Zakuro: Mini Kaiseiki in Nagato

The last time I went to Nagato in Yamaguchi Prefecture, I ate a very ordinary meal in a mall. This time around, my wife reserved at Zakuro , a small restaurant own by a Brazilian woman and her Japanese husband.

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Minatoya soba

Every time I go to Tokyo, I am a bit overwhelm by the gastronomical choices I must face. Within the limit of my budget and appetite, I always try to eat something new and exciting.

I found Minatoya address in Pen with New Attitude magazine  and armed with my Tokyo atlas, I slowly made my way to this mysterious soba restaurant which is located not too far from Shinbashi station.

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Chez Petit Lis: the Word is Fusion

French food in Japan, French restaurant in the middle of nowhere on the ever busy route 2, why not?

I’ve driven in front of Chez Petit Lis a couple of time without even considering stopping there, it’s located between Fukuyama and Kurashiki on route 2.  I’ll be honest, I had a difficult time imagining that a French restaurant could do business among the ramen and udon shop, but I guess I was proven wrong.

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Daruma Kushiage: Food on a Stick in Osaka

There is a special place in my heart for food served on a stick: corn dogs, lollipops or perfectly grilled yakitori, it’s just a great and easy way to put food into your mouth.  So it pretty obvious that I had to try kushiage on my last visit to Osaka.

Kushiage or Kushikatsu is a speciality of Osaka.  The idea is simple: impale some food on a bamboo stick, dip it in batter, deep fry it very carefully and serve it burning hot . It’s the perfect bar food!

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Poko Bagel: the cure for home sickness

Have you ever been away from home for a very long time? I’ve now been away from Montreal since late July 2008 and I’ve noticed that what I miss the most from back home is food.  Maple syrup, smoked meat and poutine seem to be part of my DNA.

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Yang’s Fry-Dumpling

Is it food?  Is it delicious torture?  I guess that Yang’s Fry-Dumpling could fall in both categories.  Let’s make one think clear from the get go, I like my food spicy, but before coming to Shanghai I had never dealt with food so “molten lava” hot.

Yang’s Fry-Dumpling wins the palm for the hottest food in Shanghai.  This shengjianbao dumpling restaurant is a Shanghai institution and comes  highly recommended all over the internet so I was really curious to get a taste of these famous dumplings.

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Ajisen ramen in Shanghai

There is a considerable dose of irony in eating ramen in China. Ramen which most people would consider typical Japanese fast food was  introduced from China a long time ago and it’s seem to have been around for enough time that most people forgot it’s origin.  Ramen in contemporary Japan is still refer as ch?ka soba or basically Chinese soba.

It’s now possible to find 86 Ajisen ramen franchises in the city of Shanghai and on my second day in the city, I must have ran into 4 or 5 restaurants so I was intrigued.  How would the journey back to the homeland taste?  I was expecting a carbon copy of a carbon copy but who knows?  Fake watches, fake ramen, let’s find out!

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First night in Shanghai

I doubt this is politically correct, but I left for Shanghai humming the tune “I Like Chinese” by the Monty Python. I briefly studied the city of Shanghai at university when I took an intro to urban studies, so I was always curious to see this city with my own eyes. China is moving  fast and I was becoming afraid that I would not be able to catch a glimpse of Shanghai with it’s old shikumen (traditional 2 or 3 stories buildings) since they are being destroyed at an alarming rate.

I had 2 other reasons to visit Shanghai.  First, the Shanghai Expo 2010 will be over this October and secondly I wanted to eat real Chinese food in China. My conception of Chinese food like almost everybody has been dictated by the worldwide interpretation of original homeland dishes by the ever-growing diaspora of Chinese chefs.

A first meal in a new city or a new country is like a  first kiss.  Would it be something memorable or just a speed bump on the road to unfulfilled desires.

I took the  Maglev train into the center of Shanghai, nothing like a futuristic floating train to put you in the mood.   Finding my hotel on East Jingling Road turned out to be a lot easier than I expected. Shanghai is pretty easy to navigate with its grid design.

From my hotel, my first destination was the  Bund with its view on the hyper-modern Pudong skyline.

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