Saturday, January 13, 2018

List of all Kantaro: The Sweet Tooth Salaryman's Dessert Shops!

We've got a new favourite TV show on Netflix: Kantaro: The Sweet Tooth Salaryman! Netflix markets it as a "Netflix Original," but we're not sure if it's really an original, or if it's just an international broadcast of an old/existing Japan TV series.

In any case, the entire show is based on a Manga: Saboriman Ametani Kantarou, in which book Salesman Kantarou plays hooky after his sales visits to visit dessert shops around Tokyo, eat sweets, and make orgasm faces.

Yes, really.

Kantaro Sweet Tooth Salaryman List of Shops Kantaro Sweet Tooth Salaryman List of Shops

The plot and storyline is a little absolutely bonkers in the way only Japan can be, but the introduction and descriptions of the various desserts and sweet shops are amazing. If you're looking for a list of the exact places covered in the TV series - perhaps if you're paying Tokyo a visit soon - we've got you covered using Tabelog and Google Maps!!

Ep1 (Anmitsu): Hatsune (初音), Ningyocho
Ep2a (Kakigori): Amaikko (甘いっ子), Nishi Ogikubo
Ep2b (Kakigori): Kouriya Peace ((氷屋ぴぃす), Kichijoji
Ep3a (Mamekan): Irie (いり江), Monzen Nakacho
Ep3b (Mamekan): Umemura (梅むら), Asakusa
Ep3c (Mamekan): Asakasa Sagamiya (赤坂 相模屋), Asakasa
Ep4 (Fruits Parfait): Kajitsuen Liber / Riiberu (果実園 リーベル 新宿店), Shinjuku
Ep5 (Pancakes): Coffee Tengoku (珈琲 天国), Asakusa
Ep6 (Bavarian Matcha Cream): Kinozen (紀の善), Iidabashi
Ep7 (Savarin): Cafe Recherche (カフェ ルシェルシュ), Yamate
Ep8 (Ohagi): Takeno to Ohagi (タケノとおはぎ), Sakura Shimmachi
Ep9 (Eclairs): Rue de Passy (リュードパッシー), Gakugei Daigaku
Ep10 (Caramel Pudding): Esse Due (エッセドゥエ), Akasaka
Ep11 (Chocolate): Minimal (ミニマル), Yoyogi Koen
Ep12 (Mont Blanc): Waguriya (和栗や), Sendagi

As of today The Sweet Tooth Salaryman has only aired 12 episodes on Netflix; Check it out if you haven't already! We'll certainly update the map (and this page) when/if more episodes get released.

Sunday, January 7, 2018

Hanwoo (Korean Beef) BBQ at specialist restaurant Daedo Sikdang (대도식당)!

👍 Great, reasonably-priced seared Hanwoo Sirloin with pickled radish fried rice.
👎 The restaurant pretty much only serves this one dish.

Hanwoo (한우) is sort of the Korean equivalent of Japanese Wagyu: It's a breed of cattle native to Korea. It's a little difficult to get Hanwoo beef outside the country, though, so we've never been able to do a comparison ... until now!

We're not sure which of the gazillion restaurants in Seoul serve the "best" Hanwoo, but we eventually settle for the Mapo outlet of Daedo Sikdang (대도식당), which is a specialty franchise that really focuses on Hanwoo Sirloin, BBQ (cast iron pan) style:

Verdict? I have no idea what "grade" of Hanwoo Sirloin we had (or even if such grading exists), but it was delicious! The meat was noticeably less tender, and less greasy/fatty (and therefore having a far less oily mouthfeel) than an A4/A5 Wagyu, but on the flipside it also felt and tasted a bit meatier/beefier.

The other dish we had in the video was the Kkakdugi Fried Rice (Kkakdugi: Cubed radish pickles/kimchi). It's cooked in the same cast iron pot used to sear your meat, so it's beefy, oily, and sour/tangy (from the pickled radish) at the same time. A great finish to the meal.

Best Hanwoo Korean Beef BBQ specialist Daedo Sikdang

Daedo Sikdang is a small franchise and has a few outlets around Seoul. The main branch is near the Wangsimni area; use Mangoplate to find the outlet most convenient for you. As with many other Korean restaurants, English isn't spoken (well), but sign language and pointing to menus works well! Non-halal.

Thursday, January 4, 2018

Daemyung Vivaldi Park Ski World (South Korea) - Winter 2017/2018 Review

👍 ~1 hour travel time from Seoul makes it day-trippable. Lots of indoor, underground activities (and restaurants) for non-skiiers, or for in-between runs.
👎 Mostly man-made snow, only 11 (fairly boring) slopes, proximity to Seoul means it's super crowded during peak periods.

Let's get one thing out of the way: If you're an advanced ski'ier or snowboarder (or even a strong intermediate) looking for fresh powder, off piste, and long scenic thigh-burning runs, you will be disappointed here.

