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Eating In Featured Savoury

Negima and Tsukune Yakitori – Recipe

April 30, 2019
Plate of yakitori with sushi rice and salad

A friend recently asked if I had any recommendations for yakitori spots in Tokyo… I mean, how long is a piece of string? Alongside sushi and ramen (which he also asked about and I think is even more of a minefield), yakitori is probably one of the most recognisable Japanese foods. ‘Yakitori’ which translates to ‘grilled chicken’ might just be meat on a stick, but in Japan where everything has a certain ceremony to it, this is meticulously prepared meat on a stick. Every piece of bite-sized chicken, which could be anything from breast, liver or even skin, is carefully selected and threaded onto a skewer before being seasoned with either shio (salt) or a tare made from a base of soy sauce and other flavourings.

During our time in Japan, we chewed through a lot of yakitori. You’ll find some yakitori on most izakaya menus as they pair so perfectly with a cold beer, but we did also visit a few yakitori-ya where they were even more extensive and creative in their use of the whole bird. As offal lovers, we were in heaven… livers and hearts were particular favourites. I think the best way to do a yakitori meal is to park yourself up at the bar, order a beer and get a steady stream of sticks until you’re full. Either let the chef choose (omakase) or get a mixed plate (moriwase) and then repeat the ones you particularly enjoyed!

Four types of yakitori from a Tokyo yakitori bar

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Asia/Pacific Eating Abroad Featured Vietnam

Halong Bay, Vietnam – A Luxury Experience with Orchid Cruises

January 16, 2019

I had already decided that no Vietnam itinerary would be complete without Halong Bay but I also knew it would be a hard sell to a certain someone. Two or three days on a boat, organised activities, no wifi connection, and forced social interaction are not things we willingly sign up to. The only way I stood a chance was to go down the luxury route – if I was going to get him on board, figuratively and literally, it would have to be a rather nice boat. Which also suited me just fine  – you didn’t think I was keen on one of those party cruises filled with eager gap-year youths did you? That ship has most definitely sailed.

With this criteria, it didn’t take long to cobble together a shortlist – there are boats aplenty (probably too many if we’re being honest) sailing in the bays, but not many which would get the certain someone seal of approval. And so, armed with photos of gloriously picturesque scenes and inviting cabins with balconies, I made my pitch. Slowly but surely I won him round, though just in case… I threw in the pleading girlfriend eyes to seal the deal and a few weeks later, we were boarding one of the rather lush boats from Orchid Cruises. 

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Asia/Pacific Cambodia Eating Abroad Featured Laos Malaysia Singapore

Lessons Learnt from Three Months in South East Asia

July 3, 2018

Three months in South East Asia whizzed by in a hot, sweaty, spicy blur. The days started to run into each other, we lost track of time and often got lost ourselves, but each day felt like an adventure. As you would expect from long-term travel, there were plenty of ups and a few downs, thrills and spills along the way. There was a missed flight on day one (Wellington weather really hates us), many incredible meals down dingy alleys, a fine balance of luxurious and not quite five star places to rest our weary heads, and a plethora of sights taken in… all rolled into some of the most exciting and exhausting months of our lives.

We left with only a rough outline of which countries we would visit, and set about filling in the gaps and details as we went along. Neither of us get particularly enthused about the planning part of travel so we mostly took each day as it came which seemed to work out just fine. A certain someone and I have travelled together for close to six years now so we’re well versed in each other’s travel styles and moods. I can sense when he needs a tea top up, he can spot the symptoms of a hanger meltdown, and our spats are usually about embarrassingly trivial matters. But this trip still taught us so much, mainly about our approach to travel; some of our actions have changed, some of our views strengthened. These are the lessons I learnt from three months in South East Asia…

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Asia/Pacific Eating Abroad Sri Lanka

Udawalawe National Park – Elephant Safari Guide

February 1, 2018

We are not what you would call ‘animal people’. We have both never had pets, are mildly allergic to cats, and still think it’s a little weird that you can bring your dog onto the tube in London. Animal-related activities do not usually feature on our travel itineraries which is why we almost didn’t make it to Udawalawe National Park. Driving around in a bumpy jeep for several hours, attempting to spot wild animals didn’t seem like our cup of tea at all but somehow, I managed to convinced myself and a certain someone that it was a good idea, and it ended up being one of the best days of our whole trip! Maybe I do have an inner David Attenborough after all…

