Category Archives: FOOD

3 Incredible Shops for Classic Kyoto Ramen

Classic Kyoto Ramen - Shinpuku Saikan

These 3 Kyoto ramen shops have much history! Since as early as 1938, they’ve been serving loyal Kyoto customers delicious shoyu ramen.

#1 Shinpuku Saikan

Shinpuku Saikan was there before them all. 1938, to be precise. Their trademark dark shoyu ramen is boldly salty and even a bit bitter. It grabs your attention immediately and doesn’t let go.

Tokudai Ramen (All Toppings): ¥900

The bowl’s relatively thick noodles are a treat and really soak up that broth. If you get all toppings, enjoy thick slices of chashu pork and a wonderful addition of raw egg.

Shop Hours: 9:00 ~ 20:00 (closed on Wednesdays)

For reference, there’s an area in Japan where raw eggs are the signature ramen topping!

#2 Honke Daiichi Asahi

This ramen shop is right next to Shinpuku Saikan. Can you believe it? It must be a cordial relationship, as Honke Daiichi Asahi has been there since 1953.

Classic Kyoto Ramen - Honke
Tokusei Ramen (All Toppings): ¥900

They serve another perfect example of classic Kyoto ramen. The bold, dark soy sauce flavor is there. But the broth overall is somewhat richer than that of their next door neighbor.

Their noodles are also slightly firmer, thinner and rounder. In terms of similarities though, they also give you a mountain of Kyoto negi.

Shop Hours: 6:00 ~ 1:00 (closed on Thursdays)

#3 Masutani

Rounding out the list is Masutani. They’ve been delighting Kyoto locals since 1947 with their even fattier ramen. They get this by employing a generous …continue reading


Tastiest canned beer-like beverage

Due to beer being taxed by hops content as well as by alcohol content (or something like that!), there’s a big market for beer-like drinks that are about a third cheaper than the real stuff, so this survey looked at which beer-like drink Japanese found the tastiest.

In at number 6 is one of the first beer-likes, the only one I remember when I first came to Japan, mostly for it’s exceptionally awful taste! It’s basically fermented whatever with forced gassiness and various flavouring to make it – well, the taste is nowhere like beer, but on a dark night and a few sheets to the wind a glass of it might pass for beer.

Some of the Zeros (usually no added sugar, no purine, etc) are actually quite passable if I want to avoid waking up with a dry mouth and dull headache, though.

Of course, if you want real craft beer and real ale, I can recommend Beer Tengoku as two guys dedicated to finding the best brews in Japan.

The top drink, Kinmugi, surely must in part be due to my favourite advert series:

Ranking result

Rank Votes
1 Kinmugi (literally Gold Wheat) 133
2 Kirin Nodogoshi (Draft) 82
3 Hon Kirin 59
4 Kinmugi (Gold Lager) 53
5 Clear Asahi 48
6 Tanrei Gogujo (Draft) 44
7 Tanrei Green Label 40
8 Kinmugi (Sugars 75% Off) 39
9 Sapporo Mugi and Hops 38
10 Nodogoshi STRONG 24
11 Kinmugi Clear Label 21
11 Sapporo Hokkaido Nama Shibori (literally freshly squeezed) 21
13 Sapporo Mugi and Hops (Black) 19
14 Asahi Style Free (Draft) 18
14 Clear Asahi Prime Rich 18
16 Clear Asahi Clear Seven 17
16 Tanrei Platinum Double 17
18 Nodogoshi ZERO 16
19 Clear Asahi Zeitaku (literally luxury) Zero 15
20 Asahi Gokujo (Kire Aji (literally clean taste)) 14
20 Kirin Koi Aji (literally rich taste) (Sugars 0) 14
22 Sapporo White Belg 12
23 Asahi Style Free Perfect 11
23 Asahi Hon Nama Draft 11
25 Asahi Hon Nama Aqua Blue 7
25 Asahi Red Eye 7
25 Asahi Off 7
25 Magnum Dry (Karaguchi (literally dry)) 7
25 Sapporo Goku ZERO 7
30 Seven Premium The Brew 6
30 Seven Premium The Brew Strong Seven 6
32 Sapporo Honkaku Karaguchi 5
32 Grand Gold 5
34 Asahi Aqua Zero 4
35 Seven Premium The Brew Carbohydrate 70% Off 3

…continue reading


Cheesy Lion Bento

Yesterday I taught two bento classes for a company here in Honolulu, which was fun, since it had been a while since I taught a class. It’s intensely stressful when prepping for things like this because I have to plan, design, shop, cook, wash, cut, and pack every single thing I may need. It’s exhausting, but the class itself is fun, simply because people love seeing how cute bento come together.

We made two bento—one for adults and one charaben—and after the last class, while my students were making their charabens, I played around with my cutters and made a lion, then picked at the leftover food to make this impromptu bento.

Packed in with the lion are pieces of pan-fried salmon, cutie slices, a tomato with a washi tape flag, broccoli, and pear. There’s a slice of turkey under the lion.

I brought it home and my little one, Mr. Destruction, kept telling me it’s a bear. I tried to tell him it’s a lion, but he insisted, and he probably thinks I need proper animal schooling.

To make the lion, I painted food coloring (1 drop red, 1 drop green, 3 drops yellow) on the scalloped oval. I didn’t bring yellow cheese to the class, so the bear’s face is painted yellow. I cut the snout out with a bubble tea straw and rounded the edges, then placed the nori details with a toothpick.

Something new I discovered during the class: cutting cutie slices flat like you see above. I used to do wedges, and these thin slices are WAY easier to arrange. I’m not sure why I never thought of cutting them this way before. Just goes to show you that you can still learn things even seven …continue reading


Izumi Curry: Suidobashi


This old-fashioned Osaka-based shop serves up richly flavored curry with meaty main ingredients like stewed pork belly and chicken cutlet. The pork belly is particularly recommended – the curry is topped with a thick, fairly large slab of naturally fatty meat that’s tender enough to fall apart on your fork. It’s nicely complemented by the curry roux, which has a pleasing combination of exotic spices and a good dose of heat.

Izumi’s curries come in three sizes, but even the medium size is quite filling – you might want to go for the small if you don’t have a huge appetite. Numerous optional toppings – ranging from seasonal vegetables and cheese to deep-fried pork cutlets – will add some variety to your dish, and classic fukushinzuke pickles will give it a bit of extra crunch.

The brightly lit shop has mostly counter seating, plus a couple of tables for groups. Non-stop J-pop plays in the background for your musical enjoyment, and take-out is available. Curries average around Y1000. …continue reading