So looking back through my photos to put this post together it turns out that we ate basically nothing in Kyoto. So this is going to be a short Kyoto food diary.
We only spent 36 hours in Kyoto so here’s our food diary.
Bento boxes are by definition “a single-portion take-out or home-packed meal common in Japanese cuisine”. Thank you wikipedia.
So when you take the shinkansen/bullet train it’s practically the law that you get one. At least that’s what I told myself. Getting a 6.30am train from Tokyo to Kyoto meant that Topher and I needed breakfast so this was a both convenient and delicious solution.
I got myself a salmon onigiri (which is a filling like salmon, tuna, etc. surrounded by rice and wrapped in seaweed to make a triangle shape), a milk tea and a bento box. The bento box consisted of deliciously marinated beef on a bed of sticky rice.
One thing to mention is that this bento box was cold. And yet it was so delicious I still dream of it now. Bento boxes can also come hot but I went with this one. If you’re in Japan get one whether you’re riding the shinkansen or not.
As a lover of sushi and seafood, this salmon sashimi was right up my street. Perfection! The sea urchin on the other hand I could take or leave. We just wanted to tick it off our bucket lists. The taste was fine but the texture was…interesting. I’ll leave you with that.
I say torched because the guy literally blow torched them there and then before handing them to me on a stick. These were the best things I ate all day. I hadn’t seen them on any blogs or vlogs – I just saw a woman with them that day and hunted the market until I found them. Recommended.
Yes indeed that is an octopus you see. And not just an octopus; a glazed octopus. And not just a glazed octopus; a glazed octopus with a quail egg inside its head.
I wasn’t expecting to enjoy this taste-wise as much as I did. It was actually pretty nice. But only if you like seafood. If you don’t then steer clear of this eccentricity.
And unfortunately those are all the photos I have. For dinner and breakfast the next day we went to a convenience store (kombini) which you can actually see on our Kyoto video here.
And the next day for lunch we headed to another branch of our beloved Sukiya which I first spoke about in my Tokyo food diary. And that’s it!
Stay tuned for my next instalment where we head to Osaka.
If you can’t wait for that I’m happy to tell you that all of our Japan vlogs are up on my Youtube channel. Enjoy!
Sukiya is like staple Japanese fast food. They mainly serve gyūdon which is basically a beef and rice bowl. We found this next to our Shibuya hotel so we ran in out of the rain and it was exactly the kind of comfort food we were after.
We both had beef, rice and cheese. It was so good that we ate at two more branches on our Japan trip.
Street Food at Asakusa
When we went to Senso-ji on the first day we decided to try as many kinds of street food as we could.
These are little cakes filled with red bean paste. So cute and tasty! We both enjoyed them even though Topher isn’t a huge fan of red bean paste.
This doesn’t look like much but wow oh wow was it good. Dango is mochi balls on a skewer and comes in many different varieties. This type is covered in soy flour which tasted like peanut butter in my opinion. I think this is my second favourite type of dango.
Say hello to my favourite type of dango. These mochi balls are covered in a sweet soy sauce. Served hot from the street they were the best treat of the morning.
Daifuku is mochi stuffed with red bean paste. This particular type also came with a large strawberry on top. Topher was happy to find that this vendor also did a version where it was stuffed with thick custard instead of red bean. Both were delicious though a little messy to eat!
Our final bit of street food was a melon pan ice cream sandwich to share. Melon pan is basically sweet bread. It’s name comes from the outer shell which is a criss-cross pattern that looks like a melon. This particular shop that I got it from only had a few flavours of soft serve ice cream to choose from (despite having about 30 you could have in a cone!) so I panicked and chose matcha.
Topher does not like matcha at all so I had to eat a lot of this…oh well!
Korean BBQ has become pretty popular in Japan and I saw this restaurant on youtube so had to give it a go. This particular branch was in Shinjuku and we both went for the lunch set meals. You get a plate of meat and veg to cook, a bowl of rice, a bowl of miso and some little side dishes. It was one of our more expensive meals but pretty reasonable considering how much food you got.
This is a chain that was started by a guy originally from Japan in the USA but a branch finally opened in Japan. I’d heard it was good so we decided to give it a go. We both went for their wagyu beef ramen which was very good. The beef cooked itself in the broth!
