The best okonomiyaki in Hiroshima

Commonly I title my posts with the name of the restaurants I talk about, however in today’s case I had to find an alternative because the place I want to share with you is called ふみちゃん 流川店. Perfectly clear for people who speak Japanese, less so for the rest of us!

As you would have guessed from the title, ふみちゃん 流川店 speciality is okonomiyaki, a pancake/omelette and a traditional dish in the Hiroshima region. If you want to learn more about this local dish and others make sure to check the list of the 14 foods to try in Japan!

Now ふみちゃん 流川店 may not have a Latin Alphabet name but you will be able to find it by copy/pasting the name in google map, AND I took a picture from the outside so you will know exactly how it looks like!

SONY DSC

So once you are in front of a restaurant that looks like the above, get in! Inside you will be greeted by a busy dining room and kitchen. Traditionally most okonomiyaki restaurants have an open kitchen and the staff cooks in front of the guests.

SONY DSC

I took this opportunity to spy on others people’ plates (or hob in that case) to be able to point at what I want when the waiter would take our order.

SONY DSC

We were given the choice between a conventional western table or a traditional Japanese one. Andrew isn’t great at sitting on the floor (he’s weird, don’t ask) so we went for the conventional table.

SONY DSC

Once seated a waiter, who didn’t speak at all English or French (fair enough), came to us, and followed a session of pointing at the Japanese menu then at the English one to place our order. We didn’t take too many risks and went for the classic okonomiyaki. We sipped on our refreshing beers while watching the chef cooking.

SONY DSC

Finally our okonomiyakis arrived, and they were absolutely delicious! The layers of pancakes, noodles, pork, squid, cabbage and cheese melted together to create the most filling and tasteful dinner.

SONY DSC

It is good to note that okonomiyaki is a very filling dish (again I have no idea how Japanese people stay that skinny but hey!), so make sure to come hungry to ふみちゃん 流川店 otherwise you will end up like me, sweaty and with bad ‘I am too full’ posture.

SONY DSC

Follow me on InstagramTwitterPinterest, Youtube and Trover!

 

Advertisements

French Pharmacy guide – 10 products to buy

For those of you who have been visiting my little corner of the internet for a while, you will know that there is three things I love more than anything! Well… After my cat, and my husband. I guess.

I love travelling, decorating rooms and skincare. I am actually obsessed with skincare. I have so many pots and tubes on my bedside table my husband call me the ‘little chemist’. I am always on the search for the best ingredients and the most effective, yet not too expensive, products.

I have a good excuse though (desperately trying to justify myself here), I am not very good at makeup so I need to have decent skin. And, to be completely honest, I know where this obsessive compulsive behaviour comes from – 1) I was born in France, 2) French pharmacies are skincare heaven, 3) see 1 and 2.

Talking about French pharmacies, if you are travelling to France, venturing in one of the shops with a giant green cross at the front, and you don’t speak French, chances are you may feel a little overwhelmed. So I thought I would put a little French pharmacies guide together of my favourite French skincare products. I use all of the products below and have been for years. No-nonsense marketing fluff here, just true French staples proven to be efficient AND not that expensive!

French pharmacy must buy products

You don’t need to ruin yourself for beauty!

Cicaplast Pro Recovery, La Roche-Posay

I use the Cicaplast Pro Recovery balm every. single. day. It is a fantastic hydrating serum! It goes on quite greasy, but give it 5 minutes and your skin will feel as soft as a peach!

La Roche-Posay Cicaplast

I have a little back story with this product. About 2 years ago, I started to have teeny tiny pimples all over my cheeks, little red dots full of water. It wasn’t acne and my skin was quite dry. It could have been a reaction to something or maybe dehydration. I was visiting my parents at the time, and went to their village’s pharmacy looking for some sort of ointment that would protect and heal my skin. I ended up buying Cicaplast Pro Recovery, and, 3 days later, all the pimples were gone! It’s a miracle product and I haven’t stopped using it since!

Redermic R, La Roche-Posay

Redermic R was the first retinol cream I have ever used, and one of the bests I have ever come across. For those of you who are not too familiar with retinol, it is one of the only anti-aging ingredients that has been proven to scientifically work. It is also excellent for acne prone skins, and you will actually see results using Redermic R!

La Roche-Posay Redermic

Retinol can be aggressive on the skin but I have never had any issue with La Roche-Posay Redermic R. I recommend you use it in the evening and make sure to use sunscreen during the day as retinol will make your skin more sensitive. Trust me, get that tube and in 10 years time you will look better than the person who didn’t buy it.

Crealine H2O micellar water, Bioderma

First thing first! Biorderma Sensibio is called Bioderma Crealine in France. They changed the name outside of France, maybe because Crealine wasn’t the easiest thing to pronounced (my assumption only). So in doubt, look for the pink bottle!

