It’s been a gruelling but rewarding week so I thought of treating myself to some of my good old favorites from Kimono Ken.
Kimono Ken is a chain of Japanese fusion restaurants that’s been around for about a decade. It may be homegrown here in the Philippines but they certainly deliver. (Restaurants in Little Tokyo are on another level, though.)
It’s a little heavy on the pocket, but the price is comparable to how food costs in Japan. Taste-wise, the flavors are definitely there. So for today’s snapshot of their offerings:
I started with miso soup. Plus points for their fresh tofu and seaweed. Minus points for the soup being a little thinner than it used to. 😦
They brought this along with my iced coffee. This appetizer’s good for up to three people. It’s fried wonton stuffed with ground chicken, shredded cabbage with mayonnaise and wasabi dip. It may be an odd-sounding combination but it works for me. I was describing to my boyfriend what wasabi’s like. I told him, if peppers feel like a burn from a flame, wasabi’s spiciness feels like a chemical burn. Don’t you think so?
My favorite drink in this resto, iced coffee. I’m glad they haven’t changed the price in years, and more importantly, it tastes the same every time. I believe they’re using UCC coffee for this treat.
And speaking of staying the same, one of my staples in Japanese restaurants (heck, even when I was in Japan) is curry. It’s comparable to the dishes I’ve eaten in Osaka’s subway stations, but my only complaint is that the chicken was a little too salty.
Service is efficient and the staff are cordial. I don’t eat out as much as I used to anymore, but Kimono Ken will stay as one of my favorite go-to restaurants if I want a treat. If you like Japanese food and haven’t gone to any of their branches, do give it a try!
I haven’t been able to post as often as I want to these past few weeks because my laptop kept acting up. Stubborn me refused to go to the repair shop though I was already starting to warm up to the idea that I needed to format my hard disk soon.
Still, I tinkered as far as I can, so every other day or so I’d run chkdsk c:/r. Then just this weekend, a techie friend of mine made the switch to Windows 10, so I thought I’d give in to Microsoft’s pesky free upgrade reminder and get it over with. So now my laptop’s into its third day of running under Windows 10.
Microsoft ditched the four colors and opted for the sleek-looking blue window. That’s a cool welcome screen there! (special appearance by cute Sunny ^^ )
The file explorer (formerly windows explorer) now has its menu in tab form. It was confusing at first… well it still is.
The start menu looks so interactive and it’s fun to customize. Loving how photo albums are arranged, too. You can view the photos either by folder or when they’re taken.
Goodbye old-school screensavers; hello lock screen!
After writing down the pictures’ captions, I realized that Windows 10 almost has a feel of Android OS sometimes. At first, I had apprehensions too at how Windows 10 might be, but my laptop’s been actually performing faster than when I was still using Windows 7. More importantly, the upgrade seemed to have fixed my laptop somehow.
Stuff I don’t like as much–the audio is a little lower in volume now, and continually pressing F8 doesn’t get you to the boot screen/ repair menu anymore. I also can’t access some sites in https when I’m using Firefox.
Despite these minor inconveniences though, I’d say it was worth upgrading to Windows 10. Now let’s hope I don’t jinx it!
And since we’re on the topic of windows, let’s switch gears and talk about windows (窓). When designed right, windows can become a spectacular view in themselves. I want to share with you some shots of windows which I find interesting:
This is a guest house in La Union. The place is Filipino-themed, including the furniture.
Another guest house I used to frequent in my former job. This one is in Toledo, Cebu. It’s a homey, American-style bungalow atop a mountain.
This one is taken from the room I stayed in at Peninsula Excelsior in Singapore. Great location, great room, great sights. In front of me is a portion of Singapore’s National Archives (and also a fire station).
Churches usually have interesting architecture. Behind us is a replica of France’s Notre Dame cathedral in Ho Chi Minh.
One of the windows of St. Peter’s Church in Melaka. St. Peter’s church is said to be the oldest Roman Catholic church in Malaysia.
Ruins of St. Paul church in Melaka
This is one of my favorite pictures ever. It has a mysterious feel to it and it kinda reminds me of the One Acre of Coastline card in HxH Greed Island
window-inception, or “kamehame wave windows” in Melaka (haha!)
So there. I hope you found the Windows 10 review helpful and that you enjoyed the mini-windows gallery. またね！
Costa Coffee is a UK-based coffee chain, and just this week, they’ve opened their sixth store in the Philippines at SM North EDSA. And when it comes to commercial coffee, I’m more of I’ll try stuff at least once so I gave Costa Coffee a shot.