Udawalawe National Park is one of Sri Lanka’s most popular safari destinations as it’s less crowded than Yala National Park, and is known as the best place to spot elephants in the wild. For us, it was also the most logical choice due to its location, handily between Ella in the Hill Country and our next destination, Tangalle on the Southern Coast. The safaris are the bread and butter of this town and as such, tours run in the morning and afternoon, and there are definitely no shortage of tour operators and jeep drivers. You can literally turn up at the gates and hire your jeep and driver then and there, but as it was our first ever safari experience we decided to also hire a guide to get the most out of our visit.

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Asia/Pacific Eating Abroad Featured Sri Lanka

Sigiriya – Lion Rock & Pidurangala Rock Guide

January 29, 2018

Climbing rocks is not usually the kind of thing I get excited about. Being encumbered with short limbs and pathetically weak upper body strength, I’m not exactly built for it either. Long walks on the beach I excel at, but long walks up hills, through forests and jungles is something I am still getting to grips with! But here we were, up much earlier than usual so we could climb not one, but two rocks that day and wondering if our bodies had actually been invaded by hike-loving aliens in our sleep. Kidding, sort of. When you find yourself in Sigiriya, the thing to do is to visit the famous Lion Rock but if you are feeling particularly energetic, as we clearly were, you should also head up the less-frequented Pidurangala Rock as the views from there are just as breathtaking! We managed both in one day very easily; if we can do it, so can you…

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Asia/Pacific Eating Abroad Hotel Reviews Sri Lanka

Anantara Peace Haven, Tangalle – A Sri Lankan Paradise

January 22, 2018

By the time we pulled up to the gates of the Anantara Peace Haven in Tangalle, I was more than ready to step into this small slice of paradise. We had been travelling around Sri Lanka for close to a fortnight and had experienced some spectacular highs and very frustrating lows, but regardless of which end of the spectrum they sat, each day was exhausting! We wanted nothing more than to put our travel-weary feet up for some proper rest and relaxation, and we could not have chosen a more luxurious place for it. From the moment we were warmly welcomed through the gates by a traditional Sri Lankan folk song, we felt right at home in this stunning resort where nothing was too much trouble and we were greeted by smiles at every corner!

One of the newest additions to the Anantara family, this haven has been created in what used to be a coconut plantation only a short drive away from Tangalle town. This location on Sri Lanka’s southern coast is quite breathtaking and Anantara Peace Haven have used this to their advantage, ensuring all their 152 rooms and villas face out towards the Indian Ocean. The property also has all the usual facilities you would expect from a luxury resort, but at no point did it feel too big or impersonal. There was a lot to love here, but what really stuck with me was their commitment to ensuring their guests’ comfort while also respecting the natural surroundings. I think they struck the perfect balance so come take a peak inside this luxurious property and see if you would agree…

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Asia/Pacific Eating Abroad Sri Lanka

Eat, Eat, Repeat Colombo Food Tour with Urban Adventures

January 18, 2018

Colombo is not a city which is often described in a favourable light. Before we arrived, I had read that it was far from being a traveller’s haven, was told that it was a tad boring, and generally not the kind of place you find yourself lingering in. Ever the optimist, I bowled on into town with an eagerness to see the best of this city and perhaps prove its critics wrong, but after arriving in the middle of a storm verging on cyclone territory, stepping into far too many puddles in the broken pavements, and seeing nothing but grey skies, I was defeated. At the end of day one, all I wanted was to curl up in the hotel and order room service, but by the end of day two I was starting to see the city in a whole new light thanks to Urban Adventures!

An afternoon spent talking about food and eating it often puts me in a good mood, but our Eat, Eat, Repeat food tour also gave me an insight into life in this frenzied urban sprawl. The city is vast, needs a lot of TLC in some parts, but does have its charms. We do agree with those who have come before us – this is not the most tourist-friendly city, but if you’re visiting Sri Lanka, it is highly likely this will be your first stop so I would suggest you do as we did and explore it through food. It’s definitely more interesting and provides a great introduction to Sri Lankan food which will stand you in good stead for the rest of your trip. Here’s a taste of what you can expect if you too decide to Eat, Eat, Repeat with Urban Adventures in Colombo…

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