The Return Of The Kiichi-Kun I (as published in Burrn Magazine in Japan)


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The Return Of The Kiichi-Kun I

There's no place on Earth that I strive to be in more than Japan; no where I feel more at home (outside of my own home); no where that when I'm away from it, I miss like one misses loved ones on a trip far away in some remote part of the planet.

I was born in the Yamaguchi prefecture (Iwakuni) January 26, 1986. I consider myself to be half-Japanese (my mother's side), half-Marine (thanks to my military father). My family relocated to the USA when I was about 1, so I have zero recollection of ever being in Japan as a child. 

Thankfully - due to the band I am in, I am able to return once every year and a half or so. Lately - and unfortunately - Trivium only comes back for either a brief press run or one show in Tokyo. One show? That's torture! I'd prefer to have a year long tour there than one measly show. Either way, one is better than none. Trivium returned for Loud Park 2013 and we had the greatest Japanese show ever, and one of the greatest shows of our career even. But if you live in Japan, you probably already heard about that show. Let's go behind the scenes of everything else that happened on my visit.

My wife Ashley and I both have a strong love for all things Japan: the people, the art, the food, the architecture, the history, the language, the mythology, the religion, the music, the sub-cultures… basically any and everything Japanese is something we want and need to be fully immersed in. Ashley decided to join us on our one show stint, and we both decided we'd stay an extra 3 and a half days just to do whatever we want: eat, drink, sightsee, learn, and enjoy. 

I live a strict life on the road: no food 4 hours before a show, no food 3 hours before bed, no alcohol, no caffeine, rigorous exercise (yoga, weights, Jiu-Jitsu), and I ensure 8-10 hours of a sleep a night. In Japan? All rules are broken, cuz hey! It's Japan! After our long flight, we checked into the Tokyu Excel (one of my favorite hotels due to it's insanely centralized location within Shibuya (one of my favorite cities on the globe)) we all dropped our bags and headed down to go eat (the most important thing for me when in Japan). We then met up with one of our dearest friends in the entire world, Koji from Roadrunner. 

Koji is one of the first people I met in Japan, we've shared some of the best meals of our lives with him - Ash and I even invited him to our wedding; I consider Koji a "food soul-mate" of mine. So naturally, we knew he would know what's up for chow tonight. Hell… I even recall a night where he, Corey and I were at a bar till 6 am; me doing headstands, Koji fueling the shots, then CKB and I DJing "In Waves" before it was even out for anyone at the bar. Now that is very rare for ol' Kiichi-kun on the road.

We rallied up our entire band, most of our crew, Ashley, Tommie-san (Trivium Japan president), and headed to Rakuzou, an Izakaya spot. We tore into: the soft-bones of chicken; beautiful Japanese beer (the best in the world!); samma sashimi, karage; sashimi salad; yaki-tori of heart, skin, and other yummy-bits; bacon-wrapped asparagus; ebi-mayo (Koji's fave); a delicious packet of chicken prepared unlike anything I've had; fish fins and mayo; grilled beef; a few deserts (matcha affogato, and a custard); then grilled oni-giri (my mother always made me oni-giri, so while in Japan - I need this). Izakaya is a favorite of mine due to the fact that everyone gets to eat together, tasting the same things your dinner-friends taste; this is my favorite thing to do with loved ones: eat and share and just be. 

Calling it early due to the big show the next day, everyone slept quite hard; I managed to get about 11 hours of sleep that night.

The following morning was show-day; I awoke ready to get back to eating. A couple of us suited up to trek in the deserted early morning streets of Shibuya, where breakfast is a rarity. For a city and a country so obsessed with food, finding breakfast is a very daunting task. Lucky for us there was a new small chain, Kamukura.  

Ashley is more of a croissant and cafe' au lait kinda gal, so noodles and rice and beef for breakfast is a hard notion for her to swallow. I understand that ramen for breakfast is sort of crazy to a Japanese person, but I say ramen time is any time of the day. I had both a rice and beef bowl with a sunny-side up egg and ramen with pork and gyoza and rice balls. Man! Oiishi!  

Afterwords, it was time for yet another tradition of mine, the Starbucks matcha frappucino. We don't have this drink in the US of A; I drink a lot of these when in Japan - and yes, I prefer local buisiness and small local chain to global chains, but this matcha frapp can't be beat. I guzzled it down happily and headed to the hotel to pack up for the upcoming show.

Citrus Etoile



Paris, France

When Trivium first started touring internationally, it was quite a concept to me that people from foreign countries and cities I'd never heard of would want to come see us play live. Now - to imagine that later in our career, our record label would be buying us plane tickets and putting us up in pretty decent hotels in foreign countries just for press outlets and people to hear us talk and not play… well, that just seems plain crazy. 

France is where it all came from, my friends; the pioneers of cooking back in the day here created many, if not most of the techniques we see used in all world styles of cooking. The blueprint and archetype of both elaborate and simple methods, the pairing of ingredients, the guidelines of it all - it was all fleshed out and perfected in France. 

If the classic ways of the world of cooking were set up here, what's going on now?

The next evolutionary step.

France, being a creator of a genre and a movement in food, needs to stay on its toes, and that is something that is exemplified to its fullest at Citrus Etoile in Paris. Chef Gilles Epie is the mastermind in the kitchen; he holds the record for being the youngest starred chef in France, he has worked as chef in numerous acclaimed restaurants, and he is known for pairing the classicism of French gastronomy alongside innovative and unexpected methods and techniques. One can truly see a nod to the classics, while introducing his own creative spin.

Alongside our good pals, Karine and Manon (Roadrunner France), and Morgan (Roadrunner International), Corey and I were brought to Citrus Etoile during our lunch break on our Parisian press day. The ladies were exceptionally stoked to be bringing us to Citrus, as they (like us) have a love for the really good stuff. Gilles and his wife Elisabeth are no strangers to band folk, they recently had the Alter Bridge and Dream Theater guys in, and they are personal friends of the shred-meister himself, Slash. 

Gilles and Elisabeth were beyond accommodating and are two truly wonderful people; Citrus is a very nice place - I did feel under-dressed in my sleeveless Bathory shirt, but I don't think they minded. The food we would soon be chowing down on were masterfully crafted pieces of art.

