Thursday, March 17, 2005

Unagi and me!!

My client has been very supportive. He encourages me to try out Authentic Japanese food and takes me to some real neat Japanese restaurants. He took me for dinner yesday. The menu dint mention anything vegetarian. He encouraged me to try the different types of fish available. Fish is something i completely avoid coz i really could never digest the smell. My client was very supportive in that he told me its completely OK not to finish the food if i did not like it. I could just taste some dishes and be fine :) i liked the idea and he ordered 2 sets of dinner.

The dinner contains the following
1) Sea weed
2) Raw Unagi (a fish) wrapped in Egg
3) Tempura (Fried shrimp accompanied with Fried Vegetables)
4) Cooked Unagi (again) made in Soy sauce
5) Raw Maguro fish (Red coloured) accompanied with Wasabi/Soy Sauce ad some raw vegetable
6) A cup of egg white/yellow mixed with a lil sea weed (looks like yellow custard)
7) Rice
8) Miso Soup
9) Kharbuja (whats the engish word, some melon!!!)
10) Coffee (latte' kinds)

I was pretty much nervous trying out the fish. I started off with the sea weed and it tasted good. Very difficult to describe it, but it was a very different flavour. Had problems is swallowing, coz it was getting stuck in the throat.

With a lot of apprehension, i took a complete rolled unagi and hey! it was good. It did not taste like fish, it did not taste 'non-vegetarian' as well. It was rather soft, waterish kind and jus melted in your mouth. I dipped it in soya sauce mixed with spicy wasabi just in case i got the smell, but believe me it was good! Hurrah!! my first piece of raw fish and i've come out with flying colours. Now with a lot of confidence and the poise of a seasoned fish eater, i gobbled up the other raw unagi too!!:))

Then came along the rice and cooked unagi. There was also a small bowl of raw maguro fish. Ah! i was on my way to create an all-time record of eating exotic non vegetarian food.:)) Meanwhile, used the hashi (chop sticks) and gobbled up some rice to get a "normal feeling" taste on my tongue before i ventured out into unexplored territory again. My client, meanwhile, was gobbling up at an amazing pace, he definitely loved the food. We had a lot of disccusion on the food habits and the cultural differences in general.

I wasnt too sure about the Maguro coz the client warned me about the smell. I hesitatingly took a piece of maguro and soaked it in the soy and wasabi mixed sauce to remove the smell (if any). But the piece i had was also good. i was pleasently surprised that it tasted so good. Again soft but this time a little bit of the chewy kind. A lot of chewing will definitely get the fish smell into your head, so i just swallowed after i chewed a little. Ate more rice and in between the fried vegetables and the egg based dish. The cooked unagi was another surprise. I was sure about this being smelly coz it looked smelly. It was cooked in soya sauce and it looked ominous. There were 3 portions and i took a little of it and again it had a distinct flavour. It was cooked really well (meaning i dint get the smell) and also the quality of fishes served was good, hence i managed to eat. The cooked unagi will definitely suit the indian tongue. It has some masala like taste (coz of the masala it was cooked in) and it also has a definite spicy kind of flavour. i finished one portion along with rice.

Finished the bowl of rice. Had forgotten the miso soup. So drank it up without problems. its made from some kinda bean and is mixed with sea weed and some vegetables. A real good experience and it ended with a coffee. I Thanked my client profusely (Thank you Oikawa-san!!) for the delicious dinner and the oppurtunity he gave me to try out Japanese food.

A great day coz my project was succesful. It went beyond what my client expected and personally it left me satisfied to see something to conclusion. Yes the feling was having eaten raw fish without hassles was great too!!!:)))

Wednesday, March 16, 2005

DVD player? and the rest!!

Thinking of buying a DVD (RW) player for Dad for his PC. Did some searching on the net and found that it costs me around 13-15K yen (About 6K max INR for a Buffallo/IoData/Logitech). The bic camera site when transated gave these detials

On Sunday i should do some last minute shopping for the DVD player and for the Kimono for my niece. Will be meeting Gopa on the weekend and possibly going out on a ski trip. My last chance to make this trip of mine really worthwhile. Its been a real hectic trip and work wise an excellent one.

Havent done much sightseing expcept going to the regular places to visit in Tokyo (have done Shinjuku/Roppongi/Ginz/Asakusa and basically seen the huge skyscrapers). Had some amazing views from the Tokyo Metropolitan Building.

