Archive for the ‘Food’ Category

A Little Too Much Time In Tokyo


On my way home from China I stopped-off in Tokyo for one day of meetings. It’s an awesome place, filled with great people.  But that’s another whole post.

We stayed at the Hotel Villa Fontaine Roppongi, which was nice.  It wasn’t the most convenient to get to from Narita, though.  I took a $38 bus ride followed by a $24 cab.  Ouch!  Coming from China where you can take an hour long cab ride for $10, $60+ really stung!  If our flight had landed earlier we could have taken the bus closer to our hotel and saved the cab.  But the hotel was nice.  The room was a nice size by Japanese standards.  Fast wired internet was included, and the room was very comfortable.  There was a nice HDTV with lots of HD content…none of which was in English.   Oh well.

A comfy bed and a desk...all I really need.

After meetings on Friday, I went out to eat with our local salesman.  We decided on a grill-it-yourself place.  We walked into the small restaurant and all the staff started shouting something…I’m guessing it was akin to “Welcome to Moe’s!”

We ordered some Asahi on draft while he perused the menu, which was all in Japanese, without a single picture anywhere.  Good thing I trust the man!  Below, from top right:

  • Beef – It was marinated in something like a teriyaki sauce, and was quite delicious.
  • Horse – there were three cuts (neck, belly and leg), and all were consumed RAW.  Yea.   I had one sliver of each, and that was plenty.  The leg actually tasted pretty good, but no thanks.
  • Beef Tongue – I’ve had this before, and it’s not bad.  The trouble with grilling your own food, though, is that you’re probably not as good a chef as…well…a chef.  Plus tongue should be cooked “wet” (covered in water, etc), not grilled.  So it was quite tough.  The flavor isn’t bad, but it seemed an odd choice for this kind of restaurant.
  • Chicken – I don’t think they did anything to it at all, but at least it was a good piece of white meat.
  • Beef Intestines – I’ve had pork intestines, and I can now attest that they taste just like beef intestines.  Both taste exactly like what comes out of them.  OMG…I don’t understand why people do this to themselves!

Dinner, before we cooked it.

You cook things in the center, then move them off to the edge where they’ll cool a bit, but stay warm.  It’s actually a nice system for quickly cooking bite-sized bits.

personal grilling

There was a distinct lack of vegetation.  We had a small bowl of potato salad to share, and that was it.  Not even rice.

So that was Friday night, and I was headed home on Saturday.  My flight didn’t leave till 4pm, so I had some time to kill in the morning.  I got up, and had a quick breakfast.  They have a buffet literally in the lobby of the hotel.  It was a bit odd, but the high-top tables worked well.  Looking for something light, I just grabbed a bowl of cereal; corn flakes to be precise.  I wanted a little sugar on top, and there was a bowl right next to the cereal.  What I didn’t notice was that the bowl of white crystals was also next to the boiled eggs.   I took a bite and thought “these are the nastiest corn flakes I’ve ever eaten!!!!”  Doh!  Salt!  Take 2.

I checked-out of the hotel and walked down the street to the ANA Intercontinental hotel, just a couple blocks away.   As I walked out of the VF, I saw their glass walled smoking booth outside, with this sign.  I have no idea what those two people are doing, but I don’t think they’re smoking.

no smoking...or other activities

The Narita airport “limousine” stops at the ANA, so that’s the best way to get to the airport.  It’s really just a nice Greyhound bus, but it had wifi, which was quite helpful as you’ll see.  I bought my bus ticket, left my bags with the bellman, then headed north towards the Imperial Palace.

I took a bunch of photos…see the thumbnail gallery below.  While I was in the gardens, I was running through the time line in my head and nearly had a heart attack.  It was 12:25 when I realized that I should have booked the 12:30 bus instead of the 1:30 bus.  For some reason I had it in my head as I bought the ticket that my flight was at 5:00, but it was really at 4:00.  Given that the bus ride can take 1:30, it could be 3:00 before I got to the airport, and they’d literally be boarding when I arrived.  NOT GOOD!  But there was no way I was going to get on the 12:30, so I tried to relax and continue enjoying the gardens.

moat & tower at east gardens

My last task before reaching the hotel was to get a shot of me and the Tokyo Tower.  My kids are big fans of the movie Cars, and there’s a great little “short” called Tokyo Mater.  In the short story, Mater is a drift racer and has to race up Tokyo Tower.  It’s very cute; check it out on YouTube.  “Domo arigato, Mr. Tomato”  Brilliant!  I couldn’t seem to find anywhere to get a clean shot of the tower, and I didn’t have time to get any closer.  The kids thought it was cool, though.  :)

me and the tower

From there I pretty much ran to the hotel, changed out of my very sweaty clothes and hopped on the bus.   Using wifi on the bus I was able to check-in to my flight and get a mobile boarding pass in case I didn’t have time to print a paper copy at the airport.  Thankfully, since it was Saturday, the bus only took 1:00 to get to the airport instead of 1:30…so I had a whopping 0:30 to burn.  As an extra special bonus, the Sky Club at NRT has showers…but that’s another post.  I hope you enjoy the pix.

