[Japan Series] Day 9: Kuromon Market 黒門市場 and Umeda Sky Building 梅田スカイビル

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The next morning, I suggested we check out the Kuromon Ichiba Market (黒門市場). The covered market stretches over 500 meters and is a 2 minute walk from Nippombashi Station. Turns out this was only a 5 minute walk for us so we got here relatively early so we could brunch.

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The market is famous for its fresh seafood and meats. Many locals and restaurant chefs come here to purchase their ingredients. However, it has become a tourist spot so can get very crowded during lunch hours. What’s great is that the stalls can prepare the food for you right at the market.

 

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You will find stalls grilling seafood like crab, prawns, scallops, and oysters.

 

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Any many stalls with fresh sea urchin!

 

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One of the famous stalls is this tuna stall at the corner inside the market. They have all things tuna and you will find delicious fat chunks of tuna sashimi.

 

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Watching the chef cut the tuna is already quite fascinating. They have around 4 spots at this stall where you can sit. However, they have these ready made take out boxes as well. Turns out, they have some seating area around the corner, so when you purchase the take out box, just let them know you want a seat, and they will direct you to this other seating area.

 

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Look for this big fish head and you find this stall!

 

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There are many chirashi bowls, but also sashimi only plates available.  The price is quite good at around 2,000 – 2,500 yen for many of these take away boxes. Some are higher priced depending on the cut.

 

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I enjoyed tuna sashimi take away box which featured three cuts. Honestly, I don’t know exactly what type of tuna I got, but it was very delicious! The tuna is cut much thicker than restaurants though so some may find that it is not as appealing. Some of the cuts are also more of the “scraps” but they are pretty good for this price!

 

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Moving on, I found a small oden shop run by a granny. I got some daikon radish, fish cake stuffed with burdock and beef skewer. The radish was the sweetest I have had. The broth itself was light but sweet from the radish. Very homey and warming.

 

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Last but not least, we were told that we had to try the kobe beef at the market. Yes, kobe beef is famous in Kobe, but Kuromon market also sells it and at a relatively cheap price. There were quite a few stalls selling it and some were very fancy looking catering to tourists. My sister told me to try this stall though as they are not as decked out but still good. Prices are lower possibly because of less advertising.

 

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As you can see, there are a variety of kobe beef. Honestly, we didn’t really know how to choose them. My sister said to get the middle range and it would be pretty good. I think the ones we got were around 1,800 yen per 100 gram. They ask that you purchase a minimum of 200 gram. Many of the other shops will ask for more so this was also a plus.

 

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Look at that marble! They grill it for you right away. Because the meat is so fresh, they really don’t need much seasoning.

 

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They give you the plate of kobe beef and add some light soy and tell you to add the steak salt to your liking. At this shop, you will have to stand on the side to eat, but who cares because the kobe beef is much cheaper than at a restaurant. The beef was absolutely delicious and melted in our mouth. No regrets in spoiling ourselves for brunch!

I highly recommend coming to Kuromon Market if you are a food lover. Be prepared to spend much more here as the types of food found here are pricier but are considered a good deal for the quality you get.

 

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Up next, I wanted to check out the Umeda Sky Building (梅田スカイビル). It is not the tallest building in Osaka, but it has a very unique design. The closest station is Umeda station and even then you still have to walk at least 10 minutes to arrive here. But check out the architecture of the building! Pretty cool!

 

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Admission for adults is 1,000 yen but the 360 views at the top are amazing. The escalator to go up is also really cool. As you go up, look to your right and left as you can see views of the city as well.

 

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The escalator we were in are in these two bridges. The building has two towers and is connected by the Floating Garden Observatory on the 39th floor.

 

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Isn’t this cool? This is the middle of the dome and you can also go to the top for the outdoor observation deck.

 

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As you can see, there are seating area surrounding the observatory so you can get a 360 view of Osaka. Enjoy a cup of coffee here and you can literally sit here forever.

 

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The views are pretty amazing!

 

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I can imagine this being perfect at night time too.

 

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After taking in the views, we headed to Daimaru at Umeda station, which is a department store. Of course we had to check out the basement floor which is full of food. There, I found Rikuro りくろーおじさんの店 大丸梅田店 which is famous for their fluffy cheesecakes. The whole cake is only 675 yen! They bake them fresh and make batches at a time so sometimes you may have to wait a while once the batch is sold out. If you hear the bell ring, be sure to get in line because that means a new batch is ready!

