Food · shopping

Souvenirs From Japan

Completely unbeknownst to each other – several of my pals have booked trips to Japan in exactly the same time frame as each other.

As such, I’ve been asked for recommendations of essential omiyage – which reminded me of this draft I’ve had on my back burner ever since I lived in Japan. (But seemed a bit pointless to post at the time with the borders being closed…)

Here are some of my suggestions for mostly inexpensive items you can bring back from Japan, and where I recommend you pick them up.

Japanese Supermarkets

Snacks make the best kind of souvenirs in my opinion – but of course if bought from a speciality shop, expect to pay a premium. However, there likely be a supermarket within walking distance from where you are staying (especially in the cities) and most of them are open 24 hours a day, so be sure to stop by on your way back from a day of sightseeing.

I love visiting the supermarket in whichever country I am visiting as you get a feel for what locals are buying, but it also is a good chance to pick up some snacks to bring home.

For savoury, you can’t go wrong with a good ol’ curry sauce for katsu curry (Wagamama could never…), furikake rice seasoning, senbei rice crackers – but my personal recommendation is to bring home a few packets of mentaiko sauce for spaghetti (above) – so, SO good!

Chocolate, cookies and the like are much cheaper at the supermarket than in souvenir shops. Yes, you can usually pick up a range of Japan’s infamous KitKats for a fraction of the price. There have been over 200 variants released over the past 20 years so you’re bound to find some unique flavours not found in your country.
If you’re not sure what to get then green tea Kit Kats are a staple and people back home are always delighted by the bright green colour.

Depending on the time of year, you may also find some speciality snacks in relation to upcoming events. For example, for Hinamatsuri (Girls Day) you’ll often find hina-arare – sweet little rice crackers not unlike ‘Rainbow Drops’ in the UK.

Extra points of this is local. I lived in Shizuoka prefecture which is where most of the green tea sold in Japan is from, and there were several speciality tea shops in Hamamatsu. However, you can pick up a few boxes of good quality Japanese green tea from the supermarket. I especially recommend hojicha (roasted green tea) which has a beautiful nutty taste and is my favourite beverage to pair with traditional Japanese sweets.

¥100 Stores

A right of passage to any tourist to Japan is a trip to the 100円ショップ / Hyaku En Shop or 百均, Hyakkin selling items for about £1GBP / $1USD. The most popular brands are Daiso and Seria. I recommend these for:

Japanese ‘tat’.
I don’t mean this as disrespectful as it sounds, but it sells the usual Japanese stuff that people may expect – fans, charms, chopsticks. They also sell cute Japanese tablewear which look way more expensive than they are. (Never met a female gaijin who doesn’t have at least one sakura plate from Daiso…)

Character homeware goods.
Many ¥100 stores sell character homewear goods (mostly Sanrio and Disney): from lunchboxes and soap to cutlery and sandwich bags.

You’ll quickly discover that Japanese public bathrooms more often than not do not have a means of drying your hands. As such, most people carry and personal towel on them. These can be weirdly pricey in other stores, but just pick yourself a cheapy one up from Daiso.

Washi tape.
There are so many varieties for the bullet journaller in your life. (The rest of the stationary is a bit crappy though.)

Malls/Department Stores/Homegoods Stores

If you’re in Tokyo I love the iconic Shibuya 109, although it does mostly specialise in fashion.
There are also several branches of the PARCO department store around Japan.
AEON is a really popular mall chain in Japan.
For stores which sell a little bit of everything, my favourites are Tokyu Hands, Loft and Muji. Don Quijote is also really popular, but for me it’s a sensory overload!

Here are a few items I have brought back over the years:

Bath salts.
Bubble bath isn’t really a thing in Japan, and if you know the recipient enjoys baths then bath salts make lovely, inexpensive and lightweight souvenirs.

Face masks.
Sheet masks are popular now in the west too, but you can definitely find more interesting themed ones in Japan.

Self-warming eye masks.
I brought a stockpile of these with me when I moved back to the UK, they’re really nice after a long day of staring at screens. I especially love the lavender ones.

Card/pass holder.
If the recipient uses public transport, Japan has so many cute pass holders. They range from Y500-Y3000 depending on the character.

Everybody needs socks! In Japan you can find some with some hilarious designs.

