Monday, 26 December 2011

Best Albums of 2011

Who knows, possibly I'll post more here in the new year. Possibly I won't. Anyway, here are my favourite albums of the year. As always I'm painfully aware that there's a lot of good stuff I've missed, but of the records I picked up this year here's what did it for me. Possibly the only album I bothered to get which I really didn't like was the Kurt Vile one. Such a great stage name. Such terrible music. So that means I basically spent the time listening to music that I'd already tried, or that I was pretty sure I was going to like. I am not, as they say, a professional musical listening writer.


Fucked Up - David Comes To Life

I liked individual songs by Fucked Up before but this is the first time they really clicked for me over an album length. It's just a fantastic, fantastic rock record, like one long anthem to love and how tough it is. Actually in a way it's like an hour-long chorus, which I guess is how your music sounds when you have a frontman whose every utterance sounds ripped out of his guts.

Radiohead - The King of Limbs

Yeah, I'm basically down for whatever Radiohead do now. It's all good.

Mr. Muthafuckin' eXquire - Lost In Translation

In a way it's kinda cheating since a lot of why I like this mixtape is all the old El-P beats he uses, but I really like his flow too. Hope whatever he does next is similarly great.

Mr. Dream - Trash Hit

Never has a band that was so consistently compared to other bands I love actually turned out to be as good as this one. (NB: video is cheating as it's the non-album single that they put out after the record, but I always listen to the lot and I just found this cool live version of it and it's easier just do youtube vids rather that switch to vimeo where their great video for Croquet is...)

Oneohtrix Point Never - Replica

I dug the Ford and Lopatin album that he was involved in too, but this is other-world music. Something to get lost in.

Tuneyards - W H O K I L L

I went up and down with this one, but in the end I love it I think. One of the few times when a video irritated me so much that I thought again about liking the great song that went with it (not the video I'm posting here of course).

Office of Future Plans - Office of Future Plans

J. Robbins put out a new album this year and it basically sounds like Burning Airlines and Channels and late Jawbox and there is no way an album like that is not making it into my favourite albums of the year (even though this video dates from 2010).

Wilco - The Whole Love

I didn't pick up the last two Wilco albums even, but this is just great, great music. I listened to it a lot.

Tokyo Jihen - Daihakken

I'm surprised I didn't find more stuff from Japan that I loved this year, but it was just this and the Perfume record basically. One of those records where the singles they released before hand were the worst songs on there, which is how it goes I suppose.

Shabazz Palaces - Black Up

More other-world music. Deep, I mean with a sense of physical depth, not in a cheesy way.

See you in 2012, ya mooks!

Tuesday, 15 November 2011

Sapporo Food: Hachikyou

Hokkaido! The vast Northern island of Japan where I live! And it's getting pretty bloody cold at the moment! Seriously, I was sorely unprepared for how chilly it was out there today.

Hokkaido is rightly famous for its food, both in terms of produce (a whole lot of Japan's homegrown produce comes from here) and in terms of the cuisine too. Every now and then someone comes to visit from elsewhere in Japan wanting to experience the Hokkaido food that they've heard so much about, and generally I can help them out. There's good sushi from Kushiro at Hanamaru in Sapporo Station, there's good Soup Curry everywhere, miso ramen all over the place, Jingisukan lamb barbecue (I like Daruma in Susukino)... there's a lot of stuff. But this time when some friends came we went to Hachikyou. Hachikyou is a famous Izakaya that serves the kind of Hokkaido dishes that you might not find at those more specialist restaurants I mentioned above. It's just North of Susukino Station and judging by the autographs they've got all over their walls it's pretty popular for visiting celebrities. And tourists, I should add.

Sorry for the shoddy photos this time out, it was an authentically dimly lit bar. My phone camera (such a pro-blogger, I know) had a hard time.

We tried a bunch of things, mostly with a Hokkaido bent, but I should probably cut to the chase and show you what Hachikyou is most famous for - the sukko-meshi.

