Friday, September 20, 2019

Snacks by Moon Juice

"Adaptogens for everything."
That is the tagline of Moon Juice, a company that makes ... an interesting range of products, let's just say.  Skin care, hair care, ... a whole lot of "moon dusts" which are "adaptogens for everything: beauty, brain, sex, spirit, power, and dream," and, uh, snack foods.  That later of course is where I come in.
"Moon Juice is Intelligent Self Care — plant medicine plus science and common sense for practical and preventative ways to unstress and nourish your beauty and wellbeing."
I can't say that I'm into adaptogens.  I'm vaguely familiar with the term, and with some of the more common (trendy?) adaptogens, like ginseng, maca, aloe vera, licorice, but I don't claim to know anything about how they do (or don't?) help your body respond under stressors, and I certainly didn't actively seek them out.

I discovered Moon Juice while staying at a hotel in New York City (11 Howard), which seems to have a partnership with Moon Juice.  The breakfast menu had bunch of beverages made with the dusts, all with almond and coconut milk bases and different dusts, like the "Brain Dust® Latte" with espresso, cacao, and brain dust, and the "Beauty Dust® Matcha Latte" with Imperial matcha and beauty dust, and the "Spirit Dust® Chai Latte" with chai and spirit dust.  I never tried any, as they were fairly pricey.  They also had some of the snack products were stocked in the mini bar.  They actually looked really good, and I had a mini bar credit to use, so, given how much I love to try new things, and how much I adore snack foods, I gave them a try my last day, rather than going for a "safer" item like a candy bar or soft drink.  I wish I had discovered them earlier, as, well, adaptogens or not, they were quite good.

Snacks

"100% organic, raw, and activated ingredients. Nutrient-dense, hand-crafted foods for snacking and feasting."

The snack lineup from Moon Juice is fascinating.  Nuts, seeds, and crackers, basically, but unlike any I've had before.  The nuts and seeds are all activated, of course.  The almonds are coated with dulse and vinegar.  The hazelnuts are mixed with cacoa and mulberry, into "crunchers", that really do look like a tasty finger food.  Even the "Green Fermented Seed Crisps", with cabbage, burdock, daikon, nettles, dandelion, and jalapeño, mixed with seeds, sounded really quite interesting.  Same with the "Cumin & Chard Crisps".

My minibar had only two products, the more pedestrian of the offerings, Chile & Lime Mango and Activated Maca Mesquite Walnuts, both of which I tried.
Activated Maca Mesquite Walnuts. $8.
"Activated walnuts are covered in a caramel concoction of maca, mesquite, cinnamon and banana, then slow-dried to a toffee crunch."

These were shockingly delicious.  Like, really, really delicious.

And I had my serious doubts, even if the description promised a "toffee crunch", that was going to come from maple syrup and dates for the sweetness, and there is almond butter in them too. Almond butter and dates are usually on my "do not like" list.

But these I liked.  I more than liked.

The combination of flavors was not anything I've had before, and was quite unexpected.  Clearly, I could taste the walnuts, they were the main event, but then there was a beautiful sweetness, really as described, "a caramel concoction", and then, a pleasant banana thing going on, and some spicing ... just, fascinating, complex, and all in harmony.  Really, really quite delicious.  I did not taste dates explicitly, nor almond butter, as I feared.

These are fantastic to munch on by the handful, and I enjoyed them also with a little fruit and whipped cream, to make a satisfying, healthy, little treat.  I think they would be a great addition to any kind of ice cream sundae, or pudding cup, too, anything where you want some sweet crunch.

Truly delicious, and I'd gladly get them again.
Chile & Lime Mango. $8.
"We begin with the juiciest and most vibrant raw, dried mango on the planet, then accentuate this treat with lime and good shake of chipotle chile."

Next, the mango.  These were entirely different from what I was expecting.

I've had a decent number of packaged, dried, mango snacks, and usually they are ... well, dry?  These weren't dry.  They were juicy almost.  Not like fresh mango obviously, but there was considerably more moisture than I've had before in other products.

I'm not complaining, just noting, different from what I anticipated.  The mango was fruity and decent.

The lime certainly woke it up a bit, and added a level of acidity you don't normally have with mango or tropical fruits, and I don't think I actually appreciated it.  I wanted the sweet fruit flavor, unchanged.  The chipotle brought a bit of additional zing to it too, but again, I didn't really want that there.

Overall, I just think the lime and chile elements weren't for me, but I did like the mango itself.
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Thursday, September 19, 2019

Ice Monster, Tokyo

This is a story of a grumpy Julie.

