5.147 Yakisoba + Teriyaki Yakitori

-Cycle 5, Item 147-
1 (Sun) June 2014

Yakisoba + Teriyaki Yakitori


from Blue Sky (Kansai International Airport) [takeout]

in my apartment

-Ermita, Manila-


Expert Consultation on "Intersectoral Action on Health" + Personal Deviation, Day 5 (see previously 5.146 Shime Sabe Hako Sushi).

My first duty travel!  I've been dispatched to the World Health Organization Centre for Health Development (aka "WHO Kobe Centre" aka "WKC") in Kobe, Japan. From 29 (Thu) to 30 (Fri) June, I attended the Expert Consultation on "Intersectoral Action on Health."  The work was cool.  But more important--that is, for purpose of the blog--the trip promises to provide many new food experiences.  To maximize the opportunity, I'll be staying in the country through 1 (Sun) July--a "personal deviation" in WHO parlance--for a total of 2.5 days in Kobe, 2.5 days in Osaka.

Venue 10: Lotteria

Forgot to get a shot of the exterior.

For some reason, most of the seats are designed for solo diners.

Lotteria had never even crossed my mind until passing by this location and seeing this point-of-sale marketing poster; not that I really wanted the burger per se, but I was curious to see how different the Japanese business is from the Korean counterpart.

Lotteria is an American-style fast food chain.  Founded in Japan in 1972.  The parent company Lotte was founded by a Korean national in Japan in 1948, starting out as a producer of chewing gum, growing into one of Korea's largest conglomerates.  The restaurants can now be found widely across Japan and Korea, where it enjoys more than 50% market share, as well as Taiwan, Viet Nam, and Myanmar.  In addition to typical western burgers, the menus also offer Asianized versions, such as the shrimp burger, bulgogi burger, teriyaki burger, and other novelty items (see for example 3.039 Hanwoo Lady Burger).

Item 22: Breakfast Burger (4.0)--perhaps the best fast food burger that I've ever had, each component done just right...

...soft and squishy bun, toasted; made-to-order fried egg, perfectly soft-cooked (probably wouldn't be permitted in some countries due to safety concerns); delectably soy-seasoned beef patty, seemingly comprised of fresh beef, judging by the moist and crumbly texture--I was tempted to order another.

With the only flight to Manila departing in mid-afternoon, I only had time for breakfast and lunch before heading off to the airport.  Also, because I'd checked out of the hotel and had my luggage with me, mobility was limited, so I was inclined to go wherever was convenient.

Venue 11: Kamukura

As per most ramen joints, the ordering/paying takes place on the outside, via the ticket vending machine, before going in and sitting down.

 Also not very amenable to communal dining.

Item 23/24: Shoyu Ramen & Oninigiri & Gyoza Set + Egg + Kimuchi

Item 23: Shoyu Ramen (1.5)--noodles were nicely al dente but doughy in flavor; the broth was too salty and greasy for my tastes; the pork = porky; the egg, however, was perfect.

Item 24: Gyoza (2.0)--whatever.

Venue 12: Blue Sky (Kansai International Airport)

After lunch, I went to Osaka International Airport (ITM) instead of Kansai International Airport (KIX).  Despite the name, the former has handled only domestic flights since 1994, when the latter was opened for all international routes.  I'd flown in through KIX, so I was well aware of the difference, but I just wasn't thinking.  To get to KIX in time to catch my flight back to Manila, I had to take a taxi, which cost JPY 22,000 (about USD 220)--the blog's Number One Swedish Fan Gustaf informs me that this is what Swedes would call "läropengar" = "learning money": a stupid mistake* that costs money but imparts an unforgettable lesson.

Seeing the sunset upon arrival, it felt good to be back "home" in Manila.

*He told me this in the context of his own stupid mistake.  In our recent exchange of cooking ingredients (see generally 5.100 Tomatsill with Baguette Slices), I'd sent the package to the wrong place because the dumbass had given me his former mailing address.  After a couple weeks, when nobody had claimed it, the package was returned to Korea--fortunately, free of charge, courtesy of the Swedish postal system; I'd checked the box for "dispose" in the event of nondelivery (otherwise, I would've had to pay for the return).  Anyway, I sent it again, this time by surface--come to think of it, I had to pay for both shipments, so this was his mistake but the learning money came from me.  Anyway, the package should get there in about 6 months.

 Item 25: Yakisoba (1.5) + Item 26: Teriyaki Yakitori (2.0).

43 hours.

12 venues.

26 items.

2.65 average rating (by comparison, Taipei was 2.11 (see generally 5.111 Half Calf Tendon & Half Beef Noodles), Singapore was 2.71 (see generally 4.267 Chicken Rice)).

Despite the not-so-high rating, I was won over by the food and food culture.  In particular, I was impressed that Osakans obviously take immense care and respect and pride into the preparation of every single dish, from cooking technique and plating presentation to the actual balance of flavors and textures.  The only drawback is that the vast majority of establishments are Japanese, which may not be  a drawback per se, but in contrast I did appreciate the multi-cultural variety that Singapore had to offer.  Next time, if I stick to the items that I'll be inclined to like, the ratings for Osaka should shoot through the roof.  


