もんじゃ焼き (Monjayaki)

This dish, as far as I know is typical in Tokyo. Basically you cook chopped ingredients into a batter and you fry them in a circular shape. It is similar to Okonomiyaki (お好み焼き) but the difference is that the batter is runnier and sticky and it doesn’t cook completely.

Usually people eat Monjayaki, also called ‘Monja’ alone in specialized places. In some restaurants they have both Okonomiyaki and Monjayaki.

In Tokyo, there’s a place called Tsukishima (月島) that is famous due to it’s huge amount of Okonomiyaki and Monja places, and is there where I took the pictures of this post.

This dish is prepared in a big griddel which is in the middle of the table. Normally, after ordering the staff will bring a bowl with the ingredients so the customers can prepare it themselves. But I saw in some places the waiters prepare it for you. The instructions to prepare it have pictures and are easy to understand, but the directions are usually in Japanese. So if you cannot figure out how to do it, try to ask the waiter and they’ll probably cook it for you.

In some other entry I’ll post “how to do” for both Okonomiyaki and Monja, as it’s very easy to do, buy also easy to make a mistake, specially with Monja (it happened to me the first time I prepared it lol).

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ハヤシライス (Hayashi rice)

This is one of my favorite dishes. I love curry so first time I saw it I totally though it was curry, but it wasn’t.

It is a very popular dish in Japan, but it is known as western food or Youshoku (洋食). The main ingredients can vary, but usually it contains beef, onions, mushrooms, demiglace sauce and tomato sauce. It is served together with plain white rice.

It is easy and quite to prepare and usually kids love it. As it is similar to curry, in Japan people eat it in curry specialized chains or restaurants.

Some people make it from scratch (as in the video I link). But the majority of people buy a package of roux because it’s faster to make an still delicious.

Link to the video recipe in English.

親子雑炊 (Oyako zousui)

Today I’ll start posting food that I normally eat here. I live now in Tokyo, Japan, but I have been living in several countries so I make a mix! Now, being here I’m trying to learn the specialties of the country, as I love to cook.

I will be posting dishes and the link to the recipes, if somebody is interested I could post the translation of the recipe, but till somebody does, a link will be good enough.

親子雑炊 (Oyako zousui)

The name of this dish is Oyako Zousui. The name is compound by Zousui (雑炊) which means porridge, or rice soup, and Oyako (親子) which means literally ”father and child”, this is because it contains chicken (father) and egg (child) so in Japanese they call it that way.

As it is served very warm, this dish is usually eaten in Winter or Autumn or when people are sick.

 

Link to the recipe in Japanese.

Shinjuku Gyoen National Park

31/03/2016, Tokyo

I had some free days after I finished level 3 at  my school, so I decided to go and see some cherry blossoms (桜) by myself. In Japan, when you watch the weather information on the TV they also provide other useful information, in Spring, for example, information about the pollen and the cherry blossoms. There is where I saw the Cherry Blossoms where in full blossom (満開) and was an ideal time to go. Therefore, I checked some rankings of the best places to see the trees (花見) and I decided to try first with the Shinjuku Gyoen National Park (新宿御苑国民公園).

I knew it was going to be crowded so I arrived exactly in the moment the park opened, it was a weekday so it was quiet and nice, I had breakfast there and took a ton of pictures.

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History

It’s a huge park located in Shinjuku. During the Edo period, it was the residence of the Naitou family, but afterwards, the Imperial Household Agency started to manage it. And now it is property of the national Ministry of Environment.

Types of Cherry Blossoms

These are the types of Cherry Blossoms that you can see in the park. I’m not an expert but when you enter, you can pick up a pamphlet in Japanese that explains you when you should come to see each variety and expected full bloom date. Anyway, this always changes as it is directly influenced by the weather and temperatures, so it is better to check the weather on the TV or on the Internet.

  • ソメイヨシノ (Somei Yoshino)
  • エドヒガン (Edo Higan)
  • オオシマザクラ (Ooshima Sakura)
  • ヤマザクラ (Yama Zakura)
  • オオヤマザクラ (Ooyama Zakura)
  • ベンドノ (Bendono)
  • ベニユタカ (Beniyutaka)
  • シラユキ (Shirayuki)
  • シロタエ (Shirotae)
  • スザク (Suzaku)
  • タイハク (Taihaku)
  • チョウシュウヒザクラ (Choushuuhi Zakura)
  • ヤエベニシダレ (Yaebeni Shidare)
  • アメリカ (America)
  • コシオヤマ (Koshi Oyama)
  • ヤエサコンノサクラ (Yaesakosono Sakura)
  • イズヨシノ (Izu Yoshino)
  •  コヒガン (Kohi Gan)
  •  シダレザクラ (Shidare Zakura)
  • タカトオコヒガン (Takato Okohi Gan)
  • トウカイザクラ (Toukai Zakura)
  •  ヒマラヤヒザクラ (Himarayahi Zakura)
  • ヨウコウ (Yoykou)
  • ヨコハマヒザクラ (Yokohamahi Zakura)

How to arrive

The park has several gates, but I chose Shinjuku gate as it was more convenient for me because I used Yamanote line. To arrive, from JR Shinjuku Station, use New South Exit and it will be around 5 minutes walk to the park.

If you visit…

In some periods it can be very crowded, so I recommend to avoid the weekends. Even in normal weekdays it will be quite a crowd, the sooner you visit, the less people. It opens at 9:00AM and closes at 16:30AM. It doesn’t open on Monday, except in high season (cherry blossom and chrysanthemum viewing). The admission fee is ¥200 for adults and ¥50 for children.

If you want to see the Cherry Blossoms, mind the weather. Depending on the weather the blooming time changes. They start to bloom when it gets hotter. And they start to fall if there’s wind or rain. They don’t last too long, so the best is to go the day that are on full bloom or around that date because that way you will be able to see them.

More information

If you want to know more about the park you can visit the official website, but mind that it is in Japanese: Shinjuku Gyoen National Park Website.

Each year they provide a forecast of the blooming and a map. You can take it in the entrance of the park or download it in the website. Here is the map and here is the bloom forecast.