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FOREVER TOURISTS Uncategorized

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.

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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

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.)

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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.

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FOREVER TOURISTS Uncategorized

[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.

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New York City

Spring in NYC

Waiting for two friends to indulge in some Shake Shack. (Photo by: Amy Chyan. April 17, 2014)

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FOREVER TOURISTS New York City

American Thanksgiving 2012

American Thanksgiving 2012

After I took this photo, I zonked out in a “short nap” on the bed. For this Friendsgiving, we had hot pot. The BFF and I took the train into Chinatown where we overstuffed my old lady trolly with hot pot ingredients. (But so thankful we didn’t have to carry it all by hand.) Not unusual for Thanksgiving, Williamsburg was a ghost town. Waiting for the guests to arrive, we watched the sunset through the bay windows. And it isn’t a hot pot party until we determine who the sauce master is. (I think I was berated for just using satay. No raw egg, soy, onions or garlic.) After dinner, we drank sake, discussed arranged marriages, ate cookies and watched “Jumanji”. #TBT #NYC

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FOREVER TOURISTS New York City

American Thanksgiving 2011

American Thanksgiving 2011

This was my first American Thanksgiving. (My jschool friends and I, all non-New Yorkers, decided to go see the infamous Macy’s Day Parade. We braved the crowds and stationed ourselves at 59th Street, right in front of the Columbus Circle Whole Foods.) At night, my BFF and I booked a turkey dinner at one of the few places opened, went to see “Puss in Boots” at the 32nd street theatre and ate our left over desserts watching “Elf”. We were lying on the couch, obviously in food coma, but determined to finish the dessert that came with our turkey dinner. The Empire State was lit with orange and red lights and the city was an empty ghost town. Two Canadians, one American Thanksgiving and the view of the Brooklyn and Williamsburg bridge. #TBT #NYC

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FOREVER TOURISTS New York City

Riverside Park

Riverside Park

Living a block away from Riverside Park meant running there whenever I wanted. A great trail, flat ground and designated running path looking onto the Hudson. This was taken when I was catching up on my New Yorker issue on a hill in the park, facing the Hudson. I also ran my first 5K race in this park. #TBT #NYC

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FOREVER TOURISTS New York City

College Walk

College Walk

Near the holiday season, this is what the Amsterdam gates at Columbia look like. I’m always mesmerized by appropriate lighting. #TBT #NYC

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New York City

The Pond – CPW

#TBT, a frigid stroll through Central Park West. No matter how many years you’ve lived in NY, Central Park is always a treat.

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FOREVER TOURISTS New York City Reviews

Tacombi at Fonda Nolita

Tacombi at Fonda Nolita
267 Elizabeth St, New York, NY 10012
http://www.tacombi.com

Whatever you do in New York City, just GO EAT A TACO AT TACOMBI.

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FOREVER TOURISTS New York City Reviews

Posto

Spicy Garden, NO CHEESE, Pesto base from Posto's
Spicy Garden, NO CHEESE, Pesto base from Posto’s

Posto Thin Crust Pizza
310 Second Avenue
NY, NY 10003
http://www.postothincrust.com

I’m not a pizza lover even though I know loving pizza is as trendy as loving Lebron James or Kanye. And especially New York pizza, which to me is far too sloppy, cheesy, gooey — everything someone wants in a slice of za.

But Posto is a pizza joint I miss so, so much now that I’m back in Toronto.