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U.A.E’s first food hall now open!

17 Oct

Dubai, October 17th, 2010: I mentioned a few weeks ago it was coming…well the UAE has finally welcomed its first food hall! FooDiva can’t quite believe it…Galleries Lafayette has opened its Parisian food hall concept Lafayette Gourmet on the top level of the Dubai Mall store. It’s definitely of the same calibre as its original French counterpart…and even Selfridges’ food hall. And just to allay any concerns, this is a food HALL, not food COURT – ok!

Covering 370sq.m or so, the area is divided into a number of food islands – each serving a different speciality either to eat in or take away – seafood, sushi, fois gras, cheese, salads, juices, desserts, chocolates, plus gastronomic delights from Italy, India, Asia and the Middle East of course…you name it they’ve got it. And if the deli style displays don’ t appeal, there’s always the grocery store.

Walking round, foodie or no-foodie you’d be squealing with delight – so take a seat in one of a number of areas (my favourite is the trestle table seating in front of the Indian and Asian sections) and choose from the menu. Now that’s not one menu, but eight, yes you read right, 8 – Mediterranean, Italian, Japanese, Asian, Indian, Grills, Luxury and Beverages. The Nicoise salad from the Mediterranean menu is divine  – aside from the usual ingredients, the team have used watercress instead of lettuce, lightly seared the tuna and popped in a handful of melt-in-your-mouth quails eggs. My friend lunched from the Asian menu – chicken in Thai red curry with kafir leaves (not as spicy as she would have liked), plus side dishes of chilli fried green beans (the highlight) and steamed rice. My berry berry juice concoction was freshly squeezed, as was the lemon and mint juice. Lafayette Gourmet, FooDiva says well done!

Looks like Dubai Mall’s on an F&B roll, Kino’s Cafe has opened its doors in Kinokuniya book store. With a magnificent setting overlooking the fountains and Burj Khalifa, you can’t help but take a seat by the French windows with your favourite book. Given the store’s Japanese theme, it’s no surprise the specialities are green tea inspired. I only had time for a quick cup of sencha, but I’ll be back to try out their food.

A bientot,

FooDiva

x

FooDiva Rates Red Door

3 Oct

Dubai, October 3rd, 2010; Well you certainly can’t miss it…Red Door is Galeries Lafayette’s first eaterie (located on the first floor by the escalators) and operated by Fauchard. Needless to say, red abounds and given it’s my favourite colour, I was keen to try out the new venue. Amongst all the red columns, the floor to ceiling windows stare out to the Sheikh Zayed skyscraper landscape. Settle into a banquette table if you can, and digest the extensive menu….salads, pastas, risottos, grills…more dinner than cafe lunch (without the alcohol). We tried the bresaola and avocado salad (plus some naughty hand cut french fries on the side) as well as the vegetable risotto. All passed the FooDiva test. Service was prompt and efficient, admittedly aside from our trio there was only one other table, OK it was Sunday lunch. Clearly Red Door needs to up the PR ante, but with word of mouth it will soon be busy.

Just above is Galeries Lafayette’s new delicatessen that officially opens its doors later this week. I took a sneak peak and wow it certainly does impress – on a par with its Parisian counterpart and Selfridges food hall. Yes Dubai will finally have its own food hall – FooDiva can’t wait!

I’ll be back later this week reporting from Egypt…Cairo, El Gouna and last but not least retracing by Greek roots in Alexandria. A bientot.

FooDiva. x

FooDiva goes tribal…

19 Sep

Dubai, September 19th, 2010: Whilst you eagerly await my surprise (yes it is coming), my plan is to share the odd Dubai foodie experience with you…starting with Tribes, a new African grill steakhouse that opened earlier this month in Mall of the Emirates’ glam new fashion and foodie arena.

