MMCafe Travel Edition: 2013 printing - http://www.mmcafe.com/ Forums


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Ishmael
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"MMCafe Travel Edition: 2013 printing" , posted Fri 1 Feb 23:17post reply

Later this year I plan to visit China. Since the MMCafe patrons come from the four corners of the world and are very well traveled I was hoping I might be able to receive some advice on my upcoming vacation. During my excursion it looks like I will be visiting both Shanghai and Beijing. What should I see, where should I go, what should I buy, what should I eat? Any and all suggestions would be appreciated.






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Spoon
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"Re(1):MMCafe Travel Edition: 2013 printing" , posted Sat 2 Feb 01:51post reply

quote:
Beijing. What should I see,



You'll see nothing (due to the smog).
*rimshot*





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"Re(1):MMCafe Travel Edition: 2013 printing" , posted Sat 2 Feb 01:56post reply

quote:
Later this year I plan to visit China. Since the MMCafe patrons come from the four corners of the world and are very well traveled I was hoping I might be able to receive some advice on my upcoming vacation. During my excursion it looks like I will be visiting both Shanghai and Beijing. What should I see, where should I go, what should I buy, what should I eat? Any and all suggestions would be appreciated.


I could provide literally hundreds of suggestions (and hit me up by email if you want others) but one place I insist that you see is the Beijing Dongyue Temple. If possible, visit at dusk. It was hands down the most interesting, coolest, and most video game inspiring thing I saw when I was there last year.






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Maou
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"Re(2):MMCafe Travel Edition: 2013 printing" , posted Sat 2 Feb 17:33:post reply

Hit those cool old-fashioned housing blocs/alleys called hutongs that still persist even if Beijing and the country in general are hell-bent on demolishing the past. I hear it's atmospheric and ironically better paid-attention to by outsiders.

Visit Mao's tomb and the square around it, but only on a rainy and lightning-filled night! That was cool.

You could maybe read one of Peter Hessler's very excellent, sensitive-but-not-uncritical books on modern Chinese society and its relationship with its pasts. River Town, Oracle Bones, etc. I think it'd be very neat background, and they're great, to boot.

Per a previous thread, bust through the postcard hawkers on the Great Wall and walk along the ruined off-road parts where no one is going. You will feel like the god darned king of ruins explorers.* (*note: this was 10 years ago, maybe this is illegal by now** (**note: but who cares))





人間はいつも私を驚かせてくれる。不思議なものだな、人間という存在は...

[this message was edited by Maou on Sat 2 Feb 17:34]

Ishmael
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"Re(3):MMCafe Travel Edition: 2013 printing" , posted Mon 4 Feb 01:51post reply

Thanks for the help everyone!

quote:
You'll see nothing (due to the smog).
*rimshot*


Recommendations for functional and fashionable hazmat suits are also appreciated.

quote:
I could provide literally hundreds of suggestions (and hit me up by email if you want others) but one place I insist that you see is the Beijing Dongyue Temple. If possible, visit at dusk. It was hands down the most interesting, coolest, and most video game inspiring thing I saw when I was there last year.


If you think of something else that is worth the trip you can always drop me a line at gleep9@hotmaildotcom. Still, I don't know what you could recommend that would top the Beijing Dongyue Temple. That looks like a fascinating piece of culture that looks totally cool as well so it is most certainly going on the itinerary.

quote:
Visit Mao's tomb and the square around it, but only on a rainy and lightning-filled night! That was cool.

You could maybe read one of Peter Hessler's very excellent, sensitive-but-not-uncritical books on modern Chinese society and its relationship with its pasts. River Town, Oracle Bones, etc. I think it'd be very neat background, and they're great, to boot.

I will check out Peter Hessler's books. I'm trying to gain a better understanding of where China came from and where it is today and that sounds much more interesting than the dry textbook droning of guide books. But unless I have a big hole in my schedule I may skip on Mao. I've rarely been impressed when I meet politicians, dead ones even less so.





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"Re(4):MMCafe Travel Edition: 2013 printing" , posted Mon 4 Feb 11:22post reply

quote:
I may skip on Mao. I've rarely been impressed when I meet politicians, dead ones even less so.
Oh, hell on Mao, I just liked the experience of visiting this tomb on a proverbial Dark and Stormy Night with police goons slinking around. As an actual event enjoyed in the daytime, the ironic visit to a dictator isn't much fun, I bet.





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Ishmael
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"Re(3):MMCafe Travel Edition: 2013 printing" , posted Thu 7 Feb 01:37post reply

quote:
Hit those cool old-fashioned housing blocs/alleys called hutongs that still persist even if Beijing and the country in general are hell-bent on demolishing the past. I hear it's atmospheric and ironically better paid-attention to by outsiders.


When on vacation I always like to get off the tracks set out for tourists and see how the locals actually live in an area. Too bad more often than not that involves me walking around a super market or something equally mundane.

Speaking of housing, when reading through a guidebook the other day I came across this great quote:

"The old neighborhood south of Qianmen Gate has undergone a controversial transformation as part of Beijing's modernising facelift. What was once a traditional and characterful collection of restaurants, opera houses, shops and brothels dating back to the Ming dynasty has become a modern retail development."

How dare they tear down the old neighborhood, grandpa loved that brothel! While the renovation is bad news for the people who lived there I do wonder if the people who were most loudly complaining about the loss of local color don't actually live in Beijing and as a consequence don't have to deal with such an old neighborhood on a daily basis.





karasu99
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"Re(4):MMCafe Travel Edition: 2013 printing" , posted Thu 7 Feb 02:35post reply

quote:
When on vacation I always like to get off the tracks set out for tourists and see how the locals actually live in an area. Too bad more often than not that involves me walking around a super market or something equally mundane.


Supermarkets are a typical part of visiting other countries for me. For some reason the packaging is always amazing. In Beijing I found (to my delight) an insane variety of shochu and soju available for bizarrely low prices in not only supermarkets but 7-11's as well (convenience stores there follow the Japan model, by the way). If you're a connoisseur of alcoholic beverages of the world (like me!) you owe it to yourself to try some Red Star, the local baijiu. Don't be put off by the solvent-like aroma-- the stuff's actually quite good!
quote:

Speaking of housing, when reading through a guidebook the other day I came across this great quote:

"The old neighborhood south of Qianmen Gate has undergone a controversial transformation as part of Beijing's modernising facelift. What was once a traditional and characterful collection of restaurants, opera houses, shops and brothels dating back to the Ming dynasty has become a modern retail development."

How dare they tear down the old neighborhood, grandpa loved that brothel! While the renovation is bad news for the people who lived there I do wonder if the people who were most loudly complaining about the loss of local color don't actually live in Beijing and as a consequence don't have to deal with such an old neighborhood on a daily basis.


There were still a bunch of hutongs as of 2011, but almost all of the ones I personally visited had some degree of westernization, it's just a question of whether it occurred in in 1890 or in 2013. The word at the time was that they were all in danger of being cleared out prior to the Olympics but that a few had managed to stave off destruction.

Something else strange to look out for is the ridiculous number of below street level, high-end shopping malls. It seems odd to encounter shops that have literally have four articles of clothing on display (each costing over $5000US) in what is still officially a communist country.

One last tip and I'll shut up: in the city, don't trust crosswalks or traffic signals (or sidewalks), since drivers won't hesitate to run a red light, accelerate through a crosswalk, or drive their souped-up, sheet metal enclosed, 60 year old mopeds straight onto a crowded sidewalk. When in doubt, insert yourself into a crowd of locals and do as they do.






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Nobinobita
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"Re(4):MMCafe Travel Edition: 2013 printing" , posted Thu 7 Feb 04:18post reply

quote:

How dare they tear down the old neighborhood, grandpa loved that brothel! While the renovation is bad news for the people who lived there I do wonder if the people who were most loudly complaining about the loss of local color don't actually live in Beijing and as a consequence don't have to deal with such an old neighborhood on a daily basis.



I've found this is often the case whether we're talking about Kyoto or Charleston North Carolina. Locals usually want to modernize while visitors want things to stay the same as they've always perceived them to be. I think there's value in preserving some history though (easy for me to say cos I'm a visitor!).

My tips for Beijing:
Visit the rundown parts of the great wall! Not the parts that a tourist group will take you to, but the parts where you gotta walk through some dude's property and pay him some Mao bucks to climb on the rubble that runs through his farmland. It's straight out of Shadow of the Colossus. It's one of the most fantastical things you can do in life.

Visit the 798 Art Zone.

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/798_Art_Zone

Even if you're not into fancy pants high art it's worth a visit purely for the novelty. There's such a great variety of work going on there and it's inspiring to see so much creativity in one place.

Eat some Muslim Noodles!
In China the muslim population is mostly known for wearing neat hats and making awesome street food. You can get beautiful, fresh hand pulled noodles for just a buck (well I was there a few years ago, so it might be like $2 now). It's a crazy good value as it actually takes some very skilled labor to pull off (I was told it takes about a month of training to get the technique down) yet it's one of the cheapest food options around. They also tend to serve a lot of lamb dishes. The Muslim run restaurants typically have a green sign and sometimes have a little arabic.

