Japan, Japan! A Tsukamen Tribute

Going to Japan has been in my bucket list since forever. It’s been there before I even had a bucket list! I suppose a large part of the reason has been all the animes I watched as a kid. Sure, they’re all cartoony-like and have out-of-this-world superpowers (or at least, most of them do), but they still managed to convey to me the richness of their culture.

Sigh. I want to eat mochis under a Sakura tree so bad.

Moving on, why all the talk about Japan, you ask?

It’s really all because of Mitsuyado Sei-men, a restaurant we tried a few weeks ago that specializes in ramen.

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The interiors are just  a-mazing! It really looks like a typical street in Japan (or how I think it would look like since, again, I have not yet been to Japan, sigh).

There were a lot of Japanese people dining there, too, which made me think that the food must be pretty authentic for them to come here.

IMG_3827 editedWe ordered Coco Royal’s Basil Seed with Honey Juice and Coconut Water with Aloe Vera to drink. People with Trypophobia, look away! I think other restaurants have these as well, but it’s our first time to try it and I must say, it has a pretty unique taste. If you want plain old water, you’ll have to pay for it. They do have service tea, though.

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Black Pepper Chicken (Php180.00)

As a side dish,we ordered the Black Pepper Chicken. You can also order this with rice. It was nicely cooked and tasted great. If for some reason you don’t want to eat ramen in a ramen house, this is a good choice.

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I said earlier that Mitsuyado Sei-men’s specialty is ramen. But to be more specific, it’s tsukamen or dipping noodles. We ordered their best-seller, the Double Cheese Tsukamen. The noodles already had parmesan cheese on them, but you also have to pour the cheese sauce. Thus, the “double” in Double Cheese Tsukamen. This is really, really good. The cheese melts into the noodles and totally complements its rich broth.

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Aji-Tama Curry Tsukamen (Php300.00 – Regular; Php340.00 – Large)

We also ordered the Aji-Tama Curry Tsukamen. You can actually order your noodles either hot or cold. Since the hot noodles for the previous dish, we had this one cold. This also had a very rich broth and the Japanese egg was especially tasty.

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Strawberry Kakigori (Php90.00)

For dessert, we had the Strawberry Kakigori. It tasted good, but there wasn’t anything special about it. It was a good way to cleanse the palate, though.

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I really can’t get enough of their design! They paid a lot of attention to the details. The staff was very friendly and they were always ready to help you out.  This resto’s a definite must try, whether or not you want to go to Japan.

Mitsuyado Sei-men is located at No. 22 Jupiter Street, Brgy. Bel-Air, Makati City.

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Tidbit 002: Of Old and New Typhoons (A Tidbit About a Turtle)

When I was five, there was a typhoon. I don’t know if it was as bad as last week’s, but it felt like it. The rain didn’t stop, and the sun didn’t show itself for days. Everyone stopped me from playing in the rain.

Those days, the electricity would putter out and my only entertainment was to watch the flood outside our house rush by. It was interesting to see all the stuff that would float along: a plastic cup, tsinelas (slipper), and junk food wrappers.

But there was one time I noticed something floating that seemed different from the others. For one thing, it wasn’t being carried away by the flood’s current.

I suppose my parents called our neighbors after I pointed this out to them. I’m not really sure. The next thing I knew, there was a big turtle in front of me.

This was no fishbowl turtle. When I say big, I mean BIG. It fit a whole palanggana. 

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A Palanggana. Yes, the turtle was this big. (Photo from Flickr)

I felt excited by the whole thing. As a child, I didn’t think to ask the important questions. How did it get there? Are turtles secretly living in our canals? How are the turtles’ ecosystems being affected for this guy to just suddenly appear in our village?

Not one of those questions did I ask myself or the adults around me. All I knew was that I had a pet!

The next day, the turtle was gone.

My parents never told me what they did with it (and again, I never thought to ask). Did it go to turtle heaven? I certainly hope it didn’t become turtle soup. I do hope it went to a zoo or back into the wild.

I’ve had a few pet turtles in the years that followed. But none of them ever went near the size of the one we found during the typhoon. 