You can find a magazine for any hobby or interest in Japan. My local bookstore carried SIX different magazines on the band BTS alone. Many brands even have a specialty magazine which are a little more expensive but come with a gift included. Fashion magazines especially make great gifts – even if the recipient doesn’t speak Japanese, they will enjoy flipping through and looking at all the cute clothes!

Annual schedules can be very inexpensive compared to the UK, and can be found themed for many franchises – Disney, Sanrio, Marvel, anime etc. If you know the recipient loves journalling and you want to splash out, you can buy them a Hobinochi journal which are only sold in Japan! You can select the cover and inserts you think they would like the most.

Physical CDs are still popular in Japan, and if you know the recipient is a music lover you can bring them back a CD. Many music stores such as HMV still have headphones for you to listen to, and if not – go to the section of their favourite genre and choose the one with the most interesting cover!

And finally for some wildcards that don’t really fit in any other category…

Local specialities.
Every prefecture in Japan is famous for something. In Aomori it’s apples, in Hokkaido it’s dairy products, in Wakayama it’s plums. Alongside green tea Shizuoka is famous for mikan oranges. As such, you can find lots of items utilising the speciality items in some way. You can usually find a good selection in local museum gift shops or tourist information.

If you’re just staying in Tokyo and not travelling around a lot – I recommend checking out the Tokyo Government Building. Not just for the free views (pie off Tokyo Skytree and get here early!) but they also have an impressive gift shop selling a lot of these items from around the country.

Gift giving is very important in Japan, and if you’ve been on a trip you’re expected to bring something back for your colleagues. You can usually find these pretty boxes with beautifully presented snacks in train stations, and they’re usually not too expensive. (A Japanese student recently brought some omiyage back into our office which was very sweet of them!)

The most famous kind of omiyage in Tokyo is the Tokyo Banana, which are soft little sponge cakes with a delicate banana flavour – but if you’re elsewhere, they’re usually based around the local speciality as mentioned above.

Keep an eye out for charming little traditional sweet shops. I was lucky enough to live around the corner from the oldest in Hamamatsu, but if you ask at the tourist information/your hotel they’ll probably be able to point you in the right directly.

Daifuku and dango are my favourites, but you can see more about them here. If you’re unsure, most stores have a pre-packaged box of their most popular sellers, or simply ask the proprietors to suggest their favourites.

Gachapon toys.
There are thousands of gachapon machines all over Japan, and you’re bound to find something the recipient would enjoy. They are only around Y300 per toy, and they make excellent lightweight gifts. (If you have space in your suitcase, keep them in their original packaging for an extra surprise!) You can find speciality gachapon stores in nerdy havens such as Akihabara and Nakano Broadway, but most shopping malls and Don Quixote tend to have a good selection too.

If the recipient enjoys a tipple or three, the afformentioned Don Quijote is a good shout as they have a huge selection on Japanese and important alcohol for discounted prices compared to department stores, konbinis and even the supermarket! If they like a certain kind of booze – you could buy a Japanese whisky, gin, rum or vodka. Or you can bring home some Japanese specialties such as sake or plum wine! Of course this can be heavy, so I wouldn’t recommend if you don’t have a lot of room in your luggage – of course if that’s the case you can always pick something up at the airport but this will be a little more expensive.

There are of course plenty more options – but I hope these have provided you with some ideas for your next trip. It’s certainly got my excited for my holiday…even though it’s well over a year away!

~ Carla

Drinking · EAT! Hamamatsu · Hamamatsu

DRINK! Hamamatsu : An EAT! Hamamatsu Special

I’ve mentioned before that in many ways Hamamatsu is the Sunderland of Japan.
(Osaka is the Newcastle of Japan btw.)

This is for so many reasons – but mostly that while as uninteresting it may be in general, nevertheless there is many a watering hole in which to spend your hard-earned (debatable) wages. Here are a bunch of my favourites…



Kagiya tends to be a favourite for a lot of people in Hamamatsu and is usually a 50/50 mix of locals and gaijin.
Most drinks are only ¥500 and they also offer bar snacks including pretty good cheap pizzas.
If you’re looking for a language exchange group: there’s one that meets every Monday from 7pm. It’s ¥500 entry and includes a drink.

The Lord Nelson

The Lord Nelson

My pal Felipe asked me if The Lord Nelson is named after my local in the UK. Doubtful. Nobody who visits Jarrow leaves with all their limbs intact.
Are you even an expat if you don’t frequent the local British pub? (There’s a chain in Japan called Hub, but The Lord Nelson is independent.)

