Sunday, October 14, 2018

On Mindfulness, Praying and being Assertive 

One of the perks of working in a global company is beyond the salary and benefits, they help foster an environment that will support my holistic growth. Practicing mindfulness is one of the campaigns that was launched and I’m actively trying to practice. My current role is demanding not just on how much I crunch my brain cells but also on how I manage myself to fulfill my roles as a people manager and a digital marketer. 

Mindfulness started as another buzzword from our HR team but I’ve learned to commit to it to keep my sanity. If I need to explain it to my 7yr old niece, it simply means that I attempt to focus my mind to the present, to what I’m doing, who I’m with and even my surroundings. At first I thought that it’s trivial but life gets so busy that I often forget about what’s in front of me. How many times did I experience that I need text message someone but I remembered that I dont have food for dinner so I began googling recipes then I started browsing Facebook and half an hour passed already. My mind often leads me somewhere else and most of the time it lefts me feeling anxious. Practicing mindfulness is about me being fully aware of the present and trying not to give a knee jerk reaction to all stimulus.

I’ve recently finished reading The Subtle Art of Not Giving A F and it’s a great, blatant reminder that i dont have to care about everything. It’s not about being cold or anti social but choosing wisely on when and where should I focus my energy. The bible is also a great source of inspiration. Recently, when I get caught in a tricky situation, I sincerely pray to God to help clear my thoughts. I also learned from a parenting show, on how you can count 1-10 before reacting or responding. Basically, as I get older and hopefully more mature, I dont want to hurt people or myself and avoid being overwhelmed by what’s going on around me. I also want to practice assertiveness which involves a lot of personal assessment so that I wont regret any words or actions.

I just started on this journey and I hope I can continue practicing mindfulness.

Thursday, August 30, 2018

Tummy Tour: Myeongdong

Watching Go Mi Nam(Park Shin Hye) and Kang Shin-woo(Jung Yong Hwa)'s Myeongdong date inspired me to visit this area. I've been to Seoul 3x and staying in this area has proven to be the best way to enjoy Seoul. This shopping area is heaven for international brands and local cosmetic shops AND it's home to a variety of street food and restaurants.

"Famous cafes" aka I've seen in K-dramas are lined up in Myeongdong and each are equally inviting, mostly because of the K-celebrity endorser's photos plastered on the Instragam-mable spaces.

Breakfast at Holly's cafe
Holly's Cafe. This place and their hot breakfast meals became our refuge from the cold winter while waiting for check-in time.
Dreaming of Dak Galbi
Yoogane. I came back for stir fried chicken, gochujang, rice cake, vegetables and cheesy dish known as Dak Galbi. I also love their unlimited side dish! They have 2 branches in Myeondong but most of the time it's both full.

Sulbing.  Patbingsu or Korean shaved ice

Patbingsu is a popular Korean shaved ice dessert with sweet toppings that may include chopped fruit, condensed milk, fruit syrup, and red beans. Varieties with ingredients other than red beans are called bingsu. 

I love Korean food and I'm so thankful that globalization or K-drama craze made it accessible in every part of Manila.

Saturday, April 28, 2018

Osaka adventure: Ichiba Kuromon Market

Take exit 2 of Nipponbashi station
One of the best way to get to know a city is by visiting a market because you'll be able to see the wide variety of cuisine for that area and interact with locals. Our last day in Osaka was dedicated to exploring the city while the sun is up. For the entire trip, we're only in Osaka on evenings and finally we'll be able to check out Kuromon Ichiba market. It is one of the popular tourist markets but we couldn't skip this one because it's a great place to do a food trip.
The market is open from 8am to 5pm
We arrived at around 8:30AM, the market just opened and we had breakfast in mind. The stores are still opening and we explored the market before deciding what to eat. There are supermarkets inside but majority are still mom and pops run stalls.
ichigo heaven
I've eaten a lot of strawberry in this trip but it was my first time to try the white strawberry. Seven pieces of this white strawberry costs Y300 or PHP150, a little expensive but I paid for the experience of trying a rare berry.

The market is a seafood heaven! The BIG crab legs are amazing, my parents and aunts bought one for Y3000 or PHP1500 and the four of them shared it.

fresh and soft

Chino and I went to a stall that grills seafood. We bought a skewer with squid and shrimps, it's so delicious like it's fresh off the sea. The cheesy lobster is also super worth it!

Sushi <3
Chino and I found a sushi corner stall that sells sushi and sashimi in takeout plastic containers. We bought salmon and shrimp then found our way to the seated area. It was soooo good but we wanted to try other food.


For mid meal dessert, we tried these pancake like bread with soft served Vanilla ice cream.

For our main breakfast meal, Chino and I stumbled upon a small curry stall and we automatically sat on the counter style restaurant. We ordered 1 Japanese beef curry rice meal, we're too full so we just shared it. It turned out to be a popular curry restaurant that boils their curry for 24hours and it was featured on a lot of Japanese TV shows. The curry sauce was amazing and we're again at the right place and right time.

After 2 hours, the market was busy with tourists and locals flocking it.  The crabfish and other seafood displays served as good markers when we need to find our tour group.  Kuromon Ichiba Market has been around for 170 years and it remains to be a good local neighborhood market. Aside from the enjoyable walking and eating tour, we'll always remember the warm welcome from the vendors and the overall pleasant vibe of Kuromon Ichiba Market. 

Saturday, April 21, 2018

Tummy Tour: Kobe's Tor Road Steak Aoyama

Osaka to Kobe
On our "free day", Chino and I decided that we're not leaving Japan without eating Kobe beef in Kobe! There are several restaurants in Dotonbori which serves Kobe beef but after knowing that Kobe is just an hour train ride away, we happily travelled for the precious beef!
Off to Kobe - Sanomiya 
Our original plan was ride a train and find the nearest Kobe beef restaurant because we taught that since we are in Kobe already all beef are legit!  But when we're researching for restaurants the night before going to Kobe, we read about Tor Road Steak Aoyama and got impressed by the consistent positive reviews. We arrived in Kobe at around 11AM and made our way to Tor Road. 
2 Chome-14-5 Shimoyamatedori, Chuo, Kobe, Hyōgo Prefecture 650-0011, Japan
It was a 10 minute walk from the station and we arrived at around 11:30AM, when we entered the small homey restaurant, we're greeted by a lady who asked if we have any reservation. We said that we don't and we're just trying our luck. Fortunately, they have 2 vacant spots and we just have to go back by 12noon.

They mentioned that they have course meals that cost Y7000 or PHP3500 or per person. Chino and I decided to check the menu and price of other restaurants. Honestly, there were cheaper options but we wanted to trust the 5.0 ratings in TripAdvisor and pay for the 'experience'
The ingridients
So we went back with no expectations aside from having a good lunch. When we arrived at 12pm, we're seated around the iron-plate grill with a family of 3 on our left and another couple on our right. It turned out that they only serve 7 customers and we're so lucky to be at the right place at the right time! 
55yr old soup recipe
The restaurant was run by a family - Chef Shuhei , his parents and a waitress - and have been serving the same soup for 50years already. It's their original recipe of a potato potage, it's light and a perfect appertizer. 

Chef Shuhei managed to entertain us while meticulously prepare our meal. He asked where are we from and even managed to greet us in Filipino, Chinese and Thai. He even joked that if we took his photo, we should share it on our social media profiles and provide great review for the restaurant. he didn't need to ask twice!

the best salad ever!!!

While the chef was busy cooking the vegetables, the waitress served the second course. It's the best salad that I've tasted so far, it's comprised of greens, avocado, a light sauce, chicken, sashimi and steak! 

Chef Shuhei

Chef Shuhei belongs to the 3rd generation of family who runs Aoyama. He prepares and cooks the vegetables and beef with showmanship while his parents prepare and serve the other course meals. He jokes about cleaning the steel grill every day of his life and the family gives off a vibe that they are proud of their restaurant and it's history.

100grams of heaven
It was Chino and I's first time to try Kobe beef and we decided to have 100grams each. We agreed that we should savor the beef by itself so we asked for toasted bread instead of Japanese rice. We both asked for medium rare and eating Kobe beef is an experience itself, it's buttery and melts in your mouth. The steak was perfect as it is but we also tried their recommendation of dipping it on truffle salt, eating it with fried garlic chips and another way is steak with dipping sauce. It was so juicy!! 

Coffee or tea
To end our delicious dining experience, we're asked to move from the grill area to the dining tables. We chose to have green tea while thanking Chef Shuhei's parents for the wonderful memory in Kobe. His father even gave us a postcard of Steak Aoyama as souvenir.

Dining at Steak Aoyama is a great Kobe memory for Chino and I. If you want to eat Kobe beef and have a memorable dining experience, try Steak Aoyama. It's one of the best meals I had in my life because of the quality of service and food. Don't push your luck and make sure to book your reservation!

Saturday, April 14, 2018

Kyoto adventure: Fushimi Inari & Arashiyama Bamboo Forest

Since Kyoto is already near Osaka, we couldn't miss going there. Initially, I wanted to book another tour from Klook but I couldn't find an itinerary which covers both Fushimi Inari shrine and Arashiyama Bamboo forest. Both places are must see for us and we can only allot 1 day for Kyoto for this 5 day Kansai trip so I ended up creating a DIY itinerary! 
DIY Osaka to Kyoto via train
From our airbnb, we rode the train to Namba station then we took the Keihan Main line  and got off Fushimi-Inari station. The one way fare from Osaka to Kyoto is Y580 or roughly PHP300 and it was just an hour trip. I can't praise enough Japan's train system. Imagine if we can go from Manila to Tagaytay via train in a hour for PHP300!!
morning walking tour
We crossed the railway station and did an impromptu morning walking tour, as if we had a choice hehe. We passed by several souvenir and food stalls leading to the main entrance of the shrine.
tori gate
There's a giant tori gate in front of the Romon gate which signals that we've found the entrance!

Kimono ladies
Fushimi Inari shrine is open all the time and it's free! Aside from groups of tourists like my family, we've seen locals, some even wearing Kimono, who's exploring the place on a weekday. There's even a couple and their team who's shooting their pre-nup photos.
Of course, before entering the temple, we need to follow the ritual of cleansing because we're entering a sacred place. Fushimi Inari shrine is a Shinto shrine dedicated to god of rice. There are also fox statues in the area because they are believed as Inari's messengers.
Famous red gates!
Seeing the vermillion red torii gates is the main reason why we came here and we've been treated to a lot of toriis. It was fascinating to know that the red gates were donated by families, individuals or companies.  There's also an area which serves as cemetery for families.

It also has a mountain trail that leads to sacred Mount Inari. It's funny how our group of 10 was reduced to 5 people completing 60% of trail! Walking around for 2 hours made us very hungry and tired and it's great that food stalls were conveniently located just outside the shrine. It deserves a separate blog post.

Saga Arashiyama
Our next stop was Arashiyama Bamboo forest. From Inari Station, we went to Kyoto Station Nara Line then transfered to San-in line and got off Sara-Arashiyama station. Our ticket costs Y240 and the entire train ride with transfers took us 30 minutes.
From the station, we had to walk at least 1km of residential area before finding food stalls and souvenir shops which signals the entrance to the forest area.
Standing amidst the tall and proud bamboo trees is a different experience, it's like being in a new world or in a scene from Rounin Kenshin movie! We're lucky that there's not that many people so we're able to enjoy the view and walk leisurely. 
off to scenic route
On our way back to Osaka, we took the JR line's Saga Arashiyama station to Kyoto Station then off to San-in line's Osaka station before transfering to Namba station to go back to Dotonbori area. It was an hour and a half trip and costs Y1200 or roughly PHP600. We enjoyed the scenic view of rural Japan area with traditional architecture. 

