Hoshino resort Kai, Alps (星野リゾート 界 アルプス) – Meals

Hoshino Alps Resort Nagano Dinner
What I look forward to when staying over in a hot spring hotel is the meal times (next is the hot spring soaks). Some ryokans offer in room eating options (usually a little more expensive), some only have private seating choices or dinning hall options. For Hoshino Resort Kai Alps, meals are served in private dinning area. You can choose either 630, 7pm or 730pm for your meals. We took the 7pm dinner slot as we wanted to chill a little in the hot springs before dinner.

Hoshino Alps Resort Nagano Dinner
Dinners, usually would start off with some sweet wine but we were served some fruity vinegar drink to freshen us up.

Hoshino Alps Resort Nagano Dinner
Cold dish appetiser, every thing is just about ART here.

Hoshino Alps Resort Nagano Dinner
Tea pot soup, A clear based dashi which is heated on a tiny stove. You pour the soup into little tea cup with a dash of lime juice, sipped it embracing the sweet taste of mushroom and fish. After you are done, you can eat whatever is left in the your tea pot.

Hoshino Alps Resort Nagano Dinner
Fresh sashimi.

Hoshino Alps Resort Nagano Dinner
Stewed fish with kelp with chrysanthemum (yes that flower)

Hoshino Alps Resort Nagano Dinner
Mushroom tempura served in a cage with seaweed salt

Hoshino Alps Resort Nagano Dinner
Sukiyaki! I was so amazed with this…..

Hoshino Alps Resort Nagano Dinner
Sugar is needed to be added into your sukiyaki sauce to have the salty and sweet flavor, instead of serving you the sauce directly. They made the sugar into candy floss and named this “Snow nabe” How apt.

You fire up the tealight, wait for 30-40 seconds till you see smoke emitting from your candy floss, then pour the sukiyaki sauce over. I guess it is just for the fun of it!

Hoshino Alps Resort Nagano Dinner
The candy floss is gone in a blink of an eye but it was so fun!

Hoshino Alps Resort Nagano Dinner
I always thought that Kobe beef and Hida beef were good but the Nagano beef I had from this trip and another trip was so good that it is etched in my memory for now. It was so smooth and the fats literally melted. Maybe they served it thick? But it was so yummy that I really wanna go back for more…

Hoshino Alps Resort Nagano Dinner
when visiting Nagano, you can’t miss their legendary SOBA.

Hoshino Alps Resort Nagano Dinner
You can choose from 4 selections of dessert, I got the chestnut dessert in view of Autumn and he got the creme brulee.

Hoshino Alps Resort Nagano Dinner
The hotel was kind enough to come up with a message plate for us when I made a last minute request. Surprised sushi san quite a bit as he never thought that a weekday retreat was to celebrate our 2nd anniversary. The apple sauce was yummy though….

Hoshino Alps Resort Nagano
It was a pity that they cancelled the star gaze walk that night due to clouds. So we retreated back to our room with a full stomach and soon fell into a food coma.

Nagano Treats
Though we still woke up in the middle of the night for some of the Nagano snacks we had prepared. Sukiyaki flavored potato sticks….yum!

Hoshino Alps Hotel Nagano Breakfast
Breakfast was a choice between 7am and 8am but as we wanted to catch the 9am shuttle from the hotel so we had to wake up early that morning. This was our breakfast set.

Hoshino Alps Hotel Nagano Breakfast
With a steaming pot of miso mushroom soup.

Sunny mascot
Received a photo from our dinner to congratulate us on our anniversary celebration upon check out and a sunny mascot wishing us a good day! So we checked out to head to our next destination :)

Hoshino resort Kai, Alps (星野リゾート 界 アルプス)

Nagano
[Throwback October] Way before the peak of Autumn, we headed out a little north to Nagano for a onsen break and enjoy some cool fresh mountain air before our next BIG change. So with 2 train changes and almost 3 hours of train ride from Shinjuku.

