ultramarinus – beyond the sea

Posts tagged “restaurant

WESTERN RESORT IN THE ORIENT, Karuizawa (軽井沢), Japan

At the foot of Mt. Asama, Honshu’s most active volcano, stands a mountain resort town that first captivated the attention of Westerners in late 19th century.  Since then, it grew into a summer resort for many Tokyo residents, including the royal family.  In the 1970s, John Lennon and Yoko Ono spent several summers at Karuizawa for retreat.  Today, the shinkansen bullet train takes a little over an hour to connect Karuizawa and Tokyo, a rather convenient day trip for visitors who want to take a break from the bustling scenes of the Japanese capital.  Visitors come for the natural scenery, the Westernized old town, the interesting galleries, the large shopping outlet right by the railway station, or just a breathe of cool air and peaceful atmosphere to escape the summer heat in urban Tokyo.

0Outside the railway station, the tranquil air of the countryside offers a big contrast from the dense and intense urban scene of Tokyo.  On the south side stands the large shopping outlet, and the north side rows of pitched roof houses and streets leading into the old town centre.  It’s about a half hour walk from the railway station to the town centre.

1In the town centre of Karuizawa, one of the busiest restaurant is Kawakamian (川上庵), a delightful restaurant specialized in soba buckwheat noodles.

2The dining area of Kawakamian (川上庵) was fully occupied when we were there.

4At Kawakamian (川上庵), we ended up getting a table at the outdoor terrace.

5Duck meat soba noodles of Kawakamian (川上庵).

6Tempura vegetable and shrimp with soba at Kawakamian (川上庵).

7There are a few patisserie shops in Karuizawa.  Gateau des Clochette (ガトゥ・デ・クロシェット) is a popular one with tourists.

8A row of old timber houses at the high street of Karuizawa (旧軽井沢銀座通り) reveals the former European atmosphere of the town.

9Cafes, restaurants, patisserie shops and souvenir stores can be found at the pedestrian high street of Karuizawa.

10Dairy products from the area is popular among visitors.

11This doll house-like timber house is a popular cafe on the high street.

12In the new town centre, we passed by a flea market selling all kinds of old household items in a parking lot.

13Halfway between the old town and the railway station, the  Karuizawa New Art Museum (軽井沢ニューアートミュージアム) offers tourists and the local community a pleasant stop for art exhibitions.

14Directly south of the railway station is the large retail outlet frequented by tourists.  The environment of the outlet is completely different than the high street of the old town.

15A water pond in the middle of the outlet offers a pleasant park setting for shoppers.

16Right by the pond is the circular restaurant pavilion.  The openness and scale of the outlet made me feel like traveling in North America.

17Shinkansen bullet train makes the trip from Tokyo to Karuizawa in a little over an hour.


DAY 2: YAKITORI HITOMI (炭焼創彩鳥家 人見), Kyoto (京都), Japan

Recommended by a number of blogs and international media such as the New York Times, Yakitori Hitomi (炭焼創彩鳥家 人見) has been named as the best restaurant in Kyoto for Yakitori (焼き鳥) or Japanese skewered chicken.  We made a reservation through the phone about a week prior to our departure.  Fortunately, we managed to communicate with the staff over the phone with simple English and managed to secure a table for 20:30 on our second day of the trip.  Many said that bookings should be made weeks well in advance for this highly popular and intimate restaurant on Nijo Dori at a quiet residential neighborhood in Higashiyama.  It was a 15 minute walk to Yakitori Hitomi from our hotel.  We borrowed an umbrella from the hotel as it was still raining.

Nijo Dori was quiet and there were hardly anyone on the street.  We arrived at Yakitori Hitomi right on time, and were received with a warm welcome by the staff.  The master chef/owner recognized us right away as he was the one whom we spoke to on the phone.  He talked with us for a bit and told us that he had been to Hong Kong more than two decades ago.  We sat by the counter facing the semi-open kitchen.  We were given English menu, and a diagram of a chicken indicating different parts available, from neck to heart to bottom.  We ordered sake, plum wine, and a variety of chicken skewers, local duck fillets, chicken soup, vegetable sticks, etc.  The master chef/owner was the only person who worked at the binchotan (備長炭) or traditional Japanese white charcoal grill.  We sat patiently to wait for each delicious skewer to be served one by one.  The two-hour meal was definitely the best Japanese yakitori we ever had, and on top of that, the wonderful staff service and cozy atmosphere all made it a remarkable experience for our Kyoto stay.

