Saturday, December 22, 2012

Tonkotsu Ramen: Yamabiko

I am not a big fan of cold weather....unless I am playing in some beautiful, fluffy snow. BUT, I do like that cold weather means RAMEN SEASON! Not that you can't eat ramen any other time of the year. There is nothing like a nice, hot bowl of ramen on a cold wintry day though. Well, except maybe a nice, hot bowl of udon. I'm a big fan of both!

So, I have passed this place many times and have been wanting to try it, but I just never did. Until last week! I went for lunch and it was pretty tasty so I went back with my camera for dinner less than a week later.

They have an English menu!! I didn't see it when I went for lunch, but I think it's because I spoke Japanese when I walked in. When I went back for dinner, I didn't say anything and they brought over an English menu. Yay! Of course I took a picture of it!!


I think the menu is pretty self explanatory, but I do want to let you know that the "special pork ramen" is just thicker sliced pork pieces. The "pirikara-men" is a slightly spicy ramen. Haha! I just realized that it looks like "spicy men"....kind of. I'm very easily distracted... and apparently, very easily amused. The "goma dango" is a very yummy fried mochi ball covered in sesame seeds, with sweet bean inside. Mmmmm!! One of my favorites!!!

I went with a couple of friends so we each ordered a bowl of ramen and then we got one order of the fried rice, and the gyoza to share. Their fried rice and their gyoza was pretty tasty. I still prefer the gyoza at Nagahama Ramen (I blogged about this yummy place already), but the ramen here is pretty tasty. The soup and the noodles are definitely different from the other ramen places I have blogged about.

Here are some pictures of the yummy food -

Yummy fried rice!!


And now for the most important dish.....

Doesn't that look good???? If you don't like green onions or the pork, you can order it without it.

If you go during lunch, they offer a lunch special for 900yen. You get a bowl of ramen, one rice ball, two pieces of gyoza, and two pieces of fried chicken. I believe they do a similar set for dinner, but it doesn't start until 6pm. I will also warn you that the fried chicken is typical Japanese fried chicken. With the skin and the fat. I pulled mine apart and just ate the meat. I do suggest pulling it apart and not just biting into it or else you might get a fatty surprise. It's not very pleasant.

Ramen is going to taste different at each restaurant. There are different types of soups and different types of noodles, and each place typically has their own special recipe for the soup. Yamabiko is a tonkotsu style soup so it is pork based. I thought the soup was very good and light on flavor. There are condiments on the table you can add to your rament to boost the flavor or spiciness if you want. So while I really did like the ramen here, you might not like it as much as Nagahama or some other rament place you've been to in the past. This is why I think it's a great idea to try them all! I have blogged about two other places in this area that you can try out.

To get to Yamabiko Ramen, go out the Main Gate and go straight. You want to go to three corners (just go straight until the road comes to a T intersection....this is known as "three corners") and turn right. Continue on this road until it kind of comes to Route 2 (it will be the intersection after you go over some railroad tracks). Turn left here and you will see Mos Burger on your left and McDonald's on your right. Keep going straight. When you see a men's clothing store on your left, you should look on the right for the restaurant. I got there too late to get any photos of the outside from a distance (really bad traffic and too dark), but I did take a picture of what you might see when approaching the restaurant from this direction.

Look for this sign on the right and this is where you will turn. There used to be a guitar shop behind Yamabiko. Even though it is closed, they never took the sign down and this is what I used as my landmark when I first spotted this restaurant.

I did get one shot of the inside too...

They do have quite a bit of parking in the back so that shouldn't be an issue.

The next time you're in the mood for some ramen, give Yamabiko a try and let me know what you think!

Thursday, August 16, 2012

Zona Italia

A beautiful restaurant with great food and an amazing view! Zona Italia is located in Itsukaichi which is near Hiroshima city. I have been going to this beautiful restaurant for a few years now, and it never disappoints. The food, the view, and the service have been wonderful every time.

They have an English menu and a couple of people on their staff speak English. Definitely a plus!

I do recommend that you go with the set. You get some appetizers, your choice of pasta or pizza, garlic bread (all-you-can-eat), a dessert, and a drink. The sets run anywhere from around 3,500yen and up. The cost depends on which pasta or pizza you choose. We all ordered the set and before we knew it they were bringing out our appetizers.

This was the view from our table that we enjoyed while we were waiting....

Just had to throw that out there. Great view.

....and then they brought out our first appetizer.