Nagano
Once out of the Tokyo city limits, you would embrace lots of nature and fields…..Good bye to the concrete jungle.

Hoshino Alps Resort Nagano
We finally arrived at Shinanoomachi Station (信濃大町)

Hoshino Alps Resort Nagano
Managed to catch their complimentary shuttle from the shuttle to the resort, if you miss their shuttle time slots than you have to catch a taxi to their resort. It is about 15 minutes by car from the station.

Hoshino Alps Resort Nagano
Arriving at the resort! I love Hoshino chain resorts but the really nice ones are too expensive but the affordable ones are still very nice since they would still serve you with their Hoshina brand of service so fret not! (My dream stay would be the Hoshino Kyoto during autumn and Hoshina Karuizawa during winter)

Hoshino Alps Resort Nagano
Welcome to our accomodation for the night.

Hoshino Alps Resort Nagano
We visted on a weekday but it was already 70% full and weekend bookings are all full.

Hoshino Alps Resort Nagano
If you have interest with Japanese arts, the entrance and various parts of the resort are decorated with Japanese art works.

Hoshino Alps Resort Nagano
After a hot soak, you can also choose to take a seat outside their garden area to enjoy the cool mountain air and enjoy the serenity.

Hoshino Alps Resort Nagano
Checking into our tatami Japanese room.

Hoshino Alps Resort Nagano
The balcony area had the western style sofa chairs and Japanese seatings.

Hoshino Alps Resort Nagano
On our table was this little steaming stove where you can steam your onsen buns in your room. Most of the time, they have some form of snacks and sweets on your table for you to munch upon check in to go with your green tea.

Hoshino Alps Resort Nagano
Wrapped with Japanese cloth, was our room amenities.

Hoshino Alps Resort Nagano
1 main reason why I like Hoshino resorts is because they have alot of activities planned for you during your stay there. For that day, we have the traditional style fireplace for tea and mochi making during the night. If the weather permits, we could also sign on for the star gaze walk.

Hoshino Alps Resort Nagano
Since it was time for tea break at the Japanese fire place, we headed down to join the rest of the guests at the fire place and get some warmth.

Hoshino Alps Resort Nagano
What is on the menu? grilled sweet buns and grilled apples ( since Nagano is famous for apple, apples are abundant during fall too)

Hoshino Alps Resort Nagano
On the side, was a steamer by firewood steaming fresh vegetables, which you put some butter and salt on it and it just helps you to rid of the cold.

Hoshino Alps Resort Nagano
Drinks chilled on the side by cold stream water (chargeable)

Hoshino Alps Resort Nagano
What does autumn remind you of? In Japan, red fiery leaves and chestnuts come to my mind.

Hoshino Alps Resort Nagano
After filling our tummies with warm food, we headed to the lounge area for some gourmet coffee.

Hoshino Alps Resort Nagano
Sipping our coffee, flipping some travel magazines, making small chat between us. A luxury for the both of us since I rarely get to see Sushi san on any weekday.

Hoshino Alps Resort Nagano
Early autumn feel in Nagano.

Hoshino Alps Resort Nagano
You can wear your safety box key around your neck, safe enough while you head out to the hot springs…..

Hoshino Alps Nagano Onsen
For the evening, you soak in a tub filled of lemons’ hot spring with waterproof (Japanese of course) books. They even have near sighted glasses beside the books. Not only that, they have chilled fruit liquors and sakes in your citrusy hot spring. Such a treat! The next morning, the lemons are gone and replaced with pieces of wood that give a woody scented hot spring. Lemons are available for Spring and Summer whereas for Autumn and Winter, lemons are replaced with apples. I was there the last day they used lemons.
[Image credit: Hoshino Kai Alps since no photos are allowed in the hot springs]

KAI Alps – Access

Rigoletto Bar And Grill (リゴレット バー アンド グリル)

Rigoletto Bar & Grill
It is almost impossible to get a reservation for the window seat with a Tokyo Tower view for this popular restaurant unless you choose a early weekday slot. For weekends, you have to book at least 2 weeks in advance.

