Saturday, 30 March 2013

[Day 3] RAKERU (ラケル) @ Shinjuku, Tokyo

[Continue from Exploring Shijuku (新宿) post HERE] There are many theme restaurants/cafes in Japan such as RAKERU (Alice in wonderland), Vampire cafe, Hello Kitty Cafe, AKB48 Cafe and etc. And with RAKERU as one of the nearest themed restaurant near our hotel at Shinjuku (新宿西口店), we actually went for a dinner to try out their mouthwatering Omurice (egg omelette with rice) and waffle desserts.

The restaurant is located at Basement 1 and the concept of RAKERU is based on English lakeside country house design where woods and fabric are used to create a cozy dining atmosphere.

One of the Menu @ RAKERU

In Japan, almost every family loves cream corn soup and it is not difficult to find them in most restaurants or supermarkets. RAKERU served a decent Cream Sweetcorn Soup which was smooth and not too sweet with homely taste that was not being too creamy. On top of it there were also some crispy bits of garnish which makes it quite different from the usual accompany garlic bread or toast.

KUKU Mozzarella Cheese Omurice (¥1,029 / S$13.50) @ Rakeru

KUKU Mushroom Omurice with Demi-glace Sauce (¥1,134 / S$15.00) @ Rakeru

Cross Section of the KUKU Mushroom Omurice

Creamy Egg Omurice Demi-Glace Hamburg (¥924 / S$12.00) @ Rakeru

Mushroom And Cheese Omurice @ Rakeru

The ordering menu was quite straight forward with either set meal or just the omurice itself. With the any set meal ordered there would be some accompany sides such as RAKERU famous Butter Bread, Salad and Baked Potato and a bowl of their signature Cream Sweetcorn Soup too.

Although their Omurice serving is not as big as CoCoICHIBANYA Curry House but with the additional sides and soup, it was actually very filling for one person if you are not a big eater. 

Raspberry Parfait @ Rakeru

Chocolate Banana Waffle (¥ 608 / S$8.00) @ Rakeru

Waffle with Fruits And caramel Pudding (¥ 756 / S$9.80) @ Rakeru
After the main courses, we also ordered some of their signature waffle desserts to share among the group of us. The waffle had crispy outer skin and yet soft and moist texture which goes well with the accompany sauce, ice cream and fruit.

In total we spent about ¥7,896 (SG$102.00) for 8 persons which 6 main courses and 4 desserts plus 2 beverages which we think it's quite cheap when dinning out is concern in Japan. 

RAKERU (ラケル)
1-12-7 Nishishinjuku, Shinjuku
Tokyo Prefecture 160-0023, Japan
Telephone: 03-3348-1385 


Opening Hours:- 
11:30am - 22:30pm (Last Order: 22:00pm)


Thursday, 28 March 2013

[Day 3] Exploring Shinjuku (新宿)

Last year during our trip to Tokyo, Japan. We stayed at Keio Plaza Hotel (京王プラザホテル(新宿)公式サイト) which was just about 5 minutes walk to Shinjuku (新宿) Station and shopping districts with department stores such as Odakyu, Takashimaya Times Square, Kinokuniya and etc. Although there might not be a lot of sightseeing around Shinjuku area but indeed there are plenty of shopping, cafes and eateries which could satisfied both your sight and appetite.

On the 3rd day of our trip, we were on a more relax itinerary while taking a break from yesterday's Day Tour (visiting Mount Fuji and Grape Farm). And before Uncle Hock Cheng's family move on to meet up with their Japanese friends for lunch and sightseeing, we decided to explore the food counters and supermarket located at basement 2 of Odakyu Shopping Mall to grab some quick breakfast.

Above is the Shinjuku (新宿)  area map which I took from our Hotel lobby. From the map, I had highlight and number some of the places and shopping malls which we explored in "red" for your interest. Most of the places marked could be easily access by the basement walkway which links from Shinjuku Station but for first timer if you are not familiar with the area, perhaps walking on ground level would be a better choice.

Mouthwatering Bento Box and Rice Bowl
We were there around 9.00am and were surprised to find many freshly made bento set, rice bowl, sandwiches, dumplings, croquettes, tonkatsu, noodles, cakes and etc which we do not know what to choose from.

Meat and Shrimp Dumplings (siew mai), Steamed Bun with red bean / vegetables

Rice Balls (O-nigiri - お握り) with assorted fillings like tempura, tuna, egg mayo and etc

This is one of our favourite rolls during our Japan trip. I love these "sticky rice sushi" which is made with glutinous rice and assorted toppings like chestnut, shrimp, azuki bean and etc. You could also find this in Singapore, at the basement food area located in Takashimaya too.  

I have weakness when it comes to cake or pastry. So during my trip to Japan, I tried quite a number of their signature cakes from different cafe and bakery shops which leaves me with good memories and impression of their delicate desserts. Above are some cakes which are available from Wittamer at their outlet located at basement 2 of Odakyu.

I always love those typical type of cakes like the above which look clear and elegant.  Imagine just pick up a few of each type or a whole loaf together with a pot of freshly brew tea for afternoon snack. I am sure it would be a great passed time to hang around with family or friends.

Fresh Sashimi with Mackerel, Shrimp, Yellow tail and etc.

Fresh cut salmon slice at ¥315 (SG$4.10) each or you could get 4 at ¥1050 (SG$13.80). How I wish I am staying at a service apartment where I could whipped up some dishes using their fresh ingredients.

Fresh fruits seems to be expensive in Japan as compared to their seafood. For example, a box of strawberry shown above was selling at the same price as 4 slices of salmon for ¥1050 (SG$13.80) too. Emmmm guess you either go for fresh fruits or seafood.

Assorted plump and juicy grapes plus huge apples and persimmon

Fresh milk, juice and yogurt drinks were our daily beverages and for me I just simply love their fresh milk which taste so creamy, smooth and fragrant as compared to what we have in Singapore. And my love is those available from "glass bottles".....

After getting our breakfast and beverages we went to the sitting area at 9th floor which is the rooftop playground at Odakyu (Shinjuku). As you could see above, the weather was pretty cooling at around 13 Degree Celsius so it's experience to enjoy breakfast outdoor despite of the sunny morning.

Assorted Sushi


Steamed meat bun at ¥157 (SG$2.00) each which had a similar taste like our local "Da Bao (大包)". And it taste extra flavorsome especially during cold weather which makes us enjoy each and every bites.

Chilling out at the rooftop playground area enjoying our breakfast. While eating the steamed bun, Mum was quite worry that the meat might be beef (as she don't really fancy beef) so she took extra careful look before eating it.

Shinjuku Odakyuhyakkaten
No. 3, 1-chome, Nishi-Shinjuku
Shinjuku-ku, Tokyo 〒 160-8001
Telephone: 03-3342-1111

小田急百貨店 (新宿店)
〒160-8001 東京都新宿区西新宿1丁目1番3号

Opening Hours:-
8.30am - 10.00pm

After about 2 hours shopping around Odakyu department store plus a few shops around it, we went for a quick tea-break at Krispy Kreme Doughnuts (クリスピー・クリーム・ドーナツ) which is located at Shinjuku Southern Terrace (refer to the Shinjuku area map above, marked no. 4). All the cousins and us (me and my boy) were eying on their irresistible doughnuts since the first day we arrived in Tokyo while exploring Shinjuku area. Moreover all of us love their doughnuts and we hope they would be available in Singapore soon.

Aunty Grace bought a box of 10 Assorted Doughnuts such as Glazed Chocolate Cake (¥180), Caramel Walnuts (¥200), Chocolate Iced with Sprinkles (¥180), Glazed Cruller (¥180), Glazed Green Tea Cake (¥180), Cookie Vanilla (¥200) and etc.

If you prefer something smaller, you could grab a pack of this Mini Box (ミニミニ ボックス(3個)) which comes in 3 mini doughnuts at ¥380 (SG$5.00).  These mini doughnuts also available in box of 10 pieces (¥1,100 - SG$14.50) and 20 pieces (¥2,000 - SG$26.50) too.

Krispy Kreme Doughnuts
2-2-2 Yoyogi, Shibuya-ku
In Shinjuku Southern Terrace
Telephone: 03-5333-0560


Opening hours:
8:00am - 22:30pm

With a quick 45 minutes break at Krispy Kreme Doughnuts, we moved on to Takashimaya Times Square, Kinokuniya and Tokyu Hands which offers anything that you want from DIY materials/tools, housewares, stationery, clothing and etc as well as Duty-free products.

I was thrilled when I spotted these Bento Tools at Tokyu Hands, housewares sections. They are really much more cheaper (half the price) than what I ordered from online as well as those sold at Takashimiya (Singapore).

We had early dinner at RAKERU which was very near to our hotel at around 6.30pm to avoid the dinner crowds. I would shared more about this place on another post soon.


Tuesday, 26 March 2013

[Day 2] Day Tour to Katsunuma Winery, Lake Kawaguchi and Koyodai In Narusawa

View of Lake Kawaguchi from Mt Kachi Kachi Ropeway
We arrived at the meeting point at about 7.30am to join the local Club Tourism Yokoso Japan Tour to Mount Fuji (富士山) and Yamanashi (山梨県). It was a beautiful Monday morning and we all look forward for our trip to visit Mt Fuji. But due to the early snow that covered almost half of Mt Fuji, the tour guide mentioned that we might not be able to go up to the Kawaguchiko 5th Station ( 富士山 河口湖 五合目) depending on weather in the afternoon.

Day Tour by Club Tourism YOKOSO Japan Tour

Our 1st stop is at Chateau Kastsunuma Winery (株式会社シャトー勝沼 ) whereby we were given roughly 30 minutes to shop around plus having some wine tasting.  Upon entering the shop, each visitor is given a plastic cup where we could help ourself with the wine from the specific wine barrels.

Although the shop area was not very big but it was still quite fun going around trying the local wine plus getting some snacks and souvenirs.

Katsunuma Chateau Ltd
4729, Katsunuma-cho Hishiyama
Koshu-shi, Yamanashi
Zip: 409-1302


Vising time:
8:30am - 5:00pm (Weekday)
9:00am - 5:00pm(Weekend)

Second stop was at Fuefuki City which is known for producing peaches and grapes that is of exceptional quality and taste within Yamanashi (山梨県, the Kingdom of Fruit). Many farms and orchards there are open to the public and visitors so that they could pick their own fruits from blueberries, cherries, plums and strawberries to persimmons. The picking seasons are available from April to November, with more variety in the summer months from July - August.

Misaka Farm is one of those fruit farms that are open to public which has a space capacity for 1200 guests under the trellis of grape tress and guests can also enjoy BBQ in summer as well as Yamnashi’s local cuisine Hoto in winter amid nature.

After the grapes or fruits picking, you can also pick up some other seasonal fresh fruits which are available as well as some local snacks as souvenirs. We bought some Yuzu and Chestnut sweet cake which resemble pudding.

Misaka Farm Grape House (御坂農園グレープハウス - 山梨県笛吹市)
656-1 Misakacho Natsumehara, Fuefuki,
Yamanashi Prefecture 406-0804, Japan
Telephone:+81 55-263-3111

Opening Hours:
8:30am – 5:00pm (Daily)

Lunch stop was at Lake Kawaguchiko (河口湖) which is easily accessible of the Fuji Five Lakes with train and direct bus connections to Tokyo. And also the best views of Mount Fuji can be seen from the lake's northern shores and are particularly breathtaking during the cherry blossom season which is around mid April and the Autumn colors around the first half of November.

Beautiful Maple Leaves near the Lake area.

Some of the souvenir shops and eateries around Mt Kachi Kachi Ropeway Station where you could enjoy your meal or beverage together with great view of Lake Kawaguchi.

Our complimentary lunch was at Lake Kawaguchi Rest House Funatuya (レストハウス ふなつや) and each one of us was given the Houtou Hot Pot Set which cost ¥1050 (SG$13.70). For your information Houtou is a Japanese one-pot dish with vegetables, meat, and noodles/dumplings that are simmered in miso broth.

Houtou Hot Pot Set from Rest House Funatuya

Lake Kawaguchi Rest House Funatuya
4036 Funatsu Fuji Kawaguchiko-cho Minamitsuru-gun
Yamanashi Prefecture 401-0301
Telephone: 0555-72-1062

レストハウス ふなつや
予約専用: 0555-72-1062

Opening Hours:
8:30am - 18:30pm

After lunch we took a short walk up to Mt Kachi Kachi Ropeway (天上山公園カチカチ山ロープウェイ) station which was about 5 minutes away from the Rest House Funatuya Restaurant. Along the way, our hearts were captured by the beauty of the autumn laves.

The cable car departure every 5 - 10 minutes depending on the weather and it takes up to a maximum capacity of 36 passengers on each ride. This ropeway connects Kawaguchi-Kohan Station and Fujimidai Station at mountain top in about 3 minutes journey.

Upon reaching the top, everyone of us were amazed by the magnificent view of Lake Kawaguichi in it's autumn look. It is so beautiful that almost all the tourists wanted to take a photos with it as the background.

From the observation deck which sits more than 1000 meters above sea level, visitors are able to get a panoramic views of the lake below as well the beautiful Mount Fuji (富士山).

View of Mount Fuji from Mt Kachi Kachi Ropeway

If you have time, other than photo taking you could also try the different trail that leads from the observation point which is 300 meters uphill to a small shrine at the summit of Mount Tenjo. From there the trail continues on to Mount Mitsutoge which is a popular day hike with good views of Mount Fuji.