01The secluded front door and street facade of Yakitori Hitomi.

02We sat at the timber counter facing the semi-open kitchen.

03The restaurant interior was cozy and simple.

04Japanese menu of Yakitori Hitomi.

05Diagram showed the various parts of chicken available.

06Sake and salt.

07Chicken knee cartilage.

08Tsukune or Japanese chicken meatball.

09Sasami or chicken breast tender.

10Seseri, or chicken neck.

11Local chicken wings.

12Japanese pickles, and momo or thigh meat.

13Chicken soup.

14A type of Japanese yam.

15Vegetable sticks with master chef/owner in the background.

16Complimentary dish and plum wine.

18Thigh meat.

19Kyoto duck fillets.

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Our posts on 2016 Kyoto and Nara:
OUR FIRST KYOTO STORY, Japan
DAY 1: ARRIVAL AT HIGASHIYAMA (東山), Kyoto (京都), Japan
DAY 1: RYOANJI TEMPLE (龍安寺), Kyoto (京都), Japan
DAY 1: NINNAJI TEMPLE (仁和寺), Kyoto (京都), Japan
DAY 1: KINKAKUJI TEMPLE (金閣寺), Kyoto (京都), Japan
DAY 1: KITANO TENMANGU SHRINE (北野天満宮), Kyoto (京都), Japan
DAY 1: NIGHT AT KIYOMIZU-DERA (清水寺), Kyoto (京都), Japan
DAY 2: MORNING STROLL IN SOUTHERN HIGASHIYAMA (東山), Kyoto (京都), Japan
DAY 2: KIYOMIZU DERA (清水寺), Kyoto (京都), Japan
DAY 2: KIYOMIZU DERA to KENNINJI, Kyoto (京都), Japan
DAY 2: ○△□ and Chouontei Garden and Ceiling of Twin Dragons, KENNINJI TEMPLE (建仁寺), Kyoto (京都), Japan
DAY 2: SFERA BUILDING (スフェラ・ビル), SHIRKAWA GION (祇園白川), KAMO RIVER (鴨川) & DOWNTOWN, Kyoto (京都), Japan
DAY 2: YAKITORI HITOMI (炭焼創彩鳥家 人見), Kyoto (京都), Japan
DAY 3: MORNING IN NORTHERN HIGASHIYAMA (北東山), Kyoto (京都), Japan
DAY 3: NANZENJI (南禅寺), Kyoto (京都), Japan
DAY 3: PHILOSOPHER’S PATH (哲学の道), Kyoto (京都), Japan
DAY 3: HONENIN (法然院), Kyoto (京都), Japan
DAY 3: GINKAKUJI (銀閣寺), Kyoto (京都), Japan
DAY 3: CRAB AND SAKE, Kyoto, Japan
DAY 4: HORYUJI (法隆寺), Nara (奈良), Japan
DAY 4: TODAIJI TEMPLE (東大寺), Nara (奈良), Japan
DAY 4: KASUGA TAISHA (春日大社), Nara (奈良), Japan
DAY 4: KOFUKUJI (興福寺), Nara (奈良), Japan
DAY 4: NAKAGAWA MASASHICHI SHOTEN (中川政七商店 遊中川), Nara (奈良), Japan
DAY 4: RAMEN & CHRISTMAS LIGHTS, Kyoto (京都), Japan
DAY 5: FUSHIMI INARI SHRINE (伏見稲荷大社) Part 1, Kyoto (京都), Japan
DAY 5: FUSHIMI INARI SHRINE (伏見稲荷大社) Part 2, Kyoto, Japan
DAY 5: FAREWELL KYOTO, Kyoto, Japan


