Monday, April 26, 2010

home with Chef, Nara, Japan- IV

Day 4. As usual, my brother and I had our breakfast in our hotel, before meeting up with chef. And as usual, we stuffed our faces with onigiri おにぎ, wanting to savour every bit of Japan as much as we could. Then-

Lunch. Ramen. Saika Ramen, a popular ramen shop in Nara.
Can't say no to this cute waitress ( きれいおねちゃん!).
Kaarage set, chashuu ramen, saika ramen. It's good, but it is waay too salty, even by Japanese standards. Chef said it tastes different from the last time he had eaten here.
It took us 1 hour to get from Nara to Osaka, with Ami chan manning the wheel and the rest of us sleeping like open-mouth ducks. We went to visit our supplier, Hirata san.

Yay. Done with the less interesting bit. On to my favourite part of the day: patisserie-hunt; Monsieur Makino, It is one of the top patisseries in Osaka. This is one of their main branches. For such a large shop front, they only allow take-aways. Don't you think the structure of the shop itself looks like a decoration cake??
Cute waitstaff (きれいおねちゃん): A necessity.
heh heh heh... go on and drool. =P
We took away 1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 6, 7, 8 slices for after-dinner dessert. This is called legitimate market research.
Beautiful! but taste-wise, I still think my chef is better. Honest to god.
Ami chan's family. We had shabu shabu with Ami chan's father, his wife cooked. Deliciousss... marbled pork slices. I swear, between themselves, my brother and AJ demolished 3 platters of shabu shabu pork. I am more modest... half a platter is enough. hohoho.
We visited Jun chan, Ami chan's cousin, after dinner.
And I thought my chef was this cool guy (note the past tense) until he picked up the hula-hoop and started hula-hooping... ._.'"
Jun chan (mother) and Iku kun (son). Jun chan has got the cutest voice I have ever heard in person. Whenever I hear Jun chan and her granddaughter talk, I would think it is two little girls talking, and when I actually witness it in person, my lower jaw would drop and go "oh".
We all decided to go for Onsen together after a very full dinner (many platters of fatty marbled pork AND dessert). They say onsen is anti-fattening.
Going for onsen by yourself as a foreigner, no matter how many times, is different from going for onsen with a local Japanese. Onsen is not merely about hot water bath. There are green tea bath, electric water bath, jacuzzi bath and salt bath. Jun chan taught me the ropes.
Salt bath is by far the most extreme (most painful) I have tried. It was like being submerged in a hot water bath; the sauna room is about 40 degrees celsius (the same temperature as a hot water bath) with plenty of steam and moisture in the air. Well, I felt like I was slowly being steamed alive. Jun chan hands me a cup of salt, then we proceed to rub salt all over our bodies. Excellent remedy for water retention, but at that time and then, I thought of myself as a piece of lamb chop, and I was marinating it. We rubbed our tummies, our thighs, our arms, then the worst happened. I blinked. Salty sweat stunk my eye. I became blind in one eye. Very very bad. The room, smoky and dimly-lit as it is, is being filled as more naked bodies walked into my blur vision. Did I mention I was mildly claustrophobic? Get me out of here! I barely muttered, "げんかいです... (this is my limit)" before rushing for the water barrel to rinse out the salt, then I bolted for the door.
It was THE EXPERIENCE of the entire trip. However torturous, I probably would do it again, and again. One suffers for beauty, they say. I did loose 500g after all. =)

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