I had the best tasting beef (of life) in Toba, Japan

Living in Taipei, I have a lot of friends and co-workers who always rave about Japan. For myself, I never made Japan a goal destination. However, I recently had the chance to visit Toba in Japan – and a surrounding island called Toshijima. (Toba is approximately 3 hours away from Osaka’s Kansai International Airport and Toshijima is a 20 minute medium sized ferry ride away from Toba.) As a first time visitor to the country, I was blown away by the degree of hospitality – though it shouldn’t be a lightbulb moment.

toba view

What did surprise me though, when I chose to explore, was the number of vending machines. Regardless of city or rural, there were vending machines everywhere. As a Taipeier, that rings true for convenience stores.

My question was “Who refills these machines and do they have a computer system that indicates when the supplies are low?” 

Other than generous hospitality – the constant smiling and bowing, the food was also a great foray into the geography of Toba. 

Toba faces Ise Bay, flowing into the Pacific Ocean. As we were looking at the sunset one day, one of our translators said “If you look far enough, you can see Hawaii!”

Let’s talk food. On my first night, I attended a welcome dinner party where the menu featured local ingredients.



Drinks were the first call of order. For the indecisive, there was a glass of everything and anything. Red wine, white wine, sparkling wine, a beautiful cocktail with gold specks and a pearl nestled inside the portion of cotton candy made to melt into the beverage and even sake “Mokkiri” style.


Sake “Mokkiri” style is when the sake glass is placed into a square wooden container, pouring to overflow the glass on purpose. One can choose to drink from the glass or directly from the aromatic wood box. I tried it both ways and preferred drinking my sake from the box – it added another level of flavour.

The assorted sashimi dish highlighted the fresh seafood ingredients Toba’s natural environment abundantly provides. (Kudos on the region’s efforts in sustainable catching.) In the dish, there was Japanese spiny lobster, abalone, Ise tuna, sea bream and Spanish mackerel. With this course, we also had fresh wasabi. The active eating aspect, where we had to grate our own wasabi from the root, was thrilling. It was an accomplishment. We were given a small rigged mortar that would grate the root into paste as you vigorously swirled the root in a circular motion. The taste was mild and light, unlike the radioactive green pungent paste I’ve often seen at North American sushi joints. (The better places I’ve been to offer a pistachio shade of spicy wasabi paste.)


The most memorable dish for me was the Japanese beef teppanyaki. I will boldly proclaim that it was the best beef I’ve had in my life. The beef is highly marbled so it’s a very rich bite of protein. According to our translator, the Matsusaka beef, named after the city that farms the cattle, is raised where each cow is given a name. (Our cow was named Neneko…sorry, buddy, you were delicious.) The cows are given beer to drink and pampered with shochu sake massages. At around $50 USD for 100 grams of beef, even people who live in the area can’t afford it – and can only splurge during special occasions.



Reviews Taipei Taiwan

Chronicles of Taipei


Hi Internet Lovers & Haters, Friends & Strangers,

I will be starting a series dedicated to Taipei on this site. Whenever a friend visits Taiwan, I have to go back into my inbox and find my list of suggestions for their Taipei rendezvous – I figure why not share it here. Whether it be what to eat (duh, stereotype of Taipei), what to do, where to get massages, Taipei on a budget etc. I will be sharing my own experience here.

I will tell you that there is a world outside of Din Tai Fung and that after a year of living above a convenience store, even a tasty 7-11 onigri will start tasting like plastic. (But I will teach you how to take the sleeve off that onigri cuz that takes forever to figure out.)

When a visiting friend asked where I had been in Asia, I told him I don’t really like to travel. (Usually, I like to immerse myself and explore a city really well – on foot, by bike, gazing out the train window like I’m in some music video. I’m sentimental like that, an Aquarius loyalty trait.)

Anyway, I know my Dad has my website on his bookmark, so Hi, Dad!


Taitung, Taiwan (land & sea)

taitung farmtaitung ocean

Photographs by: Amy Chyan


[LINK] Hello Kitty Shabu Shabu in Taipei

Hi Googlers,

Sorry I’ve been a bad website updater. I’ve been writing, have you been reading?

Here’s something fun I wrote:

Hello Kitty Hot Pot Restaurant Gives Visitors Warm Welcome in Taiwan

I will try updating more frequently.


The American Dream…in Taipei?

Hi Internet friends,

My latest for NBC – on the American Dream in Taipei.

I realize the irony is that I’m a Canadian – a proud one that pledges allegiance to my girl Queen Lizzie through and through.

Please enjoy!

The American Dream Is Alive and Well in Taipei


Samchong-Dong, Seoul

愛過了, 就是一生一世

Samchong-Dong, Seoul
March 2015


Open Access – Nairobi

Here’s the latest video I edited for EIFL on Open Access from a student’s POV. Remember to watch in HD – you know, 2015 and all.

“Students and faculty at the University of Nairobi discuss how open access is transforming how they access and share knowledge at their institution.”

Learn more here:

Freelance Published Video

Open Access – Kenya

Happy New Year everyone. Sending warm wishes from Taipei.

Below is a video I edited recently for EIFL on Open Access in Kenya.

“Open access is a powerful solution to the barriers that researchers in developing and transition countries face trying to access and share critical research that can improve people’s lives.”


Recent articles written for NBC

Hi friends and internet lurkers,

Check out some of my recent articles for NBC News.

Taiwan’s Same Sex Marriage Law Languishes in Political Purgatory

From Dumplings to Bubble Tea, Asian Street Food Goes Artisanal

Despite Drought, China Dives into ALS Ice Bucket Challenge


Asian Diaspora Toronto

Two optometrists marry each other: The Future Is 20/20

Two optometrists marry each other. #FutureIs20/20

(Photo by: Amy Chyan.)