2.28.2009

Japan-Themed Weekend

Yesterday I had sushi for lunch at Sushi House in downtown Naperville. It's one of my favorite restaurants, if a little pricey, because it features an *almost* traditional ryokan style of decoration. There's little rooms you can use for parties or larger groups where you take your shoes off at the three steps and then close the rice paper sliding door. It just has a really great aura for me. The staff are just lovely, and everyone who comes here is truly enjoying themselves. They also have something that's a little odd but enjoyable: a large flat screen tv by the bar featuring an animated aquarium! The menu is comprehensive. There are options for complete meals (and bentos) or just a la carte. Their miso soup is superior, and they even have quite a few sushi and sashimi pieces for vegetarians (!).

Then today to add to my mini Japan vacation, significant other unit and I picked up and drove 45+ minutes to Schaumburg's own Mitsuwa Marketplace. It was funny when we drove up using the significant other unit's new GPS... which I know intuitively how to operate for some reason... An interesting discovery is that I realized today that Mitsuwa is just across the street from a newspaper HQ offices that I went and interviewed at in 2000! Can't remember seeing the office last time I came to visit.

Mitsuwa is "Japan-central" for northern Illinois, and is celebrating its anniversary this week! There are special deals and lots of delectable asian delicacies everywhere to be explored and savored with sight, smell, and taste. A true treat for the senses. For example, there was a special kiosk at the very entrance, featuring fantastic and freshly-made mochi sweets. Needless to say the crowds were congregating there to enjoy the festivities and purchase their treats.

Since it was already around 2:30-ish and we hadn't had anything to eat yet, we proceeded to have lunch in the food court. We grabbed some black pearl drinks, a papaya and a lychee. We went around and took a look at the dish photos and plastic representations of the menus, until we settled on what we were ordering. I had tempura and soba, and significant other unit had udon soup with tempura. Everything was delicious! Though I wish I'd also had the soup because my cold noodles didn't help me settle after a frigid cold experience outside! For dessert I went to the little ice cream shop and acquired a delectable green tea parfait--green tea jelly, vanilla ice cream, biscuit, adzuki bean paste, whipped cream, green and white ice cream swirl, green tea syrup, and topped by two little cookies and mochi. YUM. It is matcha tea so it wasn't very sweet, but it made for the perfect ending to our lunch.We did a little quick shopping, but the place was so chok-block full of people that we didn't get to look around in the supermarket portion...much to my regret this involved not being able to look around or purchase anything in the busy happy hippo bakery ;o/ ...where they featured apple anpan. Significant other unit and I LOVE anpan! Too bad I didn't get to purchase any. It's an amazing bakery, though, next time.

I also made a point to visit the bookstore, which has an amazing array of magazines and manga. I was looking around and wondered if there was any of the "less reputable" stuff ^_^ but couldn't understand which was which since it was all in kenji. Oh well. They had a cute little section with office supplies that also featured origami paper and little origami paper kits to create little themed items such as animals, or a burger meal (!). Kawaii! I was very, very surprised at the lack of manga-themed toys or figures, which I was looking forward to exploring and perhaps, even purchasing. I've become frustrated with what's available on amazon.com, but I have just started looking and I'm too much of a noobie to navigate successfully through figure websites. I will be exploring some of the resources available from dannychoo.com, however, and hope to remedy this in the very near future. ^_^

Before leaving I visited the little nook with housewares in-between the food court and travel agency and I acquired a yellow, plastic bento box, and a little red, good luck, porcelain fish that floats--perfect for a little zen bowl for the office, or during my incense relaxation breaks.

All in all, it was an awesome mini-vacation/adventure. Alas, I still hope to one day learn some Japanese and save up for a trip. I'm dying to try an onsen! ^_^ The ultimate treat for total relaxation.

The day ended with a visit to the Sanrio store in Schaumburg mall, and the Too Cool store in Fox Valley mall, by our house. Sadly, no anime figures at the Too Cool store matched my must-find list.

In view of my renewed interest in things Japan, I've decided to go back and tag "Japan" posts on this blog related to anything Japanese. Helps me keep tabs on my discoveries and learning curve.