Monday, May 31, 2010

Jangara Ramen, Akasaka

Some of the best ramen I have had in Japan.  This little place was tough to find but find it we did.  Amazing broth, pork and noodles.  A must visit for any ramen lover.

The look of perfect happiness

I love this pic of me at Coco in my favorite travel shirt.  Steve S - I wore this shirt for you!

Curry House Coco, Tokyo

Japanese curry is one of my very favorite comfort foods.  I often enjoy it in NYC at GoGo Curry with Nick Chong.  On my recent trip to Tokyo I had breakfast at Coco with Mark and Maybeth.  The flavors were just amazing! Nicely spiced too.

Sunday, May 30, 2010

Ukai-tei Ginza, Teppanyaki

Lunch at Ukai-tei in Ginza was absolutely superb.  Every detail was flawless.  I was in awe walking into the restaurant.  The setting is absolutely beautiful.  The multi-course lunch was totally delicious.  The service was perfect.  The steak was melt in the mouth.  Once you are done with your beef and vegetables you are moved to a separate area for dessert.  I thoroughly enjoyed the macaroons, which I thought were on par with ones that I have sampled from the top shop in Paris.  On my next visit to Ukai-tei I will have to taste the live lobster that was looking over my steak lunch while on ice. 

Broken Rice With Grilled Pork, Saigon

One of the most flavorful (and cheapest) things I ate on my trip to Asia was the cơm tấm (broken rice) with marinated grilled pork.  I enjoyed this meal at Com Tam Bui Saigon located at 132 Nguyen Thai Hoc Street.  Very close to Pham Ngu Lao in District 1.  The first time I enjoyed the dish with a fried egg.  There is just something special about rice, protein and a fried egg together!  The second time I was full, so I just had the dish as depicted here.  This restaurant grills its pork right out on the sidewalk.  The smells are so intoxicating!  I highly recommend a visit to this place, which is open 24/7.

Friday, May 28, 2010

I hiked to Chote Chitr only to find it closed!!!

I walked from Wat Pho all the way to Chote Chitr.  I have been wanting to eat here for years now.  After a long and very sweaty walk I did finally find the place, which wasn't easy.  I was crushed to find it closed for the day.  It appears to be another casualty of the civil unrest in Bangkok.  Khoa San Road was empty as was Wat Pho.  I was in the temple of the reclining Buddha all by myself.  

Soi Polo Fried Chicken, Bangkok

I took a nice long walk down Wireless Road in Bangkok in the blazing summer heat to reach Soi Polo Fried Chicken.  I have been dreaming of the delicious fried chicken since my last trip to Thailand.  It definitely didn't disappoint me! Here you see my half chicken with a side of sticky rice.  The two different sauces to dip the chicken in are terrific.  I can't wait to come back next time with friends and have more off the menu.  Bangkok is one amazing food city!

Sasagin, Tokyo

I feel lucky to have visited this wonderful bar 3 times now on two separate trips.  I'm so happy that the Godfather shares my love for the place.  The owner Narita-san is a wonderful host who can guide you on the road to sake heaven.  If you are looking to sample some of the best sake in Japan you must visit this place.  It is conveniently located very close to the subway station in Yoyogi-Uehara.

Best Cha Gio in Saigon?

The best I have tasted was at Quan 94 in District 1.  They are stuffed full of fresh crab meat.  My Vietnamese friend said they were the best she has tasted anywhere in her life.  I haven't had a ton of cha gio but the ones I enjoyed at Quan 94 will stay in my memory for a very long time.

Quan 94, Saigon

I consumed a lot of amazing food in HCMC, but the single greatest tasting things were enjoyed at Quan 94.  The soft shell crabs with tamarind sauce are nothing short of amazing!!

Tuesday, May 25, 2010

Saigon is changing

My first visit in 2003 there weren't many cars.  This time there are many, many more.  Luxury cars can be seen quite frequently.  Mercedes and BMWs are easy to spot.  I did spot 2 Bentleys, one Lambo and one Ferrari.  Saigon is going luxury!

I dream of finding a time machine so I could experience the Saigon of the 1960s.  A beer at Eden Roc on Tu Do Street after a plate of good food at Cheap Charlie's would be awesome.  Perhaps a dip in the pool at Cercle Sportif?  One last beer at Tiger Bar before curfew?? 

It is always nice to dream.....

Saigon Cowboys!!

One my last afternoon in Saigon I witnessed an interesting scene on the street.  Two different motorbikes were roaring through the street against traffic and both had gun waiving passengers on the back.  I had a clear look at the guns.  The first one looked real to me and the second was definitely a fake.  Vietnamese citizens are not allowed to own guns.  So either these guys had just robbed someone or stolen some motorbikes.  Vietnam is generally a tightly controlled country that is very safe.  I was surprised by the lack of police presence there.  You see almost no police anywhere.  I compare this to NYC where there are police EVERYWHERE.  I talked to some Vietnamese about the police and they assured me there are secret police that we don't see.

