Part 12: Where and what to eat in Bangkok

After arriving by train from Chiang Mai, we took the Bangkok MRT to our beautiful hotel, the Amara. We wanted to splurge on our six last days of vacation, so we upgraded to an executive floor room which apart from a better room also came with complimentary cocktails and canapees each night. And I’m very glad we did splurge, as just a month after our return, big parts of the world went into lockdown because of the Covid-19 pandemic which we at this stage of the trip was starting to hear more and more about.

Bonchon Korean fried chicken

Our first stop after checking in, and basically breakfast after spending a few hours walking around the area of our hotel.

We’d eaten only Thai food and before that Lao food for weeks and thought we felt okay to deviate a little bit from the South East Asian fare, while still remaining in Asia. Our first idea was to go for Japanese ramen at Ippudo, but then we saw that a place called Bonchon, a Korean fried chicken restaurant which we’d heard about but never tried was next door. We hadn’t eaten anything since the day before so the sound of famous KoFC for breakfast/early lunch sounded a bit too good to miss.

We tried both their garlic-soy and their spicy fried chicken which were both extremely tasty. For sides we chose rice, kimchi slaw, and we also had some complimentary pickled radishes. So good.

Suppaniga Eating Room

Five years ago I visited Bangkok and went to dinner with a local Bangkok resident. The restaurant was Suppaniga Eating Room, and I remember really loving the food. This time we by chance ran into another Suppaniga branch, close to where you catch the ferry to Wat Arun temple. The location is basically on the river, meaning great views, and the food was as delicious as I remembered. We had their incredibly tasty panang beef curry, the best version of this dish that I’ve ever had with sublime flavours of meat, spices and coconut combined. The crab omelette was also delicious and came with a nice sweet chilli sauce on the side. All this paired with a bowl of sticky rice made for a very tasty lunch.

Amara Bangkok’s sky bar AkaAza

Our hotel, the Amara Bangkok’s sky bar, AkaAza, deserves a mention. There wasn’t that many people and from 7 to 9 p.m. you can enjoy 2-for-1 selected beverages with amazing views over Bangkok. Above picture is taken sitting at the table where we had our drinks.

Din Tai Fung (Central Embassy)

Whenever I’m in a city with Din Tai Fung, I need to go there. They have several outlets around Bangkok and we visited their restaurant in the Central Embassy shopping mall.

DTF is a Taiwanese restaurant chain that has taken one of the tastiest dishes there is, the xiao long bao soup dumpling, to world fame. The 18-times folded little nugget of gold is a dumpling that contains minced pork and jellied broth. When it’s steamed, the broth melts and hence there is soup on the inside of the dumpling. When you bite into it the dumpling (after dipping it in a soy-black vinegar-chilli-ginger sauce) it bursts in your mouth combining all the delicate, delicious flavours in one perfect bite.

Din Tai Fung also serve some other great dishes such as their amazing egg fried rice with garlicky, super tender Taiwanese pork chops; a peanut-y and sesame-y bowl of dan dan noodles, and delicious wontons coated in spicy Sichuan-style chilli oil.

Just go.

Bo.Lan

When visiting Gaggan restaurant last time I was in Bangkok I had my best ever meal. That is until I stepped into the doors of Bo.Lan during one of our final nights of the trip. We started off with a yummy Thai whiskey cocktail and some snacks while selecting which menu we were going for.

We were then taken to the kitchen where the first dish, a little spoon of crispy deliciousness was served. Both Bo and (Dy)lan were there and said “hello”, which made me just a little bit starstruck.

After the kitchen we were taken to our table. The menu at Bo.lan is “Essentially Thai” meaning it is their interpretation of Thai food. We went for one of their middle of the road tasting menus paired with Thai craft beers. An excellent choice as the beers worked so well with the dishes.

Starters, round one. Caramelized crab on rice crackers, local squid salad, organic rice dumpling.

Thai rice whiskey with a green mango and tamarind skewer, and pandan leaf mouth spray. First a sip of the whiskey, then a bite of fruit, then a spray. Yummy things happen in your mouth.

Crispy minced pork with plum sauce and fermented tofu, steamed fish pudding, sticky rice, caramelized coconut, and chicken.