 

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I bought the whole cake for myself…since S does not really like cheesecake, but for under 700 yen for a whole cake, I could not resist. A slice of cake here is already $7! You get the cute chef stamp on the cake and the bottom is filled with raisins. The cake was light and fluffy and melts in your mouth. Highly recommend trying it!

Kuromon Market
Address: 2-4-1 Nippombashi, Chuo-ku, Osaka 542-0073, Osaka Prefecture

Umeda Sky Building
Address: 1-1-88 Oyodonaka, Kita-ku, Osaka 531-6023, Osaka Prefecture

Rikuro Cheesecake at Daimaru
Address: 3-1-1 Umeda, Kita Ward, Osaka, Osaka Prefecture 530-8202, Japan

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[Japan Series] Day 8: Dotonbori 道頓堀 in Osaka 大阪市

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On day 8, we headed to Tokyo Station so we could catch our shinkansen (bullet train) to Shin-Osaka station. We had purchased the JR pass since it was a better deal given we were going to visit Hiroshima as our last stop. I only recommend using the JR pass if you are visiting over 3 cities and doing some calculations on whether the individual tickets are cheaper. For example, if you are visiting Tokyo, Osaka and Kyoto only, then I don’t think the JR pass is that worth it. Anyways, because we had the JR pass, we were able to reserve our seats in advance at the Narita airport (or you can even do so on the day of or just take the non-reserved seats). The Tokyo station is huge and was a bit overwhelming at first, but we arrived early to give ourselves enough time and were able to find our platform. Then we headed back inside the station to see if we could grab some lunch. There are lots of bento boxes available, but to be honest, the items in the boxes didn’t really appeal to me. Instead, I got a quick sushi box that was already prepared ahead of time. Not the most amazing, but this was still fairly good for the price (around $15).

 

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We took the Hikari which is included in the JR pass and it took roughly 3 hours. The Nozumi is another bullet train which only takes around 2.5 hours but is not included in the JR pass. Finally we arrived in Osaka (大阪市) and we had booked an Airbnb in the Namba area. I highly recommend booking accommodation in the Namba/Umeda area as this is the central station for your trains, especially if you are planning on visiting Kyoto or Nara. Plus, there is so much to see around this area. Our accommodation was unfortunately a 10 minute walk from the station, and the streets in Osaka are not as luggage friendly, so it took a bit of effort to lug our huge luggage to our Airbnb. Finally, we arrived and this was the view from our apartment. Not the most amazing view, but we weren’t expecting much.

 

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Our Airbnb was actually closer to the Nipponbashi area also known as Den Den Town. Here, there are lots of electronic shops, similar to Akihabara in Tokyo. It was actually a pretty safe and quiet area and only a 10 minute walk to Namba station which we often took. Our flat was simple with a double bed, small kitchen, and a comfortable sized bathroom. Nothing really to complain although we wished we had lived slightly closer to the station as walking home can be tiring after a long day.

 

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By the time we settled in, it was getting dark and we were hungry for dinner. I suggested we take it chill and check out the nearby famous Dotonbori (道頓堀).

 

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Dotonbori is probably one of Osaka’s most visited tourist spots. It is best visited during the evenings as the neon lights are a sight to see and reminds me of a night market. It seems that the evening is focused on food, whereas the afternoon is more for shopping, although I believe both restaurants and retail stores are open day and night.

 

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I mean, look at the restaurants signs? Aren’t there already a sight to see?

 

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Love the 3-D type of signage they use here, which I felt like Tokyo didn’t really have much of.

 

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Pufferfish (fugu 河豚) sashimi is famous to eat here. This is a delicacy because it takes skills of a highly trained chef to prepare this fish. It has a toxin that if not correctly prepared can kill you! If you are going to try this fish, then Osaka is likely the place for you as they are rather famous for it. As S does not eat much sashimi, I didn’t want to eat this on my own, so skipped this.

 

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After wandering the streets for a while, I decided to try the grilled scallop. They prepare this to order and it involves some large flames!

 

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This was actually quite average as the scallops was slightly too chewy and it also had some sand in it. I guess it was not washed well.

 

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Continuing on, we tried Osaka Ohsho (大阪王将 道頓堀本店). They claim themselves as the king of gyozas and you will not miss this shop as there is a huge gyozo signage (a sight to see itself!).

 

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They seem to cater to tourists as there is English on the menu, but at 6 pieces of gyoza for only 240 yen, it is a deal of itself. As you can see, the shop is a standing gyoza bar though, and you must stand on the left where there is a bar table with some condiments to eat. The good thing is people eat this quickly, so you will find a spot easily.

