Meeting Japan Fashion Bloggers in Tokyo

In the past week or so I had the good fortune to meet up with some very lovely people, whom I admire very much for their respective blogs.

Friday saw me meeting up with Hana from Finding Tokyo, who I met previously in January, and Miss Mitsu from Universal Doll. Hana just has this lovely positive sunny energy about her, and Mitsu is an absolute cack with dry, sometimes sarcy wit, so it was a real pleasure to hang out with them. First we shopped, in Alta and Lumine Est, and then we ate.

I wanted to take some proper shots with them, but was a bit shy to ask…and so we ended up with some fun ones instead!

We found this all-you-can-eat-for-3-thousand-yen-yakiniku place in Shinjuku, and it was 4 or so floors up with a most interesting display at the front of it. It was a set of lifesize figures, an old man displaying something on his bike, while a woman with a baby and 3 kids looked on. I had to jump in and see what the old guy was showing them:

Meanwhile Hana and Mitsu got behind the children, and you see their cheeky smiles as well as the startling faces on the kids.

Yes, the girl seemed to have something eerily wrong with her barely open eyes (possibly narcolepsy? or was she having a ‘squint off’ with an imaginary friend?), while the boy had something streaming from his – whether tears or pus, I couldn’t be sure. Creepy! 

And the other child in the red hat, whilst having a pleasant and jolly expression on his face, had snot streaming from one nostril – GROSS!

It was like a Tokyo Village of the Damned, I tells ya.

Not great picture quality, alas, but hopefully the novelty factor redeems them somewhat!

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Anyway, onto the food. Turn away now, vegetarians, for you will not like what you see.

Yes, all manner of meat lay in wait to be grilled, sizzled and delectably charred – and I insisted we put the few vegetables offered, onto the BBQ as well. There MAY have been a few off-colour comments about sausages. Like I said, Mitsu is a comedian, and we all ended up using dirty double entendres, as you do when girls get together :)

To round it all off, what do you think we did? Got some purikura!

Much girly fun.

Then on Monday I met up with Samuel and Rebecca of Tokyo Telephone – and ate and got purikura!!  S & R are a lovely couple who are extremely stylish – as you’d expect. But I was most impressed with their thoughtfulness, as we discussed the suitability or otherwise of some types of posts while the Japan disaster was going on. They chose deliberately to keep their trip low-key, not shouting to the  mountaintops that they love Japan and are doing all they can to save it, or rushing to the Times with Japan fashion scoops.  (Be sure, they DO love Japan). 

After a little wandering in Harajuku, we hit a purikura place (does one EVER get sick of puri?), and here are the results:

It was with real regret that we went our separate ways after, but we’ll be meeting up in London in June for more shenanigans.

I love that through social media like twitter you can form relationships with people that then get fleshed out in the real world. Of course I’ll continue reading all their blogs, for I love them, but knowing the writers as people just enhances the experience manifold.

My outfit, for anyone interested: blue vinyl jacket from Love Boat in Osaka, Glad News dress with beaded skull on front, Chrome Rats from Sass & Bide (the leggings), big plastic cross from Cameron Racy, and boots from Yosuke USA at Marui One, Shinjuku.

Note: if you click on any picture you can see it larger.

MYSTERIOUS – Neo Tokyo Fooding Bar, Shinjuku

I’ve done several novelty restaurants in Tokyo, including the Lock Up in both Shinjuku and Shibuya, but up til my last visit had managed not to pay a visit to a Space Age themed one in Shinjuku right near Don Quixote and the Lock Up. I’m referring to the imaginatively titled “Neotokyo Fooding Bar – MYSTERIOUS“.

It’s basically a bit space age, with cocktails called things like “Mercury” and “Uranus” and waitresses running around in pvc costumes.

The bar you can see here through the metallic mesh panel of our dining booth – it was lit a gorgeous moody blue colour. There were also ultraviolet strips running along the walls, and though it was dark and strange, it also felt cosy.

There are various sized rooms – ours was enough to fit 4 people, but there are larger ones like the tatami room below, and a few nooks for couples too!

I’d gone a little gyaru looking on this night, having made a big pouffy bun out of mauve fake hair, and wearing my circle lenses, pink lippy and darker than usual base. The Day of the Dead necklace I scored at Nude n Rude in Koenji.