I have been using the Bioderma micellar water for the last 8 years. It has only become popular outside of France recently, but in France it has been a staple in bathrooms for more than a decade.

Bioderma Crealine micellar water

It is very gentle on the skin and removes all the dirt and makeup quickly. They also have a version for all skin types, when I was younger and my skin was greasier I was using the Sebium version (the blue and green bottle).

I recommend you buy the 2 bottles pack as it is excellent value for money and a 500ml bottle will last you up to 3 months!

Soothing moisture mask, Avene

Simple and efficient, Avene moisturising mask is a no fuss hydrating treatment for the skin. It is very gentle and suit my combination skin as well as very dry skins. It is affordable and last a long time if used once a week like I do. My tip, apply it on clean skin at night and sleep with it on!

Avene soothing moisture mask

Beauty Elixir, Caudalie

A little bit of a ‘princess product’ Caudalie Beauty Elixir is simply a refreshing and hydrating face mist. It is a nice to have in your handbag and to take with you on a long-haul flights. It won’t transform your skin or turn you into a glowing unicorn, but it will make you feel a little more human after a long day/flight/workout.

Caudalie Beauty Elixir

Atoderm nourishing cream, Bioderma

I have been blessed with keratosis pilaris (thanks dad!) which means I have very dry ‘chicken skin’ on my arms and legs. The condition is completely harmless but there is no treatment that can cure it, so to find a body lotion which leaves me with baby-soft skin for more than 3 hours is nothing short of a miracle. This is exactly what Bioderma Atoderm cream does! It leaves me with soft skin for most of the day and even though it isn’t as cheap as a drugstore lotion, the bottle is huge and last a good while.

French-Pharmacy-Bioderma-Atoderm
Ran out of it before writing this post – Source

Deodorant Dry Touch, Vichy

About a year ago I took the leap, the dangerously smelly leap to the land of natural deodorant. This was mainly due to my doctor mother sending me links to studies confirming that aluminium salts were harmful. For those of you who have taken the leap too, you will know that the quest to find a natural, yet efficient, deodorant is a smelly and, at time, very embarrassing one. I tried quite a few and got regulars “hmmmm I love you, but you smell a little funny” from my husband in the process.

Vichy deodorant dry touch

Luckily, I eventually went back to France and to the pharmacy, and found a little pack of 2 Vichy stick deodorants. I took it home with me and since I have never looked back. It leaves a dry feeling on the skin, it leaves you fresh for most of the day and it has none of the nasty ingredients!

Huile Prodigieuse dry oil, Nuxe

A classic, the holly grail of body oil, Nuxe Huile Prodigieuse has been around for more than 25 years and has become a cult beauty product. So much so that Nuxe created a fragrance inspired by the Huile Prodigieuse!

Nuxe huile prodigieuse shimmering

It hydrates and leaves the skin glowing. The fragrance is quite strong and may not be to everybody’s taste, but once you get hooked it is hard to ever look back. In the summer, you can use the shimmering version (pictured) which will make you glow under the last rays of sunshine of the day.

Emulsion, Biafine

Biafine is a must to have in your pharmacy cabinet! This product was originally created for burnt victims to help heal their wounds and the damaged skin. It works wonders on sunburns and has been very much used over the years by my pale British husband.

Biafine emulsion

In case of sunburn, I apply a thick layer on the skin and let it sink overnight. Depending on the severity of the burn the results can go from reduced redness and pain to fully healed skin in just one night. Biafine is a skin saver, quite literally.

Sunscreens

Last but not least, sunscreens! French brands do some of the best sunscreens on the market. Most, if not all, are chemical sunscreens, which have been proven to protect better against UVAs. So if you are from the US especially, make sure to grab a few tubes while in France (or in Europe as most are available across the continent). Which one should you pick? I have an entire post dedicated to my favourite sunscreens so check it out before you go shopping.

That’s it guys! With all those products you should be the softest and most glowing human being around for a good while! And you won’t be completely bankrupt either!

Follow me on InstagramTwitterPinterest, Youtube and Trover!

10 things I have learnt moving to the UK

I recently wrote my first guest post ever for the lovely Alex from Better Together Home!

Alex and I met a few years ago at work in London and developed a friendship based on a similar quirky (weird?) sense of humour and our obsession with all things travel and blog related. I was absolutely honoured and thrilled when she offered me to feature on her blog!

I decided to talk about the things I learned moving to the UK almost seven years ago! A little top ten of the things ‘oh so British!’ for my very French self! You can find the blog post below and make sure to also check Alex’s page! She is a business woman by day, a blogger by night, a mum always, and most importantly she is just lovely!

********

Hi! I am Claire from Claire Imaginarium. I was born and raised in France, and I moved to London back in 2011. Since then, I met a British man, adopted a British cat and bought a British house. Pretty settled to say the least!