That, my friends, is a whole heapin'-helpin' of salmon roe. Ikura (salmon roe) like a lot of seafood is really good and fresh in Hokkaido, and Hachikyou do this crazy Ikura-don (salmon rice-bowl) where they bring you the rice, then bring out a massive bowl of Ikura and all the staff start shouting along as one of the guys strikes and dramatic pose and starts ladling the fish eggs onto your rice until you say stop, or until it overflows. It's fun, and it was good Ikura man. OK, we split this four ways, but it might've been a bit much to get more than one.

The cool thing is that in the menu and in a speech before serving, the staff acknowledge that serving up such a crazy serving of a pretty expensive food is somewhat... gluttonous? Opulent? Anyway they tell you not to order it unless you're sure you can finish it, and also ask you to make extra donations to a charity box that goes towards protecting fish habitats (I think, I might be remembering that a little wrong).

Here's some of the other stuff we got too:

Salmon chanchan-yaki is a Hokkaido dish that's made by cooking salmon in a kind of miso dressing. This was delicious, and it's more of a home-cooked dish, so it was cool to find it at a restaurant.

These were... hoke croquets, I think? A kind of fish, again, more Hokkaido produce. They were great.

And this was crab (Hokkaido) and avocado salad. It was nice, but I think I was blown away by the other stuff more.

And sashimi too. Because, Hokkaido fish etc.

Hachikyou wasn't too expensive (even the sukko-meshi wasn't crazy, though it did cost a bit) but it was a little more than your bog-standard izakaya. To be honest, I'd say that while all of the food was very good, it wasn't astonishingly delicious, but then the place really is more about serving up great Hokkaido izakaya food than mind-blowing culinary excellence, so it does exactly what it sets out to do. It's well worth going to for anyone who's living here, or just visiting, for the sukko-meshi alone. Also, see if you can spot any famous people's autographs that you know! All Japanese of course, and I can never read kanji signatures, so I only spotted a few bands that I knew.

I have marked it upon my map, for your locating pleasure.

Tuesday, 8 November 2011

This week in Japanese Pepsi flavours

Oh god.

Did you just throw up in your mouth? A little bit? Man, it should be pretty obvious by now but really all these flavours that Pepsi rolls out now and then actually have nothing to do with Pepsi-cola at all. They're like flavoured soda - just weird variations on carbonated drinks with the Pepsi brand name attached.

And I cannot resist them, even when the very colour of the drink makes me feel somewhat queasy. This one was actually ok, but incredibly sweet - a very boiled-candy kind of flavour. But boy, I can still feel it coating my teeth.

Recommended if you like those swirly 'strawberries and cream' boiled sweets they used to make, or if you're a spelunker into the cave of oddball limited-edition junk foods like me.

Monday, 17 October 2011

Sapporo Food: Maruyama Mushroom

Out near Nishi 18 Chome station on the Tozai line, Maruyama Mushroom offers (according to the English slogan) hamburg steak and casual French food and despite the fact that I can't stand mushrooms I thought I'd check it out!

It's a nice, small restaurant and they're clearly very serious about their food. It's one of those places where as much of the menu is devoted to describing the ingredients and their origins, as is devoted to actually laying out the food. Most of their dishes are based around Japanese style hamburg steak, and although it's not very expensive, you can tell that you're in for something of a quality meal because it's certainly not as cheap as your bog-standard hamburg chain. The cheapest set thing is a little over a thousand yen:

And it looked very nice. I pushed the boat out a little more and had the hamburg with Parmesan risotto which was really good. Mushrooms, actually, weren't all that obvious in the dishes. Since I really don't like them I did ask - um, does this have lots of mushrooms in it? And the waitress said it did, but very quickly said that they could leave them out if I wanted. And I wanted, so they did, but I'm a little curious as to what they left them out of. The hamburg? The risotto? The salad? And for that matter I was feeling guilty because the chef is clearly very serious about his food, has called the place Mushroom and I was asking him not to include them? Well, I enjoyed it in the end, and he didn't look too put out so I hope it was ok.

If you're in the Maruyama-ish area this place is worth checking out, and it's on my map. I'm glad I got over my distaste for the name to try it!