Further notes on Food:
Try to go where the locals go whether its for fancy stuff or street food. You might have to wait a little longer, but it'll be worth it. I know this sounds extremely obvious, but seriously, watch out for places or stalls with no patrons, many of them have no problem selling you spoiled stuff to cut costs.

Further Further Notes of Food:
Visiting China is a great way to expand your palette. The majority of Chinese food you find in the rest of the world is Cantonese style, even if it professes to be "Sechuan" or "Hunan." There are so many regional cooking styles in China all offering unique flavor profiles (and most are surprisingly spicy).

Local Beijing food offers more grilled meats, noodles and breads. They tend to use more wheat (as opposed to rice) than most Chinese cooking.

Real Sechuan food is incredibly spicy. It's the heaviest of all Chinese styles, but worth checking out if you're into extreme flavors. Most of the signature dishes are pretty oily, but they're meant to be balanced out with light veggies on the side (lots of greens). Keep an eye out for "mah lah" dishes which use Sichuan peppercorns which have a slight numbing effect on the tongue. It's a taste experience rarely experienced in The West (warning some places totally overdo it and you can barely taste anything afterwards, so tread carefully!).

Yunnanese food is closer to South East Asian food. It's earthier and tends to focus on just a few fresh ingredients, nothing too incredibly complex, but the balance of flavors is awesome.

Zhejiang Style cooking is lighter, more mellow. It reminds me of Japanese food a little bit, doesn't have the overpowering fragrance of most Chinese food.

Forgive me if you are already familiar with Chinese cuisine, I get very excited when I talk about food.

Have a great trip!






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"Re(4):MMCafe Travel Edition: 2013 printing" , posted Thu 7 Feb 04:21post reply

quote:

When on vacation I always like to get off the tracks set out for tourists and see how the locals actually live in an area.



If you want to live as the locals do, visit McDonalds at least once. The similarities and differences from what you are used to at home are striking and will provide some neat insights into local culture.






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"Re(4):MMCafe Travel Edition: 2013 printing" , posted Thu 7 Feb 10:09:post reply

quote:
I do wonder if the people who were most loudly complaining about the loss of local color don't actually live in Beijing and as a consequence don't have to deal with such an old neighborhood on a daily basis.

It's so hard to tell in China, since what the locals want doesn't matter in the slightest anyway, it's what the government and affiliated developers want. But you can read constant stories about people resisting getting thrown out of their old neighborhoods for far too little money. Why, it's even in the second Hessler book, Oracle Bones.
quote:
Visit the rundown parts of the great wall! Not the parts that a tourist group will take you to, but the parts where you gotta walk through some dude's property and pay him some Mao bucks to climb on the rubble that runs through his farmland.
Nobi, I knew we were on the same page, but I love that we both hopped the wall. Yours sounds even more fantastical than mine, though. I did not see one colossus, I'm afraid.
quote:
In China the muslim population is mostly known for wearing neat hats and making awesome street food
Unless you're in Xinjiang, in which case there is also the unfortunate addition of "getting shot at by the police."





人間はいつも私を驚かせてくれる。不思議なものだな、人間という存在は...

[this message was edited by Maou on Thu 7 Feb 10:25]

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"Re(5):MMCafe Travel Edition: 2013 printing" , posted Sat 9 Feb 01:43post reply

This thread contains a wealth of information. Thanks everyone!

The 798 Art Zone not only sounds like it's right up my alley but it has been getting positive reviews from all around. That is most certainly being added to the schedule. Then after an afternoon spent enjoying artistic expression and modern, high-brow culture I can go to McDonald's! Actually, looking at the local differences in something familiar can be even more informative than going to something that is 100% regional. For example, one time when I was in Hawaii some friends bought me a huapia pie from McDonald's. While that traditional dish had been changed to accommodate modern tastes -I guess Americans won't eat anything that isn't fried dirt brown- it was still something you would never find on the mainland. Still, I'll probably pick most of my meals from the menu Nobi provided. I don't eat at McDonald's at home, I'm certainly not flying all the way to China just to spend my time eating a Quarter Pounder with Cheese... or Royale with Cheese... whatever.
quote:
It's so hard to tell in China, since what the locals want doesn't matter in the slightest anyway, it's what the government and affiliated developers want. But you can read constant stories about people resisting getting thrown out of their old neighborhoods for far too little money. Why, it's even in the second Hessler book, Oracle Bones.

True, I'm coming from a very Western mindset where rampant consumerism trumps pretty much everything else. I'll be interested in seeing what the similarities and differences are in these two different methods of running a society. Hopefully my interactions with the powers-that-be in China will be of the begin variety. It will probably all depend on whether or not I get caught jumping the fence at the Great Wall.





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"Re(6):MMCafe Travel Edition: 2013 printing" , posted Mon 11 Mar 22:02post reply

quote:
Since the MMCafe patrons come from the four corners of the world and are very well traveled


I heard Iggy has been traveled by so many sailors he's been classified by the Navy as a friendly port.
I am on a Golden Girls binge.





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"Re(7):MMCafe Travel Edition: 2013 printing" , posted Mon 11 Mar 22:59post reply

quote:
I heard Iggy has been traveled by so many sailors he's been classified by the Navy as a friendly port.
I am on a Golden Girls binge.


Oh, please. Pay no attention to him. The man spent 90 days on the high seas drinking grain alchohol from a goat bladder.





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"Re(8):MMCafe Travel Edition: 2013 Japan ver." , posted Tue 23 Apr 05:15post reply

So it's looking shockingly likely that after decades of trying to make it to Japan (and after traveling just about everywhere else) I will likely manage to make it there this year, possibly as soon as next week . I'm pretty sure we'll spend most of our time around Tokyo with a very likely side trip to Kyoto.

I know there are a bunch of you folks there, and a bunch have previously visited, so if anybody's got advice for places to go and things to see, I'll gladly take it. I'll probably be there for about 10-14 days (plans are still in flux) and I already plan on seeing tons of art, visiting an arcade or two, digging for some Saturn games I don't already have, and drinking some shochu from a paper carton. I'd love to figure out a Tokyo MMCafe meetup if it's possible (and I'm sure it will be easier to arrange after I know my travel dates).

I'm surprisingly nervous about this, since I've got very little Japanese language knowledge and my list of things to see is already sky-high from wanting to visit Japan since I was about 10. Any advice on pretty much anything would be greatly appreciated!






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"Re(9):MMCafe Travel Edition: 2013 Japan ver." , posted Tue 23 Apr 14:35post reply

quote:
So it's looking shockingly likely that after decades of trying to make it to Japan I will likely manage to make it there this year

!!!

"At last...it's finally time! The time has come to put my plan into action." Splendid.

I'm sure we can get a welcome committee for you in Tokyo and take you on the appropriately electronic or cultural journey you desire.

Short answer on Kyoto: I find Kinkakuji crowded and annoying, Ginkakuji less so. I like Nanzenji better than all of them, and if you wander deep into the back behind it, there is a "Oku No In," a hidden temple, off in the woods. Likewise, Saihoji/Koke-dera can be crowded, but you can get a similar moss temple gig at the much less-loved Jizoin. Best of all, you'll be there at a great time for night illumination at certain temples, where you can wander around lantern-lit paths with the eerie sound of gongs in the background. It is the coolest thing you can do.





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"Re(10):MMCafe Travel Edition: 2013 Japan ver." , posted Tue 23 Apr 16:56:post reply

quote:
So it's looking shockingly likely that after decades of trying to make it to Japan I will likely manage to make it there this year
!!!




In case you understand Spanish, this travel blog I made back in the day may be of some use to you. It's been almost 5 years since I went there, but my trip covered Tokyo, Kyoto, Nara, Yokohama and Himeji and I detailed it the best I could...

Look for entries in folders from "September" to "November" in the menu on the right, as I had to submit the article in several pieces.

Things not to miss in Kyoto: Fushimi-Inari Sanctuary, Ryoanji Temple, Ninnaji Temple (not only an outstanding temple but also a great and affordable place to stay for the night if you are qoing to spend several days around Kyoto) and the preceptive evening walk around Gion and Pontocho.


EDIT: I'm not sure if Terada Katsuya is your cup of tea, but even if you are only mildly interested in his art, this new exhibition in Kyoto should be worth attending...





[this message was edited by HAYATO on Tue 23 Apr 19:41]

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"Re(9):MMCafe Travel Edition: 2013 Japan ver." , posted Tue 23 Apr 20:21post reply

Next week!? Holy. That's not much time to make an itinerary! I can probably give you a tour of the subcultural/otaku areas. Perhaps Nobi can give you some tips from his winter trip, like don't listen to Professor during shopping.

If you plan to do a lot of traveling, the JR rail pass is a good item to purchase. The price of a one-week pass isn't too different from just a round trip Bullet train fare from Tokyo to Kyoto.





