have idea what Karunesutehsyon Ginzaten serves for dinner but obviously, it must be something better as it’s thrice expensive compared to their lunch. Nonetheless, the marbling of the beef slices to grill, the tenderness of the pork and freshness of the fish cuts, and the pure excitement of grilling your own food made the entire dining experience memorable. Full blog post here : http://docgelo.com/2010/03/26/letters-from-tokyo-7-yakiniku-buffet/

 

 
HALO-HALO. ICEBERG, THE PHILIPPINES!

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Special Halo-halo, Iceberg, Timog Avenue, Quezon City, Philippines.

If there’s one dessert that could best describe our being Filipino, it’s our very own, Halo-Halo in my own opinion. Troop to Iceberg restaurant in any of its branches in Metro Manila or to any street vendors of Halo-Halo in any parts of our country and you’ll know what I mean. Full blog post here : http://docgelo.com/2010/04/25/much-ado-about-summer/

 

JORDANIAN BUFFET, Near MOUNT NEBO, JORDAN.

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Assa Mosa restaurant near Mount Nebo – Middle Eastern Buffet, Jordan.

I was never fond of eating lamb dishes unless it’s cooked well without leaving an after-taste. Luckily, my taste buds were treated to a few delicious lamb dishes I’ve ever sampled! I never found a single fault on everything we’ve feasted! Jordanian-Arabic food was that good!

I loved the Shish Kebab, the Oozie rice dish that was nicely seasoned,  the hummus dip, the local salads and everything that I paired with a small bottle of that smooth-tasting local red wine, appropriately called Mount Nebo. Full blog post here : http://docgelo.com/2014/06/10/jordan-road-trip-x-food-trip/

 

MOMO AND VARIOUS NEPALESE DISHES. COSMO DE CAFE, KATHMANDU, NEPAL.

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Our lunch at one of the rooftop restaurants in Kathmandu, Nepal.

We had vegetable momo (Newar dumplings) instead of chicken momo (others offer buffalo momo) simply because there’s bird flu in Nepal during the time of our visit. How exciting, isn’t it? Going back to momo; We had it two ways – fried and steamed and found it just okay, nothing to rave about. What made it unusual or special perhaps, was its dip compared to the soy and chilies of Chinese. Full blog post here : http://docgelo.com/2013/08/11/our-unforgettable-journey-from-malaysia-to-nepal/

 

SEAFOOD BUFFET. SARKIES, EASTERN AND ORIENTAL HOTEL, PENANG, MALAYSIA.

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Salmon Sashimi, Duo of Gravlax, Seafood Extravaganza Dinner Buffet, Sarkies, E&O Hotel, Penang, Malaysia.

Two words. Favorite and fresh! Full blog post here : http://docgelo.com/2013/03/17/sarkies-seafood-buffet-dinner-extravaganza-eastern-oriental-hotel-penang/

PAD THAI. CHATUCHAK WEEKEND MARKET, BANGKOK, THAILAND.

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Best Pad Thai on my list. From a hawker stall in Chatuchak Weekend Market, Bangkok, Thailand.

Flavorful, mouthwatering, fragrant and inexpensive dishes pleased us all on our very first meal in Bangkok. From an eatery in the heart of Chatuchak Weekend Market, we had Shrimp Fried Rice, Pad Thai, Pork Barbecue that we’re missing in Penang, and a few fried goodies for our son, Gabby. Full blog post here : http://docgelo.com/2012/08/31/bangkok-2012-series-thai-food-porn/

I could continue to enumerate more however, these are the top 10 on my list as of present. Each taste reminds me of a moment. Every texture and spoonful of goodness relay something to cherish.

>><<

27
Nov
12

TOKYO STREET

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With the sight of that giant Japanese lantern, there was a flashback. Vivid memories of my day in Asakusa (blog post here : http://docgelo.com/2010/04/06/letters-about-tokyo-12-asakusa-temple/ ) after I rode the train in Tokyo from Gotanda to its tail end just to experience that much celebrated temple and my very first glimpse of cherry blossom.  Fourteen long days in Tokyo back in the first quarter of 2010 were already etched in my cerebrum and shall never be forgotten. Cue dramatic music here! Toinks! ;)
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Reality instantly kicked in and I lost that state of being surreal.  I wasn’t in the Land of the Rising Sun any more and it’s no longer Asakusa but Tokyo Street -the Japanese themed precinct located at the 6th level of Kuala Lumpur’s premier mall – Pavilion.

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Vibrant colors of gold, red and green decors greeted shoppers and tourists like me at Pavilion’s lobby.

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15th November 2012, Thursday. It was a public holiday in Malaysia; exactly a day prior my filed-work-leave to renew my passport at the embassy. My stomach was still empty; I can almost hear its borborygmi growling after that 4-hour-bus-ride from Penang. Well, not actually since I munched on a hotdog sandwich and drowned myself with a bottle of Coke on the bus en route to KL. But that was hours ago! It was way past lunch time and I needed to hail a taxi cab to Pavilion Mall in Bukit Bintang from my budget hotel after a quick check-in-and-drop-the-bag- plus a hurried shower.

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SUCCESS!  At 2:45PM, I was already strolling around Tokyo Street and snapping my cam on a whim. I was even a bit early to the 3PM call time with fellow Filipino bloggers who work in Kuala Lumpur and requested for a casual meet up. When I was about to make a call, I found out that my mobile prepaid load expired already, and I had to hunt for a shop that sells top up in a jiffy.

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Just before I went down to resurrect my mobile again, I was happy to take all those photos around Tokyo Street. Apparently, the place is a pretty slice of Japan in Malaysia’s metropolis. Everything from food, gadgets, bags, toys and even potted bonsai remind you of Tokyo! It certainly adds to the infinite reasons why people should troop to Pavilion Mall!

As I reached the 6th level again and stepped out of the escalator, I easily spotted Sky and Summer -the Filipino bloggers who invited me for this meet up. After cordial greetings, we didn’t waste a second and went to Tokyo Teppan for that much-needed-lunch.

SILENCE. We immediately browsed the menu and ordered something to eat. Not long enough and we’re talking about our experiences adapting to living and working in Malaysia. Glad we shared almost the same views and insights about being OFWs.

I was a happy diner once more with my two lunch plates. Yes, you read it right. I had two plates. Perhaps, this clearly proved my delusion that I’m a half-blood Japanese in the past life! ;) I thought it so because I believe, when in Japanese, must eat sashimi! :)

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Those freshest slices are one of my kryptonites! Indulge in another shot…
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Then my second plate was Chicken Teppanyaki. Tender, tasteful, terribly delightful! :)

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Except for the next photo, the bloggers -Sky and Summer together with their friend, Leo ordered their own which I didn’t photographed. I was too shy to do so! *insert evil laugh here*

Aren’t those fish roe embracing each maki’s a visual feast? Mouthwatering to me!!!

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Meet Sky and Summer, the bloggers behind Boundfortwo.com. Thanks, Leo for taking the pic!

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After that shot for posterity, I thought everything’s done with the nice meet up and great lunch, not after  Sky brought out a printed copy of my photo that was fortunately published on LONELY PLANET ASIA MAGAZINE  (blog post here : http://docgelo.com/2012/07/17/surreal/) a few months back. I honestly didn’t expect he was serious when he mentioned he’ll ask for my autograph on it. Imagine, he even brought a permanent marker for my signature as if a simple ink would not suffice! It’s an oh-em-gee-facepalm-moment for me!

