Before I start this post, I'd like to say, "Kung hee fat choy!" (No, I'm not swearing...really) This is how we say "Happy Chinese New Year" in Hawaii...The Year of the Dog begins today.
My foodie kind of weekend started on Friday...Satoshi had the day off. We decided to roam around in an area near Kobe called Okamoto.
In college, I studied at a university in Okamoto with a study abroad program for 9 months. Before studying abroad, I couldn't speak Japanese at all (In fact, a conversation teacher at the U.H. (University of Hawaii) told me, in my 3rd year, that I should change my major because I was never going to be able to speak Japanese!). I am really grateful to this program and my host-family because they gave me the confidence I needed to speak Japanese (boy, would I like to "talk" to that teacher now!!).
Lunch was in an area called Motoyama-nakamachi. We ate at a place called "Sekai no gochisoo Palermo". Sekai = world, Gochisoo = feast, treats...Worldy Treats Palermo. The chef of this restaurant travelled the world and enjoyed the foods in different countries. He serves from what I can tell, authentic cuisine. The restaurant is really small and he has NO wait help, so be prepared for really SLOW FOOD...when you actually get your meal though, it is worth the wait. Everything tasted really good. And when you order, be sure to order the "nan" (I think this is an Indian version of bread)...this restaurant has spinach flavored nan which is really delicious. (Sorry, I didn't take any photos, I'm still a bit shy about going out to eat and "whipping" out my camera to take a photo of my meal...)
Sekai no gochisoo Palermo
Phone: 078-431-5021 Closed: Wednesdays
Next door to this restaurant were 2 Italian restaurants that also caught our eye...we'll definitely make a couple more trips back!
From Okamoto, we caught the train to the next station over called Konan Yamate. I read about this cake shop on my host-sister, Tomoko's website. The shop is called Peri-tei. It is located in a quiet neighborhood.
When we got there, there were 6 or 7 women ordering different things to take out. The shop has only 12 seats, so if you want to eat your cake there, you may have to wait for a table. Satoshi and I chose the cakes we wanted to eat from the showcase (and be prepared to take a while to decide...it is VERY impressive!) After oohing and aahing, we finally made our choices. We sat down and ordered our drinks. Satoshi chose coffee and I chose Earl Grey tea.
This is what we chose...Satoshi: strawberry rolled cake. Kat: strawberry tart.
The rolled cake was so FLUFFY and light and the tart was really good and flaky (I don't like crusts that are on the hard side).
And isn't the way they serve their tea, cute??
3-2-1 Moriminami-machi, Villa Cuore 1F
After our tea break, we decided to walk a bit back to Okamoto. While walking back we realized that the shop was actually really close to Okamoto and we actually could have walked to have dessert!
In Okamoto, we stopped at a bread bakery called, Backer Bursch. I think it means "baker brothers". This bread bakery specializes in hard type breads but they also had some quiches and scones too. This is what we got for our breakfast. A slice of french bread with mentaiko (chili pepper spiced pollack eggs), a plain scone, a mushroom quiche and a vegetable/ham quiche. They were all very tasty, although the girl who was working the register wasn't too friendly.
1-13-22 Tanakamachi, Motoyama Urban Life 1F
Closed Tuesdays, TAKE OUT ONLY
On Saturday, we were invited for dinner at my host-family's home. Since studying in Okamoto, I have kept in contact with my host-family over the years. In fact, I consider them to be my family in Japan. During this New Year holiday, we were all quite busy so we decided to get together at a later date...that day was today. My host sister and her husband were kind enough to pick us up at the train station and took us to my host mom & dad's home.
My host brother and his family live nearby and they came over too. My host brother's children are getting bigger and more talkative and his wife is expecting their 3rd child! There was a LOT of food and lots of chattering. It was a great evening. My host brother's wife gave us this hanjyuku (half baked) cheesecake by La Cote d'Azurlwhich is one of her favorite french pastry shop in Ibaraki prefecture, her hometown. This cheesecake was really light and tasted delish!
La Cote d'Azurl
19-26 Higashi Arai
Tsukuba city, Ibaraki prefecture
Today, we went to Kyoto's International Conference Facility. Satoshi's brother works for a kimono designer, Saito Sansai. He and about twelve other designers had a fashion show to show off their designs and to try to encourage more people to wear kimono regularly.
In Japan nowadays, kimono is considered a form of formal wear, so it is mostly worn to weddings, funerals and to other special events. Satoshi and I never went to a "fashion" show, so we were amazed at how they showed off their works. Loud music with an asian flair, flashy lights...I tried to take photos, but some of the models would spin so my pictures are a bit blurry...still, it was a great experience.
One thing we (I) do before we go anywhere is search the internet for places to eat...Today's lunch was a couple of stations away from the International Conference Facility at a restaurant called
Yamabiko (yamabiko in Japanese means echo). This place is known for it's gyu-suji curry udon. "Gyu-suji" is the muscular part of beef that is stewed until they become really soft. "Udon" is a wheat noodle. Satoshi ordered the gyu-suji curry udon and I ordered the shrimp curry udon...boy, was it temperature hot and spicy hot...I have a burnt tongue as proof...it was really good and of course, SPICY!! Really warmed us up...Satoshi had actual beads of perspiration running down his face!!
Yamabiko 122 Tanakamachi Nishinotoin Higashi hairu, Marutamachi
After lunch, we walked back to what I call the main area of Kyoto called Shijo. My friend, Kiyomi, had told me (a couple of years ago) about a cafe that had great desserts called Au Grenier D'or. Ever since she told me about this cafe, I've put it on my list of places to try and it has been featured in several magazines. This place was REALLY small, and REALLY busy! At one point there were 20 people standing in front of the showcase!
We were lucky to get one of the 6 tables and chose our desserts. Satoshi chose a chocolate millefeuille (layered puff pastry) and I chose parisbrest, it was a puff pastry filled with cream and nuts. It was really light and fluffy. Satoshi had a bit of a hard time eating his because the chocolate was kind of hard, still he said he enjoyed it.
I also got some chocolate pralines to take home.
Au Grenier D'or
527-1 Nishikikoji Agaru, Sakaimachi
Nakakyo, Kyoto, Phone: 075-213-7782
Sorry this post was REALLY long, but I wanted to share everything with you...We had a delicious and fun 3-day foodie weekend.
Hope you enjoyed yours.