If you don't like fish or cannot eat fish, they are more than happy to substitute with something else. Just let them know when you place your order.

...and then our second appetizer

...and then our third appetizer

Did I mention the garlic bread?

One of the pastas that we ordered.

I believe this was the eggplant and ricotta cheese pasta. Yum!

One of the pizzas that we ordered...

This pizza was pretty amazing. It had homemade sausage on it.

Now it's time for dessert!

This really is a great restaurant for a date night. Great food and great view!

Here is a shot of the front entrance area -

If you are going on a weekend, I highly recommend reservations.

Their phone number is - (0825) 27-2311

To get to this amazing restaurant, I usually take the expressway to Hatsukaichi. Once you exit the expressway, go to the left. You'll be on this road for a little while (20-30 minutes). The exit for Zona is the one after the Shoko Center exit. I can't remember the name of it, but I know it's the one after the Shoko Center (which is the exit for AlPark Mall). When you exit, turn left at the light. Go straight and you should see a sign on your right at the next intersection. Turn right and follow the road up for a minute, and you should see Zona Italia on your right. They do have a decent amount of parking. You can also just hop on the 2 the whole way, but I prefer taking the expressway part of the way. From Otake to Hatsukaichi is only about 500yen so the cost isn't too bad.

Monday, June 25, 2012

TAJ Indian Restaurant

I had bread class on Saturday and we didn't get back until around 5:30pm. I wasn't very hungry because we ate a late lunch and it seemed like our lunch lasted forever. Honestly, I was thinking I would be able to just skip dinner. 7:30pm I was starting to get hungry. Jason called me and when I mentioned dinner, he said he was kind of hungry too. Then somehow TAJ came up in our conversation about dinner. The next thing I knew, we were on our way to TAJ.

Jason had never been, and I had only been once before so we were both pretty excited. I even remembered to grab my camera so I could get pictures for my blog post.

AND!!!! I remembered to take a picture of the outside!!!

The first time I went to TAJ I ordered the eggplant curry. Oh. My. Goodness. Very yummy!

Jason and I looked over the menu and we decided to order a few different dishes and share everything. So, we ordered the Shrimp Salad, Chicken Tikka, Chicken Masala Curry, Garlic Nan, and Almond Nan.

Shrimp Salad

Chicken Tikka

Almond Nan

Chicken Masala Curry (level "HOT")

Garlic Nan

Everything we ordered was very tasty. Their curry seems more tomato based compared to other Indian restaurants I have been to, but it was very good. I don't think we had anything left when we were done. Hmmm....maybe I should have taken a picture of our plates after we were done. Empty plates are always a good sign.

Their menu is in English too, which is another plus.

They are open for lunch from 1100-1430, and then for dinner from 1700-2130. Their phone number is (0827)23-6709. They do speak English.

To get to this wonderful Indian Restaurant, go out Main Gate. At the first light turn right. Follow that road and go over the bridge. Pass Mike's Tex Mex, and at the 2nd light after Mike's, turn left. Go up the loopy over pass. At the light, turn right (like you're heading to the train station). When you get to the rotary, make sure you are in the left lane. As you're going by the rotary, you'll see Coco Curry on your left. Turn left down the street right next to Coco Curry. Follow that road all the way to the end. At that light, you should be able to see TAJ across the street. They do have parking available. If you know your way around Route 2, TAJ is located right off the 2, going away from McDonald's towards Otake.

If you like eggplant, I say go for the eggplant curry! The Chicken Masala was very yummy too though. Personally, I like to order different dishes and share them with my dinner date. The prices are pretty reasonable too. I think for everything we ordered, it was about 2,000yen. According to their sign outside, they also offer sets where you can get chicken curry or pork curry and nan or rice for 790yen. Not bad at all.

Give TAJ a try and let me know what you think!

Tuesday, April 24, 2012

SOBATAMAYA - Okonomiyaki

Although I have spent most of my life in Iwakuni, I had never heard of Sobatamaya until earlier this year. Any time I hear about a good okonomiyaki place, my ears perk up. Especially if it is here in Iwakuni. I had to try it out.

They do authentic Hiroshima style okonomiyaki here and it is very good. After trying it a few times now, I have to say it is the best okonomiyaki restaurant in Iwakuni. Apparently a lot of other people agree with me because the place is always packed when I go. Last night was no exception. I went with a couple of friends from high school (GO Samurais!! Yes...the three of us are M.C.Perry graduates) and we got there pretty early (around 6:15). There was only one other customer inside. Once we sat down and ordered, people started coming and they didn't stop. Even after the place was full, people kept coming. They even had some to-go orders so they were very busy. So, I do have to warn you that your food will probably take about 20 minutes to prepare. It's so worth the wait though! And if you sit at the counter, you get to watch them prepare it which is always pretty cool.