Even though I have been in the UK for a while, there are still things that amaze me about this country. France and the UK may be neighbours but the cultural differences are pretty significant. So without further do, here are the 10 things I have learned about England and British people so far!

Everybody has an accent

The day I moved to London, I landed in Heathrow with three luggage, completely jet lagged (it’s a long story), and feeling equally lonely and excited. The only thing I was pretty confident about was my English, having lived in the US for a while. That was until I met my cab driver at the airport. He talked, I stared, he pointed at my luggage, I stared, he loaded them in the car, I sat in the cab, he talked again, and I suddenly wanted to just burst into tears. I understood NOTHING of what he said, absolutely nothing! I was completely overwhelmed. What was wrong with me? Was I too jet lagged to comprehend even basic English?

A few days later, I started my new job and, after being introduced to 20 different people, I realised one thing which never happened when I was living in the US – everybody had an accent! I naively thought most English people would talk like Hugh Grant in Four weddings and a funeral, but not at all! You have the Geordie accent, the Scouse accent, the Cockney accent, the North London accent, the South East London accent, etc.

Tower Bridge London

In France, we have some accents but they are quite localised and extend to an entire region, and nowadays most young French people have no accent at all. In England, there is a new accent every 5 to 10 miles!

Liverpool

Football is a religion

Don’t get me wrong, a lot of French people love football, but a lot of them have also zero interest in football (me!). In England, it seems that every single person has a favourite team. Some are of course more passionate than others, but all have a favourite team.

 Tottenham Spurs changing room

What is even more entertaining is to see very polite and reserved British people turning into hooligans when watching a match. My husband gets so agitated he hits the sofa when he watches football. It got quite embarrassing when my flatmate at the time heard him swearing and hitting something and thought it was me he was punching! I am not joking the Brits get intense when looking at a black and white ball rolling on the grass!

People are obsessed with the weather

British people talk about the weather all. the. time!

Small talk with a stranger? Talk about the weather! Meeting the in-laws for the first time? Talk about the weather! Chatting with colleagues about your weekend plans? Refer to the weather!

London weather

At the beginning, I was seriously wondering what the obsession was all about, did people had nothing more interesting to chat about? And then I started to experience the British weather… Winter temperatures in summer, monsoon for 5 days, snow followed by sun, followed by hail, all in one day… The British weather is bipolar and completely insane! It changes so much, so fast, and makes absolutely no sense most of the time. No wonder people talk about it!

London weather

Business hours are better

Well… for most people at least. If you work in finance in London, forget about it, but for most of us working hours are better than in France.

Commonly if you work in Paris, you will arrive at work around 9/9:30am and leave around 7/7:30pm. In London, most of my friends start at 9am and finish at 5:30pm. Why such a big difference? Based on my experience I think it is a combination of work culture (it is how it is) and breaks. French people take long coffee and lunch breaks whereas English people tend to eat lunch at their desks.

I really like it, as it gives me plenty of time in the evening to go to the gym binge watch Netflix shows.

G&T is not a trend

Gin and Tonic has become a very popular drink in France over the past couple of years. It follows the steps of Aperol Spritz. In England, however, it has been around for ages and is the favourite drink of most generations of English women (British men usually go for beer).

Gin and Tonic

Go out early, be home early

Friday drinks? Saturday night ‘out-out’? In France, you would meet people around 8 pm at the earliest, and if you are going ‘out-out’ you will end the night around 3 or 4 in the morning. In the UK, people meet straight after work around 6pm and usually everybody is home by 1am.

Drinks at the pub

I really got used to the English way! You start early but you still party for a good 6 hours and then you can still catch the last tube and have a full night of sleep!

Beer

Sunday roast is an institution

I had never heard of Sunday roast before moving to England. It is never something mentioned in English class, neither in tourist’ guides, but it is an institution.

Now for the non-British readers, what is Sunday Roast? Eaten most Sundays (duh!), if not all Sundays, the meal is composed of some sort of roasted meat – commonly beef, chicken or lamb – served with roasted potatoes, vegetable and Yorkshire pudding. What is Yorkshire pudding? A sort of savoury ‘choux’ pastry is the best way I would describe it!

People eat it at the pub or cook it at home, and it is THE Sunday signature dish for most families.

French Sunday Roast

Weddings are completely different

You would think European weddings would all be the same? Well, nope!

The concept is the same – white dress, big meal, nice ceremony, etc. But the structure of the day is completely different!

A French wedding will usually start around 3pm with the ceremony, followed by a 3-hour cocktail where canapes and drinks are served. After the cocktail, some guests will be invited to leave and the others will take a sit for dinner, which is served around 7:30/8pm. Speeches are given between each course, and include both dads, the witnesses (bridesmaids and best men), AND brothers and sisters! The celebration ends with dancing and stretches usually until 3 to 4 am. French weddings are also ALWAYS open bar, guest will never ever have to pay for a drink.