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Money Matters

One of the mistakes most take to heart are the expensive ones. I’m not talking about shopping mistakes (but those do count), I’m talking about investing mistakes. You may be investing in the stock market or other new business venture, but truthfully, when it tanks, it hurts. It hurts especially when you know you could have done things to prevent it.

I’m no financial wizard or investment guru. I’m an amateur. Technically, I can only give amateurish advice. One day, when I grow up a bit more or become a billionaire (whichever comes first, but I’m seriously hoping it’s the billionaire part), I could probably give more in-depth advice. Or seeing as these are only three, just MORE would be a huge improvement.

 1. Never Trust Anyone with your Money

      It’s your (supposedly) hard-earned cash, no one will take better care of it than you. Or at least, no one would care more if it was gone.

2. Never Invest in Anything that You Do not Fully Comprehend.

     When investing, you should always know the business structure inside and out. Know how your money will be returned, where it will go. Never settle for mere skeletal details.

 3. Trust your Instincts.

       Don’t hesitate to stop something when your gut tells you it’s no good. Saying No just might save you a lot of money.

It’s not rocket science. There’s not even a mention of the word, “inflation” in those three eetie-beetie suggestions. I’ve always felt that using that word lent you some finance street cred or something. Or was that “liability”? But no matter, I think these are still sound learnings. It wouldn’t hurt to try, at least.

Escrow, Depreciation. Percentage loss. Hey look, I’m doing it already.

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Tidbit 001: Of Trains and Zombies

I ride a train that passes by a tunnel-like path. It looks like an abandoned sewer, with rocks strewn everywhere and discarded plastic cups dotting the dirt.

There was a time when the trained stopped right at that area, there was some kind of malfunction or other.

I immediately thought: Zombies.

It was a good place for a horde. They could rise up from the dirt and crawl on their deteriorating knees.

They could attack the train, too. They could pound on the glass windows, splatter it with blood, and make the people inside scream from fear.

Or they could hurtle themselves in front of a moving train.

Depending on the number of zombies jumping in the train’s path and on the speed of the train itself, I would say we have a pretty good chance of making it to the next station.

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Yabu: Trying the Katsu Craze

Have you ever noticed how Yabu sounds a lot like Yahoo? I bet if you catch a cold and say Yabuuuu, it’ll sound a lot like – oh well, never mind.

But I sure felt like yelling the former when we finally got our seats.Talk about long lines.

Yabu has its own version of interactive dining. They give you your own mortar and pestle, and you get to do grind your own sesame seeds. I suppose that means you’re basically in charge of your own sauce. I wonder what it would taste like if you don’t grind the sesame seeds at all, or if you grind it to finely. Hmmm…

What else is everyone raving about in Yabu? It’s unli-everything! That’s right, you get unlimited shredded cabbage, unlimited Japanese rice unlimited water, unlimited sauce, and unlimited dressing.

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Splatter some sesame, wasabi or soy vinaigrette dressing in your shredded cabbage.

Unfortunately, the viands weren’t unlimited at all. Le sigh. Was that really too much to ask?

Still, we fought our disappointed and ate with gusto anyway.

Yabu is surrounded by a lot of hype these days (and forevermore, who knows?) and as with all things hyped up, you encounter several problems, e.g.,

1. A Long Waiting Line
We actually arrived pretty early for dinner (around 7:00 pm) and it was already full. We had to wait two whole hours to get seated.

2.  A Really Crowded Dining Atmosphere

Personally, when my elbow touches another diner’s (who is a stranger, by the way), it’s not a good thing.

The staff was very friendly and courteous, though. I think that pretty much makes up for it. And of course, there’s the food.

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Grind, grind, grind. Pour. And Mix!

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Iidako Salad and Hiyayakko Tofu (Php190.00)

You can choose a combination of two appetizers for Php190.00.We got the Iidako Salad (Baby Octopus) and Hiyayakko Tofu.  I’ve always been wary of Octopus, just because I haven’t really eaten much of it. Also, tentacles are kind of creepy. But this was a pretty good octopus, especially as an appetizer. It was a little chewy but had a lot of flavor in it. The tofu was good too. It was firm and the sauce had just the right amount of sweetness in it.

