23 April 2014

Day 7: On The Way Back To Tokyo

Day 6: Shabu Shabu Dinner at Kokuya Ryokan

Before we were leaving, Erico gave us the rice balls and pickles packed for us to have for our journey back to Tokyo. 

We made a quick stop at Nagano station to change the train to Tokyo.  I saw this long queue in front of the Oyaki stand, I won't missed that for sure.  Although, there is no english there, I was just betting our luck, point to what I think it would be yummy Oyaki.  Ehm.....  They really were good snacks.  Oyaki is like Japanese pan-fry dumpling with meat or vegetables filling.

Oyaki 130yen/each

Chestnut delicacies 390yen
 This tiny haven is the most expensive little snacks that I ever seen around this Nagano perfectures.  Very mysterious inside the closed can but we so curiously want to try it.  It was sticky chestnut paste and a couple of whole soft chestnut as well.  This is the delicacies in this region.  They taste alright, but I think one is enough for me.

Stay tuned for the next blog still in Japan:
Day 7: Asakusa, Tokyo

22 April 2014

Day 6: Shabu Shabu Dinner at Kokuya Ryokan

Day 6: Tokumi, Shibu Onsen

After a little disappointed with their dinner last night, we gave them a go again but tonight with their shabu shabu menu.  We tried to lower our expectation this time, but we were completely wrong.  We totally blown away with their dishes tonight.

Sashimi: Tuna, Seabream, Amberjack

Salad of shrimp with vinegared york dressing

Top: sesame sauce and bottom: ponsu-soy sauce

Shinshu beef "shabu-shabu"
 Look at how fatty is the meat.  Marbling Marbling and so Marbling.  Top quality of meat slices. 

The right way to cook your meat in shabu shabu is by gliding the piece of meat touching only the heat from the smoke that come out from the 'shabu shabu' vegetable soup.  And cook them to your liking.  I like mine medium rare, makes the meat tender and melt-in-your-mouth.  I could say this is the best meat I have ever eaten and when I said melt in my mouth, it really was MELTED in my mouth, is that soft.  The two sauces were definitely compliment the top quality meat.

Cooked turnip with chrysanthemum sauce

Odamaki chawan mushi
Chawan mushi is like custard that is steamed and potted.  And when they add udon noodles in it then it becomes Odamaki mushi.

Vinegared seaweed with yam

Steamed rice with clean soup, beef shigureni (beef and ginger boiled in soy sauce, and vegetable pickles

Apple compote with red wine
They did it again with their dessert.  Today we have this poached apple in red wine, sensational dessert.  I wish I could have second.

Stay tuned for the next blog still in Japan:
Day 7: On The Way Back To Tokyo

21 April 2014

Day 6: Tokumi, Shibu Onsen

Day 6: Jigokudani Snow Monkey Park

By then, we arrived back at Shibu Onsen, it was nearly 2pm.  My tummy was rumbling, I was starving and I just remembered that I had a very light breakfast this morning.

There are only about eight or nine restaurants in town, mostly are on the main bath street.  We passed this tiny homey Japanese restaurant and straight away went for it.

Tokumi (Ramen and Chicken Cutlet Shop)

Inside, there is only one guy.  He is multi-tasking as a waiter, chef and cleaner.  But he works very fast and prompt.

Lemon Brandy Drink

Gyoza ¥400

Chicken, Egg and rice ¥300 (mini bowl)

Tsukemen Chashu ¥800

Chicken Katsu Don ¥900
 Not too sure, because of I was hungry or their menu all look tempting and I went crazy ordering two meals for myself and my husband was a little bit calmer by ordering only one entree and one main dish.

Every single dishes that we got were absolutely spot on.  They were delicious homey dishes, very flavoursome.  Unbelievably, but we managed to scrap the plate clean.

On the main bath street

Opening hours:
11am - 2pm
5pm - 11.30pm

Closed on Wednesday

Stay tuned for the next blog still in Japan:
Day 6:  Shabu Shabu dinner at Kokuya Ryokan

17 April 2014

Day 6: Jigokudani Snow Monkey Park

Day 5: Kaiseki Dinner at Kokuya Ryokan

# Cooked seaweed and vegetables
# Slice of yam with mushrooms
# Broiled salmon
# Steamed vegetable salad with onion dressing
# Cooked bottle gourd with chicken starchy sauce
# Half boiled egg - boiled it in our hot spring
# Boiled local tofu
# Seaweed with wasabi
# Steamed rice
# Miso soup
# vegetable pickles
# Fresh juice
# Seasonal fruits

We start our day with yummy breakfast at Kokuya.  Japanese style breakfast with grilled salmon and half boiled egg that the yolk ooozed out just like what I wanted and few other light condiments on the table.

Today, we went to visit the famous Monkey Park not so far from where we stay about 10 minutes by car.  There are two options to go there, by bus or by taxi.  We chose the short way where we catch taxi and take awalk about 15 - 20 minutes through the forest to the Monkey bathing place.  While with the bus you need to walk another 30 minutes from bus stop to arrive in the park. 

When we were walking in this quite forest heading to the Monkey spa place, we could hear some scratching noises behind the bush.  And shockingly, we saw the first snow monkey just munching some leaves there.  He stared at us abit but then looked away and ignored us like we were noone.  They are not scare of human but please do not feed or touch them as they are still wild animals.

Since then we met more and more monkey around the bush and some of them even block our way but they do nothing when we walked pass them.  But if you want to encounter them like this in their natural habit, please come early before they all gone to the hot spring bath.  Apparently, if you go from another way (walk from bus stop), you won't see any monkeys around there as that way are more busy with people.

Snow Monkey on Hot Spring Bath

We probably come in the wrong season.  Monkey Park would be the most beautiful when visited in winter.  As plenty of monkeys soak up their body in the small hot spring onsen to avoid the coldness and their head are covered with white snow and their faces are blushed from spa.  Something very unusual and really amazing to watch.

However, as we come here in early November when it is just the starting of winter season.  The weather was still pretty warm for the monkeys.  So they tend to running around or lying down on the ground, which pretty ordinary, just like human enjoying the summer heat.

Snow Monkey

To get back to our ryokan, we then used a different way.  We wanted to catch a bus this time at Kanyabashi Onsen bus stop.  We walked and walked and walked, we spotted one seems like a bus stop with noone there and on the quite road.  Our instinct told us, it wasn't the bus stop.  So we walked a little bit further, definitely got lost.  We didn't know where actually to catch the bus from, as we came with taxi earlier today and it totally from different way.

Then we saw a lady, local resident there.  We at first just asking the direction to go to Shibu Onsen, but then she was nicely offered to take us back to our ryokan.  What a lovely lady she is.  Memory that I won't forget!!!

The World of Snow Monkey

Summer season (generally between April - October) 8:30-17:00
Winter season (generally between November - March) 9:00-16:00

Entry Ticket: 500 yen

Stay tuned for the next blog still in Japan: