Saturday, December 06, 2014

Cappadocia, Land of beautiful horses

Just back from a recent trip to Cappadocia, Turkey, and I would like to pen down a few thoughts for anyone considering to visit this region. 

1) you must try the hotair balloon. If you have to scrimp and save up for this activity, do it. We booked our ride through our innkeeper and the balloon company is "Turkiye". It was €140 per person by cash and €10 more for credit card payment. 

Typically the trip would start with balloon company picking you up at your hotel around 5:15am, bringing you to their office for a simple breakfast and making payments. Then you are transported to the site where the balloon is being set up. 

You will get to see how the skilled staff would raise the balloon up. 

The ride goes for 1 hour in the air. The basket can take up to 24 people (!) and the guide will transport you up very high (we went up to 1800m) and very low, hanging near the valleys. 

The sunrise will change the skies throughout the flight. Many other balloons in the air will make a postcard picture come alive right in front of you. It's amazing. 

2) if possible, stay in a cave hotel. 
The region is full of stone caves and many of them are transformed into hotels. Nothing fancy but still worth the novelty. 

3) testi kebab. Pottery is a main staple of economics in the past and tradition has created this dish cooked in a pot. Meat or vegetables are stuffed into the pot, and then sealed and baked for long hours until the meat is soft and flavorful. 

We stayed at Goreme town and had testi kebab at this local joint called "Ottoman Kebab" twice. It was delicious, hearty and served with smiles and love. Whether it's the best, we don't know but we were more than satisfied. 

4) lentil soup. This is also something special in the region and served in most restaurants. Coming from Asia where soup dishes are in abundance, the lentil soup was a welcomed respite from many days of being deprived. The soup was creamy but not with cream, so it was light at the same time, different restaurants use different types of spices and as such, each has a unique but delicious taste. 

5) try the ATV. That's "all terrain vehicle" for the noobs like me. As the Cappadocia region has loads of soft volcanic rocks forming little terrains and mounds here and there, it makes the perfect place to have some fun on the ATV.  Costing 120TL for 4 hour rental, we had good fun riding, while making pitstops at some sights as well.  Well worth the money.

Monday, November 24, 2014

35 Steps Bistro

A small izakaya near Shibuya was recommended by Tripadvisor. Since we would be in the area and needed dinner, we decided to ask our hotel concierge to make us a reservation.  It was off the main streets and relatively quiet but safe nonetheless.

Walking down 35 steps, we reached the entrance of the restaurant.  Do note that you have to take off our shoes before heading into the restaurant proper. 

Service was boisterous and friendly.  There was an English menu and we ordered from it. There weren't a lot of food but we could easily pick out a few dishes that would fill our tummies. 

Most of the dishes were quite good, more standing were the grilled shimesaba seared at your table and the tuna tartar with garlic butter toast. They were so good the Man kept trying to guess what was in the seasonings.  

The only "off" item was the tofu with honey. We found the honey to be overpowering and dominated all the flavors. We didn't order the house salad, but it was served to us anyway.

tuna tarta with garlic toast

tofu with honey and toast

aburi shimesaba

salad with crunchy topping
Address: 1-1 Maruyamacho, Shibuya, Tokyo Prefecture 150-0044, Japan
Telephone: +81 3-3770-9835

Tuesday, September 30, 2014

Double Celebrations at The Chop House

So my mom and brother share the same birthday (thanks to c-sect) and we went to The Chop House at Vivocity on request of the mother's craving for steak. 

The restaurant was pretty empty on Sunday lunch time but that was good for we were a rowdy table of 7 with all sorta of requests. 

The mussels we ordered were fresh but unfortunately the wine sauce tasted pretty watered down with not much flavor and just extremely salty. 

The calamari was ok. It had a light coating of mealy batter. Not my favorite way of preparation.  

The grandma had a pork patty burger served with gherkins and tater tots. I didn't taste it but it looked a little dry but easily rectified with their beetroot chutney and caramelized onion jam (no pictures but please eat them! SO GOOD!)

Mom's Australian ribeye (200g) that was cooked to a perfect medium. 

I loved Dad's order of braised beef short ribs ($42/ serves 2). Extra points for already deboning the meat and there were 3 generous rib portions. As expected, the meat was fork tender and the capsicum sauce worked wonderfully well. There was generous portions of mozzarella cheese on top as well but I found this to be incompatible with the rest of the dish. 

The Man had their house burger with blue cheese, wanting to compare that against Park at Holland Village's version. It was also cooked well but the vote of choice remains with Park. 

We also ordered the chicken quesadilla and strip loin and lamb chops. All of us enjoyed this time of celebrating together. Lunch ended off with Awfully Chocolate's run with cherry chocolate fudge cake. The cake was so moist and bouncy in a good way. But the cherries could do with a extra boost of rum for I couldn't detect any except for an occasional hint. 

It was nice to have everyone at the table, especially my grandma. I don't spend enough time with them now that I've moved out. Ah, I need to prioritize!