It was all incredible, but the best dish of the night was this: Thai gnocchi with coconut broth and prawns. Amazing.

A bit into the meal they’ll just bring you everything they’ve got. Fresh veggies with nam prik chilli dipping sauce, fried chicken, grilled seafood with eggs, Jay Fai (Michelin street food lady) style crab omelette, duck panang curry, and a beef soup so spicy it sort of ruined my experience a little. It was so spicy I had to take a 10 minute break from eating while mouth spraying and drinking beer. ūüėÖ

There were some desserts too. This was a coconut pudding/soup with little nuggets of slimey rice dough. Unusual, but tasty.

The dinner was finished in the lounge where some magic was applied to coffee snacks and different candies.

We left Bo.lan tired, full, slightly tipsy, and very happy.

Price, you may wonder? Well, compared to Thailand in general, this is super expensive, but sonsidering quality of food and the general experience it’s not that bad. We paid around $400 for two tasting menus with their Thai craft beer pairing, and a cocktail each upon arrival.

Kua Kling Pak Sod

I received a recommendation to visit Kua Kling Pak Sod on Instagram, and when i looked it up found that one of their outlets were in the building next to the Amara hotel where we were staying. In a gigantic city such as Bangkok that is quite lucky, and naturally we decided to go.

The food is from southern Thailand and hence it’s even spicier than the food in the north and central parts of the country – which still is quite fiery, if you ask me.

Upon ordering they asked us if we wanted spicy, and we replied “just a little bit” which they took as “yes”.

We ordered their curry with coconut milk, eggplant, green curry and tofu; stir fried long beans with red curry and pork belly, as well as southern style dry khua kling curry with minced pork. Everything was super delicious, and of course super spicy. We downed several plates of rice to handle the heat, but it was absolutely worth it as the food was so good. Be prepared however or tell them that you don’t want any chili at all if you’re sensitive. ūüôā

Ink & Lion Café

One of the best cup of coffees we had in Bangkok was at Ink & Lion in hipster neighbourhood Ekkamai. A really perfect flat white with a deep toasty aroma. Mmm.

Chatramue

My all time best lemon ice tea is from Chatramue. We went to their outlet in Siam Paragon shopping mall’s food court. So, so good.

Ruen Urai

ÔŅľClose to Amara hotel is Ruen Urai, located partly in an old style traditional Thai house and partly in a nice little ‘secret garden style’ courtyard, next to the Le Meridien Surawong hotel.

The food is inspired by traditional herbal medicine, and we enjoyed it very much. We had woked flat noodles with shiitake mushrooms, pork coconut green curry, and woked lemongrass-cashew chicken. It was a tad expensive, but quite delicious.

Paris Mikki

If you’re craving high quality French style pastries, visit Paris Mikki, a nice little caf√© next to the Terminal 21 shopping center. We went their for my partner’s birthday as she wanted something birthday cake-ish and we were very pleased. Coffee wasn’t great, but the pastries were.

Allegedly their croissants are the best in Bangkok, but we didn’t try them unfortunately. They looked very good though.

Ba Hao (Chinatown)

Despite having visited Bangkok two times prior to this visit, i hadn’t been to its Chinatown.

This visit it was time however, and we caught a Grab (like Uber) to Ba Hao, a fancy 1920s Shanghai style bar and restaurant in the midst of Bangkok’s Chinatown.

Ba Hao serve great cocktails and bar food-y takes on Chinese classics. We started with Opium, or ‘Chinese negronis’ with ginseng and herb liquor, and then ordered from their food menu. The dishes aren’t huge, so you’ll probably need at least two each to get full.

Dan dan noodles.

Duck wontons.

Chinese pancake stuffed with pork.

Great food, great drink and great ambiance. You can also rent a room above the bar if you’d like the full Chinatown experience.

Part 10: eating in Chiang Mai

Khao Soi Islam

One of northern Thailand’s most famous dishes is the delicious khao soi noodle soup. In Chiang Mai, we had it twice; the first time was at restaurant Khao Soi Islam. The soup consists of a coconut-y broth (I chose chicken as protein) and then also both soft noodles in the soup as well as crunchy deep fried noodles on top. On the side there’s lime wedges, raw red onion and other condiments to add to your soup as you like. Very delicious

Price: low

Lemongrass restaurant

Lemomgrass is a quite touristy Thai restaurant situated close to the Chiang Mai night bazaar. With staff quite actively trying to persuade people passing by to get in, it felt more tourist trap than it actually is. We passed by most night and it was usually quite crowded past 7 pm.