But I didn't start that way.  It was a hot week when I visited Tokyo.  I loved the weather.  After many days in a row of eating 2-3 ice creams per day (don't judge! It is so good there!), I moved on to shaved ice as my frozen treat of choice.

The weekend was particularly hot, and I was thrilled to have the time to venture all the way to Ice Monster, in Shibuya, to get another epic ice creation.  I walked there, and was quite warm when I arrived.  Perfect for eating ice.

I had visions of getting the specific ice creation I wanted, and enjoying it, at my leisure, outside in the warm Tokyo summer heat.  I had already picked out a menu item I really wanted.  I knew Ice Monster did takeaway so I could go outside with it.  But ... alas, the one I wanted, much like at Sebastian was not available for takeaway.  And the line to get in ... ugh.

But anyway.  Ice Monster.  A Taiwanese chain, started in 1997, now with several locations in Japan.

Setting

Ice Monster has only one location in Tokyo, in Omotesando, alongside all the fancy shops, and a whole lot of bubble tea places.
Side Sign.
I did not take a photo of the actual store front, where a long line was formed, on the other side of the sidewalk, quite politely, to allow others to pass.

We were managed in line by a handler, who explained the options (if you wanted a standing room item - more on this soon), you were given one type of number, and a standing room/takeout menu, and waited to be called in to order.  If you wanted to sit, another style of number, another menu.

Then slowly, group by group, we were allowed in to order.  I guess it makes sense to queue us outside and keep the sense of calm inside when they know they don't have the throughput to even do the takeout orders.

It took 15 minutes for me to be allowed in to order.
Ordering Area Inside.
Once inside, it was quite calm.  Only 2 groups came in at a time to line up at register and order.  We traded in our laminated colored numbers when we ordered, to be given different laminated numbers, on stands if you were getting a seat (which I was).
Standing Tables.
If you were ordering one of the more limited standing table options, you stay downstairs, and eat standing up at the standing height big table in the center, or counter along the windows.

These orders all come in throw away containers, and are the more simple items, and are made smaller.
Upstairs Seating.
If you are dining in, the setup is entirely different.

For those getting seats, you were instructed to go upstairs, where a host then directed you to a table, already pre-set with the correct number of seats, as they knew you were coming and had not let you in until your table was being set.  So very controlled.

I appreciated the extra napkins available on the table, each with its own dispenser.  Napkins seem to be a rare commodity in Japan.

What I did NOT appreciate was the temperature.  I had read reviews about this, but I still wasn't prepared for just how cold it was inside.  Very over air conditioned, which was rare in Tokyo, and particularly unappealing for a place serving ice and ice cream.  This made me even more grumpy that I wasn't able to take mine to go enjoy in the warm outside.

Another random note ... I used the bathroom, and accidentally went in the men's room (they were singles, so not really a big deal), and found it odd that there was no soap and no paper towels or a hand dryer.  When I later (correctly) used the women's room, it had both.  Is that ... normal?

Menu

Ice Monster requires that every person order an item, which commonly strikes rage in those not expecting it, given that the ice creations are quite large, and sharing is the reasonable thing to do.  That said, they do offer bubble teas, and one item can be a bubble tea.
TaiWan Drink Menu.
I was not particularly interested in the drink menu, as I was there for just one item myself, and Ice Monster is literally located on a street with at least 6 other bubble tea shops, all *very* well known.  If I wanted bubble tea, I certainly would be at a place specializing in bubble tea.

Drinks are available for take out, or dine in.
Standard Menu.
The standard lineup, known as "I'm a sensation", includes 3 items everywhere (tapioca milk tea, mango, and strawberry), plus one Japan only creation (apricot kernel), and one available only at 2 specific stores in Japan (coffee).

All feature a different flavor of shaved ice as the base, all have some flavor of ice cream or sherbet (sour strawberry or mango sherbet with the fruity ones, cookies & cream ice cream with teh coffee, and black sesame with the apricot kernal), and come with toppings ranging from fresh fruit (strawberries, mango), to panna cotta, to tapioca, to brown sugar jelly.  And then each has a syrup or sauce, like condensed milk, mango, strawberry, or coffee syrup, or caramel.  The syrups are always served on the side, for you to apply as you please.

