Friday, April 19, 2019

Maruchan Menzukuri Dan Dan Bowl Noodles

Maruchan puts out some pretty nice instant noodles.  This Menzukuri Dan Dan bowl noodle is in a flavour category I quite like as it is savoury, full of flavour, and has some heat to it.  Dan Dan noodles are a Chinese style flavouring (Sichuan cuisine) with Japanese characteristics in this case.  It uses a chili bean sauce which is both spicy and salty.  Doubanjiang pepper, chili oil, sesame add intense flavour to a miso soup base.
3/4 view of the nicely decorated bowl of noodles.  This type of bowl is not as wide as the broad bowls like in UFO noodles, but is much deeper.
Lid of the bowl.  You can see the noodles are nicely displayed front and center and you can see the chili oil on the noodles and on the surface of the soup behind it.  Quite an attractive layout with the use of yellowish gold and nice bright reds.  Makes you think your about to have some spicy and tasty food.
Nutritional information and manufacturers information.
Cooking directions and allergin information.
Closeup of the side of the cup with the name and the lid.
The noodle block inside.  You can tell it isn't a fried noodle, but a dried one.  The noodles are of a slightly thicker gauge than regular noodles.
There are plenty of ingredients sachets in this bowl of instant noodles.  It comes with a dry soup mix, a dehydrated veggies and ground pork packet, and a fairly large chili / miso paste sachet.
Closeup of the dried ingredients such as green onions, ground meat.
All of the satchets added on top of the noodles prior to adding boiling water.  You can see sesame seeds and such too.
The rehydrated noodles and soup after closing the lid for 3 minutes.
This is a Dan Dan style instant ramen soup that did not disappoint the taste buds.  The soup had a nice chili / miso aroma to it and had a nice dark tannish red colour to highlight that was quite appealing.  There was a bit of body to the soup itself thanks to the miso paste.  The flavour of the soup was a miso / chili taste that had depth to it that wasn't just heat.  The dry ingredients got lost in the soup and were really more there as a little bit of garnish.  The noodles had a nice texture and were quite enjoyable with the soup.  This soup is a winner and I'd have it again.
Closeup of the noodles.

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Monday, April 15, 2019

Little Experiences in Tokyo - #3 Shinjuku Weekend Morning

While Shinjuku buzzes with people and energy at night, the weekend mornings are a different story.  It can be quite quiet and peaceful when the restaurants and shops are not open.  Shopping doesn't open until 11 AM for most most malls.  In the mornings there are not many people out and about in the neighbourhood or even in the local parks.  In the commercial areas you can see delivery trucks bringing their daily load of food to the depachika and the sanitation department hard at work to tidy up.  It is kind of nice to walk around the city when it is cooler and not so busy.
Empty park.
Even the konbini was pretty empty in the morning.
A restaurant in the morning.
Restaurant and entertainment area.  You can see all of the empty beer and liquor crates out front.
Entertainment area.
Some restaurants.
Vending machine in a small parking lot.
These busy restaurant and bar areas are near the train station, but south of Yasakuni Dori, away from Kabukicho.  The streets are narrow and the buildings not quite as big.  Kind of more inviting in some ways.
A restaurant.
These morning sets for breakfast are pretty good deals and you get a place to sit down and eat.
At first glance it looked like the signs are about a cat coming to visit for food, but it is really a cute sign with cats indicating they have takeout - meow.  I thought they even had a little step built for the cats, but nope - it is maybe for kids or just a stack of trays.
Animate Shinjuku store for anime goods and anime events.
Construction site with some heavy duty steel beams.  Built to earthquake resistant code I sure.
One Piece Chopper character safety barriers! Only in Japan.
Shinjuku West Side.  Not that busy in the mid-morning now.
Bakery for breakfast!
Mont Blancs!
Nice croissants.
Evangelion Pachinko.

