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  • Sendai - Tohoku's biggest city with 1.1 million people

  • And the place I've been lucky to call home for almost three years now

  • with more tourists visiting the region than ever before

  • Today we're gonna take a look at what to do in the city and the surrounding area

  • From one of Japan's most famous and picturesque coastal towns

  • and a local fishing port home to more sushi restaurants per capita than anywhere else in Japan

  • To a terrifying statue towering over the city

  • We'll discover some of the iconic dishes, stunning scenery and vibrant people

  • that make Sendai a worthy weekend trip away from Tokyo

  • There's no way we can make a video about Sendai without inviting a local celebrity

  • Somebody who was born here, somebody who knows the area and somebody who's lived here for at least 300 years now

  • without further ado, it's Ryotaro! How you doing?

  • Very well. Celebrity, you're right about that.

  • I was being sarcastic

  • Don't be shy just see the sad truth, you're right

  • Don't let it go to your head again

  • All right. So where are we Ryotaro? Where is this picturesque place we stand upon now?

  • So this is where the Sendai Castle used to be

  • It used to be here, there's no castle anymore but there's the ruins of Sendai Castle

  • Yes, if you come to Sendai Castle expecting a castle, you're going to be somewhat disappointed

  • It got hit by lightning?

  • There was a fire

  • It got burnt down, like most castles in Japan it got burnt down

  • Most castles in Japan are actually rebuilt, but in Sendai they didn't bother

  • Instead they put a big statue here of Lord Masamune Date - the guy that founded Sendai and the local area

  • He tried to unite Japan actually, but he couldn't

  • He couldn't do it?

  • No, he couldn't do it

  • We can't all get what we want in life

  • Exactly

  • But if you've just arrived in Sendai I think this is a good starting point

  • Because you've got one of the best views, the best view of Sendai by far

  • And you can also try one of Sendai's most famous and popular dishes

  • So while you're up here at Sendai castle, you can enjoy the first local dish of Sendai

  • Which is actually a milkshake, Zunda milkshake

  • For the longest time I got Zunda confused with Zumba - the Brazilian dance

  • Equally as intriguing

  • But this is made of edamame, green beans, green soybeans that have been chopped up and mixed into the milkshake

  • I never wanted to try it because I thought how can that possibly be appealing?

  • For years on end he was like "Try zunda milkshake! Try zunda milkshake!"

  • Well I said that

  • And I said I'll take it at my own pace - my own pace is three years

  • Then I came up here two months ago, tried it, fell in love with it

  • Now you're addicted, obsessed with it!

  • I'm addicted and obsessed with it

  • How many have you had today already?

  • This is our third one. But I needed two to remind myself of the flavour.

  • Remind yourself, right...

  • And the flavour is vanilla ice cream with a hint of salt and a kind of nutty undertone

  • It gives it a very moreish addictive taste.

  • Trying your best to explain how it tastes

  • That's how you describe things

  • This is the best place to experience it, to try it, sitting here overlooking Sendai

  • Staring at the giant terrifying white statue in the distance

  • Look at this - this is Daikannon

  • Actually means "goddess of mercy"

  • When this was built in 1991, it was not popular at all by local people - and still isn't

  • When this was built in 1991, it was the tallest statue in the entire world

  • Now it's only the sixth tallest statue

  • But as Ryotaro said, its reputation isn't that great with the locals

  • Because it wasn't built by a temple, it wasn't built by a church or anyone

  • it was just built by a rather rich company, who had a bit too much money to spend leftover

  • That said, it is an incredible statue and you can go inside it

  • There's lots of mini statues and things but personally I wouldn't bother

  • I'll just come here, get a little photo for Instagram and move on

  • In recent years Sendai a5 Wagyu has joined the ranks of Japan's top cuts of beef

  • And today we've come to try Sendai beef served in four different recipes

  • And joining us for our tasting is an actual genuine celebrity this time

  • The most successful foreign musician living in Japan - frontman of pop rock group Monkey Majik, Blaise Plant

  • Who as well as being a resident of Sendai, is also our friend.

  • So Blaise, cheers for joining today.

  • Thanks for having me Chris, appreciate it

  • Difficult job, reviewing Sendai beef

  • By the way, Ryotaro is here. You can see him in the mirror ladies and gentlemen

  • Somewhere around here... I'll see here and then we'll block him out

  • So this restaurant specializes in Sendai beef and they've got a variety, pretty much every variety of Sendai beef known to man

  • We've got sushi, which has come out first. We've got steak and we've got shabu shabu coming later.