There's a reason why Arashiyama Bamboo Forest and Fushimi Inari shrines are one of the most photographed areas in the city.  We didn't buy JR pass and we just bought tickets on each destination which costs us PHP1000 roundtrip. If you're planning a trip in Kansai area, don't miss to check these sights in person because both are breathtaking natural and cultural wonders.

Sunday, April 01, 2018

Tummy tour: Dotonbori, Osaka food trip

my fiance / travel and food trip buddy!
Osaka is known as the Japan's kitchen because of their cuisine. This is one of the main reason why we're so excited to go here! Here's my "we travel to eat - Osaka edition"

It was already past 9PM when we arrived back to Dotonbori from our Nagoya tour. Most of the restaurants are closed already and we just chanced upon a this place, we didn't even get it's name, but you can't go wrong in Osaka! We tried Kushiage or deep fried food on stick . Our platter has battered fish, veggie, chicken and pork.

King crab tempura
From the same restaurant, we ordered this king crab tempura. The batter was light  but yunmy and the crab meat was delicious!! It's only 4 pieces and costs Y1000 or roughly PHP500 but it's so worth it!
Acchichi honpo
Of course, we had to line up and try the famous Takoyaki place, Acchichi honpo, near Ichiran in Dotonbori. 
Takoyaki are batter balls with octopus fillings. It is a food that represents Osaka and it can be found everywhere! The 2nd best thing to eating it is watching how it's made. With the long line while waiting for your turn, you’ll really end up watching the cooking performance.

Okonomiyaki is like a pancake with so much more savory flovor! It can be found everywhere in Osaka, we tried this seafood and bonito flakes overflowing Okonomiyaki. It’s a complete meal actually and 2-4 people can share this serving.

grilled shrimp
Crab meat miso soup
Osaka is a seafood heaven, we tried shrimp and crabs and so much more especially from Ichiba Kuromon Market, it deserves a separate post.
You can't leave Osaka without trying yakiniku. Matsusaka beef were sliced into bite sized pieces and grilled over charcoal. Some people prefers to add salt and pepper while some dip it into olive oil.It was so tasty, we didn't need to add any seasoning. 

I’ve also tried a lot of dessert from Osaka and I’ll compile it in another blog post. I’ve realized that this tummy tour is mainly in Dotonbori area only but you can see the wide variety of cuisine!

Friday, March 30, 2018

Nagoya adventure: Nabana no Sato & Begonia Garden

Roses and my parents <3
Whenever we travel, we often include a 'garden' stop for my mommy and aunts. Fortunately, the second stop of our Klook whole day tour is a trip to Nagoya's Nabana No Sato at Nagashina Resort in Kuwana City. Upon entering, we're greeted by a mixed scents of fresh flowers, mostly roses in different colors. 
Begonia Garden
Nabano No Sato's Begonia Garden has the breathtaking rows of flowers everywhere, including the ceiling! There are literally hundreds of flowers in different colors everywhere - either in pots, hanging or arranged in a picturesque setup.
Phalaenopsis orchids
The prettiest that I've seen are the Phalaenopsis orchids and the red and yellow tulips under an Irish windmill. 
As we went from room to room to another room, we're surprised that the display of lovely flowers never end! There's even a cozy cafe with a wide pond where fallen flowers beautifully float.

Nabana no Sato Illuminations
By 7PM, they finally opened the lights which cued the start of Nabana no Sato's winter illumination. We waited for our turn to enter the light tunnels lit by millions of sakura shaped LED light bulbs. It was a romantic view and of course, even if there are a lot of people, the Japanese are very disciplined so you wont fear any chaos.
Winter illumination show
For 2018, their main theme is showcasing their black bear mascot Kumamon and his adventure is Kumamoto. It is a town 500m away from Nagashina resort and was hit by a powerful earthquake 2 years ago. The illumination wants to promote that the town is rebuilding.

There's an observatory where you can watch the illumination show which goes on for almost an hour, we went there to seek refuge from the cold. The heaters and coffee are live savers!

It took us 3 hours bus ride to go back to Osaka. We actually spent a lot of time on the bus but we had a great experience on this whole day nature tour!