  1. Really surprised to see that Lotteria actually serves some good burgers, all of the ones I have eaten have been really crappy...

    I can inform you your "läropengar" were well spent, nowadays I'm triple, or even quadruple-checking every time I'm ordering something online to see that I actually typed the right address :)

    And it shouldn't get here in 6 months, rather in 1 months at the most (since one month already has passed and my package took 2 months to arrive from Korea...)

    Btw we should get going with that North Korea cooking exchange! You, me and your Number-One-(American)-Fan!

  2. BTW, i met this Swedish guy recently--in the wake of yet another läropengar, which I'll write about whenever i get around to July--and I was trying to explain läropengar to him (I couldn't recall the actual word), but he had no idea what I was talking about. is this some kind of obscure concept, like something one might learn in a philosophy class?

    i resent the package by boat, so it should take much longer.

    north korean cooking, yes, definitely, but man i'm so busy these days, i can't think of when I'll be able to... let's shoot for mid-august.

  3. I don't think it is a "obscure" concept, but probably not something every Swede can be expected to know... As a counter-example; I have a book containing in excess 4000 korean idioms... Would you except every Korean to know the meaning of all of these by heart?
    Or every American to know the meaning of the saying "there's no such thing as a free lunch"..

    Speaking of swedish sayings, one of my favourites if probably "waiting for fried sparrows to fly into your mouth"... (Meaning; getting just what you want without any effort what so ever..) I remember when I used that expression with some friends, they had nooo idea what I was talking about... The saying was made more famous a couple of years ago though, when our King used it in his traditional Christmas speech to the nation.. and said something about "You have to have the power to chance your own life. You can't just sit around and wait for fried sparrows to fly into your mouth unless you make your outmost to do your best" (this said by the man in Sweden who has problaby had the most fried sparrows fly into his mouth... being qualified for his position just by being born...)

    It shouldn't take that long though. As I said, I sent a package by boat, and that took about 2 months...

    Yeah that could work!

  4. of course not every american knows every axiom/saying/etc. but I just thought that läropengar was just a word.

    from the beginning to the end of your story, all I can think about is: Are fried sparrows considered tasty in Swedish cuisine?

    And yes, that really is lame for a king to say something like that.

    I still have to make pea soup.

  5. Nah, you say it is more of an axiom or something...

    No, not that I'm aware of (maybe people ate them in times of famine hundreds of years ago?) Maybe in German cuisine though? The saying/axiom/whatever is originally from a German story...

    You definitely have to :P

    Btw I went on a business trip to Vienna last week. International Atomic Energy Agency. Tried to follow in your footsteps and experience Austrian/Viennaese food culture. But it just seemed so sad to go eat outside alone. I did eat some wiener schnitzel though (the origin or donkatsu?). The nicest dinner I had was actually with to Canadians. One of them, originally Korean but emigrated over 40 years ago, had been to Vienna several time in his job and knew a good restaurant close by, next to the Danube river, where you could enjoy pork ribs and nice czech beer. Easily the best meal of the trip, not only for the food but also the company. You can trust a Korean to find a good place to eat ;) The place was really local as well, we were some of the few non-Austrians at the place.

    This week I'm starting my first batch of summer vacation. Latvia, Lithuania and Serbia. Will do my best to follow in your food-travelling footsteps my friend!

  6. Why is it sad to eat alone? I now prefer to eat alone, because I can eat whatever I want, take as many photos as I want, etc. The only drawback is that I can't order very much, so I have to judge the experience based on 1 or 2 dishes.

    I've actually theorized on the blog that schnitzel is very likely the inspiration for tonkatsu. Japanese borrowed a lot from the Germans back in the day.

    Funny, someone recently told me that all of her "foodie" friends tend to be Korean. Are Koreans generally into food?? Odd, because I'm always ranting about how Koreans only eat Korean food, and Koreanize foreign food, and only order the same things.

    I can't even imagine what the food in Latvia etc. could be like. A lot of potatoes, pickled fish? Be sure to tell me all about it!

  7. I feel eating is such a social thing; to be able to cook with other people, to eat with other people, to talk about life, food and everything, to drink and eat with your friends, to make new friends etc etc... Plus I need either talk to someone, or have something to read or a video to watch while eating... Plus I like having someone to compare my experience of the food with...

    Not to be a prick, but a lot of Austrian would object to be called "German"....

    My observation would be that Koreans are really into food... With all these blogs, and tons and tons of tv programs just devoted to people going out to try new restaurants all the time. With every single restaurant, even lowly food trucks/waffle stands being "famous" etc... Maybe it's due to the fact that eat out is fairly affordable to almost anyone in Korea, while that is not the case it most (western) countries?

    Plus my friend always calls me and "asian" for taking pictures of food... This is a trend that has become fairly popular in the recent years though, probably due to the growing popularity of instragram and such sites/apps

    I will surely tell you about it, and show you pictures! (come to think of it, I haven't even gotten around to edit the photos I took last summer... working gives you a lot of less time and energy to take care of stuff like that...)