They do have English menus. Yay!

I always order the "House Special" which is soba noodles, pork, and egg. You can also add little extras if you want. One of my friends got hers with green onions and my other friend got his with cheese. I have never had it with cheese so I think I will have to try that next time.

We talked and watched as they prepared our okonomiyaki. Before we knew it, they were placing yummy okonimiyaki right in front of us!

I couldn't wait to dig into mine!

It was very yummy!!!! I should have taken a picture of the empty spot in front of me after I finished because I ate the whole thing!

To get to this amazing okonomiyaki restaurant, go out Main Gate. Turn right at the first light. Follow that road and go over the bridge. You'll pass Mike's Tex Mex and at the second light after Mike's, turn left. You'll go over a loopy over pass and there will be a light at the bottom. Go straight and at the first light, turn right. At the second cross street, turn left. There is a pay parking lot on the left corner that you'll see as you turn left. It is the only pay parking I know of that is near the restaurant, but it is 200yen for 30 minutes! Ridiculous. Once you turn left, you should see the restaurant on your left. First, you'll see a Japanese style restaurant and then an Italian restaurant (I heard this place is really good too!!).....and then I think the okonomiyaki place is next. There is a sliding door and a noren hanging outside. *sigh* Yes....I forgot to take a picture of the front. Again. I also forgot to get the hours of operation. I will get it and then I will just update this post. Now you know where it's at though so you can go and have some amazing okonimiyaki!

Editing to add address and telephone number -

Address: 6-8-22 Marifumachi Iwakuni Yamaguchi
Telephone: 0827-24-2080
Hours: 1700-2200
CLOSED on Wednesdays

Wednesday, March 7, 2012


This is one of those places that I have been to a few times, but didn't have my camera with me. I know....shocking!

Today I was prepared though. Go me! AND I even remembered to take a picture of the outside of the restaurant. I know. I even surprise myself sometimes.

Primavera is a restaurant that is not too far from the base. It's not a very large restaurant, but I like the atmosphere and I have yet to be disappointed with the food.

I do have to mention that they do not have an English menu, but they do have some pictures. Gosh, if nothing else, go in just for a cappuccino. You'll see why in a little bit.

The item on the upper left is the hamburger set that I got. I'm very curious about the "Pork Ginger" that is right next to it.....I may have to order that next time!

The last time I went, my friend ordered the hamburger steak with Japanese sauce and it looked and smelled amazing! So, I had already decided before I got there that I was going to order the hamburger steak today. With the Japanes sauce ("Wafu sauce").
Then we opened up the menus and they have this wonderful lunch special where you get to choose your pasta and you get garlic bread and a little salad and some dessert. I started to lean a little. One of the pasta choices was a chicken and lotus root pasta. Yep, you know it. My eyes brightened at the sight of "renkon" (lotus root) on the menu. Oh, but I really had my heart set on the hamburger steak. Good thing I went with a group of ladies! Two of them ordered the chicken and renkon pasta! Yay! Two of them ordered a vegetable, garlic pasta. And then one of them ordered a lunch plate. Of course I took pictures of everything!!

Small salad that came with my hamburger steak lunch-

The little salad and soup and ....hmmm..I forgot to ask what that third item was..but this came with the pasta lunch sets -

I also got a little bowl (cute bowls!!) of soup with my lunch -

Then my hamburger steak came out! Yummy!! It had lots of grated daikon (like a radish) mixed into the Japanese sauce on top. There are two other choices for sauce. One is tomato and the other is demi glace. I really like the wafu sauce though! -

Chicken and Lotus Root pasta in Arabiata Sauce. I tried the lotus root and ...Mmmm..tasty! -

Vegetable, garlic pasta. Oh my goodness! LOTS of garlic! I LOVE garlic though so I thought it was pretty fantastic! -

Lunch plate. Sampling of a few different things. Looks yummy!!! -

Then, we got out cappuccinos. OH. MY. GOSH. Could they be any cuter?!

None of us wanted to drink them! But we did, and they make some really good cappuccinos at Primavera!

The ladies who ordered the pasta lunch also got this really cute dessert!

LOVE the presentation!!!! And the ladies said it tasted pretty good too!

