Jojoen (叙々苑 新宿小田急ハルク店)

jojoen
Jojoen is a famous high end Korean BBQ chain in Japan and received much following amongst the salarymen and Taiwanese tourists.

jojoen
I had always wanted to check out this place as it seems to be the in the must go to eat list amongst all my Taiwanese friends and finally I got the chance to go my last Tokyo trip.

jojoen
We went to the Shinjuku Odakyu departmental store branch when it opened at 530pm as I was due to go back to take over babysitting by 8pm. It takes about 1 hour for me to go back to my in law’s home so it was actually quite a rushed dinner. I would recommend to go eat here only if you have the luxury of time for dinner as the place gets crowded by 630pm with the dinner crowd and the service become extremely slow.

jojoen
Kimchi appetizer plate.

jojoen
My friend got premium set so raw beef with egg was part of the set.

jojoen
Urban sky dinning, eating our dinner while watching the crowd in Shinjuku.

jojoen
This was the normal cut beef and shrimp set.

jojoen
Premium cut beef and lobster set. Surprisingly it was really filling and I have to admit the the beef from the premium cut was really good.

jojoen
We chose the abalone congee over the udon as we were really full but unfortunately we were unable to eat our dessert from our set as it was already 730pm and I was in a rush to get home. So, if you ever decide to try out this place please make sure you have the luxury of time!

Address: <a href="https://tabelog.com/tokyo/A1304/A130401/13011894/東京都新宿区西新宿1-5-1 新宿西口ハルク 8F
Link to Jojoen website: http://www.jojoen.co.jp/

New Year’s Day with Ichiran Ramen (一蘭 ラーメン)

Japan New Year First Day
[Throwback January] Woke up to rice cake seaweed and rice cake soup on the first day of the new year. Kinda lucky to have Sushi papa who is always feeding us with tasty home cooked food whenever we visited.

Japan New Year First Day
The Sushi’s dont like crowds nor are they religious, so they do not join the large crowds in the shrines waiting to have their first prayer on the first day of the year nor are they out in the malls snatching for new year goodies bags. I guess I am the odd one out, I braved the crowds at the malls to check out the new year sale but I did not go for any clothing goodies bags (since most of them would include a coat which I don’t need) this year. Some big malls have temporarily counters for you to deposit your goodies bags so that you can free up your hands to go snatch more.

Japan New Year First Day
just top of the ice berg. People people everywhere.

I didn’t get much this year and these 2 items are my favorites for this winter

Ichiran
Finally taking a break at 330pm for a late lunch, still there was a long line for it. I have to wait for at least 20 minutes before I got a seat.

Ichiran
You can request for a English one if you don’t read Japanese. Basically they are asking you how flavorful you want your soup base to be? What type of soup thickness? Do you need garlic? Do you need spring onion? Do you want the cha-siew pork (of course!)? Any chilli powder? How do you want your noodles to be cooked, tough? basic? soft?

Ichiran
Finally I get a bowl of steaming famous Ichiran ramen on the first day of the New Year, which is the best present for me! I miss my Japanese ramen.

Hokkaido Summer Retreat (Lake Toya) – Day 1

vanilla air
We headed out for a 4D3N short Hokkaido trip to escape from the Tokyo Summer heat. Our first time on Vanilla air (replacing the AirAsia Japan). Thankfully, we were taking a flight in Japan so even though it was a budget airline but they were still had very good customer service cos they went all the way to help us even though we arrived too late for check in due to me misreading the check in time =_+!

vanilla air
From Narita, it was a 2.5 hours flight to New Chitose Airport.

vanilla air snack
Even though budget airline food was a little pricey but then I really wanted to try this milk pudding milk. You just pop it open with a tooth pick and the milk pudding ball would pop out.

welcome to hokkaido
Finally arriving in Hokkaido, so excited to some real good seafood and cool weather.

orix car rental
Picking up our car rental at Orix airport counter. Here they would check your reservation, give you a number plate and you wait for your name to be called to take the free shuttle bus to the car rental booth which is about 10 minutes bus ride away. You can also rent an ETC card when you pick up your card, this would help you to pass the toll booths smoothly as you don’t need to go to the cash booth each time. Car rental + toll charges for 4 days works out to be 10000JPY per person which is not bad since you have control over your own time and train charges is more expensive without the JR pass.

driving on hokkaido
I personally recommend a drive tour if you visit Hokkaido (of course, if it was snowing heavily then you have to decide if you can do it) as the roads are wide and road condition was great. There wasn’t many cars on the roads and we had a great time driving.

chitose
From New Chitose airport, we headed out on our 1.5 hours drive to Lake Toya.

Lake toya
Arriving at Lake Toya.

Lake toya
It was a cool 23 degrees that evening where we were enjoying the ice weather.

Lake toya
You can also take a boat ride for a round trip on the lake.

Lake toya
The seagull welcoming us.

P1250443
Trying out all the different Hokkaido drinks available.

lake Toya ryokan
One of the great things about staying in a ryokan was to enjoy the sumptous dinner.

lake Toya ryokan
Vinegar vegetables.

lake Toya ryokan
Grilled fish.

lake Toya ryokan
Grilled pork.

lake Toya ryokan
Fresh sashimi.

lake Toya ryokan
Crepe wrapped pork.

lake Toya ryokan
Scallop rice.

Lake toya
Lake toya
Lake toya
No filter of the lake view, taken at 5pm, 6pm and 7pm…..

Lake toya
Enjoying our dinner with the lake view.

Lake toya
Twilight.

