Bangkok: Best of BKK

We visited Chatuchak Market during our first day and they were not kidding when they said that you can easily get lost inside. I did not shop for anything because I was more focused with doing food trip.

MARCH 8 & 10, 2019

We visited CHATUCHAK MARKET during our first day and they were not kidding when they said that you can easily get lost inside. I did not shop for anything because I was more focused with doing food trip. Haha!

We also went to shopping malls but I forgot which ones we visited… But we ate in food courts as well to try local dishes.

We capped off our last night in BKK by having dinner in SOMBOON, which was the best because of their crab meat dish which had no shell anymore! We went to ZOOM SKY BAR & RESTAURANT afterwards and got one drink each as it was expensive. LOL.

Cheers to my second visit in BKK! ❤

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Bangkok: A Chef’s Food Tour

Overall, this tour was really sulit (high value for money). Chef Nutth, our tour guide, was very lively and had a lot of stories on the stall owners and food we ate during the whole tour. We started at 4PM and ended around 9PM.

MARCH 9, 2019

Long overdue post from BKK trip last year! My friends wanted to watch Maroon 5’s concert in BKK but because I did not buy a ticket, I looked for a different activity instead. I found A Chef’s Tour link focusing on the good food in Bangkok’s back streets (click here to know more).

I ate 20+ kinds of food during the tour and everyone in the tour was surprised because of my built. I was the only Asian participant but everyone was so nice. There was another person in the group who was a solo participant so we paired up and talked a lot.

Overall, this tour was really sulit (high value for money). Chef Nutth, our tour guide, was very lively and had a lot of stories on the stall owners and food we ate during the whole tour. We started at 4PM and ended around 9PM so it was like eating both afternoon snack and dinner in one go.

Our food #1 was in a stall where this auntie started cooking and her business at 16 y/o. She is already 71 y/o and wants to retire some time this year to try traveling for leisure. What Chef Nutth ordered for us was rice noodles with pork in special sauce.

Food #2: Tofu with dumpling, black sesame, and Chinese crackers. This snack is said to be good for digestion.

Food #3: Chinese chives dumpling

Food #4, 5: Glass noodles soup with pork; Chicken satay (with bread and sliced veggies on the side – to dip in the peanut sauce)

Food #6: Fish cake

Food #7, 8: Pennywort drink; Guava slice

Food #9: Egg noodles soup with pork (Egg noodles are handmade and grandpa is the 3rd gen owner/cook. Their broth is unique because it is cooked over charcoal.)

Food #10: Shrimp & pork dumpling (included in Michelin guide)

Food #11: Fried crickets (tastes good tbf!!!)

Food #12: Thai green curry chicken (Interesting because we ate along the sidewalk. This was the best food I have ever eaten in Thailand! Mark Wiens featured this place in his blog.)

Food #13: Peanut butter-flavored candy

Not part of our food stops but we passed by a long street full of restaurants specializing in seafood. This was part of Yaowarat.

Food #14: Salted caramel ice cream (Chef Nutth also made us try another cup of this but he poured a few drops of soy sauce and another cup with a few drops of chili… They tasted weird. Haha!)

Food #15, 16, 17, 18: Unripe mango with sweet chili dip; Seafood tom yum?; Grilled jumbo prawns; Sauteed green veggies with chili

Food #19, 20: Dragon’s beard candy; Fried donut with pandan coconut dip

Food # 21, 22: Sweet mango puree; Sticky mango rice (The perfect desserts to end this food tour!!!)

And that’s it for the food tour! If ever you will be in Bangkok, include this tour in your itinerary. 🙂

Kyushu, Day 15: Osaka Daytrip

To cut the story short – our flight from Fukuoka going back to Manila got cancelled and the only way to go home was fly from Osaka, Nagoya, or Tokyo. Osaka was the nearest so we had our rerouted flight be there.

MARCH 18, 2020

For our last breakfast during this trip, Hisako-obaasan prepared different dishes with mentaiko: pure mentaiko, grilled fish with mentaiko, and mentaiko mayonnaise. She gave us melon and her signature yogurt with honey for desserts!

Before leaving, we had a quick pictorial with them. I already miss our Japan grandparents while typing this. Whenever we would leave their home, we would say “Ittekimasu” while she would say “Itterasshai”. Then every time we went back, we would greet her with “Tadaima” and she would reply “Okaeri”. T_T

They drove us to the train station and Hisako-obaasan even went with us inside and made sure that we would be able to ride the train on time. Even in the previous days, she made sure that we would ride the bus and would always wave us goodbye once the bus left.

So from Hakata, we rode the shinkansen going to Osaka. To cut the story short – our flight from Fukuoka going back to Manila got cancelled and the only way to go home was fly from Osaka, Nagoya, or Tokyo. Osaka was the nearest so we had our rerouted flight be there.

