Fanny Ice Cream – Ho Chi Minh City

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Fanny Ice Cream

Fanny Ice Cream gets rave reviews on Trip Advisor, so I had to see what all the fuss was about. I think the rave reviews have more to do with their Instagram presentations on some their dishes, rather than for the ice cream itself.

First of all, this is gelato not ice cream. In the sweltering heat, having something cold seemed like a great idea.

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Mango & Coconut

The mango had a nice, vibrant fruity taste and was not overly sweet. My only complaint was that it was really soft and on the verge of becoming soupy in a matter of seconds.

The coconut had a deep, rich coconut flavor but was a little too sweet for my taste. There were flecks of coconut throughout. The ice cream came with a little cookie.

This is not the best “ice cream” that I’ve ever had, but eating something cool on hot humid days is hard to beat.

I found their prices to be on the higher side for what it is. I guess their presentation commands top dollars by Instagramers.

Banh Mi 362 – Ho Chi Minh City

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Banh Mi 362

Based on the reviews, I was somewhat surprised after walking into Banh Mi 362. Their banh mi is highly praised, but the Subway style set-up was not expected.

The staff is friendly and English speaking. The display case features fresh vegetables.

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Thit Nuong (Grilled Pork)

The Thit Nuong (Grilled Pork) (35,000 dong) banh mi comes with a thin slice of grilled pork with the juices still running out of it. Veggies include cucumbers, carrots, radish, cilantro and jalapenos. The bread has a nice thin super crunchy crust, and a soft chewy exterior.

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Thit Do (Red Pork)

The Thit Do (Red Pork) (30,000 dong) is the type of pork you would normally find in a Chniese restaurant, known as char sui. The pork has a nice fat content, and a slightly sweet glaze. Again, the banh mi is loaded with fresh veggies and jalapenos.

The banh mi here aren’t your traditional type sandwiches. They’re very good and fresh. My only complaint is that they are a little lacking in the meat department. But it is worth a try if you’re in the area.

Ho Chi Minh City – Intro

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Notre Dame

About 10 days after returning from my Jakarta trip, I was back on the road again. There was a great fare to Tokyo, but then another good fare to Ho Chi Minh City (Saigon) popped up. Although it cost more than the fare to Tokyo, I had never been to Vietnam and it was on my radar.

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People Watching

I didn’t know much about traveling to Vietnam, let alone that I needed a tourist visa. From the time I bought my ticket until my scheduled flight there were several changes to the tourist visa. If I would have known what was going to transpire, I probably would have delayed going to Vietnam until things got better.

At the time I purchased my ticket, you could gain entry via tourist for $25 for a one time entry. The US apparently changed their tourist visa policy towards Vietnam, and they likely changed their visa policy. Gone was the one time entry visa of $25, and introduced was a one year multi-entry visa for $135.

From what I read, there was a lot of pushback from tour operators in Vietnam as they knew this new policy would likely decrease tourism, and therefore their livelihood.

Days before I departed, they supposedly re-instituted the one time tourist visa of $25, but every visa service I saw was still offering only the multi-entry visa. Perhaps they were slow on implementing the change, as they were charging more for the mutli-entry visa than the one time visa entry.

If going to Vietnam, I suggest that you have all of your paperwork ready, including your visa entry letter, passport photos, and cash in USD. It will save you a lot of time. I used Vietnam Visa Pro and had no problems with them.

After deplaning, you must deal with your entry visa prior to heading to immigration unless you already have a multi-entry visa.

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New Buildings

Ho Chi Minh City seems to be a city undergoing a big change. It is a city mixed with old and new. Construction is abounding, and a metro system is being constructed, but probably won’t be finished for a few years.

I didn’t have the opportunity to explore the country outside of Ho Chi Minh City, but I guess that’s where the motivation comes in for having a multi-entry visa, LOL.

ANA Shower Room – Haneda Airport

Following my long layover in which I was able to explore Kamakura a little, I was looking forward to taking a shower before my flight.

I have previously reviewed the ANA Business Lounge at Haneda Airport, so this review will just focus on the shower room.

After providing my Star Alliance Gold card, I inquired about the shower rooms. I was given a pager and told that the wait was about 45 minutes. This was a lot longer than I was expecting, and since I didn’t have that much time in the lounge was wondering if I would even have time to take a shower if called before my flight started boarding.

Luckily the pager went off with about 20 minutes to spare before my flight started boarding.

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Corridor

I was led to my shower room by an attendant who was very nice and helpful. The corridor is neat and well maintained with sleek black walls.

The shower room itself is perhaps a little larger than most business class lounges, but not as big or opulent as some lounges out there, such as the Lufthansa First Class Terminal or the Cathay Pacific First Class lounge.

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Shower & Toilet

The shower itself is on the larger side, and thankfully bigger than a phone booth. There is a Japanese style toilet.

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Counter Space

The sink has a decent amount of counter space.

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Amenities

There are amenities by Shiesedo, and come with just about everything you can imagine.

The shower rooms are impeccably clean, and are the perfect way to freshen up before a long flight.

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.

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.