Ichiran Dotonbori – Osaka, Japan

There are two Ichiran locations in the Dotonbori shooping area, one is on the waterfront by the big Don Quijote Ferris Wheel, the other is located deeper within the Dotonbori shopping arcade. We went to the second location and I finally got to try their famous cubicle dining system. Boy was that…interesting.

Does it look cramped? Well, it kind of is. They have both the cubicle dining and regular seats. The restaurant is like a zoo, you get in line and then are led to a machine to place your order. We got our dining tickets and were led to the line for the cubicles, a narrow staircase. We had a bit of a wait but it wasn’t too bad.

Here is the one side of the cubicle, you can order any extra toppings/side orders here…and drinks!

So they give you a new order sheet for any impromptu orders. Cash only!

They have a button for you to make your extra orders, other than that, you have no real interaction with the servers.

You see that bamboo looking mat in front of my noodles? That’s what they lift up to serve your noodles, then it’s back down for your privacy.

I ordered my noodles with an egg. Wasn’t a big fan of having to crack my own egg for the ramen, would have liked it to have been served already in my bowl. I can report that the egg was cooked perfectly, of course it was!

Yayoi Japanese Teishoku Restaurant – Osaka, Japan

I was in Osaka for 4 days and ate breakfast at Yayoi Japanese Teishoku Restaurant twice, I think that speaks for itself. This was a great restaurant, I wish I had taken more pictures. You order your food at the machine located in the front of the restaurant (there is an English screen!), take your ticket, have a seat and hand your ticket over to the waitress. Within 5 minutes, your food arrives. They have a little area that offers hot tea and a big pot of rice, in case you want more. The prices for the food, super reasonable. We only got to try breakfast there but that was enough for me. I’m sold and would love to return when I return!

How can you beat these prices??

Fried Egg Breakfast • ¥460

This was my first breakfast, simple fried egg and sausage. The set comes with unlimited white rice, tofu, nori, and miso soup. I like that this restaurant automatically serves iced water when you have a seat, not all Japanese restaurants do. Oh yes, that is a mountain of shredded cabbage you see. Japanese people love their cabbage, I wasn’t feeling too hungry so I didn’t eat the cabbage…gomen…

Silver Salmon Breakfast • ¥530

Ummm…five bucks for all this?? Salmon, raw egg, natto, miso soup, unlimited white rice….$5?? Great deal. I should have gotten this set both days. Mixing the raw egg into the hot rice…adding soy sauce…and then of course the natto…was so delicious, so satisfying. This is what I call an awesome Japanese breakfast. I wish we had these breakfast sets sold here in Hawaii, I would totally go all the time. Well having the same price here would help too but let’s be realistic…haha. Highly recommend this restaurant!

Mike’s American Grill – Springfield, VA

I had a work trip to Virginia and was flown in literally for the one day meeting. Don’t get me wrong, I was incredibly grateful for the travel. We were flown in late Saturday night, got in late Sunday afternoon…a meeting all day on Monday and then flown out early Tuesday morning. I honestly, never adjusted to East Coast time. In fact, I didn’t sleep at all on Monday night after the meeting. It was insane…I don’t think I’ve ever done that before (yes, I am that cool). Anyway, Monday night was the only night I had to try a restaurant so here it is! I did my research beforehand and really wanted to check Mike’s American Grill out. This restaurant was super close to the hotel so that was great and the food pics looked great…with so many high reviews! How did it go?

Complimentary Bread Basket

The two donut hole looking pastries were actually probably that? There was a thin coating of sugar on them. Okay, I looked them up, they are called Aussie Rolls! I didn’t get to the raisin (?) bread? And a nice cheese bread, we didn’t partake in this too much because we had an appetizer and entree coming!

Special Appetizer of the Day: Crab Dip with Lavash • $14.00

We were really excited to try this dip but it was pretty mediocre. The dip was a bit salty and not very “crabby,” and I don’t think the lavosh is a good accompaniment. I would have preferred a flat bread, but they seemed so open that maybe you could have requested that? I wouldn’t get this dish again.

