the best thing on miku’s menu

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the salmon oshi sushi – pressed bc wild sockeye salmon, jalapeño, and miku sauce that’s flame-seared to perfection.

you really can’t go wrong with anything on the menu since everything is so delicious, but where you can make the biggest mistake of your life is if you don’t order the salmon oshi sushi as part of your meal.

and just in case you were wondering what $300 of salmon oshi sushi looked like…

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sensei sushi

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while i was in the philippines last december, i met up with bea (an old friend that i went to school with in jakarta), who took me to sensei sushi. she always had such great foodporn from this place on her instagram account, so i was excited to check it out.

the place isn’t that fancy, just a little hole-in-the-wall, but their food was amazing! really high-quality japanese fusion food. we ordered a bunch of dishes to share, so we could try a little bit of everything the foie gras nigiri (picture #1) was one of my favourites, along with the tuna tartare on kang kong crisps (picture #5). we were allowed to bring our own bottle of wine in, and they didn’t make us pay a corkage fee, which was nice. our bill still ended up being over 2,000 pesos between the two of us (around $45 – $50), which shocked me since we were in asia, we weren’t paying for any alcohol, and the place wasn’t located in an upscale area or inside a 5-star hotel.

it’s crazy how expensive the philippines is becoming, especially since the average wages are so low! according to this article, the TOP, best paying salary for a recent grad there is around 23,000 pesos (which is $500) a month. the top, best paying salary for an oil and gas ENGINEER that has 1 – 4 years of experience is around 40,000 pesos ($900) a month and the top, best paying salary for those in the IT industry with over five years of experience is 55,000 pesos (roughly $1,200) a month.

According to Jobstreet Philippines, the average monthly salary of a fresh graduate (based on the list of jobs posted on their site) is P16,524 (roughly $372). So if you are earning more than P16,524 you are already earning more than the average of your peers.” – http://www.pinoymoneytalk.com/biggest-paying-jobs-philippines/

jakarta: bakmi gm and the marriott buffet

when we landed in jakarta, nothing felt familiar anymore. i know a lot can change in a decade and i knew about all the ongoing developments throughout the years, but i just couldn’t believe how different everything was! it was like i landed in a city that i’ve never been to before, not a city that i’ve spent nine years of my life in (which, to-date, is the longest time i’ve ever lived in one city). i’m so glad one thing was still exactly the same: the food. especially at two of my favourite places in jakarta, bakmi gm and the buffet at the marriott.

bakmi gm

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i can’t even put into words how happy it made me to have bakmi ayam again, after craving it for ten years and not being able to find this dish anywhere else in the world. it tasted exactly how i remembered it – it’s funny how food and the way it tastes can elicit so many memories. bakmi gm was still in its same spot in pondok indah mall, and had the exact same menu. pangsit goreng + bakmi ayam + teh bottle = a perfect first meal in jakarta and the first thing that felt like home.

sailendra, the buffet at the marriott hotel

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despite being bombed twice, this place is exactly the same – from the layout to all the food served. i was pleasantly surprised and incredibly glad that this was one of the few places in jakarta that didn’t change a bit. it is seriously the BEST BUFFET IN THE WORLD. the sections of food available are as follows: seafood (oysters, crab legs, lobster, shrimp, etc.), japanese (sashimi and various sushi rolls), indian (all types of traditional curries with basmati rice and naan), chinese (different strains of noodles soaked in soup, with meat and other garnishes), indonesian (traditional indonesian dishes like nasi goreng and mie goreng), italian (pizza cooked in a wood-oven and pasta made right in front of your face), cheese (all types served with crackers, bread, and slices of meat), desserts (all kinds of decadent cakes, slices of fruit, and a chocolate fondue fountain), and a section of miscellaneous dishes that can’t be categorized by country, but includes items like roast duck and racks of lamb. oh and i think there’s a salad bar somewhere there too, but this is not the time to waste precious stomach space on a salad.

if you ever find yourself in jakarta, these would be two places i highly recommend checking out for food.

a picture recipe: oyako-don

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last night, yukiko came over and taught me how to make a traditional japanese dish, oyako-don.

