Sunday, 28 February 2010

Emma and Ruben's Visit to Tokyo

Last weekend of February Joss' sister Emma & her partner Ruben stopped in Tokyo for a whirlwind 3 days. They had been visiting family & holidaying in Australia before returning to Italy/UK via Japan.

We caught up with them on the first night at an izakaya called Za Watami not far from our place. It had been over 4 years since Joss had seen them, and was the first time Paul & Emma had met, so it didn’t take long for the alcohol to flow. And it sure did flow. We ate a ridiculous amount of tapas-style meals along with beer which was quickly followed by about 6 bottles of sake. Ouch.

JH: And I had to work the next morning with 2 year olds. Double ouch

Anyway, we had a lot of fun. Here are some photos from Paul’s fancy new camera.

Emma and Joss
Paul and Ruben with one of the many sakes.

Joss met up with Emma & Ruben the following day after work and took them to ramen and shopping before we all headed out to a Kaiseki restaurant that we had discovered on the net. Kaiseki is where you get several small tasty dishes – ours was 8 courses. It was a delicious meal which was made all the more special by the fact that it seemed we were the only Westerners ever to have gone to there! (well they made us feel that way anyway!)

One of the many tasty dishes

Out the front, where one of the very friendly staff offered to take a photo of us after they all walked us out!

JH: On the Friday I had the day off, so the three of us went to Kamakura for the day. Kamakura is an old, quintessentially Japanese town with lots of temples & gardens etc, and is only about an hour away from our place. We had a very leisurely day taking in some temples & the Great Buddha and a super long lunch.

PM: I was a bit disappointed to miss out on the lunch.

For our last dinner together Emma & Ruben were keen to go to a Yakiniku restaurant (where you cook your own meat). So we headed to Ebisu and a Yakiniku restaurant on the 38th floor of a the Garden Place Tower called Jojoen. YUM! What a great night. We had a ball - not only was the food delicious, but the view was amazing. Was a fantastic way to end their 3 day trip.

JH: Least I know that it won’t be another 4 years until I see Emma again – we are heading to Italy in late August to stay with her. Can’t wait!

Ruben, Emma and Joss in Kamakura

Emma, Ruben and Joss in Shibuya

Some of the great food grilling. Looks like Scallops, Ox Tongue and some yasai (vegetables)

The view from the 38th floor.

Sunday, 21 February 2010

The Roots @ Billboard and Ice Skating?!

The Roots Live @ Billboard Live

It all started 3 Wednesdays ago, when we were perusing the Metropolis magazine (for English speakers/readers) and stumbled across an ad for a Roots gig live in Tokyo. Being big fans, and having seen them in Sydney, there was no other thing to do than buy tickets! They also happened to be playing at a venue we had been hoping to go to, Billboard Live. 2 birds, one, well you get the idea. For those who have not heard, the Roots are best described as a Jazzy Hip Hop jam band, their show provides a bit of everything!

Finally the night arrived (last Friday), needless to say we were both very excited and eager to be once again acquainted with a group of such high caliber. After a few warm up bevvies whilst getting ourselves prepared we embarked upon the short journey, with plenty of time to cover any mishaps - although with Tokyo public transport this was a remote possibility! However, something we did not expect was the utter uselessness of the map provided and the mis-representational sign posting (Apparently Billboard Live can also known as Live Music Restaurant!) After a frustrating 45min we arrived at the venue just before the Roots were due to go on.

And once we took our seats with our complimentary beverage, all frustrations disappeared, we were presented with a fantastic view of the stage in an intimate venue of approx 200 - 250 people, and a seat! We will be returning to this venue as many times as possible, so for those visiting, get in early with dates and we will check out what is on and go to something!

True to their reputation it was a fantastic show, and in the relatively short set they played (they had another straight after!) we recognised the covers from at least this list:

Led Zep: Immigrant Song
Guns n Roses: Sweet Child o' Mine
George Thorogood: Bad to the Bone
Kool & the Gang: Jungle Boogie

Here are some pics (illegal)

This was the view from our seats as the curtain was closing. The green in the background was an ice scating rink (yes really, they are green lights making it look like putt putt, funnily enough it was a VW Golf promo, go figure)

The roots in action, they were so close it was fantastic

Us, actually we didn't realise til later that no photos were not allowed so we were lucky to get these.

After the gig, we were on a bit of a high from the show and after seeing the ice skating, figured, why not?! So we did some late night ice skating in Tokyo! It was pretty damn exciting night.

The ice skating rink

Us, rink in background.

Joss ready to go.

Paul in action

Tuesday, 2 February 2010

Hanging About in January and Unexpected Snow

Well after a lot of excitement over Christmas, NYE and our snow trip, the rest of January has been fairly quiet - catching up on rest and recovering. There have been some warmer days which has helped with the recovering.

Below are some pics from our day out to Nanja Town, another food themed 'park' which has 3 sections, gyoza (dumplings), Ice cream and dessert! For anyone planning a trip to Tokyo, we would be happy to return!

We tried a few different varieties of gyoza, including regular, a large round one with a whole prawn inside, beef (pic above is taken at the place it was sold), spicy with minced pork, vegetable with miso butter sauce, and served with habenero sauce - hot hot hot.

PM: Joss wondering when I am going to actually take a photo.

Our tub of shoyu (soy sauce) ice cream. We chickened out a bit here and tried a 'safe' flavour, next time we might get up the courage to try on of the other more exotic flavours: crab, squid, eggplant, abalone, salt, fish sauce, wasabi... and the list goes on!

Over the weekend just gone, Paul's cousin Michael and his wife Shaohua were in Tokyo. We went for a meal on Sunday, it was great to catch up again.

Shaohua, Michael and Paul inside the izakaya in Shibuya having some pre dinner drinks.

At an okinomiyaki restaurant in Ebisu where we cooked up our dinner on the hotplate at the table and introduced Michael to shochu. We were in a small little room with just another table.

Michael in the restaurant, and looking into the main area of the restaurant.

So last night (Monday) provided a surprise snowfall - well surprising to us, not to the weather forecasters. Here are some pics around our apartment.

This photo was taken just as the snow started falling from our balcony.

Our back balcony a few hours later. There was about 5 cm of snow covering the ground, there is still some now (midday Tuesday) on house roofs.

Out the front of our building.

Looking down our street.