  • And sukiyaki later on as well

  • Sendai gyu is one of the highest ranked beef cuts in Japan

  • And can only be bred by licensed farmers

  • And with a rank of A5 denoting the obscenely marbled cuts of beef

  • It's not long before our favorite inevitable phrase makes an appearance

  • That meat just melts in your mouth, you could probably eat it with a straw

  • Melts in your mouth doesn't it

  • We've filmed beef quite a lot in these videos.

  • We've used the phrase "melt in your mouth" maybe 300 times in the last 2 years

  • So we vowed to never use it again

  • So now whenever I eat beef I can't use that phrase

  • Really why not?

  • Yeah, because I just feel like it's unoriginal

  • But it's all right, because you're here we can get around that

  • Is there another way of saying "melt in your mouth" without using the phrase "melt in your mouth" though?

  • Cuz I'll be damned if there is - there isn't. If there is let us know in the comments!

  • Round 2 is shabu shabu

  • You take a thin slice of A5 beef you put it in some hot water

  • About 10 to 15 seconds and BANG! It's cooked, ready to go.

  • Put it in some yuzu sauce, stick it in your mouth - job done.

  • Question is, how does it taste?

  • Mr. Blaise, and remember you can't use the phrase "melt in your mouth"

  • I know, I was just thinking about that

  • You've already used your trump card once this time

  • Gotcha. All right, well you know what? I'm gonna have to say...

  • Umarvellous! Umarvellous!

  • Am I okay to say that, or?

  • He's just quoted his brand new song

  • Disgusting isn't it? You have someone in your videos and they start promoting their stuff.

  • Sorry man, you gave me the opportunity

  • Your new song is Umarvellous, which is a combination of UMAI meaning delicious in Japanese

  • and marvellous meaning, marvellous innit

  • There's a dance that goes along with it too, so

  • He really wants you to watch that video

  • It is a good video, especially the 80s aesthetic in the video

  • It's an homage to our good old friends Earth Wind & Fire

  • Check it out

  • So our last dish is Sendai gyu in steak form

  • Blaise's is already gone

  • I said Blaise, let's just wait so we can film it

  • No, it's gone

  • Of the ridiculous amount of sendai gyu based dishes we've had today, which one was your favourite?

  • Well there was a lot of beef that was eaten today, so it's kind of hard to...

  • A staggering amount

  • But I gotta say the sukiyaki

  • Just because Sendai gyu goes really well with it

  • just because of that sweet marble

  • If you're in a hurry and you're looking to try another iconic meaty dish

  • Sendai's most famous food is gyutan, literally barbecued beef tongue

  • Popular in the city since the late 1940s

  • Barbecued to perfection and flavored with salt or miso - gyutan is typically served along barley rice and tail soup

  • You'll have no trouble stumbling upon the dish whilst wandering around the Sendai station area

  • Just follow the salty scent of the grilled beef and you'll be on the right track

  • So Blaise, you've lived in Sendai 18 years

  • Yeah, where would you recommend to people visiting Sendai for the first time, somewhere that's actually good

  • I've got a great place for you guys!

  • When you go straight out to the coast, there's another town called Matsushima

  • It's one of the most beautiful places you'll ever visit

  • Definitely on your bucket list

  • Matsushima

  • Matsushima

  • So, this is Matsushima Bay

  • It's one of the three historic scenic sites in Japan along with Miyajima in Hiroshima and Amanohashidate in Kyoto

  • It's quite a buzzing atmosphere, there's lots of things going on

  • Dozens of ferries going out every hour

  • Restaurants and stalls, temples and people here just to escape the city

  • And given that it's only half an hour away from Sendai, it's definitely worth a visit

  • So in Matsushima Bay there are 264 islands

  • And the best way to see that is to take a ferry and it costs about 1500 yen

  • So if you're coming to Matsushima the most popular dish to eat typically are oysters

  • Which you can find at pretty much any restaurant along the waterfront

  • But we popped in for something a little bit more light today - kinako sando

  • The best way to describe it is it's profiterole meets meringue. It's got a kind of crispy outer shell of meringue with the softness of a profiterole

  • But there's a difference in there

  • There's a cream in there right? You'll find that

  • That cream actually, it's made out of the roasted soy flour

  • and also butter and egg white actually

  • You know it's good because when Ryotaro and I are filming we usually do a few takes

  • but we've only had time to do one take this time

  • Given that I've basically eaten it all already

  • Yeah, because otherwise, you know, not gonna be able to film anymore.

