Tokyo, a City Made for the Ultimate Foodie.

Written by: @cazadordelomejor

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Japan is the ultimate foodie experience. Being one of the biggest food-experience seekers there is, I knew my next big trip had to be somewhere far, somewhere different and somewhere with a strong food culture. One step into Narita International Airport and I was already dreaming of what I’d be having for breakfast, lunch and dinner.

 Tokyo is a city with a huge food palette. You can scour the various neighborhoods and alleyways for the tastiest Ramen, Yakitori, Izakaya, Sushi, Tempura, Udon, Okonomiyaki, and Soba. You’ll find that many restaurants specialize on only one type of dish – it’s perfected from generation to generation.

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 Here is my breakdown of Tokyo’s six main districts and the food that can be devoured in each:

 Tsukiji & Ginza

 Home to the renowned Tsukiji Fish Market, you cannot leave this area without enjoying a traditional sushi omakase at Sushi Daiwa. This hole in the wall sushi joint opens up at 5:30 AM, get there early to get a seat. Then head to the inner market at Tsukiji which opens up to the public at 10:00 AM and navigate the enormous halls of the biggest seafood market in the world.

Highlights:

Sushi Omakase at Sushi Daiwa

Lunch menu at Sushi Tokami

Tori Paitan with an Egg at Kagari Soba

Japanese Confectionaries at Higashiya

House Blend at Cafe de L’Ambre

Seasonal Cocktail at Ginza Music Bar

Yakitori at BirdLand

Harajuku & Aoyama

Bursting with restaurants, coffee spots, shops, boutiques and vintage stores, it is one of the best neighborhoods to get your shopping and eating game on. Stroll along Omotesandō Street and see shops converted into architectural destinations. There’s something special about Aoyama that kept me going back every other day – to sample a dessert at the newly renovated Pierre Hermé, try out the Mr. Roboto pastry sold exclusively at Dominique Ansel Bakery in Japan, or enjoy a cold brew at Blue Bottle.

Highlights:

Order the entire menu at Harajuku Gyoza (a few doors down from Harajuku Gyoza is a small takeout window serving one of the best Chicken Karaage I’ve ever tried)

Raspberry-Rose Madeleine at Pierre Hermé

Mr. Roboto and a Seasonal Cronut at Dominique Ansel Bakery Japan

Salmon-Avocado Pancakes at Rainbow Pancake

Cold Brew at Blue Bottle Coffee

Asakusa

A calm neighborhood where Buddhist temples are nestled between streets full of tempura restaurants. Its main attraction is the Senso-Ji Buddhist temple, an architectural beauty that is best to be visited when there is absolutely no one around, early in the morning or right at sundown to snap some National Geographic worthy shots.

Shinjuku

Exactly what you imagine Tokyo to be. Tall skyscrapers, colorful billboards, enormous crosswalks, and futuristic department stores with incredible underground food halls (Depachika) that must be visited. One of the highlights of my trip was drinks and live jazz at the New York Bar, high above Tokyo. Get a table right in front of the stage to create an unforgettable experience. A contrasting part of Shinjuku that makes it so special is Golden Gai, a small and cozy nightlife district where you’ll stumble across tiny bars, each with its own charm.

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Highlights:

Albatross Bar

New York Bar, Park Hyatt Hotel

Isetan Depachika

 Close by:

Cocktail Omakase at Gen Yamamoto (Minato Area)

Multi-Course menu at Narisawa (Minato Area)

Tsukemen at Rokurinsha (Tokyo Station)

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A trip to Japan involves a lot of eating, walking, discovering, interacting with locals (they love foreigners), and will leave you wanting to move there as soon as possible, or at least that’s what happened to me. If you’re flying out of Narita, don’t forget to grab a farewell sushi at Kyotatsu.

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Tips for first-time travelers to Japan:

 

  • Pocket Concierge is a great platform that will help you secure reservations for Michelin starred restaurants
  • Be sure to pick up a Suica Transit Card upon arrival at the airport to navigate local public transit
  • If you plan on travelling outside of Tokyo, be sure to purchase a Japan Railway Pass, it provides bullet train transportation at a great price
  • Pocket Wi-Fi is a necessity in order to use Google maps and make navigating around Japan easy, these can be rented at the airport

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Follow along on my food experiences @cazadordelomejor on Instagram – Boston is up next!

Buenos Aires Guide: Best Places to Eat

by: Maria Jose Noboa (cookie connoisseur)

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Buenos Aires is one of those cities that you should visit more than once, because there are always new things to discover and experience. Even though is very famous for the quality of it’s meats, and the “asados” are the stars of the show, this city offers a wide variety of restaurants of local an international cuisine.