We started with an amuse bouche and olive oil bread. Fantastic. Next was their variations of house-made breads (I've told you how much I love French-made bread right? Non? I love it), followed by Duck Foie Gras Raviolis served with chanterelle mushrooms, sauternes and lobster bisque. So many layers and plateaus of flavor explode from that little dish; the mushrooms, liver and lobster paired so nicely with each other, the ravioli itself the perfect texture. 

My main was a steak of fish, served atop a carpaccio of fig, roasted figs accompanied. The presentation was immaculate, the taste beyond words. Some people go their entire life never eating something like the food of Citrus - and I want you all to know that I am entirely appreciative of every bite, every taste, every moment that I am able to be taken away somewhere far and enjoy something this good. Food shouldn't get this good. But it does here. The table also found Gilles' signature pommes puree': potatoes prepared so light and airy; one with herb and one originale'. Beautiful.

Desert was an experience: Cheesecake with exotic caramel and roasted pineapple sorbet, a Le Citrus: slices of pink grapefruit, oranges with ginger and vanilla cream, and Raspberries from Val de Loire on a bed of pistachio biscuit, marmalade and sorbet. I exaggerate not: all the ladies we were with, were sharing the deserts "oo-ing" and "ah-ing" in a way that Corey and I had to turn away out of modesty. That good. 

As if we hadn't eaten enough, next came the house-made pastries; their macaroon was frickin' ridiculous. 

If I could air one complaint: our time here was too short. We had to squeeze in this lovely afternoon of food all within an hour, but yes - better than nothing. Gilles and Elisabeth treated Corey and I like family and we can't wait to return. 


Address: 6 Rue Arsène Houssaye, 75008 Paris, France

Vancouver, Eh? (1/2)



Vancouver, Canada

Food-freaks in the know, know that Canada has some of the best food you can find in North America. Don't believe me? Check out just a few of the restaurants recommended by people who know good food in Montreal, Quebec City, Toronto and Vancouver. Sure - French Canada is known to have some great bites, but Vancouver can seriously contend in the good-food arena. I believe I heard from a native Vancouver-an that Vancouver has one of the highest Asian populations in North America, and you know what that means: great freakin' Asian food!

Vancouver has one of my personal favorite sandwich restaurants in all North America: Meat and Bread. We had a late arrival into Vancouver, but I was lacing up my boots as soon as we hit the city - my mission was to sprint to MaB as quickly as possible and just take it all in. A couple of us suited up and made the trek; the whole time I could be heard repeating to my gang about "how amazing this place is." Long story short: we showed up and it was closed. It was like being a child who finally coerced their parents to take them to Toys R Us and it was closed for the day. I was heart broken. Defeated.We were starving, so we did what any good person may be tempted to do around the globe: pick something random. This is Russian Roulette when you've been shown the light, when you've taken the right pill from Morpheus; because you know how good things can be, and a random selection can yield 50/50 results (perhaps more like 1:100 odds not in your favor). 

We went to a place that will remain unnamed (to be respectful). Paolo paid something like 15 or 20 bucks for a "chicken salad" that had one measly, grey piece of chicken on a sad bed of lettuce (if memory serves me right, he saw it, put his money on the table and left). Rob and I shared the poutine and corn chowder; then I went for the AAA Strip Loin Sandwich. It was merely sustenance. Not much love went into it, and not much love came out of it. Sorry (insert pub/restaurant name here), you got one of the few dishonorable mentions on Kiichi - you took advantage of my weakness. The Brooklyn Breweries Black Chocolate Stout certainly helped remedy the pain though. Maybe that place should purely be for drinking. It wasn't awful, just not good. 

The dinner plan was one that had me researching something proper; and that's the thing: you can and (most likely) will find something great with the slightest of effort. Just give it a shot if you're somewhere new, pop on that inter-web and look up something good. Chances are if you're not in a cool, one-off, or boutique hotel, they probably won't lead you in the right direction; so take advantage of that data plan or wifi and look for 3-5 minutes, you'll find something.

What did I find? Guu Otokomae. A Japanese Izakaya restaurant. Think of Izakaya like Spanish Tapas: small bites to go with booze (in this case, Beer and Sake). Izakaya is my favorite kind of eating in Japan - non-pretentious, loaded with bites you can share with your friends, cozy, sorta-punk rock (or rock n' roll if that's more your thing) in a Japanese-way - and essentially just what you need. The word "Guu" represents the noise your stomach makes when it's hungry… oh Japanese people…

We went for a pitcher of Blanche De Chambly (when in Canada right, eh?) and I did the ordering:

I went for chicken karage (fried chicken), seared tuna, a salad of greens, this plate of assorted chopped things you get mixed together (real good, uncertain of the name), yaki-udon (grilled udon noodles), tako-yaki (an Osakan-treat: balls of dough with a chunk of squid in it, served with Okonami-sauce and Japanese mayo), tempura shrimp, grilled fish, more fried hunks of seafood, dumplings, random assortments of delicious unrecognizable Japanese-goodness, then all sorts of sweets to finish. 

That's what I'm talkin about. Guu Otokomae is set up just like an Izakaya spot: it's loud, it's friendly, it's boozy, and it's full of intensely good dishes. Everyone at the table was blown away. I felt transported back to my home country. 



New Orleans, Louisiana 

It was on the In Flames, Trivium, Veil Of Maya, Kyng North American tour, where we had aday off in New Orleans. I've never had a proper food experience in NOLA, so it was time we straightened that out. On this tour, we had quite the all-star line-up as far as food-friends go for me: Joey B (Trivium's tour manager), Rob Suchan (now ex-Trivium merch) and Paolo. Amazingly, pretty much most of our band and crew wanted to hang and chow during the day, so we all headed out to our first spot, Cochon Butcher. 

Cochon I believe has two restaurants: a sit-down, and a sandwich spot (sort of a deli); we wanted to hit Butcher so we could eat and drink, then repeat throughout the day in multiple locations. Everyone grabbed beers and placed their orders. The place is a very cool, contemporary take on the deli; you can see the meats curing, a chalkboard displays all their specials and regulars; sleekly modernized little renovated old-place (I assume for the last part). 

