Ramen alley, Sapporo beer garden and more Japan food spots | Lifestyle.INQ

OCTOBER 27, 2022

Scallops Ramen
Scallops Ramen


I have always dreamed of going to Japan to experience firsthand its famed cuisine and culture.

Three years ago, Fuji TV launched a project to promote unknown places in Japan. And, like winning the sweepstakes, my own show, “Foodprints,” (SkyCable’s Lifestyle channel, Mondays, 8 p.m.) was chosen by Fuji TV to tour Japan and introduce to the Philippines not only great food places, but also its culture and people, little-known destinations including convenience stores.

Fuji TV execs, who were happy with our output, invited us again. This time, we partnered with the Japan Travel Board (JTB) which has an office in Manila.

JTB asked me to lead a culinary tour of the places we featured in “Foodprints.” Last March, we kicked off a tour of Fukuoka-Hiroshima-Osaka.

The tour, composed of a group of 30 foodies, was an experience of a lifetime. Though we were strangers to each other, our common denominator was we love to eat.

Michelin-star ramen place

Just last week, we proceeded to do a second culinary tour of Hokkaido. Flying from Manila to Tokyo, we landed in Hokkaido in the evening, dropped our bags in the hotel and were off to Ramen alley.

Among the stalls was one where Anthony Bourdain had eaten, but most of us lined up at I Chi Cura, the only Michelin-star ramen place in this food alley.

I had a Scallop Ramen, which was new and delicious. Louis Chan and his family ordered practically everything and made me try the dishes.

We also visited the Lavander fields and the Nikka single malt factory where we sampled some products, and the Kikkoman factory where we learned the process of making this important ingredient in Japanese cuisine. We also did some cherry-picking.

Lunch was at the Furano Wine house, where we had a melt-in-your-mouth beef stew in red wine. Yummy!

The Sapporo wholesale market sold giant Alaskan king crabs, huge hairy crabs, among other seafood. We had fresh grilled mackerel, which was oily, the skin crunchy, and best enjoyed with sticky hot Japanese rice.

The Sapporo beer garden drew people for its unlimited grilled pork, chicken and lamb with tasty dipping sauce. We all left happy and full.

We likewise had a sushi meal, as well as pork shabu-shabu, a delicious tonkatsu of a higher-grade pork than what we were used to in Manila. With a little dab of spicy Japanese mustard and dipped in the Kushi Katsu sauce or Japanese barbecue sauce, the tonkatsu was memorable. It was crunchy and tasty with outstanding sticky hot Japanese rice.

Spain, Vietnam

Through “Foodprints,” I experienced food adventures not only in Japan, but also in Spain, Vietnam and Thailand.

I also have a cooking show called “Casa Daza,” and a restaurant called Wooden Spoon. Now, tell me, who else can bless you with something you love doing and get paid for it?

Happy eating!

My next culinary tour will be on Nov. 5-10 in Fukuoka and Hiroshima.

Follow the columnist: sandydaza.blogspot.com; Twitter @sandydaza

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