Tuesday, December 25, 2012

Japanese Disney Baskin Robbins Christmas Cake

Merry Christmas!  I took a paid holiday today so that I could enjoy the most wonderful time of the year with my family.  Christmas is not a national holiday in Japan, so if you want to celebrate during the day time, you need to take it off.    We ordered a Baskin Robbins Disney Christmas Cake this year.  All I can say is super kawaii!  Super delicious too.  Baskin Robbins is everywhere here and it is the largest ice cream chain in Japan.
The cake had four flavors,  strawberry, vanilla, caramel swirl and chocolate.  A cross-section is above.  The Japanese version of the B&R ice cream cake has no actual cake part and it is pure frosting and ice cream.  The house and snowman Mickey and Minnie were edible.  The actual ice cream was exactly the same as the U.S. Baskin Robbins.  An interesting fact about B&R here is that while Americans call Baskin Robbins 31 flavors, the Japanese call it 31 ice creams.  Perhaps the translation of 31 tastes was too odd for them.  

The rest of the meal at our Christmas party was as below.


The ice cream cake was good, five Rocky Roads out of five Rocky Roads. The rest of the meal was good too of course.  Christmas was a success and in the next few posts you'll see some of the goodies I received from Santa including more Battle Beasts!

Disney Turkey Leg, Aeon, Tokyo Disneyland, Chiba

The Disney Aeon turkey leg- there are many things to talk about here regarding the turkey leg.  Where should I start?  Well, first, all of you Disney Parkoholics out there understand the significance of the turkey leg.  The turkey leg has become a sacred symbol of visiting the parks and during my time as a character performer, a fellow face character had actually spent time working at one of the turkey carts in her past at the Magic Kingdom.  Imagine that, Mulan serving turkey legs. Back to Japan, the Japanese folks have taken the turkey legs out of the parks and have brought them to the supermarkets!  This demonstrates the love they have here for the Tokyo Disney Resort.   But the turkey legs aren't an ordinary find.  Turkey is not very popular here and the reason I could find them at Aeon is related to a second point, the Christmas holiday.

Christmas is the most romantic Japanese holiday.  Not followers of Christ,  Christmas is the time you spend time with your boyfriend or girlfriend and have a nice meal of... chicken!  You must reserve your chicken from KFC or Costco a few weeks in advance of Christmas or you run the risk of not having our favorite feathered friend for dinner.  So you must be wondering how the Disney turkey leg relates to Christmas.  Well, Christmas is romantic and going to Disneyland is romantic.  What better to rekindle your romantic Disney memories with your love on Christmas than a Disney turkey leg (especially if you neglected to reserve your chicken)?

The turkey leg tasted just like the ones at the parks minus the 8:30 firework show.  Maybe this one will become a tradition and replace the Colonel's bucket.   I give it five gobble gobbles out of five gobble gobbles. For your information though, I'd rather enjoy them at Disneyland instead of my 2LDK apartment.

White Gyoza ホワイト餃子, Kameari, Tokyo

Knowing that I am a gyoza fan, a good friend of mine, Dana, recommended White Gyoza to me.  We had just been talking about my visit to Namja Town in Ikebukero to enjoy Gyoza Stadium.  White Gyoza specializes in fried bread-like gyoza, much like the Maruman gyoza I had at Gyoza Stadium.

If you head out to the Kameari White Gyoza, please pay attention to the map on the website as the restaurant is about a 7-minute walk from the station.  According to Dana, you can see it from the Joban line train if you are headed towards Tokyo from Kashiwa.  That said, there are multiple White Gyoza branches throughout Tokyo and Chiba so if you don't live near Kameari, there is a chance that you can find one near you.  Here's what the Kameari branch looks like at night:

For those of you who know what gyoza look like, it might be hard to believe that the White Gyoza are actually gyoza.  They look more like little dinner rolls than actual gyoza!  Inside each White Gyoza is pure yumminess.  The outside is slightly crunchy and the inside is moist and pipping hot with savory pork filling.

Yum yum.  We ordered 20 gyoza, white rice and beers.  As you can tell from the menu below, our meal didn't set us back too much, only about 2000 yen for the both of us.

