Great ramen at Kairikiya in Kyoto

After finding our Air Bnb accomodation, food was on our minds. After some searching, our first meal in Kyoto was a delicious bowl of ramen at Kairikiya in central Kyoto. The place is part of a chain spread over Japan. We had a bowl of miso ramen, karaage (Japanese fried chicken) and fried gyoza (dumplings). Everything was very delicious and was celebratory washed down with an ice cold glass of Japanese beer. A very nice thing in Japan is that the beer always during our trip came in frosted glasses.


Delicious gyoza served on the side.
Miso ramen with pork, green onion and perfectly cooked creamy eggs. Delicious.

Kairikiya’s ramen was maybe not the best I’ve ever had (I will post about that one soon), but nevertheless a really tasty ramen. We went for lunch, and the place was almost full so we were not alone in enjoying the place.

Price and place
Located in central Kyoto. Prices were quite low. Around 1000 jpy per person for a ramen bowl, a couple of shared sidedishes and a beer.
Click here for website with menu (in English).

 

With the Hikari Shinkansen bullet train from Tokyo to Kyoto


After a first night in Tokyo, during my recent Japan trip, we took the Shinkansen bullet train to our next destination Kyoto.

The distance between the two cities is approximately 450 kilometers. With the high speed Shinkansen trains however, the trip is quite a breeze. We reserved our tickets the night before departure at one of the JR offices in Tokyo Station. We got issued a small paper ticket each that we together with our rail passes showed to staff at the station before departure next day. We went to the platform about 15 minutes before departure. No check in procedure was needed.

The Japan Rail Pass
Before we left for Japan, we purchased Japan Rail Passes. The rail pass can usually only be bought before arriving in Japan, but as we arrived they’re running a trial in which you during a limited time can buy the pass on arrival at some points of arrival in Japan. You could for instance do it at the Japan Rail (JR) office at Haneda Airport where we picked up our pre-booked passes.

Anyway, the pass can be bought for one, two, or three consecutive weeks and means you can travel freely on most JR trains, buses and ferries. There are a few exclusions such as the super fast shinkansen bullet trains Nozomi and Mizuho. The slightly slower (stops at a few more stations) such as Hikari, that we used, and Kodama Shinkansen bullet trains are included in the pass.

Why a Japan Rail Pass
If you’re only planning on only staying in for instance Tokyo, a JR pass is probably not worth it. Our first time in Japan we only went to Mount Fuji once besides hanging out in Tokyo, where the transport is mainly by subway and where many lines are run by other operators than JR, and hence we skipped the JR pass that trip.

This time however, we were to visit Kyoto where my brother lived. That meant either a looong bus trip, a flight to Osaka and train from there, or a 2,5 hour bullet train trip from Tokyo. Since a one-way trip with the Shinkansen is about $150 or 1400 sek, just our return trip Tokyo-Kyoto would be the same price as a one week JR rail pass (priced 29000 yen when we bought it in 2017), that we also used for several other short trips in both Kyoto, Osaka and Kyoto (such as on the Haneda Airport monorail and Shinkansen from Kyoto to Osaka).


Train travel in Japan is not painful at all, rather it’s a quite pleasant experience. The train runs smooth, there’s rarely a delay, and the train stations are packed with great food outlets meant for taking onboard the train. No one bothers either if you bring your own beer for instance, as several of my Japanese co-travelers did. Had beer onboard that is. And it’s quiet, oh so quiet. If someone needs to receive or make a call. They leave the seating area and stand outside the restrooms where no one is bothered.


For me the Japan Rail Pass was definitely worth it. Train travel in Japan is in my experience very convenient, easy and comfortable. Next time I’ll probably go for a two or three week pass to fully explore all of Japan. I might sound enthusiastic about this, so I should probably note that I paid for the pass myself. :)

Back to Japan!

8 years ago, I first visited Japan, and immediately loved it. I’ve been wanting to go back ever since, but it took that my brother moved to Kyoto to force me to lift my butt, enter R2D2 and bring myself to the land of riding suns, fantastic food and great people.

The trip started with a short but decently nice flight with Lufthansa from Stockholm to Munich. At Lufthafen Münich, aka Munich Airport, we had to visit Airbräu in Terminal 2, the world’s only airport brewery. Delicious weiß (wheat) bier und a pretty good veal schnitzel with German potato salad were enjoyed.