Rigoletto Bar & Grill
This restaurant is also part of the chain for Hacienda del cielo in Daikanyam and RIGOLETTO ROTISSERIE AND WINE Skytree at the Skytree so the menus are almost similar. Due to their location in Roppongi, cheap drinks and 500JPY tapas, no wonder it is a hit with locals and foreigners working in the area.

Rigoletto Bar & Grill
So in a span of 2 weeks, I visited this place twice just because it was accessible and cheap. The first time was brought by my girlfriends and the second time for Sushi san. So here’s what I ate for the 2 times I visited, everything for 500JPY a plate. Crema Batida – mashed foie gras with liver with a berry sauce served with toasted bread.

Rigoletto Bar & Grill
Squid with black ink sauce, also required to be served with some toasted Baguette. One of the recommended items off the menu.

Rigoletto Bar & Grill
Croquettes of Crab and cream with green curry sauce – a fusion of something Asian spices with deep fried crab and cream.

Rigoletto Bar & Grill
Hot spiced chicken, only for those tastebuds that can take spicy food. It is so tiny that I think they sell half of a tiny chicken wing as one. 6 pcs go for 500JPY and we polished off our 12 pieces in a matter of minutes with fire in our mouths :P

Rigoletto Bar & Grill
Sauteed whitebait with okura, highly recommeded dish. You mixed the onsen egg with the whitebait and okura and paired it with your baguette. IT is really delicious and I didn’t get to eat it the first time we went as it was sold out. Hoping to replicate this dish at home some day.

Rigoletto Bar & Grill
Ajillo of whelk and shitake mushroom, if you like the boiling hot olive oil dip to go with your baguette. A refreshing change from the usual shrimp Ajillo.

Rigoletto Bar & Grill
Salmon and Porcini mushroom cream sauce pasta (1200JPY)

Rigoletto Bar & Grill
Homemade Tuna Nicose with Poached egg.

Rigoletto Bar & Grill
A bowl of steaming hot clam chowder to end our filled tummies.

Rigoletto Bar & Grill
お疲れさまでした!The reason for heading over to this restaurant with affordable food and great Tokyo tower view was to give him a pat on the back for his previous job and to celebrate his next opportunity.

Address:RIGOLETTO BAR AND GRILL (リゴレット バー アンド グリル)東京都港区六本木6-10-1 六本木ヒルズ ウエストウォーク 5F

Toshi Yoroizuka Roppongi Midtown (トシ ヨロイヅカ)

Toshi Yoroizuka
[Throwback September] 1 of my girlfriends have been wanting to try out this dessert shop forever as it is pretty famous in Tokyo and reputed for making your order on the spot. We arrived at around 230pm and only needed to wait around 15 minutes for a seat but I think the crowd got a little more close to 330pm on the weekday we were there.

Toshi Yoroizuka

After practicing for eight years in Europe where he learned about the origins and the basics of pastry, Toshihiko Yoroizuka opened his own store in Ebisu, Tokyo. He then established his own sweets-style focusing on a sense of “live,” offered through savory ingredients and fresh-baked sweets in Tokyo Midtown and Hachimanyama, Suginami ward. In 2000, he won the edition of the “INTERSUC 2000 Paris” competition.

- Toshihiko Yoroizuka

Toshi Yoroizuka
Menu was in Japanese but since we were mainly speaking a foreign language (Mandarin and English) in the small store. The staff asked if we needed a English menu, the English menu had drawing illustration on the side too. It help us made our choices much faster with visual help. Fret not as there were choices between hot and cold dessert.

Toshi Yoroizuka
We were all served a shot of orange carrot juice to freshen us up while waiting for our desserts to be served.

Toshi Yoroizuka
Here you can see the chefs getting busy with our orders.

Toshi Yoroizuka
finally served!

Toshi Yoroizuka
Millefeuille au Figues – Fig ice cream dessert with a crispy pie

Toshi Yoroizuka
fleur de peche – Peach with lychee and yogurt ice cream with white wine jelly.