So onto the food! This arrived, called the Mysterious omelette (714 yen), and it was very nummy, although swathed in slightly sinful mayo and katsu sauce. For my cocktail, I chose the Saturn (840 yen), which was yellow and blue – or green once I mixed it up. Other cocktail names included the Sun, Moon, Uranus, Earth, Mars, Pluto, Jupiter, Neptune…

Then came these prawns in a creamy dressing topped with caviar and served with salad, crispy deep fried lotus root chips and sweet potato strips. On the menu it was Hutoshi Akira shrimp mayonnaise and cost 1029 yen. Yep, this place aint cheap. But the dish was delicious. You just have to not fear the mayonnaise.

Mind you, the Starry Starry Fries only cost 556 yen, and we also had a tasty risotto cooked in a litte clay pot. The food is good, but small in portion, so don’t starve yourself before you come in here, and make sure you order enough.

For the menu and prices, see here.

Dessert was the loved-round-the-world fave, Creme Brulee:

Here’s a short clip from when I and my friends were in the Neotokyo Fooding Bar – along with a clip from shortly after when I saw them off to the station, which shows the temperature at the time was 30 degrees. It had got up to 37 when I was there, so 30 was positively cool!

So it has ambience and yummy food and drinks…but you need to have a few yen to dine there. If you went to only one novelty restaurant in your Tokyo stay, I’d probably go for the Lock Up nearby – but if you’re looking for somewhere new and have never before been, Mysterious is defo a cool place for a meal.

MYSTERIOUS Neo Tokyo Fooding Bar

1-16-3 Kabukicho, Shinjuku Shinjuku Square Bldg B1F
JR Shinjuku Station East Exit 5 minutes walk  or 3 minute walk from Seibu Shinjuku Line

Melbourne visit part 2 – Tim Burton exhibition, Sambal Kampung

So, the Tim Burton exhibition….a bit of drama getting there

We flew into Melbourne airport at 2.15 and were booked to enter the exhibition at 4.30. All we had to do was get to our hotel from the bus station, get changed, perhaps grab a snack, and wander down to the ACMI. Not a terribly tight schedule, except…

Just as we arrived at the Southern Cross bus station, the heavens opened up and it poured. This left the taxis in the position to be cuntish nazis to those of us waiting at the rank, and after THREE failed to take us because a) we were too close, b) it wasn’t on their way or c) they were finishing shift, we started walking.

This meant there was no time to change before the Tim Burton exhibition. Lucky I was wearing a suitably spooky dress and stripy tights anyway. Dom and I DID make it just on time (phew!) and here we are in front of the famous Batman car.

I’m wearing a Banana Fish dress and stripy tights, Cue jacket, Peace Now mini-bowler on headband, Yosuke boots and DestroyX skeleton necklace.
The beautiful car
For some great pics and a write-up of the opening night and Masterclass Tim held, see Sea of Ghosts, and Super Kawaii Mama.

I found the drawings and little figurines (called “maquettes”) absolutely enchanting, and it inspired me to get my drawing pencils out again! Anyone who is creative will love this, and especially those with dark sensibilities.

I appreciated his quirky sense of humour, and chuckled even at the bad puns.

Of course, seeing the visuals and movie clips brought back all the good memories from times past when the movies were first watched, and we promised ourselves we’d see this or that movie again soon.
One of the highlights for me was seeing the costumes by Colleen Atwood and the hats. Just breathtaking, the amount of work and attention to detail there was. I stared at the Mad Hatter’s top hat for ages, and saw to my surprise that it was not brocade but leather!

All the little designs, the swirly paisley shapes and lace effects, were tiny holes punched into the leather, and gold thread was sewn over the top in places, making it look like worn brocade. Stunning.

There’s a funny clip on Threadbanger right before their Mad Hatter costume how-to; it’s well worth a watch! (But that isn’t how the real hat was made).

Afterwards, we went to Sambal Kampung for dinner – yep, it’s Malaysian. At 234 Bourke Street in Chinatown, it was right near our Mercure Hotel.

I failed to get pics of the teh tarik and roti canai, but they were lovely. We had beef rendang with the roti, and it was absolutely gorgeous.

Here is the laksa and sambal veges (eggplant, okra and snowpeas). The laksa was very tasty and had all the fishballs, prawns, chicken, tofu, broccoli, egg, crispy onion etc you could wish for, but I’d have liked it sweeter. The sambal was delicious, but a little oily. You can see I’m not a food blogger :)

 

After a rest it was out to the Blue Velvet Room i
n Collingwood for goth club Heresy – I’d been to this venue last year, for the Circa Nocturna after party. That time it was packed; this time not that many people attended, possibly because Cabaret Nocturne had been on the week before. We did manage to see some bands, have beers and laughs and chat with a few people. 