French Wedding

An English wedding will usually start around 1 pm with the ceremony, it will be followed by a short cocktail (usually one drink per person). After the drinks, people will sit for the ‘wedding breakfast’ around 3pm. Once people are finished with the 3 course meal, all the speeches are given at the same time and include the groom, the father of the bride and the best men. Finally, dancing starts around 7pm and this is when the additional guests join the party which finishes around midnight. You will also have to pay for drinks once the evening party starts, which made for another embarrassing story the first time I went to an English wedding and thought the barman was joking when asking me to pay…

English Wedding

So different, right?!

Christmas is a (very) serious business

You thought you were going a bit over the top for Christmas? Trust me you will never be as into Christmas as British people! And that is coming from someone who grew up in Strasbourg aka ‘French Christmas wonderland’!

Cat in Christmas Jumper

People take Christmas very seriously here! Most shops start Christmas promotions in September. There is a TV channel dedicated to Christmas broadcasting from the end of October. The street lights are turned on at the beginning of November, the first Christmas trees make their appearance in households mid-November, and your colleagues will be wearing Christmas jumpers in the office most of December…

Office Christmas Jumper

I have only one advice if you move to the UK, don’t be the Grinch!

The NHS is completely free

Really guys, it is!

True story, the first time I went to the doctor, I queued at the front desk after my appointment with my credit card in hand, ready to pay. After a good 15 minutes waiting I finally was the first in the line: –

Me – “Hi, so I just had my appointment with DR XXXX, how much do I owe?”

Front desk lady – ***Staring and confused***

Me – “For the appointment I mean…”

Front desk lady – “What do you mean?”

Me – “Well… I had my appointment so I just wanted to pay for it”

Front desk lady – “Well, you can’t and you don’t”

Me – ***Staring and confused***

Front desk lady – “Yeah, it’s… Well, it’s free.”

Me – ***As red as a lobster*** “Oh. Sorry!”

So, for anyone coming from a country where you pay for healthcare, one advice, don’t queue at the front desk after your appointment, there is no need!

Sick day

That’s it folks, I hope you liked my French perspective on all things British! And very big thank you to the wonderful Alex to let me feature on her blog!

 Follow me on InstagramTwitterPinterest, Youtube and Trover!

This blog post was first featured on Better Together Home

Tsurugyu – Osaka, Japan

Spoiler alert! This was by far the best beef we had during our entire trip in Japan. Starting with a pretty major statement but I truly mean it! If you are going to only eat wagyu beef once, eat it at Tsurugyu!

Now let me introduce you to the place itself, Tsurugyu is a Kobe beef restaurant just outside Osaka city centre. From the street it doesn’t look like anything special, and the avenue it is on is actually dead quiet during the day which makes it a bit difficult to find at first.

Tsurugyu outside Osaka

Get inside and you are entering a dark and elegant little cocoon. The place feels special with all tables sheltered by curtains giving it a lot of privacy. George Clooney could be at the table next to you and you wouldn’t even know it.

Tsurugyu table inside

It is good to note that you will need a reservation to eat at Tsurugyu. It is a very popular place. Not speaking Japanese? Don’t worry, just swing by and ask if they can book a table for you. We went one morning there and asked if they had availability on the same evening, which luckily they did!

Our waiter deserves a special mention too. He was hilariously patronising but in the nicest possible way. He must have thought “Those Europeans have absolutely no clue what they are doing!” and spent most of the evening showing us how to eat each ingredient properly. We felt like primary school students but also learned a lot about Japanese table manners.

Now let’s talk about the best part – the food! I could literally just tell you that it was epic and leave it there with a few snaps, but it was such an excellent meal that it deserves a few more words before I leave you drooling at the pictures (well except if you are vegetarian, look away now).

Once sat at the table, the waiter got the grill ready while we were deciding which cut of beef to go for. We ordered two different types of beef, both not too fatty as I am more of a lean cut type of person.

Kobe beef Tsurugyu

With the meat, we ordered a side of kimchi, which I am completely obsessed about by the way, since I learned that it is good for your guts health.

Kimchi Tsurugyu

We also ordered the cold noodles as per our waiter recommendation. I would describe it as a very cold and very light ramen. Worth a try!

Cold noodles Tsurugyu

We then got busy cooking and grilling!

Tsurugyu table and grill

And following our teacher… I mean, our waiter’s instructions we dressed our plates as Japanese people would do. Meat at the bottom and the various sauces and salts at the top but never mixed together!

Kobe beef Tsurugyu

There is not much more I can say than: “YOU NEEEEEEEED TO GO EAT AT TSURUGYU!”