Brought to you by the creators of South Africa’s famed Meat Company, Tribes promises an all-out-meat experience. When we rocked up, it was packed…admittedly a Thursday night, but given that all things alcoholic are not available, it’s great to see a new venue pulling in the crowds so early on. And you can see why…the ‘tribe’ staff do a fabulous song and dance literally. Dimly lit, with wonderful African wooden and leather furniture, all that’s missing is the odd tipple and cigar. A huuuge menu, mainly focused on beef, lamb and chicken, given that the other wonderful African animals have not been shipped over…seafood also prevails, and plenty of veggie options too. I would recommend the ever so juicily marinated hanging beef skewer – certainly tender enough but oh it will never compare to my Japanese Kobe or Wagyu – am having withdrawal symptoms as I type. Service is outstanding – the tribe, straight from the African continent, talk you through the menu and are fully versed on every dish. Do try it out when you’re next in MOE – makes a nice change from the usual cafe venues, and they do lovely salads too!

Meanwhile, I am longing for the new Asha’s to open next door – those that are familiar with the Wafi outfit, will be glad to see it open this side of town, even though you’ll have to skip the delicious cocktails.

Just as an aside, and I know it’s not new, but a mention has to go to Traiteur’s (Park Hyatt) champagne-filled Friday brunch, with unlimited Veuve Cliquot Grand Dame. Dishes are laid out beautifully in the open plan kitchen, with many cooked a la minute – highlights are the fois gras creme brulee (yes I died and went to heaven!), and the mini tartare with quail egg. I am not normally a snail fan, but les escargots infused with garlic were divine. Ooh and the eggs benedict with your choice of spinach, smoked salmon or honey roast turkey.

A bientot!

FooDiva. x

Come Dance With Me…

12 Sep

Dubai, Sunday, 12th September: I know this update is not foodie but I wanted to share this video with my non-Dubai friends…the dancing fountains continue to mesmerise me every time I visit, especially when it’s to my all-time favourite Andrea Bocelli tune.

For those not in the know, click here to view the world’s largest dancing fountain at Burj Khalifa (the world’s tallest tower!) in Dubai. Water jets shoot as high as 150 metres – equivalent to a 50-storey building.  The music is the signature piece of world-renowned Italian tenor Andrea Bocelli, Con te partiro (With you I will leave), but for the Anglophones the song is otherwise known as Time to say Goodbye. Well in my case, it’s not goodbye but a bientot. Enjoy!

P.s – on a foodie note and with my Far Eastern experience still top of mind, do try out Ping Pong at Dubai Mall (overlooking the fountains of course!) for delicious dim-sum, and one of Dubai’s best tea selections. Bon appétit!

Final Beijing update from FooDiva…

4 Sep

Saturday, 4th September: There’s been so much to do, see, buy and eat here, not much time left to blog…anyhow FooDiva’s back with a final update.

Dear friends that recommended Green T. House, you’ll be delighted to know we dined there on Wednesday night. Wow what a creative concept – decor was flamboyant, glamorous, minimalistic – right up FooDiva’s street. I am not sure my photos or description do it justice so please check out their website. Our ‘table’ was lounge seating a la Arabian majlis style but all white, where we kicked off our strappy sandals. Very romantic for mum et moi…where’s the sexy man when you need him. Dishes are ever so complicated, and I would definitely call it Fusion Chinese…having been down with the flu or haze allergy (they don’t call it smog here) my appetite had disappeared. We ordered ‘curly’ chicken Sichuan style with parmesan, and prawns coated in wasabi sauce. Stunning presentation, but food was disappointing and over-priced. Tea-wise, there’s over 100 different brews to choose from compiled in a wonderful educational menu – I even asked if I could buy the menu…they promptly declined. Great venue for pre or post dinner cocktails, but suggest dining elsewhere.

 

 

 

 

 

 

And elsewhere we certainly did the following night (Thursday). Thanks to having my aunt (Kate) and uncle (Robert) as Beijing residents, we dined at their house over a fabulous ‘drunken’ chicken. It’s a North Carolina dish (my uncle is American) where an open beer can is popped into a whole chicken before roasting…you don’t taste the beer, but it simply makes the chicken so juicy and tender. Nice to opt out of Chinese for a change!