Day 7 – UNITED COFFEE HOUSE, New Delhi, India

We had an evening flight back home. Before catching the airport train, we decided to have our last Indian meal at New Delhi. We took the metro to Connaught Place in New Delhi, the commercial and business heart of the Indian capital.  Formerly the headquarters of the British Raj, the circular hub has become a busy business and entertainment centre.  We exited the metro at one of the exits at the inner circle, and began to walk around the circus in clockwise direction.  Many old Georgian buildings were now occupied by retail shops like Nike or Levi’s, electronic and jewellery shops.  We attempted to find a place for dinner, saw a few restaurants near a movie cinema, but ended up picking a Indian restaurant with an old school charm judging from its entrance.  The restaurant was called United Coffee House, which had been around since 1942.  The high ceiling, chandelier dining hall expressed a traditional character of the British Raj. Designed by an American architect who lived in England, the place carried a Victorian and neo-Renaissance feel.  Every details such as tapestries and furniture were well attended to.  Judging from the first glance it seemed we had traveled back in time.  The food was delicious and the atmosphere was magnificent.  After a long day of heat and exhaustion, the United Coffee House came as a safe haven for us to rejuvenate ourselves before flying he night flight home.  After a satisfying meal and relaxing time at the restaurant, we walked out into the Connaught Place under the glittering neon lights and hype music.  We crossed the street and walked down the closest metro entry, swam through the waves of people heading to our opposite direction.  The music from the street was getting fainter as we went.  It was time for us to bid farewell to India.

dsc_6912Lamb leg marinated with spices in herbs sauce.

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERAMixed vegetable in creamy saffron sauce.

dsc_6913Upper seating area at the United Coffee House.

dsc_6914Connaught Place at night.

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Other posts on 2016 Ladkadh & Delhi:
Introduction – LADAKH – The Land of High Passes, India
Day 1.1 – ENROUTE TO LEH, Ladakh
Day 1.2 – WALK TO MAIN BAZAAR, Leh, Ladakh
Day 1.3 – LEH PALACE, Leh, Ladakh
Day 1.4 – HOTEL LADAKH GREENS, Leh, Ladakh
Day 2.1 – NAMGYAL TSEMO GOMPA, Leh, Ladakh
Day 2.2 – LALA’S CAFE AND TIBETAN CUISINE, Leh, Ladakh
Day 2.3 – SPITUK GOMPA, Leh, Ladakh
Day 3.1 – MONASTERIES OF THE INDUS VALLEY DAY ONE, Ladakh (with map)
Day 3.2 – THIKSEY GOMPA, Indus Valley, Ladakh
Day 3.3 – CHEMREY & TAKTHOK GOMPA, Indus Valley, Ladakh
Day 3.4 – HEMIS & STAKNA GOMPA, Indus Valley, Ladakh
Day 3.5 – MATHO GOMPA & SHEY PALACE, Indus Valley, Ladakh
Day 4.1 – ON THE ROAD WEST OF LEH, Indus Valley, Ladakh
Day 4.2 – LAMAYURU GOMPA, Indus Valley, Ladakh
Day 4.3 – ALCHI & LIKIR GOMPA, Indus Valley, Ladakh
Day 4.4 – FORT ROAD IN THE EVENING, Leh, Ladakh
Day 5.1 – SHORT HIKE NEAR PHYANG, Ladakh
Day 5.2 – PHYANG VILLAGE, Ladakh
Day 5.3 – NOMADIC WOOLLEN MILLS & BON APPETIT, Leh, Ladakh
Day 6.1 – ZINGCHEN GORGE, Ladakh
Day 6.2 – SHANTI STUPA, Leh, Ladakh
Day 7.1 – LEH AIRPORT TO RED FORT, Delhi
Day 7.2 – RED FORT, Delhi
Day 7.3 – JAMA MASJID, Delhi
Day 7.4 – FAREWELL OLD DELHI, Delhi
Day 7.5 – UNITED COFFEE HOUSE, New Delhi


DAY 5: NOMADIC WOOLLEN MILLS & BON APPETIT, Leh, Ladakh, India

In the main bazaar of Leh, there were many stores selling pashmina goods but we were told that most of them were imported from China.  We wanted to find a store which sold genuine Ladakh pashmina so we went online to do some research until we found Nomadic Woollen Mills.  Different than other textile and souvenir stores that we found in town, the interior decor of Nomadic Woollen Mills was minimal and contemporary.  At the time of our visit, they were setting up a workshop right next to the retail store. We met Nawang, the founder of Nomadic Woollen Mills at the store.  After some leisure chat with Nawang, we were glad to learn more about the story of the store and the making of the Ladakh pashmina.  With a selection of hand woven and machine-made products from the region, Nomadic Woollen Mills may easily win the hearts of pashmina lovers who come to Ladakh to look for the traditional Kashmir woolen shawls.