*photo of the print out by Sky and Summer.
Khlong Hae Markey Taken By Doc Gelo Published in Lonely Planet

What can I say but THANK YOU! According to them, this photo that they actually saw on a page of Lonely Planet Asia Magazine in Popular Bookstore in Kuala Lumpur inspired them to travel to Hat Yai via crossing the borders of Malaysia and Thailand on foot.
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Maraming salamat for that kind words and gesture of respect!

Hope they get to visit Penang soon!

____________________

10
Nov
12

WEEKLY PHOTO CHALLENGE : RENEWAL

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A Shinto Wedding, Meiji Temple, Tokyo. April 2010.

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Immaculate blooms at Merdeka Square, Kuala Lumpur, May 2012.

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Offerings at the Temple, Cheah Kongsi, George Town, Penang, June 2012.

These photos to me mean renewal of self, life and faith.

This post is my entry to Weekly Photo Challenge : Renewal

19
Jul
11

EVERYTHING JAPANESE AT 2011 PENANG BON ODORI FESTIVAL

16th July 2011, Saturday.  My family and I spent our late afternoon in Esplanade, George Town, an open-space-park by the bay and soaked ourselves in Japanese colors.

As you may know, dusk falls in Malaysia later than other Southeast Asian skies due to its location so the sun was still up at 6PM when the 2011 Penang Bon Odori Festival started.

Drum rolls lorded our ears as a group of Japanese students performed on stage.

Despite its flaws, Penang never ceases to surprise me positively. With barely a year of stay as an expat here, I and my family are constantly soaked in cultural diversities. And almost every weekend, we gain new learnings from this Malaysian state. Familiar only with the 3 predominant races -Muslims, Chinese and Indians, we never thought Penang has a volume of Japanese too, enough to fill an entire park to feature and highlight one of their colorful traditions.

Bon Odori, or dances for the dead, is one of the traditional Japanese dances held every Summer in almost every city in Japan. And the Penang Bon Odori Festival is the largest of its kind celebrated outside the Land of the Rising Sun. This festival is about welcoming ancestors’ souls by beloved families and reminiscing their memories with them. Because of this Japanese Buddhism belief that ancestors’ souls return at night, the Bon dance is performed at dusk.

The Esplanade at George Town that stands by the glorious bay, on its smaller scale, is comparable to our very own Rizal Park in Manila. It was transformed into a merry land filled with booths that offer foods, drinks both Japanese and some local cuisines, and a lot of fascinating items.

Expectedly, the most favored drink with health benefits and perhaps, the most famous export of Japan was there at Bon Odori…

Gabby, ang laki ng Yakult, hindi kasya sa fridge! :D

Family photo-op with those beautiful people dressed in their yukata… *this doesn’t happen on a daily basis in Penang!*

Before they officially opened the program, I was looking for something more than the Bon Odori dance; something like a theme to capture…

It was a challenge to click the cam on their traditional wooden footwear called, geta 

Japanese kids were a bit reserved…

I’ve already done features of Japanese food from sushi, sashimi, takoyaki and even Okonomiyaki

and edgy-anime Japanese hair styles weren’t showcased that much. *punks not dead!* :P

so I shifted my fascination to their yukata, or their casual summer kimono made of cotton , particularly their sashes or obi belts.

I have been fortunate to experience Tokyo last year for 14 days exactly and since then, I’ve developed an appreciation for Japanese culture, arts and tradition. It’s amazing how these people fuse their colors and customs amidst their advancement in technology. I always marvel at the fact that there are always art and substance in anything they eat and wear.

For someone like me who’s fine with a pair of jeans, sneakers or rubber slippers, I wonder how comfortable wearing a yukata is.

Have you worn one? How does it feel wearing yukata?

“The left side of the yukata is wrapped over the right side (commonly reversed with right over left when dressing a body for a funeral) and secured with an obi sash tied in a bow with the excess or with the koshi-himo and traditionally the bow is placed in the back. Traditionally bows in the front represented a prostitute. In private, such as after a bath, the yukata may be simply belted. Yukata are often worn with wooden sandals called geta.” Soured via wiki

So if the bow is tied in front, it denotes being a prostitute, hmmm.. all obi belts I’ve seen in the event had bows at the back.

Even men wear obi…

but apparently, the sash is narrower and the knot is less intricate than in women, of course.

Knotted with creativity…

An art in itself..

Funny how someone who’s wearing a yukata can blend well with someone with the look of Harajuku Street in Tokyo…

They’ve kept last year’s fans and used it again this year.

Looking at their yukata and obi sashes was like viewing a kaleidoscope!

Obviously, there is harmony in diversities…

But nothing is sweeter than a sight of an entire family proudly wearing their tradition on their skin…

The event stretched from 6PM and ended with a colorful bursts of fireworks at 10 in the evening. We left the park at half hour after 7PM  with takeaways of our leftover Japanese foods and just viewed the night skies from our porch at our 10th floor home.

To the people behind Penang Bon Odori Festival, Domo arigato gozaimasu! Terima Kasih! Maraming Salamat po! :)

31
Dec
10

LOOKING BACK AT 2010, LOOKING FORWARD TO 2011

The outgoing year has given me a lot of humbling experiences. Only my family and truest friends can attest that 2010 has been a tough year for me, financial-wise. I have been under the weather but nevertheless, I am so grateful to our good Lord for providing His blessings in critical times when I needed the most. 

Huge decisions ranging from dropping a job early this year in the name of principles, to accepting new offers to continue to seek personal and professional growths and making vital sacrifices for my family and myself form part of my 2010.  Despite my on-going struggle to become stable, there were countless remarkable memories from this year to cherish.

I reckon being in two Asian countries for more than 2 weeks (and counting) as a great privilege for me. I’ve experienced varied cultures, beliefs and religions, was exposed to amazing gastronomic flavors, have been to wonderful sights that provided opportunities to learn new things and at times, to unwind and be stress-free.

Looking back, I never planned nor thought of being in these places to wintess the turn of events happen before my very eyes. Indeed, God’s love works in mysterious ways.

Experiencing Tokyo (for 2 week-all-expense-paid trip) was truly one for the books.  I swear, I’ll revisit that most expensive city with my family someday.

The stylish and luxurious street of Marunouchi was definitely unforgettable…

 

Like other tourists, I also fell in love with the street Ginza…

Tasting authentic Japanese foods which are among my favorites really heightened my appreciation of Tokyo…

 Places like Akihabara Electric Town…

Harajuku, Shinagawa, Gotanda, Shibuya, Shinjuku and Asakusa are worthy of recall…

Who would not enjoy Tokyo Disneyland…

and Tokyo Disneysea…

While the second part of the year gave me a chance to work in Penang. Thank you, God!

I was impressed with one of UNESCO’S World Heritage Cities, Georgetown…

I became part of a small community of 24 Filipino MD-lecturers amongst multicultural faculty of an international medical university, all proving our worth not to anyone else but primarily to our families…

I got to experienced an overnight sailing via Star Cruise Pisces with my friends/colleagues.

I have embraced the fact that my work site is absolutely rich in diversities…

Everything has been overwhelming.