Follow me on InstagramTwitterPinterest, Youtube and Trover!

Gogyo Ramen – Kyoto, Japan

On our first night in Kyoto we headed for dinner at Gogyo Ramen. The restaurant is in Kyoto’s city centre right behind Nishiki Market.

Queue in front of Gogyo in Kyoto

You will know you are in the right place when you will see the queue in front of the restaurant and flames coming out of the kitchen. “Flames you said?” Yes I did! Gogyo’s signature dish is ‘burnt’ ramen, so to prepare it they literally have to burn it!

Gogyo Kyoto

After queuing for a good while, we finally made it in and sat at the bar in front of the kitchen. Great way to have dinner while watching a pyrotechnics show!

Gogyo kitchen

One big big BIG highlight of our dinner at Gogyo was the staff! They were the nicest waiters we could have wished for! They helped us with our bibs (I told I am not good with chopsticks!) and when I said I had never tried plum wine they immediately offered me a glass of it ‘on the house’. By the way if you have never tried plum wine, make sure you do, it is delicious!

Plum wine at Gogyo in Kyoto

Genuinely friendly is the best way to describe the staff there!

Now to the food! Ramen can be extremely filling so we didn’t go too crazy with our order to make sure we could finish our dish (I hate wasting food!). We ordered fried gyozas as a stater, which we shared. They were really good and one plate was enough between the two of us, knowing what was coming next…

Gyoza at Gogyo in Kyoto

For mains we both went for the signature dish, the burnt ramen. Andrew went for a version with more toppings, I went for the regular one.

Burnt ramen at Gogyo in Kyoto

The taste is a lot stronger than a normal ramen. It is very smokey and it does have a burnt after taste so I am not sure everyone would like it. I found the texture to be oilier too but overall we did very much enjoy it.

As long as you are not expecting a classic ramen like at Ichiran, and that you are open to try new flavours, you will love the burnt ramen of Gogyo!

Also, if you are going, make sure to say ‘hi!’ to the lovely staff for us!

Follow me on InstagramTwitterPinterest and Trover!

14 foods to try in Japan

It is not all about sushi in Japan, far from it! I would almost compare Japanese cuisine to French cuisine, there is so much diversity! Meat dishes, fish dishes, pastries, Japanese food is varied and you won’t get bored while eating there.

Now it can be a little overwhelming and intimidating to order in a Japanese restaurant. What does that mean? What should I try? Is that even fish?

If you are planning to visit Japan and are a bit of a foodie like me, keep reading! I listed below the 14 Japanese foods you have to try. Some you will be familiar with, some you may never have heard of, all are delicious!

***FYI, the list below is not a ranking, it is simply in the alphabetical order***

Now are you hungry? Good, keep reading!

Curry

Yes, you read that right, curry is one of the most popular dish in Japan. You will find curry houses at every street corner. Coco Ichibanya is one of the most popular rice curry restaurant chain. The most famous type of curry is the katsu curry which is made of rice, curry sauce and breaded meat, usually pork.

Japanese katsu curry
Pork katsu curry at Coco Ichibanya

Tonkatsu

Also known as breaded and deep-fried pork cutlets, it doesn’t sound very healthy but it is absolutely delicious! It is a popular lunch option served with rice, miso soup and shredded cabbage. The best tonkatsu we had was at Katsukura in Kyoto train station!

Tonkatsu
Tonkatsu at Katsukura in Kyoto

Kaiseki

Kaiseki is a traditional multi-course meal. You know those delicate little eatable pieces of art you see in any guide about Japan? That’s kaiseki!

Kaiseki

The first time we had it was for breakfast in Kyoto in our riokan, and we felt a little overwhelmed as to what should be eaten first on the tray. Luckily we then had lunch and kaiseki again with one of my Japanese friends in Tokyo, she explained to us that there is no formal order, you eat from the little plates as you wish!

Kaiseki

Matcha everything

Matcha tea may only be a recent trend in the western world but it is a very traditional ingredient in Japan. You can drink matcha tea of course, but you can also have matcha sundae, matcha cakes, matcha mochi, matcha ice cream, the list goes on and on and on!

Matcha pastry chouMatcha ice cream
Matcha sundae

Daifuku

One of my favourite snack in Japan. It’s sweet, filling and has the weirdest chewy texture, I love it! Made of a mochi, a rice paste and stuffed with various fillings, it is the perfect mid-afternoon sweet treat when walking around Japanese cities.

Daifuku and mochi

My favourite? The mochi and red bean paste daifuku. Soooo good!

Red beans daifuku

Okonomiyaki

A savoury pancake/omelette, is the best way I would describe Okonomiyaki. It is a traditional dish from Hiroshima, so if you are in the area make sure to have one! It is extremely filling so it worth coming to the restaurant with an empty stomach for this one.

