Michelin Starred Restaurants of Osaka

14 Dec

===Guest post starts from here===

Japan has the highest number of Michelin star restaurants, with 317 across the country, beating France, long regarded as the home of fine cuisine. Osaka is blessed with 88 one-star, 15 two-star and 5 three-star Michelin restaurants, which makes it the fifth most Michelin-restaurant populated city in the world. The bustling city is Japan’s third largest and is known as “Japan’s Kitchen”. You’re really spoiled for dining choices when visiting Osaka.

Let’s start with the three-star restaurants; Fujiya 1935 and Koryu were promoted in 2012. Fujiya 1935 is also ranked number one on Tripadvisor, so scientifically that has to be the best right? Well, by all accounts it is definitely a contender, however, it is worth noting that Fujiya has lost a star in the 2013 ratings. Fujiya is a small, intimate restaurant that was established in 1935 (hence the name). It only has a handful of tables, Fujiya is a Spanish-Asian fusion restaurant that serves technical masterpieces and all for a reasonable 13,500¥ (£100).
Fujiya 1935
Fujiya 1935 (トリップアドバイザー提供)

A warm welcome awaits at Koryu, where the chef is happy to give you an interactive experience and explains each dish if you sit at the open kitchen bar. Dishes include chilled yuzu and baby eel sorbet for the adventurous and sublime miyazaki beef. Booking at the 3 star Hajime restaurant can be a bit hit and miss and can only be taken over the phone (gird your loins for the long distance phone call charges). If you have the patience it will be worth it however. The 8 course tasting menu comes highly recommended.
北新地 弧柳
北新地 弧柳 (トリップアドバイザー提供)

Taian is a hidden 3 star gem, although you will need to trust your chef as the staff isn’t multi-lingual. Most dishes will be a mystery, but for the bold diner, this will be an exciting adventure. Kashiwaya is a Ryōtei restaurant that serves modern Japanese food and is located at the Relais & Châteaux hotel. With dishes like puffer roe boiled in sake in turnip soup, you can be guaranteed an authentic meal in a traditional setting.

Kahala is buried amongst an entire strip of restaurants, but this two-star restaurant is often cited as one of the best in Osaka, beating its three-star rivals. It is a Kappo restaurant, where the master chefs have around 15 years experience of cutting, boiling and seasoning fish rather than cutting for sushi. Kahala is expensive at 30,000¥ (£225) per person, but this cult restaurant is where food meets art. You can enjoy a potato paper-chain, carved from a single potato, as well as their speciality, 5 barely seared layers of Iga beef. Delectable!

For tempura, head to the two-star Yotara Honten which was established in 1921. The fourth generation chef creates tempura from onion (Negi) and Osaka shrimp (Shirasa Ebi). The house specialty is Taimeshi, a sea bream rice dish. The tempura, taimeshi and soup will set you back just 4,000¥ (£30). Gyuho is a two-star Kaiseki restaurant found in the Kitashinchi area of Osaka and is a must for meat lovers. Exotic dishes include sashimi heart, tongue and liver. Or the stew-like shabu-shabu – meaning swish-swish for the sound of the meat cooking in the pot. For a full-on meat feast here, expect to pay 25,000-30,000¥ (£190-225).

The one-star La Baie French restaurant has a coveted 5 ‘couvert’ spoon and fork symbols for decor, comfort and service. You’d expect such a level at a Ritz-Carlton restaurant though. The traditional European decor is all wood panelling, chandeliers and fine art. The twist here is that the modern French cuisine is created with local Japanese ingredients. Definitely worth a try.

To see the latest results for the 2013 Michelin Guide, click here.

If any of these restaurants are enticing enough to bring you to the bustling city of Osaka, then be sure to book a room at the five star Swissotel Nankai Osaka, situated in the heart of Namba.

===end of the post===

Kirin’s opinion:
It’s said Osaka is a city of “Kuidaore” that means people there are particular about foods. I also hear that a restaurant that serves so-so dishes may survive in Tokyo but never do in Osaka. Yet, I think there are also many restaurants in Tokyo that are highly rated in Michelin Guide. ^ ^

Ryotei or Kappou are the type of restaurants that are often used for client dinner and so it’s paid by company, and it’s not for ordinary people to just go eat a dinner easily. ^ ^;; (To me, I can’t afford 20,000 or 30,000yen or even 10,000yen for a meal per person! haha!!)

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Improved Kotsuban Makura (pelvis pillow)

9 Dec

I’ve received many inquires and requests of purchase and shipment of Kotsuban Makura since I wrote the post about pelvis diet. I’ve already sold several pillows via FlutterScape while I was registered as a seller, but I had to decline all the requests since I quit the membership. Time has passed and nowadays FlutterScape also seems to have closed down before I knew.

