Japan food guide

Japan food guide – 15 dishes you need to try

Japan food guide

To most people Japanese food typically means sushi and tempura, but Japanese cuisine is superb and unique, it is definitely something you can’t miss when you visit Japan. Here are some of the most amazing dishes that I tried and how to eat them.

1) Gyoza
Gyoza are the traditional Chinese dumplings but with a tasty Japanese twist, they are very popular and there are lots of restaurants that serve them. The ones that I tried were pan-fried.

"Gyoza

Gyoza

2) Ramen
Ramen consists of Chinese-style wheat noodles served in a soup with meat (usually chicken, beef or pork), boiled egg, seaweed and green onions. Ramen soup is yummy but slightly salty.

Ramen - Japan food guide

Ramen

3) Japanese soba
A dish of noodles made from soba (buckwheat) served with a soy and sugar sauce. Please don’t be a total tourist like me and try to pour the sauce on top of the soba, as a really kind waitress instructed me, you need go one by one, dip it in the sauce and eat it. This dish was served cold.

Japanese soba - Japan food guide

Japanese soba

4) Tonkatsu
This is one of my favourites. Tonkatsu is a pork cutlet dish that is breaded and deep fried served with Tonkatsu sauce and shredded cabbage. If done properly, Tonkatsu will melt in your mouth!

Tonkatsu - Japan food guide

Tonkatsu

5) Yakitori
Yakitori are chicken skewers seasoned with a sweet salt or soy sauce based sauce and barbecued. If you eat them at a specialist restaurant you’ll be able to try pork and vegetable ones too. I had them while I drank a cold beer as most locals did.

Yakitori - Japan food guide

Yakitori

Yakitori restaurant - Japan food guide

Yakitori restaurant

6) Sushi
I am not a big fish fan, but I decided to put it behind me when I visited Japan and I don’t regret it. I had sushi at one of the restaurants at the Tokyo fish market after visiting it early in the morning. I had to queue for 45 minutes but it was completely worth it, every bite was full of flavour and 100% fresh. The restaurants at the fish market are tiny and the chefs make the sushi right in front of you, I was told that the fish they used were alive that same morning, I guess it doesn’t get any fresher than that!

Sushi - Japan food guide

Sushi

Sushi - Japan food guide

Sushi

7) Okonomiyaki
This is the traditional savory Japanese pancake, depending on the region they will taste different and even be layered. They usually have meat, cabbage, green onions and soba noodles, they are served with Japanese mayonnaise and Okonomiyaki sauce. There are some restaurants where you will have to make a part of it yourself, make sure you put the pancake on top of the egg and let it cook for a few minutes until the meat gets golden and use the spatula they give you to cut the pancake into small pieces that you can later pick up with your chopsticks. Don’t be a tourist and try to cut the pancake with your chopsticks as you’ll make a mess and will get nowhere.

Okonomiyaki - Japan food guide

Okonomiyaki (Hiroshima style)

8) Kushikatsu
This is a dish from the Kyoto region (Kansai) where meat and vegetables are put on skewers and fried in batter in a similar way to tonkatsu. As with Yakitori, they taste better with a cold beer.

Kushikatsu - Japan food guide

Kushikatsu

9) Tempura
Tempura is a dish in which seafood and fresh vegetables are dipped in a flour and egg batter and deep fried. I ordered tempura at a restaurant close to mount Fuji and they served soy sauce on the mount Fuji shaped dish you can see below.

Tempura - Japan food guide

Tempura

Tempura - soy sauce dish - Japan food guide

Tempura – Soy sauce dish

10) Takoyaki
These are the famous octopus balls served with a special sauce. You can find stalls that sell them all over Japan.

Takoyaki - Japan food guide

Takoyaki

11) Donburi
It is a bowl of cooked rice with meat, green onions and an omelette on top. There is a wide variety of donburi dishes.

Donburi - Japan food guide

Donburi

12) Shabushabu
They give you a pan of boiling water and vegetables and raw meat on different plates. You need to put all the vegetables inside, and then quickly dip the pieces of meat (one by one) into the boiling water and then in a sesame sauce before you eat them. Once I was done with the meat the waiter brought some soba that I had to boil and I dip in the sesame sauce when cooked. This dish is really tasty and extremely fun to make and eat!

Shabushabu - Japan food guide

Shabushabu

13) Udon
A dish of tick noodles eaten with a sauce made from soy sauce and sugar, they are similar to soba noodles.

Udon - Japan food guide

Udon

14) Kobe beef
Last but not least is my favourite: Kobe beef. Kobe is a region in Japan that is famous for its beef, as I was told when I ate it, Kobe beef is not allowed to be exported outside of Japan, so if you have ever tried it outside Japan it was without a doubt fake. It is the most tender beef that I have tried in my whole life, there are no words to explain what it feels to eat it, so I recommend you go to Japan and taste it!

Kobe beef - Japan food guide

Kobe beef

IMG_9927

Berlin day trip to Sachsenhausen concentration camp

Berlin day trip to Sachsenhausen concentration camp

Gate

Sachsenhausen is worth a trip as it is a complete eye opener. Everyone should visit a concentration camp at least once in their lifetime to understand what the victims went through, no matter how many world war two movies you have seen, visiting a concentration  camp in real live is much more impressive.

There is a really cheap audio guide that you can rent when you get there. It has testimonies of survivors and it accurately explains how life was at the concentration camp.