I was stoked. Anytime I walk into a place that comes this highly recommended from my friends and Rob's friends alike - I know I'm in for a treat. My only bummer experience was when I was asking the girl at the register what she recommended, alongside a few other questions about the place, she very shitty-ly responded "man. You ask a lot of questions don't you?" I won't hold it against the place, since bitchiness is typically inherent before a vocational choice.Anywho, I ordered: an LA 31 Pale Ale, the Cochon Muffaletta (house made meats, provolone, olive salad; iconically New Orleans), hot boudin with pickles and mustard. The hot boudin (white sausage) was perfectly delicious, the pickles and mustard went very well with it; the muffaletta was fantastic: salted, cured meats stacked high with cheese and olives - a real treat (I unfortunately don't have the picture of this elusive and legendary NOLA staple). 

All of us happy and full of some fantastic food, we next hit Napolean House for their house specialty: A Pimm's cup cocktail (a quite tasty one). We then hit Apple Barrel Bar for some Abita Ambers (New Orleans' most well-known beer brand); then hit R Bar for some more beers; then rounding off our food and drink trip-'round-New-Orleans with beignets and cafe au laits from Cafe Du Monde. A super-touristy spot, but with a nice beignet and coffee nevertheless.

For dinner, we hit a place Rob's friends recommended and would be meeting us at: Bacchanal, a food truck in the backyard of a bar. This setup is not unlike something you'd see in Austin, Texas; Christmas lights were the only source of lighting over-head, picnic tables and happy people eating and drinking greet you on your entry to the backyard. 

Now, locationally and population-wise, this is sort of a paradoxical universe for my band mates: it was generally mostly populated with hipster kids, and now in come four dudes who obviously look like they don't fit in (I think I heard the vinyl of Grizzly Bear come to a screeching halt). I feel like I can fit into any environment when talking about food, but I could see steam rising off of Corey and Nick's heads. 

I went for White Bordeaux, a frisee' salad, polenta, steak, then a Saint Arnold Stout. The food orders are all taken at the truck, tucked in a far part of the backyard. Once you order, the chef brings you your plate at your table. The food here was unstoppable: as great as anything you'd expect in a sit-down restaurant; the dishes humbly served on paper plates. This place makes you think of being at a friends' backyard cookout. 

So we had Rob, his pals, my band mates and myself. One of the female dinner guests we had was oddly rude to Paolo (a snide remark about polenta or something), then later on with Rob (I think when they left the restaurant it involved Rob getting out of the car in traffic or something). Maybe the ladies are just extremely passionate about their food in this town? Who knows.

From here, the Trivium's parted ways with our other guests and headed to Musical Legends to meet the In Flames band and crew for a couple drinks, then we all eventually headed off to Erin Rose for way-too-many Abitas. It's always a treat to be reunited with our extended family, the In Flames band and crew. 

New Orleans did us right this time around. 

I Love New York City. Oh Yeah. New York City II. I.



I am no stranger to the Ace Hotel. Having stayed here a couple of times for Roadrunner-related things and Moscot-related events, it is the hotel I usually want to be holed-up for the night. The room this time around was a wee bit smaller than last time, but it's still a great place. The benefit to staying at the Ace is that they have really great food and drinks at every corner of the downstairs area: a wonderful sandwich to-go spot, Stump Town Roasters Coffee (for that good cup), 2 sit-down restaurants (one New American, one seafood I believe), and a bar that makes righteous cocktails. Don't let the dressed-to-the-nines kids or the 90's/60's-fashion-amalgamation-adorned hipsters scare you off, they don't bite (typically). 

Birreria is a new Italian restaurant (could it be called "New Italian"?) that resides on the rooftop of Eataly in the city. Ashley and I decided to go see what the buzz was all about. The interior is open and welcoming: natural light comes in from the windowed-ceiling, the visible beer tanks greet you on your entry, the bar is on one end of the restaurant with tables surrounding. We tried a couple samples of their pretty darn good house-made beers; I ordered the Gina, a house brewed cask ale. We also ordered a traditional American pale ale with fresh thyme from the hills of Borgorose, Italy - a twist on a classic. 

Famished, we went for: Olives, Ricotta Fresca, Asiago Fresco, and Gorgonzola Dolce to start; the mains we chose were the Biroldo (Toscana-inspired Blood Sausage with Mustard and Krauti) and a Brussel Sprout and Wild Mushroom Risotto dish; the former obviously my pick. 

The olives were meaty little footballs. If one is a fan of olives, be prepared to be in love with Birreria's. The cheeses were all sourced from North Eastern small-farms; you can taste the time, energy and love put into these morsels of goodness. Each of the three brought such a diversity in taste and texture; the fresh honey and house-made bread elevated the flavor spectrum to whole new levels. Honey and cheese and bread are quite a trifecta of taste. 

Our mains' were spectacular. If I recall, we both didn't share… a rarity for sure. Blood sausage is one of those great things in life. If you're scared and haven't tried yet, you must try it in a reputable spot. It's a meat-in-tube-form item of godly stature. The blood sausage here is laid on top of cabbage that has flavors reminiscent of Polish and German cuisine; the mustard again a nod to those cultures. 

Intelligently, we decided to skip desert due to the feast to come later in the day: The Breslin. 

New. Castle.


Newcastle, England

Our International booking agent, Paul Ryan is a friend I've known for ages. He was one of the first to really believe in Trivium. He flew out to see the band play back in 2005 when we were 2/5 for a Danzig tour; it's been his vision, alongside our manager Justin and the band itself, who have carefully crafted every step we've taken everywhere outside of North America. Paul is another one I would without a doubt in my mind call a food soul-mate of mine. We have shared some of the best meals I can recall in some of the best spots on the globe. 

Now… ages ago… when I was a younger buck… I recall Paul taking us to this basement restaurant in Newcastle that had house made wine, local beer and everything local in terms of eats. I think it was near a good strip club… or so someone-who-went-to-that-strip-club told me! Er…

So basically every time we've played Newcastle, we're tried to remember what the name of that basement, all-local, house made wine spot was called - unfortunately to no avail. Luckily for Paul, Paolo, Ashley and I however, we found a new amazing place: The Forth. The Forth is in the lobby of a hotel, it has that boutique hotel charm that has been properly adorned and furbished and run by hip kids. The Forth has the old-school gastronomical pig chart, except its gold and done in a tattoo flash-art way; the chalkboard is there, but it's all written in a sort-of creative, modern-script… there's also a wizard with knuckle tattoos painted on the wall - pretty rad.