The interior’s pretty cool and I like how there are a variety of tables and seats. The phone booth outside is picture-worthy, too. To my right is a couch, two ottomans, a table and a lamp, the best seats in the resto and most in-demand. Wasn’t able to take a pic because I didn’t want to take pics of strangers >_<
A sample of their hip furniture
Before noticing the British theme and the tagline, I first headed to the cake display. They had desserts obviously catered to the Philippine palate–they had chocolate pandan roll, mango sago cake. The chocolate lover in me ended up drawn into this slice of Sinful Chocolate Cake, though. And you know what it tastes like? A Milky Way bar. Yup, you read that right. It’s rich, it’s sweet, and it’s best shared.
I had mocha to go with the cake. The coffee-bean art is almost too pretty to drink. But coffee is meant to be drunk, so I had to close my eyes when I started stirring my drink (ok, not really 😛 ). I’m lacking adjectives today, but let me just say that the coffee was good! You may also notice the table, how it has some carvings sprawled about. These actually reminded me of vandalized desks in school. Haha!
The ambiance including music was cozy, and the price is comparable to Seattle’s Best or Starbucks (the cake slice cost PhP 150 or just under USD4; the 12-oz coffee at PhP 130 or around USD 3.5). One thing that probably needs working on though is for the crew to be a little friendlier. Not Starbucks-levels perky; maybe just a few smiles and short greetings will do. That would make the place even more inviting. But overall, I think Costa Coffee is a good place to hang out and enjoy coffee with family, friends or your significant other.
I first came across Gardens by the Bay in 2012. I saw the supertrees and the gardens was set to have its soft opening sometime that year. I finally got to visit in 2014, and by then, there were plenty of attractions to enjoy for more than half a day.
More than aesthetics though, what I find epic about Gardens by the Bay is how it’s designed for sustainability, as these cool schematics illustrate. In a nutshell:
- Biomass is optimized in the gardens. Green waste is burned to generate electricity for the complex and heat the dehumidifiers running in the cool conservatories. Part of the green waste is also used as fertilizer for new material for the different gardens.
- The cool conservatories’ greenhouses are shaped as such to collect rainwater. It gets filtered, then used for irrigating new seedlings and cuttings. The rest of the filtered rainwater gets discharged into the Marina reservoir.
- Flue gases (or gas emissions from burning the green waste) drive ventilation in the supertrees. Moist air expelled from the trees help maintain the right conditions for surrounding wildlife.
- Water runoff from the gardens is further treated in the Dragonfly and Kingfisher lakes naturally by the trees, aquatic plants and animals that are in these lakes.
Now that is epic environmental engineering! And Gardens by the Bay is a sight to behold, too:
Under the dome… Flower Dome, that is. Temperature and humidity are carefully controlled here, and the dome houses flowers from all climates.
Gardens by the Bay have different exhibits all-year round. The theme when I visited was French.
Nice colorful LEDs 🙂
Enjoying the supertrees’ light and music show. Supertrees are super in many ways. Some are equipped with solar cells which in turn power the supertrees’ lighting, and there are trees used to help ventilate the conservatories.
a view of the Dragonfly lake. I’m on a plank where most photographers take practice shots. It’s a pretty popular dating and strolling spot, too!
not-so-visible is the Bay East Gardens. Bonus view of the Singapore Flyer, Supertrees and Cool Conservatory
the other half of the cool conservatories, Cloud Forest. This houses a variety of ferns and other tropical plants.
Gardens by the Bay is accessible via MRT. Alight at the Bayfront MRT Station, take Exit B, cross the Dragonfly Bridge or Meadow Bridge. And into the gardens you go!
Admission rates for the conservatories are as follows:
- Local Resident Rate – One Conservatory
Senior Citizens (>60 years old): SGD8
Children (3-12 years old): SGD8
- Local Resident Rate – Two Conservatories
Senior Citizens (>60 years old): SGD15
Children (3-12 years old): SGD12
- Standard Rate – Two Conservatories
Children (3-12 years old): SGD15
Access to the rest of the areas is pretty much free (OCBC Skyway has a fee of SGD5, I believe). The conservatories are generally open daily, from 9 am – 9 pm, and last admission is 8:30 pm. You can get your tickets online to save time queueing, too.
It’s not the first time you’ll hear me say this–or rather read about it in a blog post of mine–I love high places. You get a bigger picture, it gives you a broader perspective of the landscape, and it’s an escape from the noise that’s on the ground. Gazing at the view from said perspective both frees and quiets my mind.