But the sweetest thing that happened to me this year was when I had a chance to bring my family over to Penang after 5 months of homesickness and solitude… Our reunion that brought us to Penang Island, Genting Highlands Resort and the city of Kuala Lumpur that also gave Tina that 1-year renewable contract as an Operating Room Nurse in a Joint Committee Accredited Hospital in Penang Island (she’ll start working after her registration with Malaysian Nursing Council is released that we hope to happen 1 – 3 months from now) has been truly rewarding.

 

I pray for abundance, health and safety for my family, friends and myself.

I wish I can perform my job beyond my employer’s expectations and more importantly, I want to continue being an inspiration to others, particularly my former and present students.

I hope for more travels and learning opportunities to come our way.

I’ll try my very best to save, save and save and to establish my family abroad in God’s will.

I pray to become a better person and a blessing to others.

With challenges and graces from 2010, I pray that I can carry on to 2011 with so much hope, optimism and faith.

So help me, God.

Have a prosperous, healthy and happy 2011, everyone!

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this post also serves an entry to (for tina to win the prize from) jeanny’s blog contest.

Visit her blog Starting A New Life. :D

09
Apr
10

LETTERS ABOUT TOKYO #14 : PASALUBONG!

Dear Tina and Gabby,

Despite the very limited budget and only 20-23kg luggage allowance from PAL, I still managed to get you some stuffs from Asakusa, Tokyo Disney Resorts and Akihabara as my little pasalubong for you!  

From ASAKUSA TEMPLE, I got these ref magnets to add TO OUR FRIDGE MAGNETS COLLECTION

I got these 2 keychains as you’ve requested… (simple lang at maganda ang wife ko, keychain lang ang gusto!)

I bought a white Japanese tea-cup  mug with faces of Sumo wrestlers engraved as design for myself (not in photo). 

I also got something for our friends –chopsticks! :D

These pillow and cans of butter and chocolate cookies are all yours from TOKYO DISNEYLAND  and  DISNEYSEA

(FYI, my wife collects tin cans, that’s how simple she really is! So I thought these 2 tin cans  with  Stitch design and embossed Disney characters would delight her more than its contents.  I also brought home a zippered lunch box I got from my dinner set in Tokyo DisneySea for Gabby) :D

‘ney, I got this ‘kikay kit’ for you with Minnie Mouse ‘s soft and chewy sweets inside…  

Last but not the least…

Gabby, since I and your mom love you so much; not only because you are named 3rd Honorable Mention at your recently concluded Kindergarten graduation and has been awarded honors in your preschool’s Declamation and Academic Contests in 2 consecutive years,  we think you deserve something you really want.  

(with Dr. BPS)  went back  to AKIHABARA ELECTRIC TOWN  a day before my flight back home just to get you this present…

This is your most wanted pasalubong, right?  :D I bought those from Ishimaru store in Akihabara; glad you like it, anak! :D

Now you have both your gameboy and this new Sony PSP with 4-gig memory stick to enjoy during the summer break!  But promise me and your mom that you’ll continue to be a good boy and a smart preschool pupil, OK? 

I love you ‘ney and Gabby!

:D Tatay-doc. 

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Dear Kind Readers,

Beyond Toxicity will be celebrating its 3rd anniversary on May 08, 2010.  Because of this, I thought of giving away little something from my Tokyo trip. No, it’s not the PSP I bought for Gabby, but these wonderful pairs of authentic Japanese chopsticks; all yours when you join and win the small blog-contest that I will be throwing before this month ends (will be only open to all readers within the country and abroad who can provide mailing address within the Philippines ).  Simple and easy mechanics will be posted on the last week of April so stay tuned. :D  

Now, who wants these chopsticks?  :D

 This ends my 14-part-Letters about Tokyo series. Thanks for following!

Sayonara and Arigato Gozaimasu, Tokyo!

-gelo.

09
Apr
10

LETTERS ABOUT TOKYO #13 : TOKYO SEA LIFE PARK

Dear Tina and Gabby,

About three weeks ago, I spent my first weekend in Tokyo with sharks, school of fish and corals…

I rode a train with a bunch of fun-loving Pinoy MDs from Gotanda to Tokyo Stations then we took a 15 minute-train-ride from JR Tokyo Station via Keiyo Line. 

Entrance fees to the aquarium are  Y700 (PhP 350) for adults, Senior Citizens Y350, Students (13-15 y/o) Y250 and Children (0-12 y/o) FREE.  

Before we saw the fish tanks and what the Japanese waters have to offer, I’ve started my admiration with colorful blooms that grow best even in almost always-single-digit-temperature.

And here are some of those cold-blooded friends we met from Tokyo Sea Life Park…

Having seen Ocean Park in Hong Kong, Kelly Tarlton’s in New Zealand, and even our very own Manila Ocean Park , I was a bit disappointed when I found out that Tokyo Sea Life Park has no walk-through-180-degree-glass aquarium. :( 

Nevertheless, the penguins made my day that Saturday afternoon.

The first time I saw live penguins was at Kelly Tarlton’s Antarctic Encounter and Underwater World in NZ; then was only followed by the sight of these cute little ones…

We ended our day at this spot near the sea; We had fun like kids, taking photos–jumping left and right for the cameras…

The place was simple yet a perfect one to commune with nature.  The day had the coldest temperature I’ve ever experienced; it was no longer winter in Tokyo then but definitely it was chilling cold.

God willing, one day, I’ll be able to bring you to Tokyo and we’ll visit these wonderful parks together. 

I love you, ‘ney and Gabby.

:D Tatay-doc.

06
Apr
10

LETTERS ABOUT TOKYO #12 : ASAKUSA TEMPLE

Dear Tina and Gabby,

One of my memorable mornings  in Tokyo was spent in ASAKUSA TEMPLE  (heard them pronounced it as Asaksa).

 

From Gotanda, I rode a subway train alone directly to Asakusa; after few minutes of train ride, I’ve explored their so-called “traditionally Japanese atmosphere.” 

I had mixed thoughts on seeing human-powered-transport in the form of RICKSHAWS.  I think I cannot pay Y8,000 (PhP 4,000) for several minutes to an hour of a runner’s agony.  But it was nice to know that these runners have passed a licensure exam to do the job and know how to speak English for the sake of tourism.  

The gates to Asakusa Shrine…

The place isn’t hard to locate once you got off from the subway train.  It’s immediately across the main street guarded by a KOBAN or a Japanese Police Station because understandably, Asakusa is one of Tokyo’s main tourist attractions.

Asakusa has the largest CHOCHIN or a Japanese lantern made of framed bamboo wound in spiral that is located at the central entrance of  the KAMINARIMON (雷門, “Thunder Gate”).  After the Kaminarimon, visitors are greeted by souvenir stalls in parallel on way to the main temple.

This was one of the places where I got your little pasalubong. (read : I’ll have another post letter for pasalubong soon).  If you fancy something else that I failed to buy, at least I have captured them in pics, LOL :D

The souvenir shops along the path to Asakusa Shrine reminds me of the pasalubong stalls in Antipolo Church. :)  I did window shopping first and held myself from impulsive buying; after which, I found myself mesmerized by these Buddhist statues…

I like how this monument depicted motherly love; I remember how much you love Gabby, ‘ney

Then I also like this statue of a monk with one foot dangling.  His posture appears peaceful and sublime.

The place also features a 5-tiered tower and the essentials of a Buddhist temple –incense to purify their being; water to wash their hands and mouth; all done to prepare themselves for veneration.