  • We have to get it right the first time today.

  • I think if there's one thing to do or see in Matsushima, it's this.

  • This is Ensuin Gardens, Ensuin Temple

  • Just behind Matsushima Bay behind the waterfront

  • There's this beautiful sprawling garden that feels like a compilation of all the best bits of Kyoto rolled into one

  • We've got the rock garden. We have a bamboo forest.

  • temples, shrines

  • And these really cool cave carvings that look like something out of Indiana Jones

  • If there's one place you've got to come, this is it

  • I always bring people here and they absolutely love it.

  • Best of all apparently Einstein came here in the 1920s

  • So if you do come here you're walking in the footsteps of Einstein. If that doesn't sell it to you - nothing will.

  • Just ten minutes south of Matsushima is the port town of Shiogama

  • Which holds the record for having the most sushi restaurants per capita of anywhere in Japan

  • That's not just because Shiogama is historically a major port town

  • But because of the way the tuna is supplied to the local sushi restaurants

  • So if you're in Sendai and you want to get some sushi, when you get the best freshest sushi around

  • most people come to the nearby town of Shiogama

  • Which is just next to the city on the coast

  • And in-between Matsushima and Sendai

  • Shiogama, what does literally Shiogama mean?

  • Well shio means salt

  • And gama means pot

  • Salt pot. That's how you remember it - get that meme in your head

  • Yeah Shiogama faces the sea and they used to make salt from the sea water

  • Because Shiogama's got the biggest raw tuna market

  • So when you go to a sushi restaurant

  • Surely all sushi's raw right?

  • Well it is, but when the fishermen catch sushi right, they actually make tuna frozen normally

  • So when they go to the market and defrost the tuna, and that's how it's delivered to the sushi restaurant in the end

  • However in Shiogama it's the biggest raw tuna market. So it gets refrigerated only it doesn't get frozen

  • So when you eat the tuna it comes in the freshest state

  • It's about as fresh as it gets.

  • Exactly. So why are we still talking?

  • Dig in

  • This is seriously good

  • Amazing. Obviously you can get sushi anywhere in Japan, and they're all fresh

  • But the quality, and cost performance

  • "Cost performance?"

  • Good cost performance.

  • What an elegant romantic way of explaining it

  • Mmm you can taste the cost performance

  • Earlier on Ryotaro mentioned that the best way to see Matsushima Bay is to hop on a ferry

  • But if you have a little bit more time to spare or you just love fishing there is a slightly more adventurous alternative available

  • So we're out here in the middle of Matsushima Bay in what might be the world's smallest boat

  • It's a little bit scary. But other than that, it's a very calm beautiful evening!

  • There was a typhoon yesterday that swept through the area and we're now experiencing the calm after the storm

  • So it's actually very nice

  • Today if we don't catch any fish. We don't have any dinner

  • So let's go and see how Mr. Ryotaro is getting on with the fishing.

  • How good are you actually at fishing?

  • Very good, very good.

  • Genuinely?

  • Well yeah, I mean like the last time I fished I was 12

  • And I was really good back then.

  • Did they have fishing rods back in the 1920s?

  • Here we go!

  • Even Ryotaro caught something

  • Yeah I did!

  • This is gonna be tempura! Yeah, look at that!

  • It's a gobi

  • So while I've been flying the drone everybody's been picking up sticks and just been beating the sea hitting the sea

  • This is either some weird Japanese tradition that I don't know about, or there is actually a reason behind it. Let's find out

  • So we we have set up a net and we're actually hitting the surface of the sea

  • to actually surprise the fish so that it goes all the way there and goes into the net

  • They all said there is no point of actually fishing with a rod when you can actually do this because they got a lot of fish by doing this

  • You're just banging it on the side of the boat

  • Having beaten the sea with sticks for 20 minutes

  • We reel in the net and head back to shore to turn the spoils of our trip into a fresh mouth-watering supper

  • So welcome to Ryotaro's Kitchen

  • Oh god.

  • And what we've got here is actually...

  • It's the channel nobody's been waiting for...

  • So this is it. There's spoils of a fishing trip well done

  • I'm pretty happy with what we've caught, what you've caught. Well done! To think you actually did something of value for once

  • The greater Sendai area is the perfect place to spend a weekend away from Tokyo