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"Re(10):MMCafe Travel Edition: 2013 Japan ver." , posted Tue 23 Apr 21:39post reply

There are those on this board who are much more knowledgeable about Japan than I but I will note one thing: My Japanese is on par with that of an infant but I still managed to spend a week in Tokyo by myself without starving to death or getting arrested. As long as I didn't act like the Ugly American I found the language barrier was usually not much of a problem.





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"Re(2):Re(10):MMCafe Travel Edition: 2013 Japa" , posted Tue 23 Apr 23:30post reply

Thanks everybody for the info! Maou and Hayato, you hit upon the exact sort of thing I was hoping to see in Kyoto! It will be hard to narrow things down there: I know, I'll just have to see EVERYTHING Oh, and Hayato, thanks for the link-- I don't read much Spanish, but my wife does! And yes, SUPER huge Terada Katsuya fan!! I had completely forgotten that his show there is still live, so hopefully it still will be when I get there.

Professor, no kidding about the fast turnaround. It's looking more like late June/early July is most likely now, thankfully. Apparently next week was good for the use of airline miles, but... I've just got too many things to put in order before a trip of this magnitude. I'd love a tour of the subcultural/otaku areas, thanks! I'll have to hit up Nobi for the story about shopping!

Which is of course the other thing-- on such short notice, I had no idea what my short list of must-have items is.You'd think I'd have that kind of list a ready and prepared just in case a Japan trip was set to happen suddenly, but no.

Ishmael, thanks for the vote of confidence on my lack of language skills. Who knows, decades of puzzling out Japanese menus in games may have saturated my being like some kind of osmosis, and I'll amazing have learned more than I think. Kind of doubtful though.






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"Re(10):MMCafe Travel Edition: 2013 Japan ver." , posted Wed 24 Apr 00:15post reply

quote:
Perhaps Nobi can give you some tips from his winter trip, like don't listen to Professor during shopping.
As usual, the Professor is too hard on himself. That was a thoroughly gorgeous shopping adventure, and I don't think I ever knew that you could ship that many art books at midnight for $100. Karasu, let's all chat by e-mail later on when you actually nail things down.





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"Re(10):MMCafe Travel Edition: 2013 Japan ver." , posted Wed 24 Apr 00:58post reply

quote:
Next week!? Holy. That's not much time to make an itinerary! I can probably give you a tour of the subcultural/otaku areas. Perhaps Nobi can give you some tips from his winter trip, like don't listen to Professor during shopping.



The professor is the best guide you could possibly ask for in Tokyo, but my god, when you get to shopping he turns into that devil on your shoulder whispering "buy buy buy!" Within a 12 hour period, I ended up buying so much stuff that I had to mail most of it back home! (protip: Manga gets REALLY HEAVY REALLY FAST)

To your credit Prof. I DO regret not buying even MORE Akiman Doujinshi at Nakano Broadway! SO FULL OF REGRET.

I might be back really soon though! Maybe late May through Early June.

My plan is to first make a pilgrimage to Kyoto to pay my respects to the deities in the thousands of temples and then the living art Buddha Katsuya Terada who has an art show at the Manga Museum through the month.

Karasu! Take note! It's a 10 year retrospective of his work. Over 300 pieces will be exhibited! You can't miss it!

http://www.kyotomm.jp/english/event/exh/teradakatsuya_10years_eng.php

Afterwards, I hope to continue my pilgrimage to Tokyo to worship at the altar of Takayuki Takeya, the man with the hands of a bodhisattva:

http://www.otakuza.com/blog/2013/3/14/takayuki-takeya-modeling-world-exhibition

He is my absolute most favorite sculptor ever. Can't wait to see his original work in person!

Karasu! God Speed! I hope that you are able to meetup with The Professor and Maou. They are the best company you can have in Tokyo! (I hope to see you dudes again soon too!)






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"Re(2):Re(10):MMCafe Travel Edition: 2013 Japa" , posted Wed 24 Apr 01:08post reply

Just thought of a few other things that might help.
More Protips:

-Consider renting a phone or a mobile wireless hotspot. It will make navigation SOOOO MUCHHH EAAASIEEER. Also you can update Facebook every 15 minutes and make everyone jealous in almost realtime!

-Supplement your hotspot with a AA Battery Powered USB charger. You can find them in every 7-11 and Family Mart. SO CONVENIENT.

-When shopping, never assume "I can come back for this later." It never happens.

-We have pretty similar tastes. If you're short on time, go straight to Nakano Broadway. Akihabara is awesome, but Nakano Broadway is ... it's something else. It's literally my whole hobby life from childhood to present given physical form. You will find a monstrous variety of awesome stuff there. There is more stuff cataloged there than on the Internet. No joke! For instance, I was able to find a deck of Street Fighter 2 trading cards that used to come with these octopus ball snacks. I had a few of those cards as a kid. I cherished them and thought I'd never be able to collect the full deck--but hoho, lo and behold, there was an entire store dedicated to TRADING CARDS YOU GET FROM SNACKS. AMAZING!

Anyway, Akihabara is really awesome, but it's also really overrun with very stereotypical moe/loli/pervy stuff these days. Head to Nakano Broadway to get the good stuff!

-I think you will really enjoy the food in Kyoto. I'm pretty sure I had some amazing vegetarian friendly noodles while I was there (veggie broth, not meat!). Not sure if you can find that in Tokyo.

Have fun! Seriously, you are in for an amazing time!






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"Re(2):Re(10):MMCafe Travel Edition: 2013 Japa" , posted Wed 24 Apr 05:56post reply

quote:

Afterwards, I hope to continue my pilgrimage to Tokyo to worship at the altar of Takayuki Takeya, the man with the hands of a bodhisattva:

http://www.otakuza.com/blog/20


Wow, I didn't know about this!! What a wonderful time for art lovers to be in Japan...

Nobi, could you shed some light about Takeya's exhibition? Some months ago, I heard rumors of an upcoming reedition of Takeya's highly coveted artbook "Angle of the Fisherman/ Angles of Hunters", and doing a quick search, today I've stumbled upon THIS. It seems that they decided to republish the book matching the date of the exhibition. At last, I'll be able to get it after so many years!!!





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"Re(3):Re(10):MMCafe Travel Edition: 2013 Japa" , posted Wed 24 Apr 06:23post reply

quote:
Nobi's suggestions.


Wow, as the gravity of this thing sets in, I'm getting super excited and super worried. How will I ever decide if I should buy Psychic Assassin Taromaru OR A PC Engine with a bunch of games? I'm interested in waaay too many things for this to be easy. Fortunately manga is probably not even on the table, since it's so easy to get in the US these days, but art/game books... that's another story, especially if old Gamest Mooks are still findable.

Anyway, thanks for the advice! I'm keeping track of all these suggestions for my careful scheming, now that it looks like the trip will be just a bit further off (looking like late June to early July at the moment). Terada's definitely on my list too! His show here in Portland was extremely enlightening (to continue with the Buddhist theme).

Another few questions: since July is climbing season, is it worth it/interesting to climb Fuji? A relative of mine climbed it back in the 70's and for him it was the highlight of his trip. Clearly I've got other interests that he didn't have, but I'm curious to hear what anyone has to say. Also, any other suggestions for things to see outside Tokyo? I'm interested in Nara and Kamakura, but I'm not sure they're worth seeing unless I'm there for a long while.






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"Re(4):Re(10):MMCafe Travel Edition: 2013 Japa" , posted Wed 24 Apr 07:54post reply

quote:
Nobi's suggestions.

Wow, as the gravity of this thing sets in, I'm getting super excited and super worried. How will I ever decide if I should buy Psychic Assassin Taromaru OR A PC Engine with a bunch of games? I'm interested in waaay too many things for this to be easy. Fortunately manga is probably not even on the table, since it's so easy to get in the US these days, but art/game books... that's another story, especially if old Gamest Mooks are still findable.

Anyway, thanks for the advice! I'm keeping track of all these suggestions for my careful scheming, now that it looks like the trip will be just a bit further off (looking like late June to early July at the moment). Terada's definitely on my list too! His show here in Portland was extremely enlightening (to continue with the Buddhist theme).

Another few questions: since July is climbing season, is it worth it/interesting to climb Fuji? A relative of mine climbed it back in the 70's and for him it was the highlight of his trip. Clearly I've got other interests that he didn't have, but I'm curious to hear what anyone has to say. Also, any other suggestions for things to see outside Tokyo? I'm interested in Nara and Kamakura, but I'm not sure they're worth seeing unless I'm there for a long while.



Everybody should be able to follow the route I did in about 15-18 days. Our total time schedule was something like this:

To do list from Tokyo (13 days)

- Kamakura-Enoshima Island: 1-day trip - Yokohama: 1-day trip
- Mt Fuji surroundings (Lake Kawaguchi): 1-day trip
- Exploring the capital: 10 days or so


To do list from Kyoto (4 days)

- Nara: 1-day trip
- Himeji and Himeji Castle: 1-day trip
- Exploring the city: 2 days and 3 nights


My personal advice: I'd spend more time in Kyoto and Tokyo's surroundings than exploring the capital. We spent too much time hanging around in Tokyo, some precious days we could have put to good use in our trip to Kyoto. The schedule posted above would be best applying a 11/6 ratio instead of the 13/4 we ended up with, unless you want to lose some serious weight (we had to skip lunch at least once a day and run like fuckers Strider Hiryu to reach all the landmarks on time).