We tuck right in and go for the kill. When it's eating time with Trivium… it's some serious business. We order up a Trealy Farm British Cured Meat Platter, Mushrooms with Silton Cream on Rye Toast, Free Range Gloucester Old Sprout Sausages with Kale Colcannon and Red Onion Gravy, Beer-Battered Haddock and Skin-on Chips with Minted Crushed Peas and Tartare, a couple extra Skin-on Chips (for good measure), and a round of Scottish IPAs. 

The Forth embodies everything I look for nowadays when in England. I want the nod to the good, grandma-classics, but I want it done with a modern flare. Its like a gastro-upgrade to the classics sort of thing. If this were in the USA, we'd call it New American. I like that term… it lets you know that you'll see the essential ideas and preparations of things familiar, only sometimes completely spun upside down on its head. A valiant effort of the utilization of locally sourced, additive-free, and well treated animals is always a good sign. Don't think so? Let's see how you taste after a brutal torture session that some of our animal friends who aren't treated well have to go through. If you see the words, rest-assured that the chefs want you to know you're about to eat food that was well-tended, well taken care of, and that will taste way better than the other junk. 

The meat platter comes on parchment, on a meat board; the meats laid on top of each other with some pickles. Really. Really good. The mushrooms and stilton feature wild mushrooms (the best kind) mixed in with Stilton (think of a not overly powerfully flavored light cream in this case), and topped on grilled toast. Mmm mmm, bitch. The bangers and mash here… sure they're bangers and mash… but they're way better than bangers and mash.

With a nod to my Metallica-of-food, Anthony Bourdain: Meat in tube form? I'll take it. Just the right amount of pop in the bangers, a perfect amount of grill-char, a thick gravy, and taters mashed just like Sam Gamgee woulda dug. Following in the same style as the Bangers at The Forth, their Fish and Chips is just like mum used to make, only maybe a little bit better. Thick-cut salted Chips with the right amount of crunch on the outside, while still having an almost baked-like texture on the inside; sea salt simply on top (you can always vinegar it up though). At the table, we also had a spreadable-potted fish that was delicious, and a tart with greens on top (kale I believe). 

Desert? Yes, please. Just look at that molten hunk of delectability… you know you need that. 

haggis has stopped running circles round the hill and arrived here with his friends neeps and tatties fired in a whiskey cream sauce


Glasgow, Scotland

Oh, Scotland. The land of deep-fried chocolate bars, deep-fried pizza, deep-fried haggis, not-deep-fried haggis and kilts. Scotland, while maybe not reputable for its cuisine, is notorious for having some of the most intense crowds in this neck of the woods. Crowds so loud and crazy and devoted, that they put other countries to shame. 

I was thankful to still have my wife Ashley with me on this leg of the Trivium & In Flames tour - and extra thankful when she remembered a serious gem of Glasgow: The Butterfly And The Pig. We first stumbled upon this little oasis accidentally on The Black Crusade tour (Machine Head, Trivium, Dragonforce, Arch Enemy, Shadows Fall) and have essentially been bringing it up anytime anyone ever brings up Scotland. 

We went back, 4 years later only to be greeted by the same exuberantly friendly server. We were then seated at the same table from those years past, then we ordered a round of Tennent's. The menu at The Butterfly is pretty hilariously written up; we order: "Cream of chicken, leek and spring onion soup de loop," "Cillia black is back in black in a pudding, with salad, apples, bacon. Contains black sudden, parmesan cheese and a wee friend quail eggs on top," "Haggis has stopped running circles round the hill and arrived here with his friends neeps and tatties fired in a whiskey cream sauce," and "Like mamma used to make beefy beef stew served with mash potatoes and a puff pastry hat." I - obviously have a tendency to over-indulge...

I say it every time I eat with friends who maybe haven't eaten with me much: I prefer to share. I want everyone to be able to experience as many tastes and textures as possible, the same eats that their cohorts are enjoying; my wife and I live by this with food with family and friends. So how was this feast? 

The soup tasted like it's ingredients and nothing more, the exact way a soup like that ought to be. The salad was perfectly balanced: just enough vinegar in the dressing; just the right ratio of egg, cheese, ham and black pudding for me, and greens and healthy bits for my vegetable preferring spouse (a meat eater, but one who prefers vegetables to anything else edible (crazy right?)). That is what a salad should be. I had the Haggis last time here, and I was having it again - I assume "neaps" are Parsnips, the "tatties" obviously potatoes. The Haggis here is splendid. Meaty, stick-to-your-bones, fill-you-up goodness that someone way-back-when cleverly created when deciding to stuff different parts of an animal in other parts… then into it's own stomach. Sound brutal? I call it ingenious. The beef stew is something you'll see all around in England, Scotland, Wales, Ireland and Northern Ireland - The Butterfly does this really nicely; in a massive portion at that. I found the description cute too. 

If you haven't tried Scottish food before, or have heard horror stories of the dread Haggis - I suggest you go here. Here The Butterfly And The Pig. will show you how fantastically Scottish food can be done. 

The Offal Stuff, The Good Stuff and the Christmas Market


London, England

It was on the Trivium, In Flames, Ghost, Rise To Remain and Insense tour, on the day of our London Brixton show, when Kirsten (Trivium's longtime (and super lovely) PR extraordinaire) set up a food-related promo event. Today, I was to chow down on some of Britain's finest in the offal department. 