Another great found of the day was Bon Appetit, a French restaurant and lounge recommended by our guidebooks.  The restaurant was hidden away in a lane south of the busy main street of Changspa Road.  We sat at a table in the patio under the setting sun. With a view to the surrounding mountains, the warm fire from the outdoor torches brought great ambience for the evening.  The restaurant’s menu was simple but we appreciate their dedication to using local and fresh ingredients.  We started with a bottle of local beer and Kashmir apple juice, then came the comforting savory herb chicken and chicken kabob.

dsc_5943Nomadic Woollen Mills was located on the first floor of a building with a window display facing the main bazaar.

dsc_5944The interior decor of Nomadic Woollen Mills was simple and modern.

dsc_5945The store has a selection of both hand-woven and machine-made products.

dsc_5948We were invited to visit the little workshop right next to the retail store.

dsc_5947The traditional weaving machine on display.

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERAThe outdoor patio of Bon Appetit.

dsc_5958View from the patio of Bon Appetit.

dsc_5962We spent a great evening at the patio of Bon Appetit.

dsc_5959Indian beer Kingfisher and Kashmir apple juice.

dsc_5966Chicken with herbs.

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERAChicken kabob.

dsc_5968As the night fell, the torches lit up the patio.

dsc_5969The clay oven for tandoori chicken at the open kitchen.

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Other posts on 2016 Ladkadh & Delhi:
Introduction – LADAKH – The Land of High Passes, India
Day 1.1 – ENROUTE TO LEH, Ladakh
Day 1.2 – WALK TO MAIN BAZAAR, Leh, Ladakh
Day 1.3 – LEH PALACE, Leh, Ladakh
Day 1.4 – HOTEL LADAKH GREENS, Leh, Ladakh
Day 2.1 – NAMGYAL TSEMO GOMPA, Leh, Ladakh
Day 2.2 – LALA’S CAFE AND TIBETAN CUISINE, Leh, Ladakh
Day 2.3 – SPITUK GOMPA, Leh, Ladakh
Day 3.1 – MONASTERIES OF THE INDUS VALLEY DAY ONE, Ladakh (with map)
Day 3.2 – THIKSEY GOMPA, Indus Valley, Ladakh
Day 3.3 – CHEMREY & TAKTHOK GOMPA, Indus Valley, Ladakh
Day 3.4 – HEMIS & STAKNA GOMPA, Indus Valley, Ladakh
Day 3.5 – MATHO GOMPA & SHEY PALACE, Indus Valley, Ladakh
Day 4.1 – ON THE ROAD WEST OF LEH, Indus Valley, Ladakh
Day 4.2 – LAMAYURU GOMPA, Indus Valley, Ladakh
Day 4.3 – ALCHI & LIKIR GOMPA, Indus Valley, Ladakh
Day 4.4 – FORT ROAD IN THE EVENING, Leh, Ladakh
Day 5.1 – SHORT HIKE NEAR PHYANG, Ladakh
Day 5.2 – PHYANG VILLAGE, Ladakh
Day 5.3 – NOMADIC WOOLLEN MILLS & BON APPETIT, Leh, Ladakh
Day 6.1 – ZINGCHEN GORGE, Ladakh
Day 6.2 – SHANTI STUPA, Leh, Ladakh
Day 7.1 – LEH AIRPORT TO RED FORT, Delhi
Day 7.2 – RED FORT, Delhi
Day 7.3 – JAMA MASJID, Delhi
Day 7.4 – FAREWELL OLD DELHI, Delhi
Day 7.5 – UNITED COFFEE HOUSE, New Delhi

 