Then it was time to board R2D2. All Nippon Airways has somekind of a deal with the Starwars franchise, meaning a couple of their planes are Starwars painted. 

The onboard experience in Ana’s economy was decent enough. We flew the semi-new Boeing 787 Dreamliner which had onboard wifi (I paid 22 usd for wifi use for the duration of the flight. There were a couple of less expensive options too), a decent personal screen with eg. live tv (for instance with CNN and Japanese NHK premium). Leg room was also fine, and the food decent. Above is dinner, I chose the ‘Western’ option which was a beef curry with steamed rice. Everyone had the same starters which was cold soba noodles, pasta salad with parmesan, bread and a small mixed leaves salad. Food was quite good, given being on a plane of course. All drinks and food were complimentary.

Then, touchdown in the greatest city on earth, Tokyo! It was cold, rainy, dark, and beautiful, in a blade runner kind of way. We checked in to our tiny 9 square meter room at Sotetsu Frésa Inn and went out for food.

The first place we ran into on the street outside our hotel, Yotteba, advertised great chicken wings and beer. Cold as we were, that sounded too appealing to resist.
 

Edamame, served cold by unknown reason. 

 

Spicy, quite delicious lightly fried chicken wings.

 

Delicious gyoza!

Stay tuned for more delicious Japanese food adventures and travel. Make sure to also follow me on Instagram for the latest updates. Arigato gozaimasu!

Homemade vegetarian bibimbap recipe

Bibimbap (비빔밥) is a Korean dish that literally means mixed rice. The first time I had bibimbap was in Tokyo after a quite amazing chance encounter with an old family-friend at Shinjuku Station in Tokyo during rush hour. After realizing that us, two Swedes, had run into each other at one of the busiest, most crowded places in the world, not to mention other side of the world, we went for bibimbap.

The bibimbap was served proper Korean style in a hot clay bowl, meaning that the rice and veggies were still cooked as the dish arrived at our table. We then mixed the rice with the also included raw egg, raw and cooked vegetables and hot chilli sauce. The result was a crispy, spicy, semi-warm rice dish with fresh crunchy vegetables (and probably some meat).

Bibimbap can be quite ambitious, with hot bowls and lots of different items put in it, or just a basic ‘mixed rice’. The common denominator is that it is always delicious. 

Above picture and below recipe is of and for a homemade quite easy-to-make, no fuss vegetarian bibimbap. If you want it meatier you could easily add sliced chicken or beef, or maybe salmon.

What you need for the bibimbap 2-3 persons)

2 carrots

1/2 cucumber

4 eggs

4 dl (1,75 cups) of Jasmine rice

2 stems of scallions

Hot sauce or gochujang chilli paste (you decide how much 😉)

1 jar of Kimchi (buy pre-made, making your own is quite an effort)

400 grams of Shiitake mushrooms

2,5 deciliters (1 cup) of sliced lettuce (eg. Iceberg)

Sesame seeds

Neutral oil for frying

How to cook the bibimbap

1. Cook the rice until done.

2. Julienne (eg. slice into thin strips like above photo) the peeled carrots and cucumber.

3. Slice and fry the shiitake mushrooms until golden brown and cooked through. The stems are bit though, so remove them if you don’t like that. They taste great though.

4. Slice the iceberg lettuce and the scallions.

5. Fry the eggs.

6. Plate. Put rice in the bottom of a bowl, top with veggies, kimchi, eggs and hot sauce. Then mix everything around for your proper Koream mixed rice or bibimbap.

Egg, ham and cheese breakfast brioche sandwich recipe

Last Saturday I woke up with a slight headache after a night of Korean food and too much Riesling and beer. As it happened, I had cheddar cheese, prosciutto ham, eggs and brioche rolls – and no urge to go to the store for groceries. The idea then came to me to make something a bit like a Mcdonald’s McMuffin.

I’m not sure I even need to make a recipe out of this since it’s so simple, but just for your convenience I will.

You need (for two sandwiches):

4-6 thin slices of prosciutto ham

2 eggs + oil for frying them

2 brioche rolls (or English muffins or any roll you like – but preferably a quite soft one)

2 thick slices of cheese

Salt & pepper

How to cook the Mcmuffiny breakfast roll

1. Fry the eggs. Season with salt and pepper.

2. Put a slice of cheese and half of the han on each breadroll’s bottom part. Put in oven or micro-wave oven until cheese melts. Also toast/warm the top slightly.

