Monday, March 27, 2017

March, 2017





I love this fleeting season.


Made it to this legendary spot. No photo policy means no photos, except for this one I managed to snap while waiting for a taxi. Kyoaji is considered the best of the best kaiseki in Tokyo, if not Japan. Every dish is expertly matched with a Japanese dashi that enhances the natural flavors of whatever you are eating. The master is 89 years old I think, and he treats everyone with such care and attention.


Better start saving for the next reservation.

DSCF7176.jpgFlorilege is such a special place. Every time is a memory that will stay with me. This time was particular, but that will wait until another day.


My ramen world is odd. In no particular order, these things happened.


I was blacklisted from a famous shop for not finishing my noodles.

I ate about 90% of the bowl and left. Soon after, I get a text from a friend. Did you just go to xxx shop he asked? The master was insulted, I guess, that I didn't crush everything, and told our mutual friend to tell me that I am not allowed back. Childish, in my opinion, but if that is the prerogative of some chef, I'm fine never slurping at his place again.

I won't name the shop. The above logo is not the shop.


I walked out of a TV interview.

I've dealt with strange TV shootings before. The Print & Media section on my site shows the extent of my work, and most have been with different production crews. One thing I've learned; give them a set-in-stone schedule. If you say you are free all day, they will work you all day. This time, I said I needed to leave at 5pm. The time comes about, and we had only shot about 10% of my interview, which was mostly them telling me to say things using different grammar. They wanted genius-level comments, while my Japanese food commentary ability is more fun-guy level. When I said I was out of time, the boss, a tiny guy with angry man syndrome barked that work is work, and you leave when the job is done. I looked him in the eye, said he had 5 minutes, and proceeded to finish he job. Then I stood and walked out.

I hope I get paid.


I taught myself video editing.

For the past few years, my Ramen Adventures YouTube channel has been done by a media company. They shot and edited. Recently, I started shooting myself, and now I'm also editing. Check out my first, 100% by Brian video:

I'm grateful for their help, but it got to the point where I felt intrusive. We would shoot a bowl that essentially goes to waste, something I don't want to be associated with. Ramen lover first, media dude second. I'm not some corny gaijin who eats a bite for the camera, then pushes the food away when they cut. At least, I don't want to be like that. I've done some long full-day shoots where I just can't eat anymore.


I was rejected from the silly ramen sticker club.

I have my own sticker in the Ramen Rally. Can you find it?


It's silly, even though some people take their collection very, very seriously. I don't. But when I roll into a shop that is part of the 100 or so in the collection, I feel a little bond. I rolled into the latest, asked the master if we could trade. His answer? No! You buy!



Ramen rants over!

Wednesday, March 08, 2017

February, 2017



I've gotta get the hell out of Tokyo!


New levels of dumb everywhere I turn!


But first a fish burger made by a former Michelin 2-star sushi chef.



And some deep fried fish sperm.


And some mochi strawberries.


That's better. Honored to learn about the craft of assembling knives from this 89 year old master. Every aspect of knife making is done by a different person. The supply houses assemble the blade with a handle, straighten the metal, and do some engraving work before shipping the finished piece off to its new owner.


Then off to a little island. Three of them actually.








Protip: Naoshima is essentially a ghost town on Mondays. Take the early ferry to Inujima and Teshima. Problem solved.


Shikoku is always random.




Go home, Kochi Prefecture, you're drunk.


Eating well these days. I made an unofficial resolution to eat out less, but broke it within hours.


Also made an unofficial resolution to drink less.


Zomething wrong?


But my unofficial resolution of one rad vacation a month hasn't been hard to keep.


More to come. By the way, the map at the top is the first thing I see everyday, and hopefully I'll be moving red pins to all 47 prefectures soon. Anyone know a good ramen shop in Yamaguchi-ken?


Sunday, February 05, 2017

January, 2017



Went to Copenhagen.


Food was good, real good, though it is tough to find food bloggers who don't feel sponsored by Michelin and San Pellegrino.

If you don't want to spend a ton of cash, almost all the fancy places in Copenhagen have sister shops nearby that impress.


