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    Affordorable.com

    is a virtual space where Liyana Aris documents her evolving modest personal style, which is based on the art of looking casually stylish while still remaining modest and doing it all on a budget; about 93% of her closet are filled with affordable things. (PS: The remaining 7% has a lot to do with her secret addiction to Adidas shoes and her occasional splurges on discounted high-end bags and clutches, shhh.) [+]
    30.12.14 .

    Guys, let me admit this first: I had no idea what shabu-shabu was before this, nor had I heard of it. But now that I know what it is (and, also, my doctor recently told me to up my iron game), I declare myself a personal advocate of genuine shabu-shabu.
    Maybe 'advocate' is too strong of a word here hmmm. A personal supporter of genuine shabu-shabu, then. (Note: Steamboat and shabu-shabu are not the same. I refuse to accept they're the same.)

    Halal beef and chicken are really hard to find in restaurants around Tokyo. Good thing is, Shah and I LOVE seafood so we don't have too much of a problem when it comes to eating outside. Japan is, after all, almost like headquarter of World Fresh Seafood. But there's only so much raw salmon and fatty tuna I could consumeI was starting to crave for some good ol' red meat.

    And Hanasakaji-San is just the place to go for that in Tokyo.

    The gloriousness of red meat
    OK, turned out I wasn't that sick of seafood after all, because, SCALLOPSSS. And I'm a sucker for tempura

    Hanasakaji-San (some spell it as Hanasaka Jiisan, which is the title of a Japanese fairytale) isn't exclusively a halal restaurant but they seem to have gone out of their way to make halal dining experience there as comfortable as possible, like:
    • keeping the halal meat in a separate freezer from the non-halal meat
    • dedicating plates and utensils for halal dining and separated from non-halal food servings
    • providing the latest appropriate certificates to prove their halal status
    But you know what matters the most? The food. Is. YUM. Shah and I enjoyed the food immensely.

     Flavoured salts? YUM.
     More beef. More please.

    Don't know how to "shabu-shabu"? I can't remember the last time I had to learn how to eat, but the cutest uncle in Hanasakaji-San was incredibly helpful and gave us a crash course on shabu-shabu.

    Uncle was like "Shabu-shabuuu... Changing cah-larhhh!"
    Seriously, those were his exact words.
    Yasssssss shabu-shabu-ing myself! After that, dip those babies in sesame sauce and they're good to go (as in they're good to go into your tummy)
    The spread

    Hanasakaji-San serves non-alcoholic red wine, white wine and champagne on their menu, not even kidding. Seriously, all non-alcoholic. We ordered the non-alcoholic "red wine" and I must say, if the real red wine tastes anything like what I tasted, it is confirmed that I am not missing out on life. 
    The characters in Cougar Town already hate me, don't they?

    Happy tummy, happy life. Am I right?

    The ambience is pretty nice, with dim lights and classy, easy setting.


    Happy faces and happy tummies all around later that night:

    Me and my Shibuya 109 goodies (Shah came straight from the office, me came straight from the shopping)

    Rough instructions on how to get to Hanasakaji-San ("rough" because my giving-direction prowess is not the best):
    The restaurant is only about 5 minutes walk from Metro Shibuya Station, so fret not. When you arrive at Shibuya station, upon leaving your train, look for the South Exit. Upon exiting from the South Exit, head towards the West Exit side of the station.
    Wait, first I said South Exit, then I mentioned West Exit, so you must all be extremely confused right now, aren't you? Because that's how I felt when I read someone else's instructions. So I have this picture from my iPhone to accompany the confusion:


    The white arrow indicates the exit you should head to right after you leave your train, which is the South Exit. After you insert your train ticket into the slot and walk pass the barrier at the South Exit, turn left towards the West Exit direction (the one that I've circled, see?) and walk straight out. Does that help?
    You will come out from the station and see buses and bus stops, and on your left is a designated smoking area and a staircase to a footbridge. Climb up the stairs and walk straight, and I mean straight all the way. You will reach a stairs-pitchfork, where you can descend down a stairs on your left and on the right is a footpath. You don't want to go left or right, you want to go straight and descend down the stairs in front of you.
    Once you're down the stairs, you should see the blue-and-green Family Mart on your right, but not that that matters too much because you're not going to go there. No, you're just going to walk straight ahead.

     Just walk straiggghhhtttt
    until you see this white tall-ish building on the left and the Granbell hotel on the right.

    You're there!

     The entrance

    Just go down the stairs and get ready for your genuine, aunthentic shabu-shabu experience!