Sunday, 16 October 2011

Sapporo Food: Soup Curry Samurai

I knew that there were a bunch of branches of Soup Curry Samurai around, but I didn't know until recently that one of my friends rates it as the best place in Sapporo. Since in actuality I needed no incentive to go and check the place out, that was all the incentive I needed to finally go to the one I spotted in Susukino and see if it was any good.

It's very good.

Soup curry for beginners - curry in the form of a soup that's served with lots of meat and vegetables in the soup and with rice on the side that you can do with what you wish. It originated in Sapporo and as yet there's no massive nationwide chain, or in fact much similarity at all between the different shops. Some shops use vaguely Indian spices, while a lot of them have a hint of Indonesian or Thai flavour to them. But it's always grounded in a uniquely soup-curry taste. I can probably stop doing this spiel whenever I talk about soup curry can't I? There are some small chains with multiple shops in Sapporo and a few have even opened in Tokyo I think, but I find that sometimes flavour can vary between different branches of the same chain so I'm reluctant to review all of one company's restaurants on the basis of visiting one. Anyway, this was the Odori/Susukino Samurai I went to, accessed via street level but spread over the second and third floors of the small building it's in.

The place was nice and cozy and the soup curry was excellent. The soup was nice and thick in comparison to many other places, and it had a very full, rich flavour. Yuki had the monthly special which was this chicken pumpkin thing, pumpkin soup too!

Her comments afterwards were that she was blown away by the first six mouthfuls, but that after that it was maybe a bit too rich and there was too much chicken. I hardly need say that this won't be a problem for others. I went for the buta kakuni (slow cooked pork) which is something I really like trying everywhere. There's a choice of six curries but I had the regular and it was pretty wonderful. In fact the soup was so good, and so flavoursome that I regretted getting the mozzarella cheese topping for it since it really ended up confusing the otherwise wonderful taste. Then, choosing spice levels and toppings are part of the fun of soup curry. Next time I'll keep it simple.

I had spice level 4, the highest you can go before they start dropping chillis in and charging more, and it was nicely spicy. Nothing to worry about if you like spicy food. The vegetables here were crisper and less cooked than a lot of the places I've been too recently, and to be honest I prefer them softer than this with soup curry. But the pork was cooked to perfection, so I assume that's the way they do their veg here and some people will love it. There was certainly a nice selection as you can see.

I don't know that this is the best place in Sapporo, but to be honest considering the number of Soup Curry places out there I doubt I'll ever find that holy, curry-filled grail. It was great though, and I'd love to go back. There are four branches scattered around Sapporo that you can find from their website that I've linked to at the top, and I'll put this city centre one on my map. Ahhhh, I love soup curry.

Monday, 3 October 2011

Sapporo Cafes - Kenon

A bit too far to be of use to most people, this one. Still, their bagels and donuts were just heavenly and if you live in the North of Sapporo, or better yet in Shin-Kotoni, then it's nice to know there are nice places around. Right?

Kenon is a stylish little place in a very suburban part of Northern Sapporo that clearly knows its target market is mums and housewives. They had mother's magazines and I'm pretty sure that they're a very 'baby friendly' place considering there were two very young babies while we were there. So it's not a hipster hang-out, but it is very minimal and chic, and really stands out in the area it's in.

It has a small cafe space attached, but I think that Kenon's main thing is baking bagels and donuts for take-out. And they're damn good bagels and donuts, let me tell you. We had chicken and salmon bagel sandwiches, amazing filled donuts and I got a herb sausage bagel to take away that turned out to be a bagel with a whole sausage running through it. It was all seriously good stuff and strongly recommended.

The coffee was good and the people were super friendly. As I said it's probably too far out for anyone to justify the trip out there, but if you're in the area it's great to know about. I've stuck it on my map... here.

Saturday, 1 October 2011

Sapporo Autumn Festival 2011

Well! It looks like google are upping their 'blog' game and, in addition to google-izing the blogger interface they've finally got around to an iPhone app! So, consider this an on the road test post. Blogging from the palm of my hand. Already I am skeptical.