The concentration camp is open to the public as a museum and a memorial. The entrance, crematory ovens, barracks, prison, infirmary and guard towers are some of the buildings that have survived. Allow a full day to visit the site.

Barracks - Berlin day trip to Sachsenhausen concentration camp

Barrack – Bunk beds

Barracks - Berlin day trip to Sachsenhausen concentration camp

Barrack – Hall

How to get there

Sachsenhausen is in zone C of Berlin’s transport map. Take the train from Friedrichstrasse to Oranienburg station, it takes approximately 45 minutes. From Oranienburg station you can either get a bus or take a 20 minute walk. Check the bus stops outside the train station as they don’t run frequently and depending on what time you get there it could be faster to just walk.

Fence - Berlin day trip to Sachsenhausen concentration camp

Fence

Map - Berlin day trip to Sachsenhausen concentration camp

Map

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The Berlin Wall, three sights you can’t miss

One of Berlin’s most famous highlight is the Berlin Wall (Berliner Mauer in German). The remains of the wall are scattered all over the city, make sure you visit the following segments below to get a gist of what it was like to live in a city that was suddenly cut in half.

1) Gedenkstaette

This is the only place in the whole city where you can see how the wall was setup. The Berlin Wall actually had two walls and in between there was a signal fence that when touched activated an alarm in the watch towers were the border soldiers were stationed.

There is a memorial dedicated to the people that died trying to cross over the border. On the other side of the street there is the Visitor and Documentation Center with a viewing platform from which you can really appreciate what the real Berlin Wall looked like. The entry is absolutely free.

Gedenkstaette - The Berlin Wall, three sights you can't miss

Memorial

Gedenkstaette - The Berlin Wall, three sights you can't miss

View from the platform

There are a few holes in the wall that you can use to take a picture sticking your hand out of the wall.

Gedenkstaette - The Berlin Wall, three sights you can't miss

Gedenkstaette – Wall segment

2) East Side Gallery

This is the most popular sight and it is probably the one that comes to your mind when you think of the Berlin Wall. The east side was the Soviet occupied sector of Berlin and were life was harder. People couldn’t even get  close to the wall without being shot. When the demolition of the wall began in 1990, artists used this wall to really express what freedom really meant to them. The side of the wall that faces the river is full of graffiti, the real gallery is the other side of the wall, the one facing the main road. Surprisingly, the gallery is not properly protected and there is even graffiti on top of the famous murals. There are signs that warn people not to vandalise the murals but sadly this measure is not enough.

East side gallery - The Berlin Wall, three sights you can't miss

Mural

East side gallery

Mural –  Test the rest

East side gallery - The Berlin Wall, three sights you can't miss

Mural

East side gallery - The Berlin Wall, three sights you can't miss

Mural – My god, help me to survive this deadly love

East side gallery - The Berlin Wall, three sights you can't miss

Mural

3) Gestapo & SS Headquarters

There is a long section of the wall at the former site of the Gestapo and SS Headquarters. There is a free outdoor and indoor museum called The Topography of Terror. A visit to this museum is highly recommended.

Topography of terror - The Berlin Wall, three sights you can't miss

Topography of Terror museum

Topography of terror - The Berlin Wall, three sights you can't miss

Topography of Terror – Wall segment

Necropolis
Gallery

Glasgow in August

I went to Glasgow in August and I was impressed by how friendly people were, always willing to give you directions and have a little chitchat. Don’t forget your umbrella and raincoat, doesn’t matter what time of the year you visit Glasgow, this is extremely important in order to have a enjoyable time in Scotland. Also bear in mind that all shops close really early on weekdays!

I visited the city centre, gallery of modern art, Glasgow cathedral and necropolis (which I absolutely loved, make sure you don’t miss it!), Glasgow university, Kelvingrove park and art gallery, the exhibition centre and science museum.

St George's square

St George’s square

Gallery of modern art

Gallery of modern art

Cathedral

Cathedral

Necropolis

Necropolis

Glasgow university

Glasgow university

Kelvingrove art gallery and museum

Kelvingrove art gallery and museum

Exhibition centre

Exhibition centre

Science museum

Science museum

Spiaggia della Pelosa
Gallery

Sardinian beaches

In our trip to Sardinia in early June we took advantage of the low season and great weather to make it our first beach holiday destination.

We rented a car in Cagliari and we drove all around the island in 10 days, we enjoyed every bit of it. Sardinia’s beaches are spotless, with crystal clear waters and not an inch of rubbish, the people are very polite and respectful, which was exactly what we were looking for to be able to relax and make the most out of it.

Here are a few pictures from our trip, we are definitely going back, so if you have any suggestions feel free to share your experiences!

Is Arutas

Is Arutas

Spiaggia della Pelosa

Spiaggia della Pelosa

Spiaggia della Pelosa

Spiaggia della Pelosa

Spiaggia del Principe

Spiaggia del Principe

Spiaggia del Principe

Spiaggia del Principe

Arcipelago di la Maddalena

Arcipelago di la Maddalena

Arcipelago di la Maddalena

Arcipelago di la Maddalena

Cala Brandinchi

Cala Brandinchi

Cala Goloritze

Cala Goloritze

These two websites helped us plan our trip: Top 10 Sardinian beaches for low budget holidays and the most beautiful Sardinian beaches