Drunken Rib Eye • $31.00

Certified Angus Beef® marinated in our Great American Pale Ale…with mashed potatoes & roasted cremini mushrooms

Well…here is the dish we waiting for. Sounds great, looks great…nothing but high marks on their yelp page. And how was it? Oh…I had such high hopes. But guess what? It was FULL OF SALT. This restaurant was located on Backlick road, and I cracked that it was more like saltlick road, get it? I’m just full of fun to be around, trust me. The potatoes were good, the three mushrooms (lol) were good but it was really had to eat through this steak because of how salty it was. Someone had a prime rib and that looked super good…should have gotten that instead. 🙁

Field Greens Salad (comes with the Drunken Rib Eye)

with tomato, sun dried cranberries, dates, pine nuts, croutons & champagne vinaigrette…with blue cheese or Laura Chenel goat cheese, add $1

THIS WAS THE STAR OF THE NIGHT. Yes, a side salad. It was DELICIOUS. I don’t usually rave about a salad, but the level of detail in each topping was impressive. I loved that the salad came with dates and cranberries. Sorry, but where have dates been all my life? It was delicious. And the slices fresh tomatoes, they had some kind of Italian herb oil on them too. Full of flavor. So I will digress, I didn’t feel like a champagne vinaigrette and asked for ranch dressing. Their ranch dressing is like homemade, chock full of fresh herbs. Oh man, I am just salivating at this picture…over a salad. If all salads tasted like this, I’d be a vegetarian, no problem.

Universal Studios – Osaka, Japan

What trip to Osaka would be complete without a visit to Universal Studios? This is my first ever visit to any Universal Studios and boy was I excited! I already know Disney in Tokyo is awesome, I’m afraid I may have visited the best Universal Studios before I even got to see the rest! Although, I’m told the Florida location has much more to see and do so I’ll save my judgement for a later time.

Why was I so excited to go to Universal? HARRY POTTER WORLD OF COURSE. We had planned to get to Universal right when they opened, it didn’t work out in our favor…we got there maybe 15 minutes after they opened. Was there a ton of people already there? Yes. We bought our tickets from Klook, have you heard of Klook? It’s a phone app that you can purchase tickets, food certificates, etc. from! I used it in both Hong Kong and Osaka, and it works great! I connected my Klook to my paypal account so I can purchase things in Osaka through the app and not get charged any foreign transaction fees and second, not have to use my valuable yen. Usually Klook offers a bit of a discount off tickets, in this case, the Universal tickets were about the same price as you would get at the door…but it was nice to walk right past the ticket lines and scan my phone at the entrance.

For those who know me, you know I get motion sickness. Hardcore. So why did I stand in a three hour line to ride the Harry Potter and the Forbidden Journey? You got me, I don’t know why but I did it. Decided if I was going to ride a ride, might as well ride a crazy one and see if I die. I didn’t die. I didn’t throw up! Well, it is a crazy ride that is crazy fast and flips you all ways…I thought in the beginning that if I close my eyes, maybe I wouldn’t get sick. Nope, closing my eyes made me dizzy so I kept my eyes wide open the entire time. And well some images of the snake and deatheaters aren’t so pleasant but I’m sure my riding companions wouldn’t have appreciated projectile vomiting either. Hahaha, I think as I stood in line, I saw at least three signs saying if you have motion sickness, get out. I’m glad I rode it to say I rode it, I will not be riding it again.

Rotisserie Chicken and Pork Ribs Platter • ¥1950

Rotisserie Smoked Chicken Platter • ¥1900

Originally, I got the Chicken and Ribs plate but when we sat down, I suddenly didn’t feel like the ribs and switched. The plate is pretty good! Well it’s $20, so it better be good! The chicken was nicely cooked and the corn was delicious and sweet. The drink of course is not included in the meal, it costs extra. I want to say it was about $3.00, theme park prices. There were a ton of birds in the area. When I finished my food, two birds climbed onto my plate and started to pick at my food. Was pretty unreal. I missed the actual sight but a crow flew in and grabbed a chicken from one of the other tables! I think it was a leftover plate of food, not from a dining customer. Whew. I can’t get over how cheerful and nice the workers are at these Japanese theme parks. The lady who was cleaning up all the finished plates of food was incredibly gracious and patient, wish we had some of that service here!

Isn’t this a great shot? I have to give credit to my cousin, she spotted that it would be a great shot with the reflection in the water and boy was she right. If you want to get this shot, you will have to dine at Three Brooms because this was from their outdoor dining area.