Yep, we were thoroughly full.  I definitely want to do it again.  I give White Gyoza an enthusiastic five pot stickers out of five pot stickers for the yumminess and value.

Monday, December 10, 2012

Wolfgang Puck Cafe, Roppongi, Tokyo

Well, we decided to visit the Christmas "illuminations" (what Japanese people call Christmas lights) last weekend at Roppongi Hills and Tokyo Midtown.  For lunch, we decided to try Wolfgang Puck Cafe, not too far from Hardrock Cafe/Tony Roma's.

To start, it was not crowded at all- on a Saturday!  This made us relieved with two kids in tow.  The hostess kindly sat us near the big screen T.V.  The movie "Corpse Bride" kept the little ones entertained during our meal.

After seating us, due to the lack of customers, I got the impression that the waitstaff had forgotten we were there.  We flagged them down after awhile and placed our order.  To the kids delight, we could order fries on the side in addition to the relatively adult-orientated menu.  The lunch menu is available at WPC even on the weekends (at least Saturday) allowing us to get gourmet fare at a highly discounted price.  Lunch specials are a great deal in Japan and at many restaurants, the lunch fare is nearly identical to the more expensive dinner fare.  In addition to the fries, we ordered and shared the steak lunch, the tartar salmon lunch and the sweet potato pizza as shown in the following pictures.
Continuing with the lunch bargain theme, this meal would easily cost 60-70 dollars (5,000-6,000 yen) had it been dinner.  However, including drinks and a salad, our total was only 3,600 yen, which is about 40 dollars.

The winner of the three dishes was the sweet potato pizza having the ingenuity that made Wolfgang famous.  The pizza was a perfect blend of sweet and savory with the sweet potato, cheese and mayonnaise sauce (as opposed to tomato sauce).   The runner-up was the tartar sauce salmon.  The salmon was perfectly cooked (tender and juicy) and slightly breaded.   The steak was a bit overcooked and tough.  It tasted very good though, well-seasoned.  With the exception of Outback Steakhouse, the beef at most Japanese restaurants that I've eaten at tends to be overcooked.

A member of our party was given a spoon with a piece of food still on it (obviously heat cleaned  through the giant industrial strength dish washer, but there still nonetheless).  For some reason that bothered me a bit, perhaps due to the fact that they took a good deal of time to attend to our table in the beginning.  However, the food was delicious.  As a result, I give the restaurant three and a half howls out of five howls (four for the food, three for the service, averaging three and a half).   I actually eat here for lunch during the weekdays sometimes and it seems that the weekday experience might be a little better.

On a final note, if you look at this picture from the WPC, do you get the impression that Humphrey is gazing at Marilyn's ample cleavage too?  Here's looking at impressive cleavage, kid!

Friday, December 7, 2012


Located in Aomori...  Magnitude 7.3.  We are all OK.  Building was shaking.  However, train lines running again and everything is OK.

Thursday, December 6, 2012

Japanese Language Proficiency Test (JLPT) Level 2 (2-kyu) Test December 2012/ Uncle Joe's Mint Balls

Well, got bogged down for another period of time and finally have a breather now.

I just took the 2級日本語能力試験  (level 2 of the Japanese language proficiency test) last weekend and received a good whupping.  I went in there all ready to have a cake walk like those colonial marines in Aliens, thinking I was going to rescue some juicy colonist daughters, and like Pvt. Hudson said, after I left the test it was "Game over man, game over!"   I wouldn't have posted anything about failing miserably had it not been for my good buddy Sam suggesting me to make a blog post about my test.  Although a miracle might happen when I get my results in February, "Game over man, game over!!!"

Next, I was at the Seijo Ishii grocery store in Roppongi a few weeks ago and came across the above candies.  My brother-in-law is named Joe and got a good chuckle when I ran across them.  Definitely meant to be funny as the mint balls are a British product rather than a Japanese one.  Two Saturday Night Live skits come to mind for the mint balls.  First, I remember that Alec Baldwin skit with "Schweddy Balls" due to the use of balls and a name.  Next, I think of those pompous British foppy fellows from that 90's SNL skit where they use excessive innuendos since the mint balls are British.  Perhaps I will get those for Joe as a Christmas gag gift...

Back to reviews in the near future...