During our visit we tried a few Thai classics such as paneng gai chicken curry, the local laab/larb spicy salad (it was very spicy), and a plate of springrolls. All very tasty, and with English menus and decently affordable beer. Just next to Lemongrass is also a very nice massage place that we visited one evening.

SP Chicken

One of the best meals in Chiang Mai, and probably during the entire trip was enjoyed at SP Chicken. It’s a small, almost hole in the wall, kind of restaurant located on a backstreet in the old town. Their specialty is roasted chicken, and they do it incredibly well.

We ordered a whole chicken to share, and it was really the perfect roasted chicken. Meat was moist, juicy and tender. Skin was crispy, and flavours were great with a hint of garlic, charcoal and salt. As recommended we ordered a few sides of super tasty, tangy and spicy som tam papaya salad with crunchy peanuts and rice. Included were also veggies and a couple of sauces. So, so good.

Price: affordable.

Khao Kaa Moo Chang Phueak (Cowboy Hat Lady)

Of foodie fame is this small but world famous food stall. Having been visited by food celebrities such as the great Anthony Bourdain, you probably could call Khao Kaa Moo Phueak a foodie institution in Chiang Mai, and the food is pretty good. We arrived just before the official opening time, navigating by using Google Maps. We were seated immediately, and just a short while after it was almost full. We ordered their classic pork rice which basically is pulled pork style slow roasted pork on top of rice with creamy yolk boiled eggs and cabbage. It’s quite simple, but delicious and affordable.

Price: Affordable

Nakwan Café (at Siripanna Resort)

While it might not be worth a detour if you’re staying far away, I still wanted to include one of our hotel restaurants since we had a very delicious bowl of Khao Soi noodle soup there before we jumped on the train to Bangkok.

I actually found it as good as Khao Soi Islam which is famous for the dish. So if you’re staying at or close to the Siripanna Resort it might be worth a visit. An added bonus is that you can walk around the beautiful hotel gardens, pools and rice field if visiting.

Price: Expensive-ish (for Thailand)

Coffee

Into the Woods

Into the Woods serve some great (and Instagram worthy) coffee. Situated in the old town, just next to the river. It is also close to where the Cowboy Hat Lady’s restaurant is located if you wan’t to tick off two worthwile places at once.

Ristr8to

Very tasty coffee in a cool venue in the hip Nimman area of Chiang Mai which serves great, very artsy coffee (as can be seem above). We visited on our way back from Doi Suthep mountain temple complex for an early afternoon coffee break and managed to snag seats almost directly, despite the place being quite full. We also shared their waffles with ice cream that were delicious.

Bonus: what to do while visiting Chiang Mai

A visit to Doi Suthep temple features both the beautiful temple itself as well as stunning views over Chiang Mai.

Visit an “ethical” elephant park, such as Elephant Nature Park.

Drink Chang beer while people watching at the night market area. And of course – shop away if you’re interested.

Part 8: Chiang Rai and a day trip to Myanmar

Before moving further in Thailand we opted to spend two days in the city of Chiang Rai. Except for a short day visit to Myanmar and the Golden Triangle (of drug fame), basically our only plan was to visit the White Temple and eat local food.

The White Temple of Chiang Rai is actually not that old and, despite being a “real” temple, it is in fact an artwork made by Thai artist Chalermchai Kositpipat in 1997. To tip: come early if you want un-crowded pictures. It’s a few kilometers outside of Chiang Rai, so we rented a taxi that picked us up in our hotel and then waited outside while we visited the temple, before taking us back.

Food: Sai Oua and (Thai) Khao Soi

Khao Soi in Thailand is very different from the herby, tomato-y Lao version we had in Luang Prabang. In Thailand the broth is coconuty, and apart from boiled noodles, the soup is also topped with deep-fried crunchy noodles. It also included chicken and optional flavourings such as lime, chopped onion, and something pickle-y.