    It is best to call in advance and book a place as they need extra time to prepare the halal meat. The place might look nondescript from the outside but it can get fully-booked on certain nights, so do reserve a place early on, regardless if you're after the halal meat or not.

    For more information, visit their website: hanasakaji-san.jp

    If you find this post helpful, and if this post helps you get to Hanasakaji-San in any way (my post tempt you to go / my directions actually got you there etc. etc.) do leave a comment down belowI would really appreciate it!

    Extra note: Hanasaka Jiisan is a Japanese fairy tale that teaches people to not ever be greedy, which is ironic considering how I felt after taking my first bite of shabu-shabu goodness. You can Wiki the name Hanasaka Jiisan and read the story there.

    follow @theliyanaaris on Instagram

    30.12.14 .

    Guys, let me admit this first: I had no idea what shabu-shabu was before this, nor had I heard of it. But now that I know what it is (and, also, my doctor recently told me to up my iron game), I declare myself a personal advocate of genuine shabu-shabu.
    Maybe 'advocate' is too strong of a word here hmmm. A personal supporter of genuine shabu-shabu, then. (Note: Steamboat and shabu-shabu are not the same. I refuse to accept they're the same.)

    Halal beef and chicken are really hard to find in restaurants around Tokyo. Good thing is, Shah and I LOVE seafood so we don't have too much of a problem when it comes to eating outside. Japan is, after all, almost like headquarter of World Fresh Seafood. But there's only so much raw salmon and fatty tuna I could consumeI was starting to crave for some good ol' red meat.

    And Hanasakaji-San is just the place to go for that in Tokyo.

    The gloriousness of red meat
    OK, turned out I wasn't that sick of seafood after all, because, SCALLOPSSS. And I'm a sucker for tempura

    Hanasakaji-San (some spell it as Hanasaka Jiisan, which is the title of a Japanese fairytale) isn't exclusively a halal restaurant but they seem to have gone out of their way to make halal dining experience there as comfortable as possible, like:
    • keeping the halal meat in a separate freezer from the non-halal meat
    • dedicating plates and utensils for halal dining and separated from non-halal food servings
    • providing the latest appropriate certificates to prove their halal status
    But you know what matters the most? The food. Is. YUM. Shah and I enjoyed the food immensely.

     Flavoured salts? YUM.
     More beef. More please.

    Don't know how to "shabu-shabu"? I can't remember the last time I had to learn how to eat, but the cutest uncle in Hanasakaji-San was incredibly helpful and gave us a crash course on shabu-shabu.

    Uncle was like "Shabu-shabuuu... Changing cah-larhhh!"
    Seriously, those were his exact words.
    Yasssssss shabu-shabu-ing myself! After that, dip those babies in sesame sauce and they're good to go (as in they're good to go into your tummy)
    The spread

    Hanasakaji-San serves non-alcoholic red wine, white wine and champagne on their menu, not even kidding. Seriously, all non-alcoholic. We ordered the non-alcoholic "red wine" and I must say, if the real red wine tastes anything like what I tasted, it is confirmed that I am not missing out on life. 
    The characters in Cougar Town already hate me, don't they?

    Happy tummy, happy life. Am I right?

    The ambience is pretty nice, with dim lights and classy, easy setting.


    Happy faces and happy tummies all around later that night:

    Me and my Shibuya 109 goodies (Shah came straight from the office, me came straight from the shopping)

    Rough instructions on how to get to Hanasakaji-San ("rough" because my giving-direction prowess is not the best):
    The restaurant is only about 5 minutes walk from Metro Shibuya Station, so fret not. When you arrive at Shibuya station, upon leaving your train, look for the South Exit. Upon exiting from the South Exit, head towards the West Exit side of the station.
    Wait, first I said South Exit, then I mentioned West Exit, so you must all be extremely confused right now, aren't you? Because that's how I felt when I read someone else's instructions. So I have this picture from my iPhone to accompany the confusion:


    The white arrow indicates the exit you should head to right after you leave your train, which is the South Exit. After you insert your train ticket into the slot and walk pass the barrier at the South Exit, turn left towards the West Exit direction (the one that I've circled, see?) and walk straight out. Does that help?
    You will come out from the station and see buses and bus stops, and on your left is a designated smoking area and a staircase to a footbridge. Climb up the stairs and walk straight, and I mean straight all the way. You will reach a stairs-pitchfork, where you can descend down a stairs on your left and on the right is a footpath. You don't want to go left or right, you want to go straight and descend down the stairs in front of you.
    Once you're down the stairs, you should see the blue-and-green Family Mart on your right, but not that that matters too much because you're not going to go there. No, you're just going to walk straight ahead.