The line-up included: a Scotch Egg, Cockles and Whelks, Jellied Eels, and some sort of sausage-in-a-pastry. I've now had numerous interpretations of the Scotch Egg around the globe, and I can tell you with absolute assurance that a Scotch Egg is a damn good thing: a boiled egg, nestled in meat, coated in breading (either fried or baked). Good right?! This was a classic one; minced meat, normal egg, good nevertheless. The Whelks (a villain in Final Fantasy VI mind you) and the Cockles taste like they look: like briney-oceany-clammy-flavored chewy-bits. I am a fan of shelled-food, and these… they're not awful, just nothing to particularly rave about. Jellied Eels! If you're not a fan of something that tastes like you're licking the inside-of-a-whale's-blow-hole, you may not like this dish. Texture? Its like… dolphin spooge (I imagine…). It didn't gross me out by any means - but again - it's something that's worth trying and may or may not be something you crave for a midnight snack.

I was quite fortunate to have my wife and longtime partner in food and drink-related inter-continental crime with me for a bit of this run, so we decided we wanted something really good. We were given recommendations by some good foodie friends who we went to high school with, who had recently visited the U.K., to hit up St. John's for some grub.

St. John's has what I think were three or so locations: a fancier sit-down restaurant tucked inside of an unassuming building, a bakery/bar/bar-snacks area where you can get plates to share alongside a nice local pint, then the third which is located off-site from the former two. We picked the bar/bakery. In sort of a modern loft/factory setting, St. John's is an eatery that is wide-open and inviting in it's not overly-large interior. The bar is stocked with all sorts of good things to drink down; I went with the Helles by Meantime Brewery, with American Hops. A fine pint it was. The delectable looking breads and sweets were calling out to my growling stomach, but I prevailed in waiting for the real good stuff. I went for Roast Bone Marrow with a Parsley Salad, house made Bread, and Sea Salt; Native Oysters to follow. Ashley had the Welsh Rarebit (I assumed a game animal like a rabbit, but it was actually sort of a grilled cheese toast-thing).

Don't eat marrow? You're missing out. Think of it as the essence-of-meat-flavoring in a spreadable-form. You take this little spear-thing, jam it into the bone and slather it on that fantastic baked (then grilled) bread. Atop that, drop some Sea Salt and Parsley Salad. Frickin' good. Simple, classic ingredients that make the knees buckle. The oyster were served simply with a lemon hunk and a mini jar of vinegar and chopped onions. A good, fresh, local oyster doesn't need much; I had one nude, one with a light drizzle of that tasty, vinegary dressing. This was my first time trying any Welsh Rarebit; it's a piece of bread, with a sharply flavored cheese adorn on top, it's then perhaps oven-baked to crisp it all up a bit. Real tasty. 

Myself stuffed on slimy, yummy bits, and Ashley on a real fancy grilled cheese, we called for Coffees and pudding (ya gotta have your pudding!). We split a Bread Pudding with Butterscotch Sauce and a Mince Pie with Cream. Both deserts were impeccable. Probably the best Bread Pudding I've had whilst in England. Rich, not-good-for-you, but oh-so-darn-good. Cold ice cream pornographically oozing all over that hot hunk of sweet. 

Deciding to be slightly heart-smart (another Rob Suchan-ism), we take a cab to wander about the Christmas Market… or Village… or whatever it was called. Slugging down a couple hot Mulled Wines, Ashley eventually convinced me to get in the Ferris Wheel - and lemme tell ya: I do not like heights. I'll spare you the photos of my scared-lookin ass. 

Kiichi Chaos - Ramen Tatsu-ya

K I I C H I chaos - Ramen Tatsu-Ya from Lobo Sucio Creative on Vimeo.

Here is a wonderful little present my dear friends at Lobo Sucio created for me. This was shot amidst the recording of Trivium's "VI" in Austin, Texas. 

One fateful day - I was hungry (as always) - and my new foodie soul-mates at Lobo took me to Ramen Tatsu-ya, a little oasis in Austin not unlike a mini-Japan. The folks at Tatsu-ya do a perfect bowl of Ramen and I'm proud to say I downed at least 3 bowls in that shoot alone. From my initial introduction to Tatsu-ya, I found new friends in the staff and owners alike, and found a new spot in the USA that has some of the best food I've come across.

Basically - you need to get to Tatsu-ya. My current favorite is the Tsukemen or "Dipping Ramen" - surprisingly - it was my first time ever trying that style at Tatsu-ya.

If you're unfamiliar with Lobo Sucio, they are the multi-medium-extraordinaires who create some truly fantastic visual art spanning across photography, videography, and film. Lobo Sucio is doing the Trivium documentary that surrounds "VI"; both in photo and video.

Be sure to get on their site and check out some of the work they've done with Sorne - my new favorite Austin artist (check out the short film Lobo did for Sorne - breathtaking stuff). 

If you dig the tunes in the background of this piece - that's ol' Kiichi-kun on the jams.

Enjoy this little food episode my friends created for me. Thank you Lobo's, thank you Tatsu-ya's. 

Effilee 24

Untitled 3

Thanks to Trivium, I have had the privilege of being in countless magazines around the globe. Recently, I was published in the latest edition of Effilee (a fantastic German Food and Wine magazine) and I think I was more excited for this than anything in years.

Thanks to a dear friend and colleague/a&r-dude Ulf Zick (Apogee, Spotify, ex-Gibson) introducing me to Dr. Martin Tesch (from Tesch Wines in Germany (insanely delicious wine)), who connected me with Ursula Heinzelmann ( - this was all made possible. 

I am proud to call Ursula a friend and food-soul-mate of mine, and her featuring me in Effilee was a new sort of accomplishment that I never imagined possible. Please pick up the magazine and cherish this bad boy like I do. 

Ichi The Kiichi (The Early Years) VI


Last Supper

(Tokyo. Day 4.)

The last day was a quick one - rested and revitalized, there was no press today. Just the impending cross-globe flight to NYC to hit the press trip over on that side of earth. Koji had some work to do, so after Corey and I packed our luggage - we decided to hit whatever we could find randomly.

In Shibuya, you can pretty much walk anywhere and eat really well. Avoid stuff that seems familiar - hit a place that you can’t read a single character of, or only mildly can make out the pictures of what you’re pointing at to order. I can speak enough Japanese to get by… in a restaurant… when the meal is over… so the point method works. I promise. 

The last restaurant meal for us was the place pictured. What’s really cool about a lot of the restaurants you’ll find in Shibuya that serve traditional foods, is that there’s a big vending machine where you just pump your money into it- and pick what you want by picture or name, not unlike picking a soda from a machine. 

