Sunday, December 25, 2016

ANA Suite Lounge Haneda, Tokyo - Competent Food?

It's been a while since my last airport lounge writeup @ The Private Room more than a year ago. Thought I would end 2016 with one on the ANA Suite Lounge in Haneda Airport, which I utilised while flying F back from Tokyo to Singapore.

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The Place

The lounge is huge and on the left side as you walk in from the main entrance is where you get a view of the tarmac or hole yourself up in a single cubicle to do your work/watch Japanese channels/sleep. The full service dining room (only operational during meal times) is also located in this section.

On the right hand side from the main entrance is where the kitchen is located (anytime dining where you can order from a limited menu - see pictures below) with proper tables and chairs for eating. There are also limited buffet spreads in both sections.

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Buffet Spread

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Anytime Dining Menu

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Beef Burger & Simmered Beef Over Steamed Rice

The above 2 dishes were from the anytime dining menu and while the gyu don was respectably decent (more beef would be good though), the beef burger was average at best with the patty bland and a tad dry. Ditto the buns. I'll probably stick with the Japanese dishes next time round. 

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Akita Beef Round Steak

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Salt Grilled "Hamada" Rockfish Marinated in Soy based Sauce

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ANA Original Parfait "Minori no Tsuki"

The above 3 dishes were from the full service dining room menu (seasonal). The portion of beef was rather small and lacked the beefiness and marbling that I was looking for; I don't know if it was the grade of beef or the execution but it was a little disappointing, considering that Akita beef is rather respectable in Japan. The rockfish came across as palatable but no great shakes whilst the parfait (Minori no Tsuki is apparently a species of Maple native to Japan) proffered a sweet yet light ending to our meal.

Overall I think the ANA first class flights offer better dining quality onboard vis a vis their lounges.

Final Verdict:

Ambience: 8/10
Service: 8/10
Food: 6.5/10
Value for money: NA

Overall: 7.5/10

Address: Haneda Airport

Contact: NA

Opening Hours:

Near Gate 110: 5:00 AM - 1:00 AM
Near Gate 114: 6:30 AM - 1:30 PM

Sunday, December 11, 2016

Kikuyo Shokudo (きくよ食堂), Hokkaido - Famous Seafood Place in Hakodate

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Less than a 10 minute walk from our hotel was the famed Hakodate morning market; bustling and filled with a wide array of fresh Hakodate produce and eateries selling seafood. One such popular eatery was Kikuyo Shokudo (started in 1956), which has 2 outlets in the rather compact market premises. We stumbled upon one of the outlets during one of our morning jaunts through the market and decided to stop for breakfast. 

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The Place & Menu

The place was neither big nor fancy but thankfully, there was an English menu available.

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Kani Don (¥1,480)

Japanese steamed rice covered with shredded Hokkaido crab; chilled, fresh and bursting with crustecean sweetness. What's not to like?

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Sanshu Okonomi Don (¥1,680)

You have a choice of 3 seafood items from the list and the wife chose grilled salmon flake, scallop and prawn and crab meat. She was clearly impressed. The sliced raw scallops were very fresh and sweet while the salmon flakes didn't come across as too fishy. In short, triple happiness in a bowl.

Final Verdict:

Ambience: 6/10
Service: 7/10
Food: 8/10
Value for money: 7/10

Overall: 7/10

10-11 Wakamatsucho Hakodate Hokkaido (北海道 函館市 若松町 10-11) - 支店
11-15 Wakamatsucho Hakodate Hokkaido (北海道 函館市 若松町 11-15) - 本店

Contact: 0138-23-2334 (支店)

Opening Hours: 5am to 2pm daily


Sunday, December 04, 2016

Tokachi Butadon Ippin (十勝豚丼いっぴん), Hokkaido - For The Grilled Pork Aficionado

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A friend recommended this to us while we were in Sapporo and since it was a very short walk from our hotel to Stellar Place @ Sapporo Station, we popped by to indulge in some apparently very delicious grilled pork.