Hope this helps to clarify things a bit...





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"Re(5):Re(10):MMCafe Travel Edition: 2013 Japa" , posted Wed 24 Apr 12:40:post reply

quote:
(we had to skip lunch at least once a day and run like fuckers Strider Hiryu to reach all the landmarks on time).

Hahaha, Hayato, I think we need YOU to come to Japan again, too! Karasu, Hayato's laid out a nice way to see a lot of things...just depends on how much and what kind of things you want to see. If you want to see ancient cultural stuff, make more time for Kyoto and thereabouts, but if you're more interested in how most people (like, 10% of the country) live now, you'll want more Tokyo. Since it's summer, the temple-and-beach trip down to Shounan with Kamakura and Enoshima is great--I could help with that since it's a favorite, easy trip. Either way, we can most definitely find you a Gamest Mook. Perhaps we can find you ALL of the Gamest Mooks.





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[this message was edited by Maou on Wed 24 Apr 13:02]

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"Re(6):Re(10):MMCafe Travel Edition: 2013 Japa" , posted Thu 25 Apr 03:45post reply

So it's official, the tickets have been purchased. Looks like June 23 to July 7, two whole amazing weeks! Maou and Professor, let's talk via email about meetup specifics!

Hayato, thanks again for all the details! I think that will make an excellent itinerary, although I agree, maybe ten days are more than we'll need in Tokyo. Plus we're going on a generally shorter trip than you did.

quote:
(we had to skip lunch at least once a day and run like fuckers Strider Hiryu to reach all the landmarks on time).
Hahaha, Hayato, I think we need YOU to come to Japan again, too! Karasu, Hayato's laid out a nice way to see a lot of things...just depends on how much and what kind of things you want to see. If you want to see ancient cultural stuff, make more time for Kyoto and thereabouts, but if you're more interested in how most people (like, 10% of the country) live now, you'll want more Tokyo. Since it's summer, the temple-and-beach trip down to Shounan with Kamakura and Enoshima is great--I could help with that since it's a favorite, easy trip. Either way, we can most definitely find you a Gamest Mook. Perhaps we can find you ALL of the Gamest Mooks.


Argh, my luggage will be insanely heavy, I'm sure! I should probably narrow down my list a bit from that, hah.

Well, I want to do a mix of cultural stuff and modern Japan I think. But I've still go some deciding to do. I know I'll regret it if I don't see all kinds of amazing cultural sights, but I know I'll regret it forever if I don't see other things too.






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"Re(7):Re(10):MMCafe Travel Edition: 2013" , posted Thu 25 Apr 14:44post reply

Can anyone give me any tips about what to see and do in Münich? I'll be there for four weeks this summer. Apparently there isn't a single arcade in town?





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"Re(8):Re(10):MMCafe Travel Edition: 2013" , posted Thu 25 Apr 23:09post reply

quote:
Can anyone give me any tips about what to see and do in Münich? I'll be there for four weeks this summer. Apparently there isn't a single arcade in town?


Boy, do I! For starters, try and sample as much local beer as you can. Munich has tons of biergartens that will be perfect for summertime-- when I was there a few years ago, I would walk down to the one closest to where I was staying (in my case, the Hirschgarten) every evening and relax and drink a liter of Munchner Helles, a beautiful crisp lager.

There are of course sights to see as well, and Munich's got plenty of them, but the way to experience the local Bavarian culture is to go to the biergarten.






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"Re(7):Re(10):MMCafe Travel Edition: 2013 Japa" , posted Sat 27 Apr 04:26post reply

quote:
So it's official, the tickets have been purchased. Looks like June 23 to July 7


Early July sounds like a pretty good time for a vacation! Hit me here and I'll reply back to your addy!





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"Re(8):Re(10):MMCafe Travel Edition: 2013 Japa" , posted Tue 30 Apr 12:28post reply

I've got another question for the Japan luminaries of the Cafe: What's everyone's favorite regional foodstuffs (and what region are they from)? Maou has already suggested I look for the delectable yakimanjuu from Gunma (which I may have to go see expressly to try some of), and I've seen that Hiroshima has momiji manjuu that look excellent as well.

I should note that while I'm vegetarian, I'm still really interested to hear what everyone's personal favorites are, veg or otherwise.






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"Re(9):Re(10):MMCafe Travel Edition: 2013 Japa" , posted Tue 30 Apr 18:19:post reply

Specifically for vegetarians, sorry I am not an expert. Exodus/Brandon should have good advice if he is around.

If you are in Tokyo, I do know of a very interesting and quite refined vegetalian restaurant owned by a sect, near Ueno. The (preset) course is something like 8000 yens/person and you need to book one day in advance.

Not very original but my favorite ramen is tonkotsu ramen, from Kyushu (south of Japan). A good place to visit for a foreigner is Ichiran, a chain of tonkotsu ramen that basically allows you to create the ramen you want. They have an English menu as well so it's easy even for a beginner. You can check their store locations here.

For Tonkotsu Ramen, if you are in Kyoto, I recommend going to Nagahama Ramen Miyoshi on Kiyamachi-dori but they do not speak English (Kyoto has a Ichiran as well). Every region has a local ramen so any new place you visit, you might as well ask the locals what kind of ramen they are proud of in their neighbourhood.

Also from the South, basically, if you are in Fukuoka/Hakata/Kumamoto, go to a local Kaitenzushi. The fish quality per price of the dishes is insane compared to the rest of Japan. And it's pretty far from Fukushima, if you are worried about that kind of thing (like eating contaminated urchins).

And I love miso so everything from Hokkaido is welcomed. They also have very peculiar Kare/Curry Rice in Hokkaido.

A cool thing you can easily find in Kansai, if you are going in the summer, is Reimen. Many people know zarusoba (cold pre-cooked soba served on ice, eaten by dipping them in a soy-based sauce beforehand) but few people know Reimen, which is a similar idea to zaru soba but with Ramen. Unlike Zarusoba, I am afraid it always involves meat. Reimen is easily found in Kansai because it comes from Korean tradition. As usual, there are some regional variations, such as the infamous Morioka Reimen (from Iwate) which I have never tried but has a "love or hate" reputation. The watermelon might have something to do with it...

Osaka is well known for takoyaki (squid-filled dough balls) but my favorite local treat is kushikatsu, usually called kushiage instead in Tokyo. Since they are usually made on the spot, you can tell them to refrain from providing any meat-based or fish-based kushi. If you are very anal about your vegetarianism, though, I am pretty sure all kushi are fried in the same oil. I know it's a problem for Brandon, for example.

Okinawa-inspired recipes are also really good. A lot of herbs and spices, it feels like a mix between Japanese and Thai cuisine. I am sure they have a lot of vegetarian-friendly dishes as well.

If some of you like eel, you might get a different type based on where you are visiting. From my experience, Anago is more common in the Setonaikai (from Kansai to Hiroshima), while Unagi is more common in other regions. I prefer Unagi.





78… 78… 絵札はさすらい ♪ 78… 78… 秩序は廻る ♪ 78… 78… 絵札はさすらい ♪ 78… 78… 未来を示す

[this message was edited by chazumaru on Tue 30 Apr 18:39]

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"Re(10):Re(10):MMCafe Travel Edition: 2013 Jap" , posted Wed 1 May 01:30post reply

There are stands where you can get hot, palm-sized senbei. I like those probably more than I should.





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"Re(9):Re(10):MMCafe Travel Edition: 2013 Japa" , posted Wed 1 May 08:08post reply

quote:
I've got another question for the Japan luminaries of the Cafe: What's everyone's favorite regional foodstuffs (and what region are they from)? Maou has already suggested I look for the delectable yakimanjuu from Gunma (which I may have to go see expressly to try some of), and I've seen that Hiroshima has momiji manjuu that look excellent as well.

I should note that while I'm vegetarian, I'm still really interested to hear what everyone's personal favorites are, veg or otherwise.



im a fan of the poontang in kyoto, its the best





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"Re(10):Re(10):MMCafe Travel Edition: 2013 Jap" , posted Wed 1 May 23:17post reply

Thanks guys for your suggestions.
quote:
Specifically for vegetarians, sorry I am not an expert. Exodus/Brandon should have good advice if he is around.


I'm not sure I can complete the proper rituals to summon him, but who knows, maybe he'll see this. I remember almost going to Tokyo something like a decade ago and asking over at insertcredit. He had a bunch of suggestions then but I'm not even sure those forums even still exist (or the restaurants he suggested).
quote:

If you are in Tokyo, I do know of a very interesting and quite refined vegetalian restaurant owned by a sect, near Ueno. The (preset) course is something like 8000 yens/person and you need to book one day in advance.


Can you tell me the name of this place, or should it be obvious? I'll be in Tokyo for at least a week, so this place sounds pretty interesting.
quote:
There are stands where you can get hot, palm-sized senbei. I like those probably more than I should.