Yet I still receive a few inquiries and purchase requests of the pelvis pillow once in a while.
I’ve wanted to write an updated post about it when I’m back from hiatus and now I’m finally doing this. 😀

In fact, the Kotsuban Makura (pelvis pillow) I introduced in the previous post was not very durable, which I found out some time later. The material was so weak that it could easily happen that the pillow ended up with making a hole that loses air. Actually that’s what happened to mine. (Sorry if that also happened to those who bought it from me. I of course wouldn’t have sold them if that had happened to me earlier. But it happened to me after a while, which was after I sold several pillows. 😦 )

Also as time passed, several people seemed to have gone through the same experience as mine, according to the reviews of the product. I think that’s why the maker started to make an upgraded version of Kotsuban Makura at a higher price. I bought it because I wanted to continue this diet. I felt clear difference between before and after in 2 weeks, but since the pillow had a hole, it went useless and my just-lie-down exercise has stopped since then. (My waist also went back! :S)

So this is a new version! (The cover of a book looks a bit different. I broke a box to make it less bulky. So this is a small instruction textbook that came along with the pillow.)

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Apple's adventures in Kiyomizu-dera Part 1 (and a short Japanese lesson on directions thrown in!)

6 Dec

Apple is back too, because I’m back! YAY!!! 😀 😀 😀 Don’t miss her Japanese lesson at the latter part of this post!!!!

===Apple’s post starts from here===

Hi!! This is Apple!

I’m really happy that Kirin decided to go on with TKE. I’ve been meaning to write but have been busy.

Firstly, it feels like a long time since I’ve been to Tokyo, so I can’t write much of Tokyo places or trends for now. I went to Kansai in Spring this year, so I thought of sharing some interesting places I’ve been to when I was there. I wrote some articles (Shirahama & Kobe) early this year just after coming back from my trip, but I think maybe they were not interesting because nobody really left any comments. T^T Haha!

Ok, anyway, today I’m going to share with you one of my favourite places in Kansai!

It’s Kyoto!!

Being a city kind of girl really (I love Tokyo!), I’d initially thought Kyoto would be dull to me. My boyfriend was very excited though.

One of the places we visited in Kyoto is the famous tourist attraction, Kiyomizudera (清水寺)! Kiyomizu (清水) means clear water, or pure water. The temple is so named as there’s a waterfall of pure water within the complex.

Fun Fact: Not a single nail was used in the entire wooden structure of this temple!

Being Spring, we’d expected a scenery like this:

Source

 However, this was what greeted us:

We were too early for Sakura! T^T
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Shocked to see how co-workers are working!

2 Dec

I’ve been working as a translator for a Japanese IT (information technology) company since June this year, even though I’m such a computer-illiterate person. lol Anyway, it just happened and my translation work doesn’t really require something technical so much, and even if it does, I can always ask around the engineers to get the exact image.

So my point here is that I’ve got a chance to see inside of a Japanese IT industry.
I’ve worked at a few Japanese companies so far, but I’ve never ever seen that employees are working day and night almost without sleeping!! In fact, what’s happening in the company I work for now is that delivery deadline is close and employees are staying up (over-time work) till midnight or even till 3 or 4am next morning and then start working from 9am again next day (already the same day!) .

Some male workers are working overnight for 2 days and 2 nights. I’m so shocked to know that. I couldn’t believe what I heard and what’s more, it was even shocking to me that those who are compelled to work like that say it’s how it is and they don’t feel anything about that! I wonder how could such working condition be taken as granted and approved!? (FYI, the company I work for now is a large corporation that every Japanese person from children to the elderly definitely knows its name.) I wouldn’t be able to accept that if I were the worker who had to work like that. I mean, if it’s my own business and my own project and I want to do it overnight with excitement, based on my own will, that would be possible but being kind of forced by a boss and doing this every now and then as a matter or course is just no way to me!! (T___T)

I told this story to some people including my husband and again I was shocked how most of them said that it’d be normal in Japan. I still feel shocked today.

BTW, I found this graph from Expedia Japan how difficult it is for the Japanese to take paid holidays. The graph shows in gray how many paid holidays were given yearly (in 2012) and how many of them were actually taken in red. I remember a German girl told me before that it was normal in Germany to have 30 paid holidays besides some sick leaves. In Japan, we have to use paid holidays for sick leaves. 😦 I don’t know if sick leaves are given aside from paid holidays in all of the other countries in this graph. If so, that should be also mentioned to illustrate how our working situation is outstandingly miserable!!