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The English Menu

I like how the English menu is done up by hand; feels very personal and self explanatory. Only thing is that it seems to be missing a couple of items as compared to the Japanese menu (but I could be wrong as I don't really understand Japanese).

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This was the normal rice with 3 slices of pork. And it was indeed delicious. Tender meat glazed over with a mildly sweet sauce, coupled with charred bits and the ever addictive Japanese rice, this was one simple, yet seriously delicious bowl of grilled pork rice. On hindsight, I should have been greedy and doubled my pork.

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A small bowl of rice (2 slices pork) and a normal bowl of rice (3 slices pork) cost us to the tune of 1,943 JPY (~ SGD 25 at time of conversion), which was reasonable by Japan's standards and very worth it in my humble opinion. It was so good that I visited twice during my trip!

Final Verdict:

Ambience: 6/10 (a little cramp)
Service: 7/10
Food: 8/10
Value for money: 8/10

Overall: 7.25/10

Address: Stellar Place Centre Sapporo 6F (〒060-0035 北海道札幌市中央区北5条西2丁目5 6階). Various other outlets in Sapporo.

Contact: 011-209-5298

Opening Hours: 11:00 to 23:00 (Last Order 22:30)


Friday, November 25, 2016

Lucky Pierrot (ラッキーピエロ), Hokkaido - Seriously Overrated

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Lucky Pierrot is an exclusively Hakodate fast food chain with many outlets dotting Hokkaido's third largest city at the island's southern tip. What's astonishing is that it currently ranks #1 on tripadvisor's list of places to eat in Hakodate and has received rave reviews in many online publications. Since we were in Hakodate for a few days, we decided to drop by to see what the fuss was all about.

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The Place

There was a short queue when we arrived just after lunch (which soon bloomed into quite a line at the end of our meal) and the procedure to order/get a table was rather different from what we were used to (it didn't help we didn't speak a word of Japanese). After much gesturing, we finally figured it out. You first queue to place an order, make payment and then wait for a table to free up, in which case a wait staff will direct you to it before serving up your order.

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Chinese Chicken Burger

And the Chinese Chicken Burger ranks #1 on the popularity charts at Lucky Pierrot. Well, with all the hype, I frankly found this average at best. The chicken came across as crispy but rather unassuming in taste (just sweet like 咕噜肉); something any half decent Chinese eatery would be able cook up. The sesame buns were pretty good though.

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Lucky Egg Burger

#2 on the charts goes to the Lucky Egg Burger, which is essentially a beef patty layered with fried egg, mayonnaise, a slice of tomato and Japanese curry. Verdict? The flavours seemed to gel together (but barely!) and overall the whole concoction tasted a little too soft and mushy for my liking. I liked the whole idea behind the burger, just not the execution!
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Cheese Fries

The serving of cheese was dismal and there was barely any taste. Fries came across as decent but no great shakes.

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At 1,123 JPY (~ SGD 15 at time of conversion), the food isn't expensive by Japanese standards but I reckon food quality is average at best. Maybe it's the novelty of dining in an eatery that's exclusive to an area but for me, I'd rather head to a Macdonald's (not that it's any better but at least there's no hype)

Final Verdict:

Ambience: NA
Service: NA
Food: 5.5/10
Value for money: 6/10

Overall: 5.75/10

Address: 〒040-0053末広町23-18

Contact: 0138-26-2099 (Map on your GPS using this)

Opening Hours: 10:00 - 00:30 daily (01:30 on Saturdays)


Thankfully, as we walked around Hakodate, we chanced upon 世界で2番めにおいしい焼きたてメロンパンアイス (along the same row as a school and near the churches), which translates as "the second most delicious melon bread ice cream in the world".

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Melon Pan Ice Cream

This was ridiculously delicious for something so simple and even the wife, who isn't a fan of sweet stuff, was blown away. A scoop of ice cream was wedged between the piping hot bread as it came out of the oven and oh boy, was it delicious! Hot, cold, fragrant, mildly sweet, creamy and delightfully soft all wrapped up in one compact package. At 400 JPY (~ SGD 5) at time of conversion, definitely a must try.