Argh, I predict that this kind of thing will be a real problem for me too! Sounds delicious! Although after so many years of playing certain video games I've come to have certain associations with senbei.






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"Re(2):Re(10):Re(10):MMCafe Travel Edition: 20" , posted Thu 2 May 00:00post reply

quote:

Can you tell me the name of this place, or should it be obvious? I'll be in Tokyo for at least a week, so this place sounds pretty interesting.



No, I was just too lazy to check out the name in case you had no interest... If I am not mistaken, that is the place. People seem to like it! That website I linked to seems pretty useful for vegans and vegetarians, by the way.





78… 78… 絵札はさすらい ♪ 78… 78… 秩序は廻る ♪ 78… 78… 絵札はさすらい ♪ 78… 78… 未来を示す

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"Re(3):Re(10):Re(10):MMCafe Travel Edition: 20" , posted Thu 2 May 00:21:post reply

Best food in Nagoya





[this message was edited by Zepy on Thu 2 May 00:22]

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"Re(10):Re(10):MMCafe Travel Edition: 2013 Jap" , posted Thu 2 May 03:34post reply

quote:
Specifically for vegetarians, sorry I am not an expert. Exodus/Brandon should have good advice if he is around.


I remember famed gaming vegetarian Tim Rogers used to lurk here too. Met up with him in Tokyo years ago. Don't let him take you out to eat! He took me and my brothers to a Denny's! (Which is actually a decent option if you want to avoid meat broth in everything :P)






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"Re(2):Re(10):Re(10):MMCafe Travel Edition: 20" , posted Thu 2 May 04:11post reply

But Tim lives in Oakland now...

Anyhow, the Japan Vegetarian Society has a whole bunch of Tokyo restaurants (orange circle for totally vegetarian, red circle outline for vegetarian options). Chaz's Bon option is here---8000Y is a lot, though! I'd call it closer to the site of the old Yoshiwara red-light than to Ueno itself. Also listed is a favorite called Pita the Great, run by this eccentric Japanese-speaking Lebanese guy who makes perfect falafel right in front of you in the ground floor of his perpetually-under-renovation-home that is somehow in pricy Roppongi of all places.





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"MMCafe Travel Edition: 2013 ramen" , posted Thu 2 May 15:32post reply

Hah, I'm back amongst the living and couldn't possibly think of a better comeback than talking about ramen!

quote:

Not very original but my favorite ramen is tonkotsu ramen, from Kyushu (south of Japan). A good place to visit for a foreigner is Ichiran, a chain of tonkotsu ramen that basically allows you to create the ramen you want. They have an English menu as well so it's easy even for a beginner. You can check their store locations here.



Not sure if tonkotsu (pork-based broth) is going to be the best choice for a vegetarian, but if you are not too strict and don't mind to avoid a pair or three of pork meat chunks when sipping your noodles, there's definitely one place to recommend in Tokyo. You know that indie movie "Jiro: Dreams of Sushi"? Well, this place might very well be called "Jiro, Dreams of Ramen".

Ramen Jiro is actually a chain, but the place to go is the original one, in Mita, not far away from Tokyo Tower and Sengakuji temple. If you are into japanese culture and/or History (specially from Edo period onwards), that's an interesting spot in its own right, being the tomb of the well-loved 47 ronin and their liege lord. But I digress! Ramen Jiro is a run-down, greasy and smelly little hut with space for like 10 patrons at best, but whenever you go there you will always be faced by a huge line of 30+ people religiously awaiting their turn for seating. And it's easy to see why. The flavor is great, that's for sure. Awesome broth, really good noodles, juicy and delicious chashuu (pork meat loafs)... But what's really great of Jiro is the atmosphere. It's worth going there only for the sheer experience. There, in the middle of 21st Century Tokyo, you can find a place that could have been taken straight from the pages of Ashita no Joe or some other manga of the 70s. I reckon the place is somewhat famous among ramen loving tokyoites, but I have only discovered it recently. It absolutely deserves a visit, anyway.

And for Kyoto ramen places, my weak spot is Tsukemen Man, a quirky but lovable ramen shop right next to Denmachiyanagi Station (one of my favourite spots on the city, btw). The speciality there is tsukemen, that is, the soup and the noodles are served separately and you have to pour the noodles into the broth by yourself. Tsukemen is fun to eat and even more delicious than normal ramen, but even if you can find tsukemen almost everywhere around Japan, there is only one place where the leit motif is a masked ninja-superhero cook and the menu is filled with orders like "Super Absurdly Thick Broth" or "Autum Special: Even More Strong Stuff!". My pick of choice for noodles whenever I'm in Kyoto, for sure.

Woah, that was long, sorry about that guys.
I guess we should arrange a ramen appreciation tour around Tokyo, or something!


P.D.
I must add that that stuff from Nagoya looks insanely delicious as well. Man, do I love noodles...





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"Re(1):MMCafe Travel Edition: 2013 ramen" , posted Thu 2 May 16:29post reply

Holy hell it's Maese! I was just wondering where you'd gone. Are you still in Tokyo? If so, maybe you'd better come drinking with us when Karasu shows up. Still haven't found the Basque cheese you recommended, though.





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"Re(1):MMCafe Travel Edition: 2013 ramen" , posted Fri 3 May 05:43post reply

I always find the Japanese "chashuu" to be extremely bizarre coming from a Cantonese perspective.

For one, the Chinese name literally means "fork roast", because it is a strip of meat skewered and roasted/barbecued. The Japanese one, which is rolled up and might not be roasted and kind of makes me think of pancetta and porcetta, is entirely different. Even the cut of meat used for the Japanese chashuu tends to be a fattier one (looks like belly at some places I've had it).


TOTAL SIDETRACKING ASIDE:
One of the things I really like about Chinese BBQ is that it's.... well, it's perfect. Cantonese roasted duck is a food that has been refined over decades, if not centuries. But one of the things I dislike about it is the lack of variation in it; there are higher and lower quality places for any given thing, but for a given thing the variety is nothing like what you see in Western BBQ (think about how many different rubs/marinades/sauces/glazes there are when you consider "barbecued chicken"!). But the notion for this thing has been inextricably linked in language: that particular kind of "roast duck" is universally described in Cantonese with the literal words, "roast duck". If you want a roasted duck that is deviant from it, you absolutely cannot just call it "roast duck" with no qualifiers. Maybe you could call it "French-style roast duck" or "Spanish-style roast duck" or "Chef's special roast duck", but it clearly is marked as a deviation from "roast duck".





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"Re(2):MMCafe Travel Edition: 2013 ramen" , posted Sat 4 May 00:01post reply

quote:
Holy hell it's Maese! I was just wondering where you'd gone. Are you still in Tokyo? If so, maybe you'd better come drinking with us when Karasu shows up. Still haven't found the Basque cheese you recommended, though.



Woah, I didn't expect people to actually remember me and my rants about Basque cheese... なんか感動しちゃった! Jokes aside, it's great to be here again.

Yeah, I'm still in Tokyo, so it would be great to meet you guys for a drink, and showing Karasu around 裏東京 should be quite fun too! Feel free to drop me a line at rubendvl at gmaildotcom. While it's a sad true that finding good cheese in Tokyo has become quite a difficult task nowadays, I have still some aces hidden on my sleeve, mwah ha ha ha.





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"Re(3):MMCafe Travel Edition: 2013 ramen" , posted Sat 4 May 05:18post reply

quote:

Woah, I didn't expect people to actually remember me and my rants about Basque cheese... なんか感動しちゃった! Jokes aside, it's great to be here again.

Yeah, I'm still in Tokyo, so it would be great to meet you guys for a drink, and showing Karasu around 裏東京 should be quite fun too! Feel free to drop me a line at rubendvl at gmaildotcom. While it's a sad true that finding good cheese in Tokyo has become quite a difficult task nowadays, I have still some aces hidden on my sleeve, mwah ha ha ha.



Hark! Gents, heed this man's words, for his mouth truly speaks words of wisdom. He was my faithful companion in my voyage across those lands of yonder and I assure you there's no better guide than this tough, seasoned freeman of the world.

Welcome back, my fellow aniki!





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"Re(1):MMCafe Travel Edition: 2013 printing" , posted Thu 8 Aug 17:24post reply

Just wanted to bump this thread and say thanks to all for all the info on Beijing. I'm currently there now & will definitely be checking out all the places mentioned here.





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"Re(2):MMCafe Travel Edition: 2013 printing" , posted Thu 8 Aug 23:43post reply

quote:
Just wanted to bump this thread and say thanks to all for all the info on Beijing. I'm currently there now & will definitely be checking out all the places mentioned here.


Beijing: come for the smog and stay for the sandstorms! I hope you have fun and let us know how your trip turns out.





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"Re(3):MMCafe Travel Edition: 2013 printing" , posted Fri 6 Sep 00:06post reply

In the years since I joined this forum, I had worked on cruise ships and did a lot of traveling this way! Since those days, I've been to China, Australia and just recently returned from a trip to Toronto to visit friends.