The standard three are available as takeway/standing, in smaller, simpler form.
Summer Specials.
There were also two summer specials, both using Calpis®️ and tropical fruits (peach & strawberry, or mango & pineapple).  The last day of serving these was Sept 1, the day I visited, but I didn't stray from my original plan, although I was certainly tempted by the peach one.
Fresh Premium Mango Shaved Ice.
The other summer only special is the "Premium Mango", a step up from the Mango Sensation, as it features an entire half a mango on it.
Hot Water.
Once seated, a glass of water is delivered.  Hot water.  Intentionally hot.

While not exactly what I wanted (and I had a bottle of sparkling with me anyway), it did help combat the very cold temperature in the room, but even that wasn't enough to make me really excited about my cold ice coming.
Almond sensation. 1220 yen.
"A Japanese-only menu with shaved flavor ice blocks stuffed with apricot aroma and a slightly sweet taste, lychee, black sesame ice cream, brown sugar jelly, and condensed milk from above."

I waited patiently in the cold, growing increasingly grumpy with my decision to stay and dine in.  I really had visions of enjoying my ice in the warm weather!

After 10 minutes, my creation was delivered.  I picked the limited Japan only "Almond Sensation", picked nearly entirely because I love black sesame.

It came piled up high, with some toppings on it already (lychee, ice cream), and others (brown sugar jelly, condensed milk) on the side.

I wish I had a reference point for just how huge this was.  Yes, ice is light, but, SO BIG!  Now I understand why people complain about the one item per person rule.

The entire thing was overwhelmingly sweet.  It really needed a component like red bean perhaps to combat it.
Almond ice / Black sesame ice cream / Lychee.
I dug into the mound of ice, just a spoonful on its own to start.

Wow it was sweet.  So very sweet.  The almond flavor really was lovely, but, I was overwhelmed by the sweetness level, and I like sweet things.  It was light and fluffy, but not quite as fluffy-amazing as Sebastian, where I visited a few days prior.

The lychee element was two lychees, likely from a can.  They were ... fine.  Average.  Sweet.

The black sesame ice cream, the part I was most excited for, was very good.  Strong black sesame flavor.  Nutty.  Sweet, but not overwhelming.  It was the only element that wasn't over the top sweet, but it certainly wasn't non-sweet.
Brown Sugar Jelly.
The brown sugar jellies were on the side, I'm not quite sure why, but I liked that I could add them in as I pleased.

I really liked these.  The flavor was really unique, sweet yet ... complex? Much like the brown sugar pearls that are the current fad in bubble tea.

However, like the ice, like the lychee, they were very very sweet.  As much as I wanted to just eat them as a bowl of jelly, I couldn't, without something to cut the sweetness.  Even just some whipped cream (or cheese foam!), would make a big difference.
Sweetened Condensed Milk.
The sweetened condensed milk was also on the side, again, something I appreciated, so I could add on as much or little as I pleased.  In this case, I still used it all, but really what I liked was being able to try to create prefect bites with a bit of each element I wanted.

I liked the way the condensed milk transformed the fluffy ice into something creamy, but ... you guessed it, this was quite sweet.
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Wednesday, September 18, 2019

Toshi Yoroizuka, Tokyo

When I travel, I very rarely just stumble into a place with no advance research.  Particularly not when it comes to something as critical as dessert.  And yet, I did that, in Tokyo of all places, where I have an incredible list of places I want to check out.

The reason was simple.  Even I get burnt out on travel, on extra effort required to feed myself fabulous things, and I was jetlagged.  And it was raining.  I just couldn't be bothered to trek across town to somewhere I really wanted to go.
Mediocre Dessert Experience.
So I did ~10 minutes of research, and found Toshi Yoroizuka, located in the complex my hotel was part of.

It is famous apparently, chef on TV, etc, etc, but I was highly underwhelmed. 

Setting

Toshi Yoroizuka is located in the Midtown complex, adjacent to a large mall and hotel complex.

Storefront.
The entrance is off the terrace area, with malls on either side, but it has direct access from the outside, making it slightly classier than a food court entrance.
Pastry Displays.
At the front are displays of pre-made pastries available for takeout.  Standard french pastries, fairly elaborate, beautiful.
More Pastries.
I almost just got something from there to take back to my room, given aforementioned laziness.  But nothing *really* called out to me.

I was clearly in a mood, as there were plenty of things I do normally like, plenty of custards, creams, and puddings.
Toshi Mandel Krone Display.
An entirely separate case housed a signature specialty item: mandel krone.  Some kind of almond baked good?  I hadn't done enough research to know anything about this.
Counter.
I stuck with my plan though of not taking the easy takeout route, and was seated at the 10 person dessert counter.  It looks like any other bar, except that it serves desserts. 
Bar & "Kitchen".
In front of me was the bar (they do serve drinks too) and the prep station where each dish was assembled to order.