Sapporo Autumn Fest is actually a lot of people's favourite festival in Sapporo it turns out. In the winter the central stretch of Odori Park is turned into the Snow Festival, and in the summer it turns into an endless sea of drunk people for Beer Garden. I love them both, but not everyone does, and it seems a bunch of people I've spoken too much prefer the relatively young Autumn Festival, which is all about food.

Sapporo Autumn Festival has been held every Autumn since 2008, and yes, the had "since 2008" written on the poster in 2008. That's just how they roll here. It's been getting bigger every year, and that's good for the variety of food on offer, but bad if you don't like crowds, or spending a long time waiting to buy food from a stall.

Oh, by the way, this year's Autumn Fest us still going on - but only until tomorrow, October 2nd. So you have a chance to check it out... but not much of a chance.

This years Autumn Fest takes up five blocks, each one having a different theme. There's a welcome area, a block for ramen and new food from all over Hokkaido, a block for restaurants from Sapporo itself to have stalls, one for wine and... classier things, and probably the best one - other food from all around Hokkaido. The new food area has been rotating dishes and I think the food there is part of a competition, but it's expensive and has an annoying ticket-based system. The other area for local Hokkaido foods is more of a farmers' market affair and I had good food from there without having to queue much at all.

Hokkaido is famous for good food, Hokkaido people are proud of their produce and it's really a no brainer to have a food festival right in the middle of town. It's well worth checking out - uh, if not this year then next!

I think this app thing is just going to dump all my photos down at the bottom in a jumble, so I'll just tell you what I ate and you can work out for yourself what's what, ok? I had amazing buta-don (pork rice bowl) from Obihiro, which is apparently famous for the stuff. I had a menchi-katsu (minced meat cutlet) burger from Eniwa that was pretty good, and an amazing jumbo scallop burger (pictured both pre and post bite) that kind of blew my mind. There's also a deer-cutlet curry there that came with a free carrot! Other things I tried that aren't pictured included potato and crab balls, sausages, sea-urchin rice and sea food curry.

I went quite a lot.

So, another great festival in Sapporo and yet more great food. Can't say fairer than that.

Wednesday, 28 September 2011

Elite Japanese Cuisine

Oh! Did I say 'Elite Japanese Cuisine'? I meant stuff I found in convenience stores and vending machines! I... suppose there is a difference?

This first one isn't all that interesting. I think it's a Family Mart exclusive Sapporo soft drink, but I mostly took a picture because it's melon... cola? That and I never get tired of drinking curiously-hued beverages. In Japan of course, green melon soda is commonplace, but melon cola? To be frank I couldn't really tell the difference. It was good though!

McVitie's Sweet Mint Digestive Biscuits! Aw, now you're talking! These are one of those products that, although it's a Western company, I doubt you'll find these available in the West. That happens a lot (see for example whole blogs dedicated to the baffling array of Kit-Kat flavours they have here) and not just with food, but with clothing brands and other things too. Eastern and Western tastes vary, y'know.

But in this case, my tastes don't vary that much at all. I adore chocolate and mint flavoured stuff, but when I first came to Japan I never saw anything around, and when I told people I liked that taste they looked at me funny. Well, y'know, funnier than usual. But in the few years I've been here chocolate-mint flavoured items have been popping up more and more, and this summer was a veritable choco-minty feast for me, with all sorts of limited edition snacks and ice-creams on offer. I mean, when I saw this latest one I almost thought they'd designed it just for me. Until I turned over the packet...

I mean, she doesn't look like me at all. Oh well. Also, I'm pretty sure that the Japanese companies are treating choc-mint flavour as a summer thing, so now it's cooling down I won't find it anywhere, but it was good while it lasted.

