Thursday, January 31, 2013

This Ramen Store

We were practically starving by the time we reached our hotel in Sapporo. After all, it took us approximately 2 hours to get there by bus! (It's normally an hour but the ice on the road made it a lot harder to drive, hence the delay.)

All thoughts on finding something that the locals patronised were out of the window, especially with three famished kids.

Fortunately, we chanced upon this ramen joint just a few minutes walk down from the hotel. A nondescript place with probably only 15 seats, it was a rather welcoming sight especially when you are out in the freezing snow. PS: I am still trying to find out what is the name of this place.

We quickly had a glance of the menu (All in Japanese) and pointed our way through the ordering. Thankfully the chef understood and our items arrived spot on.

If you have been reading for a while, you would know that my firstborn has quite a preference for japanese food. He could literally have it for every single meal. So I guess he could be a qualified critic for a certain level quality check. So I guess when he said, 'This is the BEST RAMEN EVER.' It does hold some weight.

And it was certainly delish! The broth was thick and full of the essence of slow boiled pork broth. But  the clincher was definitely the noodles which oozes the flavour of its intense broth that it was cooked in.

They also had this set meal that was 1300Y which had a side of gyoza, Ramen and a fresh pint of sapporo. Pretty good value, I reckon.

We ate to our hearts content. It was a good start to our gastronomic trip in Japan.

Now to find the name of this joint!





Thursday, January 24, 2013

Japan 2012 : Of Christmas Markets and Snow

Our little trip to Hokkaido was planned rather last minute.

We were thinking of going to somewhere new with the kids when suddenly it occured to us that we should bring them skiing. It has always been a long term dream for us since we started skiing and snowboarding. Seeing little kids ski down with their parents then made us wanna do that for our children when we have some.

And since we do now, and all of them are out of diapers, it was a good time to bring them to experience the thrill of winter sports.

Our first stop was Sapporo. It was where we planned to rest for a day or two after the fourteen hour flight that we took.


Sapporo, home of its famous namesake beer, was capital of Hokkaido. It was busy bustling little city with lots of low rise building. When we arrived, we were greeted with a freezing gust of wind. And as we traveled to the city, we were pleasantly surprised to see a blanket covered town.


Susukino, the night life district was where we stayed during our trip. It's just at the entrance to sapporo city situated next to the river and my oh my was it an excellent location to be. We had an excellent ramen store next to the hotel where even the noodles were filled with the flavours of the soup stock. And at night, the streets come alive with the endless izakayas and yakiniku restaurants. There are karaoke bars and plenty of night entertainmen too.

After resting for a night, we spent a day there, before leaving for Niseko, and our first destination was to hit the christmas markets down at Odori Park. (Because it was only going to be around till Christmas eve.) It took us twenty minutes to walk there. (with a side trip to a ski store and Mos burger.)



The chilly weather was such an eye opener for the kids. Having almost never (and forgotten by the boys) experienced winter before, seeing snow was a BIG BIG thing for these kids.

Walking down the snow filled roads, they stopped ever so often to scoop the road side snow and had snow ball fights with each other. It was very fun to watch but we had to stop them after a while cause we had a fair walk to go and they were gonna get wet from all that snow. #boringparents


It was rather magical walking through the snow filled Odori Park. It was like a kid's winter dream come true. There was a thick blanket of fresh snow for them to stomp in, throw snowballs, lie on, make snow angels. It took us a long while before we got to our destination.

The German Christmas market was not quite as massive as what we expected. Occupying a small portion of the park, it is located right next to the TV tower. But the festive cheer was definitely there. There were stalls selling freshly roasted almonds and also, plenty of food stalls to curb those winter hunger. Food was actually really decent. So much so we actually bought a few plates to share with the kids.



We bought a mug of malt wine to share and the boys were intrigued with the red liquid. What's that they asked? The husband actually convinced them that it was hot ribena and proceeded to give them each a sip. =p


We loved the ornaments that were being sold there and bought a few wooden ones to bring home. Soon it was dark and we decided to call it a day with the markets before heading indoors because it was freezing at that time of the day.

Sunday, January 20, 2013

Foodbar Dada

Sometimes when life throws you a curveball, you just gotta grab a glass of champagne to drown the pain away.