There was a group of 3 on one end, and a solo diner next to me, so I was able to watch 5 different items get built up, as we literally all ordered something different.

Food

Dessert Menu.
The menu was in Japanese only, and is fairly short, 6 items.  I was able to see 5 of 6, not bad!

Google Translate, and my quick Instagram search, made ordering fairly easy, and no English was spoken.

The options were mostly fruity based, most had a frozen component.

There were two types of parfait (peach or chocolate), each with a slew of components, that were actually fairly small once plated up.  I saw both of these being made.

Then there was a fascinating sounding (and looking) millefeuille, assembled to order with a "snow salt ice cream", but, alas, watermelon.  I had a little fear communicating my severe allergy at this point.

Next up, one I did consider, the souffle, but alas, it was rhubarb and orange, never my favorites.  The solo diner next to me ordered this, and it did look like a nicely made, very classic, souffle, of course, baked to order in front of us.

And finally, certainly the most interesting sounding, but alas the one I didn't get to see, a pistachio cream and ... gorgonzola ice cream and biscuits thing?

But I went for the final option, featuring two things I like: mango and dessert rice.
Complimentary Pre-Dessert: Pan de Gennes.
Once you order, you are given ... a pre-desert.  I was not expecting this.  I'm glad I saw it happening to others, as I would have been confused that I incorrectly ordered.

Every person I saw got something different.  I got ... some little almond (?) cake.  It was dense, and not really my thing at all.  I felt very rude not wanting to eat it.  I looked it up later, this was a Pan de Gennes, normally 250 yen.

I kinda liked the cream on it, but even that wasn't particularly special. I was jealous of other items I saw go to other people, as they looked more my thing.  But I also wasn't expecting a pre-desert, and didn't really want one.
Mangue risotto. 1350 jpy.
"Mango risotto: Dessert with plenty of rich mango. Put the mango sorbet on the risotto cooked with coconut milk and orange juice."

For my main attraction, I went for the mango dessert, not entirely knowing what it was, given that the menu was in Japanese only.  Above is the Google Translate version of what it was.

It was plated up quite nicely, which I expected.  Although, up, it kinda looked like it had antlers to me ...

It was fun watching it get made to order, as the server started with ... a whole mango.  And proceeded to use ... a whole mango.  A huge mango.

Let me describe it first.

At the base is coconut milk risotto, then cubes of baked mango, what seemed to be a little pastry cream and cream angalise, then a layer of mango sorbet, and then AN ENTIRE MANGO.  Oh, and then more mango sorbet.  And then cookie (antler) garnish.

This was really a lot of sweet.  Too much sweet.  And too much mango, at least for one person - a full mango on top, 2 scoops of mango sorbet, and cubes of what seemed to be slightly cooked mango under it all?  #mangoliscious but there is such a thing as too much.

But also, none of it was particularly good.

The mango sorbet was very very sweet.  Texture fine, but I'm not generally into sorbet anyway.  The mango on top was ... lackluster really.  I was hoping for better quality mango, expecting mango like I have in Sydney, not like in the US.  Kinda sour, just, not something to highlight at all.  The cooked cubes were a bit better.
Close Up.
Here you can see under the mango layers, the risotto (e.g. rice pudding), and cream.

The risotto and cream were ... fine.  Nothing special.  But the better components.

I wished I had someone with me to eat some, or that it was appropriate to leave some behind, but, I was at a counter in front of the chef, and everyone around me was finishing their dishes, or at least seemed to be trying, we were all slowing down quite a bit.  I kept eating it, not liking it, kinda sad.

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Tuesday, September 17, 2019

JL 2, Tokyo to San Francisco, Business Class

Flight Details

Flight: JL2.
Departure Time: 7:50pm.
Aircraft: 777-300.
Class: Business.
Seat: 9K

This flight from Tokyo was exactly the same as I had done 2 years prior, same exact timing.  You can read all about that experience here.

Since I've reviewed the route before, I'll skip all details of the seat, and focus only on the parts that were different this time around, and of course, the food.
Seat 9K.
It was a fairly standard flight, and my feelings on the aircraft and seat remain unchanged.  Amazing privacy even in the 2-3-2 setup, due to the large divider and staggered seats.  Very nice to have aisle access, and essentially no neighbor (I was only aware of him during takeoff and landing when we had to have the divider open).

The window seat really doesn't have much place to put anything though, and can feel a bit claustrophobic.  Still, I was happy enough with my seat, and it was comfortable enough for sitting and sleeping.