  8. I was just thinking last night that eating with others, especially people i don't know very well, which happens at WHO a lot because everyone's constantly in and out, is stressful, because I have to be mindful of being polite and not critical of food.

    yes, i regard schnitzel as originally austrian, but it's one of those shared dishes that germans eat just as much. like fish & chips in australia.

    no, i guess koreans do have a lot of mass media attention on food, but i'm just not convinced that it means that they know a lot about food. for example, what really annoys the hell out of me about all those cooking/restaurant programs is that, at some point, the host or whoever tastes the food and then comments about it, but the only thing that they ever say is, "Oooh, it's sooooo good," and a few stock phrases, like if it's a noodle shop, 1000% of the time, they'll say, "The noodles are so chewy (쫄깃쫄깃하다!)!" They don't have much experience or frames of reference to give anything more descriptive.

    I've never seen anyone at WHO but me take photos of food.

  9. 1) Yeah, that is true. It should be especially hard to try to be social while constantly taking pictures of your food :) And to be honest, at some points during my trip last week I wished I could have just gone and eaten alone. Like when we for our first and only lunch in Riga, Latvia just HAD to eat at a tourist hotel that only had dishes such a club sandwich etc... Or when we just had to eat at a kebab/falafel place not once, but TWICE i Belgrade, Serbia. Or when we got and ate PIZZA (american style), again in Belgrade... I didn't want to be a whiny kid so I didn' argue too much, and didn't want to cause trouble by wandering of alone to eat....

    2) Yeah I guess you are right.. A lot of dishes are shared across borders...

    3) That is probably due to the fact that those hosts are choosen more on them being a) famous, or b) funny, or c) both

    4) My friends all think I'm really weird to take pictures of food

  10. 1) better than korean tour groups, which take the travelers only to korean restaurants (if any) during the entire trip. about eating alone, I was just thinking about the social aspect, but yes, even worse, sometimes the group's choice of venue can be a bummer.

    3) yes, of course you're right, it's because they're not really food critics, but that in itself proves my point in that the producers and the viewers both seem to think that celebrity is more important than the substance of the food, meaning that society in general doesn't yet really know how to appreciate it.

    4) you're weird, but not because of the pictures.

  11. 1) Whaaat? Are you serious? What is even the point of going abroad if you won't experience anything new??

    3) yeah, that is kinda true and sad. There's actually two popular tv shows that ran on Swedish television earlier that would have fullfilled your wishes (hopefully). One was called "The food of China" (really boring title, I know). The host was the China correspondent for Swedish national television and he went around and tried food from different regions of China, while also interviewing different local chefs and experts on the food.. The other was this old guy, speaking fluent italian and having lived there for many years, who traveleld around Italy, interviewing different chefs and local and different harvest festivals etc to teach people more about Italian food culture.. should really try to watch them both..

    4) I am very well be, but so are you :P
    I actually showed your blog to a colleague of mine some weeks ago, and he almost got angry (not kidding) at the (in his eyes) stupidity of e.g. trying all the restaurants in a mall, or trying to eat as many different nation's food in a row etc... He considers us both semi-autistic (half-jokily) :)

  12. 1) you didn't know that about korean group tours?? i've talked to an actual tour agency manager about this, and he explained that while most in the group would like to try local food, there's always ALWAYS a few who can't handle it, to the point of starving, and as the company is responsible for their well-being, they have to stick to the korean restaurants, even if the majority complain about it, because the majority will still eat the korean food.

    as for the point of going abroad, i can't really argue with these people, because their position is that there's a lot to experience in a new country, not just the food, but for me personally, i'd be happy to stuff myself all day and never ever go see the sights or do anything "cultural," so I'm just as narrow-minded.

    3) you keep recommending all these programs that i know that i'd love, but come on, i haven't even had time to watch the latest season of Walking Dead.

    4) okay, i can see the stupidity of eating my way through the mall--i know the stupidity of it better than anyone on the planet, because I'm still living the fucking nightmare--but what's wrong with P31bO?? wasn't that the ultimate expression of experimentation and respect for multiculturalism and dedication to food? i thought that would bring me accolades, but sadly nobody seemed all that impressed by it.

  13. 1) You have probably mentioned it both to me and on this blog before, but it still baffles me... I would'nt be surprised if chinese tourists did something similar when they are abroad...

    I of course want to see and do stuff when I'm abroad, but I also think I have read this blog too much not to try to eat as many new types of foods as possible when I'm abroad.. I.e. food I wouldn't easily find at home... That's why I got kinda angry at my friends to wanting to eat pizza and falafel and kebab, which you can find in ANY locality in Sweden, regardless of how small it is....

    4) If I remember correctly, he saw it as an attempt with more emphasis on quantity than on quality... As he put it, he would rather spend lots of money on ONE good meal (i.e. the restaurant in Copenhagen that one year was awarded as THE best restaurant in the world according to Michelin guide...), than lots of money on lots and lots of different mediocre meals... Maybe I am the only one crazy enough to see the beuty in what you do?