That was exactly what I did last night when I was trying to distract myself from the pain of losing my iPhone. (well, technically it's stolen! Shame on you, you thief! May you trip over every single step you take today!!) I was all mopey and very very upset because I didn't manage to fully back up my phone but thank God I've saved the pictures from Japan and the recent start of school pics. What I really lost was the ones in December which mainly consists of our big move, and the kids holiday pics. Le sigh!

However, when I thought there was little to lift my spirits, a little supper treat did bring a little cheer. The husband had always wanted to try Foodbar Dada, a little tapas bar at Robertson Quay. The reviews have been rather positive overall. A last minute reservation was made and next thing we knew we were bidding adieu to the kids after putting them to bed.

When we got there, we were immediately shown our seats. The hostess asked if we wanted any drinks to start with. It was the start of a night of attentive service.

One of our favorite things to do is to sit at the bar. Watching plates and plates of culinary magic being created in front of our eyes. It helps that the chefs are pretty cute spanish eye candy. Heh. We sat and watched with a glass of cava and red wine each.

The food turned out to be rather delectable. So simple but packed to the punch with flavours. Nom nom. We had dinner prior but still we couldn't resist ordering up a storm. And it was well worth our calories inhaled.

The foundation of all spanish tapas that is the patata bravas and croquettes were served up quickly as our first course. The croquettes were satisfying creamy, while the bravas take on a new twist ala dimsum style. 

My favourite was the watermelon gazpacho that was very simple on its own but when paired with the chargrilled olive oil sorbet (a little mind boggling, I know!) it simply stood out! It was a strange kind of comfort because I tend to associate gazpachos with tomatoes. The other dish that D loved was the grilled octopus served on a bed of mashed potatoes and paprika. I don't know about you but we have never tasted an octopus that was not rubbery. This one was soft on the inside and perfectly grilled (inside the hellish heat of the Josper oven) on the outside. It was bellisimo. So good that even the anti-seafood husband was savouring every morsel of it. 

By the end of the night, we were all happy campers, having been chatting with Chef Jordi about the different cooking techniques applied in the different provinces of spain. (I guess alcohol helps lift the gloominess for a bit as well. =p) 

We ended the night with a dessert called Torrijia. (totally bypassed the choc soufflé.) A Spanish dessert made of bread or cake dipped in cinnamon milk and fried sounded like something that is totally up my alley. And I was right! A deep fried variant of the classic bread pudding with a cinnamon sugar crust. It was a no fuss dessert that hits the right spot.

Overall, a very chilled no fuss tapas tapas bar with great service. We will be back. Now to soothe my wounded heart over my lost phone. I wish a million hives on the thief at all his/her joints.

DADA Bravas
Watermelon Gazpacho
Grilled Octopus
Foie Gras - Succulent on the inside, Crispy on the outside.
Scallops
Torrijia

;

Thursday, January 17, 2013

Home Sweet Home


They always say that a house is not always a home unless the people you love are in it.

In a way, it holds true for me because whilst we like the other apartments that we were in, there was never much of a sentimental value attached for me. We've never really invested in much of the decor as well because it doesn't make any financial sense to decorate a place that doesn't belong to us.

However, now that we are in a place that we call our own, the vibe has changed. For starters, we are very fond of the spaciousness this new place offers. It is also very breezy and thus we have been sleeping without the air conditioning at night. (The husband commented on how much $ he's saving on electricity. lol!)

It is slowly and surely coming together even though I feel that we are still far from completing our decor and furnishing. The house still looks so bare, in my opinion. =)

My favourite spot is still the kitchen where we hang out every morning. D has his new fancy coffee machine where he's pulling espresso shots for himself and lattes for me. I love the little nook where I can juice some green juices for a healthy start to the day and of course, where I cook dinners for the troops. It is very therapeutic to cook in a decent sized kitchen.

The husband loves his spot near the window where the wind gently blows in. I've ordered the cushions before we left for Japan and they arrived just as we returned. He would lie there and often he reads to little K at that corner.

I cannot wait for the coffee table to arrive and until then I think I will be hunting around for another rug and prints. Till the next update.

Friday, January 11, 2013

Japan

Two snow filled weeks in Japan.

I am not quite sure if that is actually enough for a country that is ethereally beautiful in landscape and culture. There was so much to see and do. It was fuss free and every single one of us enjoyed the vacation a lot.

