Monday, 22 December 2014

Food, Travelling & Living: Food And Fun Of Okinawa -- Day 3



Hot chicken pot
Image from Locky's English Playground
Cold early Okinawa morning with a hot Japanese style breakfast was simply wonderful! After having the cold western style yesterday, this one is an official redemption.

Lovely Japanese breakfast
Image from Locky's English Playground
The set looks fabulus, comes with rice, hot soup, and a number of side dishes.

Tofu
Image from Locky's English Playground
Tofu was ... well, tofu-like.

Grapefruit with green tea jelly
Image from Locky's English Playground
Grapefruit is fine. Green tea jelly was not everyone's favourite but I am fine with that.

Marinated fish, seaweed, fried chicken, sour plum
Image from Locky's English Playground
Appetizer-like sides including marinated fish, seaweed, fried chicken were all lovely! Sour plum I mixed it with the hot rice, and it tasted funny in a good way.

Onsen egg
Image from Locky's English Playground
Onsen egg was pretty raw, but I devoured the whole egg anyway.

Pork and seaweed roll
Image from Locky's English Playground
Pork and seaweed roll were nice. Nothing spectacular about them.

Pan fried salmon
Image from Locky's English Playground
This was the best! It was nicely pan-fried, the salmon meat was just the right temperature in the mouth, and it comes with a pinch of sea salt that brought up the flavour! Yummy!

Rice and miso soup
Image from Locky's English Playground
Sweetened dried noodle fish
Image from Locky's English Playground
And this sweetened dried noodle fish was everyone's favourite, serves best with hot rice or congee.

View from the dining hall
Image from Locky's English Playground
After breakfast, a little wait at the dining hall and then back to the room we prepare to check out.


Magnetic signs on the room door
Image from Locky's English Playground
It was only this day that we discovered that the room door has a metal layer which allowed magnetic signs to be placed anywhere on the room door.

Driving towards aquarium
Image from Locky's English Playground
First destination was the Okinawa Churaumi Aquarium. Yeah, I know I should not have gone and support the idea of animal captivity, but I must see the situation with my own eyes.

Arrived at the Okinawa Churaumi Aquarium
Image from Locky's English Playground
So my wife's friend Alky who shared our room the night before, my wife and I drove the crappy Toyota there.

Panoramic view of the plaza
Image from Locky's English Playground
View from the entrance
Image from Locky's English Playground
The view was again, amazing! The question is, we should look beyond all these scenic beauty.

Whale shark statue
Image from Locky's English Playground
Okinawa is all about whale sharks, as the three whale sharks in captivity has brought fame and cash to the city.

Inside the aquarium
Image from Locky's English Playground
I was excited by the fact that I would be seeing live whale sharks for the first time and feeling upset these sharks are imprisoned for display.

3 young whale sharks!!!
Image from Locky's English Playground
And there I was, mesmerized by the gentle giants, all three of them.

View from below, a female whale shark
Image from Locky's English Playground
Though judging by their sizes, they are still youngsters, and they are capable of growing twice as large. This worries me, as the aquarium is in fact way too small to fit even 3 youngster whale sharks. And things got worst when I saw the following...


Dolphins are natural enemies of sharks, though these whale sharks did not seem to fear these dolphins, there is no way that they are being put together. Dolphins are fun loving mammals, for them trying to grab a bite out of the wire gauze protected tail fin of the sharks may just be a joke, but for the sharks, it could lead to bacterial infections that could kill them. Close observation the tails of the whale sharks revealed bite marks and scratches, and these fresh marks were not present when we look at older videos of the same sharks on the internet before the dolphins had been introduced into the same tank.

View from above
Image from Locky's English Playground
Taking a better look at the aquarium from above and we realised that the tank in reality, is much smaller than we saw through the glass.

A whale shark from the above
Image from Locky's English Playground
It was painful to see these gigantic fish doing rounds in such a small tank.

Glass wall sample of the aquarium
Image from Locky's English Playground

Process of catching the whale sharks
Image from Locky's English Playground
On the wall, there are photos and illustrations of the whale shark capturing, and of course, they were captured as babies.