A few steps more to the main Shrine…

Cherry Blossom began to bloom that day…

Lovely as any Spring…

 

In God’s time, we’ll visit Tokyo together and savor these wonderful places again.

I love you, ‘ney and Gabby!

:D Tatay-doc.

05
Apr
10

LETTERS ABOUT TOKYO #11 : EATING JAPANESE

*WARNING :  This post can make you SALIVATE  &  FEEL VERY SATIATED! :D  Enjoy!

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Dear Tina and Gabby,

My 14-day-stay in Tokyo could not be any happier if not for (my colleagues) our memorable weekends and these Japanese gastronomic delights.  You know how I like sushi and eating it as authentic as it gets was just divine! :)

My very first bite of sushi costs Y890 (PhP 445).   Funny that I have to share it with our head nurse, because we both didn’t know if it’s too pricey or not, since it was our first night in Tokyo then.

Luckily after we transferred accomodation, our colleagues told us of  a department store called Remy that sells all other things but most importantly  bread, sushi, salad, bento boxes and other food items at 30 –50% off every 8:30PM (and those aren’t expired yet; they just want to dispose everything within the day to keep things on shelves fresh).  Buying discounted food is one of the best things I have experienced in Tokyo (everything else other than Remy’s are expensive in Japan including train fares, particularly when you convert prices into pesos!).

These are some of my Remy purchases that kept my stomach full every dinner!

Each sushi set at Remy costs around Y480 –900+.   So it’s really a good buy when it’s discounted at night; although one has to wait until it’s labelled as such.

There’s this microwavable- Tonkatsu-set that was originally priced at Y480; then after 8:30PM, I bought it only at half of it’s price.  I had to keep most of my food spending for dinner on a low key for  the rest of my budget per day was allotted for water (yes, we even had to buy 2-liter-bottles of drinking water),  food for breakfast and lunch, laundry and laundry essentials,  pricey train fares  and other expenses.  Remember, Tokyo is the most expensive city in the world!  And EVERY MOVE IN TOKYO COSTS  A  YEN! 

At some nights,  I bought salad and a cup of dessert -sweet and fruity; in addition to my main dishes.

I love that salad set; it’s a combination of potato topped with kani strips, mac and cheese topped with boiled egg, and some cold salad made of cucumber and other veggie strips. I like it so much that I bought it for 3 or 4 times when I was there! :)

I like how Japanese are so keen on their calorie-intake.  Most if not all purchases, contain calorie counts to guide those diet-conscious consumers (not me! LOL!).   Like this Fish and Tamago bento that costs Y498 had 675 kilo calories.

I also found this bacon-wrapped rice so easy and convenient to eat; a real-whole-meal-in-one!  Not to mention it’s few of the things in Tokyo that comes in affordable price…

Their iced tea doesn’t taste that sweet even if it’s flavored.   But their coffee is something else, sarap! :)

Here are proofs that I also cooked and cooked and cooked in my room to save, save and save…

Ugh, the agony of staying abroad on a budget!  We all had to buy our own frying pan and syanse , cooking oil, soy sauce, some dozen eggs, (canned goods like spam for my colleagues) and chicken nuggets from convenient stores and groceries.

Still from Remy’s,  I was able to cook some Aussie Beef slices that I bought for a cheaper price (compared to local price in Manila).

Those rice patties wrapped with nori were already tasteful at Y120 (PhP 60) each at regular price;  I just can’t eat them sans ulam. :D

On one of those nights, I had Gyoza, Y260 (PhP 130)  and nothing more;  then the next night I had pig-out again by buying another microwavable dinner from Remy (I really love that store in Gotanda!).

That set on the right of 4-piece-fried chicken and fries (Y580) were so huge that I had it for dinner and breakfast too!

My lunch with my colleagues were also remarkable.

Rememeber I showed you this Sukiyaki set on one of my first letters to you…

This Sukiyaki set that costs Y1000 (PhP 500) was a lunch treat from the 2 Japanese guys I met there.  It’s one of the best-tasting Sukiyaki that I’ve tried.  Yummy!

Here are the other lunch sets that I had from a buffet spread of one of those restaurants…

One afternoon, I had salad, miso soup, desserts and an assorted tempura plate all for Y950 (PhP475 ).  Then another lunch time, I had salad again, miso soup, desserts and a burger steak plate all for Y850 (PhP 425).

In Tokyo,  one of their famous and affordable 24-hour fastfood chains, more like of our Jollibee or McDo here is Yoshinoya.  I know we haven’t eaten in Yoshinoya here in Manila, but my first take on it in Tokyo wasn’t that bad.  For a Y500 coin (PhP 250), you can have a set meal with Japanese tea in less than 5 minutes; really convenient especially on nights when I was too lazy to shop or cook for dinner (read : it was always single-digit-celsius when I was there; was always a “bed-weather” before and after dinner!).

Is it not too obvious that Sukiyaki is one of my favorites ? LOL! :D

Remember I told you that our colleagues also treated us in aYakiniku lunch buffet near Ginza Street; the resto is called Don.K! (pronounced by Japanese as donki).  It’s like Yakimix that we have sampled in SM Mall of Asia.  The price per head was just similar with Yakimix;  Buffet at Don.K! per pax costs Y1000 for lunch and Y3000 for dinner.

 At   TOKYO DISNEYLAND 

and  TOKYO DISNEYSEA , my late lunch and dinner sets were simple (but quite expensive too at Y790 and Y1450 with lunch box)

 

My last lunch at Tokyo was with Doc B.P.S  when we were in  Akihabara.   It was good that a day before my flight back home, he introduced me to a common Japanese eatery that requires diners to choose from a menu display of  plastic food on the window and pay via vendo machine (due to lack of cashiers); get the stub and hand it in at the counter…

I found this dining system very efficient and wish we could have the same here in Manila.

Katsudon at Y455 (PhP 227.50)  for my last lunch in Tokyo…

You may drool and burp now, hehehe!  :D

I may have had the best tasting sushi, sukiyaki and bento boxes in Tokyo, but every dining experience was still less without the two of you, naks!  :D

These foods may be authentic Japanese but nothing beats home-cooked foods shared together on our very own table.

I love you, ‘ney and Gabby.

Here’s to more simple indulgences together!

:D  Tatay-doc

—————————————————————————————–<@

To my Kind Readers,

There will be more of my Tokyo experience that I’ll share with you on my next posts .  Thanks for following this series.

-gelo

02
Apr
10

LETTERS FROM TOKYO #10 : TOKYO DISNEYSEA

Dear Tina and Gabby,

It was last Sunday, March 28 when our group rode Yamanote Train line from Gotanda to Tokyo and hopped off from Tokyo Station to Disneysea.  Yup, it’s only in Japan where one can find and enjoy DISNEYSEA.  :D  Remember I told you that we availed of their promo rates of Y10,000 (PhP 5K) for both DISNEYLAND  and DisneySea on 2 consecutive days?  (One park entrance fee on regular rates costs Y5,800 or PhP 2,900). We’re glad to grab the chance because it was all worth the fun!

From the Disney Resort’s main entrance, we paid Y250 (PhP 125) for one-way-Disney Train-ride and off we went to the other happiest place on Earth.

SM Mall of Asia ?  Naaaah… Tokyo DisneySea Plaza…

There were those tiny and colorful petals near the entry gates that were so attractive that I cannot resist but to capture… It’s the start of the Spring season in Tokyo when I left.  Imagine these plants a few more days from now; they’ll be in full bloom!

