Wednesday, June 28, 2017

June, 2017



Summer jumps on you like a salaryman on some tasty gyoza.


But who can blame them, when less than $10 gets you an hour of all you can eat. Make it $20 and you can get drunk as well.


Sorry, Tokyo, it's getting uncomfortable. I'm about to go missing.


Somewhere without such a risk of heatstroke.


Right after the 7th inning.




Turns out mid-June is the "plum rain" season. Downpours for a week, with 1 day of relief.


No matter, I was just here to eat.


All the relevant gourmet photos reside over at Instagram:


Seriously, it dumped rain every day, with a few moments of respite.



Taipei's street food scene is legit. Their gourmet scene is no joke either.



I found a Ming dynasty era hipster-taking-food-shot painting. Tell me that isn't what this is!


I also found the famous piece of jade apparently. It looks like a piece of cabbage.



Another view of another metropolis.



Went to nearby Wulai, a hot spring town a couple hours out of Taipei. The whole place was kind of destroyed when a typhoon ripped through in 2015, and the rebuilding efforts have been slow. I'm not saying to skip it, but keep that in mind if you are expecting a luxurious onsen experience.



Next time, road trip around Taiwan. By motorcycle or large scooter, it's something on my mind.


Thursday, June 01, 2017

April + May, 2017



Oops, missed a month. Special double feature then.

Walked up a random hill and found this old timer flying his RC glider. Kind of neat. This is down in Izu, up in the Asama (浅間) highlands.



Ah, my gear. I bought this DJI gimbal camera with hopes of making rad YouTube videos. But it needed an external microphone. So I got one. And it needed more batteries. So I got them. And a stand. And an extension arm. And since all that gear is loose, I had to track down a bigger case. Finally got my compact vlogging setup in its not-so-compact final form.


Then, the motorcycle mount didn't work, so I stopped using it. Maybe I should just get a drone.

Newer videos are shot with a GoPro, which is a much more versatile camera. Don't ask how much I spent on all that Gimbal kit.


Well, at least my impulse buys aren't as drastic as other's.



Saw a decent amount of pink this year.


Sakura and Himeji castle. Bucket list? Not really, but I was in the area.


Also in the area, famous local food?


Katsu meshi is deep fried pork cutlets with sauce over rice. Basic stuff, but for some reason the small town of Furukawa (古川) is known for it, and you can get it everywhere. They even have two ura characters to promote it.


かっつん and デミーちゃん.

Pork boy and Demi glace girl. Keep in mind this is super middle-of-nowhere.


All this talk of new photography gear, video in particular, is in part due to my recent focus on the YouTube channel. I'm hoping to make an interesting series of videos that focus on motorcycle riding and ramen in the 47 prefectures of Japan. Well, over 12 days I shot footage in nine prefectures, though I'm not sure how to edit it together in a way I'm, happy with. Motorcycle footage can be a bit dull.

Stay tuned.  By the way, Ramen Adventures hit 30,000 subscribers.


Camping at Hamanakako, a lake south of Nagoya. Camp here, then stay south and hop the ferry over to Mie, avoiding any city riding.


Mie is an amazing place. I had a bowl at my favorite local spot, shot a video, and dubbed it #1 in town. Then I hit a spot I hadn't been to, and it turned out to be one of the best bowls of the year.


Oh well.


Maps, maps, maps. Who makes these random maps. Fun fact, I almost took a career in GIS mapping about 15 years ago.


Camping at my secret Biwako spot. Free.


Camping in Tokushima. Also free.


Views are great.


Back in Tokyo . . . food.


I've gained some girth recently. When I commit to cutting out sugar someone shoves four concretes from Shack Shack in my face. Foodie problems.



But there is just too much stuff to eat.


Insane kobe beef sandwich from a place called Wagyu Mafia. Don't ask how much.


Oyakodon from an underground place that is half sake cellar, half charcoal grilled yakitori.


Best tacos in town. I mean it.


I miss the snow. Peace.

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!