Whale shark baby
Image from Locky's English Playground
How many died before their successful attempt? After visiting, I went to the write down my angry comments on a questionnaire.

Angry feedback!
These people must be out of their minds!!!

Tempura
Image from Locky's English Playground
Exhausted and hungry, we did not visit other aquariums and left the park for AEON, where food could be found.

Sanuki Udon Hanamaru @ AEON
Image from Locky's English Playground
We settled for this Sanuki Udon Hanamaru, which offers udon sets with tempura of your own choice.

Cold udon with selected tempura
Image from Locky's English Playground
I can't say they are delicious, but they were really not bad. Not knowing what tempura we were ordering was the only inconvenience.

Solar panels for sale!!!
Image from Locky's English Playground
This AEON is very much unlike the ones in Hong Kong, for one thing, they do not sell solar panels in Hong Kong.

These are rice in boxes
Image from Locky's English Playground
For another, they do not sell rice in box sets.

Route to Naha
Image from Locky's English Playground

Moving on to our gathering place for dinner, we drove all the way back to Naha.

Heading to restaurant for dinner
Image from Locky's English Playground
The sun set was great, the GPS showed we were driving in the middle of some forests.

At the Okonomiyaki restaurant
Image from Locky's English Playground
We met up with the rest of the 14+ people gang at an Okonomiyaki restaurant at American Village.

Okonomiyaki
Image from Locky's English Playground
And yes, the okonomiyaki were gorgeous!

Egg omelette
Image from Locky's English Playground
So was the omelette.

Big turner and small turner
Image from Locky's English Playground
Raw material
Image from Locky's English Playground
Semi-product
Image from Locky's English Playground
Not so much for this one though, as it took more than 45 mins to even become slightly solid.

Still not fulling cooked
Image from Locky's English Playground
Everyone had finished their food, and we were still trying to cook this.

Food served while waiting
Image from Locky's English Playground
The beef was nice, but was nothing like the beef I had on day 1.


That's all we paid for our 5-person table
Image from Locky's English Playground
Well, but if you look at the price, there is not much I can complain about. For 5 people it only cost HK$188!!!

Back to car park to get the dumb car
Image from Locky's English Playground
Time for the drive back to our new mini hotel, where I immediately connected to the WiFi and uploaded that dolphin biting whale sharks tail video onto YouTube.


Resources:

Food, Travelling & Living: Food And Fun Of Okinawa -- Day 2 @ Locky's English Playground
http://lockyep.blogspot.hk/2014/12/food-travelling-living-food-and-fun-of_15.html


Food, Travelling & Living: Food And Fun Of Okinawa -- Day 1 @ Locky's English Playground
http://lockyep.blogspot.hk/2014/12/food-travelling-living-food-and-fun-of.html


Monday, 15 December 2014

Food, Travelling & Living: Food And Fun Of Okinawa -- Day 2



Time for resting
Image from Locky's English Playground
The day started with the sleep preparation, as we were both exhausted by the dangerous GPS-less night driving. We were lucky to have survived that drive in complete darkness tailing a car in front which had a tiny little braking light. I will remember my first 3 times speeding past red lights happened in Okinawa.

Maybe a nice bath first
Image from Locky's English Playground
The hotel bathtub has to be the best I have ever seen. It was clean and new and big enough for 2 adults and two babies! Its design is simply fantastically caring! With a lower step for adults to climb out or kids to sit on.

Complete set
Image from Locky's English Playground
The Japanese's level of attention to details can be seen everywhere from oral hygiene to hair tidiness...

Look at the sound button
Image from Locky's English Playground
... to psychological comfort. See that SOUND button in the photo on top? You can use that to play fake toilet flushing sound to cover the sound you make during urination and defecation. How cool is that?

Cheap tour tickets for sale at the hotel
Image from Locky's English Playground
They also know that you would be interested in visiting different theme parks and tourist hotspots, so they provided the best price for these familtainments. Turns out they are the same price as you buy from local convenient stores like Family Mart, Lawson and CoCo! So don't bother going to convenient stores, just purchase from the hotel.