Welcome to Tokyo DisneySea…sana kasama ko kayo dito! There’s always a next time… someday!

Tokyo DisneySea’s tag line is : Where Adventure and Imagination Set Sail… It’s true that we sailed into its 7 beautiful themed ports of call starting with MEDITERRANEAN  HARBOR…

MEDITERRANEAN HARBOR has the ambience of Southern European port where one can even take a ride on a gondola!

We’ll ride those gondolas in Venice one day (libre naman mangarap di ba?).

One of the features of Mediterranean Harbor is the FORTRESS EXPLORATIONS…

It’s an interactive fun at the Fortress and Galleon…

We all lined up for the LEONARDO CHALLENGE but was dumbfounded that the “mission” on the map given to us by the staff and its clues and directions were all in Japanese! LOL :D  We were all smiling when  our “lost in translation” episodes in Tokyo continues…

There’s something about boats, ships and galleons that I like; perhaps, I’m a sailor in my past life, LOL. :D

The Japanese made an amazing job putting up all these… It’s just fantastic!

After Mediterranean Harbor comes AMERICAN  WATERFRONT

TOWER of TERROR is one of American Waterfront thrilling attractions. It’s a tour of an old, abandoned hotel to explore its treasures and mysteries. Supernatural phenomena and spine-tingling climax await visitors.

According to Tokyo DisneySea’s map, in American Waterfront, one can find both the excitement of the big city and the charms of a New England fishing village in this vibrant themed port.

At  CAPE COD…

Our group had a leisure trip around the park via the DisneySea Transit Steamer Line.  After which, our feet led us all to PORT DISCOVERY

People get to visit the scientists of the Center for Weather Control in this themed port located across the horizon of time.

Attractions at Port Discovery include Storm Rider (a movie shown inside a theater) and AQUATOPIA, a twirling ride with watercrafts that spin wildly through a maze of fountains, rock formations and whirlpools.

After Port Discovery, Mount Prometheus greeted us at MYSTERIOUS  ISLAND…

Captain Nemo has created this secret base for his explorations into the depths of the Earth and beneath the waves.

Don’t you wish to explore the abyss with that submarine?  I think it’s only for display.

All of the attractions in Disneyland and DisneySea have posted time of waiting on queue. In Mysterious Island, there’s that JOURNEY TO THE CENTER OF THE EARTH  (inspired by Brendan Fraser movie) ride aboard fantastic vehicles designed by Captain Nemo.  And guess what?  Waiting time : 3 LONG HOURS!  Some of the doctors who took the ride told us that the wait was worth it.  Sulit daw;  Sayang di kami sumakay!

Moving on…

LOST RIVER DELTA …

The ruins of an ancient  Central American civilization await visitors deep within the remote jungles of this themed port.

One of biggest attractions in Lost River Delta is INDIANA JONES ADVENTURE : TEMPLE OF THE CRYSTAL SKULL.  Another is RAGING SPIRIT for those daredevils who wanted to try roller coaster ride with 360-degree loop.

MERMAID LAGOON is one of the most colorful features of Tokyo DisneySea…

The world of Ariel, the little mermaid, and her aquatic friends is filled with fun for kids of all ages.

Inside the Mermaid Lagoon are attractions like Flounder’s Flying Fish Coaster, Scuttle Scooters,Ariel’s Greeting Grotto, Mermaid Lagoon Theater, Jumping Jellyfish, Blowfish Balloon Race,  The Whirlpool and Ariel’s Playground.

Then the last area we’ve explored for several minutes was the ARABIAN COAST

We set sail for an adventure ride at SINBAD’S STORYBOOK VOYAGE.  The tour inside the theater on board a water-floating seats was meant for kids but nevertheless also fascinated me; except for the songs of Sinbad in Nihonggo. After Sinbad’s Storybook, we had hot cups of coffee which were so soothing…(read : it was a single-digit-degree-celsius again that day in Tokyo).

These are the pillars of the cafe where we had our coffee…

Other than Sinbad’s StoryBook Voyage, the Genie from the Disney classic film, Aladdin has created this themed port full of magic and mystery. There’s an entire garden devoted to Jasmine. :)

With Tokyo DisneySea, I thought I was touring the world; I almost forgot I am in Japan! :D

Even creeping grass were made to be fascinating…

At late afternoon, we headed to Mediterranean Harbor again near the main entrance;  we got time to shop for pasalubong (I’ll have another posts for pasalubong soon) and ate early dinner…

I chose this lunch/dinner set of ham & turkey sandwich with muffin (that I gave to nurse Ruth), strawberry panna cotta and coffee.

I like it even if it was Y1480 (PhP 740); quite pricey but I know nothing comes cheap in Tokyo and secondly, this set came with lunch box with Tokyo DisneySea characters and logo on it.  Of course, Gabby the lunch box is for you, anak for you to use this coming June in school! :D

Our day at Tokyo DisneySea was capped by BRAVISEA MO! a show of waters and fireballs (read : Disneyland has fireworks, DisneySea has fireballs!) over the Mediterranean Harbor.  The night came more alive with the miraculous tale of love between Bellisea, the spirit of water and Prometeo, the spirit of fire. It’s a must-see, magnificent and spectacular show of fire and water!  A perfect show to end the day.

The Lord knows how I wished that I have enjoyed  Tokyo Disney Resorts with you, ‘ney and Gabby.  I’ll just hope that  one day, I’ll get to bring you there and savor these wonderful themed parks together.

Two days are not enough for these 2 wonderful attractions in Tokyo.

Although most of them say that Disneyland and DisneySea are the happiest places on Earth,  I say it’s still HOME! :D

I love you Tina and Gabby!

So glad to be home.

:D  Tatay-doc.

——————————

Dear Kind Readers,

After viewing my posts on TOKYO DISNEYLAND  and TOKYO DISNEYSEA, which do you want to experience ASAP one day ?  Which park do you think is far better than the other ? Take your pick.

I’ve got more posts on Tokyo coming up!  Thanks for following and may the good Lord bless us all always. Stay safe, healthy and happy, everyone!  Advance Happy Easter!

:D -gelo.

*note : most descriptions of the park’s attraction written in italics were sourced from the Tokyo DisneySea October 2009 –March 2010 Guide Map.   

 

31
Mar
10

I’M HOME

I am home now!  :D  I had to cut my Tokyo trip shorter to a couple of weeks instead of 30 days because of an internal problem that I’m not in control and I cannot share publicly.  I never failed any training because there was none for me to begin with.  Nonetheless,  I have experienced the worse and the best of Tokyo and will continue to share them here on the coming days.

TOKYO DISNEYSEA will be my next post so be sure to visit my site again.  To my kind readers, I’ll swing to your blog soon.

For now, I’m sharing you the things that happened yesterday…

Tina herself, did the  rescheduling of my flight with PAL last Sunday in less than 5 minutes.  I had enjoyed my 1-hour trip from Tokyo to Narita Airport terminal 2 via the very efficient Narita Express.  Ticket from Shinagawa to the airport costs Y3,310 (PhP  1,655).

Some people told me that flights are fully booked until April but these pictures will speak for themselves…

It’s Holy Week and time to reflect on things so I’ll try to avoid rants…Moving on..

My meal at 36,000 feet before heading home…

Beef stew with blanched carrots and okra;  served with Japanese noodle soup, bread and butter and mung bread; orange juice and coffee.