Tuesday, March 15, 2005

Soba Noodles in 3 colours

Monday, March 14, 2005

Food @ Sobaya

My client took me to a Japanese restaurant. it was a typical Japanese Sobaya (which serves soba, mainly). It was my first time and i thoroughly enjoyed the experience.
As customary, green tea is served before lunch along with a little of dried and friend soba.Oishii desu!!!:))

Soba is basically noodles. there are different types of noodles (like udon, ramen and soba). I had a set (see pic) of 3 different coloured soba noodles served with a soya based dipping sauce called Tsuyu. It is accompanied with Wasabi (Tasty and spicy japanese horseradish) and sliced onions.
How to eat? Mix a bit of the onions and wasabi in the tsuyu to give some spicy tinge to the soya sauce. Use the hashi (chopsticks) to dip the noodles in the sauce and slurp them down your throat. Making a noisy slurp is extremely acceptable. the slurpy sound also indicates that the food is tasty and to your liking. see me slurp :)

Slurp!! Slurp!!

Once you are done with the soba, there is a kettle full of sobayu. Sobayu is the water used to boil the soba. This water is later given in a kettle and can be added to the tsuyu (soya sauce) this ensures that the Tusyu isnt too salty and lightens the strong flavour of the soya. so pour the Sobayu into the Tsusyu and drink it up. Its pretty tasty.

Sunday, March 13, 2005

Where is consumer electronics heading?

I read a couple of articles on the CeBIT tech fair which mention Samsung demonstating a 7 MegaPixel camera on a cellphone. Phew! Where is the world headed too? A couple of days back i was feeling cool with my 5 MP Sony Camera (and Yes! Arguably less better than the digicams made by Canon nowadays) and now i read this. see this report on CNET (very good site for tech news).

Samsung is a HUGE company now. I also read a recent report which mentions that Samsung made profits which is greater than the TOP 10 electronics companies in japan!!!! belive that? Astounding to me!!! the TOP 10 include heavyweights like Sony/Canon/Toshiba/Ricoh/Matsushita etc.

Wonder when an Indian company makes it this big. There was this news article which mentions about 10 telecom companies vying for a managing stake in pakistans govt controlled telecom company. Wonder if Airtel/Relaince even bid?

Thursday, March 10, 2005

Indian Food in Japan

As i mentioned in one of my earlier posts, Indian food is pretty much in favour in Tokyo (and Japan). Indian cuisine i should say has found a niche for itself, coz you find it mentioned in travel guides more often than not. Metropolis and mention and review Indian restaurants. If you are new to Tokyo and Japan, going through both the above magazines (both are free) gives an insight on what to see around in Tokyo.

Haven’t been to the usual Indian restaurants here, but i found the quality kinda ok. Maybe it’s more welcome coz you are missing Indian food. The masala in the 'curry'(fav word) tastes different though. For first timers to Indian restaurants here, you'd find the Nan a shocker when you see its size. Its probably triple the size of the normal Nan that’s available in the usual Indian restaurants. Nan happens to be the favourite among Japanese here. Almost every Japanese that i have talked to has had Indian cuisine and yeh the Nan!! Hmm speaks volumes!!

Hmm lots of bangladeshi and pakistani restaurnats sporting indian names and cuisine, but what the heck. Lassi is another fav here. I have seen Mango Lassi cartons here in the usual department stores (Lawson/Daily Yamazaki etc) and i couldnt resist the tempataion of trying that out. The taste i should say was anything but lassi. Basically mango flavoured milk suited to the japanese tounge.

Tuesday, March 08, 2005

Things to buy in japan

Updated: Also read this

One thing that i always do when im in Japan is frequent the electronic shops here. One must visit akihabara to get an idea of what 'electronics gadgets' are. I mean in India we just don’t see the kind of stuff that’s available here. I actually freak out on stuff here. Last time I was here, i spent my entire allowance here on buying electronic stuff. that included a Sony Cybershot P100 (with 128 MB memory) (see review), an MP3 player for Megz, earphones and an absolutely delightful and whizzy remote controlled car. This time around i have been very conservative. With my marriage approaching and pressure from parents/sister/friends not to mention Megz, im actually trying to save money. things you must get from Japan which i consider absolutely useful
1) Digicams (Cheap Cheap Cheap when compared to India)
2) USB Sticks (buffalo, cheaper for the local ones)
3) HDD (portable/USB based)
4) If you are a gaming freak, the gaming cards/motherboards (you will find steal-deals)
5) GPS (maybe costly and don’t know how many kinds are available)
6) mp3 players (must must buy)
7) Gaming consoles (PS portable is not available!! :( )
8) USB based hubs/memory card readers/wireless cards..endless list!!!
Im personally not in favour of

