Tokyo for Food, Part 1

Despite the fact that Japan had recently been affected by natural disasters, it is still one of the very few places I’d want to be. I love almost everything about Japan, good food, culture, and people. Most of the Japanese are hard-working, polite, and have perfected good manners.

Having fresh and good Japanese cuisine in Japan is one of the things I’ve been looking forward to since I was pregnant. As you know, we asians believe that anything raw is not allowed for pregnant women. I think I didn’t have them for at least 9 months.

My main purpose for this trip is FOOD, and we did it right. Warning: This post will make you hungry.

DAY ONE

It took about 1 hour car ride from Narita airport to our hotel, Conrad Tokyo. I chose this hotel mainly because of good location. It’s very near to Ginza, Tsukiji Fish Market and not so far from all the areas we wish to go.

Everything is good except for their wifi. Overall, I like this hotel a lot.

Our first meal in Tokyo was at Tempura Ten-ichi *highly recommended*, at Ginza area. This restaurant is cozy and simple decorated. Nothing pretentious. They also have a separate room for us to have a dessert after.

I swear they have THE MOST DELICIOUS Tempura I’ve had so far in my life. They spoilt my tastebuds forever.

Click on photo to view full-size.

Tempura here doesn’t taste like other places, it’s very crispy and yet not too thick or too light. Everything is fresh. Prawns and gingko nuts are my favourite. Eel is very sweet too.

I had many of this. Gingko Nuts.

Melon was so tasty and juicy. It melted in my mouth. Oh well, you probably have no ideas how much I love Japanese melon. I can have it everyday.

The bill was around 28000 yen for two. If you are planning to visit Tokyo, you have to go there. I suggest you to make reservation than walk-in.

We walked around Ginza areas after lunch

and saw this bar with an interesting concept. Just nice when the weather was pretty hot.

We had one beer each (550 yen per glass) to cool us down before heading out for a dinner.

Dinner was at Shabu Zen, at Roppongi. Two plates of sirloin and one ribeye. They look almost the same but taste different. We spent around 22000 yen (approx SGD280) for that, with a small bottle of Sake. It’s an affordable price and food was good.

However, honestly speaking, I prefer Shabu Shabu Gen in Singapore. The food there is quite close to perfection even though it’s more expensive.

Back to hotel after that as we took it easy on the first day. x

DAY TWO

Slept around 12am and woke up around 3 for Tsukiji Fish market. We arrived there at 3:30am with a private guide, Mr N.Kamei. This market only permits for 120 pax and many people couldn’t get in so we have to queue up very early at 3:30am. Divided into 2 groups, 60 each. We were in the first group wearing bright yellow vests because we were early. However, there is a waiting time for roughly an hour.

If you can’t stand wet market smell then don’t bother going there. There are many Off-Limits area and heavy traffic. The road is very wet and slippery so sneakers would be the right choice. You have to be extra careful of the traffic.

They allowed us to be inside the Tuna Auction Hall only 20-30 minutes. There are serious business activities inside this market and it’s not so tourist-oriented.

As of January 2013, the highest tuna auction was at $1.6 millions for 222KG Bluefin Tuna fish. That’s is around $7k for 1kg.

In tokyo around 90% of fish in the restaurants are from this market. More than 1400 different veggies. More than 350 different fish. 50% fish are import from china, Taiwan, Spain etc.

After the auction, we visited Tsukijihonganji Temple to feel the early morning atmostphere of Buddhism.

And then looked for sushi places at associated market nearby. This particular restaurant below had very long queue, all the way out until main road. Oh well. I’m sure it must be really good but I was too hungry to wait that long though.

I love the feel of restaurant too, very local.

However, our guide recommended us to try Sushi Zanmai, if we want to skip long waiting times. It’s 24- hour chain restaurant and the owner won the Tuna auction I mentioned earlier. Good, fresh and affordable food.

Click on photo to view full-size.

Fresh, fresh, fresh.

A very simple dish like seaweed soup, was very delicious.

headed to Shibuya for shopping in the afternoon. It was crowded almost everywhere in this area. If you have time, do check out Parco in Shibuya. I love quite a few pieces of womenswear from the local designers such as Lily Brown.

Random shot. I had no idea what he was doing. haha.

Look at the guy in pink T-shirt on the right, his expression…. haha.

Ok, and this will be another highlight of my trip.

Fine dining at Ryugin (Roppongi Minato-Ku) *highly recommended*. We booked table a month plus in advance. It is a very small restaurant and has only about ten plus tables but the food is to die for. Ryugin is a 3Michelin star and ranked #22 in the list of the best restaurants in the world by San Pellegrino. And they really deserved those awards.