There’s canny enough beers on tap, and an impressive selection of Japanese and imported spirits – especially if you like whiskey. Food is fairly cheap too, around ¥600 for decent fish and chips.
The staff are really friendly with a high level of English, and if you’re a regular you can sit at the bar and they’re happy to chat to you.

The Smuggler

The Smuggler

The Smuggler is another British pub…that has a pet owl and a cat. Do I need to say anything more?
The music selection is actually very authentic – they often play UK artists such as Robbie Williams, Take That, Little Mix etc. I haven’t ordered the food myself but I’ve heard it’s pretty bomb.



A cool standing bar which is particularly lovely in summer. A mostly Japanese crowd and a nice drinks selection including beers, wine and spirits.

No Name Bar

No Name Bar

Ahh No Name. It should be called No Shame Bar, being as it’s the place of all bad decisions.

Usually I can’t remember my own name by the time I’m stumbling out of here.
Good bottled and tap beer selection (I’m usually on the Sam Adams but their cocktails are only around ¥600) and the staff are all super-nice, especially the lovely Hassim. Tell him I say hello!
If you’re feeling peckish, there are some authentic Turkish bar snacks on offer such as shish kebabs.

Liquid Kitchen

Liquid Kitchen

Hamamatsu’s premier divebar, ran by an Australian nutcase named Marty. Pretty much exclusively an international crowd if that’s your thing.
I’m usually too steaming by the time I’m in Liquid to take a decent photo, so enjoy this one from their Instagram page of Felipe looking like a Mexican drug lord (his words).

Mein Schloss

Mein Schloss

I’ve done a full post about Mein Schloss here already, but drinks-wise if you’re into craft ales they have their own brewery and they’re all really good. I do recommend the food, but if you’re just looking for beverages they have a nice beer garden.

Beer House Tir na n-Og

Beer House Tir na n-Og

A bar specialising in regional and national craft ales. It’s pretty pricey – about ¥1000 upwards for a pint, but really nice if you fancy something different to most other bars in Hamamatsu. There’s also a small selection of bar snacks – sausages, peanuts, pretzels etc. Mostly a Japanese crowd.

Grindhouse Rock Bar

Grindhouse Rock Bar

Hamamatsu’s premier rock bar, which reminds me of my beloved Trillians back home in Newcastle. As you can imagine they often have a band on with reasonable cover charge. Usual selection of beers and spirits. A fairly mixed crowd, Grindhouse is popular with Brazilians!

There are of course so, so many more – but some I have completely stumbled into my accident and never been able to find again on Google Maps (the bar of requirement?). So I’ll leave the rest of the exploring up to you!

~ Carla

Food · hospital

Hospital Food in Japan

As you may have seen in my last post, I recently (and unexpectedly) spent two weeks in hospital with with cholecystitis (inflamed gallbladder), gallstones and ended up having surgery to get it removed.

For the first few days I was given an IV and put on a fast – I wasn’t too fussed because I’d had no appetite for days already and been unable to keep anything down anyway.

Days 4 and 5 I could only have this high calorie protein drink three times a day for breakfast, lunch and dinner. It had a sort of yoghurty-texture and a sweet apple flavour. Not too bad, but after a few days I was sick of the sight of it.

Six days in, I was allowed to have actual food. Some days were definitely better than others, but I ended up taking photos and logging what I ate because frankly there wasn’t much else to do.

Nearly every meal came with some sort of rice and green tea. While I couldn’t get enough of the tea (I’m British after all!), I quickly tired of eating rice three times a day.
In fact they sent a nutritionist round one day as they were so concerned I wasn’t eating much of my rice…of course in Japan you are expected to clear your bowl. But once I explained I’m not used to eating rice so often, they understood.

Rice porridge, fish, carrots and onions, tomato jelly, yoghurt drink, green tea:

Rice, chicken meatballs, braised spinach, apple, green tea:

Rice, teriyaki fish, cabbage and tomato salad, spinach, orange, green tea:

Rice porridge, prawn dumplings, sweet potato, meat and vegetables, mixed tinned fruit, green tea:

Rice with furikake, miso soup, Japanese fish cake, egg salad, yoghurt drink, green tea:

Rice, silken tofu, pumpkin, brocolli, carrot, pickles, green tea. (One of my least favourites because it was all the same soft, claggy texture.)