Our days were filled with delicious japanese cuisine both traditional and modern. We loved walking the streets of Sapporo and Tokyo. Otaru was beautifully quaint and we had plenty of skiing fun at Niseko.

I have more to update but for now, here are some pics till I have time to sit down and write about the trip.

TGIF everyone! Looking forward to the weekend. =)

Wednesday, January 09, 2013

New Year New Routine

So now that we are a week into 2013, it's probably time to revisit our schedule for this school year.

It's taking some time for me to acclimatise to this new routine because the last few years have seen me doing similar stuff. This year with the boys both in primary school and Kate in a new preschool, the timing and locations have all been slightly different.

620am - The alarm goes off. I snooze it for 10 minutes before getting up to wake the boys up.

630am - Wake the boys who are both in deep slumber up. Sometimes it takes 5 minutes, sometimes it takes 10. They need a lot of cajoling to wake up (I threaten a cold towel on some days) before they head off for a quick wake me up shower.

645am - Showered and changed, they have a quick cup of milo. And if they are in the mood, more breakfast like cereal.  D is usually up by now, no thanks to my nagging on the boys. We both wash up and get changed. He gives them their allowance and gets them to put their shoes on. Without fail, every single morning, these boys would do some last minute scampering around the house to pick up loose (and unimportant) articles. I, too, keep my fingers crossed that no one takes out any form or has a last minute to do list for me 5 minutes before we leave.

7am - Out of the house and en route to school.

715am - Parked and we walk the boys to school. Because Jake is at a different drop off point this week, D and I would divide and conquer. Kisses for the boys (although the older one finds it rather embarrassing!!!) and then off they go on their way.

725am - Back at the car if we are lucky! Sometimes we meet either my cousin in law or some friends and end up nattering for quite a bit. Ooops! D has to drag me away. Chatterbox queen is what he calls me. Hmpf!

730-915am - Pick up coffee and then we hit the gym. This happens on most days. Unless K has Chinese classes one particular morning. We usually work out for an hour before showering and heading home. Kate usually gets up during this time. She gets breakfast and plays for a bit.

915-1030am - We either head home or go for breakfast. Its our one on one time. Once or twice a week, we'll go to the market to top up supplies. This few weeks however, I have volunteered to help out at the school during recess so off I would go to the boys school for my duties. Whilst D would head home and go off to work.

1030-1245pm - Home time for me. Kate takes a short nap before school starts. Sometimes she doesn't want to, so she'll just laze around in bed. My maid will bathe and change her for school. (although I have some idea for her to start doing little home work pieces soon)

1245pm - We leave for school.

1pm - Drop her off in school. And then I would be off to pick the boys up. However, my sister has been doing the honour these few days so I've been able to run some errands or grab lunch.

2pm - Boys reach home. Bathe and have some lunch. They relax a little. And I would ask if there is any homework. They usually tell me no. (then sheepishly pick out their books in the evening to do. Boys I tell ya!!) My maid would do an inventory check on their belongings. (Just in case some things are lost, which happens quite often)

330-430pm - In between this time we will leave for enrichment classes. If there is nothing, I try to get them to take a nap.

430- 630pm - Classes on some days. If not we do some work at home. Or else, it's reading time. I would pick Kate up from school at this point too. She would probably be really tired and nap on the way home. If the boys are at classes, my maid would collect her from the car before I drive to pick them up.

630-8pm - Boys potter around the house. It's their TV time as well. They would also try to build their mega Lego structure at this point, creating a big mess in the room. =) We would cook dinner at this point. I like the idea of homecooked meals on weekdays so I know what they are consuming. We would also pack their snack boxes for the following day.

8pm - Dinner time. D is probably still at work. So the kids will have dinner first before climbing all over him when he comes home, if early, at 8.30pm

830pm - Music time for the boys. Each in a different room. Kate would be playing with her kitchen set in the living room.

9pm - A quick shower and tooth brushing before heading to bed. It's also time for a bit of a read before they zzz for the night. D sometimes have to go in to lie with them for a bit.

930-945pm - He sneaks out. We watch some telly. Talk about the day. I'll catch up on my online browsing or blogging before I knock out at about 11. He de-stresses by watching his Chinese movies for a bit before sleeping shortly after.

11pm - Bed time for me.

630am - It all starts again!!



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