DAY 2: LALA’S CAFE AND TIBETAN CUISINE, Leh, Ladakh, India

After Namgyal Tsemo Gompa, the taxi dropped us off at the main bazaar.  From there, we walked into an alleyway next to the mosque Jama Masjid which led us to another part of the old city.  At a street corner we saw a two-story house with an interesting facade.  The sign “Lala’s cafe” was hung above the entrance.  We walked up the wood stairs  to the second floor where the cafe was located.  It was hot, dusty and dry outside but inside the cafe it was nice and cool.  We sat down at a cushioned area, ordered two cups of tea and checked out the postcards and handcrafts on display.  We were the only visitors in the cafe until another couple came in and joined our table.  They were Sunny and Ann, an Indian and Taiwanese couple who came to Ladakh for trekking.  We four had a pleasant chat.  An hour easily passed before we decided to move on for our day.  Outside the cafe, we took a few pictures of the small but interesting cafe building, which was once the old Sankar Monastery Labrang saved from demolition back in 2006.  Despite the heat, the street outside Lala’s Cafe was full of neighborhood life: barber shop, tailor shop, cloth dyeing shop, eateries, and of course souvenir shops as well as Buddhist stupas.

Off the busy Fort Road in a small alleyway there was a popular restaurant called Tibetan Kitchen.  Recommended by Sophia, fellow traveler that we met the day before at Gesmo Restaurant, we were keen to try out some authentic local food at Tibetan Kitchen.  Because of the noontime heat, instead of tables at the entrance courtyard we chose a table inside the restaurant close to a painting of Lhasa’s Potala Palace.  The staff were friendly, especially the owner who spoke perfect English with the British ascent.  He suggested us to try the bottom fried lamb momos and hot Tibetan soup.  It was a delightful and tasty meal.

DSC_3775The sun was strong at late morning, prompting us to seek for shelter at Lala’s Cafe.

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERALala’s Cafe is located right below the Leh Palace.

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERAThe interior decor of Lala’s cafe was simple but comfortable.  Customers could choose to either sit at the cushioned areas on the second floor or the rooftop.

DSC_3788Lala’s Cafe was once the old Sankar Monastery Labrang but saved from demolition back in 2006.  It stood alone at a street corner when the adjacent buildings had been demolished.

DSC_3793Beside Lala’s Cafe erected a few stupas.

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERAA local tailor was busy with sewing.

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERAPeeking into the window of a barber shop.

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERAA man dying fabric in front of his shop.

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERAA snapshot of a passerby walking along the alleyway near Lala’s Cafe.

DSC_3799Tibetan Kitchen was not far from Gesmo Restaurant, where we met the Spanish traveler Sophia the day before.

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERAAt Tibetan Kitchen, we sat near a painting of Lhasa’s Potala Palace.

DSC_3802The interior of Tibetan Kitchen was decorated with photos of Tibetan landscapes and the Dali Lama, Tibetan flag and Oriental lanterns.

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERATibetan soup thukpa with wontons.

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERABottom fried momo (dumplings) served with chili sauce.

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Other posts on 2016 Ladkadh & Delhi:
Introduction – LADAKH – The Land of High Passes, India
Day 1.1 – ENROUTE TO LEH, Ladakh
Day 1.2 – WALK TO MAIN BAZAAR, Leh, Ladakh
Day 1.3 – LEH PALACE, Leh, Ladakh
Day 1.4 – HOTEL LADAKH GREENS, Leh, Ladakh
Day 2.1 – NAMGYAL TSEMO GOMPA, Leh, Ladakh
Day 2.2 – LALA’S CAFE AND TIBETAN CUISINE, Leh, Ladakh
Day 2.3 – SPITUK GOMPA, Leh, Ladakh
Day 3.1 – MONASTERIES OF THE INDUS VALLEY DAY ONE, Ladakh (with map)
Day 3.2 – THIKSEY GOMPA, Indus Valley, Ladakh
Day 3.3 – CHEMREY & TAKTHOK GOMPA, Indus Valley, Ladakh
Day 3.4 – HEMIS & STAKNA GOMPA, Indus Valley, Ladakh
Day 3.5 – MATHO GOMPA & SHEY PALACE, Indus Valley, Ladakh
Day 4.1 – ON THE ROAD WEST OF LEH, Indus Valley, Ladakh
Day 4.2 – LAMAYURU GOMPA, Indus Valley, Ladakh
Day 4.3 – ALCHI & LIKIR GOMPA, Indus Valley, Ladakh
Day 4.4 – FORT ROAD IN THE EVENING, Leh, Ladakh
Day 5.1 – SHORT HIKE NEAR PHYANG, Ladakh
Day 5.2 – PHYANG VILLAGE, Ladakh
Day 5.3 – NOMADIC WOOLLEN MILLS & BON APPETIT, Leh, Ladakh
Day 6.1 – ZINGCHEN GORGE, Ladakh
Day 6.2 – SHANTI STUPA, Leh, Ladakh
Day 7.1 – LEH AIRPORT TO RED FORT, Delhi
Day 7.2 – RED FORT, Delhi
Day 7.3 – JAMA MASJID, Delhi
Day 7.4 – FAREWELL OLD DELHI, Delhi
Day 7.5 – UNITED COFFEE HOUSE, New Delhi