It was C’s first time in Osaka so I brought her to Dotonbori for late lunch – Ichiran’s ramen and Creo-ru’s takoyaki. C was able to research a café selling Cremia (¥550).

We went to DEN DEN TOWN afterwards because I was not satisfied with the anime shops we visited in Fukuoka. Even here, there was not a lot of Kimetsu no Yaiba merch.

We went to KIX afterwards by boarding the airport limousine bus in Hankyu Hotel stop near Osaka Station.

We were lucky that there was a Botejyu branch in KIX so C was able to eat more food well-known in Osaka – kushikatsu and okonomiyaki.

This trip was nerve-wracking as we travelled during COVID-19 crisis (not yet super bad in Japan at that time) but definitely a memorable one with all the nice people we met and the good experiences we had. ❤

Kyushu, Day 14: Fukuoka Castle Ruins

A short walk from Maizuru Park, we reached Fukuoka Castle Ruins. I was expecting to see remnants of the main keep but there was not so much to see.

MARCH 17, 2020

We passed by MAIZURU PARK but none of the trees had any flower blooming.

A short walk from there, we reached FUKUOKA CASTLE RUINS. I was expecting to see remnants of the main keep but there was not so much to see. What survived were some turrets and guard towers in the castle grounds. Portion of the moat was also noticeable.

We went to ICHIRAN TENJIN NISHIDORI afterwards and ordered the premium tonkotsu (kamadare style) again. This time, we did not buy the set because we were still full from breakfast. I bought extra osukaran vinegar (¥120), Ichiran’s original premium vinegar, and added it to the broth. That brought out a nice touch of sourness although my conclusion is not adding the vinegar is still better.

I shopped for tea bags and tea leaves in the store recommended by Hisako-obaasan. It was difficult to spot because there was no English sign but good thing she sent me a picture of the store.

We went back to Canal City and spotted a Studio Ghibli shop

…then went to HAKATA GION TETSUNABE for early dinner. We ordered the bestselling tetsunabe gyoza, which were bite-sized pieces of gyoza served in hot skillet.

We went back home afterwards because Hisako-obaasan and Masanobu-ojiisan prepared a yummy light dinner for our last night in Fukuoka.

They served us okonomiyaki, homemade umeshu, sake, and a side of salad with prosciutto.

What a perfect way to cap off our last night for this Kyushu region trip!

Kyushu, Day 14: Ohori Park

We went to Ohori Park afterwards and rode a swan boat (¥1,100 for 30 minutes). It was a relaxing activity for us even if we need to pedal the whole time.

MARCH 17, 2020

We enjoyed oden, fish, and chicken during breakfast but the highlight was the kinako mochi. Airbnb grandparents brought out a small griller and placed the mochi there. When it was roasted, they gave us soybean flour to coat the mochi. I loved the combination of the nutty taste and chewiness of mochi!

We went to OHORI PARK afterwards and rode a swan boat (¥1,100 for 30 minutes). It was a relaxing activity for us even if we need to pedal the whole time… the scenery was calming and you could see that people were also enjoying the moment.

After time was up, we explored a bit more of Ohori Park…

…and found some flowers and trees already blooming.

Time to move on to the castle ruins!

Kyushu, Day 13: Sumiyoshi Shrine

We went to Sumiyoshi Shrine first, which is one of the oldest and most respected shrines in Kyushu. There were several red torii which made the place feel like a mini Fushimi Inari Taisha.

MARCH 16, 2020

Breakfast this day was Western style and the lovely grandparent couple offered to drop us off the nearest JR train station so that we would not walk.

We went to SUMIYOSHI SHRINE first, which is one of the oldest and most respected shrines in Kyushu. There were several red torii which made the place feel like a mini Fushimi Inari Taisha. We also saw a statue of a sumo wrestler and there was a sign there that if you touch the palm of his hands, it will give you strength.

We then went to Tenjin (again) and looked for a Taito Station branch… Why? To do purikura again but this time with better pictures printed out. Haha! We were successful with this 2nd attempt so yay!

For lunch, Hisako-obaasan recommended KARO NO URON, Fukuoka’s oldest restaurant (1882). Initially, I wanted to eat in Ganso Hakata Mentaiju but the line was ridiculously long. We ordered one of the bestselling udon priced at ¥690 only. Taking pictures was not allowed so here is a picture of the restaurant from the outside instead.

We went to Canal City after lunch and shopped in Muji then stayed in Muji’s Café.

We wanted to go home early so we decided to eat dinner early. We tried the famous hamburg curry in BERKELEY HAKATA and found this to be a good contender against Coco Ichibanya.

Kyushu, Day 12: Nokonoshima

We took a bus then ferry to go to the island then another bus to reach the main area of Nokonoshima. Note that the ferry runs every 30 minutes only.

