Yokohama 2017 diary, Day 3

Wednesday, 22 February, 2017

I got up a bit after 07:00 again. I didn’t have breakfast already, so I just showered and got dressed and checked online stuff and then did some stretching exercises until 08:30. The day was bright and sunny, and looking out of the window I noticed that I could see Mount Fuji in the distance, beyond the towers of Queen’s Square, looking majestic with a large cone of snow on top.

Snow cone
Mount Fuji from my hotel room

I walked out to the convenience store to buy some food and head straight to the meeting rooms. The store was busy at this time, and I browsed the offerings, tempted by a tortilla wrap with ham and salad in it. I grabbed that plus one salmon sushi rice snack, and went out to find a secluded sunny spot to eat them. It turned out the ham wrap had cream cheese on it, which has a texture I don’t like, so I didn’t enjoy that very much. Tomorrow I’ll stick with the sushi rice snacks I think.

The meetings today went fairly smoothly. It was a full day of technical discussion without all the formal preliminaries, so it was pretty full on, though we got through a lot of the items a bit quicker than scheduled so had plenty of breaks.

Making okonomiyaki

For lunch, Margaret wanted to try okonomiyaki, at a place we’d seen yesterday near the sushi place in the MARK IS shopping centre. We headed there with Ari, and Jonathan joined us there soon after we arrived. We ordered one of the okonomiyaki each from the picture menu, picking different looking combinations of meats or seafood. One was pictured with chopped green onions and a soft poached egg on top. The table had a large rectangular hotplate in the middle, and the waitress brought the ingredients for us to cook our own okonomiyaki. I was prepared for this, having had okonomiyaki before, but this was a new experience for the others. So I had to take the lead and show them how to do it, which was made slightly easier by the laminated instruction sheet with cartoon diagrams.

Cooking okonomiyaki
Decorating the mayonnaise

First I cooked the prawns and other seafood bits that came with mine, then mixed the dough and vegetables in the supplied bowl with a wooden spoon, then collected the cooked meat with the two steel spatulas and mixed that through the dough, and dumped the lot onto the hotplate to cook into a thick pancake like mass. The instruction sheet said the pancake had to be 14 cm in diameter, and provided a ruler along the edge of the sheet to make sure. It also said to cook both sides for 4 minutes each, and there were two 4 minute sand timers on the table to assist with this. When my okonomiyaki was done, I topped it with the thick brown barbecue-like sauce, then a lattice of mayonnaise, and finally bonito flakes from a box on the table. Then I cut it into four pieces with the spatulas and served each of us a quarter.

Completed okonomiyaki

Seeing how it was done, the others all cooked theirs, in a staggered sequence so we could eat each one as it was finished. Jonathan was last, but did the best job with the mayonnaise, making a spider web pattern instead of a square lattice, and using a chopstick to drag through it to make it look really good. With four quarters down we had a whole okonomiyaki each, which seemed to be enough of that, but we stopped by the Baskin Robbins nearby to get a cup of ice cream each on the way back to the meeting. I chose a chocolate cheesecake flavour, which was pretty good.

After the afternoon technical sessions, Margaret arranged a meet up for dinner at the shabu shabu place where we’d had dinner once last year, over in the World Porters shopping centre. It was just three of us this time, with Ed joining me and Margaret. She and I thought we knew exactly what we were doing, but the restaurant seemed to have changed slightly from last year. As well as the meat bought by the tray and the all you can eat vegetables, there were add ons for all you can drink soft drinks and cheap alcohol, though the expensive alcohol was extra, and the whole lot came with a plate of sushi as well, which seemed a bit odd. The waitress also told us there was a 90 minute time limit, presumably so we didn’t sit there all night eating vegetables, which we didn’t remember from last time.

Shabu shabu ingredients at Syabu-yo

We also chose two different broths to cook our stuff in, a plain one and a spicy one, from the menu of half a dozen options. We loaded them up with veges and then Margaret and I demonstrated to Ed how to cook the thin slices of meat and dip them in the sauces we’d mixed ourselves from the dozen or so ingredients available at the serve yourself bar. We went back for more veges, and some salad, and to get our included sushi. This was done by queueing and selecting four pieces from a menu of about ten options, which a sushi chef then assembled. This wasn’t a dedicated sushi chef, as he had a machine making the rice blocks for him, and there were piles of pre-sliced fish and stuff in front of him. It was okay, but definitely not as good as the sushi from the lunch place yesterday.

Monkey after shabu shabu
The end of the meal

The 90 minute limit was not a problem, as we were pretty full by an hour in, and then we went to the dessert bar for some soft serve ice cream and various fixings. I added some white balls which turned out to be mochi, and some chocolate sprinkles. The ice cream was milky and icy, not really creamy at all, so rather disappointing.

However, after we left the shabu shabu place we went down to the ground floor where there was an array of dessert places. Here I got one of the Melon-Pan ice cream burger things on a hot bun fresh out of the oven that I’d had last year. I really enjoyed it then, and this was my last chance to get one here. I chose the chocolate ice cream. The bun was really hot, and would have burnt my fingers if I’d held it in one position long enough. But the ice cream is remarkably insulating and doesn’t melt much as you eat it, mixing the hot and cold sensations in your mouth.

Ice cream bun
Melon-Pan ice cream

We walked back to the hotel in the cold night air. The day had been very cold and the night was even colder. We said goodnight and retired to our respective rooms until tomorrow.

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