A Happy Pancake – Shibuya
Ever since I discovered soufflé pancakes online a few years ago I’ve been dying to try them. So A Happy Pancake had to be added to my list. We showed up just after opening and had to wait about 20 minutes for a table. I just went with the original ones with maple syrup and honey butter and they were to die for!
Keep in mind if you ever go here that the pancakes take a while to cook so bring your patience with you. They are definitely worth the wait though.
Reissue – Harajuku
If you’re looking for something a little out of the ordinary then get yourself to this 3D latte art cafe. They have a book full of options and the creations are super cute. Rather expensive though!
Street Food in Harajuku
We also decided to try some random Harajuku food (minus their famous crepes as we were too full from breakfast) as we walked around.
We got this ginormous thing covered in soy butter and it was delicious though in some places a tad too salty.
We picked up this dango in Daiso which is a 100yen store. We spent a fair bit of money in here. They do all kinds of snacks, homeware and beauty stuff among other things. This was my least favourite dango but it did have a lot to live up to with the other two we tried. I just wanted to be able to hold an emoji!
Calbee is a Japanese snack maker famous for their different type of crisps. You can get fresh ones in their Harajuku store with different toppings. We got some crisps covered in chocolate sauce as well as some veggie flavour sticks. The pink wrapped one was a freebie we were given at the till.
We both enjoyed the potato stick things – the regular flavour were all sold out. And I loved the chocolate covered ones. It reminds me of when I was a weird kid who would put plain crisps and chocolate in my mouth at the same time.
The freebie was one we opened on the shinkansen (bullet train) the next day. They were prawn flavour crisps covered in strawberry flavour chocolate. Topher liked – I did not!
Food Show – Shibuya
Food Show is a food hall in a department store in Shibuya. We were low on time and money at this point in the day so I got this luxury egg sandwich I saw on Youtube and Topher got a pork bun and some pork gyoza.
My egg sandwich was amazingly good and I wish I’d been able to buy a second one. I will never be able to replicate this at home.
Topher loved what I will forever call his pork feast. And that’s everything we ate in Tokyo!
Me being me I had to take about a million photos on our trip to Japan. Especially of both the sights and the food so naturally I have had to split them into separate posts. Even then I’d still probably grab a brew before sitting down to this one…
We flew from Manchester Airport via Helsinki, Finland and our trip started at around 10 in the morning our time. It finished at 9 in the morning Japan time. Ouch. Oh and did I mention we couldn’t check into our hotel until 3pm? Double ouch.
We took a coach from Narita Airport to Tokyo as it’s actually between an hour and an hour and a half trip between the two. Neither of us are particularly good at sleeping on planes (though Topher is a pro at falling asleep on any other mode of transport!) so we were tired!
The train is slightly quicker but we opted for the bus as it was half the price and we could hand our luggage over to the bus driver. Then all we had to do was navigate the subway from Tokyo station to Shibuya.
We dropped our bags at the hotel and went out for lunch before mooching back just in time for 3pm check in. We were desperate to get showers and fresh clothes we after we sorted ourselves out it was back into the wilderness of Shibuya. Lots of rain this evening so we mainly spent our time in shops. Hello Disney store!
We spent a fair bit of time in Tokyu Hands which is a department store. So many weird and wonderful things in there.
We managed to stay out until around 9 before heading back to the hotel to collapse.
In the morning we had a little lie in and then headed over to the other side of the city. Asakusa is an older area of Tokyo which houses the oldest shrine – built in 645 AD. Sensō-ji. Our plan was to explore and sample the street food.
We got lucky with the cherry blossoms as I thought we’d miss them all but there were still a few blooming when we arrived in Tokyo. Yay!
It was about 11.30 by the time we got to the temple so as you can see it’s pretty crowded. Sensō-ji is open from 6am though you can wander through the main grounds 24/7. So if you want photos with less people around then get there early!
It was a beautiful day so even though it was crowded I’m happy with my photos.
The building in the above photo is Tokyo Skytree; a popular tourist attraction that boasts some amazing views of the city. We didn’t go here as I was given a tip for a free view of the city that includes Skytree in it.
That was the building we headed to in the afternoon. Shinjuku Government Building also has amazing views and if the day is super clear, you can even see Mount Fuji.
