Wednesday, 29 August 2012

Iron Chef, Dinosaurs and old friends showing their age.

31 July.

Quite a bit to do today.  Once I managed to get motivated we headed off to Landmark Tower in Yokohama for a Dinosaur exhibition.  We started out kind of late and so by the time we got to Yokohama it was time for lunch. 





It would appear however that our start was deliberately late as lunch provided me with a nice little surprise!  We were going to have lunch at Kenichi Chen’s restaurant.  Chen was the Chinese Iron Chef from the cool TV show Iron Chef (the Japanese one) and my personal favourite Chef.  It’s a shame that Iron Chef didn’t make it with the Australian series, but I can see why.  Although the Chairman Kaga stand in did a good job.  The Chefs were pretty disappointing.   I think they should have focussed more on Kaga (Chairman? I can’t remember what they called him) and his quest for delicious food, as opposed to the chefs themselves.  On a personal note, I find Guy Grossi (with his chipmunk cheeks) and Neil Perry irritating characters…  Oh and the host was Grant Denyer too!  That little jockey wiener really irritates me and if he is anywhere within sight of a program an instant channel changer.  So I guess the failure of Iron Chef was guaranteed from the start.

Getting over my hatred of Australian TV though, we made our way into Chen’s restaurant (sadly no Chen, he has many of these now) and had a look at the  Menu.  They had a lunch and dinner menu, but because it was lunch, only lunch was available.  Funny that.

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And that’s what the Lunch menu looked like.  Chen’s smiling face, so happy to see you.


Of course, Chen was most renowned for making Mabodofu, a pork, tofu and chili stew of sorts and that is what the menu mostly consists of.


Luckily you can choose the level of spicyness to your dish and I had the better half telling me that all the people that she had known of going to this place found the ‘normal’ level of spice to be really hot.  I enjoy spicy foods and not having had much experience with mongolian spice, decided to err on the side of caution and went for the ‘normal’ mabodofu.  The better half went with not spicy at all.

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Spicy on the left, not on the right. 

My spicy one ended up being just a little bit spicy, I could have definitely gone for the next level up, and I suspect the hottest wouldn't have been too unbearable.  The not spicy one was not all that tasty to me, although the better half quite enjoyed it.  So in the end, it was very nice food.  I would definitely say that if you are fond of spicy food, then don’t be afraid to try the hotter versions, but the normal one was very tasty.  Even the not spicy one was good for those of weaker, er, constitutions.

The outside of the restaurant has a lit up picture of Chen, welcoming you to his restaurant.  and the outside looks a little plain (to be brutally honest).  I guess it is humble, as is of the food.  But very very good!  Surprisingly not too expensive either.

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After filling our bellies, we headed off to the real trip of the day, a dinosaur exhibition in a convention centre.  Not exactly the sort of thing one does on a holiday, but I think due to my own love of museums (yup, I LOVE them!!!) and our enjoyable trip to the Hakone museum, my nerdy love of information and history is rubbing off on the better half!!

This wasn’t my idea you know…

The centre had quite a few Dinosaur skeletons set up and was in a lot of darkness.  The skeletons weren't behind glass either and that mean no flash photography.  No matter, my arm is steady and affter a few adjustments to my camera, I thought I’d be away.

Sadly though, my humble little buddy which I have used for all the pictures (bar a few) on this blog and many more is showing it’s age.  I have had the same camera for about 8 years now and have noticed it having trouble when auto focussing and other things.  As well, I kind of assumed that with the increase in technological powers, there are probably cameras that can handle photos in low light environments a lot better than mine can.  And so, as hard as I tried, a fair few blurry camera pictures showed their faces.  In the end, I gave up, yup, my Humble Canon A640 was beginning to show it’s age, and with a heavy heart (and for the good of the people waiting while I spent a long time setting the photos) I borrowed the better half’s point ‘n’ click Lumix.  Which has no viewfinder…  just the screen.  It was a sad day.

My theory was correct though, the newer Lumix did indeed handle the low light environment a lot better than my Canon. 

The last few shots with my Canon.
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I guess they aren’t that bad, but it took me a long time to do….

I was pleased to be able to get a decent shot of the Stegosaurus that was there.  One of my favourite Dinobots.  Um, Dinosaurs.

And now, behold the wonders of modern technology.  No flash, no timer and no holding of breath to steady the shot, it is the Lumix at work!

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So much light absorbency!!  the whole thing was primarily set up for kids and they had some animatronic dinos around the place.  This guy above was one of them and he would eye-ball you if you stood in the right place.  There was another around the back somewhere that would sneeze on you and had sensors, which allowed it to react in various ways depending on where you were standing.  It would growl, roar, sneeze and that's’ about it.  I later discovered there was a camera in it and around the back somewhere people could remote control it.





As a discerning adult, I though 1600 yen was a bit pricey for what was on offer.  But considering how it was aimed at kids and at the end they had about 6 game things that had animatronic dinos that the kids could play with as well, I guess it was fair priced.  What I was more excited about was that the ticket got you free entry into the Cup Noodle Museum!! OH YEAH!

That was normally 500 yen, so to get our money’s worth we HAD to go.  Plus it would have to be kinda cool!  But not today.  On our pedometer, we managed to crack the 10,000 steps mark and were feeling very worn out and since it was about 5 in the evening headed back for a relatively uneventful ride home.

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