Amenities are standard and basic, no pajamas provided, but I brought mine from my Japan Airlines First Class flight to Tokyo, which I still really loved.  Service was polite.

The flight was fine, but of course, after flying First Class there, it was obviously a downgrade.

Dinner Service

As with my previous flight, for the main meal service, you have the choice of a Japanese or Western menu. Both have the same amuse bouche, but different first courses, mains, and desserts.
Japanese Menu.
Sakizuke
Deep-fried Eggplant with Grated Yam Sauce / Matsutake Mushroom & Turnip Flan

Crimson Sky 〜Selection of seasonal colorful delicacies〜
  • Scallop &Vegetables marinated in Vinegar Sauce
  • Chicken Teriyaki / Scrambled Egg / Green Beans
  • Simmered Prawn /  Spicy-simmered Konjac / Roasted Chestnut
  • Mushrooms dressed with Tofu & Sesame Sauce
  • Tuna "Sashimi"
  • Béchamel Sauce & Caviar
Dainomono
Beef Sukiyaki with Slow Cooked Egg
Grilled Salmon "Yu-an" Style

Steamed Rice
Miso Soup
Japanese Pickles

Kanmi
Matcha Green Tea Flavored "Ukishima"
〜Ukishima is Japanese style steamed cake made with sweet bean paste〜

There were elements in here that sounded good - scallop! Chestnut! Béchamel Sauce & Caviar! - but overall the menu didn't jump out.

I was sad to see the dessert was matcha based, and thus caffeinated, something I needed to avoid to have any hope of getting some sleep on the flight.
Western Menu.
The Western had an option for the main course (seafood, beef, or vegetarian), but everything else was fixed:

Amuse-Bouche
Deep-fried Eggplant Grated Yam Sauce / Matsutake Mushroom & Turnip Flan

Hors-d'œuvre

  • Dauphinoise Potatoes with Truffle
  • Pickled Radish
  • Lobster rolled with Lardo Sunchoke Purée
  • Snow Crab mixed with Celery Root
  • Sautéed Lotus Root & Quail

Main Dish (Choice)

  • "Wagyu" Beef Sirloin Steak / Burdock Flavored Madeira Sauce /Chicory
  • Salmon & Common Orient Clam /  White Wine Cream Sauce / Watercress Purée

Special Bread from MAISON KAYSER

  • Petit Pumpkin Ekmek
  • Petit Pain de Campagne
Dessert

  • Matcha Green Tea & Mandarin Opera

I was tempted by this menu, as I do like lobster and crab, and I actually tried to order the main dish salmon instead of the Japanese main, but alas, I was turned down.  I loved the look (from the photo) and sound of the cream sauce, salmon, and clam!

This dessert also sounded marginally better, but since it too was caffeinated, I had to be careful.  Again, no mix and match.
Dinner Feast.
In the end, I picked the Japanese mostly for the fascinating sounding Béchamel Sauce & Caviar ... as, well, those are delicious things.  I also was able to try both desserts (accidentally), and added on more dessert from the Anytime menu.

The meal was a mixed bag, but, a fun dining experience regardless.
Sakizuke / Amuse Bouche.
"Deep-fried Eggplant with Grated Yam Sauce / Matsutake Mushroom & Turnip Flan created by Chef Shinobu Namae."

The little starter duo was the same for both menus, and actually sounded quite appealing.  It was served 1 hour into our flight, along with drinks.

Unfortunately, I ... hated it.

The eggplant actually add a smoky (hmm, not fried ...) quality to it that was nice, but the grated yam sauce had a consistency I just couldn't stand.  It was like slime.  So unappealing.

The flan I was particularly excited about, but ... it was bitter, very very bitter.  I know turnips are bitter but it just tasted ... bad to me.  Even the mushrooms on top weren't really enjoyable, and it had a strange layer of goo on top too.
Crimson Sky 〜Selection of seasonal colorful delicacies〜
The first course is a beautiful box full of goodies.  I knew to expect this presentation, but I was still blown away by it.

Along with the box, I had fun origami bird shaped chopstick rest, and soy sauce.
Crimson Sky: Inside the Box.
The presentation inside the box was lovely too, with delicate glass bowls in nearly ever compartment, not just dividers.

Scallop &Vegetables marinated in Vinegar Sauce.
Well ... I do love scallops, but this one was odd.  I like cold scallops even, but, once I uncovered the scallop, it just looked ... kinda strange.  Sorta ... gray?  I still tried it.  And ... it was just odd.  Fishy in a way I've never experienced with a scallop.  I did not like the scallop.