Unfortunately by this point the clouds had rolled in but it was still an amazing view of the city. Definitely recommended and you can’t go wrong because it’s free!
Afterwards we headed to Sunshine City in Ikebukuro purely so that Topher could visit the Pokemon centre. He had an amazing time and spent a lot of money! Sunshine city is basically a shopping centre with a load of stuff attached like an aquarium and mini theme parks. A perfect day out if it’s raining. We were tired so it was Pokemon, a couple of shops and then back to the hotel.
Harajuku day! I’ve been dreaming of visiting Harajuku since I was 15 so the rain did not stop me today. Topher and I got suited up with our rain gear and headed out. Shops don’t tend to open until at least 10am so we had a little lie in.
Our first stop was Meiji-Jingu which is a shrine that can be found in Yoyogi park. The photos below are of the tori gate and the barrels of sake you can find on the way to the shrine. The photos I took of the shrine itself weren’t that great so just look out for it in my upcoming vlog!
Then it was off to Takeshita Street for some shopping.
Not many photos due to the amount of rain and shopping bags we were both carrying! Money was spent. No regrets.
We also managed to find a place that did Purikura. It’s basically a photo booth only Japan has taken it to the next level where you can practically make yourself look like a doll. Topher was up for a laugh so we gave it a go. The results make me chuckle and this is now on our fridge at home.
We also had a wander around nearby where we found a Lush store. I wouldn’t usually rush in to one abroad but I heard they had lots of Japan exclusives. Plus it was worth it for this wall alone!
I may have purchased a few things…
Then it was back to the hotel to pack as we had a super early bullet train out of Tokyo to our next city.
I’ve been meaning to post this for a while. Topher and I took a day trip to Leeds…in October last year. Yikes! Being a lover of travel, I’ve found that there is a long list of places that I have never visited. And an embarrassing number of them are less than a two hours drive away.
So when I found out Topher was going to a gig in Leeds one weekend I suggested I drive him over and we make a day of it. Then when he goes to his gig I could flee back home. Here’s what we got up to:
We started with brunch at Hepworth’s Deli and Kitchen based on recommendations from ye olde internet. It was about a 10/15 minute wait for a table as it’s a small place and we perused the menu while we waited.
Topher went with the Hepworth’s Breakfast and I went with the buttermilk pancakes. When we went they had some pancakes covered in parkin that they don’t appear to have anymore according to their website.
So of course I chose that. I couldn’t say no to parkin. I think it’s illegal to if you’re from Yorkshire? I kid.
Anyway, it’s been years since I had parkin – reminds me of my grandparents as they used to make it all the time. It came with a salted caramel sauce and cream.
Topher loved his breakfast and my pancakes were tasty. The only downside was that the parkin clusters on top of the pancakes were on the stale side. Maybe that’s why they’re not on the menu anymore? Either way I still covered them in the cream and hoovered them down.
Bellies full we set out to explore the city centre.
First on my agenda (before browsing the indie shop scene) was to have a wander through the many arcades you can find in Leeds. Definitely not many knocking about in Manchester. I only know of one personally (oh and two tiny ones) – how about you? They’re so historic and pretty and I couldn’t help but look up in every single one I went in. Sorry to any locals I almost bumped into!
Then we hit the shops. Damage was done. I would have done a haul post but I got so excited to put everything away in it’s place when I got home that it would be too much work now. Lots of pretty things though – including our COCO canvas you can see in my gallery wall post. I took one photo inside a shop. Here it is.
So annoyed to see the famous hello street art coned off with loads of building materials in front of it. Lost out on a basic bitch standing in front of a colourful wall shot. Maybe next time…
By this point it was hours later and we were all shopped and walked out. Time for a late lunch. I’d heard good things about Trinity Kitchen (a street food place in the shopping centre that has a mix of your favourites and also some pop up stalls) so we wandered over to see what we could find.
Avoiding anything we could easily get back in Manchester (sorry Pho) we found ourselves drawn to a pop up Cuban place. These loaded fries were out of this world. So good that Topher and I got one each. A pretty rare thing for us as we usually like to get different things and share so we can try lots of things.
Then it was time for me to head home and leave Topher to mosh the night away. We had a great day and would definitely return to Leeds. It was a fun mini adventure!