China was a huge culture shock for me! Due to the language barrier and that it's country full of millions (or billions) of people all enclosed in huge metropolises. Shanghai was a cool city, especially Nanjing Road. I got offered so many massages here it wasn't even funny.

I do wanna hit up Japan next year. Then Ireland. So much to see and do before being settled!





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"Super MMCafe Travel: 2014 Arcade Edition" , posted Wed 19 Feb 21:55post reply

In a few months I will be visiting -of all places- Hefei and Nanjing in China. Anyone have any suggestions about what I should see or where I should eat?





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"Re(1):Super MMCafe Travel: 2014 Arcade Editio" , posted Fri 21 Feb 07:30:post reply

quote:
In a few months I will be visiting -of all places- Hefei and Nanjing in China. Anyone have any suggestions about what I should see or where I should eat?



Hefei is in Anhui provence, and Anhui (also just called Hui) cooking is one of the 8 regional culinary traditions of China. Anhui is mostly mountainous so you won't find much seafood and there's less emphasis on traditionally farmed animals and veggies. Instead, keep an eye out for dishes that use ingredients that are foraged from the mountains. Stuff like bamboo, mushrooms, freshwater fish, lots of great herbs and exotic meats like frog, pangolin and civit (ok I've never actually had those last two, but I hear you can get them there). Anhui cuisine is typically milder in flavor and less oily than the food of other regions.

Here's a good list of popular local dishes:
http://english.ah.gov.cn/travel/mainmenu.asp?newsid=156&title=Cuisine+&+Snacks

I recall having really good snail in Anhui as well. It was lightly simmered in a brown sauce, not very heavy. Some of them even had little baby snails inside of them that had crunchy half formed shells. A little gritty, but interesting (I'm sorry this must be horrifying if you're a vegetarian).

If possible, I also highly recommend you visit Huang Shan. It's one of the most highly regarded mountains in China. Really beautiful. Once you get to the top you'll see that all those old Chinese landscapes with the gnarly jagged mountains aren't actually so stylized after all. Like most Chinese mountains there's a trail and a lot of steps all the way up. You don't need any climbing experience, but dude, it is exausting, even if you're already in great shape. But totally worth it!

*edit*

Everything I know about Anhui is from the Huangshan area which a quick google search tells me is 3-4 hours away from Hefei by train. China is a huuuuge place so I'm not sure how relevant my suggestions will be. Still, maybe you can make a day trip to the mountains. They're gorgeous!






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[this message was edited by nobinobita on Fri 21 Feb 07:32]

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"Re(1):Super MMCafe Travel: 2014 Arcade Editio" , posted Fri 21 Feb 07:41post reply

quote:
In a few months I will be visiting -of all places- Hefei and Nanjing in China. Anyone have any suggestions about what I should see or where I should eat?



Here's a pretty good guide to Nanjing Specialty dishes from CNN

http://travel.cnn.com/8-dishes-try-nanjing-422931

The hairy crab is awesome, but you gotta go to the right place. They've really overharvested them over the years (especially with the growing middle and upper class who now have a taste for fine dining) so they might not be as humongous and delicious anymore. If you do get em, make sure you scoop out all that creamy roe and viscera from the main shell. That's the part locals go nuts for.

I really like the Duck Blood noodle soup too. Oh and the soup dumplings are awesome. It's the local take on Xiao Long Bao, the tasty soup dumplings that you always find at good dim sum places in the US. But while they're a specialty item in the West, they're super cheap roadside food in China. Really great value!






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"Re(2):Super MMCafe Travel: 2014 Arcade Editio" , posted Fri 21 Feb 13:12post reply

Seconding nobi's recommendation of Huang Shan (i.e. Yellow Mountain). If you go, I advise that you take the cable car for the first stretch upwards because it's several kilometers long and will leave you very tired for all the rest of the hiking you're going to do. There is a hotel there that if you stay at will give you more time/the jump on some of the other crowds that will be there. Unlike other hiking places, the "trails" are paved with immaculately kept stone blocks, so hiking boots are not an absolute must, though comfortable shoes are. But the total amount of ascent there is over 1km, and doing a circuit of the mountains is multiple km, so be sure to bring plenty of water.





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"Re(3):Super MMCafe Travel: 2014 Arcade Editio" , posted Sat 22 Feb 01:13post reply

Thanks for all the information! Most of what I know about the Anhui province area and Hefei in particular comes from the time period when Zhang Liao was hanging out there so my information is obviously a bit out of date. [Note: If I do not knock out at least one thousand guys while I'm in the neighborhood I will feel like I missed a golden opportunity.]

I don't know if I will be able to make it down to Huang Shan but I will see if I can rearrange my schedule because it sounds spectacular. There are too many sights to see and not enough time to take them in.

At least I don't have to do much traveling to enjoy the local cuisine. From the hairy crab to the duck blood soup it all sounds delicious, or at least worth trying. I'm also glad to hear that the regional dishes are more mild in comparison to other areas in China. Spicy food doesn't agree with me and I've found that when a Chinese dish is labeled as spicy they aren't kidding around. All the dining suggestions are much appreciated and if anyone has a particular dish they recommend I would love to hear about it. Good see the MMCafe is living up to the café section of its name.

quote:
(I'm sorry this must be horrifying if you're a vegetarian).


Whether one is at a food stall or Five Guys burgers I've found there are times when it's a good idea not to think too hard about what I'm eating.





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"Re(4):Super MMCafe Travel: 2014 Arcade Editio" , posted Sat 22 Feb 03:19post reply

While it's not quite as far afield as Ishmael's trip, I'll be visiting Munich, Salzburg, and Vienna in May. Munich I have covered-- thanks to Nobi's suggestion a few years back when I was last there, I'll be visiting every single biergarten in the city and guzzling liters of all their delicious beers.

Salzburg and Vienna are different matters (since I've never been to either before), so I was wondering if anyone here at the Cafe had any suggestions about what I should go see or do that I might not otherwise think of.






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"Re(5):Super MMCafe Travel: 2014 Arcade Editio" , posted Sat 22 Feb 08:44post reply

quote:

Salzburg and Vienna are different matters (since I've never been to either before), so I was wondering if anyone here at the Cafe had any suggestions about what I should go see or do that I might not otherwise think of.



It's been a lifelong dream of mine to see all of Gustav Klimt's works in person. The majority of them are in Vienna, so please, live the dream!

http://www.fodors.com/news/story_5232.html






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"Re(4):Super MMCafe Travel: 2014 Arcade Editio" , posted Sat 22 Feb 12:00post reply

quote:
Thanks for all the information! Most of what I know about the Anhui province area and Hefei in particular comes from the time period when Zhang Liao was hanging out there so my information is obviously a bit out of date. [Note: If I do not knock out at least one thousand guys while I'm in the neighborhood I will feel like I missed a golden opportunity.]

I don't know if I will be able to make it down to Huang Shan but I will see if I can rearrange my schedule because it sounds spectacular. There are too many sights to see and not enough time to take them in.

At least I don't have to do much traveling to enjoy the local cuisine. From the hairy crab to the duck blood soup it all sounds delicious, or at least worth trying. I'm also glad to hear that the regional dishes are more mild in comparison to other areas in China. Spicy food doesn't agree with me and I've found that when a Chinese dish is labeled as spicy they aren't kidding around. All the dining suggestions are much appreciated and if anyone has a particular dish they recommend I would love to hear about it. Good see the MMCafe is living up to the café section of its name.

(I'm sorry this must be horrifying if you're a vegetarian).

Whether one is at a food stall or Five Guys burgers I've found there are times when it's a good idea not to think too hard about what I'm eating.



Happy to help! Please let us know how your gastronomic journey goes!
and post hot pix plz!






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"Re(6):Super MMCafe Travel: 2014 Arcade Editio" , posted Sun 23 Feb 03:11post reply

quote:

It's been a lifelong dream of mine to see all of Gustav Klimt's works in person. The majority of them are in Vienna, so please, live the dream!


Don't worry, that was of course already at the top of my list! I'm hoping, though, that his work is displayed more thoughtfully than Egon Schiele's is in Prague! As amazing as it was to see his work in person, the carelessness apparent in the exhibitions was disappointing. I'm sure it will be different for Klimt since he's one of those big names in, among other things, posters made for dorm room walls, haha!






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"Re(5):Super MMCafe Travel: 2014 Arcade Editio" , posted Mon 24 Feb 00:16post reply

quote:

Happy to help! Please let us know how your gastronomic journey goes!
and post hot pix plz!

Not only do I suspect I would tell everyone about it if I managed to eat a pangolin but I hope I would unlock some sort of food related trophy for myself. That has to be at least a gold level achievement!





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"Re(6):Super MMCafe Travel: 2014 Arcade Editio" , posted Fri 16 May 03:13post reply

Quick trip breakdown:

Nanjing: Good
Hefei: Bad
Duck blood noodles: Good
3DS: Bad

All in all not a bad excursion.





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"Re(7):Super MMCafe Travel: 2014 Arcade Editio" , posted Sat 17 May 11:52post reply

quote:
Quick trip breakdown:

Nanjing: Good
Hefei: Bad
Duck blood noodles: Good
3DS: Bad

All in all not a bad excursion.