1163-1 Azagawa Fujikawaguchiko-machi, minamituru-gun
Yamanashi 401-0303 Japan
Telephone: +81-555-72-0363

1163-1 Azagawa
富士河口湖町 南都留郡
Minamitsuru District
Yamanashi Prefecture 401-0303, Japan

Opening Hours:
9:30am – 4:45pm (daily)

Due to the bad weather at Mount Fuji, we could not visit Kawaguchiko 5th Station (富士山 河口湖 五合目) which was indeed a regret for us. But to compensate for the changes on the itinerary, we get to visit Koyodai in Narusawa (紅葉台) as well as the Narusawa Ice Cave (鳴沢氷穴).

Koyodai (紅葉台) is one of the smaller mountains at south of the lake which is famous ad named after its autumn colours (koyo). And before we could get to see the magnificent view of Mount Fuji in Autumn look we need to go through a roughly 20 minute hike from the car park area. Along the way, there were steep slopes, rocky paths and etc so one has to be extra careful and be well prepared with good walking shoes and a stick to support/balance while going uphill or down slope.

View of Mount Fuji (富士山) in Autumn from Koyodai

Each and everyone of us went jaw dropped when we saw the stunning view of Mount Fuji with its colourful Autumn leaves outfit. I am sure this beautiful scenic view would be a lifetime memories for all of us.  Hope we would be back to Japan soon during Winter again so that we could visit Mount Fuji and  Kawaguchiko 5th Station (富士山 河口湖 五合目) soon.

Last stop of the tour was at Narusawa Ice Cave (鳴沢氷穴) which is a cave formed by Lava from Mt.Fuji (富士山), located in Aokigahara Jukai (the Sea of Forest). The average temperature is about 37°F (3 degree Celsius) for all year. The cave is covered with ice all year, and you could also find icicle every where in the cave which sometimes grown up 90ft. long and 1.5 ft. wide. The entire cave is 450ft and it is also one of natural monuments.

Entrance of the Narusawa Ice Cave

After passing through the entrance gate, it takes about 10 - 15 minutes to complete the walk in the cave. Beware it would be very cold in the cave even in the summer months so remember to take along gloves and warm clothing. And due to the steep stairway, and narrow slippery path, one has to take extra careful steps while moving around the cave.

Above is the only decent photo that I managed to capture in the ice cave. Although it was a bit too dark to spot any icicles within our sight but along the way out we did see and feel some ice formation shown above. Between entrance fees for the ice cave is at ¥280 (SG$3.60) for adult.

Out of the cave, we headed back to the gift shop entrance to grab some Japanese soft serve ice-cream as well as shop around for some gift. And we spotted some cute Mount Fuji design plush and assorted flavour cookies which are great choices to pick up as gift. We grabbed two boxes of that triangle Mount Fuji cookies (top, right) which cost ¥530 (SG$7.00) per box of 12 cookies.

8533 Narusawa Village Minamitsuru-gun
Yamanashi Prefecture 〒 410-0320
Telephone: (0555) 85 2301


Opening Hours:
9:00am to 17:00pm (Daily)

After a long day out, we decided to settle for a quick dinner around hotel area before heading back for a good rest. So after looking around a few restaurants, we set for Negishi (ねぎし) which is a beef tongue restaurant about 8 - 10 minutes away from Shinjuku (新宿) station. Overall Negishi serve quite good quality food at very reasonable price ranging from ¥900 (SG$11.70) to ¥1500 (SG$19.60) depending on your choice. And their signature dishes are grilled beef tongue (red or white portion) and beef stew which you could order as a set meal together with barley rice, clear oxtail soup, pickles and Japanese yam/Tororo (山药 /淮山).

For us, since Mum prefer chicken and pork over beef, we settled for their Spicy Chicken and Pork Set above @ ¥1340 (SG$17.50).  Just to share, the bowl of Tororo sauce (grated Japanese yam flavoured with soy sauce) is very nutritious which could helps to combat fatigue and it produce a better result when mixed and eaten together with the mugimeshi (barley rice). Whereas the the clear oxtail soup is made by placing a sliced of sliced beef tongue placed into a soup and simmered over long hours. It helps promote longevity and strength as well as collagen that helps to restore beauty too.

To cool down the heat plus add-on some greens to our meal, I ordered our favourite Caesar Salad @ ¥470 (SG$6.15) which was fresh and crunchy. Love their Caesar sauce which perfect this salad and goes well with our main above.


Opening Hours:
11:00am - 23:00pm (daily)



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