My lunch was something like a mashup of things I’ve consumed past - with some twists. The noodles were texturally somewhere in between ramen andudon, but more spirally in look. The broth was a really thick miso based stock that had melted down butter in it - this sauce could have been a soup in itself; it was the best broth in a soup I think i’ve ever eaten. Really orange-yolked hard-boiled eggs, nori, some Japanese pickles, vegetables on top, a slice of pork, and the paradoxical American corn adorned the viscous broth - I loved it. Half way down, I was painfully stuffed. That was some serious broth.

We got to the airport only to find - poof. 3 hour flight delay. We flew to Japan without a problem (aside from the puking girl next to me… see a few episodes earlier), and now that we were trying to leave - it was going to be tricky. The seats we wanted needed 2 hours to retrieve for some reason, so we went into the airport food mall… which was pretty impressive. 

We had maguro and otoro nigiri, then each picked a main: my dish was unagi-don (grilled eel on top of rice), soba, some Japanese pickles, and the sobacondiments and sauce. Normally, I will never eat anything from an airport terminal, plane, or anything near a restaurant - unless I’m: a. out of the stuff I packed to hold me over until a better meal, b. starving and sick of the healthy-crap I packed, or c. I know it’ll be real quality stuff. 

This was quite respectable for an airport restaurant - better than anything I’ve had in a US airport.

We had our final Matcha Frapps (probably around number 10 for me and Corey); Koji stuck with us till the bitter end - then it was NYC here we come.

Ichi The Kiichi (The Early Years) V



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(Tokyo. Day 3. Part 2.)

Shrimp-mayo again. Happy, little fried-nuggets of shrimpy-goodness; these were way smaller than the ones from the first night, but just as amazing nonetheless - the bed of greens and sprinkles of green onion were a good compliment. The duck (with the fat) skewered with wasabi was a good laugh. A good laugh in the sense that every person who took a bite (after about 3-5 seconds) was immediately invaded upward-nasal-style with a kick of some serious wasabi-ness. This is what I imagine Steve-o’ lines of wasabi felt like; every single person at the table had the same “Holy shit!- but I’m trying to maintain composure, red-as-a-beat face on.” Terrific.

Salted grilled beef, then karage (Japanese fried chicken) - which, is one of my favorites in Japan. The crunch and crisp on the outside was salty and hard; the inside was super juicy - having all spectrums of chicken meat inside. 

Several dishes before the karage and beef, we were all already full - Shochu-rocks and Kirin Heartland still flowing - then. more… food… Corey was half passed out against the wall (not from booze - but food); then there’s me wishing I were wearing a sweatsuit thanks to the ever-shrinking-waistband, choking my insides. 

A salad of what I think were some mix of (by this point difficult to distinguish) Japanese greens with oysters and sliced nori; then tuna tartare with sesame seeds, green onion, avocado, and Japanese cucumber that were terrific (our food comrades mixed the whole thing up into a delightful mush). I think this grilled fish we had next with daikon and lemon was Hokke? I definitely inquired - but running on minimal sleep and Japanese booze made the Swedish-sounding fish name… sound fuzzy to memory. 

The finale! I’ve had almost everything I think possible in Japan as far as styles of food go; with the exception of Soba. I’ve had homemade soba at home, andyaki-soba  in Japan and home - but never soba in Japan. 

Soba is served cold, with a very specific soba-dipping-sauce in a cup next to you. There are greens (green onions and other bits) and wasabi to mix into the cup. To eat traditionally, you pull out a small batch of noodles; dip and mix into the cup; then slurp (very loudly) to consume. The soba had everyone around the table delirious in over-stuffed, but still-eating delightful madness. It was so intensely good and simple. 

We hung a bit more, said our goodbyes to our friends and hosts - and hit the sack. 

Ichi The Kiichi (The Early Years) IV


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Shibuya-san, genki-desuka? Watashi wa Kiich-desu

Day 2:

It’s rare that the first night i hit the sack after a 6-20 hour travel day that i wake up at a decent hour. The gods of Japanese ancient-lore must have been in my favor when i awoke to a sunrise (and not pitch black 2:57am). My partner in crime, Mr. Corey King Beaulieu-san and i had a plan to hit the hotels’ upstairs restaurant A’bientot early in the a.m. before the press madness began.

(back story, Tarantino chronology to follow:)

I picked up yoga about a year ago thanks to the encouragement of my wife, Ashley. It took a lot of convincing on her part… i had this feeling deep down that i would be the only dude there, to which Ash said “No way! There are always a couple other guys in class,” so i figured, what the hell - i’ll give it a shot. 

There i was sweating, inflexible, and pathetically panting in a simple downward dog in a class full of toned, smiling yoga-women. After my first initial attempt - i put it away for a year… then picked it up again the year mentioned earlier. After my first few classes, i started to take classes from some truly wonderful teachers (Christine, Lewis, Rob, Daniella, Marilyn, (and now) Steve - all at Full Circle Yoga in Winter Park); then i was hooked. 

I think a few of the main moments that converted me to Yogi-ism was my first time meeting my teacher Rob. Here was a dude in great shape, doing handstands with the delicate grace of a swan and the volume of ninja footsteps… covered in Japanese tattoos and rocking dreads. That’s when i felt at home.

The next few monumental success was when i realized that all the gym-weight-testosterone-constipational-lifting was just damaging my body; that acupuncture and therapy weren’t curing my demons; and that my brief love affair with playing basketball (quite horribly) seriously affected my fingers due to numerous finger stuffs from rain-soaked (and heat-soaked) games of street ball. When i started to see quickly, that mentally and physically i was feeling better than ever: Yoga was the answer. Sure. I still have some of my major issues (admittance is the first step to recovery right??), i still have some belly-pudge to go (probably from eating so much fantastic food) - but. I definitely see an ab or two poking out, and i can see myself getting over my borderline-ocd and some of my old depressive moments (that we all, as functional human beings, seem to have.) 