We also had sai oua sausage which like Khao Soi has its Laotian version, but where the Thai sausage it’s spicier and in my mind more flavoursome.

The restaurant we visited was called Four Stars and was located very close to the Chiang Rai clocktower.

Day trip to Myanmar

Before leaving for our trip, we had found out that you could do a day trip to Myanmar from Chiang Rai, and since I have my visit-new-countries-habit, naturally we had to go.

We booked online with a company called Green Trails, that is seemingly owned by Chiang Mai A la Carte (we received confirmation and communications from both companies which confused us a little at first).

Despite booking many months in advance, our (super funny) tour guide arrived on the minute in our hotel, and then drove us straight to the border, while giving a lot of interesting context of the region and of Myanmar.

At the border, we were stamped out of Thailand and then literally walked across the bridge to Myanmar. There, to our guide’s great surprise, they did not keep our passports as per usual protocol, but instead handed them back to us. Apparently Swedes are trusted to not escape into the country as you’re only allowed to visit Tachileik city on the land border visa we got. Also remember that you can only enter Thailand by land border twice in a year (at least as an EU citizen). As we used a land border to cross into Thailand from Laos, this was our second. This might be easy to forget, as a day trip might not seem like a ‘real’ border crossing.

In Tachileik we hired a tuk tuk and then went around town, visiting the sights such as their golden pagoda, a wet market and a few other markets and temples.

We finished the visit with a yummy Burmese lunch consisting of a buffet of local dishes.

Deep fried samosas, spring rolls and buns to start. Super tasty.

Little bowls of deliciousness: pork curry, corn, bambo shoots, okra, fermented funky fish (okay, not that delicious), soy beans, vegetable soup and more. As Myanmar also borders Bangladesh, the food also has a touch of Bangladeshi and Indian flavours.

After the lunch we went back to Thailand, visiting the Golden Triangle Area. We made an interesting stop to the great museum The Hall of Opium, and also visited a couple of nice viewing points from where you could see Thailand, Laos and Myanmar at the same time. A loooong but very interesting day.

This was pretty much what we did and saw in Chiang Rai. It’s a nice town, and I would love to return some day to see more than we were able to during our two days.

Part 3: Koh Rong

After eventually finding our way to “the drop off” which is where the Sok San Beach Resort’s private boat departs ($20 per person, per way), we were finally on our way to the island of Koh Rong.

The Sok San Beach Resort is quite a place; super pretty and quite laid back. The beach area has plenty of sun loungers and after that it is a wide stretch of totally empty white sand if you don’t mind to sit on a towel or similar.

The rooms were quite basic. There was air con and a fan and a decently comfortable bed. No tv. There is also free wifi, shower and a toilet, of course. Note that we lived in the “cheapest” standard rooms, which I think was a garden villa. Unfortunately I got a little bit sick day 2, so spent more time than I had hoped for in our tiny room.

Service wise it was pretty much all good. The staff spoke decent English (a few very good) and were all friendly. One weird thing to was that they refused to help us book a table at a restaurant in the nearby village “as they had their own restaurant”. That is a first for me, I mean it’s just weird to try to force guests to eat in your own restaurant by making it harder for them to reserve a table somewhere else. Of course we still went and ate there, and all the hotel got was some “bad will”.

Speaking of the hotel restaurant, there are actually three places where you can eat, or two, depending on how you count. In the lobby and main bar area you eat breakfast, and there are two restaurants (or more like two different menus) to choose from; a Western and an Asian.

Breakfast at the Sok San Beach Resort.

Food is on the expensive side, but not terribly. A main is around $10, a beer during happy hour (5-7) was half price meaning $1,25. Rice was usually an extra $2, but included in a few dishes. Food was reasonably good, but nothing spectacular.

Kampot crab rice.

Kuy Teav, rice noodle soup with prawns.

Okra with minced pork and oyster sauce. Probably my favourite dish in the restaurant.

In the nearby Sok San village, which is walkable from the hotel in maybe 5 minutes, you’ll find a couple of small restaurants, bars and shops.