The flight went OK except for bumpy descent and hassle of an hour of waiting for my luggage at the NAIA terminal 2.  To PAL : improvement is much needed!

Traffic at EDSA was minimal so I reached our place in Quezon City in less time I expected.  I just dropped off my luggage and bags at home and headed straight to Gabby’s big day…

I can’t imagine myself missing this moment.  I brought to the graduation venue Gabby’s most requested pasalubong; PSP with 4 gig memory stick which I bought from AKIHABARA ELECTRIC TOWN.  A 3rd honorable mention-Kindergarten graduate and a very adorable son deserves more than this.

After the event, we had simple dinner at KKK in SM Cubao… I was craving for Pinoy food for 2 weeks and these were very comforting…

The smart kid requested for Halo-halo…

We shared Nilagang Bulalo, Buko Pandan Juice, Halo-Halo Mestiza, Kaning Puti and Kare-Kareng Baka ng KKK…

Nothing beats the comfort of being HOME. :D

Time to avoid meat...Have a blessed Holy Week everyone!

Stay tuned for my next posts : TOKYO DISNEYSEA and so much more about Tokyo…

 

29
Mar
10

LETTERS FROM TOKYO #9 : TOKYO DISNEYLAND

Dear Tina and Gabby,

This weekend has been amazing; so fantastic that we’ve spent our Saturday and Sunday at the happiest places on Earth…

Because of their present promo rates of Y10,000 (PhP 5,000) for 2-day pass at Disneyland and Disney Sea, we grabbed the chance to see both attractions on 2-consecutive days as per provision in the ticket.  Original rates are Y5,800 for adult for each park. We alotted Saturday for Disneyland and the next day for Disney Sea.

Disneyland Resort Hotel just before the gates..

We met wonderful friends just before the main entrance and did not pass the chance for photo-ops :D

I tried to smile my widest to hide that I am missing you both…

You know that this is my 3rd Disneyland adventure (first was in Anaheim, Ca in 2000, then with the 2 of you on New Year of 2007) but I never fail to be mesmerized by Disney’s castle…It’s just awesome experience to see it again in another place.

It always brings back childhood memories and the magic of Disney’s cartoons.

So nice to know that every Disneyland has its own charm depending on the place and culture of its people.  But we were all lost in translation when Mickey Mouse and other characters in shows and parade speak Japanese.  All staffs in general, explain every park attractions in Nihonggo too.

Kailan at saan kaya magkaka-Disneyland sa atin kung may plano man sila? Don’t you wish?  When will Mickey Mouse speak Tagalog ? :D

You know I am not fun of rides. But I don’t want to be a party-pooper either. So this was our first ride that day…

Yup, you read it right; we’re on that looong queue for 60 minutes to ride those awesome JAL starjets… :D

The flight was good except for the single-digit-celsius temperature that’s felt all through out (my stay in Tokyo).

Tulips were almost at every corner in Tokyo Disenyland. I can just imagine its price per bud in Dangwa, Manila :D

Inside the castle, there are these gorgeous mosaic about Cinderella’s story (or was it another fairytale?).

Color by color; bit by bit; painstakingly arranged to form a wonderful mural masterpiece…

Like the other Disneyland presentations, there was the beautiful parade in the afternoon…

*succeeding photos are by Dr. B.P.Sulit

I am more amazed when dusk came to Tokyo Disneyland and the Electrical Parade of Dream Lights were presented to us...


Gabby, I know you like Monsters, Inc…

I’d like to grab a Knight costume someday, hahaha!

Then came the Bugs Life gang…

and more…

More than a million sparkling lights reigned that evening…

Peter Pan and Wendy in love?

*the following photos were taken by nurse Ruth

A lovely pair that needs no introduction….

And this float reminds me of the last movie we saw together before I left for Tokyo…

Is it not spectacular ?  :D

I was in awe while watching those floats in the parade; despite the chilling temperature; we all enjoyed it.

However, most of us have agreed that Disneysea, which can only be found in Tokyo (I think) is far better than Disneyland.

I love you Gabby, I’ll see you and your mom real soon.

:D Tatay-doc

*UP NEXT :  TOKYO DISNEYSEA  RESORT

28
Mar
10

LETTERS FROM TOKYO #8 : FAITHFUL DOG & COLORFUL BLOOMS

Dear Gabby,

Last Tuesday, I took a  train going to Shibuya and Shinjuku.  Right after getting off at Shibuya Station, I asked the information desk about the location of HACHIKO.  This is the name of the dog, that your Ninong Melton asked me to look for.

I know you might be interested too with Hachiko’s monument.  Imagine, a dog was given a tribute here in Tokyo for everyone to admire. There must be something with Hachicko that’s worth the visit…

In 1924, Hachikō was brought to Tokyo by his owner, Hidesaburō Ueno, a professor in the agriculture department at the University of Tokyo. During his owner’s life Hachikō saw him out from the front door and greeted him at the end of the day at the nearby Shibuya Station. The pair continued their daily routine until May 1925, when Professor Ueno did not return on the usual train one evening. The professor had suffered a stroke at the university that day. He died and never returned to the train station where his friend was waiting. Hachikō was given away after his master’s death, but he routinely escaped, showing up again and again at his old home. Eventually, Hachikō apparently realized that Professor Ueno no longer lived at the house. So he went to look for his master at the train station where he had accompanied him so many times before. Each day, Hachikō waited for Professor Ueno to return. And each day he did not see his friend among the commuters at the station. The permanent fixture at the train station that was Hachikō attracted the attention of other commuters. 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 only in the evening time, precisely when the train was due at the station. SOURCED VIA WIKI

Amazing dog, isn’t it?

At the mall near Hachiko’s monument,  there’s a flower shop that sells blooms of different hues; so colorful I can’t resist but too take shots…

I wonder how they grow these despite it’s not yet officially Spring here; there’s still that tail end of winter…

The streets of Shibuya and Shinjuku are considered as two of the busiest and multi-crossing streets in Tokyo. Just look at these people going to different directions at high noon.

Don’t ask me, anak how young ladies tolerate the chilling cold weather here in Tokyo wearing almost skimpy skirts…

This is all for now; I’ll see you and your mom soon.

I miss you and your mommy. I love you both.

:D  Tatay-doc

26
Mar
10

LETTERS FROM TOKYO #7 : YAKINIKU BUFFET

Edited : Thank you to this blog’s reader, Ms. Ces Orquiola, for identifying the Yakiniku Buffet featured on this post. I stand corrected, the name of the restaurant isn’t Don. K! but  Karunesutehsyon Ginzaten (literally “karne station” according to Ces) located at Ginza nine Building No. 3 B1, 8-10, Ginza, Chuo-ku, Tokyo point. Don.K! is the superstore that has this super size sign board. Not that I blame my Filipino colleagues then but they also called the buffet restaurant, Don K! Or I just missed out the name. Sorry readers! Thank you again Ces! I really appreciate the email! :)

Dear Tina and Gabby,

Of course, you’re the first 2 people I miss when we went here…

Don.K! (pronounced by Japanese as donki and not what we think) is a superstore where Karunesutehsyon Ginzaten, the  YAKINIKU buffet restaurant is housed at its basement, located near Ginza Street, Tokyo.