Next up, vending machine awesomeness:

Walking through Sapporo Station I saw a DyDo vending machine selling pancake drink. I mean, pancake-flavoured milk drink, but... I mean that is either going to turn your stomach or turn your head. I think you can guess which it did for me:

Mmmmm, look at that melting butter. And there's definitely a hint of butter in the taste too, but it really wasn't too gross at all. From what's written on the can, it actually looks like this is more of a retro, nostalgia exercise than a bold new experiment in flavour. This pancake milkshake mix used to be available from the chocolate company Morinaga as a Nesquik-style stir-in powder. You'd add it to milk and - voila - drinkable pancakes. Morinaga are collaborating with DyDo on this... perhaps to get it back out there? Anyway it was pretty nice, probably too sweet for most people but I didn't have a problem with it. And yes, it did taste like pancakes. And in the end, isn't that what's important?

Tuesday, 27 September 2011

The Book of Mansion Names 7

Well, it's been almost two years since I've done one of these. The names of apartment buildings in Japan that in some way I think speak of the aspirations and dreams that all of us keep in our hearts. Imagine, you could one day live in a building with a name like this!

Monday, 26 September 2011

Sapporo Food - Medicineman Soup Curry

Inconvenience leads to discovery! Cafe Zill, where I used to go pretty regularly for lunch has closed for a refurb until later this year, so I've been forced to wander the streets of Yamahana looking for something else to eat. Luckily one rainy day I found a well known soup-curry shop called Medicineman!

It's great, and I'll recommend it right here at the start as a great, and rightly popular Soup Curry 'shack'. It's not really a shack, don't worry. The curry is delicious, and their slogan "A Good Medicine Tastes Hot!" is very apt. As with most soup curry places you have to select a spice level when you order. The first time I went I had 'HOT1' which was great, but their menu says that 'HOT2' is apparently the best match for Medicineman's soup flavour, so next time I tried that. It was pretty hot, but it was eff-ing great soup curry.

As with all soup curry shops (perhaps all small restaurants in general) the decor is a little eclectic. A lot of places go for a weird mish-mash of Jamaican, Indonesian and Indian art and objects, but Medicineman goes for a bit of Americana and a lot of early Hanna-Barbera looking native American characters.

Here's a snap of their pork curry, which has big chunks of 'kakuni' style pork in it. The pork, also, is excellent.

I'm not sure if there are other Medicineman shops around, usually for these established places there are two or three stores, but the one I went to was probably most easily accessed by streetcar from Odori or Susukino. It's clearly very popular too, since I've been there at lunch time and after work and it's always busy. They have a board at the entrance where you can put your name down if they don't have any seats free too. I have placed it on my map, and it comes with two thumbs up and a smiley face saying "Good Soup Curry!"

Thursday, 4 August 2011

Sapporo Food: Calcio D'Angolo

I have no idea why I'm blogging so much. I think there's something wrong with me.

Calcio D'Angolo is one of the many places in Sapporo that I went to one time, years ago, and thought - 'Oh, I'll have to bring people here and blog about it coz it's really good' only to never do that. It's an Italian place near the East end of Tanuki Koji, facing the Sosei River, and it serves great food in a simple, stylish, chilled atmosphere. Possibly I missed a trick because this Ziptipz site and the Marriott hotel site, both using most of the same copy, say that it's a place that specializes in handmade deserts. I think that they have handmade desserts, and they look good (though I didn't try them) but I don't know that the place specializes in them... I think it's a (mostly) Italian restaurant. Then, the place is celebrating it's 10 year anniversary this year, so perhaps it started out that way and, maybe you should check out the deserts! And then again, the ZipTipz site does recommend that for cheap food you can go to family restaurants like Denny's, Jonathan's or Skylark when to my knowledge there are no Denny's or Jonathan's in Sapporo. So maybe take the info on that site with a pinch of salt.

Anyway Calcio D'Angolo also comes recommended because they play the best music I've heard (for a restaurant) outside of Cafe Nesco in Kita 24 Jyo. Sinner Cafe in Susukino also plays good music, but every now and then they play RHCP, so that costs them points.

Worst music is anywhere that plays Nouvelle Vague or any CD of bossanova covers of 'unlikely' songs.

I digress.