Just as an aside, their compound houses a fabulous South African restaurant with an excellent and incredibly affordable South African wine list – I doubt you’ll be heading there as it’s a tad out of the centre, but just so you know that’s where I was last night!

A great lunch venue is Sureno at The Opposite House, a very funky boutique hotel in the Sanlitun district – the only district where you see a good handful of expats. An international Mediterranean-inspired menu with plenty of choice.

And last but not least, our final foodie experience of my three week trail, was high tea at The Peninsula Beijing this afternoon. It’s one of the few British foodie traditions that I absolutely love, and for some odd reason, I always try to fit it into a city break. Having said that, I’ve had better high tea experiences elsewhere, so suggest trying out another hotel.

A sightseeing must is the Summer Palace, do spend a few hours uncovering hidden pagodas and the marble boat.

The bizarrely named 798 Dashanzi Art District houses numerous galleries, boutiques and cafes – ‘At Cafe’ is perfect for lunch (try the lovely stone-baked pizzas).

Beijing is a shopper’s paradise – we shopped till we dropped…made so much easier by my aunt’s driver and car. Thank you Kate and Robert! I have enough tea to open my own shop (there are stores round every corner – my recommendation is TenFu’s in Wangfujing). I love their green rose tea.

Pearls (you can have your own designs made up in minutes) and handbags are also great buys – Kate knows the right shops. If you don’t have your own Kate on tap, it’s Shelley for pearls in the building right next to Hongqiao market, and Monica’s for handbags hidden away in the same building – ask for quality S (the best!). Sanlitun Yashou Clothing Market and Silk Market have hundreds of stalls selling clothes and silky knick-knacks of every variety – if you hunt, you’ll discover some unusual pieces. You gotta haggle like mad though. Start at a tenth of a price, and be prepared to walk away – they’ll come running! Antique collectors should head to Panjiayuan weekend market – make sure you know what you’re buying though. What better way to chill those weary legs than with a foot massage (aka reflexology without the explanation).

Dearest friends and family, I think that’s pretty much it for now – our flight is Dubai-bound tomorrow. It’s been an exhilirating three weeks, and I’ve relished every breakfast, lunch, tea and dinner experience. But I am glad to be heading home, gosh Dubai I’ve missed you! Can’t wait to try out my Asian recipes. If you’re planning a trip to Japan or China, I would love to help pull together an itinerary.

And if you’ve enjoyed the blog as much as me, stay tuned for my next surprise experience. Will be in touch!

Big hug.

FooDiva

xxx

FooDiva’s Japan Trail

22 Jul

 

If you’re reading this, no doubt you’re as much of a foodie as I am, or else you’re just plain nosy. Either way, please read on.

My travels are just beginning, and with a passion for eating (and the odd tipple, in particular anything bubblelicious), please join my gastronomical journey starting with:

Appetiser – Japan: Given that Tokyo has more Michelin-star restaurants (191 to be precise) than any other city in the world, Paris-included, it’s no surprise food is high on everyone’s agenda including your very own FooDiva’s. From tuna sashimi, straight from the fishermen’s catch at Tokyo’s famous Tsukiji fish market to Wagyu and Kobe beef where cattle are not only fed on grain and beer, but massaged, and ‘fugu’ blowfish which if not prepared corrrectly can poison you, ready yourselves for a mouth-watering tale. My journey will call on Tokyo first, onwards to Koya-san for a buddhist temple vegetarian experience, Kyoto, Osaka and their numerous surrounding townships, and last but not least Hiroshima.

More to come later this week….until then…sayonara.

Tuesday, 17th August, 2010, 6.40pm, Tokyo: Konnichiwa from Japan! Well apart from the hotel’s great bar with the most stunning view of Tokyo Bay (thank you Conrad!) that we checked out last night on arrival (note, I would certainly recommend warm sake for jet lag – you sleep like a baby).