MARCH 15, 2020

Every breakfast in our Airbnb felt like a feast… and as someone who does not eat breakfast, I always end up feeling super full after eating our breakfast.

Before leaving the house, Hisako-obaasan gave me a plastic mat and snacks for our Nokonoshima trip. Such a super sweet person as well as her husband! They made us feel like we were their grandkids.

We took a bus then ferry to go to the island then another bus to reach the main area of NOKONOSHIMA. Note that the ferry runs every 30 minutes only so better get the schedule first from any tourist info center to be able to plan this trip properly.

We paid for ¥1,200 entrance fee per person to get inside the park. And while there were no sakura trees blooming yet, there were a lot of flower types already in full bloom.

After a long walk, we finally reached the area which I only saw in pictures before.

The rapeseed flowers were in full bloom and there was a pathway you can enter to be closer to the flowers.

Once satisfied with the pictures, we set the plastic mat and munched on the snacks provided by Hisako-obaasan. What a wonderful picnic especially with good weather that day!

We had lunch already in Hakata station where we tried HAKATA ISSOU. C still prefers Shin Shin because she found Hakata Issou’s broth to be nice at the beginning but too salty towards the end.

We spent the rest of the afternoon shopping for clothes and souvenirs then went back to our Airbnb to rest.

Kyushu, Day 11: Tenjin

When we returned to Tenjin, we went to PARCO to visit the Kimetsu no Yaiba Sweets Café which was open for a limited time. However, there was a long line and when we saw the mechanics to buy the Kimetsu no Yaiba-themed desserts, we just found it to be too expensive.

MARCH 14, 2020

For our first breakfast in the Airbnb, Hisako-obaasan cooked a gyudon-like meal with different veggies as side dish. She also served us fruits for dessert and prepared one of her high-quality green teas when she learned that I love drinking tea.

We spent this day just in Tenjin…

…but did a small detour to Hakata Station because C was finding a store selling Nintendo Switch. Inside the station, we passed by this bakery called Il Forno Del Mignon. Since the start of this trip, we would always get hungry because we could smell their pastries even a few hundred meters away. Unfortunately, there was always a long line. But during this day, there were no customers so we gave in and bought the plain croissant. We finally realized why there was a hype!

When we returned to Tenjin, we went to PARCO to visit the Kimetsu no Yaiba Sweets Café which was open for a limited time. However, there was a long line and when we saw the mechanics to buy the Kimetsu no Yaiba-themed desserts, we just found it to be too expensive. We went to One Piece Store instead, which was also in the same mall.

Still in PARCO, in B1F we found different restaurants for lunch. We went to KIWAMIYA, famous for Imari beef (from Saga) that you can cook on a heated stone. Even if there was a long line, it was moving quickly so we fell in line.

We ordered the hamburg steak (¥1,500) and extra garlic chips

Best decision!!! We just had to deal with bit of pain from the oil while cooking. The place was quite cramped. So we could not stretch as much as we wanted to.

After that, we went looking for animate and Mandarake. Disappointed though because animate was under construction while Mandarake was a bit far. I wonder why there is no popular anime street or area in Fukuoka…

We ended up looking for a coffee shop to take a rest and we found MANU. The coffee was good and everyone in their staff was nice. When we paid for our orders before leaving, the guy behind the counter made a small talk with us.

For dinner, we went to one of the yatai stalls in Tenjin. Yatai literally means “shop stand” and this is a small, mobile food stall which opens up in the evening only. I saw a recommendation from Yoshke (The Poor Traveler) to go to TENJIN YATAI MUNE. Not sure if the stall changed its name because their menu says “Soh’s Tenjin Food Stall” but the food that they offered was still the same.

We ordered mentai tamagoyaki (¥800), dai-chan yaki (¥650), and yaki-ramen (¥800). The best ones here were the mentai tamagoyaki and yaki-ramen. The stall also had a policy that we have to order one drink each – not sure if this is the same for the other yatai in the area.

We wanted to return here for another dinner but with the few days left, we had other food places to try. Highly recommend this yatai though!

Kyushu, Day 10: Yanagawa

Yanagawa is well-known for its canals and eel production… which are the reasons why we went to this area. We headed to Ganso Motoyoshiya for lunch as it was the nearest unagi restaurant to the kawakudari company with free donkobune ride.

MARCH 13, 2020

Yanagawa is well-known for its canals and eel production… which are the reasons why we went to this area. We headed to GANSO MOTOYOSHIYA for lunch as it was the nearest unagi restaurant to the kawakudari company with free donkobune ride included in our ticket pack. We ordered their famous unagi no seiromushi (¥3,700).

Ganso Motoyoshiya was established in 1681 and well-known to be the origin of unagi no seiromushi. They described this dish as (1681) “charcoal-broiled fillets of eel placed on a bed of flavored rice in a steamer, topped with finely sliced scrambled egg, and served with a light soup containing eel liver”.