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Menchu Katsu Set (Php 350.00)
A delicious mix of minced premium beef and pork covered in crunchy panko filled with oozing creamy cheese (from the Yabu Menu).

The Menchi Katsu was very yummy. The cheese inside it made it even more so. It was moist but fried to perfection. I love a good crunch in a Katsu.

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Salmon Set (Php475.00)

We also enjoyed the the Salmon Katsu. We were always used to chicken or pork Katsu so this was a must-try. Like the previous dish, the fry was great. Although we may have been used to rarer salmon meat (by rare, I mean, sashimi-like, haha!), there were times when this tasted kind of dry. Still, it’s a pretty good dish.

Since almost everything is unlimited, we got pretty full. For that alone, the price is already worth it. Yabu is definitely a place to visit. But I would suggest you go there early and make a reservation. Especially if you’re allergic to waiting.

Yabu: The House of Katsu has branches at SM Megamall, Robinsons Magnolia, SM Mall of Asia, SM Southmall, and SM Aura Premier.

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Kasbah: Rockin’ Morrocan

When you’re with someone adventurous, the tendency is, you’ll always be trying something new. And when that person enjoys food, well, let’s just say, a huge part of that is trying out all the genres there is. Case in point; for this dinner, we tried Moroccan.

This is the first time we’ve ever tried this cuisine, they’re not exactly floating around the Metro (or maybe they are and I’m just not looking hard enough). Thank goodness for Kasbah.

I would have to say that Moroccan food is a lot like the Middle Eastern ones we’ve tried before. There’s a lot of flavor, and spice is a big factor.

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Moutabal – Baba Ghanoush Php140

We started with the Moutabal – Baba Ghanoush as our cold appetizer. This was actually recommended by the waiter. You can really taste the eggplant on this one. This has some caviar in it as well.

Tangier Calamares

Tangier Calamares Php375

We followed this up with our hot appetizer, the Tangier Calamares or Stuffed Squid. The menu says that it’s stuffed with herbed rice, but it looked a lot like couscous to us (more on couscous later). The squid was cooked  really well, you can slice through it like it was butter.

I’ve never had couscous before, I swear to god. Although I’ve heard of it from all the Gordon Ramsay shows I’ve been watching. I always thought it was some kind of starch-based vegetable (potatoes or chickpeas, I thought!. Imagine my surprise to see these grainy stuff on my plate. This is no potato.

*Eating it actually made me go into research mode and found out that couscous was made from a type of wheat.

Rabat Chicken Couscous Php465

Rabat Chicken Couscous Php465

Upon first tasting, the Rabat Chicken Couscous was actually kind of spicy, but eventually, the sweetness settled in.

Kefta Tagine Php595

Kefta Tagine Php595

Again, a lot of spice, though not the kind that would burn your tongue. That’s supposed to be a poached egg on the top, but it looks kind of overdone. Maybe it overcooked itself after sitting in the hot food for so long? Or maybe  aliens kidnapped our perfectly poached egg. Or maybe it was born that way, let’s not judge it.

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The Moroccan interiors were pretty cool. It’s just too bad we weren’t able to see the mezzanine area. I could see a Prince of Persia vibe going even from a lower standpoint. You can almost hear tambourines playing.

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All in all, it’s a pretty good first taste of Moroccan cuisine. We just might come back to try Kasabah’s brunch menu, yum!

Kasbah is located at The Fort Strip, 7th Avenue corner Katipunan Circle, Fort Bonifacio, Taguig.  (02)553-4499

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Better

In my opinion, there will always come a time when a person says, “I am better than this.”

I am better than the way I am being treated. I am better than the respect being given to me. I am better, simply because I am.

Most people will constitute this as bragging. Most of the time, it is. But there are times when this is simply, a proclamation of self-worth.

You are better because you are breathing. You are better because you’ve taken hits and still you stand. You are better because you have suffered.

People will scoff, I suppose. Eyebrows will be raised. But pay no heed.

You deserve this statement.

You are better.

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