Anyway I digress…well apart from that, our foodie experience didn’t get off to an authentic start. We woke up early to check out the world’s largest fish market for a sashimi breakfast, but it was closed (due to some public holiday yesterday). Good to see it’s not only Dubai that has temperamental public holidays. That’s now scheduled for tomorrow – if I can get up early. So we resorted to a Western breakfast, very nice anyhow (at Cerise by Gordon Ramsay I should add.).

We stumbled upon the New York Bar & Grill at the Park Hyatt where Lost in Translation was filmed…I guess I was hoping to bump into Clooney more than Bill Murray. And for the lads out there, definitely no Scarlet Johansson lookalikes…

By the way, for my veggie friends, there’s plenty of choice here…..Aveda has a cute organic cafe that we popped into for some respite from the tremendous heat here. Bring back my lovely Dubai air-conditioned environment.

I realise this is a foodie blog, but it would be a shame not to highlight some of our other leisure activities, or at least do’s and don’t for other travellers: Do go up the Tokyo Metropolitan Government Building’s observation tower – not as high as Burj Khalifa but you certainly see more and it’s free! And if you’re lucky you might see Mount Fuji on the horizon. Don’t bother with the Meiji shrine, it may be a real heritage site, but it’s not well maintained…leave the culture for Kyoto. Check out the Omote-sando area for a Parisian designer shopping and cafe feel – Japanese architecture at its most modern, some truly impressive buildings on a tree-lined boulevard. And Ginza, the other shopping paradise – the Apple shop is just as good as New York’s. If you’re a storage freak like me, pop into the biggest Muji you have ever seen.

Anyway, a Japanese experience awaits us tonight. Let’s hope the restaurant is open – more later inshallah. Sayonara.

10.40pm: Finally a taste of real Japan – they eat early here, restos close by 9pm…ironically a bit like the US. Luckily we made it in time, and for a six-course ‘Kaiseki’ feast at Kazahana restaurant – almost like works of art on a plate. Some absolutely yummy, and others…well only nice to look at. Highlight was the melt-in-your-mouth kobe beef teppanyaki. Portions are teeny, no wonder they are so skinny here, Mireille Giuliano (note, best-selling author of French Women Don’t Get Fat and a huge fan of mine) would be proud – I could have eaten two Kaiseki’s. Sea bass and tuna sashimi were good but am hoping tomorrow morning will be better.

Wednesday, 18th August: Looks like I did not beat the jet lag after all…with a few hours sleep, at 5am we rose for Tsukiji fish market. I have heard and read so much about this market over the years, it was top of my to do list. Thankfully it’s a few minutes walk from the hotel, no chance of getting lost with that smell around. It really is the world’s largest of its kind. I have never seen anything of this scale before, where life size tuna battle it out with live lobster and scallops. Name any fish, it was there. We also had our own battling to do, trying to avoid the mini vans as they delivered their catch to the stalls. We surfaced alive, ready for our fish breakfast.

There are a handful of sushi bars just as you exit the market – all in a row, and all with queues. We picked one where we could distinguish the fish on the menu (name begins with Y). The norm seemed to be sushi, but I opted for sashimi, yes at 7am – I guess that’s jet lag for you. Fatty tuna (toro), salmon and yellowtail (hamachi) for me. The fatty tuna was so tender, I think it was on a par with last night’s kobe beef. Even mum tried it too! Washed down with lovely japanese tea. By the way, the Japanese do not add wasabi to the soya sauce….but eat it separately. Hot! After a few slices, I was done – as much as I love sashimi and could eat it most days, I tend to prefer it for lunch or dinner. By the way, these sushi bars remain open until 2pm, even though the market closes at 9. You need to get here soon though, as they are moving the market outside Tokyo next year apparently. Real shame as it’s a huge tourist attraction, and so accessible for the city’s many hotels and restaurants, but that’s the real estate market for you.

Another of the city’s renowned foodie attractions, are the food halls that grace the basement of every department store – just check out the immaculately displayed fruit selection. You really don’t want to spoil the line-up. Great deli-style dishes for take-away.