Notice that there are two pages of thumbnails, so to see the last pix you’ll need to click on “2”.

I put the map marker on the palace grounds.  Just zoom in and switch to the satellite view.

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The Rickshaw


If you ever find yourself in Beijing and need some good Mexican food, The Rickshaw is where it’s at!  Open 24/7, this tiny free-standing bar caters to expats, and is a welcome reprieve.

The Rickshaw is a Mexican restaurant, in China, owned by an Aussie.  Oooook.  Regardless, they have a great burrito, some outstanding nachos, non-Chinese beer, as well as American and Aussie sports on the tube (can I say that since everything is flat scree now?).   Being open all night is a godsend!  My flight to Beijing gets in near midnight, so by the time I get to the hotel is pushing 01:00 local time…but that’s lunch time when my body is still on Eastern time!  Thankfully, The Rickshaw will hook me up with some comfort food, and some beer to help me sleep.

PS  The Comfort Inn & Suites is right by The Rickshaw, and I’ve stayed there several times.  It’s MUCH nicer than a Comfort Inn in the US, and I’d highly recommend it.



I’ve discovered Italian food mecca, and it’s called Eataly.  On a recent trip to Torino, Italy, I arrived at my hotel tired and hungry.  From my hotel window I saw a place called Eataly and figured they must have food.  :)  So my co-workers and I walked across the street and saw that they had an outdoor eatery, serving pasta, pizza, and beer.  Perfect.

I ordered the lasagna, which was really just okay.  In light of my anticipation, it was sub-par.  It tasted good, but they used fresh pasta (made in house) rather than dried pasta, so it didn’t have the texture it needed.  The funny part, though is the pizza my co-worker ordered.  On the menu it said “peperoni”, which seemed pretty safe/familiar.  What arrived wasn’t peperoni at all.  It was little peppers.  Roasted yellow bell peppers.  LOL  Apparently what we call peperoni they call “spicy sausage”.  Who knew?

Okay…so far not a ringing endorsement.  But wait, there’s more!  Only after lunch did I discover just cool the INSIDE of the store is.  They have an unreal variety of quality ingredients, and small food counters throughout which serve dishes based on that segment of the store (cheese, fish, etc.).  Despite the lasagna, we went back for dinner another night and had the completely opposite experience.  I had the most AMAZING meat loaf, while eating at a counter in the beer/wine cellar.

After returning to the US, I learned that there’s an Eataly open in NYC; here’s a link.  If you’re anywhere in the NY metro area, you owe it to yourself to check this place out.  If it’s anything like the Torino store, you’ll have a great time!

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Bulgogi Pizza


I enjoy Korean food, especially the spicy stuff.  But there’s not as much variety in the food as I’d like.  So I went out to dinner one night determined not to eat Korean food.  I only half succeeded.

I came across a pizza shop that looked pretty good.  I went in thinking I’d get something Italian traditional, but couldn’t resist trying something new.  Bulgogi is one of my favorite meals in Korea.  It’s a meal of marinated beef cooked on the table in front of you along with mushrooms and some other miscellaneous veggies.  They say is “barbecued”, but being a BBQ snob from the south I have to mention that this is not really BBQ.  Real BBQ is smoked.  Bulgogi is cooked in a pan over an open flame, but honestly it’s even more braised than grilled, since they cook it with so much marinade in the pan.  But I digress…   So I’m a big fan of bulgogi, and I see that they have a bulgogi pizza.  I wasn’t going to eat Korean food, but this sounds too good to pass-up.

As soon as I ordered, they brought out some appetizers.  There was a basket with two types of bread, a mustard & oil dip, oil & balsamic vinegar dip, and the ever present pickles.

bread & pickles

The pizza arrived looking rather delicious!  It was topped with bulgogi and potato wedges with a white sauce including mushrooms and onions.  It was very different, and that’s what I told the waitress when she asked if I liked it.  She seemed hurt and said “Oh, you don’t like it!”  No….no…it’s good, just different.  My favorite pizza is Neapolitan style.  A thin crispy crust, with minimal toppings.  With the meat, potatoes, and cream sauce…this was a very hearty pizza, but I really enjoyed it.  Hopefully the empty serving plate made that clear to the waitress.