     Just walk straiggghhhtttt
    until you see this white tall-ish building on the left and the Granbell hotel on the right.

    You're there!

     The entrance

    Just go down the stairs and get ready for your genuine, aunthentic shabu-shabu experience!

    It is best to call in advance and book a place as they need extra time to prepare the halal meat. The place might look nondescript from the outside but it can get fully-booked on certain nights, so do reserve a place early on, regardless if you're after the halal meat or not.

    For more information, visit their website: hanasakaji-san.jp

    If you find this post helpful, and if this post helps you get to Hanasakaji-San in any way (my post tempt you to go / my directions actually got you there etc. etc.) do leave a comment down belowI would really appreciate it!

    Extra note: Hanasaka Jiisan is a Japanese fairy tale that teaches people to not ever be greedy, which is ironic considering how I felt after taking my first bite of shabu-shabu goodness. You can Wiki the name Hanasaka Jiisan and read the story there.
    27.12.14 .

    “Japan never considers time together as time wasted. Rather, it is time invested.” - Donald Richie

    It is really something to take a relaxing walk in a gorgeous park on a gorgeous day. I may not like cold winter weather but it was a beautiful late November day in Tokyo. The sun was out and the early day's temperature resembled a day in the autumn, so it was the perfect time for Shah and I to enjoy a little walk together in Ueno Park. I wish my little nephew and niece were with me because they would have loved to play around the park and roll around in the leaveslike I did!

    Ueno Park is definitely worth the visit. I wish I had more time in Tokyo to visit the other parks it has, and to revisit Ueno and my personal favourite, Shinjuku Gyoen.

    Hope you guys love these Ueno Park photos!



    We saw a group of people surrounding an almost bare tree and were wondering why —  until we walked nearer and saw that there were some sakura flowers on it. It was a no-brainer, we just had to get in on the action too!

    19.12.14 .

    About the time I left for Tokyo a little more than a month ago, Yahoo! came out with an interesting article, titled From Rent-a-Friends to Chairs that Give Hugs: Japan's Wacky Anti-Loneliness Attractions. Anti-loneliness? A bit strange, but why not, if they're wacky? I immediately zeroed in on one of the certainly wacky attractions, the Bunny-hug cafes.

    Shah and I used to talk about getting rabbits as pets but as we ourselves are high maintenance enough, we really are in no place to care for other living beings. A bunny cafe might just be the next best thing!

    This is how much fun you might be experiencing once you're inside the cafe, but it really depends on how much you like your rabbit...read on for more info on that
    This is how the cafe looks like from the outside; I really should have taken its exterior photo before the store closed, apologies for this sad excuse of a photo, and for the blurry photo of the brochure!

    When I first read the link to the bunny cafe in the Yahoo! article, I thought, "Oh, OK, 600 yen doesn't sound bad at all!" but DO NOT BE FOOLED. You will NOT pay a mere 600 yen for some bunny fun time, nuh-uh, not even near. Before Shah and I walked in, one of the staffs walked us through the "menu".

    Now, before I divulge anything else, it's a bit far-fetched to call this place "cafe", as all they serve is drinks from a machine and some raw veggies. And guess what, the raw veggies aren't even for you.

    You're allowed to customise your experience and you do so by picking out what you want from the menu. Some of the things you might have to fork out for:
    • A compulsory charge of 500 yen per person
    • A charge per rabbit, per half an hour minimum (You're allowed to have one rabbit between the two of you or one rabbit each; we chose one to share...at first, anyway, but more on this later)
    • A hefty price tag for a private room, per person, and even more for the open-space terrace; we chose the cheapest private room. You're free to just hang out with your bunny at the lobby of the cafe, though, no extra charge there, but I really don't need the staffs to see me not knowing how to pat my bunny the right way and whatnots... 
    • Raw veggies that are not for you; if you're into feeding rabbits then get ready to get excited! (Me? I've always been afraid of animal teeth, unfortunately)
    • Drinks from a machine; we chose not to order any drink because pretty sure my homemade tea and Milo would taste way better than any bunny-cafe-made drinks
    • Our personal total spending = approximately 7000 yen
    Not even kidding. Shah and I spent like RM 200 on our bunny time, for a mere half hour. Nuts, just nuts.

    After paying, we were asked to choose a bunny of our choice from this room:

    "Hello, won't you pick me?"
    "Wait, how about ME?"
    "No, pick me pick me PICK ME!"
    "Um, yeh, I guess you could pick me too"

    It's not like the cafe has 50 rabbits to choose from but they were all SO DARN CUTE. I chose Tama, the little brown cutie pie I cuddled with in the second photo of this post. And that was when Shah's composition crumbledhe was falling for Beagle, the floppy-eared bunny, in this photo above. So we did what any of you would do: we "ordered" another bunny to play with.