I did like the marinated onions, basically, pickles, and I like pickled onions.  Tart, sour, and tasty.  Meh to the bell peppers, which is how I feel about bell peppers in general.

Second favorite of the dishes, just for the pickled onions.
Chicken Teriyaki / Scrambled Egg / Green Beans.
I don't like chicken, but, I do like Japanese eggs, and I do like teriyaki.

And I did kinda like those things.  The egg was, well, cold scrambled eggs, which mostly reminded me of chopped hard boiled egg like you'd get in a salad bar.  I liked it enough.

And the teriyaki sauce, although a cold congealed lump, was flavorful.  I didn't try the chicken, it too was kinda gray though.

Third pick, for flavorful sauce and egg.
Simmered Prawn / Spicy-simmered Konjac / Roasted Chestnut.
This trio was boring, and yet turned out to be my favorite.

The prawn was entirely inoffensive. Not fishy. Not chewy. Cleaned well. Really decent, but, it had no sauce or anything, so was quite plain.

The konjac was ... ok.  Not spicy as advertised, and just not something I really love, texture-wise, and it had no flavor.

The roasted chestnut however was FANTASTIC!  Huge, flavorful, <3 <3 <3.  But I love chestnuts.

So, first pick, for that chestnut, and the decent enough prawn.
Mushrooms dressed with Tofu & Sesame Sauce.
Well, just like last time, I disliked the sesame sauce.  So close to good, but somehow, just not a flavor that does it for me.  And I do like sesame.

I also was horrified to see pine nuts (sorry, I once got pine nut syndrome, I can't deal with them still).  But there was one little bean-like thing I did like.  Uh ... 4th pick for the bean thing?
Tuna "Sashimi"
I've just been anti-raw fish lately, and this was no exception, although it really was presented nicely, wasabi on the side.  Rather hard to use soy sauce with it though, besides just dribbling over the top.  Least favorite.
Béchamel Sauce & Caviar.
And finally, the dish I was looking most forward to ...

Well, it turns out, even I, the girl who loves sauces, who loves béchamel ... doesn't really just want cold béchamel by the spoonful.  Or maybe I would if it were better?  Not that there was anything wrong with it, but ... it was just kinda heavy, and I really wanted bread or something to dunk into it.

The caviar ... was flavorless.  I guess 5th pick?
Dainomono.
"Beef Sukiyaki with Slow Cooked Egg / Grilled Salmon "Yu-an" Style / Steamed Rice / Miso Soup / Japanese Pickles."

The main dish was a duo of proteins, plus a slew more sides.  Again, nicely presented.

I'm not a rice eater, but, this seemed fine, sticky rice style.
Miso Soup.
The miso soup was ... kinda a disaster.  It was lukewarm.  It had a HUGE clump of miso paste just in the middle entirely not mixed in.  Not good.
Slow Cooked Egg.
The slow cooked egg was ... well, a soft egg, chilled.  The whites were very runny, but the yolk was nice.  It wasn't particularly flavorful, and I wanted salt, pepper or something with it.  I kinda used the sauces from the other dishes to help it out.  It was extremely hard to eat with chopsticks.
Pickles.
The pickles were fun - I didn't care for the white vegetable, just not very crisp, but I loved the kelp (?) and the little sour plums.
Beef Sukiyaki / Grilled Salmon "Yu-an" Style.
And finally, the proteins.

The beef was a mixed bag.  The flavor was great, and I did like the onions with it, and some bits were quite tender and nice, but other bits were extremely fatty and others were chewy.  So, some good bits, some not so good bits.

The salmon was ... fine.  Not mushy, not fishy, but also not particularly good.  Not much flavor on it.  I really wished I had been able to order the Western salmon with its cream sauce!

None of this was nearly as memorable as the last time I flew this route.
Kanmi (Japanese Dessert).
"Matcha Green Tea Flavored "Ukishima."

〜Ukishima is Japanese style steamed cake made with sweet bean paste〜"

This was my first encounter with Ukishima.

It was a fairly boring cake, not really flavorful in any way.  Not too dry, but not particularly moist.  It had a layer of generic red bean, and a thin layer of matcha paste.

Not particularly exciting, but the better of the two desserts.  Not worth eating though really.
Western Dessert.
"Matcha Green Tea & Mandarin Opera."

I was accidentally given this, but I didn't object, even though I did stash it away, since I couldn't eat at 10pm when I was trying to go to bed due to the matcha.