ingredients: chicken, onions, green onions, hon dashi, soy sauce, cooking sake or cooking rice wine (it’s been confirmed by a legitimate japanese person that both are basically the same thing), eggs, and water.

it was incredibly fast and easy to make, and is best served over rice. follow the pictures above for directions on how to make it.

i was able to come home for lunch today to eat the leftovers. it’s funny how lunch-breaks for me used to be going out to eat every single day with someone… and now, it’s actually a nice change to be able to come home and clean, or do laundry, and just have “me time” to take care of myself and my life. we often get so busy and are constantly surrounded by so many people in this world that we forget just how important it is to get away from it all, in a quiet place, and just have some time alone… even if it’s just for a short period of time each day.

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all the money i’ve been saving from not going out to eat all the time is pretty awesome too – we’ll see if i can keep this up once patio season rolls around again.

arguably the best sushi in vancouver.

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toshi sushi is located on main street and there is usually a line-up that goes out the door. the place itself is miniscule and if you’re coming with a large group… good luck. they also won’t seat you unless your entire party is there.

although toshis (it sounds better no?) is only open for dinner (starting at 5 pm), and is known for its long lines (a decent-sized line already starts to form as early as 4:30 pm), this does not stop its increasing popularity and business. the sushi here is of such a first-rate quality that people keep coming back, even though they know how long they’ll have to wait for a table; you even might be forced to share a cramped table with complete strangers (i repeat, this place is MINISCULE).

it is the perfect balance between quality and price: the food has the quality of a high-end restaurant, but for regular and reasonable sushi prices. the fish is incredibly fresh and the sashimi just melts in your mouth. all the rolls are delicious, and it doesn’t even matter what you’re eating because everything is made with the same pristine freshness and quality.

worth the wait? absolutely. best sushi in vancouver? arguably so.

sun valley, idaho

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bucket-list item #20. learn how to snowboard (whistler, 2006) snowboard everywhere.

i know this might be hard to believe, but going to sun valley, idaho has been on the top of my travel list for quite some time now. it just seemed like such a magical place in the middle of nowhere, so different to anywhere i’ve ever been… and it was. i’m convinced any place that takes effort to get to (we had to fly into boise in a propellor plane, and then drive two hours through the mountains) is usually worth it. we were literally in the middle of nowhere, and i can’t even explain in words how good that felt. the mountains were steep, the sun was shining, people were friendly, and the food was great. it’s a shame most of the places we ate at were at night/too dark to take decent food pictures, but amongst the many meals i had was the brass ranch meatloaf (buffalo, lamb, wild boar bacon, hunters’ sauce, smashed potatoes) from our sleigh-ride dinner at trail creek cabin (we actually took a sleigh-ride to and from dinner!!), a whole artichoke with dip, where you rip off the leaves one by one and scrape them with your teeth (i’ve never had this before in my life, but apparently it’s a common dish that a lot of people have had) from the pioneer saloon (locals call it the pio), an array of amazing sushi (apparently they get their fish imported from hawaii every morning) at zou’sshrimp enchiladas from ck’s, and $10 pitchers at one of the lodges at the mountain. TEN DOLLARS! not bad for a ski-resort.

my friend lauren and i got interviewed for the idaho news while we were at the skijoring event (the picture below can explain it better than i can in words): lauren told them that some of her high-school friends were “driving the horses” at the event, and i told them that i would rather live in idaho than new york city… and i meant it.

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tsuki

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tsuki – my favourite sushi place in the crosstown area, hands down. the fish is fresh, and the rolls are creative. some of my personal favourites are the caterpillar roll (avocado on top of a yam roll), the philadelphia roll (cream cheese, cucumber, and avocado with salmon on top), and their dynamite roll (prawn, cucumber, kaiware, spicy mayo, and masago torched w/tsuki sauce). i don’t usually order dynamite rolls from generic sushi restaurants, but theirs is different because firstly, it’s not deep-fried. and i don’t know what this “tsuki sauce” that they put on top of it is, but it is delicious.

during lunch, your meal comes with a complimentary miso soup, no matter what you order.

i love the interior design of the place – it’s classy but cozy at the same time, and its modernness fits in well with this up-and-coming neighbourhood.