Finally, I had to get that churro shot with Hogwarts in the background. Thank you to my hand model. Universal Studios offers churros, turkey legs, cute treats…very similar to Disney! There is also a Coca Cola truck that allows you to customize Coke bottles! What a nifty souvenir! My cousin got one and the worker kept stating that the word on the bottle you customize must be the name on your passport. He kept asking to confirm that it was her name on her passport. She said yes, he doesn’t check, he just expects the answer to be yes. I’m assuming they are trying to curb any bad words being placed on the bottles…but as an FYI, they do not check your passports!

Airport Limousine – Osaka, Japan

Hey guys, sorry for the lapse in posting. I had a work trip earlier this week and it was quite a doozy. I’ll probably share a bit more in a future post…because I got to eat at one restaurant! Hahaha, it really was a crazy trip. Just wanted to do a funny post from Osaka.

Have you folks ridden in an Airport Limousine before? If you have, you know the word limousine is a bit misleading. You’re essentially riding in a bus, albeit a comfortable one. My first experience with airport limousines were in Korea, very nice buses, with plenty of room for your luggage, nice seats and wifi access! And don’t forget that lovely air conditioning. Anyway, for Osaka, when we got there, we used trains/subways to get to the apartment. At that point, we only had one suitcase and it was very light. No problem. Well, it totaled four transfers and I wasn’t exactly feeling up to that for the return trip. So I sprung for a taxi ride to Osaka Station where we would store our luggage in the lockers for the day as we browsed around the station/neighborhood. Then when we were ready, we would go to the airport limousine stop located by the station and be on our merry way.

As always, the service and line for this service was very orderly. These guys were pros! We were kind of far back in the line but waited as they loaded up the bus…

Can you tell what is wrong with this picture????

They called us on and as we got on…we noticed all the seats were taken. Huh?? I wasn’t sure what was going on but the bus driver was totally fine and started pointing at the seats on the right. I couldn’t believe my eyes. They had mini seats that could pull out from the right seats to form a row of seats in the aisle of the bus.

Here was my view for the 40 minutes ride to the airport. It was….awkward and uncomfortable. I couldn’t help but get mad because here I am paying the same price as everyone else and we get stuck in these baby seats? The ride was bumpy and the guys on each side of me had a serious case of sleepy lean-overs. Bah! If I knew this was how it goes, I would have waited for the next bus! Have you guys rode in airport limousines like this?? At least I have a funny story to look back on…makes me wonder if I should have just done those train transfers…haha.

 

This entry was posted in Travel.

Yamauchi Farm – Osaka, Japan

For me, I have never had a bad meal in Japan. Even the cheapest restaurants offer quality food. While I love trying new restaurants, sometimes, since you are out all day, you just wanna get back to your hotel/apartment and eat something quick nearby. Luckily for us, Yamauchi Farm is a 5 minute walk to our apartment. We had just finished a full day at Universal, post to come soon, and we were famished and exhausted. What a great place to walk into, this restaurant has everything! Check out their menu, it is fully loaded! The servers weren’t great at English but they didn’t need to be, the menu had English in it and…they had an iPad for ordering! Yessss!

Yamauchi Farm Menu

So this was the starter served…uhhh?! The cabbage and daikon strips are not pickled in any way. It was served with this sauce…

This tasted like a miso paste with pickled vegetables. I didn’t quite know what to do so I just took some out and dipped the daikon in it because I was so hungry. Then I started wondering, was I supposed to lather this sauce on the veggies to ferment them quickly? Gosh I have no idea. I didn’t do it and the cabbage was totally wasted…

Passion Fruit Mojito • ¥480

You know I have a passion fruit drink and mojito weakness. The drink was good. And when I say good, it means I tasted no alcohol and it was just like juice. I’m so junk at drinking yeah?

Soft-boiled Eggs with Spicy Cod Roe • ¥350

Yummy, I will eat Japanese eggs all day everyday. While this dish was good, it was sooo salty. Definitely needed rice…

Freshly Shipped Sashimi Assortment • ¥1,380

This wasn’t my dish but most of the fish pieces were saba I believe. Lucky for me, my partner does not like saba so it was all mine.