To get to this lovely restaurant, go out Main Gate and turn right at the very first light. Follow that road over the bridge and past Mike's TexMex. Go through the intersection and keep going straight. After the next light, you should see a break in the road that allows you to make a right turn. Turn right and you should see a playground/park straight ahead. At the stop sign, turn left and then turn right. The park should be on your right now. Primavera is on the right, right after you pass the park. They have parking. I do recommend that you make reservations. They were completely booked when we went for lunch today. Their number is (0827)22-0566. They also have an ad in the Preview magazine that shows what their hours are.

Monday, March 5, 2012

Trattoria-Pizzeria Polipo

I have been a horrible foodie lately. Not because I haven't been going out to eat. I have. BUT I haven't been blogging about it. I have an excuse. I've been cheating. With another blog. And a camera. I know! It's awful. I thought I could handle both blogs, but it's so hard to split my time up evenly between the two. I'm so enamored with my new camera right now that all I want to do is go out and play with it. I'm realizing that my foodie blog needs some attention too so I'm trying to be better about dividing my attention. Makes me wonder about those people who date more than one person, or those who cheat on their spouses. When and how do they ever find the time?!?! I'm getting a little sidetracked.

This post is supposed to be about this wonderful little Italian restaurant that Jason and I went to on Saturday night. It's a little bit of a drive to get to, but it was SO worth it! I heard about this amazing place from Kristen a little while ago and had been wanting to try it out.

It took us about 45 minutes to get to the restaurant. The traffic was kind of horrible for most of the drive so keep that in mind if you decide to check this place out. They do have parking in front, but it's only enough for 3 or 4 cars. Luckily, we were able to get a spot.

We were running a little bit late and I was worried they would give our table away so I forgot to get a picture of the front of the restaurant (sorry!!). I didn't take any of the inside either, but not because I forgot. Because it was super packed and it's not a very big place so I didn't feel comfortable shooting while people were eating. Maybe when we go back it won't be so packed.

Unfortunately, they do not have an English menu. They also do not have pictures in the menu. And to top it all off, they don't have anyone on staff who can speak English. That's what makes it so adventurous though! Right?? Lucky for us, I speak Japanese and I can read a little.

After perusing through the menu and kind of sort of checking out what the people around us were eating, we noticed that everyone had what looked like a platter of different little appetizers. So, I looked and saw that they offered an "Antipasto Mist" on the menu. I ordered one of those. I have to apologize about the picture. Um, we were really hungry. Like, stomach talking (and not saying very nice things) hungry when we arrived at the restaurant. It took us a little while to place our order and then a little while for them to bring out the Antipasto platter. AND (this is where it really fell apart for me) everything looked and smelled so amazing when they placed it in the middle of our table. I don't really remember much for about 10 minutes after that. I think there were some noises coming from us. Something like, "Mmmm.....oh my goodness. Did you try any of THAT yet?" You get the idea. Then I kind of sat there in horror, looking at what was left on the platter. I completely forgot to take a picture! So, I grabbed my camera and got this shot of what was left. The mozzarella balls were amazing. The thing to the right is eggplant with something in it (YUMMY!). There were a lot of fish items on the platter so if you don't like fish, this is not for you.

"Antipasto Mist"

We also ordered a pizza. They will let you do half and half so we ordered half Pizza Margherita and half Pizza Capricciosa Bianca. The pizza was thin and sooooo good. I did remember to take a picture before we demolished it.

"1/2 Margherita and 1/2 Capricciosa Bianca Pizza"

We debated on whether we should order a pasta to share or not, but in the end we decided not to. We were afraid it would be too much since the antipasto platter was pretty big and the pizza was pretty big. It was a good decision. We were both comfortably full afterwards. I did see some delicious looking pasta coming out though so we are definitely going to go back!

I did decide I wanted a little dessert though. So we shared a couple of scoops of Espresso Chocolate Gelato. It was quite tasty and a wonderful way to top of our amazing dinner.

Jason and I also enjoyed a glass of the house wine which was very good. Our bill for the evening came out to less than 5,000yen. I think that's pretty good for great food and great atmosphere. We will definitely be going back!

If you decide to check Polipo out, check their website out at
It is all in Japanese though so you will have to find a nice Japanese person to translate it for you.

Polipo is located near the Miyajima Ferry port. If you are coming off the ferry and you walk to the left, and walk along the seawall, you should see a wooden waterwheel on your right. Keep walking straight and you'll see Polipo straight ahead of you. I strongly recommend making reservations. The place was completely full when we went on Saturday night, and they were turning people away. Of course, if you are in the area you should definitely stop by and see if you can get in. It's all about timing sometimes. I just know the good places usually get booked up on the weekends around here.