Calcio D'Angolo used to look out onto the flat temporary cover that they put over the Sosei River while they were not working on it. This year they've unveiled really quite a nice narrow little river park which makes the whole area seem really quite relaxing. Inside, though Calcio D'Angolo is even more relaxing, with super-comfy low chairs (that I can't imagine are good for the digestion, but who knows the Romans always lounged when they ate and everyone says they're smart), low lighting and nice vintage furniture.

I have a feeling that when I went years ago they had a pretty small Italian-only menu. I could be remembering it wrong, but either way they now have a pretty extensive menu that covers Italy, Spain, France and... Japan. That's a little bit of a cop-out guys. Not much of a stretch for you. Above, in a slightly over-exposed photo, you can see the lasagna (LASAGNA! Yuki was super-excited to find anywhere that does a half-decent lasagna in Sapporo), and below is our starter - an avocado and shrimp potato salad thing that was wonderful.

We also got their recommended pizza:

Everything was good, the avocado thing was exceptional and we both really want to go back to explore more of the menu. It's tucked away a little, under an over-hanging roof, but it's not hard to find. And besides, it's on my map! Check it out!

Wednesday, 3 August 2011

Sapporo Food: Suriyothai - Thai-Style Curry

Found this place by just walking around randomly, trying to get from one place to another by going in the wrong direction. I like it when it works like that. It was a Monday, and the sign said the place was closed on Mondays and yet nevertheless:

That, I think, is incredibly rare. I have lost count of the times I've tried to go somewhere because the internet, or the flyer says it will be open only to find that it's closed (Maruyama Drill Hamburger Shop, I'm looking at you). So to find somewhere that says it'll be closed only to be open is an early Christmas present.

Suriyothai is in a building that looks fancy from the front, but to get to the restaurant you have to go through to the back where there's a little hidden line of bars and shops which looks far less glamorous. They do mostly Thai curries in the well known "Traffic Light Arrangement" (red curry, yellow curry or green curry) and a bunch of other Thai influenced food. I got the impression that if you went for something spicy at this place, you'd really get something spicy...

We got the green curry and a rice dish that was apparently a drier Thai curry to be eaten with rice. Since the place doesn't look at all fancy, and yet has a 'Top 100 restaurants in Hokkaido' sign outside from a few years back, I wasn't all that surprised to find that the food was excellent. Like I said, I think things might get spicy if you want them too - I don't mind that with some things but I've had bad experiences with Thai food so I didn't push it. Oh and there's a terrifying looking pot of extra spiciness on the table should you feel so inclined.

Looking this place up I found that there was a Japanese youtube channel devoted to Thai restaurants. They basically just walk in and spin around a bit, but here, so you can experience it all the more powerfully, is their video of Suriyothai:

Awesome. Suriyothai is very close to Kita 12 Jo station, and if you like Thai food than absolutely check it out. It's on my map!

Tuesday, 2 August 2011

Japanese Beverages with Alex - Pepsi and more!

Me, I'm all about the traditional stuff - you know that. Those tastes that speak of Japan's rich cultural heritage, and demonstrate the gulf in philosophies that separates this proud island nation from the proud island nation of which I am...

No, wait. I'm not interested in that stuff at all.

Here's a couple of gimmicky summer soft drinks that I picked up recently:

After the- let's say utter failure of Pepsi Dry to be either palatable or interesting, Pepsi Caribbean Gold is a massive improvement in the field of Pepsi Limited Time Flavours. The description says that it's a "Refreshing cola with the feel of a high class Caribbean resort." That is fucking aspirational, but unsurprisingly it doesn't really taste like that. It also says it's 'White Sapote' flavour. Now, I, like I expect most people, had no idea what white sapote is so I look it up on Wikipedia. Apparently it's a Central American tree whose fruit is thought to have narcotic properties, especially inducing drowsiness.

I mean, of COURSE Pepsi Japan would choose to make a White Sapote flavour drink. Because they're insane.

Sadly, no narcotic effects were in evidence, but Pepsi Caribbean Gold is actually a really nice, unidentifiably fruity cola. There's a little pineapple maybe, a little coconut - I guess it is a little tropical after all - but overall it's really pretty good. And properly the most normal tasting Pepsi variant that's come out over the last few years.