Can you give us more details? What was good about Nanjing. What was bad bout Hefei. What else did you eat? What happened with your 3DS?

DID YOU EAT A PAONGOLIN???

Inquiring minds need to know!






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"Re(8):Super MMCafe Travel: 2014 Arcade Editio" , posted Sat 17 May 18:40post reply

I'm in Krakow right now.

I'm eating beans, kale, and rice, just like I did back home.

TRAVEL EXCITEMENT





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"Re(7):Super MMCafe Travel: 2014 Arcade Editio" , posted Sat 17 May 19:57post reply

quote:

Duck blood noodles: Good


I'd append that to just "duck blood: good".
Duck blood is ALWAYS good.





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"Super MMCafe Travel: Duck Blood Edition" , posted Sun 18 May 02:06post reply

Yeah, I probably should elaborate a bit more. The 3DS kvetching is more a hardware issue so I'll save that for a game related post but for the rest:

Nanjing was a pleasant surprise. From my small experience with Chinese cities I've noticed that too many skylines become dominated by blocky, Communism inspired architecture or row upon row of ghost buildings. Nanjing felt more modern and featured a lot more plants. I suspect being out of favor politically has allowed Nanjing to develop its own personality. Xinjiekou was a nice place to do some window shopping and Nanjing 1912 was great fun. The high/lowlight of eating there was a Mongol themed restaurant in Nanjing 1912 that served fatty ribs of lamb and lamb drumsticks that had been blasted dry with so much heat that they looked and tasted like a chew toy you would give to a dog. The dinner had to be eaten with multiple plastic gloves while Mongol horde themed karaoke blared out of televisions on every wall. After eating there I developed such horrible indigestion that I had to immediately return to the hotel and chug a bottle of Pepto Bismol but it was totally worth it.

Hefei, in contrast, was a slab of a city that made me feel like I was walking around in a live action version of GTA. In addition to the usual hair-raising Chinese traffic patterns there is a lack of taxis in the city. Into to this void a bunch of motorists have decided to start offering rides to anyone they see on the street. It creates a constant air of "stranger danger" where guys with creepy smiles are always asking you if you want to get into their car. Even doing something as simple as going out for lunch made us feel weirded out. I met a number of nice people in Hefei but it's not the sort of place a person would visit unless you had specific business in town. One minor, amusing thing I found in Hefei was that the phone at the front desk of the hotel I stayed at inexplicably had "Oh my Darlin' Clementine" as its ring tone. I also found a Western themed restaurant named "Tacos" that did not have tacos on the menu.

Although I didn't manage to eat a pangolin I still had a lot of great dishes. I also managed not to eat at any of the thousands of KFC's that dot the Chinese landscape like so much acne so I considered that a moral victory.





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"Re(1):Super MMCafe Travel: Duck Blood Edition" , posted Mon 19 May 19:34post reply

quote:
Although I didn't manage to eat a pangolin I still had a lot of great dishes.


having been isolated from that particular way of interacting with the world for most of my life, it sometimes strikes me as strange the way people talk about eating animals. I think of animals as live things, not as meat, so when someone says they're going to eat a pangolin, or eat a cow, I think of a live thing, and how someone is enthusiastically going to eat it.

for a long time I was just a vegetarian because I was one, but now, since I never inherently think of animals as food, every once in a while it surprises me the way people talk about this stuff, especially when the animal is a protected species.

I can't really articulate this super well at the moment, but it's probably akin to how americans and europeans feel when they hear/think about someone eating a dog. They think of a live dog, not a thing made of edible meat, and wonder how anyone could eat a friendly creature like that. For me that extends to all animals, since I don't think of any of them as meat, unless I'm confronted with/reminded of it.

I know people eat meat generally, and it's a natural thing, and I'm not against it in the general and sustainable sense, but it's super weird to a person like me who hasn't done it for 25 years. So there you go! That's something about how my mind works.

you really shouldn't eat endangered animals though.





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"Re(2):Super MMCafe Travel: Duck Blood Edition" , posted Tue 20 May 08:56post reply

quote:
you really shouldn't eat endangered animals though.


Seconded. Despite being vegan, I'm all for people being adventurous with what they eat, but... enough's enough.

So since this is the travel thread, anybody around here ever been to New Zealand? An opportunity to go in late June has turned up and I find myself thinking "like Australia but smaller". Plus all that Lord of the Rings stuff. But that's about all I've got. I'm curious if there's a Cafe perspective for it or if anyone has any suggestions. Otherwise I'll just wing it.






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"Re(3):Super MMCafe Travel: Duck Blood Edition" , posted Tue 20 May 10:13post reply

quote:
I'm curious if there's a Cafe perspective for it or if anyone has any suggestions. Otherwise I'll just wing it.



I visited New Zealand!

If you have the time to spare, driving on the highways of NZ is HIGHLY RECOMMENDED, because the geography beckons you to stop and look or to stop and explore.

If you have the budget and time for it, a trip to Kapiti Island I would consider a must-do. It is a small island nature reserve containing bird species that don't live in the wild anywhere else in the world (including the rest of the NZ), and provided you don't have storm in the morning, the bird chorus that starts at about 5am is something you will never forget. Depending on what time of year you go there, you may be able to also find penguins. It's magical.

Meat pies are NZ's version of the microwave burrito/hamburger. You can find a zillion kinds, and many diners/eateries/bakeries have very good ones that aren't expensive. Definitely a holdover of the UK influence. Ginger beer is one of the more popular soft drinks, and many brands can be found. There are 4 kinds of bacon that are common (shoulder, middle, eye, streaky), and soft-cooked bacon is de rigeuer. Some interesting produce can also be found there that isn't common to the US... of all of them, make sure you try feijoa.





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"Re(1):Super MMCafe Travel: Duck Blood Edition" , posted Tue 20 May 12:29:post reply

quote:
pangolin-mania
Man, I didn't even know what a pangolin was before this thread, nor that some people eat them (then again, the Cafe seems like the right place to talk about unusual foods), but it seems pretty clear to me from the content of Ish's perennially wry and funny posts that the devouring of pangolins isn't being strongly advocated, whatever the attraction may be in China.

That said, it is interesting to consider foods, both legal and illegal, that are available in some countries and not in others, and what to do when encountering them as a visitor. The scientific whale hunt and the selling of the resulting meat, for instance, has always been a preposterous facade, but fortunately it's a non-issue for most visitors to Japan because they will know that whale meat, in addition to being unkind, also...really sucks.

I had snake meat in China one time (chicken-like, just fine) that was supposed to come with blood soup, but they tossed that because they thought we "wouldn't want it." Seemed like a shame.

Edit: Spoon: aaaagh in addition to reminding me that I never seem to get around to finishing Last Window, you also remind me that I never seem to get around to going to NZ, and I sure would like to...





人間はいつも私を驚かせてくれる。不思議なものだな、人間という存在は...

[this message was edited by Maou on Tue 20 May 12:30]

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"Re(2):Super MMCafe Travel: Duck Blood Edition" , posted Tue 20 May 14:13:post reply

quote:
The scientific whale hunt and the selling of the resulting meat, for instance, has always been a preposterous facade, but fortunately it's a non-issue for most visitors to Japan because they will know that whale meat, in addition to being unkind, also...really sucks.



I've heard great things about whale meat from Norwegians and Iceland folks though. Here's a Norwegian's explanation on why they eat whales:

quote:

http://www.quora.com/Why-is-there-still-whaling-in-Norway
There's basically two different views of nature. When these two collide, people who are from one perspective and lack understanding of the other, are confused.

-In the first view, human beings and nature are distinct. We should avoid "interfering" as much as possible. A logical consequence is that we should live in cities taking up as little space as possible, and we should farm our food in efficient farms, again taking up as little space and resources as possible - while leaving as much as possible of "nature" alone as far as possible.

-In the second view, human beings are part of nature. We should strive to balance our impact so that we can live harmonically and sustainably as a part of it. A logical consequence here is that we should live more scattered, to reduce the ecological pressure in any one area. We should harvest our food and other resources from nature, but take great care that we never harvest more than is sustainable.

The minke whale, the one hunted by Norwegians is extremely numerous, the population exceeds a million, and is both healthy and growing.

Given this, the question is wrong from a Norwegian standpoint. Instead the question should be why not?

We harvest all other resources from nature, and as long as the quotas are set conservatively and well within the sustainable limits for the species, it's hard to see a reason to treat whales differently from other animals.

We hunt/gather/eat reindeeer, elk, salmon, blueberries, cloudberries, cod, deer, and essentially *all* animals and plants that are both plentiful and tasty.

Many of us considers this morally superiorto factory farming. I'm inclined to agree. I think it's better for animal welfare to be a free and natural-living moose until you're one day shot by a hunter, than it is to be a force-fed chicken living your short life in a tiny cage without ever seeing the sun or stepping on grass.