We had dinner at Moon restaurant, situated on the beach, which served up quite delicious Thai and local food for approximately $5 per dish. Rice was included. ūüôā

We also had dinner at Italian owned and managed “Eat, Pray, Love” where we had a really good gnocchi with rag√Ļ sauce, and an okay pizza. Quite expensive (from around $8 for a main), but nice setting in a stilted house, and friendly service. We managed to book through their Facebook page, they did not respond to email.

Din Tai Fung London

Just got back from a visit to London and the newly opened branch of my favourite restaurang chain in the world: Din Tai Fung.

Famous for their soup dumplings aka xiao long bao, Taiwanese Din Tai Fung has reached fame over the world and now have restaurants in Asia, the US, Australia, and, finally, Europe.

Our expectations were to say the least high, but fortunately not too high as the standard was as good as in Asia. Part of this might be due to that part of the staff have been flown in from Taiwan to work in the restaurant for the first year, to train the locals in the art of the 18 folds soup dumpling.

The usual suspects: pork soup dumplings. Delicate skin, a delicious “soup” broth on the inside and delicious minced pork. Too good.

Wontons in a spicy chilli oil, black vinegar, spring onion and garlic ‘sauce’.

Shumai prawn dumplings.

Premise-made perfect chewy, elastic noodles with a spicy sauce.

Noodles with a succulent Taiwanese pork chop.

Spicy cucumber salad.

Dessert bao buns filled with sesame, taro and red bean paste.

Location: 5 Henrietta Street, Covent Garden.

$$ Price: We paid approximately £110 for the above and some more shared among three people, including a beer each.

Website (including menu without prices)

5 days of eating in Shanghai

Just visited the Chinese mega city Shanghai, for five days of eating, getting some Chinese culture and just enjoying Asia.

We naturally started the eating at my favourite Asian chain Din Tai Fung to have some of their otherworldly steamed xiao long bao soup dumplings.

Sheng Jian Bao at Yang’s. These are with soup and meat on the inside like the above xiao long bao, only that they’re pan fried instead of steamed. We managed to order like 20 each due to the language barrier. Needless to say we ate them all.

Hairy crab (a local species of crab) xiao long bao.

Pork xiao long bao in the same restaurant. I can’t tell you the exact name of the place but it was near Jiangsu Lu. We visited as a part of the Untour night food tour, so that’s hopefully your best bet to visit the same place and eat a lot of other good stuff as well.

One of the best meals of all time for me: Sichuan style crayfish at FOMO. Incredibly delicious.

Kung Pao chicken with chilli and peanuts at a lunch restaurant in the French Concession.

Various delicious dishes from Lost Heaven, a trendy Yunnan province restaurant. Since Yunnan borders Myanmar, Vietnam and Laos the food has a South East Asian flavour with lots of chilli, herbs and greens.

Guo Kui, crispy Sichuan province flatbreads stuffed with spicy beef and mint. Really good.

I am a sucker for views, and one of the better bar views I’ve had in a while was that from the Peninsula Hotel. Top pic is as you can tell from the bar. Their cocktails were indeed expensive, but quite delicious. And look at that view!

What a great food city Shanghai is, I hope to be back soon for some more eating.

My foodie happy place: Lau Pa Sat food market

Lau Pa Sat, also known as Telok Ayer Market, is a hawker centre that has fed Singaporeans since the 1800s. Situated smack bang in Singapore’s financial district, the classic building, filled with local eateries, is one of my favourite foodie places in the world. Just sitting there, sipping on a beer, smelling the grilled satay skewers from the “satay street” next to the market while waiting for what ever you’ve ordered (there is actually sort of table service with different vendors selling and bringing food to the table). Above is satay, grilled chicken, lamb and beef skewers with peanut sauce. There are different stalls doing different kinds of satay, but all I’ve tried has been really good.

Blackpepper crab and mantou. A really nice steamed crab, woked in a spicy blackpepper sauce. The mantou buns are sort of like deep fried bread rolls that you use to soak up the sauce. So good.

Hokkien Mee. A seafoody noodle dish topped with crispy pork rinds.

Carrot cake or chai tow kway. Not containing any carrot but radish and sliced rice cake in a omelette-meets-pancake kind of creation.

Murtabak. A pancake-like dish filled with spicy, fragrant sliced chicken. Dip in the accompanying curry sauce. Mmmm.