When I was looking for my own place, I made sure that the unit I bought had a nice city view. That way, when I need to clear my head, I’d just gaze at the window. I’ve certainly enjoyed the fireworks every New Year’s Eve for the last three or four years! Unfortunately though, my city view is now partially covered with another building, and soon, in place of skylines, I’ll be having an uncomfortable view of neighbors…
Now I can’t really do anything about it anymore, so the next best thing when I don’t have any travel yet would be to revisit pictures. I found these shots of Osaka Bay very calming, especially now. I’m loading the pics in full quality so you can enjoy them as much as I do 🙂
I’ve always been fascinated with photos from Fushimi Inari Shrine, and I felt that my trip to Kyoto wouldn’t be complete without seeing it so I did!
Fushimi Inari Shrine is very accessible. It’s just a few minutes-walk away from Keihan Electric Railway Mainline’s Fushimi Inari station. JR’s Nara Line Inari Station is even closer to the shrine itself.
The thousand gates traversing Mt. Inari might be the most popular feature of the shrines, but there are several structures meant for private worship. More than a photo op or two, Fushimi Inari Shrine certainly offers a taste of Japan’s history and spirituality.
And now, the pics!
what the fox say?! (sorry, just had to say it. haha!) on a serious note, foxes are regarded as messengers and are a common fixture in the Inari shrines
the two-storied gate
like what I mentioned earlier, Fushimi Inari Shrine is more than just the iconic torii. Seeing this map was an “oh, wow!” moment for me
it’s busy in this part of the town all year round. I can only imagine what it looks like during the new year!
While crossing the gates, I’ve been preoccupied to get a clear shot of the gates. It got a little stressful at times and took away some of the awe I should be immersing myself in.
After getting a clear shot of the path, seeing stairs like these remind me that Fushimi Inari taisha is on a *mountain* and before coming here, I’d already been walking all day. But the cool and fresh air kept me going, plus the curiosity over what lies ahead (mostly because I gave up looking at the map)
more shrines and temples when I got back down (I gave up maybe 1/3 of the way because I found the air getting thinner)
it was a joy exploring Fushimi Inari Shrine! Maybe next time I’ll be prepared enough to reach the summit!
There are food stalls and souvenir shops at the foot of the shrine, too.
For me, Fushimi Inari Shrine is definitely a must-see! Just make sure to wear comfortable shoes, get hydrated, and be prepared to climb.
And the Kumori saga continues.
So the other day, I was badly craving for turon but by the time I went to the stall, they just have three kamote cue sticks left. No more turon. To relieve my frustration, I then headed to Kumori to try the pastries I haven’t had yet.
I bought three totally different pastries: their signature hanjuku cheese cake (chocolate); green apple bun, and cherry brioche. Total damage is PhP 141, or about 3 – 4 USD. Let’s not talk about the calories and all the sugar though, ok 😉
I tried this first. Same consistency as the original cheese variant, which I enjoyed. I noticed though that this, their chocolate cake and chocolate pudding have the same exact flavor 😐 a little variety on their chocolate would be nice~
What the green apple bun looks inside. This dessert is almost too cute to eat! It’s best eaten quickly by the way because the icing tends to melt a bit under room temperature (like 28 – 29 deg C). The icing is kinda sweet too so enjoy this with coffee!
The leaf decor on the green apple bun. I almost ate the stick that went with this, by the way. At least it’s clear at the back of this leaf that it’s not supposed to be eaten. Haha!
The last dessert standing, cherry brioche. I’m not sure how a brioche is supposed to be texture and taste-wise, but I like how it’s not too sweet and it went well with coffee, too. Then again, for me almost everything goes well with coffee!
So that’s three down, and plenty more to try and enjoy~
Being a One Piece fan, I couldn’t help but associate Nami Island with Nami, the strawhat pirates’ navigator. But it turns out that the island is named after General Nami, a key figure during King Sejo’s reign.
One very interesting fact to note too is that Naminara Republic is said to have its own diplomatic and cultural policies. The official site says that Naminara Republic has declared its cultural independence from the Republic of Korea. I can’t honestly wrap my head around it though, but I thought I’d share it since I found the different names confusing (Nami Island, Namiseom, Naminara Republic).