    That's right, we ended up with not one bunny, but TWO. One bunny each! But that means more yens flying out of Shah's pocket, thus explaining why our bill racked up to 7000 yen, but who cared at this point? We have ONE BUNNY EACH!

    This is how we carried our bunny to the room
    Our private room is divided into three smaller spaces, where only one bunny is to occupy one space at a time.

    Me cooing to Tama
    Note the free wifi, which means you can upload your best cuddly wuddly bunny photo to Instagram/Facebook/ Twitter and make everybody jealous and want to be you at that moment.

    Shah petting Beagle

    We were initially super stoked to interact with them bunnies, but we learned a very important lesson early on: rabbits like to poop. And they poop a lot. A lot.
    A. LOT.
    And they don't mind urinating everywhere, either.

    Shah was like, "Too. Much. Poop. NO. OTHER. WORD."
    "Oh no oh NO did I just step on his POO my shoes are newwwww" *wails*

    Folks, that is what the little pink blankets are for. Let cute bunnies poop on the blankets and not on you.

    Thankfully I had plopped Tama back down on the floor before I picked him up again, and that was when I noticed Tama's deposits on the floor. My jacket and jeans were safe, you all, not to worry.

    From then on, we only occasionally picked them up and let them play on the floor morethe bunnies don't really like being held that much anyway . Turns out there's a reason why the shop leaves boxes of tissue lying around: it's so that you can pick up those tiny poo pebbles. And you should, lest you step on them!
    .

    Isn't Tama just like the Velveteen Rabbit?
    Beagle peeking at me
    I don't know what it is about the pink blanket that the bunnies like but wave one at them and they come scurrying forward to you (or more precisely, the blanket; just place the blanket on your lap and you get the illusion the rabbit wants YOU).


    Tama is definitely the friendlier one out of the two, whereas Beagle enjoyed her freedom too much. Beagle does not like to be picked up, at all.

    Those flappy ears are awfully cute, though!

    Shah and I switched places after a while because Beagle simply refused to be cuddly. Needless to say, after our half hour was up, Shah much, much preferred Tama over his original choice.

    If you judge the two rabbits by their appearance, you probably would make the same mistake as I did, thinking Tama was a female and Beagle was the boy, but, no, it's the other way around. The staff told us to never let the two bunnies touch, but then we were told that Tama and Beagle have a thing for each other. That made things a little difficult for us, see, because one kept trying to reach for the other through the openings of the tiny white fence between the spaces. But we did our best!

    Tama and Beagle are quite feisty, especially Beagle; she's a bit of a jumper. At one point, she wanted to get to Tama so bad she climbed onto the little wide couch-stool and jumped to Tama's side of the room. She definitely had Shah and I panicking for a few seconds. After that we raised the top part of the couch-stool just to ensure no jumping over to the other side, like this:


    Shah and I switched back so that I could have the last few minutes with Tama, who really is a cutie.


    (Note: At this point Shah and I refused to touch Beagle because she had rolled around in her own urine and poo)

    Then it was time for them to be back in the baskets.


    And back to their cages they went.

    A staff putting Tama safely back into his cage

    Verdict:
    Shah and I are definitely not going to keep rabbits as pets after this experience. We still like oohing and aahing over how cute they look and all but we're just going to remain doing that from now on (Really, who knew rabbits poop that much?).
    We don't feel the need to come back to any bunny cafe either, but never say never, right?

    I do suggest you visit a bunny cafe if you're ever in Tokyo, as it will really be a memory to treasure. All the cuteness and poo and soft fur, all simply fantastic, I say.

    Are you interested to visit this particular one? Splendid!
    I'm terrible at giving out directions but I'll try for the bunnies' sake: 
    Take a Metro to Asakusa station. Since I can't remember which exit to take, look for a map of the town inside the stationthankfully, most train stations in Tokyo, if not all, have at least one map of the town you're currently in—and look for the Matsuya department store on the map (hopefully it IS on the map...). It might be helpful to know that if you take the Tobu Railway instead of Metro to Asakusa, you would end up at the entrance of Matsuya department store itself. 
    Face the main entrance of the department store, then walk adjacent to the store on its left side until you arrive to the back of the building. You will see a small alleyway on your right which could look a little scary, but really isn't. Walk along this alleyway until you reach another road, then turn left and walk straight. You should see the thinnest 6-floor building on your right, with a bunny banner somewhere on the side of the building. If you haven't figured it out, you've reached your destination!