But if you're a first-timer or beginner looking to just dip your toes in the world of ski'ing for a day or two before continuing for the rest of your Seoul/South Korea itinerary, then Vivaldi Park Ski World could tick quite a few boxes very satisfactorily!

The park is entirely purpose-built, so the complex has a bit of a "theme-park" look & feel. What you lose in character, though, you gain in efficiency: The ski complex and all the accommodation towers are linked up via the basement. The basement, in turn, houses a dozen or so cafes and restaurants, a supermarket, a few shops selling souvenirs and clothes, and an assortment of attractions/activities like an electric go-kart track, carousel, VR arcade, bowling alley, table tennis, movie theatre, billiards tables, and handicraft studio. The adjoining Ocean Park does double duty as a jijimbang (Korean Spa) in winter, so there really is a LOT to if a few of your travel party doesn't want to hit the slopes.

Vivaldi Park Ski Map

While it's possible to DIY your ski trip here, we decided to go through Koreal Trip (in conjunction with JSki): Paying ₩260,000/night for a 4-person Maple Family Room, plus ₩70,000/person/day for the ski lift ticket plus gear rental (skis, boots, poles, jacket and pants only). Consider topping up ₩22,000/person for a 1-hour group ski lesson if everyone in your group is a beginner or first timer.

The advantage of going through Koreal Trip / JSki is, of course, a less stressful trip as they'll arrange everything for you (they'll even help you with your hotel check in while you're out skiing on the first day).

Vivaldi Park Ski World Slopes

Of course, not everything's clear and sunny skies. Being so near to Seoul, Vivaldi Park attracts a ton of visitors from Seoul, making it ridiculously crowded on the weekends, holidays and other peak periods. And given that there are only two beginner slopes, the 30-45 minute queues for the lifts can get pretty annoying. The slopes are also limited (2 beginner, 5 intermediate, 4 advanced/expert, 1 half-pipe), and are 'boring,' so once you're a comfortable intermediate, this place can really only be a "practice your technique" hill rather than a "cruise and enjoy the scenery, twists and turns" one.

Nevertheless, it's still a great place for a weekday (or two) detour from Seoul to get some snow under your feet. Let us know in the comments below if you've got any other questions!

Sunday, December 17, 2017

Tsukiji Fish Market Restaurant Review (Orchard Central Singapore)

👍 Wide range of Japanese food types under one roof means that there's something for everyone.
👎 Doesn't live up to the "Tsukiji" name; Food's generally just mediocre.

Right off the bat, let's get this out of the way: Tsukiji Fish Market Restaurant (Orchard Central) is in no way related to the Tsukiji Fish Market in Tokyo. But of course you knew that already.

What the Restaurant lacks in a legitimate link to the fish market, it makes up for in variety, though: It's sort of a "dining hall" concept with a few different kitchens offering up different types of Japanese cuisine. There's a sushi/sashimi kitchen, a tempura kitchen, a steak kitchen, a ramen kitchen and an omakase (sushi) kitchen. Naturally, you can order from any of the kitchens, making a huge variety of Japanese cuisine available. In theory, having dedicated kitchens for each cuisine type should improve food quality, so let's have a closer look!

Tsukiji Fish Market Restaurant Singapore

From the aforementioned Tsukiji Fish Market, we order their flagship 7-kinds sashimi boat (s$39.80). The boat comes with generously-portioned slices of the usual suspects - salmon, akami (tuna), swordfish and yellowtail - and some slightly more imaginative morsels of scallops, uni (sea urchin) and prawn. Overall we quite liked the balance between price, quality, portion size and choice of fish. The akami, especially, was quite a bit better than what you normally get with lower end sushi / sashimi places.

Tsukiji Fish Market Restaurant Singapore Sashimi Boat

Our choices went a little downhill from there, though. We ordered a Wagyu Roast Beef Donburi (s$18.80) from the Steak kitchen's menu, and it was a mediocre mess of seemingly low-grade, insufficiently seasoned roast beef. Although I did quite like the ponzu-based sauce.

Tsukiji Fish Market Restaurant Singapore Roast Beef Donburi

The Ebi Anago Tempura Donburi (Tendon, s$18.80) was similarly mediocre. Although the ingredients used were pretty good, and the tempura technique wasn't bad - just the right balance of flour, with the right amount of crisp - the bowl was really lacking in flavour due to the chef's stinginess with the sauce (as you can probably see from the photo). The number of items - prawn, fish, sea eel, etc - you get with the bowl makes it pretty good value, though!

Tsukiji Fish Market Restaurant Singapore Tempura Donburi

To conclude, Tsukiji Fish Market Restaurant (again, no relation to the fish market in Tokyo) serves up a large variety of so-so food. It's probably not the best choice along Orchard Road if you've got a craving for a specific Japanese Food type (for example Ramen), but if you're in a large group, the restaurant might be good enough to satisfy (barely) everyone's palettes.

Tsukiji Fish Market Restaurant is on the 12th Floor of Orchard Central (take a lift to the 11th floor and then an escalator to the 12th). Reservations not accepted. Non-halal.