3. Make the sandwich. Put the fried egg on top of the ham and cheese stack on the bottom bread. Sprinkle with chives if you have any, maybe some hot sauce too. Add top bread. Eat. Coffee is sort of essential. But tea should work too.

Korean fried prawns (or shrimp) recipe

 

A non-poultry take on the sweet, spicy and deliciousness of a dish that is Korean fried chicken, or KOFC.

What you need

300 grams of peeled prawns

Panko bread crumbs

1 beaten egg

Wheat flour

50 grams of salted butter

2-3 tablespoons of hot sauce, I used Sriracha

2 tablespoons of brown sugar

How to cook the Korean fried prawns

1. Put flour, the beaten egg and panko breadcrumbs in three separate bowls.

2. Dip prawns one by one, first in flour, then in the eggs, and finally in the panko.

3. Heat oil in a pan or deep-fryer. Fry the prawns till golden brown. Put on paper towels to dry/lose some oil (beach 2017 is coming up).

4. Melt butter in a pan. Add sugar and let dissolve. Remove from heat.

5. Put prawns in a bowl. Coat with butter-sugar-mix and hot sauce. Mix so that the prawns are covered by the buttery, salty, spicy and sweet coating.

Serve! For instance in lettuce leaves with sriracha mayo, kimchi and sesame seeds. Cold beer or crisp German Riesling works well with this!

Lunch at Bobergs Matsal in Stockholm

Visited Bobergs Matsal in NK (Nordiska Kompaniet) department store the other day for some fine-dining lunch. Bobergs Matsal was originally opened in 1915, but has been closed until a few years ago, when it was re-opened by chef Björn Frantzén of famous Frantzén restaurant in Stockholm. 

Bobergs Matsal is a quite classic fine-dining experience, but generally only open for lunch, offering lunch eaters a in-Stockholm sort of rare opportunity to enjoy lunch with table service, white tablecloths and well executed, fancy plating sort of food.

I’ve been to Bobergs Matsal a couple of times, and it has been consistently great every time so far. My latest visit was no exception and I really enjoyed the steak tartare ‘Parisienne’ which in addition to delicious steak tartare included deep-fried capers, a creamy baked egg yolk, horseradish mayonnaise, pickled yellow beetroot, herbs and mustard. The tender steak worked really well with the pickled crunchy beets and the fatty mayonnaise. The ultra-crispy fries, topped with a fancy sprinkle of fried parsley and parmesan cheese, worked like a charm as a side. The accompanying salad was a bit redundant, but nevertheless tasty.

For dessert, I went, after much agony (was also keen to try the glace au four), for the Cardamom-baked Ingrid Marie apples. The apples were served ‘crumble pie-style’ with vanilla ice cream, a caramel sauce, an oat and dinkel crumble, and some crispy apple chips. It was a very delicious dessert, but also very rich. If you’re still hungry after your main, go for it. Otherwise, the delicious chocolate ice cream with caramelized banana and rum creme could be a good bet. I ordered a quite enormous latte to have with the dessert, and it too was very good.

Bobergs Matsal is a solid bet for a fine dining lunch in Stockholm, and during my four visits, I’ve left happy. 

Price $$$

Prices are expensive, but not crazy expensive, depending a bit on what you order, of course. Mains are roughly 200-400 SEK, desserts 65-90 SEK.

Website (in Swedish)

A weekend of eating in Helsinki with a visit to Ravintola Saaga

 

Last weekend I visited the Finnish capital Helsinki for a 70 year birthday party. Since Helsinki is such a short flight from Stockholm (approximately 45 mins) you can go straight from an (almost) full day work and still have a decent evening out. Many airlines fly this route so you’re usually able to score decent priced tickets during campaigns. We flew Norwegian and just barely had times to finish our sparkling wine before landing (not included in ticket). The only gripe is that Helsinki’s an hour ahead, so you’ll lose an hour due to the time difference, although you get it “back” on your return.

 

For our first night I was so lazy so I just scanned google maps for a good-rated restaurant near our hotel Glo Hotel Arts. I managed to find Ravintola Saaga or Saaga restaurant, which is a semi-fancy and sort of touristy Lappish restaurant. We started with a glass of sparkling wine topped with cloudberry liquor and some free nibbles from the kitchen consisting of reindeer jerky on rye crispbread with horseradish cream and pickled onion.