 

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I wasn’t expecting much of these gyozas, but we actually found these to be really good. They are made fresh and there is a generous amount of filling. The bottom was fried crispy and along with the gyoza sauce, it was a perfect snack.

 

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Given Dotonbori has more street food, we had to give the Takoyaki a try. There are quite a few stalls but we settled on Kukuru (たこ家道頓堀くくる 本店) just because we saw a huge line up. Turns out, this is a spot that has been featured on TV. The line actualyl was quite long and we waited probably almost 30 minutes. They make batches at once but there are so many people, so we still had to wait a while. You can also sit in where you can try other flavours of takoyaki, but I believe the take out box is cheaper.

 

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We got the minimum order of 8 takoyakis which cost around 600 yen. Not super cheap, but I like how they make them fresh. It is topped with some japanese mayo, bonito flakes and seaweed powder. There was octopus in every ball and the inside was a nice gooey chewy texture. My only complaint is that I wish they were more crispy on the outside as I found they sort of stuck together. Would I line up for it again? Probably not. But if the line is short, then these are not bad.

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A must see in Dotonbori is the Glico running man sign! Head towards the center of the Dotonbori streets where you will find a bridge above Dotonobori river and you will find all these advertisements. The Glico man ad has actually been around for 70 years (longest standing ad, although there have been many versions of it).

 

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There are seriously so many eateries in this area. Even if you stray further away from the crowds, you will find many stores and restaurants.

 

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As we headed back to our Airbnb, we saw a fried chicken stall, and of course S wanted this. It wasn’t very busy but S craved it.

 

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We got a bag of Chicken Karaage which was piping hot. Chicken was moist and batter was crispy. Not bad.

 

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Heading back, we actually wandered into the Shinsaibashi Shopping Arcade. It is a covered area with boutiques, retail stores and restaurants. A less quiet area during the evenings, but very busy during the day time. With our tummies full, we headed back to rest and prepare for our next day!

Dotonbori
Address: Dotonbori, Chuo Ward, Osaka, Osaka Prefecture 542-0071, Japan

 

Osaka Ohsho (Gyozas)
Address: 1-6-13 Dotombori, Chuo-ku, Osaka 542-0071, Osaka Prefecture

Kukuru (Takoyaki)
Address: 1-10-5 Dotonbori, Chuo-ku, Osaka, Osaka Prefecture

Your Guide to the Panda Market (2016)

NOTE: As part of the ChineseBites media event, all food and beverages were free, but all opinions are based on my own experience.

Thanks to ChineseBites, we were invited along with other food bloggers to sample over 20 items at the Panda Market. Thanks to the rebranding, you can now clearly figure out which night market is which. The Panda Market is the one near Ikea (also known as the older one). We were invited in 2015 as well, and you can read about it here.

The Panda Market has really shrunk this year in terms of food stalls (down to only one lane!). Admission is free although parking does cost money, but round up your friends and carpool and it’ll come to a dollar per person.

I also liked how there were less people here so you can actually stand around and eat or even find tables in the back alley to sit down and enjoy your food. We checked out the Richmond Night Market by River Rock and there was no chance of that! You could barely move there and the line ups were crazy long…

Xin Jiang A Fan Ti Halal BBQ

I was paired up with Areta from Foodgressing to indulge in our night market adventure. We started off at Xin Jiang A Fan Ti Halal BBQ.

Chicken Skewers, Lamb Skewers

We were able to sample the Chicken Skewers and Lamb Skewers which may be one of my favourite items of the night. The chicken was my favourite because it still remained moist inside. The lamb was good but the one I had had a lot of fat stuck on so those parts were inedible. I loved the spices they used though and you can ask for spicy to get more kick.

BBQ Squid

There are two stands that sell squid at this night market. The one we sampled from was called BBQ Squid.

Fried and Grilled Mix Squid

We tried the Fried and Grilled Mix which as the name says, comes with a variety of grilled and fried squid rings and tentacles. The grilled squid comes with a sweet chili sauce but I found it to be more chewy, although not gummy. My favourite was the fried one as the texture had more bounce to it. This plate is priced at around $8.

Shake Shake

Getting thirsty, we headed to Shake Shake which has the trendiest drinks, including lightbulb drinks, watermelon and pineapple juice in the actual fruit, and liquid nitrogen drinks.

Watermelon Juice

We tried the Watermelon Juice which had liquid nitrogen fuming out on the side making it very picture worthy. The smoke actually lasted for quite a few minutes too. We added some popping balls in the drink, but I found that tasted a little odd. The watermelon juice itself was okay but the watermelon itself clearly wasn’t very sweet. They also have a pineapple version.

