Rokurinsha – Haneda Airport, Tokyo

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Rokurinsha

On my last layover at Haneda Airport in Tokyo, I was unsuccessful in trying to eat at the famed Rokurinsha, known for their tsukemen, or dipping ramen. With tsukemen, the noodles are served separately from the soup. You dip your noodles into the broth, which is a very concentrated broth that becomes slightly diluted from the remaining water on the noodles.

Rockurinsha is located in the departures area of the international terminal. There is a food court.

Rokurinsha can be easily spotted by the three red honeycombed hexagons that make up their logo.

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Menu

The menu is simple, and is broken down into “dip noodles”, or tsukemen, or the more familiar ramen.

Extra toppings including chashu, shredded pork, menma (bamboo shoots), a soft boiled egg, or shrimp flavored pepper can be added.

They also have gyoza, or pan fried dumplings, available.

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Special Dip Noodles

I chose the “Special Dip Noodles”, one of the tsukemen choices.

The noodles at Rokurinsha are much thicker than what you would normally find. Rokurinsha specifically made their noodles this way in order to have more soup cling to them. Although the broth is made with pork and chicken bones, it is also made with dried baby sardines, dried and smoked mackerel flakes, and finally dried and smoked bonito flakes. Needless to say, the broth is on the fishier side, with tons of umami and sea worth salinity shining through.

The noodles come cold which is a drawback for many. As you continue to dip the noodles into the broth, the soup becomes colder. I found that instead of dipping the noodles, by actually swirling them through the broth a little bit that the broth remained warmer for longer.

As the soup gets colder or depleted, there is hot water at the counter to make it hotter or easier to drink as the soup is rather concentrated.

The shredded pork was also on the colder side, but the egg was nicely cooked.

I was glad to finally have tried Rokurinsha, an establishment much heralded by many, including Anthony Bourdain and David Chang.

I had another upcoming trip with a rather long layover, in which I wanted to go to the original Rokurinsha inside of Tokyo Station.

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Leonard’s – Yokohama, Japan

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Leonard’s

Many would probably be surprised that a small, yet strong Hawaiian influence has a presence in Japan, especially in Yokohama at the World Porter’s Mall.

There is a large section on the first floor filled with Hawaiian stores and restaurants, but since I was running short on time during my layover, my only goal was to head to Leonard’s for their famous malasadas.

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Hawaiian Town

The “Hawaiian Town” at World Porter’s include Honolulu Coffee, Local Motion, and Leonard’s to name a few.

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Menu

It appears that they rotate some of the flavors of their “specialty” malasadas. During my visit, they had Sugar, Cinnamon Sugar, Custard Cream, Caramel Cream, and Cinnamon Sugar with Apple filling.

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Mr. Malasada?

Since I visited in December, there were some Christmas themed decorations.

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Box of Malasada’s
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Cinnamon Sugar with Apple Filling

I got one of each type of malasada, but only had time to eat one before I headed to the airport. The Cinnamon Sugar with Apple filling was still warm from the fryer. It was slightly crisp on the outside, but warm and fluffy on the inside. The filling tasted like some of the best apple pie filling I’ve had in my life.

The Custard Cream tasted like a cross between a donut and cream puff. The Caramel Cream had a slightly salted caramel taste. The Sugar and Cinnamon Sugar are the standard bearers in the malasada world.

I can’t say that I had a very good idea of what the malasadas really tasted like other than the Cinnamon Sugar with Apple filling, since I tried the others once they had reached room temperature and not really “fresh”.

If you are a fan of Leonard’s in Honolulu, I would definitely recommend this location if you are in the area, and missing some Hawaiian grindz.

Kikuya Bakery – Yokohama, Japan

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Kikuya

Kikuya Bakery in Yokohama is known primarily for one thing, it’s rum balls.

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Packaging

The interior of the rum ball is like a compressed chocolate cake. It retains some texture, but a nice hit of rum does come to the forefront.

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Rum Ball
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Rum Ball Interior

As I spent most of my layover in Kamakura, I really did not have a chance to explore much of Yokohama.

I guess that just means that a return trip is in order.

Croquette Stand – Kamakura, Japan

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Croquette Stand

After my visit to Kotoku-in Temple in Kamakura, my original plan was to wait and eat lunch later, as I was planning to eat at one of the more highly regarded restaurants in Kamakura.

I was hungry, but didn’t want to have a real meal. After exiting Kotoku-in, the street leading up to the temple is filled with restaurants, snack places, and coffee shops, especially close to the temple.

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Partial Selection

There was a small croquette stand nearly across the street. There were a bunch of school kids in line to buy croquettes, so I figured it must be good, and it also wouldn’t fill me up too much.

