Friday, October 30, 2020

A Dinner to Remember at Tokyo's Standing Sushi Bar


It's already been 3 years but I can still vividly remember how amazing this random dinner was. We were strolling along the side streets of Shinjuku when we chanced upon this standing sushi bar with a fairly manageable queue outside. Curious that we were, CS and I spent a good few minutes waiting for our number to be called for what we didn't know was a treat fit for the lucky few. Yes, the experience was really good that we still dream of going back there someday.


Menu was simple and uncomplicated but tough choices have to be made as it was a feast of the best and freshest sushi available that day. Customers can fill up the forms provided or you can just swing it by telling the chef which ones you like from the items displayed on the bar; we chose to the latter because we love surprises!


These were some of the best sushi we've had in all of our trips to Japan. It was sooo good that we didn't mind if we were spending 2 days worth of food budget for a dinner because honestly, you'll get carried away ordering and trying to get a bite of each sushi they're offering that day.


Toro Sushi

Shimesaba Sushi

Unagi Sushi

Sake Sushi

Akagai Sushi

Salmon Belly Sushi

Maguro Sushi

Address in Shinjuku unknown; I don't even know the bar's English name aside from the "Standing Sushi Bar" so I highly doubt I can find it if and when we travel back to Tokyo soon. But hey, good things come to those who wait and I'm one patient girl.

Monday, October 26, 2020

The Family: Bangkok's Best Affordable Restaurant

I've always wanted to go and try one of Tripadvisor's highly recommended local restaurant in Bangkok named The Family. I remember planning to dine there thrice (on separate trips) but ended up cancelling mainly due to its limited operating hours. Last November 2019, I made sure to allot a particular day when we can finally visit and see what the rave is all about. We took a Grab car from Anantara Siam Hotel and travelled about 20 minutes just in time before they close for the day. In fact, we were the last customers that they accepted for dine in so lucky us!


What we ordered


Thai Iced Tea - THB40.00 (Php60.00)

Too sweet for our liking but it was a welcome treat on a humid day. 

Green Curry (Chicken) - THB90.00 (Php140.00)

We've always been fans of green chicken curry so whenever there's one on the menu, we just can't resist not trying it out. This particular version had the most ingredients we've ever seen thus making it appetizingly beautiful and with amazing marriage of flavors to boot. A must-try!


Tom Yum Soup (Seafood) - THB140.00 (Php262.00)

Not the best idea to order a hot and spicy soup on a sunny day but hey, it's the home of the best tasting Tom Yum in the city so we'll just have to endure the heat for the sake of a great meal. Their Tom Yum Seafood was another good-looking and generously-served dish to inspire tourists to head down to The Family because everything we ordered were excellent and pretty cheap too!

Mango Sticky Rice - THB

How can you go wrong with mango sticky rice, right? I thought all versions will taste the same anywhere you buy/order one but then again, The Family took this famous dessert a notch higher with its pandan-based sticky rice where you can control how much coconut milk you want in it. Order one per person because this one's too good to share with anyone!


A variety of local ice creams are also available for sale as protected with their in-house guard cat.

~o~o~o~

The Family
1/6 Prachathipatai Road
Khwaeng Ban Phan Thom
Bangkok, Thailand
Tel.: (6697) 173-3954

Friday, October 23, 2020

Hotel Review: Anantara Siam Hotel, Bangkok TH

I love traveling to new and old destinations but I miss Bangkok the most!


Hello! Hello! It's been 5 months since my last post because I've been too busy dealing with everyday life with a newborn. Yes! Our bundle of joy arrived last August and I can't wait to share the world with her. I've been thinking on where to bring her first (after the pandemic, of course) - Japan or Thailand? We love both countries so it's hard to choose as it will be a milestone for our growing family and we want her first to be as memorable as it can be. 

Looking back on 2019, I was lucky to have travelled several times abroad just before the outbreak of COVID-19 happened. In fact, I have been to Bangkok twice last November - one for work and the other with my husband where we stayed in the city for 4 nights and ate our hearts out with Thailand's delicious cuisine which is our second favorite! While we usually stay in Novotel Platinum in Pratunam, we welcomed the idea of checking-in at Anantara Siam when we were offered a great deal of 3+1 (you get 1 free night when you book for 3). 



Known for its hand-painted silk murals and high-chandeliered ceilings, Anantara Siam is one of the many hotels of the Anantara group scattered all over the world. We chose this particular location as we wanted to be close to Central World and Platinum Fashion Mall - my favorite shopping and dining spots in the city. Checking-in was a breeze and we were lucky that our room was already available even before the standard 2PM check-in time.





There are a total of 354 suites and guest rooms in the hotel and this deluxe room was the cheapest and smallest in Anantara Siam. Looks extravagant still, right?


The room is about 42sqm wide and can accommodate up to 3 adults comfortably. Its classic Thai style is depicted in its royal tones interior and furniture with a few modern furnishings for the guests' convenience. In detail, each deluxe room is equipped with either a king-sized or 2 double beds, oversized windows with a cityscape view, a sitting area, a writing desk, an LED television with English channels, complimentary WiFi, marble bathroom with separate tub and rain shower, free coffee and tea, and luxurious bathroom amenities.












Breakfast is served at The Terrace from 0700H to 1030H everyday. As with most 5-star hotel buffets, it was a treat of international cuisine but with highlights of their local dishes. Eating Pad Thai for breakfast each day was not a bad idea pala after all.