Kyushu Kara-age Style Deep-fried Small Shrimp • ¥480

Collagen Loaded Salt-based Ramen with Free Range Chicken • ¥750

I needed some comfort food this night and this menu item drew me in! Not a big serving but for the price, it was great. I shared this with my dining partner, not sure how much collagen is really loaded in this baby but it tasted good.

[Kagoshima] Spicy Spring Bonito Yukhoe Donburi Rice Bowl • ¥580

Yup, I got this dish too. I was very curious about how this dish would taste. Yukhoe, I associate that phrase with the Korean raw beef tartar dish so I wasn’t sure what to expect. This restaurant serves raw chicken and raw horse I think?! So I was almost afraid of what I would get served. Well, I think it was actually the bonito fish…thought it was ahi. I don’t think I have had fresh bonito before, just the dried shavings on top of takoyaki. I really enjoyed this donburi – the orange yolk to mix in? Hey, I’m so there.

We were too tired to fully enjoy this restaurant experience and I kind of regret not being able to go back. There were some businessmen in there drinking and eating it up. Come to think of it, there were some really good restaurants right next to our apartment. We rented an Airbnb for this trip, I thought it was a great idea and the price is way cheaper than a hotel. Do you folks Airbnb when you travel? Anyway, this restaurant seems to be a chain so if you can find it when you are in Japan – give them a try!

 

Zuboraya Dotonbori – Osaka, Japan

I am back from Japan! It was four full days – and when I say full, I mean full. Sometimes vacations can be tougher than work, my feet are still recovering! So for our first day in Osaka, we decided to risk our lives, haha. We both have not tried fugu before and this was the day to try it. Yes, fugu contains tetrodotoxin and can cause asphyxiation…no big deal right? Okay, it’s somewhat of a big deal. But we found a popular restaurant, Zuboraya, and I knew we would be in good hands.

Fugu Sushi Combination • ¥1,300

Benntenn Course • ¥5,400

Two kinds of seasonal appetizer, raw puffer fish sashimi, puffer fish hot pot, puffer fish deep fried, zosui (rice added to the hot pot broth at the end, they also add raw egg!), seasonal fruit.

These are the two seasonal appetizers. They were interesting…the blue dish tasted like a crunchy part of the fish. Perhaps some type of cartilage or skin? The green sauce was sweet, almost tasted like a dessert. The yellow dish has a tofu-like dish that tasted a bit like coconut milk. Probably our least favorite part of the meal…

Fugu sashimi! Interesting texture, a bit chewy. The taste? Not much really, they serve it with a yuzu ponzu dipping sauce and the yuzu taste is quite strong.

Deep fried fugu, it comes with about four pieces of fugu (not boneless, so be careful), fried potatoes, shishito pepper and red bell pepper. The fish nuggets were delicious!

Here are the contents of the fugu hot pot, sorry I didn’t get a shot of it cooking! It didn’t look too impressive anyway…tasted good!

Raw egg, rice, and toppings ready for some zosui action!

The waitress cooks it for you – this was delicious! It was actually one of my favorite parts of the meal, it’s a shame it’s in the end because we were already full so we couldn’t finish it!

Seasonal fruit to finish off the meal, Japanese strawberries? Yes please!! They were so nice and sweet, perfect way to end the meal. I liked that this restaurant also gave you iced water to start automatically, they must cater to foreign visitors. And let me tell you, Osaka was FULL of foreign visitors.

 

Laverne’s – Waikele, HI

Laverne’s used to be a food truck at UH Manoa and I loved it. I was so sad when they left…they served up some awesome Hawaiian food plates and my all-time favorite Squid Luau. I did a quick shopping trip to Waikele last weekend and spotted their food truck as I drove in! They are located in the parking lot closest to Old Navy. Check them out if you can!

Regular Smoked Meat Plate • $10.45

This is the first time I tried a smoked meat plate and it was good! Perfect amount of smokiness, actually, they serve up a whole lot of meat and not too much onions. Though, that shouldn’t be a complaint right? Delicious!

Side Order Squid Luau • $6.95

Like I mentioned above, this is the best squid luau I have tasted. But the caveat is, I eat my squid luau with a lot of sriracha. It works so well together, the squid luau has a nice and sweet coconut taste. It’s sooo good. I wish I knew how to make this.