Nami Island has become very popular because Winter Sonata was shot here. They have spots in the island telling you exactly where some memorable scenes were taken. Personally, not a fan of Winter Sonata nor of K-drama, so I wasn’t really excited about this one 😐
Anyway, here are some pics of our half-day stay in Nami Island, or at least the parts I liked the most:
Posing with the cute dango-men
Interesting sculptures by the wharf
The round contraption in the background is one of the ferries that service Nami Island
If Seoul was cold, Nami Island was coooolder
Last time I saw something like this was in diorama exhibits
We went to South Korea in the latter half of March which is right smack in the middle of winter and spring. So it’s nice to see evergreens in the park.
This looks like a twisted totem pole, but hey, pretty creative!
Nami Island is scenic all year round. Though the trees are bare, it’s still charming in its own way
This tree looks like a graceful roof for the bench
How to get to Nami Island:
[Taxi + Ferry]
From Gapyeong Bus Terminal or Gapyeong Station, take a taxi to Namiseom parking lot. (Travel time: 10-15 min)
– Take the ferry from Namiseom Dock to Namiseom Island. (Travel time: 5-6 min)
* Bus stops
1) Insa-dong (Jonggak Station (Seoul Subway Line 1), Exit 3): Next to Tapgol Park
2) Namdaemun Gate (Sungnyemum Square Bus Stop in front of Namdaemun Market)
3) Namiseom Island (Parking lot in front of ticket booth)
* Bus schedule (Insa-dong/Namdaemun Gate ↔ Namiseom Island)
– Available days: Mondays-Sundays (* Note: the service is not unavailable on Chuseok).
– Departing time: Insa-dong at 09:30 / Namdaemun Gate 09:30 / Namiseom Island at 16:00
Adults 15,000 won (round-trip), 7,500 won (one way) / Children (age 24 months-12) 13,000 won (round trip),
6,500 won (one way)
* Advanced reservation required (inquiries +82-2-753-1247),and more information is found here.
I like going to high places even if it scares me at times (yes, I’m talking about that one time), so I was excited to climb Namsan Seoul Tower.
It’s situated at Namsan Mountain and is the highest peak in Seoul. Open every day of the year, Seoul Tower has free and paid attractions, and is popular both among locals and tourists.
We went to Seoul Tower shortly before lunch time. While it may have been magical at night, I don’t think we would have withstood the cold. I’m sure I wouldn’t–heck, at 23 deg. C I already wear a jacket! >_<
Here’s a mini-recap of our Seoul Tower stop, in pictures:
There are two ways to climb to Seoul Tower–by stairs or by car. We chose the cable car ride^^ (roundtrip ticket costs 10,000 won)
You still need to climb a few more steps. Seoul Tower is nicely framed by these trees.
picnic grounds in the first level
We found a booth renting hanbok for FREE. You can wear it as long as you like, too. I think these are commoner’s hanbok but I liked wearing it
Seoul Tower partially hiding the sun. It looks like it’s about to blast a spirit ball!
Locks of Love, said to be the most popular attraction in Seoul Tower
love love love!
view from the observation deck
Manila, Philippines ❤
Operating hours, access details and fees may be found in the Visit Korea site.
I think I’ll go back here at nighttime, but maybe when it’s warmer^^
It felt like a Hunter exam, the one where Gon, Killua and the rest of the gang tried to keep up with the examiner Satotsu. Only that we’re in the huuuuuuge Gyeongbokgung Palace Grounds, and the Satotsu in this situation is our tour guide who looks like a retired soldier. We had to brisk-walk else we’d lose sight of him.
Gyeongbokgung is in the heart of Jongno-gu, a place rich in cultural and historical significance to South Korea. Of the four palace complexes in Jongno-gu, Gyeonbokgung is not just the largest but is said to be the most beautiful as well. Here are some of the highlights of our stop:
stage 1 up ahead!
from this angle, it looks like the modern buildings are within the palace grounds, too
a quick shoot with one of the royal guards. i enjoyed the cold weather in Seoul especially since back home, March is already hot and humid.
a look at Geunjeongmun
ceremony of the changing of Royal Guards. It’s like being transported back in time (just don’t look at the buildings in the background. Haha!)
loving the details!
Gangnyeongjeon, the queen’s quarters
Gyeonghoeru (royal banquet hall)
the scenic Hyangwonjeong Pavilion
* Last admission: 1 hr before closing
Closed on Tuesdays.
Adults (ages 25-64): 3,000 won / Groups (10 people or more): 2,400 won
Adults (ages 19-64): 3,000 won / Groups (10 people or more): 2,400 won
Children (ages 7-18): 1,500 won / Group (10 people or more): 1,200 won
Gyeongbokgung is near Gyeongbokgung station on Seoul Subway Line 3.