For our first full day, we headed out to get some breakfast before exploring. We are fans of St. Marc Cafe, and we know they have something close to an American breakfast, so we headed there. I went with the stuffed French toast (it isn't really, but it is similar) and this egg "thing".
After a quick "medical" procedure, I discovered there was meat under the egg, so I did not eat this. But it looked good!
Our plan for the day was to ride the Loople. Yes, the Loople. This is the Sendai version of a hop-on-hop-off bus. It is a bus that looks like a cable car and they stuff this thing full. I mean REALLY full! They even had pushers to get everyone inside before closing the door. We had a good spot that wasn't too claustrophobic, but we had no idea how we would get off when the time came.
Well, the time came a few stops later when we reach the Sendai castle site. We had to make our way to the front with each stop that the bus made and more people got off. It was crazy! But we wanted to see the castle park area so we made sure to get off. The castle used to be here, but it is no longer standing. This is not uncommon in Japan to just have a park left where a castle used to stand.
Here is Ryan as we are getting ready to walk towards the castle area.
Just like any castle, the site was picked for it's strategic placement over the city. If you have ever traveled and visited castles you will know they typically come with the best view in the whole town. This was no exception.
That's Sendai city in the distance.
Here is a little better view.
As usual, someone is selling food. This person is actually selling, of all things, corn on the cob! And we wonder why obesity is lower in Japan!
Here I am with a very pretty pink colored bush.
Statues are very common at castle sites too. I have no idea who this is.
After we walked around a little we went to the shrine that was at the castle site.
I didn't get a chance to sample this, but I was definitely curious. A Japanese dietitian friend of my commented on my Facebook page and told me she has tried this before. Next time I will have to try!
Instead we decided to watch what everyone else was watching. I could hear the noise and instantly knew they were pounding mochi. Mochi is made from pounded rice and it is very glutinous. Maybe you have tried mochi before. If not, imagine what rice gets like after you roll it around between your fingers. Mochi is much stickier, but it gives you an idea. I have never seen this before so it was neat to watch, even if it was only the end of it. The "host" on the "stage" made sure to call out "mochi" and point when he saw us join the group.
Here is the mochi.
Apparently the local specialty is this mochi treat. It is covered in edamame. I tried it and I will say it was interesting. It was too much with the textures for me, but I liked the flavor. It was just super chewy. I was glad we found this because it made something else make sense...the picture on the front of the edamame flavored kit kat box. It is a picture of these green balls and I always wondered what they were because edamame doesn't look like a ball on a plate.
More tranquil nature as we headed back to the Loople.
The next stop was the Sendai Natural history museum. It is part of the University here. Sendai is in Miyagi Prefecture and is the largest city (and the capital, I believe) in this prefecture. Needless to say, this is a big place for education for people in this region.
Out front we found some petrified wood.
Here are some of the fun things from inside.
The next stop for us was the Miyagi Museum of Art.
By now we were starving and not really near the downtown area. Good thing they had a restaurant inside. The only problem was the lack of an English menu, pictures and staff that spoke English. I used Google translate to ask specific questions about food, but I saw the seafood pasta served to someone else, so this was easy for me.
It even came with a salad.
Ryan's was a little more difficult, but the server was able to tell us the basic names in English, so Ryan went with the hamburger (I think!). It's actually a hamburger "steak" served without a bun.
The final stop for us was another museum within the media building (like a library building combined with technology related things and an art museum spanning a few floors. After that we headed back to our hotel. On the way I passed by this sign, which was too funny not to pass by.
We also stopped into a wine store and did a wine sampling. Fun!
For dinner we wanted to get some tapas. After some searching on the internet we found Rigoletto, which was not too far from our hotel. There was a short wait, but we didn't mind.
First up, the server brought us some raw veggies. I don't pass up veggies, so we gave it a try. Not much there, but we still managed to share it.
Tapas are best when sangria is involved!
This sounded good on the menu, but when it got to the table it turned out it had meat around the edges, like a crust. It was cream cheese with veggies, to use as a spread.
This was delicious. It was tomatoes, mozzarella and melon.
This was the spanish omelet.
Olives, of course!
Boursin cheese with crackers.
Fried shrimp, which ended up being too much (texture-wise) for me to eat. But at least I tried!
After dinner we walked around some more and found our way back to St. Marc Cafe. Yes, it was time for dessert (I ended up not eating a whole lot at dinner because of random meat that ended up places). Ryan ordered this ice cream treat.
I had this little blueberry pastry. So late at night I was lucky anything was left!
The next morning was the start of our last day, and actually we only had a 1/2 day left. We went to Cafe Croissant because I saw they had bagels with cream cheese and smoked salmon on the menu. We do not have this in Misawa (unless I buy it and make at home, but I have a hard time finding the smoked salmon) so I really wanted it.
Not the best bagel, but not the worst!
I know, I could not possibly still be hungry, but we came across a little taiyaki shop and I couldn't resist. Taiyaki are fish shaped pancakes filled with custard or bean paste.
Usually I go with the adzuki beans but I decided to go with cream. Boy was that the right choice. This was the best taiyaki I think I have ever had!
The final thing for the day was lunch before getting on the train (after walking and shopping of course). We wanted to try this place. Yeah, the name Organic Cafe was very misleading. We walked in and the whole place was filled with smoke. So we turned around and left. Yuck!
Instead, we stumbled into a little place called Glam Kitchen. It was too cute looking to pass up.
Lunch in Japan is usually like a lunch special with a set meal. A set usually includes salad and/or soup, entree and a drink. Sometimes even dessert. Here we started with a salad.
I had iced tea for my beverage. I love how they brought me the lemon.
Then we were served a nice vegetable soup. I had told them I was a vegetarian and did not eat meat (using Google translate to give him all my preferences, which is my new favorite thing because I can be very specific). So I think this was made especially for us. I saw the server come back in with a celery stalk and the celery in my soup was on the crunchy side. Plus, the soup they brought out to another table was much darker and less veggies. I really do believe this is what happened and if that is the case I am really impressed. This is not the first time the Japanese have gone out of their way to be accommodating with a meal. A few times I have had a bowl of soup made for me on the spot that was chicken, beef and pork free.
With the soup was a little bread.
Then there was the pasta. Tomatoes, fresh mozzarella and avocado. Yes, avocado in my pasta for the second time. It works so nicely. The fat from the avocado is creamy and it melts so nicely with the hot pasta. This might be my new favorite pasta topping!
Then it was time to go back to the train station and head back home. What a fun weekend getaway in Sendai! Loved every minute and hope to go back.
QUESTIONS: Have you ever had avocado on pasta? What is your favorite pasta topping?