Rice, miso soup, salmon, ham salad, green tea, milk (I forgot to tell the staff I can’t drink milk beforehand):

Rice, white fish, green beans, steamed sweet potato, aubergine, kiwi fruit, green tea:

Rice, fish, cabbage, mikan orange, pickles, green tea:

Vegetable curry and rice, salad, pickles, green tea. (This was luuuuush!!)

Rice and furikaki, pork, broccoli, daikon, green tea:

Oyakodon (egg, chicken and scallions on rice – loosely translates as “mother and child”), miso soup, pickles, apple slices, green tea:

Rice and furikake, fish, mixed vegetables, pickles, green tea:

Bread, margarine and peach jam, scrambled eggs, tuna salad, Yakult, green tea:(This was my last breakfast and it was SO good not to have rice for once!)

Know that I still haven’t touched rice since I came out of hospital.

While there were some hits and misses, it’s definitely healthier than the fare masquerading as food in UK hospitals. I remember when I had my kidney operation as a teenager I refused to touch the hospital food and instead survived on saltines and Lucozade for a week.

Unlike the UK, Japanese hospitals aren’t free (even with health insurance) but the meal plan wasn’t too bad at ¥700 per day (around £4.50 or $6.00USD).

~ Carla

Food · School Lunch

Life of an ALT: What I Eat In A Week

For a week, I decided to take a picture of (almost) everything I ate!

As I mentioned from my daily routine post back in 2019, I have quite a busy schedule – this has actually increased over the past 18 months – so I prefer quick meals that take little-to-no preparation after work, or I stop at the conbini on my way home.

It is of course more cost-effective to cook more, however this currently suits my lifestyle in Japan.

As I’ve previously mentioned, living a short walk to the downtown area I enjoy eating out at the weekend – but as we all ride Japan’s fourth wave of the ‘rona, I’m still trying to stay home as much as possible and have been ordering in instead.

Also notably, 99% of the time I don’t eat breakfast during weekdays.
I know this is really bad and breakfast is so important, but when I have a 5:30am alarm I’d prefer to trade this in for an extra half an hour in bed.

I usually just have a cup of drip coffee with soy milk, then drink a huge flask of English Breakfast tea in between classes at the school.

I also opt-in for school lunch – it’s usually pretty great and is very reasonable at only ¥270 (around £1.75). You can see my posts about Japanese school lunch here.

So here we go…


Coffee with soy milk.

Soup with veggies and pasta shells, currypan and a custard pudding. (¥270)

Mondays are really stressful at work so I stopped at the conbini on my way home.
Pasta salad with proscuitto, tomatoes and cheese (¥496), karragebo (¥180), rice in tofu (¥213) and kimchi (¥110).

Two kiwi fruits. (Discounted from the supermarket ¥100)


Coffee with milk.

Soup with veggies and bean sprouts, two spring rolls and minted pickles. (¥270)
(We also had rice but I took mine home as I don’t like to eat a lot of carbs if I have afternoon classes as it brings my energy down.)

Aubergines and mushrooms in a sticky Korean-style sauce, the rice from school lunch, miso soup with tofu and the rest of the kimchi.

Discounted fruit salad from the supermarket. (¥250)

Cheese puffs. (¥180)


Coffee with milk and a potato croquette (¥120) as I waited at the bus stop.

Creamy soup with mushrooms and pasta, chicken karaage, bread with chocolate sauce. (¥270)

Spaghetti with mentaigo (cod roe) sauce

Daim bar (thanks, mam!)



Coffee with soy milk.

Creamy soup with pasta and sweetcorn, fried fish, cabbage. (There was also bread but I didn’t eat it) (¥270)

I went to KappaSushi for dinner. 7 plates of sushi and a beer. (¥1300)

Cornetto-like ice cream. (Multipack – 5 for ¥350)


English breakfast tea with soy milk.

Special bento for the school sports day. (¥800)

Cheese and ham baguette sandwich (¥300) and pizza crisps (¥130).

Coconut Pocky. (¥150)

Vanilla mochi ice cream. (¥200)


Coffee with soy milk, greek-style yoghurt with granola and honey.

Okonomiyaki (Japanese pancake made with cabbage), the rest of the mushrooms and fried aubergine.

