Juu Hachi Ban Ramen: 18th Ramen in Fukuyama

I’ve driven in front of Juu Hachi Ban ramen shop for 3 years before trying it. The shop is located on route 313 in the center of Fukuyama city. I found this shop listed pretty high up on a Japanese ramen website, so I decided to give it a go.

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Kansha: Vegetarian Cooking in Japan

Let me start by saying that I am not a vegetarian, but I am very interested in vegan and vegetarian cooking.  I actually eat a lot of meat and it’s probably why this book interested me so much in the first place.

Kansha was written by the Japanese food specialist Elizabeth Andoh  and it is my first vegetarian cookbook.   Washoku, her previous book, dealt with fish and meat.

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Kaeru Coffee Roastery

Kaeru is the word for “frog” in Japanese and it’s also the name of a great little coffee shop in Okayama City. A local English teacher recommended this coffee shop, so I jumped on my bicycle and rode all the way from Kurashiki just to try it.

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Bankoku Coffee: a Coffee Roaster in Okayama

I found Bankoku coffee roaster by pure luck.  I parked my car to visit a furniture shop and I saw the bright green coffee sign in the distance.

My curiosity was rewarded by a fragrant and well stocked coffee roasting shop, the type of shop I had been dreaming about since I arrived in Japan.

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Chez Papa: French Goodness in Okayama

Chez Papa French restaurant can be found on the outskirt of the “cool Soho like” neighborhood in Okayama city.  From the outside, it looks like hundred of other restaurants, makes you wonder if there is only one sign maker in Japan. In my mind, Chez Papa is an amazing restaurant in Paris which serves amazing South-West food, will this Japanese iteration let me down?

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Cha Ca La Vong: Fried Fish on Fish Street

In Vietnamese, cha ca means fried fish. So when I ended up at a place in Hanoi called Cha Ca on Cha Ca street, it felt just right. Yep, a fish restaurant on a fish street, it’s hard to get it wrong.

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Lucky Peach #1 and Ivan Ramen

When I heard that David Chang,  the mastermind of Momofuku restaurant,  created a magazine about ramen, I ordered it right away  and awaited my copy of Lucky Peach like a kid waiting for Santa Claus.

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Ramen Tomare / CLOSED

Sadly the shop is CLOSED (I think 2017), the building was destroyed and nothing is left of this amazing ramen shop.

We found a ramen shop named 止 by the side of the road just outside of Niimi in Okayama Prefecture. This single kanji means “stop” in Japanese and reads Tomare, a very short name for a great ramen place and one kanji every one should learn since it’s featured on every stop signs in the country.

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Kuishinbo: Offal Gluttony in Tsuyama.

I don’t know why, but Tsuyama in Northern Okayama Prefecture is the capital of horumon fried udon. It’s quite common for Japanese cities to build their reputation on a particular specialty,  but it takes some gusto to build this fame cooking offals or as some might call it the “discarded bits”.

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Banh Xeo 46A: Vietnamese Crepe Heaven in Saigon.

Once again, Anthony Bourdain has led me to a great meal. After watching his show about Vietnam, I knew I had to try Banh Xeo 46 A and I was not disappointed.  I walked to the restaurant from my hotel and when a special tourist police offered me his help, he pointed me in the right direction with a big thumb up, nothing like a local seal of approval!

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La Verticale

Hanoi is solidly ensconced in its colonial heritage, the streets are lined with great architecture, food and an a certain “je ne sais quoi“. It’s Vietnam, but staying at the hotel Metropole where you are greeted by a loud bonjour, you might believe you just landed in some weird French entity.

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