Great lunch at Candlenut, Singapore

Before leaving for Singapore, I read at several places about a restaurant called Candlenut that serves Peranakan style food, sort of meaning Singaporean/Malay and some extent Indonesian food influenced and fusioned with the food of Chinese migrants. Straits-Chinese Candlenut themselves call it. They also have a Michelin star, naturally I had to pay Candlenut a visit.

As the headline implies, we went for lunch. To start we ordered their pork neck satay that came without any peanut sauce or similar. We ordered their housemade spicy sambal to have something to dip in though.

Next up was a delicious fresh, sweet, salt and sour crunchy salad with wing beans, fresh prawns, cashew nuts, lemongrass, kalamansi lime and baby radishes.

King Tiger prawns in a ‘gula melaka” coconut sauce with lemongrass and Thai basil. Giant juicy prawns and the most intense coconut flavour I’ve ever experienced. Totally delicious.

Rendang, or sort of a dry Indonesian curry, I’ve tried in both Indonesia and actually also at home trying to recreate our vacation favourite. It is a bit like pulled beef, to draw a similarity to a Western dish but with quite complex flavours of different spices cooked into the meat for many hours. Candlenut’s version with Wagyu beef ribs was very rich, for me almost too rich. But still very good flavour wise.

Last but not least, the buah keluak dessert that apparently is one of Candlenut’s signature dishes. Buah keluak is a nut from the kepayang tree and is in this dish made into a quite bitter cocoa-y ice cream. With it comes Valrhona chocolate, chilli and a warm chocolate espuma. I read a few reviews of this dessert and many did not like it. I did though. Actually, I really liked it, almost really, really liked it. A really cool way of showcasing a unfamiliar (to the Western palate at least).

What a lunch is all I can say to summarize our visit to Candlenut. Good efficient service; nice interior and ambiance, and of course great food.

Price

We paid roughly 140 SGD (including the ++) for food, a shared dessert and a cup of coffee each. We did only have tap water to drink, which was complimentary.

Website

Two really good tonkatsu restaurants we visited in Japan

One of my favourite Japanese dishes is tonkatsu. Tonkatsu or panko crusted deep-fried pork cutlets is a dish similar to a schnitzel with juicy pork covered by a crunchy panko (Japanese breadcrumbs) crust. 

During our recent trip to Japan, we had tonkatsu twice; once at Wako, where we went last time in Tokyo, and once at Maisen, a place I’ve been reading about a lot and what usually show up when you google “Tokyo’s best tonkatsu”.

Wako tonkatsu in Kyoto Station
We went to Wako in Kyoto Station, situated on the upper floors of the Isetan department store inside the station. Bonus trivia is that you can go outside from the restaurant floor where Wako is and up a couple of stairs/escalators to reach a nice rooftop area with views over Kyoto, although with a wall in the way of proper photos.

At Wako we opted to try one of the more expensive premium versions of pork for our tonkatsu. I believe the cost was around 1800 jpy, meaning roughly $16. According to the staff, it was juicier with a higher fat content and hence slightly more expensive. After a round of frosty beer mugs,¬†our tonkatsu arrived. Since the tonkatsu came as a set meal, which it usually does in Japan, we also got rice, pickles, cabbage slaw and grated daikon radish. The tonkatsu pork cutlet was, just as advertised, nicely fatty and soft, as well as the breading crunchy. A nice thing with tonkatsu is that it, when done properly, lacks almost any excess oil. So given the relative healthiness of the sides, it doesn’t feel that bad to eat.¬†Despite being a couple of hundred grams of deep-fried fatty pork. Wako’s tonkatsu is a really nice one and in my mind well worth a visit.

Price ($$) and website
We paid roughly 2500 yen a person with premium pork tonkatsu set meals and a beer. Website with sample menu in English (scroll down to Kyoto and then Wako JR Isetan for address): click here.


Next place to enjoy tonkatsu was, as mentioned above, the legendary Maisen or Mai-Sen. We went to their outlet close to Tokyo Station in Daimaru shopping mall, located on the 12th floor. Bonus trivia for this place is that the view from the restaurant floor’s restrooms is quite spectacular. We went quite late, so we could snap a few sneaky restroom pictures since no one else was there.

Bathroom views from the restaurant floor of Tokyo Daimaru shopping mall.