Lake toya
After the sunset, you can also also opt for the lake cruise tour.

lake toya fireworks
for the entire summer, they have a daily 20 minutes fireworks display set off by the boats.

lake toya fireworks
Of course, you can also watch the fireworks on the ferry too.

lake toya fireworks
Likely really up close and personal with the fireworks.

lake toya fireworks

lake toya fireworks

lake toya fireworks

lake Toya ryokan
After the fireworks were done, we headed back to our room with all the futons all laid out. Oyasumi.

DEMODE R

Demode Shinjuku
Setagaya, another hippie area off Shinjuku. Much more quieter, dotted with interesting cafés.

Demode Shinjuku
Friend wanted to check out this place so we headed out here. The cafe is actually a men’s clothing store with a cafe attached. Minimalist decorations with open air concept.

Demode Shinjuku
Lunch was either a choice of sandwiches or hot dog, drinking a drink and soup. The drink was served in a large pitcher unlike some places which are served in a small cup.

Demode Shinjuku
Sauce choices

Demode Shinjuku
The hot dog selection

Demode Shinjuku
The sandwich selection. Food was average but it was nice to go to a local place with no tourists.

Address:DEMODE R 三宿店東京都世田谷区下馬2-44-11

Calbee +

Calbee +
A popular pitstop if you are in Tokyo Station. Not only can you get tons of limited edition flavors of Calbee products…..

Calbee +
You also can buy freshly made potato chips made right in front of you.

Calbee +
Lots of flavors to choose from too. They also sell beer to go with it.

Calbee +
Fresly made potato chips are just so yummy! Worth the 20 minutes wait.

WE always eat the prawn flavored one in red packet, since it is PINK season. We have strawberry chocolate coated prawn crackers too. I loved it….sweet and sour on the outside and salty in the inside….

Cherrykoko Spree 17

Cherrykoko 2014
After hiatus of 9 months, finally bought more stuff from Cherrykoko. Been a long time so this time around, I did 2 sprees which one package was shipped directly to Tokyo and one to Singapore.

Cherrykoko 2014
1 of my favorite piece which was not too expensive either at 19000KRW. The 2 rows of flower decoration make it looks like a overall piece.

Cherrykoko 2014
Perfect Spring wear with this translucent top.

Cherrykoko 2014
Rarely there is long dress on sale at Cherrykoko so I grabbed this piece even if it was a little pricey but I think it looks quite girly for Spring. (Of course, my dress review is not as pretty like the Korean model but I think the dress is close to what was shown on the site in terms of quality)

* Shout out – I am still providing custom purchase order requests (for a nominal fee) for anyone who needs help to order or don’t want to deal with refunds through store credit. Just drop me a comment or email. **

Link to Cherrykoko Spree 16

Link to Cherrykoko Spree 15

Link to Cherrykoko Spree 14

Link to Cherrykoko Spree 13

Link to Cherrykoko Spree 12

Link to Cherrykoko Spree 11

Link to Cherrykoko Spree 10

Link to Cherrykoko Spree 9

Link to Cherrykoko Spree 8

Link to Cherrykoko Custom Order 2

Link to Cherrykoko Spree 7 post

Link to Cherrykoko Spree 6 post

Link to Cherrykoko Custom order post

Link to Cherrykoko Spree 3 post

Link to Cherrykoko Spree 2 post

Link to Cherrykoko Spree 1 post

Gangtey, Bhutan – Day 4

breakfast
Meri Puensum Hotel Breakfast.

burnt down dzong
Burnt down dzong that we passed by on our way to Gangtey.

the happiest people?
The happiness index, most of the time we see a lot of Bhutan people sitting by the road or sitting outside their homes chatting.

bhutan living
Typical housing in Bhutan.

national highway
Welcome to the national highway of Bhutan, mainly 2 way mud road.

entroute to gangtey
Lunch stop, according to our guide, the king does stop by this restaurant when he travels from Thimphu to other parts of Bhutan by car. This room is his resting lounge.

lunch
The sauteed potato with onions was so delicious that we asked for 2 plates for it. 😛

valley of Phobjikha

valley of Phobjikha
More rice fields along the way.

valley of Phobjikha
It was raining incessantly along the 3 hours drive to Gangtey, when we arrived at the valley of Phobjikha to start our nature hike. The rain had stopped and it become sunny so that is why we decided to push on for the hike.

valley of Phobjikha
Almost 45 minutes into the hike, we felt that it wasn’t such a good decision at all as the trek was all muddy and we had to try our best to dodge the manure.

valley of Phobjikha

valley of Phobjikha
However the views were awesome and the air exceptionally fresh after the rain.

valley of Phobjikha
You can also get almost up close and personal with the cows and horses along the way. They didn’t really bother us as they look like they are probably used to people walking past them frequently.

valley of Phobjikha
Lots of Lichen growth on the trees in Bhutan.

valley of Phobjikha

valley of Phobjikha
Valley view and from here, it started pouring 😦

valley of Phobjikha
By this time, though the whole valley was misty due to the rain but it was freezing cold and all of were drenched. We didn’t even have mood to admire the view any more and just wanted to finish the trek to get into the car. By this time, we don’t care about the mud, the manure or the cows that just brushed right by us……

Meri Puensum
Arriving super drenched at Dewachen hotel.

Meri Puensum
Immediately we asked that they start up the fire for us to warm ourselves and try to dry our clothes as much as possible.

Meri Puensum
Right outside our room, was some cows grazing on the side.

Meri Puensum
No TV, wifi and heater in the hotel so we quickly adjorned to the restauant for a quick meal

Meri Puensum
Dinner spread at Dewachen.

Meri Puensum
Since there was no entertainment for the night, I stayed up for the night to keep watch on the fire which die out really fast as the chopped wood was pretty moist.

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