Okonomiya in Hiroshima
Amazing okonomiyaki at in Hiroshima

Onigiri

Our favourite on-the-go lunch option while in Japan! It is super filling, tasty AND low on calories. I developed an addiction for the tuna and mayo one, I also promise to learn to make them at home as soon as we were back from Japan. The later has still not happened…

OnigiriOnigiri Tuna Mayo

Pastries

After spending two weeks in Japan, I have honestly no idea how Japanese people remain so thin. The food is rich and there is an endless variety of pastries. Rice base, wheat base, banana cream filling, red beans paste, name it and it probably exists in Japan!

Japanese banana pastryJapanese rice pastryJapanese Hello Kitty pastries

Ramen

The dish that doesn’t need more introduction and a very popular meal in Japan. It is delicious an there is a surprising amount of variety! We loved Ichiran’s classic ramen and the ‘burnt’ one from Kyoto Gogyo Ramen.

Ramen in Ichiran
Ramen in Ichiran, Tokyo

Red bean everything

Similar to matcha, red beans seem to be a go-to ingredient in desserts. I had mochi and red bean paste, red bean milkshake, pudding, etc.

Red bean pastryRed beans pudding

Now if you think of red beans you may not think of delicious sweet treats, but don’t be deceived by the look and the name! It is delicious and the taste is similar to candied chestnuts. Hmmmmmmm….

Red beans milkshake

Sushi

Surprisingly a lot less popular than we thought it would be! Sushis are eaten by Japanese people but probably not as much as ramen or any rice dish. The best place to get some is at Tsukiji Fish Market in Tokyo.

Sushi Tsukiji Fish Market

Tempura

Tempura is originally a Portuguese dish, not a Japanese one (thanks Wikipedia!). However, the battered and fried dish has been made very popular by Japan after the recipe was imported there. Fish, vegetables, everything can be ‘Tempura-ed’. It’s also a great way to try new things, for instance, this is how I tried eel for the first time (picture below), and I loved it!

Tempura eel

Wagyu beef

Now when talking about beef in Japan, we are talking about an ingredient more than an actual dish. There are plenty of ways to eat wagyu beef, it can be prepared as a grilled steak, a sashimi, sukiyaki and many other ways!

Kobe beef
Grilled beef at What’s in Kyoto

Flavoursome and melting in the mouth, the quantities are usually small but the quality is incomparable!

Sukiyaki beef
Sukiyaki in Imahan, Tokyo

Yakitori

Last but not least, Yakitori, a grilled skewered meat dish. It is commonly served with a miso soup, soy sauce and some rice. It is also one of the more accessible Japanese dish for westerners who are new to Japanese cuisine. If you are around Shibuya in Tokyo, make sure to have some yakitori at Toritake!

Yakitori in Toritake Tokyo
Yakitori at Toritake

Here you go, you have your food menu for your trip to Japan! Now buy that plane ticket, a bib and cutlery (if like me you are not very good with chopsticks) and go discover Japanese cuisine!

Follow me on InstagramTwitterPinterest and Trover!

2 days in Hiroshima – highlights

New video alert!

I am still working through all the pictures and videos I made in Japan, and I finally had a few hours free to edit the footage of our 2 days spent in Hiroshima! A city which surprised us with its modernity and busy nightlife.

We spent a day exploring the city centre and the Hiroshima Peace Memorial Museum. The museum is beautifully done and the whole area shows you the impact of the atomic bombings of Hiroshima and Nagasaki, in August 1945. An emotional visit yes, but an important one. It is hard to comprehend the level of destruction the local community experienced at the time when you walk in the streets of the lively city Hiroshima has now become.

On the second day, we headed to Miyajima island to visit the famous Shrines and see the world-famous floating Torii. It seems that 99% of all postcards of Japan must have been photographed there. It was one of the most beautiful places we visited during our entire trip! We also made a few furry friends on the way as you will see in the video below!

I hope you enjoy those 6 minutes in Hiroshima!

Follow me on InstagramTwitterPinterest and Trover!

 

Travelling in style – Best small bags

Today’s post is a mix of travel and fashion. I am a girl after all, and I am French, so I like an ‘oh so chic!’ touch even when I am hiking up a steep hill in Lisbon or petting a deer in Japan.

I just cannot help it, there is nothing I dislike more aesthetically than a functional camera bag or a travel money bag. I am not super duper precious though, and even if I like a good designer bag, the ones I invest in are always low maintenance and functional. I need bags that can stay on the floor in a restaurant and carry my camera, wallet, sunscreen and hand-sanitiser at minimum.

It is also good to note that if I am going to a destination where items of value can get me into trouble, I will of course opt for plan B and carry a very cheap, yet functional, Karrimor rucksack.

