Wednesday, November 26, 2014

Nameko's Adventures in Hokkaido, Part 2: Otaru

Nameko left Sapporo early to head to Otaru (about 45min west by train). His first stop was the Sankaku Ichiba (三角市場) fish market located just west of the station (to the left and up some stairs).
It's a fairly small/narrow market, but luckily a nice man at one of the first shops (Kawashima Sengyo-Ten 川嶋鮮魚店) greeted Nameko and asked if he was looking for anything in particular. Nameko wanted to send some seasonal seafood back home to Aomori, and the man was very helpful in helping Nameko pick out various things. The shop also has a restaurant, Sea Food Restarant Kawashima (鮮魚食堂かわしま), attached to it, so Nameko decided to go for hirame (flounder) sashimi, and anodon (あの丼)--a bowl of rice topped with seasonal seafood as selected by the chef.

The anodon had (starting from the center and going clockwise from the upper right):
- shako (mantis shrimp--tastes more like lobster than shrimp)
- uni (sea urchin); kani (center right: crab)
- ikura (salmon roe)
- shirako (cod milt, a.k.a. cod sperm sac)
- kujira (whale)*
- sake (salmon)

(*Yes, I know people have lots of issues with eating whale meat, but personally, while I wouldn't go out of my way to buy it, neither would I refuse to eat it if served to me. Japanese whaling is a complex issue that I don't really want to get into here.) 

After the delicious meal, Nameko headed to the Marchen Intersection (マルヘン交差点).
Otaru Marchen Intersection Crossroads Crossing Kousaten
In order to walk off some of his breakfast, Nameko did some window shopping at the Otaru Orgel Doh (小樽オルゲール堂 Music Box Museum) and Yume no Oto "Character House" (夢の音 a shop selling goods featuring various goods related to various popular characters, e.g. Rilakkuma, Totoro, etc.).
Otaru Orgel Doh Music Box Museum
 Otaru Yume no Oto Character House Totoro
Then he headed across the street to the head store of LeTao. (Incidentally, the name LeTao in Japanese is actually ルタオ RU-TA-O, which is O-TA-RU backwards!) In the second floor cafe, he enjoyed a piece of Double Fromage cake and a special chocolate cake set (available only at the head store cafe) with the monthly special blend tea.
LeTao Honten head store
LeTao Honten head store cafe
LeTao Honten head store cafe
LeTao Honten head store cafe cake set double fromage
After LeTao, Nameko headed west along Sakaimachi Street (堺町通り), exploring various shops like Ika Taro Honpo (いか太郎本舗), a shop that sells freshly roasted and shredded squid. (Nameko bought a pack to enjoy as a snack later in the evening...)
Ika Taro Honpo roasted shredded squid
 Ika Taro Honpo roasted shredded squid
Eventually Nameko swung north from Sakaimachi Street to head to the Otaru Canal (小樽運河).
Otaru Canal Unga
From there he headed slightly further west to the Otaru-Shi Sougou Hakubutsukan Ungakan (小樽市総合博物館運河館 Otaru Museum Canal Building). Unfortunately the exterior was completely covered in blue sheets as the building is currently undergoing renovations, but at least the museum was still open! Nameko even made some "friends" there...!?
Otaru Museum Canal Building
 Otaru Museum Canal Buildling
 Otaru Museum Canal Building
Next it was back across the Canal for a light lunch at the Otaru Beer Otaru Souko No.1 (小樽ビール小樽倉庫No.1) where he tried the Weiss and Dunkel beers, apple cider (cold and carbonated), pork pate, pretzel, and homemade pickles.
Otaru Beer Otaru Souko No.1
 Otaru Beer Otaru Souko No.1
 Otaru Beer Otaru Souko No.1 Weiss Apple CiderOtaru Beer Otaru Souko No.1 Weiss
 Otaru Beer Otaru Souko No.1 Dunkel
  Otaru Beer Otaru Souko No.1 Pretzel Pork Pate
 Otaru Beer Otaru Souko No.1 Pork Pate
 Otaru Beer Otaru Souko No.1 Pork Pate
 Otaru Beer Otaru Souko No.1 Pretzel
 Otaru Beer Otaru Souko No.1 Homemade Pickles Jikasei Tsukemono
Feeling rather tired after so much walking (starting from the previous day!), Nameko headed back to Otaru Station where he did some shopping at a LeTao branch store and Kinokuniya Bookstore and relaxed with some tea at a cafe inside the station until the courtesy shuttle bus from the hotel, Hotel Neuschloss Otaru (ホテルノイシュロス小樽), came to pick him up.

