Japan was never really in the top of my ‘must-travel’ list. Europe and the US were the two places I wanted to conquer first.
But sometimes, when the opportunity arises, a wanderer should just go with whatever awesome plans made by closest friends.
It was February last year when a super spontaneous text in our dead whatsapp group chat sparked a random catch-up sessison with Jan, Cenydd, and Sarah. We found out that Jan was going to Japan for WWOOF (World Wide Opportunities on Organic Farms). He was going to be a ‘WOOFer’ he said. He was to live on a farm, doing work for the farmer while she gave him food and lodging. “Come to Japan and I will take you all around,” he said.
After a few weeks of deliberation, Sarah and I sealed the deal and bought cheap tickets on Delta. And so the journey began… well much later in March.
So we picked Tokyo and off we went on an adventure. Since it was Japan, one of the food meccas in the world, we went in search of the best food. In Japan, good food is easy to come by. We never had a bad meal! In fact, one of our best is the first thing we filled our stomachs with on the day we landed.
Charcoal grilled pork over rice. The char, the juiciness, the slick dark sauce they tenderly brushed on before grilling. Serious oishii- goodness.
Next up was dessert. We were tired, and not feeling adventurous so when I saw a Mister Donut I said ‘Yes!’. My last Mister Donut was in Taiwan and that was too long ago.
Hospitality is in the DNA of all Japanese. Seriously. Everyone (from store owner, waitress to the sweeper) was terribly genial. The pursuit of perfection. That’s what sets them apart.
Even our AirBnB host was as sweet as honey. On our first day and our last, she cooked for us.
She greeted us with maguro sashimi on our first day.
Most days, our breakfasts were morsels we picked up from the supermarkets. One day, I had natto. Love those.
Another day, it was a sweet start.Pudding with gelatinous fixings. Red bean stuffed ‘tang-yuan’-like balls.
Dinner on our last day was lavish. Pork chops.
White strawberries we had bought for our host (but she insisted we shared it).
Oden! So simple lighto good. It amazes me how the simplest ingredients can be elevated when combined with the lightest seasoning. Our host had cooked this in kombu and bonito.
We slept on tatami mats and comfy padding-things. I was worried they were uncomfortable but surprisingly I slept like a log.
The view from our apartment.
Golden cloud? Golden shit? This is the Asahi beer building that’s just right in front of our apartment block.
More Japan pictures coming up.
The internet is full of amazing factoids, memes, prank videos and basically shortcuts on just about anything.
Imagine my awe when I saw this glorious video by Buzzfeed food last week:
Aren’t you glad man invented the internet? I enjoy baking but these days when I’m busy, sometimes, the thought of spending 4 to 5 hours in the kitchen can be a deterrent.
So if a trip to a super-market and 20 minutes is all it takes to make a gorgeously chocolatey gooey pastry then I’m jumping on the quick & fast band-wagon.
Yep this is not au pain chocolat but hey, at least it has crisp texture and the decadent chocolate touch we all know and love.
Do try this recipe please. And keep it in your back pocket whenever you have a last-minute dinner party. Your friends will be uber impressed.
PS. I used 78% dark chocolate.