Monday, March 5, 2012

moku moku restaurant

Today was my lazy day. I had initially planned to head over to Osaka tonight and so hadn't really done any research on what to do around Tsu. Vinnie and I decided to head over to Kyoto on Saturday to see the first day of the Higashiyama Hanatoro, so I decided to not waste one day on my Kintetsu Rail Pass just heading over to Osaka for the night and just use it tomorrow so I could still use it on Saturday to head over to Kyoto. I really wish that I had bought two Kintetsu Rail Passes so it would cover both weeks that I was here, probably would have saved more money that way. Not sure if one person can buy two passes...

So I didn't do anything all day except for dinner where I crashed Vinnie's dinner with her tap dancing group. I thought I'll spend this post talking about random observations and moments I didn't have enough space to cram into my other posts. First thing I noticed is that I automatically kept saying xièxie or thank you in Chinese to people. The funny thing is I reverted to Chinese rather than English. I've been in Taiwan too long. Everyone is super polite, well all the people in the service industry. I keep bowing to say thank you, to say hello, to say excuse me, to say sorry, for everything a bow just makes it better. I think I'm too rough for this culture...

Vinnie made some toffee right before I came and she saved me some! So delicious, especially the chocolate covered ones.

It rained all day so I didn't feel bad about not leaving the house and exploring. However I did manage to leave the house to wander down to the nearby Pricecut, a discounted supermarket, to grab some snacks.

The green bag is a package of apple flavored sour gummys. These were good and I would buy them again. The Pocky is salty milky chocolate flavor. Nothing special about this Pocky except there was the addition of salt. I wouldn't buy them again especially for the price - super expensive. The hot pepper chips weren't great, an odd spicy flavor. The company behind the Babystar Ramen is Oyatsu which is actually located in Tsu so there are a lot of different flavors of Babystar besides the typical ones I usually see. None of the flavors really stood out to me and I couldn't tell what flavors they were - everything was in Japanese. I finally bought authentic Hi-chews with Japanese labels. The flavors that can be found in Japan aren't very varied just apple, pineapple, strawberry, grape and peach. I didn't see any other flavors besides the ones I mentioned so I just bought the apple and the pineapple since I've had the other flavors before. The pineapple one had a strong pineapple flavor and tasted just like a pineapple so that was nice The clear box just contains some fried chicken. Its been a long time since I've had fried chicken without it being first dipped into batter. The above total cost me 832 yen.

Vinnie did some traveling around Japan and I guess there are regional Hi-chews. The orange one on top is dekopon, a sweet citrus fruit, flavored Hi-chew from Nagasaki. The Hi-chew had a very strong orange flavor like orange juice. The green pack is shiikwaasaa, a green citrus fruit, from Okinawan. It is very similar to a lemon or a lime. The candy had a grape fruit flavor that had a limey taste to it. Thanks Vinnie for the chance to try some unique Hi-chews!

When I arrived in Japan I was expecting to see Toyota and Honda's everywhere. However I was surprised to find out that the most popular car around is the Suzuki Wagon R which is this little boxy mini van car that is very fuel efficient. It's good that this car is so small because the streets, if you can call them that, here are very narrow. So narrow that most of them don't even have lane markings and can only fit one car. If two cars are trying to use the street at the same time, the bigger one has the right of way. Vinnie told me some stories about how cars have to back up for a really long time in order to find space to pull to the side to let the other car or even a bus through. So crazy! You think they would just make bigger streets or something.

Since I changed my plans on Vinnie I tagged along with her to her tap dancing group dinner. I felt so bad because I went along all unannounced... We went to Kaze ni Fukarete which is a buffet restaurant in Tsu that is owned by Moku Moku Farms, an organic farm in Iga. The buffet had a lot of food I didn't recognize. I just grabbed stuff that looked appealing because I couldn't keep bugging people to help me translate the food tags. Not nearly enough meat for me though. My favorite was the curry and the bread and butter. All organic! Haha is it bad that I really can't taste the difference between organic and non-organic foodstuffs?!?

Organic potato chips... factory made ones are more delicious since they are crispier and have all that delicious artificial flavoring! The curry in the middle was also very yummy. I wanted to get seconds but there was too much food to try so didn't have enough room for more curry.

Egg drop soup in the middle. Ok tasting. I've had better in Chinese restaurants but that might be due to MSG... Bread and butter was good. I feel like everything needed more salt. There was also tempura veggies. The organic meat could use some work. Probably because I just like everything doused in soy sauce. Haha I have such a unhealthy lifestyle. I believe the best part of the buffet was dessert. Of course I think that of all buffets...

Starting from top with the oranges and apples and going clockwise.. Those are just glutinous rice balls that were in sweet red bean soup but I don't like the red bean so I just took out all the rice balls to eat. I love glutinous rice balls! I just wish that in Taiwan and in Japan they didn't have to put it in red bean. Haven't they heard of brown sugar syrup?!?! Next was bread that was matcha flavored with black beans and a flavorless jello. Both were ehh and not worth eating. Follow that up with bread pudding that was pretty ehh too. The best was the homemade ice cream. There was vanilla sorbet and ice cream, kiwi and pineapple flavored ice cream too. The best one is the pineapple flavor because it tasted so much like pineapple. The kiwi one had little pieces of kiwi but the ice cream part of it didn't really taste like kiwi. The glutinous rice balls without the red bean was delicious too! I also liked how cool these platters were even if they made it unwieldy to carry multiple bowls of food. As I was getting ready to pay for my part I found out that the dance teacher had paid for the dinner with the dance funds. I was so surprised and insisted that I pay for my part since I had no part in contributing to the dance funds and my dinner shouldn't be covered by it. I went unheard and my dinner got paid for which I'm so grateful for! Again the generosity of people here is amazing. Dinner cost 2300 yen. Honestly the dinner was good and I was super filled but I wouldn't pay that price for this buffet especially since it mostly contained veggies. When I go to buffets I look to eat my fill on big cost items like seafood or chocolate covered strawberries or meat, not just veggies.

They also served this cool iceplant that I've never seen before. We thought that they had sprinkled big salt crystals on it but the plant itself has those big bladder cells on it. It also has a naturally salty taste to it. It tasted awful! Bleugh!

Forgot to mention that we got rides to and from the restaurant since it's located pretty far from the train station. Again the Japanese are so generous! The funny thing was that as everyone was was heading back to their cars one of the members in the tap dancing group offered us a ride and Seiko jumped on that offer super fast. She later said she did the whole polite refusal thing but I didn't see it since she accepted so heartily. I'm glad she did cause I did not want to walk. Both the cars I rode in were spanking new, apparently they switch their old ones for new ones every couple years! Nice!

The Details
Kaze ni Fukarete
hours: 11:00-1400, 17:30-20:30  closed second Wednesday of every month
prices: 1800 yen for lunch, 2300 yen for dinner
website:   (japanese only)

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