I ordered a personal-size Dominos pizza and potato wedges. (¥1600)

Another Daim bar! (Thanks again, mam!)


I ordered a McDonalds breakfast – sausage egg McMuffin, two hashbrows and an iced latte. (¥960)

Japanese-style curry (¥250, but I already had the sauce in my cupboard) and rice with the rest of the edamame.

None. I wasn’t hungry for dinner as my breakfast and lunch were pretty heavy so I just snacked in the evening…

Cheese crisps (¥120), Black Thunder chocolate (my favourite Japanese chocolate!!) (¥100)

I actually enjoyed doing this and want to do something similar in the future!

~ Carla

Food · Tokyo

Marie Antoinette’s Afternoon Tea in Tokyo

As Tokyo is once again in a state of emergency (despite the Olympics being mere weeks away…), here in Hamamatsu I’m reminiscing about my favourite city in the world and how eager I am to go back when it’s safer.

Looking through pictures on my phone, I totally forgot to post about the incredible afternoon tea I had late last year at the Tokyo Grand Hyatt with my friend Farrah.

While the spring Marie Anotinette theme (Marie Antoinette’s Sweet Haute Couture) had a very pastel, sweet aesthetic – this event was called The Queen’s Masquerade, which was more alluring with a sort-of spooky opulence; lots of blacks, pinks, purples and gold – perfect for Halloween!

Unintentionally twinning in black and white! (A bit of a rarity for me!)

While special events are usually served buffet-style, due to the pandemic nearly everything was table service.

Anything you did have to get yourself had a strict queuing system. If you wanted to take photos of the settings (I mean, who wouldnt???) we were called up table by table.

It ran like clockwork and all the waiting staff were so amazing under such difficult circumstances.

Two Hama girls living their best lives.

Of course afterwards, there was purikura to be had:

It was such a special day, and I’m dying to go back and experience some of their other themed events.

Howay man Tokyo, sort yer shit out.

~ Carla

Food · Friends · Personal

Another Birthday in Japan!

On May 12th I celebrated my second birthday in Japan.
Last year, we were in the throws of uncertainty about the ‘rona, and I was still working from home.

While Japan enters it’s *counts on fingers* fourth wave, cases in Shizuoka prefecture are still pretty low compared to the rest of the country. Nevertheless, we practiced vigilance and I kept my celebrations pretty low-key.

First, we had a cute picnic in Hamamatsu Castle Park:

I always take my birthday off work because from the ages of 10 to 21 I had some form of exam on the actual date, and I promised myself as an adult I would never ever work on my birthday again!

So because my birthday was once again on a weekday, I took a day’s 年休, relaxed in the morning then met my friends for cream tea and shopping:

We went to Afternoon Tea in Entetsu mall, and it was actually really great.

They had English Breakfast which can be a bit of a rarity in Japan. The scones were much smaller than the ones back home, but still warm, crumbly and delicious. One was orange and earl grey, the other plain.

The only thing I’d knock a point off for was that they was served with lightly whipped cream instead of clotted cream – you’d get thrown out of a cafe in the UK for that offense! ;D

Then the weekend after I went for dinner and drinks with the Cheezus.
Last year we had a pizza party at Felipe’s place, but as The Smoke Club in Hamamatsu has really good social distancing measures we thought we’d go out and enjoy ourselves.

A super extra-cheezy birthday at The Lord Nelson.

Because the gang are a bunch of top huns, they surprised me with not one but TWO cakes. They really know their audience. Matt also brought me an adorable peach rooibus gift set – thank you so much!!

As always, me and Felipe-chama never know when to stop so ended up at one of our favourite bars until the early hours. Usually packed on a Saturday, it was only us and the people behind us you see in the photo!

Last year I bought myself a Kånken backpack as a present, but haven’t really bought anything special this year – maybe I’ll buy Miitopia in a few weeks for summer break!

However – side-note – I’ve really been enjoying relaxing with some indie games lately:

The Longing (top), Stay (left) and Not Tonight (right).

Thank you everyone who made my 32rd birthday really special!!

~ Carla

Culture · Food · Friends · Hamamatsu

Orange Picking in Hamamatsu

The newest farmhand recruit.

