Tag Archives: Japanese food

HK: first stop: Japanese food of course!


Grouchy, grouchy, grouchy.

I don’t sleep on planes. I’d love to be able to do so, but I just can’t. Tristan can quite happily but I can’t.

So after arriving in Hong Kong via a few hours in Kuala Lumpur, I was in a foul mood. Also, I hadn’t done any swotting and we were staying in Chungking Mansions. Barring some parts of the Philippines I’ve been in (my mother’s side is three hours’ drive from Manila and it’s…provincial in her parts, to say the least), it is the dodgiest, seediest place I’ve ever been to in my life.

Welcome to Kowloon. My fellow foodie now expat Melburnian friend Alex said “you know how north(ern Melbourne) is cool and gritty? Kowloon is like that, only just gritty.”

An excellent call (yeah, north of the Yarra all the way, sorry folks. South of the Thames as a kid too, booyah!).

I did a search for what was round our parts food-wise and recommended in the Lonely Planet HK guide and an authentic izakaya called Kyozasa came up. Oddly enough, raw fish is one of my comfort foods, so we headed up there. It’s not hard to find, but seeing as I can’t read kanji or hiragana anymore, Tristan and I were a little confused.

Things were most encouraging once we entered. It’s small and full of awesome Japanese knick-knacks which adorn the walls and shelves.

The menu is pretty rad too. I really, really wanted to steal one!

As is usual at izakaya, you just keep ordering dishes and drink to share till you’re sated. One of the more unusual dishes we chose was raw salted cuttlefish. The waitress politely said “it’s law…” and I indicated with a big grin that that was okay!

It tastes like the sea in way similar to fresh oysters, and yet slightly different to any I’ve ever sampled – the saltiness is very subtle and gosh, so very fresh. I probably would have believed them if they’d told me they plucked them right out of the sea just for us.

Look, I know they’re available fecking everywhere, but edamame is mandatory. Addictive little bastards.

Another unusual fancy was grated yam served over raw tuna. The yam was really, really sticky and actually pretty hard to separate. It felt a little like marshmallow on the tongue.

Pretty sure these lamps were out of wartime Japan. I recall seeing similar such ones in the animated tear-jerking film Grave of the Fireflies. Wish I could read what the illuminated sign says!

Again, I know people don’t go to Hong Kong for Japanese cuisine, but holy fuck, this was hands-down the best sashimi platter I’d ever had in my life. There was a larger selection of fish as well as prawns and scallops. Heavenly.

After asking the staff what sake they thought would go nicely with our food and whether or not it was best served hot, we plied ourselves with some flasks of it. To end our evening, I snuck in a cheeky long glass of warm shochu! It made for a pleasant night’s sleep on my first day in Hong Kong.

Where? Kyosaza
Address 20 Ashley Road, Tsim Sha Tsui
phone 2376 1888
MTR Tsim Sha Tsui exit E

(note, sometimes the HK Lonely Planet guide stuffs up what MTR exit you should exit from but I think this might be right)

hit and run ramen hunt

One of my favourite places to purchase bottled beer (and get a growler fill) is Slowbeer in Hawthorn. If you’ve been reading this blog, that’s no secret. The owner, Chris, had this magnificent idea: to have a lambic tasting. So much radness!

Tristan and I didn’t get time to have dinner before the tasting, so we decided to grab a quick bite to eat very literally across the road at a Japanese eatery called Ocha2go. We both decided to get ramen.


I had a bowl of the soy ramen – a vegetarian bowl. Excellent amount of menma, shittake and bean shoots, though sadly the latter was not overly fresh. Also lots of wakame, mmm! As far as decent ramen goes, this ain’t it but it’s an ace bowl of noodles.

soy ramen

Would Tristan’s pork and kimchi ramen be any closer to approaching authentic ramen? Again, sadly no. Spicy broth and quite flavoursome, but not ramen. A good ‘fusion’ bowl of noodles perhaps? The meat was a little on the limp, lacklustre side.

pork and kimchi ramen

No matter, still we guzzled them down at record speed, ready to fill ourselves with all the delight that Brett and co. had to offer. There were lots of other enticing items on the menu at Ocha2go so despite the ramen experience not being the finest, I’m still going back to test the rest of the menu!

Ocha2go on Urbanspoon

gyoza pizza, you say? and ramen? hell yes!

Sigh. Melbourne. Raining like almighty feck. Just another wintry day*. What could make the day better? Ramen. From a shop no bigger than a hole in the wall.

Menya is located en route to Melbourne Central train station and it’s really bloody small. A shame, given that it serves semi-decent ramen. It’s not really a sit-and-have-an-existential-crisis kind of joint, it’s more of a eat-and-fucking-get-out-you-decadent-Western-swine one. This isn’t actually a problem.

Like two stoned and/or drunk teenagers, guts ruled over the higher faculties. T and I sniggered like Beavis and Butthead and insisted that the gyoza pizza was mandatory. No, never mind that a bowl of ramen was on the way. We were intent on gorging like those wacky Romans (minus the bulimia and worms). Behold – it is a work of pure, meaty beauty.

gyoza pizza

Yes, yes, it’s not really a pizza. However, after sharing one of these bad boys, you won’t have a gyoza craving for a month at least. As far as gyoza go, these are really good. Beautiful, crispy dumpling skins as you can see, and a generous amount of meat filling them. I used to get told off for filling gyoza skins not even this generously when I worked as a Japanese restaurant waitress.

There was a bit of a wait for food and the idea was that the gyoza ‘pizza’ would be for starters. There wasn’t actually much time between that and the arrival of our chosen bowls of ramen.

I chose the pork ramen. Surprise, surprise. I was actually hit with a wave of existential nausea over the plethora of ramen choices, so went with a good old friend. Indeed, @cookinwithgoths might like to know that I am not one of those dickheads who doesn’t eat pork. Under the pretence of making my dinner healthier, I ordered it to be topped with menma. Actually, I lie: I love menma and don’t get many occasions to eat it.

The chashu was thickly sliced and generous in supply. This is ramen I’d return for.


T had the Menya ramen – kind of like an everything ramen: seafood and pork. The eggs looked like those I lust after on the ramen blogs I read, minus the soy-soaked tinge.


At Menya, you can choose what broth you want for most bowls, but I don’t believe that option was available for ours. Judging by the opaqueness of broth in the ramen we ordered, I’d say it was possibly a tonkotsu-type broth?

It’s still not quite as rad as Ramen Ya, but don’t rule it out. One of my fave cookie-foodies went on a ramen quest that makes my dinner look modest – check out Billy’s round-up of a day spent on finding Melbourne’s best ramen. These ramenhunters also note that Menya’s toppings are plentiful and it’s a good, cheap feed.

T also informs me he’s become an expert at slurping down a takeaway ramen as he travels home on the train. Alas, that is a skill I’ve yet to master.

Menya on Urbanspoon

*Melburnian winter reserves the right to make itself known outside the designated period known as ‘winter’ and will continue to do so until further notice. In the meantime, read your horoscope: it’s probably more useful than consulting a meteorologist.