As you can imagine, this company is not doing something illegal. The workers working extra hours get paid extra. This is how the Japanese workers defend the deadline to the death. There’s imbalance of employment in our society that such workers are working like a horse while many people are jobless. Work sharing has never worked out in Japan.

I wonder…would it be normal in your country as well to do over-time work till 3 or 4am and start working for the next day from 9am again and do such from time to time when deadline is close? I can’t believe most of Japanese workers think it’s normal, but what do you think about that?

5 Reasons why I love shopping in Harajuku

24 Nov

This article is a contributed guest post by Jam of icoSnap.com; a cute travel blog around the world in search for cute places, food, events and more.

===Guest Post starts from here===

5 Reasons why I love shopping in Harajuku:

If you’re like me, Japanese pop culture obsessed then, there’s no reason that Harajuku is probably on your top places to go for shopping or maybe even visit. I have been in Harajuku probably 5 times since 2007. It is like the dreamland for all things Kawaii and there’s no doubt that it is the leading place for fashion in the future.

1. Clothes and accessories are unique. From the tulle dress skirts to polka-dot sarouel pants, when you buy clothes in Harajuku, most likely you’ll never see it anywhere else in the world (well, except if you wear it in Harajuku too).

2. Apparel and shoes are also cheap. Most items that you see other than the brand name stores like Liz Lisa, h.NAOTO, Angelic Pretty, etc. Side street shops are quite cheap you can get tops from 500 Yen and shoes from 1000 Yen – the quality is quite good too.

3. They have a huge Daiso – a 100 Yen (similar to Dollar store but better). They offer a wide variety of home goods, stationary, clothing, food, etc. A great place to buy souvenirs and gifts to your friends back at home.

4. The location is in the heart of Tokyo – it can be accessed easily in the Yamanote green line, its in between Shibuya and Yoyogi.

5. The fashion scene – youngsters dress in Lolita, Gyaru, Mori, Gothic, Punk, etc., in a way that expresses their personality. It brings out the spirit of shopping for uniqueness and individuality.

Have you been to Harajuku before? Let us know your experience.
===end of the post===

Kirin’s opinion:
Thank you Jam for your guest post. 🙂 As for myself, it’s been a long time since I visited Harajuku last time. Yeah, I guess I can get something nice there, although I’m not dressing Gothic Lolita or punk or whatever unique. Actually I’ve been looking for some winter clothing but nothing looks intriguing to me. I checked out some shopping malls but nothing really looked appealing to me. I guess I could check out Harajuku. (Will post about it if I get something there!)^^

***If you are interested in writing a guest post, please feel free to contact Kirin. I’ll be open for the opportunity again. (Sorry I declined many offers during hiatus, because I wanted to avoid TKE being full of guest posts without my own posts.) The post must be unique, the theme must be related with Japan or Japanese culture, and it must be contributed to TKE for free in exchange for 1 back link to your website.***

Preached by a stranger?

19 Nov

It’s very rare in Tokyo that a stranger who happens to be seated at next table in a restaurant talks to you. But it just happened to us, my co-worker and I, while we were having lunch together during a lunch break. It was an old man that first talked to me if the dish was good. I answered with smile that it was. There was no problem if he only exchanged a few words like that with us.

But in fact, he kept talking on and on that seemed to be directed to us. We were not interested in having any further conversation with that stranger. So both of us just ignored him, and we continued our own conversation. In the mean time, he stopped talking.

It took a while until our tea/coffee were served after the meal. So we urged a waitress several times to bring them to us asap as we had to go back to the office before lunch break was over. I started to feel irritated as time for drinking tea/coffee would not be left even if they were finally served. My co-worker and I were joking with laughter that I’d rather take away my cup of coffee or I’d ask the waitress to stop serving me coffee and instead I’d ask a cashier to deduct that amount from the total. (I was not serious, not intended but just joking.)

Then the man next to me suddenly started to preach us that it was not nice of us to laugh like that and get irritated with not being served promptly, when the waitresses were doing their best under the circumstances. OK maybe he was right. But my co-worker and I were about to tell him to stop talking to us as he has nothing to do with us or whatever we are talking about. Let alone we were not there to listen to his preach! Yet, at the same time, we knew we had no intention of having a quarrel with him for such a stupid matter. So we kept silent. We ignored him, having only half cup of tea/coffee to return to the office promptly, before it got too late.

It was quite an unpleasant lunch time after all. I guess he would complain that the young people are really rude and inconsiderate today. Or is that our lunch break that is too short (60 minutes)? Have you had such an experience before? As it’s not normal that a stranger speaks so much, he must be weird. What do you think?

Pi-chan sleeping like a human :)

13 Nov

Of course, she didn’t go to sleep like this, my hubby did that. *giggle*
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