I didn't care for it.  Thin layers of dry cake, matcha buttercream, and a mandarin flavored gel.  The buttercream was decent, but everything else, meh.  Basically, not fresh, and not a very quality item.
Ice Cream: Custard Pudding.
Since I couldn't have either of the desserts after dinner due to caffeine, I opted for the custard pudding flavor ice cream then.  I don't think we have this flavor in the US.
Custard Pudding: Top View.
It was a small serving, just served in the Häagen-Dazs container, no additional plating.  Decent custard flavor, and unexpected sweet caramel-like swirl.  If you got a bite with lots of caramel, it was sweet and quite lovely, like an ice cream sundae built in.

I really did like this, certainly more interesting than vanilla, served hard but not too hard.  Basically, a pretty solid option.
Ice Cream: Topped!
I added my own toppings, of course, and paired it with a baked good from the lounge (sssh), and was happy enough with my dessert creation.

Drinks

Wine List.
The first page of the drink menu is dedicated to wine, with a fairly standard lineup of offerings: single champagne, 3 whites, 2 reds.  Nothing nearly as notable as those I had on my first class trip over to Tokyo (hello, Cristal!)
Friedrich Becker ”Doppelstück” Pinot Noir 2016.
"Freidrich Becker is cultivating wines in Germany’s Pfalz region in vineyards that straddle the border between France and Germany, in a completely natural way without using any chemical fertilizers. Becker is widely known as a producer of some of the top Pinot Noir wines of this area. Delight in the nuances of ruby-red cherries and the faintly sweetscent of oak.  ”Doppelstück” 2016 offers you a fresh, juicy palate mingled with an amiable bitterness and lingering flavors of cloves and fruit."

I wanted a white wine to start my meal, but when I looked up the options, all sounded more acidic than I like, and, well, pretty cheap (one $8 bottle, and the others ~$20).

So I went for the Pinot Noir, and it was decent.  Some complexity, not too much tannin, light but not boring.
Sake / Shochu / Spirits / Cocktails / Non alcoholic.
More interesting is the sake, shochu, cocktails, etc list, at least to me, as there are items that aren't on most flights, like, plum wine, and the JAL signature "Sky Time Kiwi" non-alcoholic drink.
Kamonishiki Junmai Daiginjo JAL Original
"This Junmai Daiginjo was brewed exclusively for JAL’s passengers so that you can enjoy just-pressed sake onboard. Savor the mild sweetness and freshness that evoke the best quality fruits, on top of the delicate scents inherent in Ginjo sake. Kamonishiki’s JAL Original sake makes a good marriage with a variety of cuisine thanks to its crisp flavor."

To go with the course of little Japanese dishes, I opted for sake, remembering that I had enjoyed it before.

I enjoyed it again.  Smooth, slightly sweet, and so very clearly alcoholic.  Perfect to pair with the Japanese menu, really.

Anytime You Wish Service

After the main meal service, dining is on-demand, until 2 hours before landing, dubbed "Anytime you wish".
Anytime You Wish Menu.
The "Anytime you wish" menu had a few interesting options too, but nothing spectacular.  It was mostly a lineup of just lighter meals, pasta, noodles, curry, sandwiches, etc.

"Otoriyose" in the Sky
Japanese Jack Mackerel with Steamed Rice & Sesame Sauce

Light Meal
  • Colorful Vegetable Salad with Five Grains & Beans Beet Dressing 〜Recommendation for light vegetarian〜
  • JAL The Curry 〜JAL original chicken curry super vised by "Hashimoto" in Kumamoto, listed as a 1-star restaurant in the "MICHELIN Guide Kumamoto and Oita 2018 special edition."〜
  • Fettuccine Carbonara / Bacon & Spinach
Noodles
Noodles are accompanied by Chinese rice dumpling.
  • JAL Original "Japanese Soba Noodles Tsuta" Ramen Noodles in Soy Sauce Soup 〜Please enjoy rich aroma of truffle oil〜
  • Japanese Hot "Udon" Noodles /  Edible Wild Plants
Sandwich
  • Wasabi Flavored Smoked Salmon Sandwich
  • "Sangenton" Pork Cutlet Sandwich
Cheese
Selection Assorted Cheese

Refreshment
  • Fresh Fruits 
  • Yogurt / Fruit Sauce 
  • Häagen-Dazs Ice Cream:Vanilla / Matcha Green Tea / Custard Pudding
I was sad to see the swap from Dean & Deluca ice cream to Häagen-Dazs though, as I loved it so much, but the flavors at least sounded interesting.