Back in Autumn 2019, one of my favourite teachers at my elementary school Shirai-sensei gave everyone a local mikan orange. It was easily the best orange I’ve ever eaten, and when I told her so she delightedly explained they’re actually from her father’s orange grove.
(A term I only learned while writing this blog as I assumed oranges grew in an orchard – apparently not!)

A week later, she beckoned me over to her car after school, gave me a bag and told me I could take as many home as I could fit inside my backpack. While harvesting season was already over, she promised me the following year she would take me to see the oranges and pick some for myself.

And true to her word in October 2020 she drove me and my friend Haruna to see the trees, help harvesting them and bring some home for ourselves. The farm was originally her grandfather’s and her father took over five years ago, working with her mother and a few picking staff.

I also got to catch up with another of my favourite teachers who moved on to another school in March 2020 – she brought her husband and little daughter who was so cute. Her daughter definitely managed to pick more oranges than me!

I’ve only been raspberry picking in the UK, and strawberry picking last year. There’s something so wholesome about picking fruit straight from the tree or bush.
The grove grows two types of oranges – the smaller mikan is very sweet with no sourness at all, they remind me of the clementines my mam buys at Christmas. The larger, darker oranges are tart, but not at all bitter.

Although I live in the city, (I’m a bona fide city girl who has a mental breakdown if I’m too far from wifi or a soy flat white…) it was lovely to be out in the Japanese inaka for the day, living my best Ghibli-esque life.

I would have been grateful for even a small handful, but she very kindly gave us a huge box each to fill and we could take home as many as we could carry. We were also able eat as many as we could while we were harvesting!
(I taught everyone the term “eating on the job.”)

It was such a wonderful experience I would have otherwise missed if it wasn’t for the kindness of people I’ve met here.
Another precious memory I’ll treasure forever.

Not bad for an afternoon’s work!

We also noticed a tiny, quaint train station nearby so looked inside. There was a cute little gift shop and cafe inside ran by a sweet guy who spoke really good English.
It had a surprisingly hipsterish vibe and sold local crafts, beers and cookies.

Shirai-sensei told me a ticket inspector stands in the middle and manually checks tickets – even though it’s so quiet. Never change, Japan.
So cute! The art is by the Finnish brand Marimekko and is really popular in Japan right now.

Although we’d more than filled up on oranges, Shirai-sensei took us to a popular Italian restaurant and I had the best pizza and pasta I’ve eaten so far in Japan! (I’m half-Italian so hard to please!)

Shirai-sensei also wouldn’t hear of us paying, and told us it was her present for us. She is so kind!

Naples-style pizza.

And if I hadn’t been treated enough, Shirai-sensei gave me and Haruna presents from her recent trip to Kamakura. She picked out the pink earrings for me knowing it’s my favourite colour – they’re made from special sakura shells that are only found on Yuigahama Beach.

It was such a special, surprise gift and they’re absolutely perfect!

It was the sweetest day ever. It can be easy for me to feel disconnected to Japan when a lot of my trips have been cancelled over the past year due to the ‘rona.

But getting to do wholesome stuff like this reminds me of why I moved to this beautiful country in the first place. I hope we can all make more memories in 2021!

~ Carla

EAT! Hamamatsu · Food

EAT! Hamamatsu : Ate Mai’s Place

Me and Faith discovered Ate Mai’s Place during a food festival in Hamamatsu last year. Which is for the best because it’s is a blink-and-you-miss-it hole in the wall tucked around the corner from Shin-Hamamatsu station and Zaza City.

The place is run by Rogelio and his sister Myra who have lived in Hamamatsu for over twenty years and owning Ate Mai’s Place for nine of them.

Boasting a large selection of Filipino dishes, my favourite is the delicious traditional Filipino pork barbecue kebabs. Very similar to Japanese yakitori, it’s larger and coated in a sauce made of black sugar, ketchup, soy sauce and black pepper with the sugar causing the meat to caramelise on the grill.

At the suggestion of chef Rogelio, he offered us a serving of white vinegar to dip our kebabs into. A new concept to me, but it really compliments the sweet flavour of the meat and offers a different taste experience.

Although the pork barbecue and Special Goto (traditional Filipino rice porridge) is available everyday, the menu changes daily so there’s always something new to try!