And when we got home, we devoured the rest of the laksa we’d kept in the fridge. Boy did I sleep well after that!

Tonkatsu Wako

There is so much yummy food in japan that it’s hard to pick a favourite. Yakitori, aka “things on sticks” is one fave, especially at little izakaya joints where there’s loads of character.

But there are many ‘chain’ eateries that are well worth your munching dollar, and one that I always eat in several times during my stays is Tonkatsu Wako. I know, funny name, but it’s famous for delicious pork cutlets in super crisp breadcrumbs – never greasy, and always juicy and moist on the inside.

My fave is the one in Shinjuku in the subnade right near Kabukicho – it is underground, and so out of the elements. If it’s cold and rainy outside, it’s nice and warm here. If it’s sweltering outside, it’s lovely and cool. There are, however, many stores dotted throughout the country, so if you pass one, you know the quality will be the same.

OK, so many don’t have an English menu, but there are mouth-wateringly detailed photographs of what you get in the various meal deals in the menu, so you can just point. There are also, of course, replicas in the window of all the combinations, so again, you can just point and choose. Specials of the day are posted on large boards outside.

I quite liked mixed sets, so order the one above for 1,100 yen – with delicious clam soup, pickled veg and a savoury egg custard with mushrooms as sides, and the fabulous crispy crumbed prawn, pork cutlet and croquettes served up on a bed of crunchy grated cabbage. You can ring the bell to have your soup or cabbage topped up, if you wish.
 

 
If you don’t have time for a sit down meal, they also have Tonkatsu bento – you can pick what you want to take away in a lovely lunchbox. This is what I have on my last day to munch on in my hotel room while I do my last minute packing, before getting the bus to the airport. I highly recommend this place!
 
Tonkatsu Wako – Subnade 3 Shinjuku and many other locations
Hours: 11am – 10pm daily

Storm in Batu Ferringhi; Currying favour in Georgetown

Just a quick one today to finish off my food blogging from Penang.

On my second afternoon in Penang, I decided I HAD to see Batu Ferringhi, the beach named for the foreigners who’ve been flocking there since the 70′s.  I wanted to enjoy one more sunset by the ocean. Alas, the bus from Georgetown, in peak time, took AN HOUR to get there!! So by the time I found a place where I could actually access the beach from the road, the sun was setting fast.

There are so many huge resorts that have their own private bit of beach fenced off, that it’s hard to find public space. At the western end I found a nice quiet Resort-less part of the beach with some beach bars and cafes. (This is definitely the part of the beach I’ll stay at when I come again).  I took my place on the sand and gazed, despite ominous clouds in the distance promising big storms ahead…

Sure enough, the clouds continued to darken the skies, bruising the sunset with every minute that passed. I grabbed a beer but had barely had a sip when the heavens opened and a wild electrical storm erupted. Cool!

OK, not so cool for sitting out and enjoying on the sand, but I found a spot in a cabana to enjoy the dramatic display.  A german family joined me and we chatted while the rain continued. When the rain  began to lighten, I decided it was time to hop on back to Georgetown and grab myself some tucker. This time I hired a cab :)

Back in my hotel room, I had a fantastic view of the elctrical storm from my windows.  Gotta love the coast. But by this time I was famished and needed a feed close to home.

For my final dinner, I could do no better than return to the Red Garden, and this time I couldn’t resist the Yum Cha/dim sum. I had char siu bow (a BBQ pork bun), steamed siu mai (pork dumplings) and har gow (shrimp/prawn dumplings).  Mouth watering!!

And, since Penang is meant to be THE best place for food, I had to have the KL Laksa.
Like the curry mee I had earlier, the spice paste came separate on the spoon, so I could adjust to my own taste.  It was absolutely scrummy.  I forgot that they bring you a big bottle when you ask for beer, and after eating these foods, I just couldn’t finish it. Oh well. After my big session the night before, I was hardly gonna wreck myself again, knowing I was flying back to KL next day. (And I still had a couple of cans in my bar fridge anyway, teehee).
And so I dragged myself a few doors up from my hotel in the morning, to Restoran Jaya. This place was always busy, day or night, and had a large variety of Indian and Malaysian dishes.
You know what I had for breakfast? Yeah, you know….
A hot, frothy teh tarik and roti canai!