Hida Beef

Everywhere you go in Takayama there is the delicious smell of grilled beef. This is not surprising as it is the home of Japan’s Hida Beef.

“Hida-gyu” (Hida Beef) is the specific name given to beef from a black-haired Japanese cattle breed, that has been raised in Gifu Prefecture for at least 14 months. Hida-gyu is required to have been confirmed and certified as Yield Score of Grade A or B by the Hida Beef Brand Promotion Conference, and have a Firmness and Texture Grade of 5, 4 or 3 as graded by the Japan Meat Grading Association. (http://www.hida.jp)

After tasting some beef on a skewer this afternoon, we had to try it for real. We found this amazing restaurant that rates 6 in the whole of Takayama on TripAdvisor. The restaurant is called Maruaki. 

The idea is you chose your meat and then grill it on the hot plate in front of you (similar to Korean BBQ, but with much better quality meat). 

We choose a mixed plate of meat and vegetables, a bowl of bibimbap type rice and beef cooked on a magnolia leaf. The rice dish and the magnolia leaf came on their own separate burners while we were required to cook the beef and vegetable plate ourselves. 

Our Meat Plate

Beef on Magnolia Leaf

Bibimbap Rice

Finished, cooked rice

The meat is absolutely beautiful with the really nice marbeling and gorgeous red colour.

A close up of the Hida beef

We grilled the meat with a sprinkling of salt.

Grilling our meat and vegetables

Everyone describes the meat as melt-in-the-mouth and truly there is no better description. It cut like butter and just seemed to dissolve on your tongue.

Cooked Hida Beef

John eating the Hida beef and the magnolia leaf beef

We decided we had not had enough beef between these three dishes so after they were gone we ordered another plate of lean, Hida beef.

Our dessert

We were rather sad when the meal was finished but so glad we had opted for this tonight, also nicely enough the bill wasn’t as crazy as we had anticipated! 

If you find yourself in Takayama or Hida beef country, this restaurant is definitely recommeded. 

Hida Cow Steamed Buns

Not being huge fans of baozi (steamed bun) in China we were a little bit reluctant to try these but as they contain this amazing beef we thought we should give them a go. 

There were a few different choices; Hida beef, Hida cheese, green pickles and pumpkin. We went for the Hida beef.

They were pretty good. The filling consisted of the tender beef, onions and some vegetables. I may be more forgiving of steamed buns in future.

Korean BBQ in Korea!

We love Korean BBQ, even though it is a relatively new addition to our meals out, and were quite excited about trying the real thing in Seoul.

There was a road near our hotel that was full of chicken and beer restaurants and BBQ places so one lunch time as an escape from the rain we took the plunge. 

Luckily as we have eaten Korean before we had an idea of what to do and ordered two different meats from the menu – beef ribs and beef cuts. The waitress brought out the selection of vegetables, sauces and best of all fresh kimchi. These are my favourite bits.

The bowl of raw onions was a new addition and tasted quite good.

When we have had Korean BBQ in China they tend to cook the meat for you with each table allocated a ‘cook’ but in Seoul we were left up to our own devices. John was in charge of cooking first and added one plate of beef along with onions and garlic. 

I look thoroughly impressed by his skills!

This was definitely an improvement on China with the freshness of the kimchi and the other ingredients. I am definitely still a fan of Korean BBQ in any country!

Cheap, amazing Michelin star sardines at Nakajima!

We had read about this great, little Michelin starred restaurant on TripAdvisor and we’re excited about the prospect of high quality food for such a low price. So on our second day in Tokyo we aimed to have lunch there. It was easy enough to find, with help from Google maps and photos online. It is down a set of stairs hidden away behind a wall.

The restaurant has only four options – sashimi sardines, breaded and fried sardines, grilled sardines and grilled sardines in steamed egg. We went for the first three, not liking the sound of the steamed egg too much.

The sardines come with soup, rice and some pickled vegetables. 

We were sat at the bar, which gave us a great view of the chefs at work. By this point I was very excited as I love fish and particularly sardines. This photo is of the chef preparing our sardine sashimi, which we ate with ginger and soy.

Below are our grilled and fried sardines. All three dishes were amazing, and well worth the visit. They were cooked really well and the flavours were delicious. 

The restaurant is well worth a visit and we will try to return next time we are in Tokyo! 