Best Small Travel Bags

Designer bags are expensive

Now before I list my favourite travel bags, I want to also address the elephant in the room – money! The bags I listed below are all on the pricey side and I am aware that I am extremely fortunate to have been able to afford them.

Luckily, I have a few tips!

Save, save, save!

It took me at least 18 months before I was able to afford my Gucci Soho bag! I had an objective though, and little by little I saved enough to afford it.

Duty free is your best friend!

You can save A LOT by being patient and waiting for your next trip to buy a designer bag. Most major international airports have designers boutiques. So check which terminal you are leaving from and see what shops they have. I saved more than £150 on my Gucci Soho bag by buying it in Heathrow.

Dear Santa…

How about waiting for a special occasion and asking Santa for a new bag or a little financial help to get the one you have your eyes on? I asked my parents for my first Longchamp pliage bag to be my 18th birthday gift, and 11 years later I asked for a replacement as a Christmas gift.

The best small travel bags

Now to the fun bit, the bags! I have 4 favourites to travel with, all carry-on friendly and most leave you with free hands to take pictures.

The classic – Gucci Soho shoulder bag

Compact, functional as you can wear it cross-body, Gucci Soho bag is great for a city escape!

Gucci Soho bag in black

The grain leather make it durable and less prone to scratches. I also picked the black colour because I wanted it to go with most outfits as this bag is quite pricey. It is also a great colour to avoid any stain or colour transfer! In terms of space, I can fit my camera, wallet, a pack of tissue, hand-sanitiser, a lip balm, and a few more bits and pieces.

The modern classic – M Missoni shoulder bag

Unfortunately, this Missoni bag isn’t available for sale at the moment, but it worth keeping an eye out on eBay and Vestiaire Collective if you like it! I called it the modern classic as its rectangular shape gives it a very contemporary feel. The soft leather has stained and marked more easily than grain leather. The metallic logo also shows signs of ageing but I don’t mind it, I like to see the scratches and remember how much we travelled together!

M Missoni shoulder bag

I use this bag ALL THE TIME when I travel. It is small but super spacious and functional! I can fit a little more than what I pack in my Gucci Soho bag.

The French touch – Sezane Farrow bag

If you haven’t heard of Sezane yet, you need to check them out! It is a very famous French women’s wear brand (sorry lads!) and all items have a very Parisian touch.

Sezane Farrow bag in burgundy

I went for a burgundy colour with this bag so it is perfect for autumn and winter. Once again it is very functional with grain leather and you can wear it cross-body, which is a must for me. The Farrow bag is a bucket bag so it has plenty of space. I can fit my camera, wallet, and my entire carry-on zip-lock bag in it, plus a few bits and bobs!

The super functional – Longchamp Nylon Pliage

This is a Mary Poppins bag! I have the Longchamp Nylon Pliage in L and it can pretty much fit everything and anything. I actually use it as a gym bag when I am not travelling the world with it.

This is my go-to carry-on and weekend bag. I pack my books, a spare change of clothes (in case my luggage get lost/delayed), cosmetics, and anything else I may need on a flight or for a night away. This is my second Longchamp pliage, it replaced my first one which lasted 11 years! Talk about a good investment!

Longchamp pliage bag in grey

Here you go guys, you have it! My four most used bags! I say most ‘used’ as, even though this post is about travelling with them, they are also my every day bags and commute to work with me most days!

Follow me on InstagramTwitterPinterest and Trover!

An autumnal day in Bath – UK

That’s it folks, the nights are getting longer, the days are getting colder and the trees are turning redder – autumn is here!

Which means that it is time to book a nice autumnal getaway, and if you are in England, I just know the place!

On a cold autumnal weekend, Andrew and I decided to head to the beautiful Bath for a little bit of exploring. It is a three-hour drive from London so it worth planning to leave a little early if you want to make the most of your Friday evening, and beat the traffic. The train is also a great way to get there as it is only 90 minutes and leave from Paddington Station.

Road to Bath

At the time, I had never been to Bath and I was expecting it to be the ultimate charming and elegant British destination – and it was!

Bath city centre

Bath is a city out of a Jane Austen book! There is even a Jane Austen Museum if you are a fan. We didn’t venture in though, we kept our visit outdoor as it was a crisp but very sunny day.

Jane Austen museum in BathBath city centre

We bundled up as it was fairly cold and started our visit in the city centre at the Abbey, which definitely worth a peek inside.

Bath on a cold day

We had a little wander around the Roman Baths, and then headed to Pulteney Bridge to have a look at the famous Pulteney Weir.

Pulteney Weir in Bath

The golden light of the Autumn combined with the beautiful Georgian architecture and the red foliage made Bath breathtakingly beautiful!

Bath

Having worked an appetite we headed to The Bath Bun, a charming little tea shop which serves simple sandwiches and warming beverages.