The other drink I just picked up because the name sounded disgusting, only for it to be surprisingly delicious is Kirin's "Sekai no Kitchen kara: Salt and Litchi", based on a desert made by mums in Thailand.

This one really does taste of lychee (I'll spell it my way, though I think almost anyway is fine). I couldn't get any sense of saltiness, but perhaps it's a counter-balance, in that the concept of lychee juice is a little odd, and this just tasted great. I know some people don't like lychee, so don't bother if that includes you, but this was no where near as odd as it first sounded. Two good summer drinks, what are the chances?

Oh, and if you've noticed Coca-Cola's Mello Yello around, don't bother. It's pretty bad.

Monday, 1 August 2011

Sapporo Food: Kopitiam - Singaporean Restaurant.

Oh hey! It must be summer in Sapporo because everywhere is a beer garden and no-one wants to sit inside!

Kidding, people were sitting outside because it was full inside. But still, I think the reason there were so many people outside (more people kept rolling up and they just kept adding more and more tables so that it stretched further and further into the arcade) is that Sapporo's 'Beer Garden' festival in Odori kicks out at 9 now. So there are a lot of drunk people, every night, looking for somewhere else to drink.

So, that photo there is Kopitiam, a Singaporean-style restaurant at the far West end of Tanuki Koji in Sapporo, that seems to be popular, since it's crowded whenever I've been there. They serve a selection of foods from Singapore and I would say, countries near Singapore (since, in our order the Indonesian 'gorengs' were well represented), and everything I've had there has been excellent. It's not very glamorous, and the lighting runs the gamut from red to dark yellow, but it's really worth visiting.

Here's some food. You'll have to excuse the yellow tint - like I said, very atmospheric lighting. Crispy Tofu Salad:

Nasi Goreng:

And Mee Goreng, which as far as I can tell is basically Nasi Goreng with noodles instead of rice:

Both the Nasi Goreng and the Mee Goreng have a fried egg on the right hand side that you have to pay extra for, but which is worth every penny. With the spicy sauce they drizzle over it that egg is just amazing. Everything is nicely spicy but not crazy and I haven't had a bad dish yet there.

It's hard to miss if you walk down to the end of Tanuki Koji, but it is, of course, on my map too. Good summer food, yo!

Friday, 29 July 2011

Sapporo Food: Raw Food Cafe LOHAS

So there I was, heading back into town after work and making the stupid decision to walk, in the sun, in the summer. I haven't been blogging much this year, but my hatred of the summer remains unabated. Damn you, Summer. Damn you to the hell that shares your searing heat.

Anyway I was thinking 'burger', that a burger would be good, but when I got to Treasures in West Odori it was gone! They're refitting the place now, and I don't know if it'll be Treasures part 2 or something else entirely, but whatever - it wasn't open for burgers that day.

But as I kept walking I went past a place I tried to go to a long time ago, only to find that it only opens at lunch time: Raw Food Cafe LOHAS:

That's the big ol' arch of the building, and if you go up those stairs here's the cafe itself.

From burger to the healthiest of healthy foods. I don't know exactly what LOHAS' philosophy is, but it looks vegan and when I ordered Raw Veg & Avocado rice bowl, that was exactly what I got. It was healthy and delicious, with brown rice and a little side dish for soy and wasabi (I was advised to dip the avocado into that, like sushi, since the avocado didn't have a very strong flavour).

From the place itself and this website, it looks like LOHAS is something of a 'raw foods', vegan and organic hub. I found a link for it on this Japanese Vegetarian and Macrobiotic food navigation site. And in other news, there's a Japanese Vegetarian and Macrobiotic food navigation site! Who knew?! How great is that?

Anyway, LOHAS is only open from 11am to 3pm, which makes it annoying to get to for a lot of people, but apparently you can arrange for them to open for you in the evening if you have enough people. The food was healthy and great, and there was some kind of nut maki-sushi that sounds so odd I really want to try it. It's just at the end of Tanuki Koji, and pretty easy to find, but do check my map out.