Gabby, remember when we dined at YAKIMIX at SM Mall of Asia few months back where you had fun time grilling our food on the spot ?  Don.K! Karunesutehsyon Ginzaten  is like that; however I find our local version of Yakiniku more Pinoy-family-friendly. Why?  The moment we’re on their long queue last Sunday and paid Y1000/pax (or PhP 500/pax;  I and nurse Ruth were treated by our consultants :D) , the wait staff immediately warned us that we only have ONE HOUR TO EAT. That applies to every table, FYI.

Yes, dining experience at Don. K! is limited to an hour only. Unlike in Yakimix where we started our dinner then at 5:30 PM and ended at almost 10PM, hahaha! (Erratum : Don.K!  Karunesutehsyon Ginzaten lunch buffet starts 10 or 11am and ends in 3pm; we arrived at past 1pm and had a table reserved; we  got in at around 2pm so we only got an hour left to eat. BUT IT’S NOT ONE HOUR DINING ONLY. Sorry).

But what can we do with Don.K! rules except to follow. Nevertheless, it was another remarkable gastronomic adventure!

On Don.K!‘s Karunesutehsyon Ginzaten’s spread…

Freshest & crisp greens with several dressings to choose from…

On my gluttonous plate …

I liked their potato salad; one of the best I’ve tasted so far.

Yakiniku literally means ‘grilled meat dishes’ ... Here are the large bowls of raw meat all waiting to be grilled…

I know Holy Week is just around the corner and we’ll miss eating all these until Easter.

There were also some noodle and rice dishes… I like the noodle with fresh bean sprouts… yummy!

Here’s what we got to grill…

Price for lunch buffet inclusive of drinks (sodas, juices, coffee) is Y1,000 but for dinner it’s a whopping Y3,000/pax!  I don’t have idea what Don.K! Karunesutehsyon Ginzaten serves for dinner but don’t you think it’s expensive compared to their lunch?

There were pork, chicken and fish to grill too but beef slices were on top of our list.  However, I didn’t see any sushi or sashimi at Don.K! Karunesutehsyon Ginzaten.

One of the doctors got samples of what he thought as chicken skin; only to find out that it wasn’t;  it’s some part of intestine, probably the omentum or something (read : chicharong bulaklak?).

Grilling time!

No Coke for me us, remember?  So I settled with Minute Maid OJ ….

The beef slices after grilling were delicious!  So tender I almost thought a friend’s statement about cows in Japan are given frequent massage to somehow ‘tenderized’ their meat (?) is true…

Although there was a chocolate fondue, and my colleagues enjoyed those huge mallows dipped in tasteful choco fountain, I favored peaches and pineapples for dessert!

Sarap ng lunch namin but again, it made me miss you more.  Kain tayo buffet ulit pag-uwi ko. :D

I miss you both; I love you.

:D Tatay-doc.

24
Mar
10

LETTERS FROM TOKYO #6 : MEIJI TEMPLE & HARAJUKU

Dear Tina + Gabby,

It has been exactly a week since I left and God knows I’m dying to come home.  It’s not because Tokyo does not appeal to me, hell no! But things happened beyond our control.  Never mind the training that never was (read : don’t ask details please; it was not my fault really and it’s pointless to blame anyone now. I am still grateful to have experienced Tokyo). What’s important now is for me to enjoy the rest of my days here and to anticipate my return in a week or so (is rescheduling e-ticket with PAL that hard these days?).  Anyway, I know I’ll see you soon and hopefully I can attend your Kindergarten Graduation, anak.

Last Saturday, I woke up early and thought of exploring some parts of Tokyo on foot alone.  I mentioned to you ‘ney that  I and my Pinoy colleagues here get along fine; but I felt the urge to breathe and think things over so I rode the Yamanote Line train from its station in our place in Gotanda to Harajuku Station.  Surprisingly, it offered me a brief escape from the busy streets of  the city.

Even if there are shops right across the  Harajuku station,  one will surely notice its charm and unique appeal that makes it a different from the other train stops; I instantly thought that it’s the perfect place that I needed for the moment.

That bridge on the right can immediately take anyone to tranquility…

Few steps more and there’s the first torii (Japanese gate) of the shrine…

Walking through it made me forget that I am still in one of the most modern cities of the world.

Those century-old trees that lined the path to the shrine substituted my view of Tokyo with mostly buildings and neon lights. The sight was really relaxing…

Few more steps from those sake jars and barrels, another giant torii seemed to welcome me to the main MEIJI SHRINE.

Meiji Shrine (明治神宮, Meiji Jingū?), located in Shibuya, Tokyo, is the Shinto shrine that is dedicated to the deified spirits of Emperor Meiji and his wife Empress Shoken. When Emperor Meiji died in 1912 and Empress Shōken in 1914, the Japanese people wished to pay their respects to the two influential Japanese figures. It was for this reason that Meiji Shrine was constructed and their souls enshrined on November 1, 192o.  Sourced via Wiki

Before entering the temple, one has too purify his physical being by washing his mouth and hands.

I found out by surfing the web prior to going here, that Meiji Shrine is a common venue for Shinto weddings every weekends…

Actually, I found myself lucky having gate-crashed on to 2 weddings :D

This was the first couple to wed at 9AM that Saturday…

Most of the tourists and visitors who were there were also delighted to witness a part of Japanese culture. We stood beside the couple’s official wedding photographer to capture some shots as well…

Just before the central sanctuary where Emperor Meiji is enshrined, these wooden prayer tablets left by faithfuls and tourists caught my attention…

The main shrine itself…

Then I walked around and saw another wedding march…

It was great experiencing these events for free! (read : no entrance fee to Meiji Temple).

I admire how Japanese people take pride in wearing their traditional clothes not only on events like this but also on a daily basis.

After I marveled and mesmerized by those weddings, I trooped to the shrine’s souvenir shops but bought nothing. I thought it’s wise to compare prices of items for keeps from different tourist spots first, rather than to be an impulsive buyer.

As I walked toward the exit of the shrine, I decided to check out the other side of Meiji Temple. The road across leads you to Harajuku.

HARAJUKU Fashion Street- located few blocks from the gates to the shrine near the train station..

More shops that usually fascinate Tokyo’s young generation are located along Takeshita’s street which is still part of the main Harajuku Fashion District.

Tokyo’s kids have apparently different taste in fashion; they commonly mix typical street attires with the unconventional styles, making their entire look distinctly “Harajuku’s”.

Can you imagine yourself Gabby, that one day you’ll get to wear these clothes ?

What about you, ‘ney? hehehe…

Naaahhhh… hehehe :D

That is all for now. Till my next letter.

Always take care of yourself and Gabby.

I miss you.

Love you both,

:D Tatay-doc.

21
Mar
10

LETTERS FROM TOKYO #5 : IMPERIAL PALACE AND GINZA ST. I LOVE!

Dear Tina + Gabby,

How’s your Sunday?  How’s your hosting stint at PICC for your college’s graduation, ‘ney?  I know you did well, of course.  As for me and my Filipino colleagues here in Tokyo, we went to places that I immeidately fell in love with.

After a 3-station-train ride via Yamanote line from Gotanda, the place we’re staying, we got off Shimbashi and found young ladies beautifully dressed in kimono… who would pass a photo op with these graduating students?

 

From the train station, we walked a few blocks to Imperial Palace. The area looks like an upscale Malate-Luneta-Fort Santiago area; I honestly miss home more when I saw the place.