After our lunch and in major need of walking off the giant baps we ate, we headed for a walk along the River Avon. It is a great way to get off the beaten track and to take a moment to appreciate the warming sun on a bench and people watch, of course.

River Avon in BathRiver Avon in BathBath

After a fair amount of walking we headed to the world famous Royal Crescent. It features in most Jane Austen movies so you will definitely have a sense of déjà vu when walking along the grand Georgian houses.

Royal Crescent BathRoyal Crescent Bath

We took a moment to get some cheesy snaps.

Bath

If you are an afternoon tea person I also highly recommend booking a table at the Royal Crescent Hotel for a sweet and savory afternoon treat! It is on the expensive side but well worth it!

Finally, we headed back into the city via the Circus roundabout and got lost a little longer in the cobbled streets of Bath until we had walked enough to justify a filling dinner!

The Circus Bath

Where to stay in Bath?

Follow me on InstagramTwitterPinterest and Trover!

Imahan – Tokyo, Japan

The place I am sharing with you today is truly special. A very unique experience, outstanding food and a real insight into Japanese culture. Ready? Let’s go!

Imahan specialities are sukiyaki and shabushabu. Both cooking methods involve preparing the food at the table. Sukiyaki means that the food is fried in a pan, and shabushabu is when the food is cook in a hot pot.

Sukiyaki and Shabushabu

Now to find Imahan you will have to go underground. You read that right! In Japan, shops and restaurant are spread over multiple levels and in Shinjuku, Tokyo there is an entire other city underground. Imahan is in the underground area right next to the Hilton and the Hyatt.

Imahan Tokyo

Once you found it you will enter another world. Shinjuku is very modern, Imahan is very traditional. The waitresses wear elegant kimonos and the decor is the reflection of a traditional Japanese home. You can immediately feel that you are somewhere special where people whisper and guests are kings.

Imahan Tokyo

Once seated, we were offered a cup of green tea and a hot towel to wash our hands. We looked at the menu and settled for the sukiyaki ‘course’ option, which includes starters (with an S and you will see why in a minute), the beef, sides and desert. A real fest!

Menu Imahan Tokyo

You can see on the picture that prices are quite steep, Imahan Sukiyaki is definitely not a cheap eatery. The experience is so special though that we were happy to spend that money on a memory we would cherish for ever.

Now let’s talk about the waitresses, as I mentioned earlier they are all wearing the most elegant kimonos, they will also spend the entire meal at your table! Yep, that’s the thing that took us the most by surprise. We thought we would be given the pots and the ingredients and cook ourselves, but instead we had a waitress dedicated to our table, who cooked for us the entire time, and in front of whom I embarrassed myself with my lack of chopstick skills.

Waitress Imahan Tokyo

The entire dinner was a ceremony and we were treated to so many dishes I lost count after 3, luckily I took pictures! So let’s go through it together!

First, the waitress set up the pot.

Imahan Sukiyaki

We then got served our first starter, which was made of many things I didn’t know or couldn’t recognised, it was also the most beautiful thing I had ever seen!

Starter Imahan

It was followed by a miso soup.

Miso soup Imahan

Which was followed by beef sushis (soooooooo good).

Beef sushi Imahan

Still hungry? Good, because that was only the appetisers. Now the serious things started! The waitress brought the beef and multiple sides.

Imahan Tokyo

We got served a first bowl of beef in egg. Raw eggs are often served with rice and meat in Japan, it is a little weird at the beginning, but you get used to it!

Imahan Sukiyaki

We then got a second serving of beef with vegetables.

Imahan Sukiyaki

At that point I started to feel SERIOUSLY full, so I turned around expecting to see almost empty plates… Nope, another mountain of meat and vegetables was waiting for us. I HAVE NO IDEA how Japanese people stay so skinny!

Imahan TokyoImahan Tokyo

Everything was so good though that I just kept eating. Luckily it was getting ‘lighter’ with mainly vegetables and tofu being served at that point.

Mushroom Imahan TokyoTofu Imahan Tokyo

The waitress looked at us with a gentle smile, turned off the gas and took away the pot. I was happy to see that we were close to the end with only dessert remaining as I was completely stuffed! But.. Oh wait! There was more! The waitress came back with another soup.

Soup Imahan Tokyo

Served with pickled vegetables.

Pickled vegetables Imahan Tokyo

And a last serving of eggs with rice!

Egg and rice Imahan Tokyo

My stomach was hurting at that point, but finally I saw the light at the end of tunnel with dessert being served. Small and refreshing, perfect after such a filling meal!

Dessert Imahan Tokyo

Our meal at Imahan was amazing, the food was delicious and the plates stunning to look at. My only advice though, don’t eat AT ALL before to go there!

Follow me on InstagramTwitterPinterest and Trover!