Popped across to the Imperial Palace gardens or estate I should say today, visitors can enter the gardens and walk over the bridge, but the palace building needless to say is out of bounds. Tokyo is an easy city to walk around if you can bare the heat, otherwise jump on the metro.

Friday, 20th August, Koya-san: Hello…hope you have not missed me – now back online after a busy couple of days…first things first HAPPY BIRTHDAY DAD! When I last signed off, I was heading off to sample Japan’s gastro-pub culture in the form of an ‘izakiya’ as they prefer to call it (Wednesday night). After a quick metro ride, and a very confused taxi driver, we arrived in Tokyo’s Shibuya district (a bit like Piccadilly Circus or Times Square). ‘Kaikaya’ which translates to ‘By the sea’ is hidden away in a little residential side street. By the way Tokyo’s Luxe Guide is the best – I live by them on all my travels. Customers are greeted with shouts of ‘Irrasshaimase’ before being seated at communal tables. Such a buzzing pub like atmosphere with a mix of Japanese and expats, it’s an incredible experience. Just made it in time before 9.30pm last orders – I am amazed at how such an international metropolis manages to eat early…better for digestion I suppose. Waiters double up as chefs, and were ever so accommodating. Menu was in English thank goodness, and as the name suggests fish is the order of the day. I ordered their signature special, a shank of tuna cooked a la spare ribs with the proverbial steamed rice – my mother opted for a sizzling octopus and spring onion dish. OMG, my tuna was divine, I realise I keep on repeating myself but it was so succulent and tender, three days later I am still dreaming of it. Warm sake was the perfect accompaniment, as were the two friendly Japanese gents seated next to us. The Japanese are the most hospitable and polite people I have ever met, despite the language barrier, they will approach you and ask if you need any help…whether it’s directions or for translation. Other nationalities please take note.

As an aside, on Thursday we left Tokyo behind for a day trip to Hakone, famous for its sulphur springs, onsen, and views of Mount Fuji. A tad touristy but picturesque and nice to escape city life for a few hours. It’s also the home of the Gotemba Premium Outlet Mall which if you have the time is worth a visit. Good buys in Japan are definitely anything electrical, as well as the home-grown Japanese designers and cosmetic brands. Naturally, European and US brands are ridiculously expensive. By the way, the ‘shinkansen’ bullet trains make train travel blissful.

With only a few hours left in Tokyo, I had to take in the spectacular night-time views from Conrad Tokyo’s 28th Floor bar one last time. You could sit there for hours mesmerised. A couple of glasses of Veuve and a hot Brazilian guitarist as entertainment…what more could a girl ask for.

Leaving the bright lights of Tokyo we headed to Koya-san on Friday morning – one taxi, three trains, one cable car, one bus, lots of walking with three sets of luggage (I don’t travel light), and seven hours later – we arrived at our Buddhist temple. Koya-san is a monastic retreat up in the mountains of Kansai’s Wakayama-ken (nearest city is Osaka). Needless to say, it’s an extremely peaceful respite complete with cedar-lined avenues, and a much cooler clime. We lodged in a ‘shukubo’ temple, called Eko-in. Luckily we asked for en-suite, otherwise we would be bathing with the whole of the temple in the public bath. Dinner is always served at 5.30pm in your room – at the rate I am going, dinner with soon merge into lunch. Buddhist vegetarian fare is called shojin-ryori, exquisitely presented as you can see – but all I could stomach was miso soup, some luke-warm vegetable tempura, steamed rice, a slice of watermelon and of course my now-daily sake tipple. Thank Buddha, mum brought some emergency supplies. Our after-dinner entertainment will be a tour of Japan’s largest cemetery, it’s meant to be magical, if at all possible –  catch you later if the ghosts don’t spook me!