Buenos Aires from it’s beginnings a has received a wide variety of immigrants specially from Europe, which has definitely influenced the restaurant scene.

 

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If you have visited Buenos Aires already, you know this city never sleeps. There is always something going on no matter the time of the day or the day of the week. There are  always lots of people on the streets, forming lines outside of night clubs, restaurants and bars are opened early and closed late. Huge libraries you can get lost on, amazing museums and cultural activities, all year long, avenues filled with people, as well as theaters and cinemas. Parks, concerts every week and of course dogs, and more dogs everywhere. Dog walking is an institution here.

This unstoppable and permanent activity is also seen at the restaurant scene, bars, cafeterias, bakeries, there is one in each corner.

Here is a list of places that I highly recommend for you.  All of them visited during my last visit to this amazing city.

Breakfast/Brunch in Buenos Aires:

  • Confiterías La Argentina: “Facturas” (some sort of croissant) filled with butter cream, dulce de leche, jam. Enjoy them with coffee or tea (Cabildo 1191, Belgrano)
  • Retamas Pâtisserie: Very cozzy place also great to enjoy plain or dulce de leche filled croissants (Arcos 1717, Belgrano)
  • Tea Connection: Delicious food and beverages, made with fresh and prganic ingredients. Wide variety of teas to enjoy here or to go. My favorite dish was the Salmon Bagel. (Av. Federico Lacroze 2233, Belgrano)
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  • Ninina Bakery: This was my favorite place this time visiting Buenos Aires.  The menu offers breakfast, brunch, lunch, tea and dinner.  Family recipes made out of lots of fresh ingredients. The place is beautifully decorated, has an open kitchen, a display filled with dreamy desserts. The most famous cake is called Lola Mora, and has almonds, chocolate ganache and raspberries. Not to be missed!  (Gorriti 4738, Palermo)
  • Oui Oui: Great open space for breakfast or brunch. French menu with specialties like Croque Madame, wafles and eggs benedict.  (Nicaragua 6068, Palermo)Processed with VSCO with c2 preset
  • LAB: For the coffee aficionado, the best coffee in town, but the cookies are to die for: Chocolate Chip or White Chocolate and Raspeberries. The also offer barista classes there.(Humboldt 1542, Palermo)
  • Mooi: By chef Jessica Lekerman and very trendy this days.  You can have their pastries to go too. (Av. Libertador 3883. Paseo de la Infanta Local 11, Palermo)Hora del Té en Buenos Aires:
  •  Alvear Palace Hotel:  A real luxurious experience  is the afternoon Tea del Alvear Palace es The dessert menu is huge. Unlimited prosseco.  Delicious sandwiches. It’s all served at “L’Orangerie”  room.  (Ayacucho y la Avenida Alvear, Recoleta)Processed with VSCOcam with c1 presetProcessed with VSCOcam with c1 preset

    Lunch/Diner in Buenos Aires:

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    La Cabrera: Extraordinary argentinean grill. Reservations suggested(Cabrera 5099, Palermo)

  • Fukuro Noodle Bar: Steamed Dumplings and Buns, Ramen and Beer. Dishes are meant to be shared.  For dessert try the popsicles.  (Costa Rica 5514, Palermo) (Cash only)

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About Heroes and Cheesecake.

According to the dictionary a hero is a person who is admired or idealized for courage, outstanding achievement or nobel qualities. To my mind come, firemen, soldiers, Batman, martyrs, Ghandi.

I don’t entirely agree with that definition. I mean, I recognize those are heroes, but feel that many others are excluded, I call them “everyday heroes”. Semantics and editorial dictatorship is one of the perks of owning a blog.

These everyday heroes will never have streets named after them, nor statues. Legends won’t surround them. They probably don’t recognize themselves as heroic either. But for me they are. Neither perfect, nor saints. I haven’t romanticized their existences ( I do that sometimes) they are flesh and bone, but in my dictionary they do hazardous and extraordinary things every day; they follow their dreams. Even if those dreams sound wild or absurd to others. Most of the time they triumph – even though that isn’t a requirement to be considered heroic by me– they go the extra mile and sacrifice, but mostly they perform ordinary activities with extraordinary love, as Mother Theresa said.

Foolish dreams deserve so much respect.  “I dream about been a professional diver” “Ice Cream Salesman” “Ride my bike around the world” “Give a rock concert”. People apologyze about having them, breaks my heart. Even I have apologyzed about mine. So many unnecessary explanations…

When your dream is becoming famous or a millionaire everybody agrees. But saying out loud: “I want to be a Yoga Teacher; ride a hot air balloon around the world, bake the BEST cheesecake ever” takes a lot of courage. Sometimes the wildest dream is just to look yourself in the mirror with acceptance and compassion.