Cheese Tarts: Lavender and Original

Next to Shake Shake is Cheese Tarts which sells out fast so may be a stall that you want to check out first. They sell the popular cheese tarts that are the hype in Japan and Asia. Here, you can choose between Lavender and Original and they heat them up for you. I found the center to not be as runny as the ones in Japan but I did enjoy the lavender flavour. Great for those who enjoy floral flavours.

Top Dough

Top Dough brings Czech pastries to Richmond and features Trdelník also known as chimney cakes.

Chimney Cake

They feature three versions: the original, one filled with nutella, and one filled with nutella, whipped cream and topped with a slice of strawberry. We got the last and this one is cone shaped in order to hold all the cream. I liked how the outside was crunchy, but the inside was gooey and I felt like it was undercooked. This is not as good as the ones I had in Prague for sure, but I guess it’s decent for what we have in Richmond.

Mini Doughnuts: Oreo

At Mini Doughnuts, you can get your favourite carnival snacks and mini doughnuts! You can have them plain with just cinnamon and sugar or have them dressed up with some interesting flavours. Each order normally comes with 12 doughnuts, but they were able to give us 6 of each flavour instead. The first was the Oreo which was dressed with icing sugar and topped with crushed Oreo cookies.

Birthday Cake

The second was the Birthday Cake which comes with icing sugar and topped with rainbow sprinkles. They also have a S’mores version. The doughnut itself was great but I find that the ones with icing sugar get quite sweet after a couple. I would order these with just cinnamon sugar instead.

Shanghai Special: Pork Schnitzel

At Shanghai Special, they serve Shanghai food but also Pork Schnitzel! Sort of random, but it turned out to be quite good with the pork being only a tad dry but the batter very crispy.

It’s Toasty: French Toast

It’s Toasty served French Toast which we thought was deep fried tofu at first. It was served with a side of condensed milk and this was again surprisingly very good. The outside was crispy and the center pillowy soft and fluffy!

Pie Pie Okonomiyaki: Squid Okonomiyaki

At Pie Pie Okonomiyaki, they serve variations of Okonomiyaki filled with different ingredients such as pork and beef. We chose the Squid Okonomiyaki which was topped with Japanese mayo and bonito flakes. I found the inside to be rather gooey and doughy and would’ve liked it crispier.

Be Fabulous: Corn Pancake

Be Fabulous served us Corn Pancake along with a side of sweet chili sauce. It was well seasoned but something about it was quite underwhelming.

Orr Street: Green Apple Slush with Pearls

Areta got the Green Apple Slush with Pearls from Orr Street and we found the Mr. Panda to feature our drink. Yes, you’ll find a couple of these pandas walking around!

Twist Potato

There are two stands that sell the famous hurricane potatoes. The first stand was Twist Potato.

Bavarian Cream Korean Waffle

Twist Potato is also the only stand that sells the Korean Taiyaki fish waffles. We filled ours with Bavarian Cream. I found this to be underwhelming and the cream was like a custard which I found too sweet. I’d much rather get the ones at Snowy Village!

J&J Hurricane Potato Fries: Barbecue; Twist Potato: Garlic Mayo

The other stand is J&J Hurricane Potato Fries. Let’s compare it to Twist Potato! By the looks of it, Twist Potato (on the left) is much taller and so you get way more potato, but at the same time it’s more thinly sliced. After trying both, I actualy enjoyed the one from J&J more because of the thick cut texture. However, based on the flavours we tried, we enjoyed the Garlic Mayo from Twist Potato more than the Barbecue at J&J. But then again, you can choose from a variety of flavours so at the end of the day, I would probably go with J&J. J&J also allows you to choose two flavours.

Mr. Pretzels: Neapolitan  Pretzel

Next we tried the Neapolitan Pretzel from Mr. Pretzels. This was topped with Parmesan and some Italian herbs and must be eaten when warm! It was very soft and great for sharing.

Totoro: Mango Bubble Tea; Happy Lemon: Passionfruit Lemonade

Onto more drinks because night market food can make you very thirsty! Areta got the Mango Bubble Tea from Totoro, while I got the Passionfruit Lemonade from Happy Lemon. I love how you can flavour your classic lemonade and this was just the right sweet and tart.