But yes… a year after that fateful day of giving yoga another shot… i really try to make it a point to practice 3-6 times a week. During our year hiatus before “In Waves” recording, i spent al most every day at Full Circle, alternating between all my favorite teachers. The beauty of the style that Lewis and Rob started me into (Ashtanga Yoga), and that Steve got me really hooked into is that as Steve told me once before “Ashtanga really happens in self practice.” So when i can’t get into Full Circle… i make sure i go through the Ashtanga Primary series at home - usually playing classical music (ala American Psycho anyone?) in the background. Paganini and Pantanjali go together like Uni and Rice; like Suntory and Karage; like cilantro, onion, lime, and carnitas. Perfection.

I’m no David Swenson yet… but that’s another beauty of Yoga: it’s non-competitive. It’s not about what you can or can’t do… it’s just that you’re doing it. As my teacher Rob says “Taking the shape of the form; YOUR expression of the pose.” 

I do miss the community of FCY. There are some truly beautiful human beings there; who (along with Ashley getting me into it) have changed my life for the better.

(I digress…)

So Ashtanga in a Japanese hotel can be a tricky thing, but damn worth it. Ashtanga to me is like: getting a massage, chiropractic adjustment, and shrink counseling all in one. It makes you feel good mentally and physically; it makes you look good physically and mentally… i’m not a religious man (or an anti-religious man), but Yoga is a religion to me. (Another truly meaningful quote from Rob that i’ve heard) “I don’t know how it works, all i knows is that it works.” (Please excuse me if my quotes aren’t verbatim… i’m on hour 11.5 of my flight to Manhattan.)

It’s funny… i have pretty much the same window view picture of Shibuya from the Excel from every tour we’ve ever done in Japan. (6 tours to date now… I want you, Budokan. Headlining style baby.) 

So. A’bientot. Honestly… i was bummed. it looked like everything i know of Japanese breakfast; but the truth of the matter is that hotel food is never as good as what it’s attempting to look like a polished version of, just a 5-15 minute walk out the front door. This was honestly one of the very few hotel dishes i’ve eaten in years since i’ve gotten pretty serious into food. 

(sidenote. heafy digression.)

When i say “pretty serious” into food… 

I love food. My mom raised me on traditional Japanese food. My mom also however, can make all sorts of fantastic American, Italian, and old-French inspired foods. 

 I meet a lot of American bands who always say things like “God! The food in Britain sucks!” or “Gross! Indian food???” or “Where is the nearest (insert american dinner chain name here) or the good ol’ King or golden arches.” 

You know what? People that are afraid to try different cuisines from around the world - to dare themselves to see something different outside of the same factory processed comfort of brand-familiarity, are missing out on life. You live ONCE. That’s it. We need food to live… so why not see how the rest of the world lives? That’s how i spend my life - experiencing other cultures through their food. I love everything from mystery street cart meat sticks and what-kind-of-euro-tourist-is-that-kebab-spit meat; all the way to artisan charcuterie and cheeses made and sold at local butchers… tropical fruit that looks like a popular video game character? I’ll take it. Can’t explain what it means from Indonesian to English? I’ll take it.

When you eat something made by a person… by a face… by a soul - you’re eating all the hard work of that culture; you’re inheriting what it means to be someone from somewhere (not just a meat-product-filler sent in frozen shipped boxes keeping the owners rich- while they eat something else other than their toxic-garbage.) 

I love eating with people. My favorite is to eat the same thing as my fellow diners. Even if the table is a beer keg with egg carton tables, or a state of the art vineyard with some serious swank… I want to share the experience. 

So yeah. I love food. I love eating. I don’t like food snobs… I don’t like music elitists… like i said earlier… you live once - let’s live it like happy Yogi’s (except let’s eat a ton of good food, drink some great local booze… and just live.)

(back to japan)

So yeah. A’bientot… sorry. I saw the chef chef on the heat-lamped food at one point - even he looked a little bummed. That was that. (I re-learned my lesson: EAT LOCAL. Some hotels have slamming food… most don’t.)

Japan has a Matcha Green Tea Frap at Starbucks. It is intensely delicious. No. The Green Tea ones outside of Japan are not the same… this is legit, (i’m assuming Kyoto Matcha? i could be wrong (Kyoto is known for Green tea) and it’s fantastic. I think i had… well… too many on this trip.

We got to Warner/runner/road/brothers/richrussianman-records; did a bunch of incredible press with some great people… then it was lunch time.

Mutsumi-ya (i really hope this was the name of this place… I realize what my strengths and weaknesse of blogging are. I will start taking EXACT notes of dish names, restaurant names, and locations soon.) But from memory? Mutsumi-ya in Ginza. 

It was my mom, my wife and my great friend/manager Justin who got me into the next level of food enthusiasm (where i’m at now)…. but it was Zimmern that made me curious to try more… then Bourdain that made me want to take this stuff to the NEXT level. Bourdain’s books are really the only things outside of graphic novels that I read (I either can’t read… or just don’t have the attention span anymore - thanks video games and guitars) and his books are fantastically written. He can make “FUCK” sound eloquent. I laugh at loud when reading his books, I feel his pain when he reflects on what irks him - if Metallica got me into Metal very seriously… Bourdain got me into food very seriously (but like i said… i’ve always been a food nut) but he’s showing me how it’s done (hopefully our paths will cross… i want to bring him on tour with us - put him in a drinking competition with Corey. Bourdain will lose. hahaha.)

So! A recent Bourdain episode had him in Hokkaido, Japan. I saw something on that episode that made me flip (in a addition to the Chirashi (which you can get a great version of at Shin in Orlando, FL) but it was Hokkaido style Ramen. 

Ramen in the USA… it’s cup of noodles… and other… well. salty college snacks. 

Ramen in Japan is an art-form. If there was a legit Ramen place in Orlando… made by Japanese… I would be there every single day. I’ve had many versions of Ramen in my day: traditional, miso, mom’s, variations from across Japan. But Hokkaido style? It has American canned corn and butter in it. You hardly see dairy in Japanese food… corn either. So when I saw Tony digging on this stuff- i emailed Koji and told him how bad i wanted this Hokkaido Ramen. 

Bam. Found it. 