Saturday, 21st August, Kyoto: Well the ghosts did not gobble me up last night. The cemetery is definitely the highlight of Koya-san – not only is it Japan’s largest (2km long) but the favourite of many high-ranking individuals, including corporations that purchase tombs in advance for their senior team! That’s some HR perk, multinationals take note. I slept soundly and nightmare-free on my tatami floor bedding, to be woken by the Buddhist drums for a 7.30am breakfast in our room. Looked exactly the same as dinner (hence no more photos) so could not stomach.

Anyhow moving on swiftly to my first foodie experience in Kyoto – ‘okonomiyaki’ which literally translated means ‘cook what you like’. Otherwise known as a Japanese pancake or pizza, it’s a mix of crepe and omelette I would say, stuffed with beef, prawns, egg, spring onion and many other ingredients. It’s actually a Hiroshima dish, but Kyoto has its own version – I’ll let you know the difference next week. It is absolutely delicious, very filling and I think I will try and make it when I am back. Will post the recipe if it tastes any good. Quaint little cafes around Kyoto specialise in this one dish – I tried it in Gion. Oh by the way we spotted a few geisha’s or maikos (apprentice geisha)! Geisha spotting is a bit of a tourist attraction, and small crowds gather in Gion’s entertainment district to catch a glimpse of them scurrying to an appointment – pure magic when you see them!

Dinner tonight was a modern Japanese restaurant ‘Kesako’ in the heart of Gion, off Higashiyama-ku – a very quaint district full of 17th century houses converted into restaurants and shops. There are literally hundreds of restos to choose from and all look fabulous, but when you’re looking for an English menu, the numbers dwindle. Given my okonomiyaki starter, I went straight to main with the Kyoto beef – not as tender as the Kobe from the other night, but on a scale of 1 to 10, I’d say 8 so still pretty good. It’s gonna be tough eating beef back in Dubai. Swopped my usual sake for a refreshing Bellini, I know it’s not very local but I had a Cipriani craving. Ciao for now.

Monday, 23rd August: Other than Tokyo’s Tsukiji fish market, my other foodie driver for visiting Japan was green tea. Rather than a traditional, and quite touristy tea ceremony, yesterday I opted to visit Kyoto’s Kaboku Tea Room which is part of the Ippodo Tea Company, specialist tea suppliers since 1717. Here visitors can choose and prepare their own tea (you have a choice of 40 different types of green!) using traditional Japanese methodology, guided by the excellent tea-room assistants. We brewed and tasted Gyokuro and Bancha green teas – each version brewed in a different way. I guess my Western palate was more acclimatised to Sencha, of which I purchased three different types at their shop next door. It’s also the easiest to brew, and best drank relatively hot. They also do mail order. http://www.ippodo-tea.co.jp/ Thank you Wallpaper guide. The tearoom and store are located on Teramachi-dori, a beautifully quaint street with lots of antique and quirky shops mostly with French names…so you get the picture – definitely worth a ramble.

 

If you’ve had enough of Japanese food like mum did last night, try out the Garden Oriental restaurant – Italian with an Asian twist if that’s possible. Renowned as Kyoto’s most trendy restaurant, it certainly lives up to expectations. Set in a grand old house amongst a maple-tree-filled garden, the setting is stunning, as was the food. As you can probably now expect, I have to highlight the Kyoto beef carpaccio – utterly bellissimo.

Earlier today, we stumbled across the market Nishiki – mainly a foodie paradise, but local craftsmen also sell their wares. Like all markets, it’s huge with everything from fish, vegetables, rice, nuts and local sweets to sushi and hot savoury delicacies – as per usual all immaculately presented. Very atmospheric, and as it was a week day not too hectic. We lunched on a two-tier bento box with miso soup, sashimi, tempura, sushi rice and lots more that I can’t name!

A short stroll away is the Kyoto Design House with some really pretty creations – and some even appealed to my handbag fetish!