Then after few shots; we went back again to the streets and found these wonderful scenes…

Who would not fell in love with these blooms on the streets?  It’s not even spring yet… Sakura or Cherry blossoms will be experienced on the last week of March; but tulips, roses and other floral arrangements and plants on the pavements were such a feast for the eyes…

I so wished you and Gabby were with me on this bench, lovely isn’t it?

 

From Imperial Palace we walked our way to our lunch buffet which deserves another letter soon. On our way there, more fascinating art installations were impossible not to appreciate…

 

After our lunch, we got a taste of what it feels like walking in the streets of GINZA!

Undoubtedly, Tokyo is the most expensive city in the world; and one of those upscale streets in this capital is Ginza.  It is like Times Square in New York according to my colleagues.  Don’t you think, Tatay-doc is so blessed to have walked in Ginza for free? :)

Ginza Street is closed to cars and other vehicles before 5PM.  Some seats are even provided at the middle  to render comfort amidst stylish fashion shops.

There were a ton of high-end shops of watches and clothes –a true shopping mecca for rich and fabulous…

 

But what’s Tokyo without Hello Kitty and Disney’s Royalties ?

Ginza is hard to resist; but home is still where my heart is. :D

I miss you ‘ney and Gabby.

I love you.

Till my next letter;

:) tatay-doc.

21
Mar
10

LETTERS FROM TOKYO #4 : AKIHABARA

Dear Tina+Gabby,

I’ve finally started enjoying my stay in Tokyo bit by bit.   I still miss you especially you Gabby; thanks to technology we’ve been enjoying free internet connection, YM voice call and webcam, mobile roaming and whatnot.

Anak, I know you requested for a pasalubong which I’ve already spotted in one of the huge stores in the area we went last night (what matters now is tatay-doc’s budget!).   After the training day at the center, we went to the electric town of Tokyo which is a  few stations away from the place of our accomodation.

Akihabara (秋葉原?) (“Field of Autumn Leaves”), also known as Akihabara Electric Town (秋葉原電気街, Akihabara Denki Gai?), is an area of Tokyo, Japan. It is located less than five minutes by rail from Tokyo station. Its name is frequently shortened to Akiba?) in Japan. (アキバ)

Akihabara is a major shopping area for electronic, computer, anime, and otaku (people with obsessive interests) goods, including new and used items. New items are mostly to be found on the main street.  First-hand parts for PC-building are readily available from a variety of stores. Tools, electrical parts, wires, microsized cameras and similar items are found in the cramped passageways of Soto Kanda 1-chōme (near the station). Akihabara gained some fame through being home to one of the first stores devoted to personal robots and robotics. Sourced via : Wiki

I know if you’re here with me, you’ll definitely love Akihabara too.  It’s hard not to appreciate the neon light forest of this Tokyo district; not to forget at those drool-worthy DSLRs, computers, cell phones and more.  Someone should hold me from shopping!  *afraid gumastos*

One of the biggest stores of brand new electronic gadgets in Akihabara is Yodobashi-Akiba.  It houses all of the latest techie-person’s indulgences…And did I already tell you that once a foreigner’s passport is presented, Japanese tax of 5% is waived upon purchase/s?   Now, that’s sweet!

Collectors’ items range from the most expensive cartoon and movie figures to new and second-hand cool gadgets…

At this early, I know I and my newly-found friends and colleagues will revisit Akihabara soon for more sight-seeing, window shopping, literally shopping (probably them and not me, for I know all the angels and saints will lead me not into temptation; hahaha!) and just to chill out. The place is so inviting, is it not?  Actually, one of the the DSLRs was winking at me! :) Naaahh….

See my doing-the-tourist-thing photo on the left?  Do I look enjoying or not? hahahaha…

Not even the lure of this heaven can replace the fact that I still miss you ‘ney and Gabby.

I love you.

Till my next letter;

:) tatay-doc.

19
Mar
10

LETTERS FROM TOKYO #3 : MY FIRST BITES

Dear Tina+Gabby,

On my first break , my 2 Japanese trainers who are younger than me treated me for lunch across our work place at Yurakucho.

They’ve asked my favorite Japanese food and what else would that be but…

SUKIYAKI ! I was overwhelmed with joy, hahaha :)

After loooong hours at the center, I kept my first dinner in Tokyo simple yet another favorite…

SUSHI !

Then on my second day, I’ve been missing you more so I dwell on my homesickness by finding another set of comfort food…

My colleagues brought me to a restaurant that the name escaped my memory but the taste and the authentic experience remained remarkable… It’s a lunch set that’s composed of a salad bar, soup and an entree of choice; plus dessert –all for the price range of Y850–950 (PhP 425 –475).

If only for food, I’m loving Tokyo now.

ASSORTED TEMPURA! :)

My first meals could have been more satisfying if you’re here.

I miss you ‘ney and Gabby.

I love you.

Till my next letter;

:) tatay-doc.

19
Mar
10

LETTERS FROM TOKYO #2 : FIRST MORNING

Dear Tina+Gabby,

Other than numerous vendo machines at every corners and sidewalks, another noticeable features of Tokyo are the presence of the Metro railway stations and some bike parks proving that train and bicycles are the ways to get you into places around the city.

One has to have a map at hand to know where to go or get off.

I found the Tokyo Metro Rail System too efficient.

I like the scenes at the stations where people who are neatly dress for their jobs are rushing in and out of the the trains.

Look at the scene at Shinagawa Central Station at 8 in the morning…

How I wish we have winter season too and we get to wear these clothes casually.

Some trains are labeled as ‘local’ that means they stop at stations; while those tagged as ‘limited’ are something like express that only travels from pole to pole.

How I wish Pinoys will be as disciplined as Japanese who keep their lips sealed during the rides that even a pin drop would be heard inside the train.

I wish you’re here.  I  think my daily morning train rides will be better if you’re with me. :(

I miss you ‘ney and Gabby.

I love you.

Till my next letter;

:) tatay-doc.

19
Mar
10

LETTERS FROM TOKYO #1 : THE ARRIVAL

Dear Tina+Gabby,

It has only been 2 days since I left but I am officially missing you. :(

I arrived at the NAIA Terminal 2 last Tuesday at around 10:30AM for my 2:55PM flight; it was early enough to check-in my luggage. I’ve noticed that the Departure Card’s size and info details have been reduced;  it gave me more time to kill.

I only munched a jumbo pork siopao which was ridicously priced at PhP 110 inside the boarding/waiting area  as my lunch.

Thank God, the entire 3 hour-flight was fine except few minutes before our descent when there was a brief turbulence. I entertained myself  by watching MJ’s This Is It concert and a few more featured movies.

Our food at 37,000 feet was a choice between fish and veggies in curry sauce and chicken teriyaki; I had the fish.

It may appear simple set but at least it satisfied my tummy.

Then after watching some movies and dozing off; we arrived finally…

I knew I was already in Japan upon seeing vendo machines at every corner of Narita Airport.

From the airport, I bought a ticket that costs Y2900 (PhP 1450) going to TCAT / Tokyo City Airport Terminal which was almost an hour-ride via a limousine.

Yup, we rode a limo…hehehe

After the limo ride to TCAT, the nurse, the sales agent and I met the Pinoy who was tasked to pick us up.

We arrived at the appartment at Toyocho that sheltered us for 2 nights till we were transferred to a small hotel near our training place.

Those nights could have been warmer with both of you.

I love you ‘ney and Gabby.

Till my next letter;

:) tatay-doc.




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