Monday, March 29, 2010

The Kayabuki Monkey Izakaya


A 15 minute taxi ride from Utsunomiya station, way up in windy Tochigi is your standard izakaya.


Utsunomiya is the big city in Tochigi prefecture, and I'll try and write about how lame it is soon. It was so lame, in fact, that a friend of mine actually told me to stop with the sarcastic comments that came naturally ever couple of minutes, because that type of American humor isn't funny. Burn!


Back to Kayabuki izakaya. The food was good.


And for 6000 yen you can buy a bottle of Japanese booze infused with deadly suzume bashi wasps. Could this place get any cooler?


Fucking yes it can!


The owners, a perfectly normal couple of old Japanese folk, have 3 pet monkeys that have been trained to work.


The work is just the monkey bringing you a towel, but then he'll totally jump up and hang out on your head while you eat. You heard me right!


There's not much more to say. By now, you are sold on this place, no?


Oh wait, there's also a baby monkey.


You heard right! The radness of a grown monkey doing funny monkey things and the cuteness of a little snuggly baby monkey.


Monkey bite ears!... and other antics.
  • At one point the owner went out of the room for about 10 seconds, and monkey totally grabbed a handful of our food. Then when the owner walked back in he quietly dropped the snack without being noticed.
  • Later, he was chilling on my friend's head, and I tapped him on the leg, trying to get his attention (the monkey's attention). Monkey didn't like being touched, and he straight slapped my buddy. Like 5 fingers full palm full power slap. I played like I didn't know why monkey would do such a thing. Sorry Paul, my bad.
  • Monkey jacked a green onion when the owner wasn't looking. So awesome.
  • Monkey bit my friend's arm. So... be careful I guess.

A couple drinks and some food was way cheap too.

Thank you Utsunomiya for making my dreams come true!

Friday, March 12, 2010

This Site is Super

Finally, the recognition that this site deserves!


I had no idea, but Japanzine named gaijinbash in it's top 10 blogs about Japan. Awesome! Where's my free Kazuhide T-Shirt? You know, the one that says, "Harro!" That shit is hilarious.


I'm not sure if the reviewer (judge? panel?) actually read my site though, since the recent post about "Pooey" is neither about a toy camel nor is it a regular feature. Pooey is long gone, maybe somewhere in Thailand now. Also, I found out about this through a friend of a friend, which was strange.

No one really reads this magazine, I've only seen it a few times in 4 years in Japan. But if you ever want to find one you can get them on the top floor of the massive Tower Records in Shibuya.


Way cooler, the NY Times ramen article was translated for COURRiER magazine, which is like the Japanese Newsweek. They even used some of my original photos. Kick ass!


Monday, March 08, 2010

Namahage Izakaya

This is booze:


And this is a namahage:


Namahage are essentially Japanese boogie men. Parents use them to scare the shit out of their kids. "Be good or the namahage will come get you!" Dude, hella scary!


The izakaya aptly named Namahage features both booze and namahage. Here they come!


They scream at you.


If it's your birthday they will apparently spend an extra minute screaming at you.


Happy Birthday... I guess.


Namahage come from Akita prefecture, up in the north. Akita is famous for Japanese sake. Who knew!


Snacks and shit are good here.



Namahage nabe?


You can check their website here. Budget about 4000 yen a person for food and booze. This place is in the heart of Roppongi, where I got offered "Titties" 4 times on the walk from the station to the restaurant. Namahage goes on the list of things I wouldn't mind doing late in this horrid cesspool of sin. I'm gonna start a list. Besides Namahage:
More to come... I hope.


Friday, March 05, 2010

FoodEx 2010







My photos can't really express the initial reaction upon entering the showroom floor at FoodEx 2010. Photography was not allowed, and I actually had to sneak in my giant SLR camera. But this things was... expansive. This industry only food event, the biggest event of it's kind in Asia.

I should explain how I got here. But first more photos of deliciousness.


Unlike the bullshit food event I went to a few months ago, this shit was legit. Actually, it's industry only. So instead of little old ladies pushing you aside to get some free samples, dudes in suits give you plenty of space to meet and talk business. FoodEx serves a very important purpose. Let people in all parts of the food industry meet and network. Find a buyer, find a seller. Oh yeah, and sample the goods.


After snacking on some 5000 yen fatty eel, I set my sights for my purpose here. Ramen.


Although I'm in no position (yet!) to be in business with people here, I wanted to meet everyone I could in the ramen or ramen ingredient industry. This meant noodle people, salt people, miso people, and on and on.


This event took up all of Makuhari Messe. If you've ever been to an event there, like an anime thing or video game thing, you know how massive that is. Over half was devoted to foreign foods, with each country getting a sizable lot to set up shop.


But I was in the Japanese section, talking ramen.


Actually, this event wasn't so rad for ramen makers. Most of the product is packaged. And though modern vacuum packing and quick freeze is great for meats and fish, a bowl of microwave noodles isn't too appetizing.


Manufacturing people were there too, and I was honored to chat with the people at Yamata, who make this behemoth.


The Type 1 M-A, besides being your future overlord when the machines take over the earth, mixes, rolls, and cuts your noodles. Just a gimmick you think? Go try the ramen at Ivan or Ippudo and think again.


They offer full support, including a monthly ramen university program.


150 - 600 servings in an hour. How much ramen do you want to serve today?


After talking to the noodle dudes, I headed out for some serious sampling. By the end of the day, I had eaten every food from everywhere in the world. And booze.


And water with diamonds in it? Designed by... Dice Klay? Oh shit, Andrew Dice Klay is in the overpriced water business? Fresh!


There were a few, as we say in the business, booth babes. But I couldn't be distracted!


From the Mexico section.


With real Mexicans making real Mexican food.


A Japanese take on the tequila shot. Instead of a lime try some ume boshi, pickled plum. God damn I miss Tequila from my life in California.


And dried chiles!


And fresh squeezed carrot juice from the local taqueria. Get me out of this nostalgia.


That's more like it!


Masuichi-Ichimura is my favorite sake brewer in Japan. I haven't sampled a ton of Japan's national drink, but I've had a fair share. The Hekiiken is amazing. I told them my thoughts, and the good stuff started to flow.


Speaking of booze, the Ed Hardy wine people are looking for a buyer in Japan. 2 words... Don Quixote.


Things like Austrian peppers and mushrooms stuffed with cheese are about 5 times the price in Japan. Armed with a toothpick and a stomach full of tequila and sake, I had no problem consuming a day's wage worth.


Followed by a Belgian beer served by a Belgian.


And more sake. This guy was asking white people to choose their favorite design stuff for a bottle. You know that's my green sticker next to the Naruto anime bottle!


Homey got hella mad at me for taking a picture of his magic sugar. In his defense though, if I could make sugar that looks like 24-carat gold, I'd guard that secret.


Canada was, you guessed it, all about the maple syrup.


Have I mentioned it lately? USA IS NUMBER ONE!!!!!! Fuck your Acorn fed Iberico pork or local Japanese swine. America is just... better!


After a long day of eating, drinking, and speaking Japanese, my brain was fried. But I actually considered skipping my High School's graduation ceremony the next day to come back, it was that rad. Life is nice when you have Tuesdays off and a friend in the food industry to hook you up with some passes to something like this. Peep the come up.