Sunset Smokehouse – Haleiwa, HI

I have waited and waited to try some good ole Southern BBQ. My prayers were answered when I found Sunset Smokehouse, they specialize in Texas Barbeque. Well, it is certainly worth the long drive out to Haleiwa to try them. The only pitfall? It’s a food truck with no seating…but…you’re surrounded by beach parks, so make a picnic out of it! Stay tuned to their social media, they are planning to open a restaurant soon! Currently, they are only open on Saturdays and Sundays. Follow them on their instagram, they post updates on their open hours through it.

You can find them in the Texaco Gas Station lot

Beef Brisket (1 lb. sliced) • $24
3 Beef Sausages • $6.00 each 

The beef brisket comes with rolls, to make your own mini beef brisket sandwiches! They also give you a container of pickles and onions. Don’t forget to grab your own BBQ sauce, they have the dispensers by the window. The beef brisket is an absolute glutton’s dream. He asked if I wanted fatty or lean meat, of course I said fatty. He was happy to hear it…haha!

Here is the 1lb. beef brisket in a previous visit, we ordered it with rice not knowing it came with the rolls! Drool…

Look at that meat!!!

Juicy sandwich live action shot!

Tori Ton – Moilili, Hawaii

How have I not tried Tori Ton all this time?? They are a relatively new restaurant but I read that they just celebrated their one year anniversary earlier this year. This restaurant is located in the same lot as Sweet Home Cafe on King Street. This small lot also includes like 5 restaurants and gyms so you can imagine what a nightmare parking can be. I came without a reservation before 5:30 on a Saturday night and they were able to get us a table, I would suggest reservations if you want to come. Even though I came so early, I had to circle the parking a few times. But man oh man, I enjoyed this experience so much. Let’s get to the pictures!

Anchovy Potato • $4.90

I had a real hankering for some fries and I personally love anchovy so it sounded like a perfect combination. It’s like McD shake fries for fish lovers, lol. It was delicious!

Pork Wrapped Flavored Quail Eggs • $3.20 (per stick)

Three quail eggs cooked perfectly wrapped in tender pork slices, this dish serves up exactly what you would expect.

Chicken Skin • $1.90 (per stick)

We can’t ever not order Chicken Skin. That’s just our thing. Was it good? Ehhh…not the best I’ve had and a bit burnt. There is much better food on the menu so I can forgo this next time.

Signature Big Size Tsukune w/Original Sauce • $6.80

Look at the size of that tsukune! We definitely shared this one. The egg yolk? They are from the Jalna made-famous Waimana TKG Eggs!

Assorted Sashimi 3 Items Chefs Selection • $9.80

I still can’t get over the price of this sashimi set, it is so cheap! You go to other restaurants and they can easily charge probably nearly $20 for this. This selection included hamachi, salmon and ahi. We asked what the selection was for the day and this was it, and I’m told it usually is these three. They were delicious!

Yummy Cucumber Sesame Flavored • $3.90

Oh. My. God. Okay, they ain’t lying when they named this dish Yummy. I wasn’t expecting much, in fact, I almost expected just cucumbers with like the kewpie goma dressing. THAT WOULD BE AN INSULT TO THIS DISH. Hard to explain the seasoning, the marinade was savory and salty with almost like a five spice seasoning. I can’t explain it…the sesame flavor is the actual sesame seeds. It was so good, but also…very salty. The have a dish on the menu, premium rice with the same Waimana Egg yolk….and I just wanted to get that and eat it with these cucumbers. Unfortunately, we were already full by this time. So guess what, I’m so getting this combo next time!!

Pork Wrapped Japanese Premium Rice • $3.50 (per stick)

Obviously, I’m saving the best for last. This was also so good! Each stick comes with your own yolk to dip in. I’ve had pork wrapped rice dishes at other restaurants but Tori Ton’s was by far the best. The pork was not at all dry or hard (other places tend to overcook and under sauce their pork), this meat was perfectly tender and nicely seasoned. Look at my gratuitous egg yolk shot, look at how orange that yolk is! This restaurant made me feel like I was in Japan. Great service too! Awesome wait staff. I can’t wait to return.