Snacks for the night
Image from Locky's English Playground
And whenever one goes on holiday, they tend to get hungry much more easily, snacks are highly advisable.


Panoramic view from the hotel room
Image from Locky's English Playground
Light through the curtains and it was hello to the first sunrise in Okinawa. The view from the room balcony was amazing!

The hotel's beach
Image from Locky's English Playground
Too bad we were here in the wrong season, the strong cold sea breeze turned out to be a good opponent for my 90% down Uniqlo jacket.

Round 1 of the western breakfast at the hotel
Image from Locky's English Playground
Breakfast came in two choices, western and Japanese. Day 1 we had western and thought it was a safer choice, didn't think the food would be barely considered warm enough.

Round 2
Image from Locky's English Playground
Taste-wise, the food was a little towards the bland side, but the health-conscious will not mind.

Round 3
Image from Locky's English Playground
As for the yoghurt, well, can simply forget about it.

Panorama of the chapel of the hotel
Image from Locky's English Playground
Before my wife's best friend's wedding began, we took time to have a stroll.

Hotel from the chapel
Image from Locky's English Playground
It was a nice day but the wind was almost the speed of typhoon 8 in Tsim Sha Tsui.

Fallen cove by the beach
Image from Locky's English Playground
The strong wind explains why the trees are mostly growing sideways.

Panoramic view of the beach
Image from Locky's English Playground
Another panoramic shoot
Image from Locky's English Playground
The sand on the beach was so fine, felt really comfortable to walk, even with shoes on, I could feel the softness and fineness.

Porous eroded rocks by the beach
Image from Locky's English Playground
The porous eroded rocks by the beach must have got a high composition of sandstones, creating a very interesting shape for the shoreline.

Piece of dead coral
Image from Locky's English Playground
The night before must have been a very rough sea, many corals and sea creatures were washed up.

Some sort of sea cucumber-like creature with a very hard back
Image from Locky's English Playground
Including this sea cucumber-like creature with super hardback but a much softer belly,

An near-death drying up baby sea snake
Image from Locky's English Playground
and this poisonous baby banded sea krait sea snake, almost dried up on the sand.


It was still moving defensively when I first found it, but it had no hope of returning to the ocean on its own.


So, how can I not save it from near death?

Chapel front door
Image from Locky's English Playground

The chapel is beautiful from the outside,

Image from Locky's English Playground
and is even better from the inside. Too bad the priest was too much of an actor than a faithful father.

Graves by the Cape Manzamo
Image from Locky's English Playground
One of the most eye-catching things in Okinawa is the abundance of graves, surprisingly rather semi-Chinese and semi-Japanese style. They are almost everywhere, including two right beside the hotel.

Road safety reminder statue of a matchman and a cross above a stone stand
Image from Locky's English Playground
Another would be how common it is to see statues reminding drivers to drive safely on the road. They come in all sorts of appearance, mostly cute matchmen and cartoony devils in underpants.

Lawson outside the entrance of Cape Manzamo
Image from Locky's English Playground
And I just love to see convenient stores with free parking spaces, so convenient!

Huge rock with Kanji engraved on it at Cape Manzamo
Image from Locky's English Playground

Image from Locky's English Playground
The view at Cape Manzamo was stunning!  I have never seen anything like this, so majestic, yet looked so vulnerable before the crashing wave.

Cape Manzamo
Image from Locky's English Playground
I took several soundifferent and shot photos but can only be listened to on Samsung phones. But here are the photos anyway.

Crashing blue
Image from Locky's English Playground
It is not a place you can stay for too long due to the gale force wind, but definitely a place one must visit.

Crystal and deep blue sea crushing on the cliff
Image from Locky's English Playground
There were times when I thought the whole cliff would collapse when the waves broke at the bottom of the hanging cliff. And I am pretty sure it will, just may not be any time soon.