Joseph Higgs  is one of this dreamers.  After graduating in USA he went back to Providenciales and announced his family he wanted to bake the best cheesecake of the world… Not exactly, but almost.  He came back to the island and got a job at the Power Plant, but started dedicating his free time to his passion: baking.

He tells me how much he wanted to try and bake a good cheesecake. After doing lots of research he baked his first one around one year and a half ago, the reaction of families and friends was extraordinary. “My family would go straight to my fridge to try new cheesecake flavors after that.” It was them who convinced him to offer the cheesecakes for sale for Valentines day (2015). The orders never stopped.

When I ask him to give advice to other dreamers he says: “HARD WORK, be willing to sacrifice a lot” In his case the sacrifice has involved time and money, but he doesn’t want to stop until his dessert are famous worldwide.  He continues with advice: “Keep setting goals even after accomplishing one.
There will be many people who will not understand what it is that you’re trying to accomplish, but that’s okay, what’s in your heart and mind to do, can’t be hindered by anything.”

Among the succes he has had this past year are many things like being  featured on Turks and Caicos Mag and offered to sell his cheesecakes on the biggest supermarket chain on the island. But certainly the most important is being a wonderful example for his two years old son Nathan– he is the reason behind the name of the bakery-.

If you go to Turks and Caicos please try  Nathan’s Cheesecakes at any of the following locations: KayJos Restaurant, The Caravel Restaurant- Grace Bay, Danny Buoys- Grace Bay, Chopsticks- Grace Bay, Tongue & Groove Cafe’ (located at the do it center) Leeward Highway. In the meanwhile enjoy his pictures at @nathanscheesecakes

Austin for Foodies by @andreanuu

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Austin has become a foodie town, with lots of new places opening every month and great food you can only compare with bigger cities like New York City or LA.

Peter Jon Lindberg, on an article for Travel and Leisure, described Austin as the nation’s second-fastest-growing city with 164 people moving to Austin every day. I was one of them!

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Last year I had the pleasure to live in Austin for seven months. My husband got a super job there so we had to take that opportunity. I’ve always been a fan of food (specially tacos!), so it was like a dream come true to get to live in a city where you can have tacos for breakfast.

I currently don’t live in Austin anymore (Hello,Chicago), so this post is to showcase some of my favorite restaurants I visited in Bat City (surprise, surprise: no bbq places in this post!)

UCHI – Japanese food

The best Japanese food I’ve tried in the U.S.

I visited this place one week before I moved to Chicago and from the beginning it became a favorite. I ordered the uchiviche (salmon-striped bass-tomato-bell pepper), the machi cure (smoked yellowtail-yucca crips-marcona almond and Asian pear), among other cool and hot tastings. Great and fresh taste, with beautiful presentations in each plate.

No wonder Uchi took the no. 4 spot in the USA in a roundup of the best fine dining restaurants for TripAdvisor’s annual Traveler’s Choice Awards.

Don’t forget to make a reservation in advance, this place is always packed!

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VOX TABLE – American Style food

 It’s become a brunch favorite for the weekends.

They opened last year so they’re still kind of new in the Austin restaurant scene.

What I love of Vox Table is the creative way of mixing flavors and the very cool vibe of their staff as well. The potato churros and olive oil pancakes are a must-try.

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VERACRUZ ALL NATURAL

 And now, my favorite part of this post: TACOS!

This food truck/taco trailer is a traditional spot in Austin. While other trailers don’t have seats or space to eat, At Veracruz, you can enjoy your taco, seating with umbrellas and have a good time. They make their own tortillas and salsas, so you can experience a fresh, tasty and delicious taco.

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EL ALMA

Brunch and tacos? El Alma, of course.

This Mexican spot owned by Chef Alma Alcocer is one of Austin’s top restaurants.

El Alma is a place where you will want to order everything and repeat it every day.

The restaurant was built into a cliff so be sure to choose a rooftop seating to enjoy your meal with the amazing view of the Austin city skyline.

Also, take a risk and order the Tamaringindo (Gin-mezcal-agua de tamarindo). Salud!

QUI – Fusion

 If you are a Top Chef fan, you know Paul Qui.

This awarded chef, opened his first-solo restaurant in 2013, with three concepts in one place: a seven-course set menu (it’s pricey but worth the experience), a patio bar and a private 20 course tasting room.