TW Traditional Snacks: Taiwanese Sausage

Yup, this looks funny… but TW Traditional Snacks ran out of popcorn chicken and I had already tried their stinky tofu last year, so I tried their Taiwanese Sausage this time around. Quite typical and is sweet in flavour. Nothing too special. I would stick to their Stinky Tofu or Popcorn Chicken!

Sea Monster

A new addition is the Sea Monster which seemed to be a big hit.

Sweet Onion

They literally deep fry a whole squid on a stick and you can choose a seasoning to go with it of which we chose the sweet onion. This is difficult to eat and can get very messy, but I actually quite enjoyed this. The squid itself was very tender and I loved the crunchy batter and seasoning.

Takoyaki: Squid Takoyaki

Takoyoki is another popular item and here you can choose to add other ingreidents again such as pork. We stuck with the traditional and got Squid. Crispy on the outside and gooey inside. Not bad.

Cocoro: Deep Fried Oreos

Onto some desserts at Cocoro, we tried the Deep Fried Oreos which I had first tried at the PNE. I always found these to be good, so it was no surprise here either. They’re on the sweeter side, so definitely share them.

Mangoholic: Mango Shaved Iced

Mangoholic served us their Mango Shaved Ice, which is perfect for a sunny day. The mangoes were ripe and sweet and came with a scoop of creamy vanilla ice cream. Not bad!

Ying Kee: Bubble Waffle

Last but not least, Ying Kee served us Bubble Waffles and I went for the classic original although they have other flavours. The outside was crispy but I wished the inside was more chewy.

And there you have it! We tried almost every single food stall at the Panda Night Market! I have to say, I did appreciate how the line ups and wait times were way shorter than the one at the Richmond Night Market.

Of course, you won’t find as many innovative items here as they tend to open at the Richmond Night Market, but if you are looking for your classics, then I think the Panda Night Market does a pretty good job.

There are also fun and games for the kids and live entertainment. But I mean, I think I most of us go the night market for the food, right?

Panda Market Menu, Reviews, Photos, Location and Info - Zomato

2016 VCBW Festival

NOTE: I was invited as media with complimentary tickets to the event. All opinions are based on my personal experience.

One week after the Opening Night, we attended the 2016 VCBW Festival presented by Donnelly Group. This was a three day event at the PNE Centre Grounds filled with beer, food, and music.

It was the perfect weekend as the sun came out and it was even a little too scorching for us. Good thing they had mists on set to cool you down!

Other than beer and food, some interesting set ups included Barber & Co where you could get your hair cut amidst drinking your beer.

There were over 100 breweries and cideries at the event. Again, most vendors had at least two types of beers to try, if not more. Food trucks were present as well if you wished to purchase some munchies.

Tickets ranged from $35 – $95 depending if you wanted express entry or a full weekend pass. The ticket gets you into the festival and includes your 4oz taster mug. All beer and cider samples are additional. All samples are 4oz and cost 1 token, with tokens being priced at $1.50 each.

Since we had our fair share of beer at the previous event, we decided to tackle some of the cideries since I’m a huge fan of ciders. One cidery we really enjoyed was the Howling Moon.

We were drawn into this Basque cider called Shacksbury because of the beautiful set up. This cider is unfiltered and was very tart and different from typical ciders on the market.

Storm Brewing had a massive line up so we had to see what it was all about. They were serving up really funky and unique brews, including the Cucumber Jalapeno Pilsner, and Basil IPA. Sounds weird, right? We tried the Pineapple Paradise Pilsner and Raspberry Vanilla Ale and really enjoyed the slight fruity flavour without being too sweet.

My favourite of them all had to be the Fruli Strawberry Beer. I guess by now, you can tell I enjoy fruit beers! This was delicious and didn’t even taste like a beer! Plus, it’s vegan and there are no added sugars or sweeteners. The sweetness is all from the strawberries themselves! The same vendor also had a Cherry Beer from Kriek Lambic. Also delicious but not as sweet.

Overall, we had an amazing time at the VCBW Festival and already can’t wait for next year’s! A wide selection of beers and ciders to sample from and a great event to have some fun with friends.

For more information: http://vancouvercraftbeerweek.com/

Chachi’s

Note: All food and beverages were complimentary. Opinions are based on personal experience.

Thanks to Sherman, a group of food bloggers and I were invited to a menu tasting at the new Chachi’s located in the food court of Metropolis at Metrotown.

Chachi’s goal is to “make mall food better” and this is their first location in BC with plans to expand to other locations in BC. The focus is on sandwiches, but they also have a variety of salads and sides. All ingredients, including cheese, meats and breads are locally sourced. The bread is fresh from a bakery in Langley daily.