-Eivind Kjørstad

(Bolded as the person originally typed)



And here's some first hand accounts of eating whale, from non-Norwegians guessing by the names.
quote:

http://www.quora.com/What-does-whale-meat-taste-like

Minke whale tastes like the best steak you've ever eaten. I recommend trying it in Iceland with blueberry mushroom cheese gravy. It'll blow your socks off.

-Amanda Tendler

----

It wasn't awful, by any means. If I didn't have ethical qualms, and if it were commonly available, I'd probably say, "Yeah, sure, hook me up with some of that whale." It was meaty and a bit tangy. But it's not readily available, and I do have ethical qualms, so I'm content to have had it once. Should I ever return to Iceland I might try it in some other preparation, just to have the experience, but I'm not rushing back for it.

-Joshua Engel

----

've had whale in Norway as both steak and as carpaccio, and I would say the carpaccio versions have been a lot more interesting than the steak. As a steak it tastes like a bland version of steak from ox or similar, with a slight hint of sea. As carpaccio, on the other hand, it tastes a bit like something in between tuna carpaccio and wild game carpaccio.

I had the carpaccio at a restaurant, so I'm not sure if it was completely raw, or cured or smoked slightly.

-Christian H. Mosveen



National geographic also covered the whaling tradition in Norway with the very romantically titled "Last of the Viking Whalers"
http://ngm.nationalgeographic.com/2013/06/viking-whalers/smith-text
Usually Nat Geo frowns upon whaling, so it was a surprising read.



----------

As for strangest dishes in Beijing... went to Fat Wang's Donkey Burger with a Chinese friend (he looks like a Chinese version of Garfield the cat as a human). I do love me a donkey burger (if you are in beijing, try 'em). Then my friend pointed out that those North Koreans at the other table were eating a donkey dong, so we should order one too. All the meat came and he said "Take a guess, which one's donkey dong eh??" It was pretty hard to tell as we ordered other organ meats too, all thinly sliced like baloney so it's not like you have a giant dong sitting on the table. We drank a lot of Yanjing beer (it costs 33cents for a 40oz bottle) that night.

Lamb meat kebabs are also really popular in Beijing. My favorite kebab stand in Beijing is near the bar street where this Kazakh family opens a stall at night and this squat guy with a giant scar on the corner of his mouth going up his cheek grills the meat. They got lamb meat of course, but also kidney (a favorite of mine, it's got a thick layer of fat that crisps up very well), liver (for Bas Rutten!), and... Lamb testicles. I MIGHT have accidentally ordered one when I thought I was pointing to a kidney, I'm not sure...
(and Yanjing was again the beer of choice. That is the beer of the mainland Chinese everyman)





[this message was edited by HokutoAndy on Tue 20 May 14:49]

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"Re(3):Super MMCafe Travel: Duck Blood Edition" , posted Tue 20 May 19:50post reply

People here will probably hate me for saying this, but if I were served whale I'd definitely try it (isn't it minke whales that Japan hunts, too?)

Also, I would totally be down for a donkey burger, and am upset with myself for having never even heard of eating donkey before this post.





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"Re(3):Super MMCafe Travel: Duck Blood Edition" , posted Tue 20 May 19:54:post reply

quote:
-In the first view, human beings and nature are distinct. We should avoid "interfering" as much as possible. A logical consequence is that we should live in cities taking up as little space as possible, and we should farm our food in efficient farms, again taking up as little space and resources as possible - while leaving as much as possible of "nature" alone as far as possible.

-In the second view, human beings are part of nature. We should strive to balance our impact so that we can live harmonically and sustainably as a part of it. A logical consequence here is that we should live more scattered, to reduce the ecological pressure in any one area. We should harvest our food and other resources from nature, but take great care that we never harvest more than is sustainable.

As a sometimes-meat-eating individual trying to lower the trace I'll leave on the world, I feel this dichotomy is dishonest at best. That's a basic rhetoric technique of trapping your opponent into choosing between two seemingly logical points of view, but which both inherently validate your own premise. The only way to play that game is refusing to play it.

And while we're talking about ideal Norvegian pisciculture, can we also talk about salmon farms, breeding diseased fishes swimming in their own feces?

Back on topic: Corsican donkey saucisson is the best.





[this message was edited by Iggy on Tue 20 May 20:18]

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"Re(4):Super MMCafe Travel: Bloodmouth Edition" , posted Tue 20 May 22:29post reply

quote:
Back on topic: Corsican donkey saucisson is the best.

From travel to food ethics to "Corsican donkey saucission" (which I believe is some sort of code term for sex) this has been quite the free ranging discussion!

As for NZ I know very little about the area outside of its long standing music scene. If you are a fan of bands that -at best- only sell a few hundred copies of an album you are going to the right place.





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"Re(4):Super MMCafe Travel: Duck Blood Edition" , posted Wed 21 May 06:08post reply

quote:

As a sometimes-meat-eating individual trying to lower the trace I'll leave on the world, I feel this dichotomy is dishonest at best. That's a basic rhetoric technique of trapping your opponent into choosing between two seemingly logical points of view, but which both inherently validate your own premise. The only way to play that game is refusing to play it.



I sure do agree with this!





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"Re(5):Super MMCafe Travel: Duck Blood Edition" , posted Wed 21 May 08:40:post reply

quote:
People here will probably hate me for saying this, but if I were served whale I'd definitely try it (isn't it minke whales that Japan hunts, too?)

Also, I would totally be down for a donkey burger, and am upset with myself for having never even heard of eating donkey before this post.



Yeah, Minke is the whale consumed in those places. Donkey meat is similar to lamb and horse, though not as gamey as lamb and more fatty than horse on average. Here's what a typical Beijing donkey burger looks like:
http://www.thatsmags.com/uploads/picture/201306/WangPangZi2_97ff653958.jpg

Here's the storefront:
http://2.bp.blogspot.com/-Ekh_kFRgEBE/UcVWBmX79jI/AAAAAAAAGV8/HLv7WGYMD_0/s1600/DSC01403.JPG
They're about one to two dollars in price. You can also get a nice donkey soup out of it.

Ads from chains like Fat Wang's Donkey Burger are always tongue in cheeck, like:
http://lumdimsum.com/wp-content/uploads/2010/11/IMG_1240-700x525.jpg
The donkey asks "Do you think I'm beautiful?"
Or they'll have an obviously photoshopped picture of a donkey on some green alpine plains.

A few months ago I went out with my journalist buddy Eric Jou to the tourist snack street of Beijing WangfuJing
http://kotaku.com/its-the-snacktaku-fried-insect-special-1545362795

That's where they convince tourists (from other parts of China) to eat poorly prepared starfishes, sea horses, spiders and whatever. I ate a fried snake (it was all skin and bones) mostly so I could post a picture captioned "SNAKE EATER". I then said in a raspy David Hayter voice "Ugh, this is horrible!".

After that we ate the actual food tourists/locals eat around there, which is ice cream and legs of lamb. There's a really good jasmine and green tea icecream stand there.





[this message was edited by HokutoAndy on Wed 21 May 08:42]

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"Re(6):Super MMCafe Travel: Duck Blood Edition" , posted Wed 21 May 11:12post reply

Those donkey sandwiches look delish.

Hey HokutoAndy, if you and your bro pop over to Japan again any time in the next year or two we should meet up again. I'm over here these days.





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"Re(3):Super MMCafe Travel: Duck Blood Edition" , posted Wed 21 May 12:17post reply

quote:

So since this is the travel thread, anybody around here ever been to New Zealand? An opportunity to go in late June has turned up and I find myself thinking "like Australia but smaller". Plus all that Lord of the Rings stuff. But that's about all I've got. I'm curious if there's a Cafe perspective for it or if anyone has any suggestions. Otherwise I'll just wing it.



I've never been to New Zealand, but if you wanna hype yourself up about it you should watch the film Boy directed by Taika Waititi:

http://boythefilm.com/

It's a genuinely heartwarming come of age film about a Maori kid in the 80s. It's really funny and touching and a genuine Kiwi film. I think it was the highest grossing domestically made film in NZ history.

The director also directed all the music videos for the Flight of the Conchords TV show, which is also super excellent.

Boy and Flight of the Conchords might not have the majestic imagery of Lord of The Rings, but (according to my friend from NZ) they are authentic representations of contemporary New Zealand culture and humor.






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"Re(7):Super MMCafe Travel: Duck Blood Edition" , posted Wed 21 May 12:19post reply

quote:
Those donkey sandwiches look delish.

Hey HokutoAndy, if you and your bro pop over to Japan again any time in the next year or two we should meet up again. I'm over here these days.



That sounds fantastic! I would love to do another MMCafe Japan meetup in the next year.






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"Re(4):Super MMCafe Travel: Duck Blood Edition" , posted Wed 21 May 12:47post reply

quote:

New Zealand

Thanks everybody for the advice! I'm a little frantic since the turnaround on this trip is stunningly quick. Hopefully I can take in some Maori culture while I'm there. My understanding is that it's pretty prevalent, so... we'll see!

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Japan


It's a ways off, but I'll also be in Japan (and Taiwan and Singapore and Hong Kong) this December. I'd love to figure out a Cafe meetup around that time if anybody's up for it!






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