All posts tagged: Japan

Review: Creative Omakase at Michelin-rated Sushiyoshi (Osaka, Japan)

Getting to experience the creativity of Chef Nakanoue Hiroki at Michelin-rated Sushiyoshi was the culinary highlight of my recent Japan trip. Although Osaka has a booming street food scene, its sushi has generally played second fiddle to Tokyo’s. Sushiyoshi is trying to break that narrative with its creative omakase. I had heard great things about this 26-year-old sushi-ya and was excited to try it. As an added bonus, Chef Hiroki speaks decent English and his exuberant personality makes the experience memorable for all guests. How did this chef’s tasting stack up to all the other omakase? When I arrived at 7pm for my reservation, there was already a full house as the sushi-ya contains only 8 seats at the counter. I was escorted to my spot at the end of the bar and was promptly served tea and a hot towel. Japanese omakase can be intimidating for non-Japanese tourists; however, Chef Hiroki was very welcoming. My omakase started with salmon and caviar tartar housed in an “apple” wafer vessel. The wafer reminded me of a …

3 “Days” of Gluttony in Osaka, Japan

Osaka has been a YouTube sensation over the past few years due to its reputation as a street food haven. The city has been overshadowed by Tokyo and Kyoto for the last decade and is now finally coming into its own. On my recent trip to Japan, I made it a point to include this foodie destination on my itinerary and the city did not disappoint. I had limited time since it was only three full days, so my trip was packed with eating and some sight-seeing. This is my foodie adventure in the kitchen of Japan. Day 1: Dotonbori I had underestimated how long it would take for me to travel from Bangkok, so by the time I arrived at my hotel, it was already 7pm. Since I only had three full “days” in Osaka, every minute counted. I quickly made my way to Dotonbori, the heart of Osaka’s entertainment district, which reminded me of New York’s Times Square with its bright neon signs and throngs of tourists. I quickly searched for Mizuno, the …

2 Day Temple Stay in Koyasan, Japan – the Birthplace of Shingon Buddhism

In order to take a break from modern Osaka, I ventured to a secluded village up in the holiest mount an of Japan for a spiritual rejuvenation. Mount Koya (or Koyasan) is the birthplace of Esoteric Shingon Buddhism in Japan that was founded by Kobo Daishi* over 1,200 years ago. Today, the UNESCO-designated World Heritage site has 52 shukubo open to visitors. Shukubo are temples that historically offered overnight lodgings to pilgrims, with the majority of them welcoming tourists today. The shukubo experience includes sleeping on a tatami mat floor in a 1,000-year-old temple, eating a vegan feast cooked by the resident monks and participating in certain Buddhist rituals. A trip to Koyasan is an authentic spiritual trip that refreshes the soul. For my recent trip to Osaka, I carved out two days to make my way up the mountain. Normally, this trip would take 90 minutes on an express train from Namba station on the Nankai Koya Line. Unfortunately, two weeks before I arrived in Japan, a typhoon disabled the cable car service between …

Review: The new “affordable” omakase at Sushi Ishikawa (NYC)

The Upper east side of Manhattan is going through a culinary resurgence with millennials moving into the neighborhood and the opening of the Q subway extension that now connects the area to the rest of Manhattan. Part of this change is the opening of Sushi Ishikawa, a 23-seat restaurant helmed by executive chef, Don Pham.  Chef Pham’s sushi pedigree includes positions as the former executive sushi chef at O Ya, executive chef at Geisha, sushi chef at Morimoto and head chef at Kitaro. Sushi Ishikawa offers two omakase menu priced at $85 for 12 courses and $125 for 15 courses. The restaurant has a lot of buzz as the hot new “affordable” omakase in Manhattan. Did the restaurant live up to the hype? I made a reservation for two through Resy, their online reservation system. A credit card was required to confirm the booking as the restaurant has a very strict cancellation policy. You have until two days prior to the reservation to cancel without incurring a $85 per person fee. Upon entering a simply …

A Layover in Narita, Japan

On a recent trip to Asia, I decided to have a 12 hours layover in Narita to explore the city. Narita Airport is at least 40 minutes on a train from Tokyo while Narita city is only a 10 minutes train ride away. Narita city is not about the sights as there are few things to see. However the city boast an abundance of charm and a good way to observe everyday Japanese’s lives for a short duration. Narita is known for grilled eel or unagi and that is where my senses led me. I was fortunate to have a friend residing in Japan meet me in Narita for a short sight seeing break. This is the breakdown of my  adventure in Narita. I had Japan Airlines’ Sakura Lounge access so I was able to freshen up after a red eye flight and grab a quick bite in the lounge. I stored my luggage at the lounge but there are locker options at the arrival hall as well. You can inquire about the locker option at the information …

Airport Explore: Narita Airport (Japan)

The image above was included in a complimentary booklet that was distributed in Narita Airport in 2011. It is a perfect start to our next Airport Explore post on Narita Airport located in Tokyo, Japan. Narita Airport is one of the busiest hubs when you travel to Asia.  If you are a frequent Japan Airline traveler like me, you become an expert of all the wonderful things the airline has to offer.   Don’t be scare of the language barrier and the somewhat confusing layout of the airport.  The staff is very helpful!  I normally fly in from Boston and connect through Terminal 2 for my flight to Vietnam.  For domestic and international connections, you will need to go through airport security one more time before entering the main Terminal 2 (T2) building.   If Tokyo is your final destination,  baggage claim and customs are located on the first floor. After clearing security, I would then make my way to the third floor. On the left after getting off the escalator, I would walk to the area marked “Day …