Sunday, June 28, 2015

Inside Out Stamp Rally!; Tokyo Metro

Stamp rally time!  What's a stamp rally?  Well, I never heard of one before coming to Japan.  A stamp rally is an event where you go to different designated places to have a card stamped.  Once you get all of the required stamps, you get a prize.  The Tokyo Metro subway system just had a stamp rally for the movie Inside Out.  We traveled to five different stations to stamp our cards.  Once we got all five stamps, we sent them in the mail to the address listed on the card.  Completed cards equal entries into a contest where we can win various Inside Out prizes like free movie tickets.  To be honest, the odds of winning are terrible for this particular rally.  I highly doubt we'll win anything.  However, I'll keep you updated if my guess is incorrect.

Like most movies in Japan, the release date for Inside Out trails the worldwide release.  We'll get the movie on July 17, 2015, more than a month after the U.S.  Can't wait.  Unfortunately, the stamp rally ends on June 30, 2015.  So if you want a chance to win, you better get started quickly.  Each Tokyo Metro station has the cards for you to start the rally.  If you don't participate, great.  Better chances for us even as slim as they are.

Anyhoo, here are some pictures of the stamp rally. 

We found Sadness at Kudanshita on the Tozai line.
Pre-stamped Sadness.
Got the stamp!
We found Fear at Minami Aoyama on the Hanzomon line.
Got Fear!
Anger was found at Shinjuku San-Chome station.  I can't remember which line it was but I think it was the Marunouchi line. I was pretty grumpy because I was hungry when we found Anger, so he was pretty appropriate for me. 
Got Anger!
We found Joy at Nihonbashi station.  I'm not sure which line it was.
We got Disgust at Shin Ochanomizu station on the Chiyoda line.
Here's Disgust!
Well, that's it for now.  Thanks for the read and have a good rest of the weekend!

Thursday, June 25, 2015

胡同麺家 だん亭 (Dan-Tei), Myoden, Ichikawa;

We decided to go local a few weekends ago and had dinner at  Dan-Tei last night, which is probably our favorite Chinese restaurant in Japan.  The food is great and the restaurant is only 2 minutes from our apartment.  You can't beat that.  The cooks are really Chinese here and no Japanese is spoken in the kitchen.  Having Chinese cooks doesn't ensure good food though.  As much as I love Ma Ma and Yeh Yeh, I did not love their food growing up.  Anyhoo, not only is the food great, you get large portions too.  Dan-Tei was an izakaya (Japanese pub) at one point and the dark wood paneling and tables, decorative stones as well as the floor seating still remain.  Whenever overseas people visit us, we always bring them to Dan-Tei.  Accordingly, Ryan, Mom, Uncle Jim and Auntie Lil all have had the chance to experience Ichikawa city fine Chinese dining.

Japanese Chinese food is a bit different than its American and Canadian counterpart.  This is largely due to the fact that unlike the U.S. and Canada, most of the Chinese in Japan are Mandarin.  The Chinese in North America are largely Cantonese, especially in the many Chinatowns (although this demographic is rapidly changing).    It was Cantonese labor that helped build the railroads in the late 1800's after all.  That said, Cantonese food differs from Mandarin food.  Cantonese food is heavier with darker sauces it seems.    Growing up in a Cantonese-American family, I became accustomed to shrimp with dark lobster sauce, dark gravy egg foo yung, brown fried rice, crunchy lo-mein noodles and brown chow-fun noodles.   Well I can't find these items in Japan.  The Chinese food here is really light and tends to be more spicy with a  Szechuan influence.  When we want to get the Chinese food I am accustomed too, I usually joke that we need to hop on a flight to Hong Kong.

Dan-Tei serves traditionally Japanese Chinese food but I love it anyway.   Unlike when family members are here, we went pretty light this meal, only ordering a few items.  We ordered Cantonese-style sweet and sour pork (by chance, they cater to my preference!), shrimp with chili sauce, chin jya ros (similar to moo shu pork) for our entrees and fried sesame balls for dessert.

The Cantonese-style sweet and sour pork is my favorite item on the menu.  The pork is very lightly breaded and has the sweeter heavy orange sweet and sour sauce I love.  You get four or five large chunks of pork.  There's no pineapple here, instead they add sweet Japanese potatoes.  Onion wedges and green peppers nicely blend with the sauce.   There is a black vinegar sweet and sour pork on the menu too, which is a more traditional Japanese Chinese dish.

I never had shrimp with chili sauce until I came to Japan.  It's a Japanese Chinese essential at Chinese restaurants here in Japan.  What exactly is shrimp with chili sauce?  Well, it's a wonderful concoction of shrimp, onions and sweet & spicy orange chili sauce.  Dan-Tei does it well.  Usually the shrimp are smaller in Japanese Chinese menu items than those in the U.S. or Canada.  The Dan-Tei shrimp are bit larger than most of the Chinese restaurants here and are perfectly cooked.  They have that crisp snap when you bite into them.

Wifey got the chin gya ros  (neither of us can actually remember the name, we think it was something like this).  It was very similar to mushu pork sans the plum sauce.  We got an abundant amount of cooked strips of pork marinated in a sweet sauce.  Sliced onions and cucumber strips rounded out this one.  The wraps were cooked and a little more like tortillas than the wraps in mushu pork.

We ordered the large rice.  It really was pretty large.
Finally, the daughters ordered fried sesame balls to complete our dinner.  Yummy!
Everything here is delicious and this dinner was no different.  I give Dan-Tei five gyozas out of five gyozas.  Not only is it extremely convenient for us, the food is abolustely delicious and you get large portions for a restaurant in Japan.  If you have a chance to go out to Myoden on the Tozai line, be sure to eat at Dan-Tei!