DAY 86 (4 OF 4) – SEAFOOD, VALPARAISO, CHILE

A visit to Valparaiso would not be completed without having a seafood meal. We went to Marisqueria Los Portenos II for an authentic Chilean seafood meal, including boiled clam meat with chopped onions and parsley,crabmeat salad and caldillo de congrio.
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Read other posts on Santiago and Valparaiso in 2013 South America:

Day 83.1 – Mercado Central, Santiago
Day 83.2 – Museums & Cultural Centre, Santiago
Day 84.1 – Centro Cultural Palacio la Moneda, Santiago
Day 84.2 – Arrival, Cerro Artilleria, Valparaiso
Day 85.1 – Ascensores, Valparaiso
Day 85.2 – Paella Lunch, Valparaiso
Day 85.3 – Cerros Alegre and Concepcion, Valparaiso
Day 86.1 – Hill of Colours, Valparaiso
Day 86.2 – Trolleybuses, Valparaiso
Day 86.3 – Casa Museo la Sebastiana, Valparaiso
Day 86.4 – Seafood, Valparaiso
Day 87 – New Year’s Fireworks, Valparaiso


DAY 76 (1 OF 2) – EL MURO, EL CHALTEN, ARGENTINA

The weather today was far from promising.  As a result, we decided to spend the morning sorting out bus tickets for the coming days at the bus terminal, and doing a short hike to Laguna Capri after lunch.  Located close the end of the main street, El Muro is another local’s favourite.  We had a hearty meal there with decent grill meat before starting the hike to Laguna Capri.
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Read more on El Chalten in 2013 South America
Day 74 – Patagonia Once Again, Ushuaia to El Calafate
Day 75.1 – Laguna Torres, El Chalten
Day 75.2 – Estepa Restaurant, El Chalten
Day 76.1 – El Muro, El Chalten
Day 76.2 – Laguna Capri, El Chalten
Day 77.1 – Laguna Torre Once Again, El Chalten
Day 77.2 – Domo Blanco Ice-cream, El Chalten
Day 78.1 – Sendero al Fitz Roy, El Chalten
Day 78.2 – In-house Dinner, El Chalten
Day 79.1 – Goodbye El Chalten

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South America 2013 – Our Destinations
Buenos Aires (Argentina), Iguazu Falls (Argentina/Brazil), Pantanal (Brazil), Brasilia (Brazil), Belo Horizonte & Inhotim (Brazil), Ouro Preto (Brazil), Rio de Janeiro (Brazil), Paraty (Brazil), Sao Paulo (Brazil), Samaipata & Santa Cruz (Bolivia), Sucre (Bolivia), Potosi (Bolivia), Southwest Circuit (Bolivia), Tilcara, Purmamarca, Salta (Argentina), Cafayate (Argentina), San Pedro de Atacama (Chile), Antofagasta & Paranal Observatory (Chile), Chiloe (Chile), Puerto Varas (Chile), Torres del Paine (Chile), Ushuaia (Argentina), El Chalten (Argentina), El Calafate (Argentina), Isla Magdalena (Argentina), Santiago (Chile), Valparaiso (Chile), Afterthought