Toshi Yoroizuka
Gorgonzola Pistache – round shortbread with pistachio ice cream with TY intital biscuits.

Toshi Yoroizuka
Toshi Yoroizuka
souffle – simple and plain from the looks but a taste of soft spongy cake with a tinge of sour sweet raspberry puree……..something that you need skills with.

Address:Toshi Yoroizuka Mid Town (トシ ヨロイヅカ)東京都港区赤坂9-7-2 東京ミッドタウン・イースト 1F

Reflection at outdoor patio of Roppongi Midtown, perfect place to sit down to sip a cuppa while enjoying the cooler weather after a hot summer.

Ginza Satouyousuke (銀座 佐藤養助)

Ginza Udon
Though we were just in Ginza the night before but we were back again this time early in the morning to buy my luggage bag. Since we were early, we decided to head over to one of the most popular udon old time store in Ginza. We arrived at 11:15am as number 5 in line but by 11:30am, just minutes before opening time, the line had snaked to be at least 20 people.

Ginza Udon
The restaurant was full about 30 minutes into opening.

Ginza Udon
I got the tempura udon set with 2 dipping sauce – soya and sesame.

Ginza Udon
The udon are the fine thin ones who looks like soumen (thin buckwheat noodles) but as udon, they are more tangy and chewy. I am never a udon fan but I totally loved the udon from this shop.

Ginza Udon
sushi san got the cha-jiao mian version of noodle but I thought the miso minced meat sauce was a little too salty for my taste.

Address:銀座 佐藤養助東京都中央区銀座6-4-17 出井本館 1F

Suitcase shop in Ginza
The main big reason why we returned to Ginza the next day was to buy a large suitcase from this shop in Ginza (shop’s name is Ginza Karen) Why go all the way to Ginza to buy a suitcase? Well because it is REALLY CHEAP! suitcases in all sizes are all sold for 5400JPY (small, medium or large) Of course, do not expect really good quality but it doesn’t feel that bad. I had passed by this shop many a times when I passed in Ginza and it is always packed with Chinese tourists buying suitcases in troves. I don’t know why they need to buy 2-3 suit cases at the same time. In any case, I think it is really cheap to pay only 5400JPY for my 29 inch red suitcase. Tip: Go before 12pm if you want to be able to choose colors that you like as their new stock arrives daily at 10am. We were there the night before at 7pm and only carry on and 24 inch suitcases in black/gray was available.

Directions to shop: Map Link From Tokyo Metro Ginza station, take the A2 exit. Walk straight, you will pass by GU follow by Uniqlo. It is a few shops further down.

Shuns Ginza (旬s 銀座店)

串揚げ Ginza
[Throwback September] Once in a blue moon treat from Sushi san since we don’t visit Ginza that often since it is a little atas for my taste.

串揚げ Ginza
We decided to go for some stick tempura which originated from Osaka. Basically it is just tempura on sticks.

串揚げ Ginza
The server told us that we can dip our tempura sticks into the 5 sauces/salts provided. Vegetable sticks and cabbages were served on the side to ease the oily food.

串揚げ Ginza
So how do we know which tempura stick is to be dipped into which sauce? This is solved by depending on where your chef would placed the cooked stick on the serving plate which is also divided into 5 sections.

串揚げ Ginza
For example this prawn tempura stick is to be dipped into the sauce plate, second from right which is the sea salt.

串揚げ Ginza
So our dinner just goes on depending what the chef whipped out and where he place the item we would dip it accordingly to the order of the sauce plate. There is no menu for this place, you eat what the chef cooked for you but you can let the chef know in advance that you would like to stop after x number of sticks.

串揚げ Ginza
Some lemon sherbet for dessert before we ended our dinner treat in Ginza.