1) Handhelds (going out of favour all around world)
2) laptops (frightfully expensive but wow! models)
3) Camcorders

(Of course the above is based on my limited experience of Japan, 3 visits and probably a total of around 2 months of actual stay) I did go around to a lot of shops in Akihabara, some in the shady bylanes as well. I also went around the 'big' Yodobashi camera and bic camera stores, the rates were more or less around the same. Yodobashi and Bic have the points system which is pretty good. So for every product you buy you get about 5-15% points which translate in that many Yens. So for your next buy, you could redeem those points. So on a first visit if you are buying a couple of things, signup for the point’s card, and pay for the first, get the points and redeem them to save on the 2nd buy. I used Gopa's (see picture) card last year(Arrigato Gozaimasu), this time around i got a points card from bic camera.

(Gopa and his twins! )

It’s always safe to travel with your passport anywhere in Japan. It also helps coz tourists get a discount on electronic stuff in Yodobashi/Bic. Should be writing on some "omoshiroi" (interesting) topics like the hands-free-WC, etiquette in general while dealing with Japanese.

Monday, March 07, 2005

Touring Asakusa

Asakusa is served by the Tobu line and also the Tokyo subway line (Ginza line). Since i stayed right in front of the Asakusa station, walking around was the best option. The Tourist Information Centre (Walkable distance from the station) is a good place to start with. A friendly official gave me ideas on what i could see in Asakusa. Of course, the Sensoji Temple is the main attraction here. The temple as such is no 'big deal' when you compare it to the temples in India.
1) You dont feel its a temple.
2) There is nothing much to see too (apart from understanding the history)

The nakamise street is interesting though. its lined wthh Souvenier and sweet shops. I bought a japanese doll (2500 yen) and a one-arm-swinging cat (800 yen) and plan to buy a kimono for my niece.

Shold update this post later today!!!

Sunday, March 06, 2005

In Odaiba,Japan

Travelling to Gunma

Im here currently in japan on a short business trip. I initially stayed in a place called Tatebayashi (Gunma Prefecture). The hotel where i was put up (Hotel Grand) wasnt exactly to my liking.
1) they dint have free internet (even slow speed)
2) they dint have a fridge in the room, nor a microwave oven.

The only good thing about staying in tatebayashi was the travel time to my clients place. It took me 20 minutes and about 2600 Yen (INR 840). I usually returned to my hotel in the company bus which dropped me off to a station nearby called Kawamata (kawa = river). From kawamata i took a train to tatebayashi (the tobu - isesaki line) which costed me about 160 yen (INR 64).

Surprsingly tatebayashi had 2 indian restaurnats. I visited Amber which is run by an indian. The other one i presume (and fom Ambers owner) is run by a Bangaldeshi. There is a deluge of Indian restaurnats here in Japan. More on this in a separate blog.

2 weeks in tatebayahsi and then i moved to Tokyo. A welcome relief. I stay in Asakusa (the older part and more cultural part of Tokyo) and my Hotel (Hotel Dormy Inn) is right in front of the station. Its convenient from the Hotel to the Station, but otherwise its a 1.5 hour journey from Asakusa to Kawamata. I take the 6.47 local which reaches kawamata at 8.13. The journey distance is 70.5 Km and the route has 22 stations. :) More detials on this must_use site if you are staying in Tokyo (

The interesting thing about trains and the timings are - they are never ever late. Always on time, on dot. I screw up my entire scheudle if i miss that train. I miss the connecting bus and the taxis are not there coz the regular people are already using them.

It so happend that i missed the train on one occassion and it happened to snow rather heavily that day. I stood for a full 20 minutes, freezing (although i had enuff warm clothes) waiting for a taxi. Since i dont have a phone, i couldt call one either. A kind hearted couple luckily dropped me off to my clients place, but i still reached a full half hour late to office

Blogging revisited

Hmmm!! Just read up my old blogs and they dated 2002. thats when i joined Wipro. Started a new blog with

I hope to update it and keep it more current.