 

For main, fried sea pike with king crab from the Arctic Ocean, roasted butter sauce, cauliflower purée and crisp malt bread. I also had a delicious slow-cooked reindeer shank with mushroom purée as well as pickled mushroom, the picture of it in the dimly lit restaurant however, wasn’t as delicious.

 

For dessert we had iced cranberries in an ice bowl. The bowl was, as the name implies, made out of ice, which was a quite cool (sorry) feature. The caramel-liqourice sauce that came with it was delicious. The main problem with this dish was when the sauce started to cool (sorry) and was poured over the even cooler (sorry) iced cranberries. It of course did not defrost them as the general idea of the dish was, and that meant you had to eat frozen cranberries with cold caramel sauce for the last part of the dessert. Great idea though, and very tasty as long as the sauce was warm. Eat fast in other words.

 

We also tried the Lappish squeeky cheese with a pine-tar cream, cloudberry crumble and cloudberry sorbet. This was also a very clever and unique dessert with the tar flavour shining through the dessert’s different components, giving a tar-y smoky taste, contrasting the sweetness of the cream and sorbet. The cheese did not taste that much but had a nice texture.

Price for a meal €€+

Prices were semi-expensive, but not that bad considering Helsinki is a quite expensive city. We paid about €130 for 2 mains, 2 desserts, 2 glasses of sparkling wine with cloudberry liquor and a bottle of the least expensive wine on the menu.

Service was friendly but a little bit slow.

Website (menus and online booking in English available – through a form)

 

The rest of the trip was spent walking Helsinki (above is the beautiful Helsinki Cathedral) and attending the birthday party.

 

Where we stayed

We stayed at Glo Hotel Art a few blocks from the city center. The rate was about €90 and we had a very small but comfortable room with wifi, motorized bed, shower and flatscreen TV as well as breakfast included.

Website

Where to find the prinsessemla in Stockholm

The prinsessemla, or prinsess-semla, was recently invented. Now it has reached Stockholm and Konditori Vallmofröt in Hagsätra. The creation is a fusion between two classic Swedish pastries; the semla and the prinsesstårta (princess cake). Since both are heavy in their whipped cream content, the combination is a quite good one, with both’s main features remaining noticeable. I liked it very much, but it is indeed rich and you might want to share it if you want to stay awake post-fika.

Where to find the prinsessemla

Konditori Vallmofröt in Hagsätra. Click here to open their website (in Swedish).

Homemade soy flavoured pulled chicken ramen noodle soup

The other day I watched Netflix’s Chef’s Table about American chef Ivan Orkin that moved to Japan, and opened a ramen joint that quite quickly was named one of the best in Japan. This made me want to move to Tokyo and open my own restaurant too, but since that won’t be happening anytime soon, I decided it at least was ramen cooking time at home.

What you need (for approximately 2-3)

Noodles, we used Nissin’s brand premium ramen noodles. About a third of a package for two.

200 grams of shiitake mushrooms

450 grams of chicken thighs

4 sprigs of spring onion

4-5 garlic cloves

2 tablespoons of finely chopped ginger

4-5 tablespoons Japanese soy sauce

1 tablespoon of Sriracha hot sauce (can be excluded)

2-3 chicken stock cubes (or make your own)

Water

3 eggs, semi-soft boiled (see picture above)

Sesame oil, or cooking oil

How to cook it

1. Peel and finely chop garlic, the white stems of the spring onion and the ginger.

2. Fry chopped vegetables in oil on medium heat in a cooking pan until soft, do not brown.

3. Add chicken thighs to the fried vegetables, you do not need to trim as you’ll do that during the “pulling”. Let cook for a couple of minutes till chicken’s a bit coloured.

4. Add soy sauce, stock/stock cubes and hot sauce. Stirr occassionally and let simmer for about an hour on medium heat. Add water if needed, if soup gets too reduced.

5. When an hour has passed, slice the shiitake mushroom caps. Also keep the stems. Add both to the soup and continue to simmer.

6. Meanwhile mushrooms cook, it is time to pull the chicken thighs. Remove them from the broth and shredd them with two forks until ‘pulled’. Remove any remaining sinews, bones or similar. Then put the pulled chicken back into the soup.

7. Cook noodles until just cooked (eg. ‘Al dente’) since they’ll be in the broth which will make them cook a little bit more.

8. Serve! Add the noodles to bowls, pour over broth (remove the shiitake stems if you’re sensitive, they are a bit chewy). Top with the finely sliced green part of the spring onions and egg halves. Enjoy!