Take a look at this interesting menu. Click on photo to view full-size.

The food has very unique taste and well play on flavours and textures.

My favourite was their famous Summer Dish called Swimming Ayu fish grilled over charcoal with bamboo aroma. Smell good, taste great. Crispy and fish head was the best part of all. It was kinda bitter but taste unique.

The bill was around 70000 yen for one full course menu (for 2) and a bottle of champaign. My day was completed with fantastic dinner like that.

I kinda feel hungry right now going through all food photos I took in Japan. Craving Japanese.

ps.- Look out for the next post as there will be a lovely giveaway. x

Love.- nira

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With baby love

Sorry for the lack of updates this month. I just came back from Bangkok and I was there to spend time with a family for a week plus.

The best thing about this trip was a great surprise I gave to my family. And Terena was their surprises. None of them (except for my second elder brother) were expecting me to be in Bangkok this month but in June. Furthermore, they did not expect me to bring Terena baby along to see them! You have no ideas how crazy they are over her. I’m no longer my dad’s most favorite girl but it’s okay as long as it’s Terena. haha. I wish I could share with you all their face expression when they came home and saw Terena in a living room. Speechless. Funny. But most importantly, all happy, so am I. If you follow my instagram you should already saw some of my dad pictures with Terena. Then you can easily tell how happy he was. Love is amazing.

We were there during Thailand’s Songkran festival period and many places were closed, except for the shopping malls. Too bad for me as I wanted to do street shopping. But well, there were no traffic jams during that time at least. My family and I didn’t want to get into water flight this year plus Terena is way too small for that. In a few years time maybe.

Anyway, Terena and I did our first photo shoot together this trip. It was one of the most challenging photo shoots I ever had because of her. You think about it. It’s not easy to shoot babies right? However, I think Terena did way better than I thought during that 4 hours with a short nap around 30 minutes. Here are some Behind-the-Scenes shots.

Getting ready with my favorite Thai makeup artist. Thank you for teaching me some great tips on makeup! I want to share that with you ladies soon.

While waiting for my makeup to be done, they started shooting Terena alone first. See how many people were needed by her side to ensure her safety. Because she couldn’t sit up by herself yet. Look at the smiles on their faces as well. I think that’s lovely.

Mummy and baby shots.

And mummy solo shots while Terena baby was taking her peaceful nap.

Some of you might want to know where we did the shoot. It was at Agalico, located at Sukhumvit 51. This is where you enjoy a good cup of tea and yummy cakes with great atmosphere. It’s all white and bright, that’s what I love. They also have a beautiful garden at the back.

Thank you photography team and makeup/hair team for your great work. A special thank you to my family who made it a lot easier to shoot Terena with smiles. And lastly, thank you baby Terena for being a good girl! I love you baby. x

I’m looking forward to see the photos! And I hope all of you had fun like I did.

Love.- nira

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The peaceful part of Bali

Everyone deserves a holiday especially after hard work. My husband has been flying around very often and I’m so glad that he made it happen as he planned for everyone including my in-laws. It was also baby Terena’s second trip to overseas.

We spent 4 days and 3 nights in a stunning villa called ‘Villa Mandalay’ with full services boutique. There are 7 bedrooms, private pool, entertainment room, the spa areas, and also the living room areas with a bar etc. The best of all, it has a beautiful view of traditional rice terraces and the ocean.

And this is my favourite spot.

The next day was even better. Because baby Terena went into a pool for the first time and we could easily tell that she LOVED it. Baby happy, daddy and mummy happier.

So much fun, so much laughter, that moment.

More relaxing moments with a bottle of Indonesia beer and good foot massage. I recommend you guys to try their massage not manicure/pedicure.

Thank you for the great time and good services. Also, thanks to sweet my father-in-law who bought this rose for me on a Valentine’s day. My mum&sis-in-law got one too.

A lucky girl I am. Looking for more great time with a big family.

Love.- nira

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Florence, Italy

Happy new year everyone. May all the loves and great things be with you and your positive attitude always. Time flies so fast. How I wish I had appreciated those times with the loved ones so much more.

Anyway, here is another post on my previous Italy trip.

Florence was my next stop after Rome. It was supposed to be quite long drive from Rome to Florence. But thanks to my husband. We got to our destination faster than we expected. This city will probably make the shoppers happy, really happy. I seriously went crazy shopping for designer goods over there. Their collections are much newer compared to what we have seen in Singapore, and most importantly, they are also cheaper. Prada and Salvatore Ferragamo stores are much bigger there compared to the other cities in Italy I went to. Other than shopping, I also enjoyed the good seafood there! It’s much better than Venice, Rome, and Milan.