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Sunday, April 14, 2019

Little Experiences in Tokyo - #2 Around Shinjuku

Shinjuku is a really busy place both day and night.  The Netflix show, Midnight Diner, is set in the area.  Near Shinjuku Station and Kabukicho are the really busy areas.  Dense signage and restaurant / bar displays are everywhere.  As you move away from these areas you'll actually find residential areas outside the core business / shopping zone.  You need to visit an area like this at night to see how it lights up even if you don't want to drink, see the robot restaurant, or anything like that.
Main LABI store.  Lots of electronics, toys, and everything else.
The giant Godzilla head that is worth a visit up close to get the 1-1 scale feel of you being small.
Along the main street of Yasakuni Dori is where most amazing lights and crowds are in the evening.  The giant Godzilla head and the Bandai VR Arcade are in the Kabukicho area.  You could spend awhile here just taking photos and watching people go by.
Yasakuni Dori at night.  There are many shifting displays of lights too.
Bikes on Yasakuni Dori.
It is Spiderman in Shinjuku!
Really cool looking vending machines showing gods and ukiyo-e art while advertising an Okonomiyaki restaurant.
The Yamanote Line - still my favourite train line there, even if the subway is faster to get around much of the time.
Yasakuni Dori and more bikes.  Plenty of people ride bike here to get around.
I love the frontage on this Kumamoto style ramen shop.
I had a hotel in the area once that was about a 10 to 12 minute walk east of Shinjuku Station on Yasakuni Dori.  It was quite neat to walk away from the crowds even though the street itself is fairly busy with people as there are many shops, restaurants, and konbini along the street.

The Godzilla Store in Shinjuku is worth a visit if you like Big G.
Tezuka diorama.
A nice Tonkatsu lunch.  Sooo good.
Seria. Another of the big dollar store chains with more focus on crafting and being artsy in their products.  Different than Daiso.  It is in the Marui OIOI Annex with the Godzilla Store.
The restaurants and bars go from the basement and up the buildings on various floors.  They sometimes are not very big establishments in narrow buildings.
Yasakuni Dori at night.
Two pretty good anime movies in the theatres.  Your Name and A Silent Voice.  Both on DVD now in the west.

Giant Godzilla Head Up Close and Godzilla Store Shinjuku

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Sunday, April 7, 2019

Little Experiences in Tokyo - #1 Going to Tsukiji Market

When you travel, it isn't all about the big ticket sights.  It isn't just about the kabuki theatre, Anime Expo, giant Gundam robot statues, going up the Skytree, or Michelin starred cuisine.  There is that old saying that "planning is half the fun in traveling," as your imagination and hopes are fully involved in the experience.  This post is kicking off a series about the little things that fill in your trip and make it memorable for years to come.

#1 Going to Tsukiji Market
I've previously covered the market in this post A Visit to Tsukiji Fish Market in April 2015.
While the inner market is closed now, having moved to Toyosu, the outer market with shops and restaurants is still open.

Going to and from the market also had its share of interesting things and this post is more around getting there.   In December of 2017 I went to visit the market before it moved and found they had put in more rules around the inner market due to the massive number of visitors.  In general, Tokyo is way busier in any area a tourist would visit than the first time I visited.

I walked over to Tsukiji in the morning after grabbing a quick breakfast from the konbini (convenience store).  Konbini's are fantastic to get breakfast or any quick meal at as you can eat them easily back in your room, at the konbini sometimes, or on a park bench.  The walk from Ginza was interesting as I went by some toll gates and over a freeway that runs through the area.  You almost don't notice it until you are on the bridge over the road.  I then passed through some warehouse areas, a shrine, and then went to the market itself.  Afterwards you walk west out through the outer market and into Ginza.  On a weekend morning it isn't busy at all outside of the market, but now that the inner market is gone, the whole place is probably less busy in general.
Coffee, juice, and a ham sandwich.
Lawson has great chicken nuggets!
Tokyo Expressway entrance that I walked by.
Toll entrance again.  I went over the expressway on a bridge.
A way cool manhole cover showing japan and a surveyor.
Lots of boxes of produce and fish at various distributors as you walk towards the market. 
Delivery truck for a sushi chain restaurant.  They get their fish here.
Some really old working bikes.  They would have big styrofoam coolers clipped onto the back.
Salmon for sale.
Knife store
Dried bonito flakes up top used to make dashi or as a topping, and the rock hard katsuobushi that they are shaved from below with a wood plane.
The Tsukiji Shrine. Nice crisp fall morning when I visited.
The little altar to the tamago or egg inside the shrine.
Main shrine building and prayer altar.
A bunch of old and new scales for weighing fish or anything else.
Area behind a fish distributor showing hand carts, forklifts, and those cool little propane powered carts with the big round steering wheel.
People bike to work in the outer market.
A dish shop.  I like the bright colors and funky little fish painted dishes at the bottom right corner.
This was the original Yoshinoya Beef Bowl restaurant or restaurant #1.  It is supposed to be closing.
Main entrance to the market.
Starbucks and their tasty looking food in Japan.  I stopped here after visiting the market for a coffee and a snack.  I had some sushi from a place I visited the time before earlier, but it wasn't as good this time.
The market is a fun place to visit.  There are some very well known food stalls here to get ramen, beef bowl, sushi, and even tamago omelettes.  Locals still come here so if you have time it is probably worth a couple of hours to poke around and see a bustling marketplace - minus the main fish market.

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