I’m already looking forward to going back and trying some of their other non-traditional pizzas!

bulgogi pizza

Hot Pot Lunch In Beijing


I was treated to a delicious lunch today after morning meetings!  “Hot pot” is a pretty generic term for a group of Asian meal styles.  Wikipedia has more info for you.  The one common component is a pot of boiling liquid at the table, but the composition of the liquid varies widely.  Today we had  Beijing-style hot pot, which has two different broths for cooking.  The one on the left was a beef broth, made by boiling beef bones for many hours.  The right side is filled with a vegetable broth.  Both were very mild.  Notice that both sides have two ladles: one slotted, and one solid.

two-sided hot pot


Lunch in Wuhan


After my long/late trip to get here, I didn’t roll out of bed till about 10:00 on Sunday morning.  I pulled down photos of the trip, made a blog post, called my family, etc.  By the time I left the room it was time for a late lunch.  There’s a restaurant here at the hotel, but where’s the adventure in that?!?!  So off I went in search of food and fun.  Thankfully, I found both!

The restaurant that I chose didn’t have an English menu or even a menu with pictures.  The ordering process was one of the funniest things I’ve ever experienced!!!  But I’ll have to write more on that in another post, since I’ve got to get out the door.

I’m trying out a new photo gallery, rather than putting all the photos in-line.  There are descriptions of the photos below each picture, after you click on a thumbnail.  Please let me know if you like this, or prefer the images embedded in the post.

PS  I had some family ask about the cost of my lunch.   Food in China is very cheap!  The fish was $4.32 , beans were $1.79, and beer was $0.89 for 16.5 oz bottle.  CHEAP!  The fish and beans could easily serve 3 people, so call it $2/each.  The beer was drinkable.  Not good, but worth 89 cents on a hot summer day.   So for under $3/each, you got a delicious meal.  Beats the pants of a $2.99 burger value meal!!!  :)

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Delta Flight Delights


I previously blogged about Delta’s Travel Treats snack pack.  And now I’ve had the opportunity to sample the Flight Delights box, too.

Flight Delights

Lots of little snacks

The bagel chips and cheese spread were pretty good.  Toblerone is one of the worlds most popular chocolates for a reason.  The olives were pretty good.  I wasn’t real fond of eating an oily food with my fingers on a plane; kinda messy…but they do include a large napkin in the box.  haha  The cashews were good; quite different, but in a good way.  And the dried fruit wrapped things up nicely.  I think next time I have to choose between the boxes I’ll go with this one again.  The Travel Treats were good, but I think I enjoyed these more…and I at least have the impression that it wasn’t as bad for me.

Salsa Picante


I was in Fremont, CA, recently and needed a quick lunch.  I drove past this taqueria that looked like the real deal.  I chose three tacos (two beef and one chicken), with chips & salsa included.  There’s seating for about 16 inside, and probably another 20 outside.   I enjoyed sitting inside, where I could watch them cooking.  The tacos looked a bit small for $1.50, but the quality was excellent.  Well worth the cash.  The chips were obviously fresh, but cut a bit ticker than I prefer.  The red salsa was GREAT, and the green was fine.

Lunch = 3 tacos + chips & salsa + Coke

I was glad to see chicken that was carefully pulled, and the beef was chopped rather than ground.  Somehow I think this translates to higher quality.  The tacos are served with only cilantro and onions.  No lettuce or cheese, like you get at Taco Bell.  :)  I’m a big fan of cheese, but tacos are great this way.  The tacos were made of two soft corn tortillas, which I prefer to the standard flour tortillas.

chicken and beef

I had long heard rumors that Coke in Mexico is still made with real sugar, like Coke used to be in America…before the New Coke debacle and subsequent Coca-Cola Classic.  I’m in the camp that says the DISGUSTING “New Coke” was just a ploy to flush the shelves of the original Coke and start using high fructose corn syrup in a “classic” product.  Regardless, this Coke was great.  It tastes a bit less sweet than the Coke you normally get here.  It was $1.95 for a 12 oz bottle, which seemed steep to me…but it was good nonetheless.  I thought it was interesting that the bottle didn’t have nutrition information (sic) on it, so in order to sell the bottle here they had to stick on this label.

Mexican Coke

If you find yourself hungry in Fremont, I highly recommend Salsa Picante!

Delta Travel Treats


On a recent flight I decided to try one of Delta’s two snack packs.  The Travel Treats are a bit heartier.  Delta says “This tasty selection of snack items contains an assortment of chips, Jack Link’s beef nuggets, crackers, cheese, dried fruit, cookies, and candy.”  The other choice is the Flight Delights (which I haven’t tried yet) which are a bit higher on the hog; “A deliciously healthy and high-energy collection of bagel chips, Asiago cheese spread, olives, pomegranate-vanilla glazed cashews, dried cranberries & pineapple, and Swiss chocolate”.

Delta "Travel Treats" snack pack. Not a bad way to spend $5.


Tel Aviv and Old Jaffa


I worked from the hotel business lounge on Wednesday morning, because they wanted to charge $6+/hr for internet access in the guest rooms.  I was on my own for lunch, so I took a stroll after eating The Jerusalem Humus.

The beach was pretty quiet on a weekday at lunch.