Here is their phone number - (0829)56-5308
They are open for lunch from 1130-1500, and then for dinner from 1730-2200.

Thursday, February 16, 2012

Oyster Festival in Miyajima

There are a few things I don't like about the winter months, but there are definitely some things I absolutely LOVE about the winter months. Food is a big one. Ummmm......actually, food might be, wait. I do love the snow. I wish it would snow here, but it doesn't look like it's going to happen this year. I guess I really need to get in my car and drive up to the mountains so I can get some snow pictures. Ah, but I digress. We were talking about food.

Oyster season typically begins in September, but I don't think they really taste good until January/February. I think the colder it is, the better they taste. Miyajima is known for oysters (among many other things), and every year in February they host an Oyster Festival. I have been a few times and it's super crowded, but it's a lot of fun. I went this year with a great group of friends who love to eat and take pictures almost as much as I do.

We went this past Sunday and when we got off of the ferry, we saw the area to the right had been set up with tents and there was a stage. I was told there would be a Taiko Drum show in the afternoon. As I'm looking around, I realize there are long lines of people in the tent area. At the end of each line there is someone holding up a sign. One said, "Fried Oysters 1 for 200yen" I just thought these people were crazy. There are oysters being sold all over the place. Why stand in a really long line if you don't have to? Hmmmm......maybe the fried oysters at that tent were supposed to be amazing? I wasn't going to find out. I did not feel like standing in any really long line for food. So, on we went.

Instead of turning left and walking down the covered area with all of the shops and restaurants, we decided to walk by the water. It was kind of cold, but nothing unbearable. We thought we'd walk a little and keep an eye out for a food stand that had oysters. There was a little white stand on the left that caught our attention.

It looked like a lemonade stand. It wasn't the lemons that caught my eye though. It was the sign that said "oyster chowder" and the fact that he took yen and dollars. I have never seen any place in Miyajima advertise that they take dollars too. Very nice! He also had signs in English! I really wanted to try that oyster chowder so after a couple of other people in my group ordered it, I walked up and ordered one for myself. After a few minutes, he came around with a cup full of chowder. It smelled so good! And it was hot. Perfect for a cold day. We decided to sit down and enjoy our oyster chowder. It tasted really good. There were whole oysters in it and onions and carrots and some potato chunks. Yummy! While we sat there and enjoyed our chowder, the owner of the lemon stand brought us some candied lemon peel that he made himself. OH. MY. GOSH. The lemon peel was very good. I love that he uses all parts of the lemon and doesn't let anything go to waste. He sells fresh squeezed lemon juice and lemon cakes and candied lemon peel. If that wasn't wonderful enough, he sauteed up some oysters with seasoning that he also sells. Wow! Those oysters were the best oysters I have ever had! Seriously! This guy was amazing! I want to go back! Now!

Yummy oysters!!!

As we were sitting there inhaling the sauteed (not sure if I am spelling this right....) oysters, I looked across the way and there was an okonomiyaki stand across from the amazing oyster chowder stand. They were selling fried oysters.......and there wasn't a super long line. My friends went up and ordered some. I kept looking over and wondering if they were selling oyster okonomiyaki. This was an oyster festival after all. So, Danielle and I went over to take pictures of the okonomiyaki cooking on the grill and there were oysters grilling right next to them! Ohhhhhh....if only I weren't so full! I ate so many sauteed oysters.....and I had a whole cup of oyster chowder. I just couldn't eat anything else. I did get some pictures though.

Doesn't that look good?!

And here's a picture of the fried oysters -
Yes, that is a beer next to it. It's Miyajima beer. I got to taste somme orange beer and it was okay. I'm not a beer person though so I'm not really impressed by any beer.

And just because I know you think all I did was eat and take pictures of food -
I took other pictures too!!!

If you missed the oyster festival last weekend, you don't have to wait until next year to get some yummy oysters. Oysters are still being grilled and fried and sold all over the island, and will be for at least the next few weeks. I tried to get pictures of the guys grilling them in front of the restaurants, but there were too many people! Miyajima is easy to get to by the local train. I usually purchase round trip tickets at the window and it includes the ferry ticket. I believe it was 980yen for the round trip train and ferry. Not bad. So, if you like oysters head on over to Miyajima this weekend and check out the many different oyster dishes available!