1. Chicken Apritda (Tomato-based chicken stew)
2. Spicy Bopis (Spicy cassorole traditionally made with pig’s lung and/or heart)
3. Gatang Isda (Makerel stew made with coconut milk with garlic, ginger and onion)
4. Special Dinuguan (Pork stew)
5. Gatang Tilapia with okra (Tilapia stew coconut milk with garlic, ginger and onion)
6. Adobong Sitaw (Marinated pork or chicken with vegetables)

Ate Mai’s Place also serves frosty cold Asahi – honestly, they pull one of the best pints in Hamamatsu.
Especially after a long day of teaching in the brutal Japanese summer. They have a small selection of drinks including bottled beer.

The brother and sister team are super-friendly, and happy to chat away to you at the bar.
They also offer a バイキング (‘all you can eat’) special on Sundays in the upstairs area: five dishes and a drink for only ¥2000. (Available 12:00-1800)

A funny story though: me and Faith went one Saturday night to line our stomachs for an evening of shout-singing karaoke and were sitting at the bar next to the window.
Three drunk salarymen peered in at us, opened the door and slurred: “Are they hostesses?”
Rogelio quickly sent them packing, and the salarymen apologised profusely with lots of bowing.
Still, it’s nice to know I’ve still got it.

Ate Mai’s Place truly is a hidden gem in Hamamatsu.
As much as I want to be わがまま and keep it a secret – please give them a visit!!

Opening hours:
Weekdays 18:00-Late
Saturday 18:00-Late
Sunday 12:00-Late (バイキング 12:00-18:00 only)

ADDRESS: 〒430-0934 静岡県浜松市中区千歳町14
(3 minutes walk from Shin-Hamamatsu station.)

~ Carla

DISCLAIMER: Opening hours are subject to change. Not sponsored and all opinions are my own.

EAT! Hamamatsu · Food

EAT! Hamamatsu : Mein Schloss

There is absolutely no reason a huge German beer hall should exist in Hamamatsu, but here we are.

Mein Schloss (“My castle” in German) looks like a monstrosity from the outside, but it actually very aesthetic inside.

Lamb is a bit of a rarity in Japan, so me and my fellow Brit, Ama, went for the lamb chops. Lamb can sometimes be a little greasy, but it was succulent, juicy with no grisly fat.

However they only came with a few waffle fries so I recommend getting some extras on the side – we shares some french fries and onion rings, about ¥400 per plate.

Elizabeth went for a Flammkuchen which although originating in France, is somewhat a German twist on a traditional pizza. Although there is no tomato sauce or mozzarella, the pizza is instead topped with sour cream, onions and bacon.
I tried a slice and although very rich, it was nevertheless creamy and delicious due to the light flavours.

I inherited my dad’s love of craft beer, so was happy to learn there is a brewery on-site creatively called Hamamatsu Beer where they have a lager, a helles, a wheat beer and an ale.
George would be buzzing.

If you’re just looking for a drink, there is plenty of space in the beer garden with beer taps available for convenience. You can also order Hamamatsu Beer from their online shop.

My only criticism is although the live oom-pah band is very charming and fitting with the theme, they’re also pretty bloody loud with the sound echoing around the large beer hall so it can be difficult to chat to your group.

It’s also a bit of a splurge – my lamb chops, the sharer plates and a large beer cost around ¥3600, but they also do lunch specials and offers for parties and enkais. I also wish there was a set menu option.

Keepin’ it classy since ’89

However if you’re in the area and looking for something fun and different – look no further and give it a try.
Achtung, baby!

Opening hours:
Weekdays 11:00-14:00, 17:00-22:30 CLOSED MONDAYS.
Saturday 11:00-22:30
Sunday 11:00-22:30

Reservations available via phone or online.

ADDRESS: 〒430-8691 静岡県浜松市中区中央3丁目8-1
Approximately a 10 minute walk from Hamamatsu station.

~ Carla

EAT! Hamamatsu · Food

EAT! Hamamatsu

I love eating. Shocking, I know.

For a while now, I’ve been thinking about doing a little series on eateries in Hamamatsu city and the surrounding areas.

While the area is famous for several foods – mikan oranges, grilled unagi (eel) and Hamamatsu gyoza – notably Hamamatsu is one of the most multicultural cities in Japan.
Around 25,000 foreigners live in the area, making up 3% of the local population, so among the usual Japanese joints and izakaya there are plenty of interesting places to try!

If you have any recommendations or suggestions, please leave it in the comments section or get in touch on my About page.

~ Carla