Monday, April 13, 2009

Takoyaki Party

Mrs Game Fugu gave a Takoyaki pan to me for Christmas, which we recently unpacked and used when some friends joined us. Takoyaki is originally from Osaka, and is made by grilling chopped octopus in batter with green onion. When the octopus balls are cooked, they taste great covered in okonomiyaki sauce.

They are the perfect party food, because everyone is involved in making them. We all gathered around the table and used a gas stove to heat the pan. Then, each of us had a different responsibility:

  • Pouring the batter;

  • Adding the chopped octopus;

  • Adding the green onion;

  • Adding the tempura scraps;

  • Rolling the ball of batter as it cooks to stop it burning;

  • Keeping everybody's beer glasses full!

One other thing that helped us have a great time was the star of the evening. Mrs Game Fugu ordered a whole fresh octopus, and it was huge!

Saturday, March 28, 2009

Nobu Restaurant

To celebrate a friend's birthday, I went to Nobu in Mayfair for lunch. The food was excellent - the best Japanese I have had outside of Japan, and the portion size was generous as well. Even better, there was no fugu on the menu!

I chose the Nobu Bento Box, which included the famous Black Cod with Miso. I had tried this before at a Teppanyaki restaurant nearby, but this was much better.

Friday, January 2, 2009

Shin-Sekai Fugu

Whilst I really enjoyed the kushikatsu in Shin-Sekai, I must admit not all the food was good. After we finished lunch I spotted the other famous food for the area - fugu!

Please stick with kushikatsu and don't eat Fugu!

Thursday, January 1, 2009

Osaka Food

After the long flight and arrival in Osaka, I was really looking forward to eating some real Japanese food. Fortunately, the old friends I was visiting knew some good places to go. As soon as I dropped off my bags at their apartment we went to a local Okonomiyaki restaurant. We were greeted by some friendly locals and each ordered Kansai-fu Okonomiyaki. I prefer Hiroshima-fu myself (with noodles!), but it was still delicious. Maybe I am biased after living in Hiroshima-ken for two years...

The next day we went to Shin-Sekai, an old part of Osaka famous for restaurants and entertainment. We were visiting an Onsen in the area I had been to before, but before that we needed some energy. After walking around the streets for a few minutes, we quickly picked the restaurant with the longest queue. It was an old kushikatsu place that advertised all of the famous people who had eaten there in the past. This was my first time eating kushikatsu, and I absolutely loved it! I'm glad I could find another Japanese dish I like to eat, but wish it was a bit healthier.

Saturday, November 8, 2008

Shinkansen to Osaka

Mrs Game Fugu and I arrived on a Saturday morning at Centrair Airport, Nagoya. After catching a local train into the city centre, we separated. She stayed in Nagoya to meet some old friends and her family, whilst I went to Osaka by Shinkansen to visit an old colleague from when I was working as a JET in Hiroshima.

Catching the Shinkansen is one of the things I always look forward to when I visit Japan. I'm looking forward to the day we have high-speed rail in the UK too.

Tuesday, October 28, 2008

Finnair Upgrade Get!

Mrs Game Fugu and I flew from London to Nagoya via Helsinki with Finnair. Earlier in the year Finnair had offered discounted seats for visiting Asian destinations, and we managed to get return tickets for £420 each including all taxes. Not bad! It did make me worry about the quality of the economy seats and service though, especially after reading some horror stories about Finnair using old MD-11s for their long haul flights to the Far East which didn't have an in-flight entertainment system.

Fortunately the Helsinki-Nagoya leg was in a much more modern A340, and even more fortunately we received an upgrade due to overbooking. Despite all of the flying I have done in the past, this was the first time I have been upgraded for a long haul flight! We made the most of it, relaxing in the extended seats so that when we arrived in the morning at Centrair (Nagoya's airport) we were ready to enjoy the first day of our holiday.

I would be happy to fly Finnair again in the future!

Monday, October 27, 2008

Japan 2008 Holiday

On an early October morning Mrs Game Fugu and I were finally able to leave the apartment for our annual holiday in Japan. Ever since returning to the UK from teaching on the JET programme in Hiroshima, I have been able to go back once a year to see friends still out there and visit some new places. This year the plan was to visit Osaka, Nagoya and Nara.

When I have spoken with friends in the past about going to Japan, their first reaction is almost always "Wow, it must be really expensive." I always responded by saying it was much cheaper than people believe - good restaurants and izakaya were affordable, and hotels were less expensive than in the UK. However, I cannot say this any more! When we changed our £ into ¥ (Yen) last month, the exchange rate was £1 to ¥196. With the credit crunch and threat of recession in the UK, this has fallen to ¥146. Now I agree, it is expensive to have a holiday in Japan!