It doesn’t matter how settled you should feel, sometimes the urge to change up your lifestyle, pack a bag and escape the monotony of your home life can become too intense to resist. You may crave the sandy white beaches of Thailand, the Oriental splendour of China or you might want to go off the beaten track in Costa Rica. Wherever it is that you have a yearning to explore, you need to consider how you will plan for your far flung adventure.
Some people may state that you are too old or that you have too many commitments or that you’d be a fool for giving up such a well paid job or that you cannot hot foot it halfway across the world with hardly any disposable cash. While they may have a point, this doesn’t mean that you can’t sort out your finances, job, and commitments prior to leaving. You need to consider why it is that you want to leave town for a little while. The world is massive and is craving to be explored. You only live once, and it’s vital that you can venture to distant shores to get your wanderlust kicks. Take a look at this ultimate guide to planning your incredible trip of a lifetime.
Before you even think about booking flights, you need to sort out your finances. You may head online to your bank account to see that you are in the red, using your overdraft every month and that you have very little savings to speak of. Don’t throw in the wanderlust towel. You simply have to knuckle down and make your finances healthier. In two months, you can be back in the black, overdraft-free and more comfortable.
One viable option is to look into borrowing responsibly. You can even apply for personal loans with bad credit. Don’t assume you are simply taking on more debt. You will be borrowing to consolidate your debt into a manageable monthly payment. This means when you are abroad, you don’t have to worry about checking your bank account every day to make sure random and sporadic debt repayments have been taken out.
Make yourself a budget that you can stick to and cut out the unnecessary luxuries that you have partaken in recently. You don’t need to pick up that almond croissant and caramel latte on the way to work every Friday and drinks after work don’t need to consist of three rounds. Shave your expenditure and put any amount that you can save into a travel nest egg or towards paying off some of your debts.
If you are venturing overseas, you want to make sure that your finances are well managed. This doesn’t necessarily mean being debt free, but it does mean that your repayments are covered so that you are more free to enjoy your travel experiences.
While you like the thought of being spontaneous, heading to the airport and hot footing it onto the next plane out of the country, it may be more effective in the long run to spend some time planning your trip. For many countries, you need to look into vaccinations, visas, and documentation. There’s nothing worse than hot footing it to China, only to discover that you don’t have the correct visa and that you have to return to good old Blighty. Spend the time researching your destination of choice and construct at least a skeleton itinerary. It can be difficult to strike the perfect balance between a comprehensive plan and a shoddy itinerary. Aim for something in between, that gives you time to wander off the beaten track a little. Venturing abroad should be exciting, but this exhilaration can slip if you don’t have accommodation sorted. Head online and book your hostels or hotels for every night you are away. This way, you can be sure of a safe place to rest your weary bones every night.
Check out the destinations you want to hit and make a flight plan. Don’t try and head to too many cities in a short space of time. You want to enjoy the places you visit, immerse yourself in the culture and enjoy meeting new people. If you are only ever in one place for two days, you’ll never learn what the destination is really like. Spend a week or two somewhere, get to know the locals, maybe pick up some work and enjoy living like a native.
Learn The Lingo
Even if you are only heading abroad for three months, it still pays to learn the language of the destination you plan to visit. If you are heading to Japan, the locals will appreciate the fact that you have learned the basics of the language before you set foot in a temple or when you are trying to order sushi at a restaurant. Being able to converse on a more meaningful level, rather than trying to shout or speak more slowly in English, shows that you value their culture and customs, and can result in you forming more meaningful relationships with the people that you meet.
While you don’t want to scrimp when enjoying your trip of a lifetime, there are some simple ways that you can ensure that you are sourcing the best deals. Venture onto comparison websites for flights and accommodation. If your willing to head to hostels and share a dorm, the cost of keeping a roof over your head can be minimal.
When checking out flights, consider flying at awkward times to save hundreds on your tickets. Sure, you might be jet lagged for an extra day, but you will have an extra wad of cash in your pocket to enjoy on an excursion, a foodie experience or to spend an extra night in a destination.
Trying to scratch that wanderlust itch can be frustrating. However, with excellent planning, thorough preparation and a willingness to save money where you can, you could end up hot footing it on the trip of a lifetime.