You can choose from the set sandwiches on their menu, or build your own.

They also have three of their own lemonades and iced teas.

Freshly made cookies are available as well. The ones we tried were quite healthy with oatmeal and raisins.

Other than their homemade drinks, they also have a select few bottled drinks. Surprisingly, my favourite was the Cherry Iced Tea. It had a light cherry/raspberry flavour to it. Their homemade drinks are overall slightly on the sweeter side, but not bad.

Asiago Caesar

We also tried two of their salads, including the Asiago Caesar which features crisp romaine, bacon garlic crostini, Asiago, Caesar dressing and topped with turkey.

Arugula

My favourite was the Arugula, which had arugula, sundried tomatoes, artichokes, red onions, goat cheese, and a balsamic sauce with turkey. You can choose your type of meat or have it without. I loved the sweetness of the artichokes along with the acidity of the balsamic. The salad was slightly overdressed though, so a little less dressing would have been perfect.

Cali

Onto what we really came here for – the sandwiches! We tried almost all the sandwiches on the menu, inclduing this Cali, which was filled with chicken breast, double smoked bacon, house made guacamole, cheddar, tomato, romaine, and spicy mayo. I really liked how the bread wasn’t too tough.

Bahn Mi

The Bahn Mi was Chachi’s take on the Vietnamese sandwich. It was filled with beef brisket, asian marinade, pickled carrots, cilantro, jalapeno, and garlic aioli. The beef brisket was very soft and tender, but the sandwich was slightly too saucy.

Hot Philly

The Hot Philly is not for the weak as this is one of the spicier options. Filled with rib steak, bell peppers, onion, jalapeno, provolone, garlic aioli and spicy mayo, this is a delicious spicy sandwich.

Smoked Bacon Breaky Sandwich

They also have some Breaky Sandwiches, including this Smoked Bacon Breaky. I didn’t try this but it looks quite similiar to a McMuffin.

Pork with Mac

My favourite sandwich was the Pork with Mac. This is filled with tender pulled pork, sweet chili, BBQ sauce, and topped with loads of mac ‘n cheese. The pulled pork was so tender and sweet, and the mac ‘n cheese was savoury with a slight spice. Amazing creation!

Dill Chips

They also have homemade chips with a variety of flavours. We tried the Dill Chips, which had a nice pickled flavoured. The chips are kettle cooked and reminded me of Ms. Vickie’s. Addictive!

Spicy Mac ‘N Cheese with Capicollo, Mac ‘N Cheese

The Pork ‘N Mac Sandwich was good, but I would actually just skip the sandwich and order their side of Mac ‘N Cheese. These come in two versions: the original or the spicy with capicollo. These were so smooth and creamy and some of the best mac I’ve had! If you enjoy a bit of spicy, I would highly recommend the Spicy Mac ‘N Cheese with Capicollo.

Overall, Chachi’s is a great addition to the food court by offering a more gourmet sandwich option with quality ingredients. The sandwiches are priced slightly higher at $8-$12, but I can understand since the ingredients are all locally sourced.

Chachi's Metrotown Menu, Reviews, Photos, Location and Info - Zomato

7th Annual Vancouver Craft Beer Week

Source: Vancouver Craft Beer Week

“The seventh annual Vancouver Craft Beer Week is set to kick off with opening night festivities on Friday, May 27th and will run until Sunday, June 5th. This year’s 10-day line up of events includes the VCBW Festival, Canada’s largest craft-only beer festival, presented by the Donnelly Group.

The VCBW Festival weekend will take place from Friday, June 3rd to Sunday, June 5th at the PNE Centre Grounds (2901 E Hastings, Vancouver, BC) and will feature local food trucks, over 350 craft beers and ciders and live music provided by The World Famous CFOX.

Vancouver Craft Beer Week tickets are now available – including VCBW Festival Weekend passes ($95), Single Day Gate Crasher tickets ($40) and Single Day General Admission tickets ($35).

From May 27th – June 5th 2016, Vancouver Craft Beer Week will also host a number of craft beer events leading up to the festival weekend.

This year’s VCBW Festival is set to showcase over 100 breweries and cideries pouring over 350 craft beers and ciders from around the world. Local favourites include Parallel 49 Brewing Company, Postmark Brewing and Four Winds Brewing Company. The festival also includes a U.S Brewers Association section, offering craft beers never before seen in Canada.”

For more information on Vancouver Craft Beer Week or to purchase tickets, visit vancouvercraftbeerweek.com.