Pros: Central location with easy access to BTS skytrain, luxurious and well-kept accommodations, excellent customer service with the world-famous Thai hospitality, delicious breakfast, and fabulous lobby to welcome incoming guests (great for picture taking).

Cons: Pricey room rates if there's no on-going promo.


~o~o~o~

Anantara Siam Hotel
155 Rajadamri Road
Bangkok, Thailand
Tel.: (662) 126-8866

Wednesday, June 10, 2020

Taiwan Hits: Yehliu Geopark, Jiufen and Shifen Old Street

It was not only a few years back when more Pinoy tourists started discovering Taiwan and its amazing natural wonders and great food as it offered visa-free entry for short-term stays. Before this, Philippine passport holders had to either apply for a tourist visa at the embassy or get a visa entry pass done online granted that you hold a valid US, Canada, Japan, or Schengen visa with multiple entries. I first travelled to Taipei back in 2015 and it was delightful to see more of our kababayans choosing to visit Taiwan when we came back in 2018.

For a 5-day stay, we decided to squeeze in a one day tour of Yehliu Geopark since we haven't been there yet and we don't have any other plans except go to as much night markets as we possibly can. Yehliu is about an hour away from Ximen Station so we thought it's more economical and time saving to join a tour rather than DIY. For this, we chose Klook, our go-to app/site for discounted tour rates, attraction passes, airport transfers, and even restaurant vouchers.

Yehliu Geopark



Home to the famous "Queen's Head" and other unique geological formations, Yehliu Geopark is a foremost tourist spot in Northern Taiwan. The amazing views of Pacific Ocean and the park's interesting attractions make this a worthwhile visit and a great place to recharge with nature.


Tip: As with most tourist spots, best time to go is early morning during weekdays to avoid the crowd. Also, remember to wear sunscreen and a hat as it can get very hot during dry season.





Queen's Head




Jiufen

Our 2nd stop was Jiufen, a mountain town in New Taipei City known for its numerous alleys that snake around the area filled with Chinese- and Japanese-styled tea houses, cafes, and souvenir shops. It was actually my second time here but the place never fails to amaze as new and amusing finds continue to find its way to make tourists look forward to visiting again and again.




Our favorite grilled king oyster mushrooms!


Shifen Old Street

This charming old street is actually a rail track but home to the tradition of releasing sky lanterns for goodluck. For a minimal fee, you can buy yourself a colorful paper lantern from one of the shops where you can write your wishes, send it to the heavens, and pray it will come true.



Back in Taipei after 8 hours with new learnings, great experience, and wonderful memories. It was indeed a tiring tour with long walks and some hikes but a fun and enjoyable one!


Monday, June 1, 2020

Conveyor Belt Sushi at Kura Sushi, Taipei TW

Any place we go, visiting a sushi place at least once during the trip is a must. In Taipei, we were able to try one of the most popular Japan-based revolving sushi chain - Kura Sushi, another addition to our list of the best and most sulit sushi places. In fact, it has already gained a following all over the world with its 400 restaurants and 35 years of brand experience.

Once you're seated, you'll immediately notice a parade of delightful sushi on the lower conveyor but if you fancy something premium or simply not available on the belt, you can always order from the iPad provided which will then be delivered on the upper conveyor in a jiffy.

What we ate

Hotate (Scallop) Sushi

Inari Sushi

Maguro (Tuna) Sushi

Shime Saba (Cured Mackerel) Sushi

Fatty Salmon Sushi

We basically ate 3 to 5 plates of each of the above but seeing our total bill was nowhere near a shocking experience as each plate only range between TWD40 (Php70.00) for the basic sushi up to TWD80 (Php140.00) for the premium ones. With its fast service and a wide variety of quality offerings at affordable prices, Kura Sushi is a great find indeed!


Tip: Download the Kura app on your mobile phone to make a reservation or prepare to wait at least an hour if walk-in as Kura Sushi is always packed anytime of the day.

~o~o~o~

Kura Sushi
B1, No. 101, Sec. 2 Nanjing East Road
Zhongzhang District
Taipei, Taiwan
Tel.: (8862) 2568-1519

Friday, May 29, 2020

Heritage Cafe, Taipei TW

One random afternoon walking around Taipei brought us to this charming and beautifully-designed spot in Zhonzheng District called Heritage Cafe because honestly, who could pass up for some delicious sweets and cold drinks on a hot day? Definitely not me!



Heritage Cafe has two floors with brick walls and modern industrial interiors. Just my type.


What we ordered

Apple Earl Grey Iced Tea

Seasonal Fruit Tea


Blueberry Cheese Tart


Everything tasted great plus the presentation were visually stimulating so dining here was a win-win! Both iced teas were sweetened perfectly and the addition of fresh fruits made it even more refreshing. The cakes were equally delicious but the star of the day really was the cafe's bestselling cake - the Guava Delight. Taste and texture were exemplary, not to mention that the guava flavor was a delightful treat from the usual cakes you can find anywhere. 

Guava Delight

Finding spots like Heritage Cafe is one the reasons why I love traveling with minimal (or zero) planned itinerary nowadays especially if I've been to a place once. I just love discovering hole-in-the-wall restaurants and secret spots where most locals hang out and keep for themselves.

~o~o~o~

Heritage Cafe
No. 73 Section 1, Hankou St.
Zhongzheng District
Taipei, Taiwan
Tel.: (8862) 2311-1079
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