Each course is an unique experience with the help of their staff and the passion they put into every detail to create a beautiful atmosphere. They change the menu so often, but If you are lucky and have the fried chicken, you will feel in heaven.

PERLA’S

Seafood lovers, this is your place.

It’s a lovely place to enjoy good food in the summer (their patio is fabulous) or inside in an intimate atmosphere.

Their menu has a great selection of fresh oysters but in my opinion the grilled octopus is a scene stealer. if you are here for brunch, don’t hesitate and order for the crab Florentine (English Muffin, Poached Eggs, Lump Crab, Griddled Tomato, Lemon Spinach, Hollandais).

GEMELLI’S

It is a perfect spot for a sunny afternoon on the east side of town (and date night!). I was treated with amazing flavors like the Vietnamese coffee gelato. It was a superb experience. You can also order alcohol drinks to mix it with the gelato (the negronis are from another world, exquisite craft cocktails)

 

There are more places I visited in Austin (that I loved and repeated every week) worth checking out. You can follow me on instagram @andreanuu for more Austin food experiences!

New Restaurants in Miami for 2016

  1. Bachour Bakery & Bistro

By Chef Antonio Bachour whose creations are gorgeous compositions of color and form, and best of all, they’re delicious. The pastry genius, along with Henry Hane, is opening a 40-seat bistro and bakery at 600 Brickell Ave., featuring breakfast and lunch offerings. Of course, the chef’s impeccable pastries will be showcased. Once the eatery opens, Miami could very well experience its own Dominique Ansel-like lines and frenzy for Bachour’s edible works.

  1. Alinea Pop-Up

The bad news is this amazing restaurant is not opening permanently in Miami, but this three-Michelin-starred restaurant by Grant Achatz and Nic Kokonas is popping up at the Faena Hotel Miami Beach. Alinea’s unique dining experience will be available from February 17 and continuing through March 13. The dinners are already sold out, but Alinea is accepting names for a wait list. Visit alineamiami.tocktix.com. for reservations.

3. Trust & Co.

By Chef Jerry Flynn this will be a chef-driven restaurant in Coral Gables that will offer craft cocktails. Located in the former Azucar Cuban Cuisine space (2 Aragon Ave.), will feature a menu of local produce, seafood, and proteins in an industrial-chic setting. The cuisine is described as “diverse American” with Latin, French, and Italian influences. Trust & Co. is expected to open shortly.

 

 

  1. Sullivan St. Bakery

James Beard Award nominee Jim Lahey is planning a commercial and retail bakery at 5550-5570 NE Fourth Ave. in Little Haiti. The 4,000-square-foot location will first house a wholesale business and eventually expand to retail. Lahey’s New York City operation supplies bread to about 250 restaurants. The baking chef has had his sights set on Miami for more than two decades, and now that he’s found a space, he’s not in any rush. “It’ll take us about six months to get into the groove with people. It’s a different labor market in terms of where people come from.” Don’t expect to enjoy Lahey’s famed bread in Miami in the immediate future. Pressed for a completion date of his new bakery, Lahey simply said, “It’s still TBD.”

 

  1. Quinto La Huella

This one has me anxiously waiting. Uruguay’s Parador La Huella is the most lauded restaurant in that country. Latin America’s 50 Best Restaurants calls it a “breezy seaside grill, whose high-end beach shack appearance speaks of lazy lounging and barefoot walks along the sand.” Now the owners — Gustavo Barbero, Martin Pittaluga, and Guzman Artagaveytia — are bringing their high-end beach shack to the East Miami Hotel at Brickell City Centre. The restaurant, along with a rooftop bar, Sugar, was originally scheduled for a winter 2015 opening, but the hotel’s website takes reservations beginning May 1.

 

  1. Ariete

Will come to in mid January to Coconut Grove and join the great dining establishments of the neighborhood.. What makes this one special is the chef behind it. Michael Beltran, the former sous-chef at the Cypress Room, has worked alongside Miami’s culinary elite of Michael Schwartz and Hedy Goldsmith. The chef will serve family-oriented food, mostly prepared in the restaurant’s wood grill..

  1. Komodo

Opened its doors December 2015 at 801 Brickell Avenue. Behind the concept is the man responsible for mega-nightclubs LIV and Story,  David Grutman, along with Jeffrey Chodorow , who’s best known locally with his work with China Grill management. The menu is self-described as “Asian cuisine designed to take guests on a culinary journey of the Marco Polo trail.” The highlights are peking duck, dim sum, and the tuna dishes.  The restaurant is now open nightly for happy hour and dinner. For more information call 305-534-2211.