Address:旬s 銀座店東京都中央区銀座2-6-5-1002 銀座トレシャスビル 10F

A little side story from this dinner. About 2 months ago, I was introduced to non hole earrings (or non pierced ear ring / clip on earring) by my friend in Tokyo. I never had a liking for clip on earrings as they were so painful. However, the Japanese ones are made so delicately that it was painless and they have so many fancy designs that I am a hopeless convert of it now. (I bought 5 pairs in a span of 1.5 weeks, probably do a blog post on that in future)
anyway, 1 downside is it would drop off easily if you flick your hair like without care or it got loose. I dropped a “loop-fit” earring when I was having dinner in this restaurant. At that point of time, I wasn’t sure if I dropped it there or along the way to the restaurant. But we still informed the restaurant before we left that we could have dropped an earring. The staff did a quick check at our seats but did not find anything. We were asked to leave our contacts and she even drew the shape and design of the earring. we got a call from them 3 days later, informing us that they did a thorough check and FOUND IT!. OMG! I was ecstatic since the earring was so new but I am just so impressed with Japanese customer service again. It is a really tiny item and they still found it after a few days, which I wonder how many places are willing to “remember” or help their customers for it. (Anyway, this is not the earring that was lost and found, this design is one of the more sturdy one I bought….hmmm, it really seems I really should have a post on earrings eventually ;))

Shibamata Nostalgic Walk

Shibamata
[throwback September]

Shibamata (柴又) is perhaps most famously known as the hometown of Tora-san, the iconic, unlucky-in-love character whose adventures in the 1969-1995 movie series Otoko wa Tsurai yo (lit. ‘It’s Tough Being a Man’) captured the hearts of many.

Timeout Japan

Shibamata

True to form, a bronze statue of hometown-man Tora-san awaits just outside Shibamata station. Follow his stare straight to the tourist information centre, where copies of the Katsushika Sightseeing Guide Map are available to help you get situated

Timeout Japan

Shibamata
For some unknown reasons, many visitors would rub/touch the statue’s slippered feet and hence the extra shine from all the touch.

Shibamata

Shibamata is all about nostalgia for the simple life. Full of Japanese gardens, parks and temples, Shibamata’s Showa atmosphere encourages people to take it easy and revisit a time when things went a bit slower. Walking through Taishakuten Sando, a street lined with traditional shops, you might be tempted by a dizzying array of Japanese snacks

Timeout Japan

Shibamata
For us, we choose this quaint little old store that served freshly fried tempura as our lunch stop though there are many soba shops around too.

Shibamata
There was a snack and toy store that sold snacks and toys dated back to the Showa days (60s-80s Japan)

Shibamata
Also reminded me of the 10 cents mama shop snacks we have back in Singapore.

Shibamata
This is the place for you if you want to get away from the bustling neon lights in the Tokyo city but still in Tokyo but at slower pace.

Shibamata
Paper cut art work.

Shibamata
for people who are interested in the TV character, there is dedicated museum for this TV serial

Shibamata
The cartoon mascot.

Shibamata
If you want a little of rest, you can head over to the river for the Yagiri no Watashi (200JPY one way) which has been in existence since the 17th century.

Shibamata
This was used daily by the people living here back in the days to cross from Tokyo to Chiba just right across the river. To know if the boat was in operation, you just have to look over the opposite shore to check if the flag was raised.

Shibamata
We were there on a weekday so we were not sure if it was in operation as there was no one at the jetty (this ride is now mainly a tourists ride) but we were lucky to see the flag raised and waved to the boatman opposite. However, as we were sitting there as the only 2 passengers and chatting with the boatman who calmly replied saying that there is not many customers today due to the impending TYPHOON. His reply kinda made us a little freaked out as the typhoon did not even cross our minds :P I guess, this happens when you grow up in a relatively natural calamity free country :P

Shibamata
Thankfully, the typhoon only arrived much later in the night so we were safe for our to and fro boat ride which was a little bumpy due to the choppy waves.

Shibamata
Don’t know the name of this flower but this blooms during autumn…

Shibamata
With just a boat ride and you are in the sururban area……SEE, there are many places in Tokyo that is not so city :)

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