Final Verdict: 8/10

Address: 〒040-0054 北海道函館市元町10-7 (they have outlets all over Japan)

Contact: 050-5783-1544 (Map on your GPS using this)

Opening Hours: 10:00 - 18:00 daily


Sunday, October 23, 2016

Wakadori Jidai Naruto Honten (若鶏時代なると本店), Hokkaido - Finger Licking Good Fried Chicken!

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Our next stop saw us at Otaru, a rather touristy area and home to the famed Shiroi Koibito (白い恋人) factory and the Otaru Canal. But first, lunch at Wakadori Jidai Naruto Honten. This fried chicken place is very popular with locals and parking (just down the road) is extremely limited.

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The Place

We were lucky to be accorded a seat without much of a wait even though the place seemed really packed (there was a long queue out at the door after we were done though and the place has 2 levels of seating). There is a lunch special for the fried chicken ($1K JPY for the base set and $1.5K JPY if you want your chicken with Sushi etc). Basic English menus are available but don't expect much. Minimal English is spoken as well so we had to resort to some pointing and gesturing. Place your order at the counter with your table number, make payment and wait for your food to be served.

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Fried Chicken

Now here's the thing. Why would people eat fried chicken in Hokkaido, which has an abundance of fresh seafood? Personally, fried chicken is comfort food and Wakadori's rendition is simple yet delicious. Fresh chicken very well seasoned and deep fried till crackling crisp on the outside yet succulently tender on the inside. Nary a trace of blood on the chicken and no lingering or rancid oil taste as well. This is the true definition of finger licking good!

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What can I say? $2K JPY (~SGD 27 at time of conversion) for 2 set lunches is absolutely value for money by Japan's living standards, even if it's for something as mundane as... fried chicken.

Final Verdict:

Ambience: NA
Service: NA
Food: 7.5/10
Value for money: 7.5/10 (lunch set)

Overall: 7.5/10

Address: 小樽市稲穂3丁目16番13号

Contact: 0134-32-3280 (Map on your GPS using this)

Opening Hours: 11:00-21:00(Last order 20:00)


Sunday, October 16, 2016

Furano Delice, Hokkaido - Ridiculously Delicious Cheesecake

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We were on a week long drive around Hokkaido with Furano being our first stop. The wife had heard/read great things about Furano Delice's cheesecake and milk custard pudding so we made it a point to stop by. 

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The Place

Located atop a small hill on the outskirts of Furano city, Furano Delice is a charming little place that also offers a panoramic view of the surrounding area. Parking is readily available just across the road at the bottom of the hill. The modus operandi is simple - select your desserts from the display refrigerator, pay and collect at the counter and choose a nice seat (indoors or outdoors) and tuck in.  

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Furano Milk Pudding

Furano Delice's well known milk pudding is served chilled in a milk bottle and was reminiscent of silky smooth creme brulee complete with lightly burnt caramel at the bottom. Delicious!

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Double Fromage

My personal favourite, the Double Fromage. Consisting of sponge, baked cheesecake and mascarpone cheese mousse, all melded into one deliciously light dessert without coming across as overly sweet or nauseating. Many people seem to prefer Le Tao's rendition over Furano Delice's but for me, I prefer the latter's. The former's Double Fromage is a little richer but less "airy" and unlike Furano Delice's , the texture boundaries between the sponge, cheesecake and mascarpone mousse are a little more distinct.

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At only ~ SGD$10 for 2 desserts, the desserts aren't overly expensive and I would definitely be back in a heartbeat. Pity about the early closing times though.

Final Verdict:

Ambience: 8/10
Service: NA
Food: 8/10
Value for money: 7.5/10

Overall: 7.83/10

Address: Shimo-Goryou 2156-1, Furano-shi

Contact: 0167-22-8005 (Map on your GPS using this)

Opening Hours: 

10am - 6pm every Wednesday to Sunday.

Check cafe calendar here for more details on opening/closing days. Those dates highlighted in red are off days.