After checking in at the hotel, Nameko had just enough time to check out the luxurious room and attached "open air"* bath before heading down for dinner. (*There was a window, of course, but unexpectedly there was also a screen in front of the window--probably for privacy and to prevent people from sticking body parts out of the window--so it wasn't exactly "open air.")
 Hotel Neuschloss Otaru LobbyHotel Neuschloss Otaru
  Hotel Neuschloss Otaru Bedroom Double BedHotel Neuschloss Otaru Bedroom Sitting Area
Hotel Neuschloss OtaruHotel Neuschloss Otaru Bedroom Amenities
Hotel Neuschloss OtaruHotel Neuschloss Otaru bath
Dinner was a lovely five-course meal at the restaurant, Blau Kuste (ブラウキュステ):
- foie gras and semi-dried tomato mousse
- buri  (Japanese amberjack, yellowtail) carpaccio with eggplant sauce, and a snowcrab crabcake
- turbot (a type of flatfish) gratin and carrot soup
- duck confit with vinegar and red wine sauce/Wagyu filet steak (120g)
- mont blanc, coffee ice cream, and fruits
Hotel Neuschloss Otaru Blau Kuste foie gras and semi-dried tomato mousseHotel Neuschloss Otaru Blau Kuste buri  (Japanese amberjack, yellowtail) carpaccio with eggplant sauce, and a snowcrab crabcake
  Hotel Neuschloss Otaru Blau Kuste turbot (a type of flatfish) gratin and carrot soup
 Hotel Neuschloss Otaru Blau Kuste duck confit with vinegar and red wine sauce Wagyu filet steak (120g)
 Hotel Neuschloss Otaru Blau Kuste mont blanc, coffee ice cream, and fruits
After dinner and a good long soak in the bath, Nameko ended the night with a can of Classic Sapporo Beer, a can of guarana soda (sweet, cough syrup taste!), chocolate cake from LeTao, and roasted shredded squid from Ika Taro!
Classic Sapporo Beer and Kirin Guarana soda
 LeTao chocolate cake
 Ika Taro roasted shredded squid


Links:
Sankaku Fish Market: http://kimi-tourguide.blogspot.jp/2011/06/sankaku-fish-market-in-otaru.html
Otaru Orgel Doh: http://www.otaru-orgel.co.jp/english/e_main.html
LeTao: https://www.letao.jp/global/en/index.html
Sakaimachi Street: http://www.japan-guide.com/e/e6704.html
Ika Taro Honpo: http://ikataro.tv/e/index.html
Otaru Canal: http://www.japan-guide.com/e/e6701.html
Otaru Beer: http://www.shift.jp.org/guide/sapporo/bar-restaurant/otaru-soko-no1.html
Hotel Neuschloss Otaru: http://www.neuschloss.com/english/index.html