The other side of the Cape Manzamo
Image from Locky's English Playground
Looking towards the other end of the coast stood Sun Marina Hotel. The bay is protected by rocks and corals. An unreal creation of Mother Nature.

Is that a light tower in red? Or a tsunami warning system?
Image from Locky's English Playground

Leaving Cape Manzamo
Image from Locky's English Playground
Driving in Okinawa was lovely, carless,  like the road was private.

Famous cake and pastry shop
Image from Locky's English Playground
Not so long of a drive after leaving Cape Manzamo we arrived at 御菓子御殿 (okashigoten) 恩納店 (tenpo onna), the biggest confectionery chain store in Okinawa.

Panorama of the shop and private car park
Image from Locky's English Playground
It was way past lunch time and we were desperate for food.

Lunch time
Image from Locky's English Playground
On the second floor, there was a cafe with a dream-like decor that commonly appears in Japanese comic but never in Hong Kong.

Triple layer pork with Okinawa noodles
Image from Locky's English Playground
Triple layer pork with Okinawa noodles stole the sight but it was the warm comforting dried bonito soup that stole the limelight in a cold afternoon. That aroma still tales up a huge part of my fondest memory in the entire trip.

Soft pork ribs udon
Image from Locky's English Playground
Even though the soft pork ribs tasted fabulous, the soup beat everything else.

Dinner
Image from Locky's English Playground
For dinner, everyone gathered at 農園炉端しまぶた屋 (nouenrobata shimabutaya). An all pork restaurant.

Wife's best friend prepared this table paper
Image from Locky's English Playground
The place mats were specially designed for the married couple. Pretty nice.

Interesting peanut tofu
Image from Locky's English Playground
Appetizers did their soury job well, which included a very chewy peanut tofu, umibudo seaweed, and seaweed in lime vinegar.

Pineapple juice on the rocks
Image from Locky's English Playground
Pineapples are very famous in Okinawa, so had to be my drink for the night.

Layered pork
Image from Locky's English Playground
Multilayered pork were alright, not exactly my type of meat for the health conscious me. I did not eat the fatty part.

Ham, intestine, liver and heart
Image from Locky's English Playground
People who like pig's internal organs would be happy, I am only a fan of the ham.

Raw pork in a bamboo rack
Image from Locky's English Playground
Raw pork in bamboo rack is this restaurant's signature dish...

Steaming in sake
Image from Locky's English Playground
Add saki to it and the hot pot below will immediately steam. Close the lid for about a minute,

Done!
Image from Locky's English Playground
and the pork slices are ready. Gimmick 100%, taste 100% bland.

Pork chop
Image from Locky's English Playground
I preferred the common type, pork chop /fillet. Simple and yummy.

Pork spring roll
Image from Locky's English Playground
But if you ask me to choose the best of the night, I will choose this pork spring rolls. I even devoured a whole tube even when I was 99% full! That pork juice all soaked into the rice, that charcoal aroma, that saltiness at optimal balance.... hm!!!!!

Ice cream
Image from Locky's English Playground
And the dinner was nicely summed up with an ice cream of some taste which I cannot remember.



Vocabulary:
familtainment -- (n)[C] family + entertainments
peanut tofu
umi budo seaweed -- (n)[U] "sea grapes"



Resources:

Food, Travelling & Living: Food And Fun Of Okinawa -- Day 1 @ Locky's English Playground
http://lockyep.blogspot.hk/2014/12/food-travelling-living-food-and-fun-of.html

Laticauda colubrina +Wikipedia
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Laticauda_colubrina

Sea snake at the Hotel Monterey Okinawa Beach @YouTube
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=pV7ZlqHaEVA

Saving baby seasnake in Okinawa @YouTube
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=CYoj2iVpF1g

御菓子御殿
http://www.okashigoten.co.jp/

御菓子御殿 恩納店
http://www.okashigoten.co.jp/tenpo_onna.html

農園炉端 しまぶた屋 @gurunavi
http://r.gnavi.co.jp/f316202/lang/tw/