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Singapore & Taiwan Trip (Day 15)

On the very last day of our trip, we took it pretty chill. Actually we were taking it pretty chill the last few days since we had seen most of our “must-sees”. Our flight would be around 11pm that night so we actually had pretty much a whole day. I’m a sucker for interesting snacks from different countries, so I dragged S to the closest grocery store with me. Ximending is pretty touristy, so the closest one was actually a Carrefour 家樂福桂林店. It was a bit of a walk, but I wish we had found this earlier since the snacks and drinks here are much cheaper!

We picked up this Lychee Beer at Carrefour and enjoyed it while walking back to Ximending.

S got hungry and he couldn’t leave Taipei without his fair share of fried chicken. If you have been following my posts on this trip, you probably know that we have been eating fried chicken every day…literally… Anyways, he went to Ji Guang Fried Chicken 繼光香香雞-西門店 again. Always a line up here!

This time, we also picked up the Deep Fried Oyster Mushrooms. Pretty good! And of course the Fried Chicken was tasty!

And when I said we were taking today chill, I was serious about this because we headed to Tom’s World to shoot hoops again… S will never get sick of this place. I guess we were just trying to act like locals.

If you head down to the very end of Ximending, you will find that there are many theaters here. I think there are around 3 right next to each other. So trying to act like locals, we decided to catch a movie.

We chose the IMAX 3D theater called Vieshow Cinemas 信義威秀影城 and watched the Tightrope. Movie tickets here are around NT$430 so pretty expensive! You can however bring outside food and beverages from in.

The theater is pretty big and American movies are played in English with Chinese subtitles. The only downside is that any parts with a foreign language are subtitled with Chinese.

After the movie, we walked around and grabbed some snacks in Ximending for an early dinner. We then went back to our hotel to grab our luggage and got onto a taxi to Taipei Main Station. From there, we took the airport bus #1819. We arrived with enough time to spare and we headed back to Hi-Life convenience store to drop off our portable wi-fi. We then checked in and had our last meal at Mos Burger at the food court. Our terminal didn’t have much food for some reason…

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And that was our 2 week trip to Singapore and Taiwan! I am already reminiscing the good food and times we had on our trip. Can’t wait for our next trip! Until then, back to Vancouver eats!

Details:

Carrefour: No. 1, Guilin Rd, Wanhua District, Taipei City, Taiwan 108

Ji Guang Fried Chicken: No. 121 #1, Hanzhong St, Wanhua District, Taipei City, Taiwan 108

Tom’s World: 5th floor of Wannian Plaza: 70 Xining South Road, Ximending, Taipei

Vieshow Cinemas: No. 20, Songshou Rd, Xinyi District, Taipei City, Taiwan 110

Singapore & Taiwan Trip (Day 14)

The next morning, we decided to head out Ximending to look for food for brunch. This place is always bustling with people!

Luckily, many of the street vendors had already opened up. First up was this Green Onion Pancake stall. You can add different flavours or even add cheese or pork fluff to name a few.

We decided to get the original and it cost only NT$25. I wasn’t expecting much from this, but this was probably the best Green Onion Pancake I’ve had! It had such a nice char and they brush on this sweet soy sauce. Delicious!

Continuing on, we tried this Grilled Tempura. Lightly brushed with a sweet savoury sauce, this is fun to snack on. The pieces are quite big though, so i got a bit sick of it after one. Good for sharing. NT$30 for a skewer.

I also decided to get some Hong Kong Style Curry Fishballs. What was I thinking getting fishballs in Taiwan? Yea…these were not good. The curry was not apparent. Perhaps I should’ve gotten the flaming spicy flavour. NT$30 for 4 fishballs.

Getting thirsty, we headed to a 7-11 to look for some drinks. I got the Apple Milk while S got the Papaya Milk. I love how convenient these 7-11s are and how cheap the prices are. The papaya milk was really good while the apple milk was alright. I found it to be slightly tart so it tasted odd.

What to do in Ximending after you’ve visited almost every shop? Go to Tom’s World again and shoot some hoops. S loved this arcade so we ended up doing some exercise and shooting hoops again…

I finally convinced S that we should leave Tom’s World and go do some exploring since we traveled all the way here. Well, we ended up checking some items off my to-do list and that included buying souvenirs. ChiaTe Bakery 佳德糕餅 is known to make some of the best pineapple cakes (鳳梨酥) and it’s a must buy when visiting Taipei! I believe they only have one bakery in Taipei and you can get here by taking the MRT to Nanjing Sammin station and walking straight ahead after you take Exit 2.