I was staying in Ferragamo Family-owned Hotel called Lungarno suite. This hotel has the most comfortable bed!

Tourist areas 5 minutes walk from a hotel. Very convenient. There are many restaurants with good views as well.

Strolling around after our lunch.

And then we went for a BIG time shopping at THE MALL! Less than an hour’s drive. (apply to how fast my husband drives)

I did not take many photos of this place as I wanted to concentrate on my shopping alone.  They have all the designer brands I was craving for.

Another happy shopping day. More than satisfied. My last post on italy trip will be coming up soon. I save the best for last.

Love.- nira

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Venice, The Beauty

Without a doubt, Venice is my favorite city in Italy. There is only little things I dislike about Venice, and too much to love.

True that, the Venetian canals in the summer can be quite stink and there is no way to avoid it if you want to see the true beauty of Venice. Also, heavy crowds and all the pigeons might not make this city sound like the perfect destination. But despite all this, I still put Venice as one of the best city I’ve ever been to so far. I find it romantic, relaxing, unique, small yet rich in history.

And I’d say that was the highlight of my italy trip.

I took the water taxi from a train station to the hotel we were staying. I got to see many great views along the way and it was such a good first impression.

It was a really bright day.

We reached The Westin hotel approximately in twenty minutes. The hotel’s dock is right on the Grand Canal and water taxi is the best way to arrive. I find The Westin in Venice is so much better than the one in Rome. Or maybe I just personally prefer Venice more than Rome.

Check out the view from my hotel room. Tell me… How could I not love it?

I wouldn’t want to waste anymore time in the hotel room so I quickly got myself refreshed after showering and moved on to next exciting moment.

a Gondola ride, a beautiful song.

Some gondoliers will sing to you in Italian or play a musical instrument during the gondola ride which you often need to pay extra for such service but it will be worth it. When I heard them sing the very first time while I was crossing a small bridge, I paused immediately to listen and look at how happy they were.

In fact, everyone in this city seems so happy and enjoyable. It really felt like a dream to me at that moment, a very sweet dream.

Only if I could sing an Italian love song.

Locks of love on Accademia Bridge

This is where the lovebirds write their names on a padlock, attach it to a bridge, and throw keys in the river. This act was inspired by a bestselling romantic novel, I Want You (2006), by Federico Moccia.

Taking a short break.

My energy boost after a long walk would be this glass of Lemonade with Gelato sorbet! So refreshing. Gelato in Singapore can’t compare a tiny bit with what I had in italy seriously. I think I spoil my taste bud.

This little bird wanted his shares too. I’m glad I managed to get this shot.

And we continued walking.

I spotted this along the way. What a good sense of humor. “OPEN SOME TIME” hahaha!! Love the ideas.

Should I say this person is being lazy or creative?

Shopping was next. I wasn’t tempted by luxury brands when I was shopping in Venice. It will be another story if I’m in Milan or something.

Venice is uniquely famous for their local crafts and other unique stuffs such as Venetian glass, art sculpture, marbled paper, nice watercolors or oil painting of Venetian scenes, and of course those carnival masks that caught my full attention.

Venetian carnival masks. 

They are so unique and detailed in designs with a long history behind those masks. How they are made and what’s their origin. Isn’t it interesting?

So I bought some back of course. The mask is quite bulky but definitely worth my luggage space. How often do you get to see such thing right? Do take some notes and be more careful when buying these masks. They do sell fake ones as well. But it’s not difficult to tell the difference by looking at all the details. Here’s what I got.

Masquerade Eye Mask, 30 euros.

I also bought “I love Venice” T-shirt for myself and some postcards for loved ones. Shopping was fun but it was not how I wanted to end my day in Venice. Because the best thing to do in at night is actually…

a nighttime stroll

There is not much in terms of nightlife but it’s more about going on a nighttime stroll where I can soak up the atmosphere and do some photography along the way. It was pretty quiet at night and I got to see many beautiful spots without the crowds.

Back to the hotel after 2 hours of strolling.

and relaxed ourself for an hour in the hotel bar soaking up the night view before moving to the next city tomorrow morning.

One day spent in that small island-based city was good enough for me to appreciate all the good things they have. Would I ever go back there again? My answer is yes, obviously. I wonder what it’d be like to spend another holiday over there, but in the winter. Actually, it would be a great idea to bring my parents here as I’m very sure they will like this place like I do.

It’s true as they said about this romantic city. Thank you Venice for your beauty.
Sweet love.- nira

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