Sunday, December 29, 2013

My Favourite Tokyo Starbucks and Bills for Breakfast

Have a morning and an afternoon to kill in Tokyo by eating and drinking coffee?  Well, head down to Omotesando and the Tokyu Plaza Mall.  It's located on Jingumei, the main street, at the intersection on top of Meijijingumae Station.  On the roof is a wonderful patio / urban garden, a really classy looking Starbucks Omohara and Bills Omotesando Restaurant in one convenient package.
Tokyu Plaza

View Tokyu Plaza Omotesando Harajuku in a larger map

Cool Mirrored Entrance
Lots of shopping in the Tokyu Hands store inside.
Rooftop Garden Patio
Starbucks with fancy drinks and a great dessert cabinet.  Check their link below.

View from the roof.

It was raining the day I visited this Starbucks and the inside was packed, but I was pretty impressed by the layout and setup.  You could take your drinks out onto the rooftop garden when the weather was nice and relax.  A little crowded, as a lady bumped into my tray with coffee, but not too much spilled.  The rooftop garden in an urban setting seems isolated from the hustle and bustle below.  The building and the restaurants are relatively recent and worth a visit if you are in the area.

For breakfast, I'm going to have to try this Bills Omotesando, an extension of the restaurants from Australia that is supposed to serve the best breakfast in Sydney.  There's often a lineup, but it might not be too bad depending on the day you visit.  Have a nice, hearty, eggy breakfast.  Then, if you haven't had enough coffee, head down to the patio below to Starbucks for dessert and more coffee.  They have a nice selection of pastries and cakes here.  It is a showcase store for Starbucks and it shows!!!

Donbe Big Tempura Udon and Nissin Chicken Instant Ramen Bowl

Just a brief post today.  I hope everyone had a good Christmas and is looking forward to the new year.  Over the last little bit, I've had the opportunity to try a couple of other Nissin Instant Ramen products and they were up to their normal tasty goodness.

Donbe Big Tempura Udon
This is a nice big bowl of instant udon noodles in the typical soy / dashi type broth for udon noodles.
Nice packaging, but the photo shows the lettering upside down as the nice side of the bowl faced this way.
There is a dry flavour packet, a big disk of shrimp/vegetable tempura.
Add the boiling water and let it sit for 3-5 minutes.  Then add the disc of tempura which would otherwise get completely soggy.
Looks yummy! Was filling.

Nissin Instant Chicken Ramen Bowl
This is a nice way to eat Nissin's classic chicken ramen flavoured instant noodles.  I'm not sure why this chicken flavour is not sold in North America.  It is a nice rich, roasted/smokey chicken flavour rather than the regular chicken flavour powedered you get over here.

Classic looks and brandiing.  Little Line Messaging App promo tie-in.
The chicken stock is baked onto the noodles and the extra ingredients came in a little puck that contained chicken shreds, omelet shreds of egg, and green onion.  Kind of neat!
You can see the puck kind of dissolves after adding hot water.  Wait three minutes again!
Yummy chicken ramen!
Visit my Pop Culture Page for more Instant Ramen Posts and More!

Sunday, December 8, 2013

A Best Pick of Anime on Crunchyroll Fall 2013 and Gundam Build Fighters

This has been a pretty good year for anime viewing with Crunchyroll bringing over a bumper crop of entertainment.  There's been pretty much something for everyone and you don't have to pay a dime to view it all.
Vending machine in Japan.  It is going to be sad when most of the machines replace the little models with a TV screen.

Shows I'm watching now in the fall of 2013:
  • Gundam Build Fighters (this is on Bandai's Gundam Channel on Youtube)
    This is a really fun show (even if it is a big commercial for gunpla).  Reminds me a bit about Angelic Layer by Clamp, but it is pretty cool that you take your Gundam models and fight in a competitive arena.  Lots of nods to the Gundam anime and neat world setup.
    Fan Service: 1 of 5
    Fun Level: 5 out of 5
    Story: 4 out of 5 (once you accept that models can by animated in the arena by special particles).
  • Arpeggio of Blue
    This is a pretty good military SF anime if you don't mind anthropomorphized AIs in the form of cute girls that control alien battleships modeled on WWII naval units with super weapons.
    Fan Service: 3 out of 5 with 5 being high.
    Fun Level: 4 out of 5
    Story: 3 out of 5
  • Log Horizon
    Like .Hack and Sword Art you have people trapped inside a fantasy MMORPG.  No explanation is supposed to be forthcoming yet about why they are trapped, but this show has been really good for story development and the characters.  I really like how the interactions between the players are turning out.
    Fan Service: 2 out of 5
    Fun Level: 4 out of 5
    Story: 4 out of 5
  • Gingitsune: Messenger Fox of the Gods
    Really nice story about a future priestess at a Inari shrine and the relationship with the fox messenger to the gods there.  Nice set of characters and dilemnas between the spirit world and the human world.
    Fan Service: 1 out of 5
    Fun Level: 4 out of 5
    Story: 4 out of 5
  • Non Non Biyori
    Slice of life anime set out in the country with a very small single classroom school.  Not much happens each episode, but it is relaxing to watch if you like this genre.
    Fan Service: 1 out of 5
    Fun Level: 5 out of 5
    Story: 1 out of 5 (can slice of life really be a story story?)  The 1 isn't bad, there just usually isn't much of a plot.
  • Outbreak Company
    This show is unusual.  Modern Japan finds a portal to a real "fantasy" world with knights, elves, dwarves, and magic.  They decide to export Akiba / anime culture to said world to generate trade ties.  Unrealistic - hell ya.  The other world loves anime and manga - really?  What if it really worked this way and you suspended your disbelief? Then it is a recipe for fun.  There has been some interesting commentary on society and otaku culture, but it is nowhere near as deep as it could go.  Dragons versus RPGs too!
    Fan Service: 4 out of 5
    Fun Level (turn brain off): 4 out of 5
    Story: 3 out of 5
  • Golden Time
    Great little romantic show.  Amnesiac character, love triangle, and good stories.  College age romance.
    Fan Service: 2 out of 5
    Fun Level: 4 out of 5
    Story: 4 out of 5.