The flight lands at 1:30pm, but, it does so after the night, so I usually like to have a breakfast item after getting a little non-sleep.  The only breakfast-like item was yogurt and fruit, which made me quite sad, particularly as I had loved the waffles so much before.
My "Breakfast" Lineup.
Of course, I knew the menu in advance, and came prepared with my own baked goods for breakfast, but I still tried a few menu items when I was woken up at basically exactly 2 hours before landing.  You know, 3.5 hours after I went to sleep, and 4 hours after eating a feast.  Totally time for another meal ...
Colorful Vegetable Salad with Five Grains & Beans Beet Dressing.
"〜Recommendation for light vegetarian〜"

I started with the salad.  

It did have a decent assortment of vegetables, although they weren't really things I like, such as blanched cauliflower and bell peppers.  The lettuce was decently crisp, although almost seemed ... frozen? I think it had been kept a bit too cold.  I liked the pile of colorful shredded cabbage on top.

The grains were decent too, not what I normally want, but they were mostly just crunch and texture, not a dominate item.  I'm not sure entirely what the 5 grains were, but there seemed to be lentils, beans, and some other hearty grains.

Unfortunately, I didn't care for the beet dressing, and it coated everything.  I wished I had asked for it on the side.  I almost asked for another salad without dressing, but, I didn't really need it.  The beet dressing was chunky, thick, tasted like beets, but also just had a flavor I didn't care for.

Overall, probably a decent healthy option, if that is your thing.
Fettuccine Carbonara / Bacon & Spinach.
The most tempting thing on the anytime menu for me was the fettuccine carbonara.  I knew it wouldn't be restaurant quality or anything, but, it was the only real comfort food on there, at least, western style comfort food.

Not that it was appropriate for breakfast, but, the egg and bacon kinda was?

Anyway, it was ok.  The fettuccine was green, I guess spinach, although I didn't taste spinach.  It wasn't mushy, but obviously wasn't fresh pasta.

The sauce was creamy, and that I did like.  The bits of bacon were nice with the sauce, and again, sparked the breakfast thing for me.  There were only ... 6 (?) little bits though.

There were some tasty mushrooms in the mix too, only a few, not listed on the menu.  And ... I think, literally, two pieces of spinach (besides I guess what colored the pasta)?  So not quite what I expected.

Overall, fine, but still airplane food.
Ice Cream: Green Tea.
To round out my breakfast, I ordered the green tea ice cream.

It was funny, I asked if they had any ice cream left, and the FA told me that no one besides me had ordered any, the entire flight (!).  I almost volunteered to just take it all home with me, or at least, a few more, in my vacuum mug ...

This one came straight from the dry ice, clearly, and was rock solid.  Took a while to be ready to eat, but that was fine, as I had my salad, pasta, and baked goods I had brought along to eat anyway.

The green tea flavor was really, really good.  I quite liked it, and asked for a second one, knowing that they had plenty, and it would go to waste.  My neighbor followed my lead and also got ice cream, but everyone else was ordering "normal" food.  Silly people.
Anytime You Wish: Set Menus.
And finally, a choice of Western or Japanese Set Menu, if you wanted something more designed as a full meal.

FUMIKO's Japanese Set Plate
Dainomono: Grilled Mackerel "Yu-an" Style / Boiled Garland Chrysanthemum & Chrysanthemum Petals / Lemon
Soup: Japanese Clear Soup Sea Lettuce, "Fu", Yuzu Flavored Somen Noodles
Steamed Rice Japanese Pickles & Soy-simmered Kelp

FUMIKO's Western Set Plate
Main Dish: Frillice Lettuce Salad with Fricassée of Japanese Beef Sirloin & Mushroom Truffle Vinaigrette
Fig Compote
Special Bread from MAISON KAYSER: Pumpkin Ekmek Smoked Pain de Campagne.
You can enjoy your breads with butter. We are pleased to offer you jam. Please ask your cabin attendant.

Western Set Plate
The following set plate is also available.
Spanish Omelette with Sweet Potato / Tomato Sauce
Iberico Bellota Ham Salad & Caprese Salad / Lemon Dressing
Sweet Corn Mousse with Jellied Crabmeat
Special Bread from MAISON KAYSER: Pumpkin Ekmek Smoked Pain de Campagne

None of these menus really seemed like what I'd want after only 4 hours of sleep, although I was curious why the salad came with fig compote, and the sweet corn mousse with jellied crab (?!) might be interesting.

I didn't see anyone else order these either.
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