b Happy Sumo Food Journal: April 2007

Sunday, April 22, 2007

Roach Coach - Akihabara District, Tokyo

Check it out, a roach coach selling doner kebab in Japan! Doner is a Turkish gyro, and I ate these all the time when I was stationed in Germany. I wish I had tried one here, but we had just finished eating lunch at an all-you-can-eat curry buffet and I was stuffed! Next time....

CHI-CHAN - Hiroshima, Japan

Okonomiyaki is kind of like chop suey on a crepe. It's a common working-class style dish and you can find restaurants where you can either cook it yourself, or where it's made to order. This restaurant is located in Hiroshima's Okonomi-mura, 3-3 Nakamachi, which consists of two floors of stalls selling the same thing, okonomiyaki.

I ordered the special, which included a mix of cabbage, noodles, bean sprouts, shrimp and squid, topped with a fried egg. I had thought that the dished was topped with a flourish of mayo, which would have made it better, but at this place, the only optional topping was a brown sauce, which was kind of like a watery tonkatsu sauce.

It cost 1050 yen, or about $9, certainly one of the cheapest meals I had in Japan. In the picture above, I've already eaten one-quarter, with one-quarter on my plate and another half still on the grill. It was a lot of food, but it wasn't to my taste. I'm not a big bean sprouts fan. I would probably not try this again, but am now able to check this dish off on my list of dishes to try.

Overall rating - 2 sumos

Saturday, April 21, 2007

CATHAY AIRLINES - 1st class dinner

I'm including this because I never fly first class, unless work is paying for it, and who am I to deviate from policy? This flight was from Hong Kong to Tokyo. You're actually handed a menu and get to choose what you want....on an airplane, what a concept! From the top of the photo we have "mugwort soba noodles," "salmon tataki," bread and "honey roasted carrot with orange segment and black olives." No, I have no idea what mugwort has to do with soba noodles.

For an entree, I chose the "Grilled fish fillet with bean curd skin, japanese rice and mixed japanese vegetables." I figured since I was on my way to Japan, I should prepare myself gastronomically.

The dessert course was cheese and fresh seasonal fruit, plus these cool, tiny little Haagen-Dazs ice cream cups. Somehow I didn't get a picture of those, I guess I ate them too quickly.

Overall rating - 3 sumos


The Po Lin Monastery on Lantau Island is known for having the world's largest, seated Buddha statue made of bronze. With all those qualifiers, I'm sure that there is a plethora of "world's largest" Buddha statues throughout Asia.

There is a recently built tramway from the port that is much quicker than the old, but still running, bus service. There are banners hanging from each tramway support column that state "The path to enlightenment!" At Po Lin, the path first leads you through a bunch of shops. I guess Vegas casino designers got their inspiration here.

Besides the statue, the other thing that the Po Lin monastery is known for is its vegetarian meals. I'm a lot of things, but I'm not a vegetarian. But I figured, when in Po Lin...if anyone can make a tasty vege-meal it should be these folks, right? I was underwhelmed, and still hungry after everything was gone.

Overall rating - 2 sumos


This is regarded as one of the best places in Hong Kong to get dim sum. The guidebooks say either to bring a local with you, or to come early, otherwise you may not get good service. Luckily for me, I had jet lag, so I was up with plenty of time to get there when they opened at 7 am. It's located at 24-26 Stanley St, in the Central District.

Since we got there right when they opened, it wasn't busy at all, and we got the food from the carts right out of the kitchen. It was all quite good. Much better than what you can find in Denver, but I didn't find it any better than what you can get in Alhambra or Monterey Park. I didn't pay but I remember it being a little pricey.

Overall rating - 3 sumos

TAO LEE YUEN - Hong Kong

This casual, diner style restaurant is located in the middle of the Temple Street Night Market, at 119 Temple St., Yau Ma Tei, in Kowloon. After spending a few hours perusing authentic Onega and Siwss Arny watches and wandering through what appeared to be a location set from a John Woo movie, it was time to eat.

For my first meal in Hong Kong, since it is just south of Canton (Guangzhou), I had to get the classic Cantonese (or at least Americanized Cantonese) dish of sweet and sour pork. It was a tough choice, as everything on the menu looked good. I splurged and got the set meal, which included soup, rice and tea.

The price was $36 HK dollars, or about $4.50. This was the best, cheapest meal I had while I was here. Good portion, freshly made, very tasty.

Overall rating - 3.5 sumos

EL GAVILAN - Arequipa, Peru

One of the mainstays of Peruvian cuisine was influenced by the large number of Chinese immigrants in the 19th century. Known as Chifa from the mandarin words "chi fan", meaning 'to eat rice,' these restaurants can be found throughout Peru. Although the best are supposedly in Lima, this restaurant was just down the street from our roach hotel. El Gavilan is located at 110 Calle Puente Bolognesi, just west of the Plaza de Armas.

As you can see from the picture below, the most expensive item on the menu was five sols, about $1.50...but I was on a budget!

I got the Fried Rice, or Arroz Chaufa, for the princely sum of three sols. The serving was huge, too much to finish, although believe me I tried. It wasn't up to the quality of say, Sam Woo's fried rice, but it was good.

Overall rating - 2.5 sumos