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Pork & onion croquette

I opted the for pork & onion croquette, which was ¥200.

The croquette was light and crunchy on the outside, although just a tad on the oily side. The interior was a nice mix of potatoes, ground pork, and onions.

It was the perfect snack to hold me over until lunch.

The Erawan Museum – Bangkok

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Erawan Museum

The distinguishing feature of the Erawan Museum stands above its surroundings in imposing fashion. The 3-headed elephant can be seen from far away.

Unfortunately, getting there from the Courtyard by Marriott Bangkok turned out to be quite the challenge. When looking at Google Maps, Uber, or Grab Car it seemed to be an easy 30-minute drive at a cost of ~$10.

It was slightly drizzling, so the normal horrible Bangkok traffic was that much worse. Taxi drivers did not want to drive that far, and the couple that were willing to drive there were charging three times the normal fare. Of course I declined. I ended up taking the BTS from the Chit Lom Station to the end of the line at the Bearing Station. From there, it was easy to catch a taxi or Uber to the Erawan station. This option cost $5 and dealing with traffic was mostly non-existent due to using the BTS.

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Online Booking

While doing my planning, I found out that tickets can be purchased online and at a discount of ฿100, so instead of paying ฿400, tickets were ฿300. The date is set to the current date, and is somewhat small.

Once entering the date and number of tickets, you will be taken to a couple of confirmation pages.

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Map

Once I arrived at the museum, I arrived at a side entrance. I showed them the confirmation email, and after some discussion between the employees, I was escorted to the customer service desk. For some reason it took a long time before I was admitted. I had to show the confirmation email again, then they had to check my name against a list of advanced purchased tickets that had been made online. After 10 minutes or so, I was finally admitted.

The grounds have a nice little garden that surrounds most of the main structure. Due to the weather and early arrival, there were not many people visiting.

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Prayer Area

There is also a small prayer area in front.

The main structure, the one with the 3-headed elephant, is a multi-story structure.

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Basement Level Exhibit

There is a basement level which house a lot of artifacts and is temperature controlled. As the day was kind of muggy, being in a nice air conditioned environment felt great. No pictures were allowed on that floor.

The crowning glory of the Erawan Museum is the 3-headed elephant structure. Rather than try to describe the contents of the museum, I’ll let the pictures speak for themselves. I know Bangkok has a lot to see and do, but I do think the Erawan Museum is worth a visit.

The complex also contains an Ancient City, which appears massive when looking at the website, but I did not have time to visit on this trip.

Hokkaido Beef – Isetan – Bangkok

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Hokkaido Beef

I happened to go to Isetan during my trip to Bangkok. I know, bit mistake going to a Japanese store while in Thailand. However, Isetan is one of the higher end stores in Japan, along with Takashimaya and Mitsukoshi to name a few.

Although department stores in Japan have outrageously good food stalls and vendors, I wasn’t planning on eating here. I then stumbled across this sign that Hokkaido beef was being features. There was actually a whole “Hokkaido Festival” going on.

Hokkaido is known for their seafood, dairy, ramen, and their snow beef, perhaps some of the best Wagyu in the world.

Wagyu from Hokkaido is arguably better than Kobe beef, but most people only know the name “Kobe” when it comes to Japanese wagyu and dismiss the rest.

The Hokkaido Beef sign caught my eye and reeled me in.

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Chuck Roll Set

The Chuck Roll Set came with a steak that was cooked then sliced, a small side of vegetables, a small bowl of miso soup, rice and a dipping sauce.

Unfortunately, this was one of the worst steaks that I’ve ever had. It was mostly fat and gristle. There was not much edible meat. What there was, actually tasted pretty good and was tender. The miso soup was standard fare, while the portion of vegetables was meager to say the least.

If I run into another “seasonal” or “featured prefecture” festival, I’ll think long and hard before jumping on board again.

St. Agustin Church – Manila

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St. Agustin Church

St. Agustin Church is located in the Intramuros area of Manila. It was designated as a UNESCO World Heritage Site in 1993, and rightfully so.

Like many other churches in Manila, the church has been destroyed on several occasions. The church was initially built in 1571, but was destroyed by fire in 1574.

The church was rebuilt, and was again burned by fire in 1583.

Construction was again started in 1586. The church became operational in 1604, and was officially completed in 1607, and was named St. Paul of Manila.

The bell tower was damaged by a major earthquake in 1880, and was subsequently removed after initially being repaired.

The church was turned into a concentration camp by the Japanese during World War II.

The church appears large, but not too large from the tiny parking lot. Once inside, you will see that the church is absolutely massive and is two stories tall. Plan on spending at least two hours if seeing everything within the church.

There is a nominal fee to see the church, but is well worth it.