Our first bibimbap in Korea! It was in a lovely restaurant near the N Seoul Tower.The restaurant is particularly beautiful as it is set in an old style house on the side of the hill.


We both opted for the beef bibimbap, which looked delicious without adding anything to it.


Bibimbap comes with a selection of pickles and vegetables to mix into the rice. After watching others around the restaurant we went ahead and put all our vegetables into the bowl with the beef and rice. Once the chilli sauce has been added, all that is left is to mix it all together.



The colours and flavours looked great in the special metal bowl. 

The last bit to add was the kimchi. Some people around the restaurant added it all in others ate it alongside the rice. I chose to mix it all on with the other ingredients.


The food was really good and the flavours went together so well with different textures and the spice from the chilli sauce.

Chinatown – Singapore







Even though our favourite food in Singapore is by far the variety of Indian food available, we wanted to try out the different Chinese food the city has to offer. After a walk through the rain and an expensive couple of drinks we made it to Chinatown and the seemingly endless row of steaming food stalls.

G & T under a black light!



Chinatown is Singapore’s traditional Chinese quarters and whilst the entire city of Singapore is largely Chinese, the area still retains some of its original charm. This particular area has lots of older style buildings with food stalls running down the centre. We walked past all the food stalls at first trying to decide what to eat from the huge selection of Chinese and Asian delights.

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Chinatown Food Street


Once we had found a table as were well stocked with Tiger beer we set off to make our selections. I really wanted to try the stir-fried noodles from this stall. I watched him cooking the food in this huge pan adding different vegetables, sauces and meat to the noodles.

Stir-frying my chicken noodles



Adding some bean sprouts and the meat



The end result was a delicious plate of fried chicken noodles and pork fried rice. They were both very good and made all the better with the hot chilli paste we added to the mix.

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Chicken Noodles



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Pork Fried Rice





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Spicy chilli paste


John went off exploring next and returned with some very nice satay skewers alongside a peanut, spicy sauce. He got us a selection of beef and chicken skewers and both were very tasty – it was just a shame there wasn’t more meat on each! These went particularly well with our cold glasses of Tiger! Nothing will come before Singapore’s Indian food for me but this meal made a nice change.

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Satay skewers and peanut sauce


Last evening in Singapore

Our last night in Singapore is always a sad one but we try to ensure we stock up on enough food to keep us going till next time! That final meal at the Tekka centre had to include another delicious biryani. This time with mutton and poppadoms to scoop up the fragrant rice. The colours of the food definitely add that extra something; the bright orange pickles, the rich shiny curry sauce and the golden yellow of the rice.

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At John’s request and to supplement our biryani we selected a few dishes from ‘Dean’s Nav Tandoor’. We have also visited here a few times and love their range of snacks, breads and of course their Tandoori Chicken. John’s first choice was this spicy green bean dish. Being a massive fan of green beans and chilli this was always going to go down well. It is a mix of spices, chilli, green beans, cauliflower and green peppers. It is a very good compliment to the biryani.


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The second dish John chose was of course Dean’s Tandoori Chicken. The smokey pieces of chicken are well flavoured and remain moist and succulent after being cooked. This is another dish that has bold, beautiful colours – the bright red and oranges. The chicken is served with a fresh onion and cucumber salad with a green chutney. I loved the smokey rich flavour of the chicken and it pairs so well with the sharp, fresh onion. This was definitely a last Tekka Centre feast!



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Singapore River Safari

What to do on a hot afternoon in Singapore? Having been to Singapore a couple of times we found we had seen the sights and followed the tours around the city. We came across a leaflet advertising the Singapore River Safari and its resident Pandas. We are huge fans of pandas and as John has not seen a real panda before we had to visit. We managed to catch the bus finally; after following the bus the entire way around a mall! It was an interesting walk around the safari with some interesting displays and collections of animals. We were more excited to meet this fine chap here. Life looks so easy being as a panda!












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After the excitement of seeing the pandas we felt the need to stop for refreshments. John selected two fine snacks which you can see below: fried chicken pieces and wontons. They were surprisingly nice for a zoo. Best thing about about this snack was the full range of condiments you could add to your meal. We tried soy sauce with chillies as a dipping sauce for the chicken.

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The wonton were cooked well and came with a spicy soy sauce. They were also a surprising find in a theme park. The best part of the visit had to be the coffees with the panda design on top!

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