The taste did not disappoint! I was bothered by the bones though and not sure if it should be removed, but I did that. The best part was eating the rice coated with their sauce.

From the restaurant, we walked for a few minutes to reach YANAGAWA KANKO KAIHATSU K.K. SHOUGETSU PUNTING STATION. This was the kawakudari (“short river cruise”) company included in the Dazaifu and Yanagawa One-Day Sightseeing Ticket Pack for free.

We were guided to the dock for donkobune, which are low flat boats pushed with a pole. Ogata-ojiisan, our boat captain and guide, warmly welcomed us. We were fortunate to have another passenger who knew some English so during the 1-hour ride, he would translate some of the fun facts given by Ogata-ojiisan.

Ogata-ojiisan actually had a good English accent and would sometimes give facts in English so we learned a lot during the cruise. We passed by 10 or 11 low bridges during the cruise so we had to lower our head and body to avoid bumping on these.

We saw trees with different types of flowers already blooming, signaling that the peak of spring was just around the corner. Unfortunately, no sakura but Ogata-ojiisan said that the place would become even more beautiful in a week or two when the sakura trees have bloomed.

In the middle of the cruise, we stopped by this small area where they were selling snacks, dessert, and beer. When I found out that one of the ice cream flavors was Amaou ichigo (Amaou strawberry), I immediately said that I would buy one. The ice cream was really, really good – milky and very prominent strawberry taste. It did not taste like an artificial flavoring.

Some more spots we passed by…

And after an hour, we said our goodbye to Ogata-ojiisan and the very friendly local passenger.

We went back to Hakata and had dinner at HYOTAN SUSHI, a kaitenzushi (“conveyor belt sushi”) restaurant. It was fascinating to see different kinds of sushi on the conveyor belt where you could get any plate that you want to try.

They also offered a menu so that if nothing on the conveyor belt interests you, you could select from the menu and ask one of the chefs to prepare it. This was how I placed most of my orders because otoro (¥390) and snow crab (¥450+) were not available on the conveyor belt.

I ordered these again because both were really good! Otoro is the fattiest part of the tuna so that one had a melt-in-your-mouth feel. As for the snow crab, the amount of meat in the sushi was really generous!

After dinner, we headed to our new Airbnb and the lovely couple homeowners welcomed us with mochi and cup of matcha. ❤

Kyushu, Day 10: Dazaifu Tenmangu

Once we entered Dazaifu Tenmangu, we were greeted by the statue of an ox. We saw the locals patting its head and upon researching, it is believed that you can become smarter by doing this.

MARCH 13, 2020

At Tenjin Station, we bought the Dazaifu and Yanagawa One-Day Sightseeing Ticket Pack (¥3,080). This was a good purchase because you can either choose the route:

  • Tenjin – Dazaifu – Yanagawa – Tenjin; or
  • Tenjin – Yanagawa – Dazaifu – Tenjin

The ticket pack also included discounts in various partner stores (restaurants, souvenirs, etc.).

We went for the first route option as we had a scheduled kimono rental in Dazaifu in the morning. And when we reached Dazaifu station, it made us feel like we were transported back in time.

We reserved an appointment for kimono rental in WARGO, the same rental shop I went to in Kyoto last 2018. Still in awe on how quick they were in dressing us up as well as doing our hairstyle. Their location was convenient for us because Dazaifu Tenmangu was just a short walk away.

Once we entered DAZAIFU TENMANGU, we were greeted by the statue of an ox. We saw the locals patting its head and upon researching, it is believed that you can become smarter by doing this.

After this, there were bridges to cross over Lake Shinji to reach the shrine’s honden. These three bridges represented one timeline each – past, present, and future.

Reaching the honden (main hall), people pray and revere Sugawara Michizane, the god of academics and learning. When Michizane was still alive, he was respected as a scholar, politician, and a poet.

I noticed that this shrine had omikuji in various colorful papers and ema in different shapes and designs. I was not able to see it but I read that there Dazaifu Tenmangu offers a unique omikuji called usodori. The usodori is a type of bird and is considered to be the guardian of Tenjin-sama. It is believed to improve people’s fortunes and brings them happiness.

Dazaifu Tenmangu also has an ume garden but unfortunately, the trees were not yet blooming. Or did they finish already?

Before leaving to return the kimono, we dropped by the line of food stalls outside the shrine and bought takoyaki (¥500). I also bought an Amaou strawberry stick (¥700). In a stick, there was one chocolate-covered Amaou strawberry while the other two were plain ones. Seemed expensive but all worth it because those were really good strawberries! Amaou strawberry is the pride of Hakata region because it is considered as one of the best, if not the best, strawberries in Japan.

Time to return the kimono and head to Yanagawa!