2017 is going to be an interesting year for my food adventures. Getting deep into the local markets, and deeper into the Tokyo lunch scene. Does that make sense?


Maybe I'm just tired after staying up late to watch the latest reality show on TV.


Friday, February 03, 2017

Back-Filing Your Taxes as an Expat

Semi-useful tax info with links for Americans living abroad.

Living abroad? YES!
Not earning much yet? YES!
Assume you don't have to pay US taxes on your measly income? YES!

If you live and work abroad, you probably know that you are exempt from somewhere in the neighborhood of $100,000.

Assume you don't have to file your 1040 if you meet this number? YES!

Well, you are wrong, you still need to file.

If you haven't filed, and want to get on the good side of Uncle Sam before President Trump comes looking for money to build his wall, you're in luck. The IRS implemented a system back in 2009 called the Streamlined Foreign Offshore Procedure. Here's their official site:

The gist is that you file the last 3 years of taxes, and 6 years of something called FBAR (Foreign Bank Account Report).

First, do the FBAR thing. It's super easy because it is online (no idea why all this stuff isn't online). Cool thing is that if you had less than $10,000 in a foreign bank for a year, you don't need to file anything. Hooray for living check-to-check!

Filing the last 3 years of taxes requires printing out your 1040s (the normal tax form) and 2555-EZ (used for foreign earned income exemption).

Need old forms? Get them here:

Fill out 2555-EZ before you do the 1040, as the 2555 has one instruction at the very end that is important for the 1040.

Write "STREAMLINED FOREIGN OFFSHORE" on the top of everything and mail it to:

Internal Revenue Service
3651 South I-H 35
Stop 6063 AUSC
Attn:  Streamlined Foreign Offshore
Austin, TX 78741

Pretty simple when you read it here. But I spent hours and hours scouring the net for the specifics. I guess there are all kinds of exceptions and rules for people with property, or wives, or shit like expensive gifts of which there are entire 8-page forms dedicated to.

Here's a site to look up how much your money was worth in the past:

Of course, your mileage may vary, but maybe someone, somewhere will find this useful. Tax company professionals will charge a lot to do this stuff for you.

Saturday, December 31, 2016

December, 2016



Everyone is complaining about 2016, but at least your weekly magazine will have random Trump dick comics from now on. メイクチンコグレートアゲイン.




Great road trip in Kyushu this month. Fukuoka to Beppu to Kurokawa Onsen to Kumamoto to Unzen Onsen to Nagasaki. Perfect balance of food, relaxing, booze, hiking, and random extras.


Ramen was legit. By the way, check out my best-of Tokyo list here:


The local Oita winery makes a decent sparkling.


And their own custom Asahi.


Climbed a mountain. That's 10 or 11 of the 100 off my list. Will 2017 be the year I'm not lazy?


Kurokawa is neat. A bit touristy, but once you slip into the hot springs, it doesn't really matter.


Aso volcano is currently off limits, ever since the recent seismic activity.


Found a random deer pen on the side of the road.



日本一恥かしい露天風呂. The most embarrassing outdoor bath in Japan. You are literally naked in view of the whole town.


Famous, apparently.



Fat cat is the boss of the onsen egg shop.


Make a detour up along the Ariake Sea if you are in the area for crab and oysters.



One of the three famous night views of the world. I guess. Hong Kong and some other place are also famous.


Dude collects these stickers. He hit me up on twitter (which I don't use) just about daily until I would meet to give him my Ramen Rally sticker. I admire his dedication.



I've had this dish three times now. Once at Restaurant Central in Lima. Once in Tokyo at Restaurant Den with the chef from Restaurant Central. Once in Tokyo with the chef from Restaurant Den who visited Restaurant Central in Lima.



Onion family topped with uni and smoked shark meat.


Local duck with satay sauce.


Taiwanese herbal tea jelly and pink fruits sprinkled with organic rose. Who came up with these?


Chef Andre and Chef Kawate. See you in Taiwan.


With the sea I did abide.



I'm off. Off to smuggle expensive Japanese ingredients across the globe. Wish me luck.