Tuesday, November 25, 2014

Nameko's Adventures in Hokkaido, Part 1: Sapporo

After taking the night train from Aomori to Sapporo and arriving bright and early (around 6am), Nameko started off his trip at the Sapporo-Shi Chuo Oroshi Urishijou Jougai Shijou (札幌市中央卸売市場場外市場 a.k.a. the Sapporo Fish Jyogai Market).
Sapporo Fish Market
Sapporo Fish Market Kaisen Don
He enjoyed kaisen-don (a bowl of rice topped with seafood--usually raw) and crab miso soup. While wandering around the market, he narrowly avoided becoming breakfast himself!
Sapporo Fish Market
After that narrow miss, he decided to go somewhere safer and headed to Hokkaido Jingu (北海道神宮 Hokkaido Shrine) in Maruyama Koen (円山公園 Maruyama Park).
 Hokkaido Jinju Shrine
 Hokkaido Jingu ShrineHokkaido Jingu Shrine
 Next he headed to the Hokkaido Museum of Modern Art (北海道立近代美術館). (Unfortunately he forgot to take a selfie there...)
Hokkaido Museum of Modern Art
 When he finally finished admiring the artwork, it was lunch time, so he headed over to the Sapporo Beer Garden (サッポロガーデンパーク).
Sapporo Beer Garden
At the Garden Grill Sapporo restaurant, he enjoyed:
- Sapporo Beer
- Genghis Khan (barbequed mutton) lunch set (with soup and appetizer)
- Ezo Shika (a type of Japanese deer, i.e. venison) sauteed with ginger (蝦夷鹿ショルダーのジンジャーソテー)
- baked potato with butter (じゃがバター)
- Dorobuta (a local Hokkaido brand of free range pork) chorizo sausages (どろ豚チョリソー)
- and a crema catalana (Spanish burnt cream custard) with homemade ice cream and haskap (edible blue honeysuckle) sauce (道産ハスカップカタラーナ自家製牛乳アイス添え ).
Garden Grill SapporoGarden Grill SapporoSapporo Beer
 Genghis Khan barbequed muttonGenghis Khan barbequed mutton lunch set soup and appetizer
 Grilled Ezo Shika Japanese deer venison
 jagabutter baked potato with butter
 Dorobuta Hokkaido free range pork chorizo sausage
 Garden Grill Sapporo food
 crema catalana homemade ice cream and haskap sauce
After lunch, Nameko headed to the Sapporo Beer Museum (サッポロビール博物館).
Sapporo Beer Museum
 At the end of his time at the museum, he had a 3-beer sampler set with Black Label, Classic*, and Kaitakushi* (only 500yen and comes with choice of snack--cheese or crackers) and Ribbon Napolin* soda  (100yen and choice of snack--white chocolate or crackers). (*Only available in Hokkaido.)
Sapporo Beer Museum Ribbon Napolin and Beer Sampler
After the Sapporo Beer Garden, Nameko headed down to Odori Park to check out the Sapporo White Illumination that had fortuitously just started that weekend!
Sapporo White Illumination 2014
 Sapporo White Illumination 2014
Sapporo White Illumination 2014
 Sapporo White Illumination 2014
Next Nameko headed to Tanuki Kouji (狸小路 Tanuki Shopping Arcade).
Sapporo Tanuki Kouji Shopping Arcade
It was late so a lot of the shops and restaurants were closed, but he managed to find a soup curry restaurant called World Kitchen A-Style (ワールドキッチンA-Style(アジアンスタイル)). He tried chicken soup curry and bacon soup curry.
World Kitchen A-Style soup curry restaurant
 chicken soup curry
 bacon soup curry
Having walked over 20,000 steps over the course of the day, Nameko was exhausted and headed back to the hotel for the night. But he did make sure to stop at a 7-Eleven on the way back to pick up some Haagen-Dazs Japonais Ichigo Azuki (strawberry red bean) ice cream to eat at the hotel! (The Japonais line of Haagen-Dazs is only available at 7-Elevens, but there aren't any stores in Aomori!)
Haagen Dazs Japonais Ichigo Azuki strawberry red bean 7-Eleven limited
 And that was the end of Nameko's first day of adventures in Hokkaido (Sapporo)!

Links:
Sapporo Fish Jyogai Market: http://www.sapporo-tourguides.com/news/sapporo-fish-market.html 
Maruyama Park: http://www.welcome.city.sapporo.jp/find/nature-and-parks/maruyama_park/?lang=en
Hokkaido Jingu: http://www.hokkaidojingu.or.jp/eng/
Hokkaido Museum of Modern Art: http://www.welcome.city.sapporo.jp/find/art/museum_of_modern_art/?lang=en
Sapporo Beer Garden: http://www.sapporo-bier-garten.jp/foreign/english.php
Sapporo White Illumination: http://white-illumination.jp/en-us/
Tanuki Kouji: http://www.welcome.city.sapporo.jp/find/shops/tanukikoji_shopping_arcade/?lang=en
World Kitchen A-Style: Japanese Facebook Page