Anyway, the food. As per usual, we ordered a round of beers and a set meal each, opposed to Wako, this time with fillet instead of loin, meaning slightly less fatty meat and also a slightly smaller amount. I think it was 100 grams of fillet instead of 150 grams of loin, for the same price. The tonkatsu was served with rice, miso soup and cabbage slaw with a tasty lemony yuzu dressing. Once again, the breaded pork was not at all oily from the deep-frying. The meat was slightly less juicy compared to Wako, but that did not really matter as the crust was so crunchy and delicious. It actually felt more balanced than with the premium high fat content-pork tonkatsu at Wako, since it was almost overwhelming with both fatty pork and being deep-fried.



Katsusando from Maisen. Tonkatsu in white toast bread. Good stuff.

Maisen’s katsusando – tonkatsu sandwich at Tokyo Foodshow
Another thing we tried and that you probably should too if you like tonkatsu is Maisen’s katsusando. Katsusando is a tonkatsu sandwich, which means sliced cold tonkatsu in a white bread sandwich with some tonkatsu sauce spread on. We had Maisen’s katsusando that we bought at Tokyo Foodshow in Shibuya, a whole floor of food where different outlets sell their different types of food and where you can both pick up¬†take-away as well as dine in at a couple of communal stand up tables.

Price ($$+) and website
Maisen is slightly more expensive that for instance Wako, and we paid about 1600 yen a person for one of the cheaper set meals on the menu. Maisen’s website, only in Japanese. Address (google maps link).

Kobe beef dinner at Gyu-an Ginza


One of the best meals of the trip, and probably one of my best meals ever was enjoyed at Gyu-An in Ginza, Tokyo. Gyu-An specialise in meat, as in good quality stuff, such as wagyu beef and the world famous kobe beef. After quite thorough research we decided that Gyu-An felt most bang for the buck for our relatively tiny kobe beef budgets and we managed to score a reservation with the help of our hotel concierge a few days later.

As we arrived Gyu-an, after a stroll through the neon lit Ginza district of Tokyo, they couldn’t find our reservation, and I had a few seconds of panic, before they found us a table, and¬†my greatly anticipated steak dinner was, fortunately, a go. While prices are decent given what you get, there is still a considerable price for a meal, depending how you look at it. To have some reference, and to save some money, the two of us decided to share a slightly less pricey wagyu steak set menu¬†as well as the swankiest of the kobe sets which meant you got 200 grams, 100 grams each of kobe fillet and kobe sirloin. Included was a couple of starters, a tiny dessert (below) as well as coffee or tea. Drinks were extra but was relatively decently priced.


We had a couple of starters, but the only really exciting one was this incredibly delicious beef sushi with a thin, fatty piece of beef covering the rice. A great bite that like the beef was washed down with house red.


The matsusaka wagyu beef was just a tad less delicious than the kobe beef. Hadn’t I¬†had the kobe beef, this would’ve been the best steak I’ve ever had. Extremely flavourful and tasty with a great tender texture.

The steak of steaks.¬†Kobe beef fillet and sirloin. Not really sure which one I liked the best. The fillet was of course a bit leaner and softer than the sirloin, but that was barely noticeable given how tender both were. The fat in the kobe beef is not at all chewy, but rather melts in your mouth. The best comparisson I’ve been able to make is, to think of how you bite into a ripe mandarin orange and how it kind of bursts with fruit juice when you bite into it. This was like that, only that the fruit juice was kobe beef fat. It was incredibly good. It was also incredibly rich, and it was almost a struggle to eat everything given the two starters, rice, soup and salad that you are also served. No doubt this was the best steak I have ever had. My expectations were really high. I’ve been eating some really good meat the last years, churrasco in Brazil, grilled bife de chorizo in Argentina and great French steak au poivre. But this beat them all, easily.


For dessert we were served three perfect strawberries. Although it is almost insulting calling this a dessert in normal cases, we were so full that we did not really mind. And the strawberries were in fact extraordinarily tasty.

Price and location
We paid roughly $280 for our two steak meals (one wagyu at 8500 jpy, one kobe combo at 15500 jpy), a caraff of red wine, and water. The restaurant is located in Ginza, easily accessible with a couple of subway lines.