  

Kyoto is temple-tastic, no visitor would ever be able to visit them all – just pick and choose your favourites. By far the most striking is Kinkakuji (Golden Pavilion), which as the name suggests its golden exterior gleams in the sunshine. A very close second is Sanjusangendo which houses 1,001 life-sized statues of the Kannon Bodhisattva – very impressive. Each statue is hand-carved from cypress wood in the 12th and 13th centuries and covered in gold leaf – no photos are allowed but do google it. Ryoanji temple is famed for its dry rock garden, but the lily-pond garden is by far prettier – almost like Monet’s Giverny garden. The highlight of Tenryuji temple is the Sagano Torokko Ressha – a bamboo grove which is truly breathtaking and so serene to meander through. A couple of others to mention are Kodaji and Hokanji’s Yasaka-no-to pagoda. I’ve had my share of temples now to convert to Buddhism.

 

We were meant to brave Osaka tonight (only 20 minutes on the shinkansen from Kyoto), but laziness took over and with only one last night left in pretty Kyoto we decided to stay put. Fuyacho Sanjo called instead – a 100-year old ‘machiya’ (traditional house) converted into a petite eaterie serving a modern take on traditional Kyoto-ryori dishes. We ordered duck in sesame sauce, grilled chicken, deep fried prawns with avocado, and tempura vegetables with steamed rice of course.  Every morsel was delicious…as with the whole of Japan, portions are teeny, so don’t listen  when they say it’s enough for two. Just order double! We were asked to select a china cup for our sake – a really nice touch. Chefs who cooked infront of us were ever so friendly and obliging with our never-ending questions. Smiling is second nature here.

 

We’re off to Hiroshima in the morning so forgive me if my next tale is a tad depressing. Sayonara.

Tuesday, 24th August, Hiroshima: I doubt I will be good company these next couple of days whilst in Hiroshima…we visited the Peace Memorial park today, as well as the Atomic Bomb Dome, now a UNESCO World Heritage site. Approximately 140,000 people died in 1945 as a direct result of the US attack on 6th August, the world’s first atomic bomb. Mostly Japanese, but 10% Koreans as well. The photo here shows the A-Bomb Dome, which was where the bomb fell. The building was a government Public Works office, and all civil servants inside at the time were instantly killed. Thousands of lives were lost due to radiation contamination. And they still managed to rebuild the city from scratch. Very moving, and so depressing I am not sure I can stomach much food, let alone blog about it. It just does not seem appropriate.

 

We’ll be visiting Miyajima island, just off Hiroshima tomorrow to see the famous floating shrine, and then it’s onwards to China for our main course. I’ll be in touch.

Wednesday, 25th August: I was not planning on blogging today, but much to my surprise, we discovered a couple of lovely foodie options on Miyajima island (30 minutes by boat from our hotel)…I guess my appetite returned….

A beautifully decked-out cafe that roasts its own beans and brews its own coffee, Saravasti – much to my mum’s delight she was able to enjoy her morning cappuccino on a Japanese island. And secondly, with oysters a real delicacy here, we stumbled upon a specialist eaterie, Kakiya, and lunched on deep fried oysters – gosh they were so fresh and delicious. Even mum who would not normally touch them, loved them. From what I have seen, if you’re as fussy with your food as I am, opt for Miyajima over Hiroshima – you certainly have more choice.

 

 

 

 

 

Miyajima’s cultural asset is the vermillion torri (gate) of the Itsukushima-jinja shrine – a UNESCO World Heritage Site, it is ranked as one of the three best views in Japan. Makes for great photos as you can see. It’s best seen at high tide where it appears to float. Along with some cheeky deer that grabbed and ate mum’s map (yes unbelievable), it’s a great day out meandering through the island’s quaint streets and numerous temples including a stunning five-tiered pagoda.

I don’t hold much hope for dinner tonight in Hiroshima, so I will say my last Japanese sayonara. It’s been a fabulous, culturally fascinating ten days (and I still have an appetite for more sashimi!). By the way I forgot to mention, salmon (and its sashimi) is not as readily available as other fish here…it’s considered too cheap! Gotta love the country.

FooDiva’s off to Shanghai tomorrow to begin her Chinese adventure – until then.

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