All is well in Bangkok

I have spent just over 24 hours in Bangkok.  I hit the streets this morning and walked through some of the areas where there was violence.  Glad to report that all is well in the Thai capital.  The streets look great.  The only evidence of the violence was a few burned out vehicles on Wireless Road.  There is a noticeable police prescence with security checks on the Sky Train and subway.  No sign of the military on the streets though.  It was basically business as usual here with the exception of the curfew and the lack of foreign tourists.  I went to Wat Pho this afternoon and was there practically all alone.  This is one of the biggest tourist attractions in Bangkok. 

Wednesday, May 19, 2010

Bia Hoi in Vietnam

Bia hoi means fresh beer in Vietnamese.  It is brewed and delivered fresh daily.  The taste is very mild and it is served over ice.  It tastes a bit like water but is very refreshing in this hot climate during the summer months.  A liter of the stuff in a tourist bar cost me all of 60 US cents.  

Hard to top Ippudo in Tokyo

We missed you here Dave O.  My boy Nick Chong back in NYC would have been in heaven too.

Going deep on the food scene in Saigon

going very local.  not street food but basically I have been the only foreigner in the restaurants where I have been eating.  very Bourdain like!  things got a little loose this morning so I popped a Cipro.  within a few hours I was back in the game.  this is a wonder drug just like Ambian!  this is a picture of the main suspect.  Banh Xeo 46A.  Great food but things got a little uncomfortable after I rocked this place in the afternoon.

Bangkok is off the table

with great sadness I have canceled my time in Bangkok.  the situation there sounds awful.  interesting note is that United Airlines will not let me change my departure point despite the anarchy in that city.  I will stay at the BKK airport the night prior to my flight since it leaves at 7am the following morning.  All is well in Saigon.  Super, super hot and humid.

Monday, May 17, 2010

Instruments of the US aggression in Vietnam

Uncle Ho

Central post office.  District 1 - Saigon

Possibly my favorite bar in the world

Sasagin, Tokyo

Steak anyone?

from the amazing lunch at Ukai-Tei, Ginza

Japanese beef

shabu shabu with top shelf Japanese domestic beef.  hard to top.

Saigon, Saigon

from my walk in downtown

Shinjiku at night

love everything about Tokyo....

Fresh fish in the morning

finally saw the auction at Tsukiji

Some photos from my trip

found a plug here in my room in Saigon.  here are some of my favorite shots of Tokyo.  the first on the street enjoying some yakitori and beer with the Japanese salarymen

Sunday, May 16, 2010


Sounds very, very bad now.  I will be working on revising my trip now.  Could go straight to Samui or possibly stay in Vietnam and see a different area.  I do have an early AM departure from Bangkok back to the USA.  Will have to manage that.  I thought things were getting better.  They sound like they are getting worse.


Arrived last night very tired from my last night in Tokyo.  Saigon is busier than I recall with many more cars now.  There are still tons of motorbikes of course.  People wear helmets now, they didn't last time I was here.  There are bigger building now.  More tall ones are under construction.  There are major luxury shops in the downtown area that weren't there before.  I guess it was inevitable.  Just about to head down for some breakfast and then walk around a little bit.  Very, very hot and humid here of course. 

Tokyo was absolutely fantastic by the way.  I can't get enough of that city.  Perfect weather and tons of great food and drinks.  I enjoyed catching up with several old friends from NYC and Columbia and showing Mark and Maybeth my Tokyo. 

Air Asia

What a mess of an airline.  They nearly cost me to miss my trip to Saigon last night.  The people working there were less than helpful.  People working in customs were very rude to me also.  On top of a major hassle that included running through the airport in Bangkok and having to go through customs despite the fact that I was a connecting international passenger they charged me an extra $40 $51 to check in my carry-on bag.  What a f'n joke!  I will dispute the charge when I finish traveling with them.

Thursday, May 13, 2010

All is well in Tokyo

Smooth flight with a lot of sleep thanks to Ambian.  Immediately hit the ground running in Tokyo with a barrage of food and drinks.  2 visits to Tsujiki market yesterday.  Saw the tuna auction at 5am.  Came back for breakfast at 9am.  Perfect weather and taking Mark and Maybeth around to my favorite places.  Multiple meals planned today. 

Nothing new on the job front.  The French bank is deciding on call backs by the end of this week or early next week. 

Saturday, May 1, 2010

Next Trip

I will be on my way to Japan, Vietnam and Thailand soon.  Follow my adventures here.  I'm still thinking about Spain.  I need to get back to Madrid ASAP!