South Africa: Lion Sands Private Game Reserve

One of the hardest part of making our itinerary with A2A Safaris was choosing where to stay in Sabi Sands which has at least 21 private game reserves that were all luxurious but some were dfinitely wallet-busting so we had to choose well. 

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South Africa: Overnight in Johannesburg

When I think of travel to Africa the first thing  that comes to mind is a safari. I’m not a big fan of animals except for my dogs but going to Africa has always been on my bucket list. It’s a continent I’ve never been to and I wanted to see the beauty in that side of the world. My dream came true last April 11, 2016 when I flew to Johannesburg.

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Flight Review: Cathay Pacific Manila to Johannesburg

I just came back from a trip of a lifetime to South Africa and it all started with snagging a buy 1 take 1 business class ticket on Cathay Pacific. Read my trip report.

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Tokyo: Lunch at Sushi Iwa Ginza 鮨 いわ

Previously published on February 22, 2106.

The most devastating part about losing a year of my posts were all my posts on Osaka and Tokyo. I managed to recover this one so I will start reconstruction with this which also happened to be one of my favorite sushi places in Tokyo.

I highly recommend anyone going to Tokyo whether for the first time or repeatedly to eat at a high end sushi restaurant at least once. There’s an ocean of difference from the sushi you will eat in ANY restaurant in Manila or even those restaurants in Tsukiji market with hour long queues. I thought it was because these restaurants get the choices cuts of fish. Yes they do but the chefs also do something more to sushi than just slice the fish well. 

Sushi Iwa is well known for having one of the cheapest sushi lunch sets, which starts at ¥5,000 for 10 pieces, for a Michelin starred restaurant so this is a good place for one to have a first great sushi experience.
Sushi Iwa Ginza

Just like most high end sushi places in Tokyo there were only a few seats at the bar counter where you can watch the chef wield his knife skills. Sushi Iwa also has an annex restaurant nearby. 


Sushi Iwa Ginza-001

I love baby faced Chef Tsunoda (37 yrs.) because he speaks excellent English, is patient at explaining and repeating what I ate so I could take notes and is very funny. He also shared a few anecdotes on training as a sushi chef. It took 10 years of training before he was allowed to touch the shari or sushi rice. Did you know that the sushi rice is the most important part of the sushi? Each chef has their own recipe, using their own choice of rice and type of vinegar. Chef Tsunoda practiced in those carousel sushi places until he was allowed to make sushi rice on his own. 


Sushi Iwa Ginza- Chef Shigeyuki Tsunoda//

Sushi Iwa Ginza-003//

Sushi Iwa Ginza-004

We started our meal with wakame (seaweed) salad. 


Sushi Iwa Ginza-005

Each piece was the utmost freshness. 


Sushi Iwa Ginza- Shima (Amberjack)
Shima (Amberjack)

The Spanish mackerel tasted so good like it was cooked fish. 


Sushi Iwa Ginza- Sawala (Spanish Mackerel)
Sawala (Spanish Mackerel)

In case you’re wondering what a sushi apprentice does during their long training look at the picture below. This sushi was made of an average of 20 pieces of baby shrimp which an apprentice (see first picture above) peeled by hand. The baby shrimp were incredibly sweet! 


Sushi Iwa Ginza- Shiro Ebi (baby shrimp)
Shiro Ebi (baby shrimp)

The chef marinated the maguro (tuna) briefly in a soy mixture then blotted it on paper towels. 

Sushi Iwa Ginza-007//

Sushi Iwa Ginza- Maguro (Tuna)
Maguro (Tuna)

Do you see how little sushi rice there is under the fish not like in Manila where you get full with all the rice. 


Sushi Iwa Ginza- Maguro (Tuna)-001//

Usually hotate or scallop is served raw but this time the chef cooked it in scallop broth for a long time. Yum!

Sushi Iwa Ginza- Hotate (Scallop)
Hotate (Scallop)

This is bonito fish the same fish used to make bonito flakes. 

Sushi Iwa Ginza- Bonito


Sushi Iwa Ginza- Fresh Wasabi
Fresh Wasabi

I was surprised with this perfectly grilled squid stuffed with sticky rice. It was a nice break from sushi. 


Sushi Iwa Ginza- Grilled Squid stuffed with rice
Grilled Squid stuffed with rice

You would think the chef was slicing a piece of beef. Just look at all the marbling of the fattiest part of the tuna. 


Sushi Iwa Ginza- Otoro (Supreme Tuna Belly)

The melt-in-your-mouth otoro was the highlight of my meal. 


Sushi Iwa Ginza- Otoro (Supreme Tuna Belly)-001
Otoro (Supreme Tuna Belly)


Sushi Iwa Ginza- Kobashira (Mactra Clam Adductor)
Kobashira (Mactra Clam Adductor)


Sushi Iwa Ginza- Aji (Horse Mackerel)
Aji (Horse Mackerel)

In Manila unagi (freshwater eel) is what is served most in Japanese restaurants. This was my first time to try anago (saltwater eel) and I liked how tender and more delicate the meat was. 


Sushi Iwa Ginza- Anago (Saltwater Eel)
Anago (Saltwater Eel)


Sushi Iwa Ginza- Miso Soup
Miso Soup


Sushi Iwa Ginza-024

I was already so full when the chef started making these rolls. 


Sushi Iwa Ginza- gourd, fataty tuna, cucumber, lean tuna
gourd, fataty tuna, cucumber, lean tuna


Sushi Iwa Ginza- Sushi rolls-001
Sushi rolls

For dessert it was tamago unlike anything you’ve ever tasted before. Instead of the usual omelet taste this ultra smooth cube tasted like a sweet custard. Each chef has their own way of making this too. 


Sushi Iwa Ginza- Tamago

Our 13 piece sushi set came out to ¥8,640 each or P3,560 or US$77. A great deal if you ask me and oh so delicious. 


Sushi Iwa Ginza-030//

Sushi Iwa Ginza-031

Sushi Iwa
8-5-25 Ginza, Chuo 104-0061, Tokyo Prefecture
telephone: +81 3-3572-0955 (reservations needed)


Maria Louisa’s Garden Room

This was originally published on 9/28/2015.
A couple of years ago anyone can eat at Maria Luisa’s Garden Room. I don’t know exactly why they changed the rules but now you have to be a member of Makati Garden Club to dine there. Thankfully one of my friends was related to a member so we were able to eat there. If I lived in Makati I would apply to be a member so I can eat there again and again.

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I’ve Been Hacked!


In case you’re wondering why my posts on this blog are so old it’s because my blog was recently hacked. I don’t know who did it or why? When I found out my heart fell but I refused to panic.

The problem was I wasn’t doing site backups except for the lone backup Jenn (my invaluable tech) made last July 2014. I kept saying I would learn to backup my site and never did. At least I was able to keep the past 6 years. I really feel bad about losing a year of posts which included all my trips to Japan. As a consolation I was able to save the texts from July 2015 to 2016 so I will be slowly recreating those. Suddenly being slow in posting has its advantages since I didn’t lose what I haven’t posted like my trips to New Zealand, San Francisco and Portland.

So please be patient while I rebuild my site. I really want to restore all my posts on my travels to Osaka and Tokyo. Let this be a lesson to everyone. Do regular backups!!! Thank you Jenn for helping me once again. 

New Dishes at Wee Nam Kee

I’ve never eaten at Wee Nam Kee in Singapore but I think they only sell chicken and a few other dishes. In Manila they have a full menu of delicious food. It’s been a while since my last visit to their beautiful Glorietta branch and the owner Linfred told me they had new dishes so I went for lunch with my Tuesday eating group.   
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