Shows of Interest:
  • Valvrave  - kind of lost me a bit when vampires turned up. Don't like vampires or zombies.
  • Galilei Donna
  • Gargantia
  • Sword Art Online
  • Durara
  • Majestic Prince
  • The Ambition of Oda Nobuna
  • Samurai Flamenco
  • Space Brothers
  • Strike the Blood
  • Attack on Titan
  • Kill la Kill
  • Girls und Panzer
  • Vividred Operation
  • Infinite Stratos
  • Beyond the Boundary
  • White Album
  • Nagi no Asukara
  • Kyousougiga
  • Walkure Romanze
  • Yowapeda
  • The Pet Girl of Sakurasou
  • Dog Days
  • Miss Monochrome

Another Batch of Japanese Themed Apps

It has been awhile since I posted about apps about Japan.  I've been pretty busy writing my scifi novel Neo Ace, but here is a belated update.  This update has a variety of apps that are utilities, games and educational software for IOS devices.

Yamanote Line.  I listed some Yamanote related apps on another one of the pages.  I kind of love this train line as it is so useful for transportation and iconic.  I've read that it carries a billion passengers a year!

Moku Hanga by JixiPix
This app makes your pictures look look like a Japanese Woodblock print.  $1.99.

Tap Hanabi by Seesaa Inc.
This is a simple little app that allows you to set off a fireworks shows with various Japanese locales include Tokyo with the Rainbow Bridge.  I thought it was pretty fun for free.

Enjoy Learning Tokyo Map Puzzle by Digital Gene
This was a cool little app that basically has you memorize the prefectures in Tokyo so you know your basic geography.  Plays like filling in a jigsaw and it was free the last time I checked!  This is a keeper.

Notakto by Counterwave, Inc.
This was a pretty nifty concept.  It is a variant of Xs and Os where both players make X's and the first to do three in a row loses.  The Japanese themed art is nice and it is a great app for free!  On my Ipad.

Samurai Wars
Lead your samurai armies in a tactical wargame in realtime.  It is a tabletop wargame simulator and is an awesome little app for free if you like wargames.  Great job on this freebie!

Pillbug Collection by 58works
Squash little pillbugs of different colors and types to collect them all. Had to admit I played this for a bit... more entertaining than it sounds for free.

Pigg Fishing in River by Ameba Pig
A scoop the fish as a bear kind of game.  Not quite sure what else to say.  Free at writing.

Pigg Crane Game by Ameba Pigg
A variant of the UFO claw catcher game where you have a UFO pick stuff up.  Different and free at the time of writing.

Hiragana Pixel Party by Springloaded
This is a really good rhythm learning game for Hirigana.  Great deal to start at the price for free and it looks great!  I really liked this but thought it could use an easier mode where things are still spaced a little further apart.  

TenuGo Kana (Hirigana and Katakana)
This app lists the kana and pronounces them for you too.   There are flash cards and quizzes.  I liked it and you should probably check this out if you're learning Japanese.

Learn Japanese Hiragana! by Makoto Ishida!/id708363188?mt=8
This is a simple little learning game for Hiragana for the younger ones who already speak Japanese way better than me.  Nice little free download.

Hiroshige: Fifty-Three Stations of the Tokaido by Wei Yao
This is a nicely designed art app to show the wood block prints of Hiroshige.  I previously posted about several other free apps relating to ukiyo-e art prints too, but this one seems to have more information in it.  Free at the time of writing.

A sightseeing guide in Japanese to the Doou area in Hokkaido.  That northern island has a few apps like this now where there are cute mascot characters that you can add into local photos.  Good if you read Japanese.

Defense Witches for iPhone / iPad by Newgate
A tower defense game using cute anime characters as the defenders.  I played a half dozen levels and thought it was fairly well done and fun with nice moe art.  What more could you want for free in a tower defense game?

Groove Catch Free by WG Publishing
There is the regular edition of Groove Catch too for $2.99 at the time of writing.  I'm posting about the free one as you can see if you like the app first.  It is a 500 MB download for the full version, but you get a fair number of songs to play the rhythm games with.  Nice anime themes and such and it seems like it could be pretty fun based on the sample.  Hatsune Miku and more.

Check out the main Japan / Japanese apps page here.