When we entered, it was quite a mayhem inside with all the tourists grabbing the pineapple cakes off the shelves. The pineapple cakes are not cheap as they around CAD$2 for one. They have different fillings as well, but after trying many, I still think the original pineapple filling is the best. The filling is not overly sweet and doesn’t stick to your teeth. The outside cake is buttery and flaky. Highly recommend! They also sell other products like wife cakes (老婆鉼).

After doing some pineapple cake shopping, I suggested we visit the  Wu Fen Pu Garment Wholesale Area (五分埔). You can get here by taking the MRT to Songshan Station. It is an area known for the largest wholesale garment market in Taipei.

The area is a huge maze with many shops selling mostly women’s clothing and accessories. I did find that the styles were not as trendy as the ones in Shida and Ximending though. Still, not bad and I picked up some cheap scarves. Because S was super bored shopping with me, he suggested we go play bowling at E7 Play (AGAIN). Well, unfortunately, since it was a weekend, the place was super busy and we wouldn’t get a spot until late.

So instead, I suggested we do more touristy things! We took the MRT to Sun Yat-sen Memorial Hall station and visited the Sun Yat-sen Memorial Hall. This is a memorial to the Republic of China’s National Father, Dr. Sun Yat-sen.

Dr. Sun is known for his Three Principles of People: nationalism, democracy, and the people’s livelihood.

Inside the main entrance, you will find a statue of Sun Yat-sen. There is a changing of the guards every hour but we had missed the last one. The building also displays Sun’s life and the revolution he held.

There are also gardens around the memorial hall and you will find many young dancers practicing here. It’s also a perfect spot to see the full Taipei 101.

After, I suggested we visit Ice Monster since it would be a short walk from the the memorial hall. They are famous for their shaved ice.

You can either order take-out or sit in. It was rather chilly that day so we chose to sit-in. The cafe is brightly lit with wooden decor. You order and pay at the entrance and they will bring you your dessert to your table.

We chose the Fresh Mango Shaved Ice because that’s pretty much their signature item. The ice is super light and comes with a scoop of mango ice cream and tofu pudding on the side. At first, we thought there was very little mango but it was actually all on the bottom of the bowl. There were tons! It’s around NT$250 and great for sharing between friends.

After dessert, we took the MRT back to Ximending 西門町and wandered the streets again. You can never get sick of this place! Love the lively crowds and at night you will see many street performers.

S couldn’t resist and had to try the Hot Star Large Fried Chicken 豪大大雞排 at the Ximending location. This location is extremely busy as well.

At this location, they also have a variety of other snacks and also drinks. The wait here was much longer because they have so many other menu items. There is really only one guy who makes the fried chicken so the wait was super long.

At last, we got the Large Fried Chicken again. S and I both agreed that the one from the Shilin location tastes better for some reason…

We also got the Fried Scallop and Squid Balls. These were seasoned with basil leaves so quite tasty. I didn’t really taste any scallop in it though.

I was also on the hunt of Stewed Pork Rice 魯肉飯 so we got take-out at Tian Tian Li 天天利美食坊. They also have sit-in.

It looked pretty underwhelming but it actually tasted okay. Just hard to eat while standing. I didn’t think it was very special but it’s quite the comfort food for locals. Plus it’s only NT$25!

Thirsty, we found a corner shop further away from the busy shops called Mei Tea 梅子兔. Look for the bunny rabbit and the long line ups.

We got a classic pearl milk tea to finish our night off. It was a long wait but this was very smooth and satisfying! Headed back to the hotel and did some packing as we would be leaving tomorrow night.

Details:

Tom’s World: 5th floor of Wannian Plaza: 70 Xining South Road, Ximending, Taipei

ChiaTe Bakery: No. 88, Section 5, Nanjing E Rd, Songshan District, Taipei City, Taiwan 105

Wu Fen Pu: Yongji Street, Xinyi District, Taipei, Taiwan

Sun Yat-sen Memorial Hall: 505, Section 4, Ren’ai Rd, Xinyi District, Taipei City, Taiwan 110

Ice Monster: No. 297, Section 4, Zhongxiao E Rd, Da’an District, Taipei City, Taiwan 106

Hot Star Fried Chicken (Ximending location): No. 36, Hànzhōng St, Wanhua District, Taipei City, Taiwan 108

Tian Tian Li: No.1, Lane 32, Han Zhong St., Wan-Hua District, Taipei City

Mei-Tea: No. 7, Lane 50, Xining S Rd, Wanhua District, Taipei City, Taiwan 108