It was delectable. A miso base makes the broth (similar to miso soup’s ingredient, just used as the soup stock), there is a nice slab of Pork, some nori, the corn, a butter chunk, then those scallion type guys sitting on top. The broth was insane. The butter lent those whole new thickness to ramen noodle soup that i didn’t know existed. The traditional way to eat any sort of noodle in japan is to… well… slurp he heck out of it. You pick up a batch of noodles with the chopsticks in your right hand; left hand makes a bowl under with the soup spoon; pull up a small batch, and slurp it in. I think it’s more polite the more noise you make? 

The gyoza was fantastic. Traditional and great. Anything in dumpling form makes me weak at the knees. And when they’re done wrong? It kills me a little bit… thankfully this wasn’t the case.

Ichi The Kiichi (The Early Years) III


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day 2. part 2.

Lots and lots more great press… yadda yadda… 

We actually had all the head retailers of all the CD-retailers from all over Japan come in to have us demo our new album, videos, artwork, and basically be the salesmen of the new record: it went amazingly… but it made me hungry.

Dinner was a place that Koji told us had just opened a few months ago (which is pretty damn rad, considering we’ve always hit places that Koji was able to sample before (most of the time previously with us). It was a floor full of indoor kiosks. It was like a little indoor street food market you’d see somewhere like in south east Asia. Some of the tables were beer crates with little stools; some of the seats were mop buckets; there were all sorts of people in the place… families, people returning from work, fashionable rocker/cyberpunklooking japanese youth kids, and a waiter who removed his tattoo coverers to compare tattoos (tattoos are still looked down upon very much so in japan due to the association with the japanese mob - so it was cool the guy chanced being seen by his boss to compare ink.)

This was one of the coolest damn places i’ve seen in Japan. All these options! There were places that JUST did pork; only served chicken; yaki-tori spots; korean; okonamiyaki joints (which is one of the greatest japanese dishes there is… it can only be described as a japanese pizza - but it’s not even close to a pizza); and then… there was Meat Dojo. Unaji. A place known for it’s preparations of beef. 

We had proper Kirin (or maybe it was Sapporo… uh oh… there was lots of it… i think it was Sapporo- and yes. Japanese Sapporo. Not Toronto-Japanese-Beer) - lots of it. 

I excitedly decided… “hey. let’s eat some here… some over there (pointing)… some over there…” We were going to food hop till we dropped. 

The first dish was beef tartare with green onion, on top of Japanese mint. The beef was all japanese… all raw… and all fantastic. It had crunchy bits of (what i think was onion, or something onion flavored and textured) lined inside of it. It was prepared like Kofte would be… just prepped into that beautiful rectangle. 

My cohorts in crime: Koji and Corey.

Next was the second stomach of a cow. Koji told us that every single one apparently tastes completely different. This one… reminded me of al-dente gnocchi. I know some cringe at the thought of offal - but lemme tell you - this is the good stuff. In olden days, people utilized all parts of the animal; that’s the way it should be. If our poor cut critters on the earth gotta die for us - may as well utilize every bit, not waste anything. The texture had that gnocchi and tripe thing going on. Koji mentioned that the parts that look like tripe (like the kind you see in menudo) are called the “bee combs” in Japan. I like that. The sauce reminded me of okonamiyaki sauce - sweet and savory at the same time… the been sprouts and greens along with the stomach completed magically. 

The last bad boy was grilled beef with japanese mushrooms. I’ve always been into mushrooms… but not like really into mushrooms; pretty much until the last few years. James Petrakis’ Ravenous Pig in Orlando, FL is one of the most fantastic food spots back home; i’d easily say it will go head to head with whatever NYC, Chicago, or SF could throw at it - and my friend Jason, who works there, is always recommending the best of the best at the Pig. Petrakis definitely got me into mushrooms; he uses some of the baddest-ass mushrooms i’ve ever eaten- and since James’ cooking: i’ve been a mushroom freak. (More on the Pig on a future blog, but back to Japan) 

So the beef was amazing. What i love about beef in Japan, is that it tastes like beef; it has the texture of beef (i know these seem like obvious statements, but let me explain) in the states, i feel beef and steak are made to overly soft; an almost hamburger-esque texture seems to be what we’re so trained to be used to for meat. Yeah, a filet is supposed to have a more delicate texture and all; but this beef: it feels like you’re eating beef - and it’s a beautiful thing. It has that nice chew to the fibrous-muscley-areas, and variations with fat, differing areas of the flesh - it’s not systematic - it’s natural. I love Japanese beef - it’s clean flavored of steak - it tastes like meat, and chews like meat. The mushrooms? There is no other description other than “awesome.”

Ichi The Kiichi (The Early Years) II



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(day 1 continued)


The next dish was (if in the USA it would be called this) Shrimp. 3 ways. It was shrimp covered in Japanese mayo (a completely different taste than our american mayo), deep fried shrimp heads (the best part of a shrimp to me; cooked the best way), and shrimp crackers. This dish was something special. The shrimp mayo was probably one of the best damn things we ate that night - Japanese mayo has a sweeter flavor than US-mayo, and it’s far lighter; fried shrimp heads… if you haven’t had them done right before - try it; it rules.Nigiri. Ofcourse - gotta have it. It’s done differently here; there aren’t mixed “memphis” and “hawaiian” rolls… it’s nigiri and sashimi. Served room temperature. Your sushi isn’t a boat, intended to float in a bath of soy sauce - here, it’s done right. A very thin layer of soy sauce is placed in the soy dish - you dip the nigiri upside down to only dab a small amount of soy on the fish (not the rice). The electric green wasabi that is handed in mountains in sushi bars all over the world are non-existant; the wasabi connects the sashimi to the rice (when the chef feels like it needs it.)

Grilled salmon takes me back to being a kid. My mom always made salmon, rice, and miso soup - THE japanese breakfast. This salmon was perfect.

Suntory is my favorite beer on earth. “Japanese” beer in the USA usually isn’t Japanese. It’s Canadian. Kirin? Sapporo? Brewed at Molson in Toronto. I think it’s the same with Asahi (i could be wrong on this one). Japanese beer does not taste Japanese to me in the USA - here… it is the best beer on the planet as far as i’m concerned. It’s light, but malty and strong at the same time; it is the perfect compliment to the delicate (and intricate) flavors that is Japanese food. Japanese food is about simplicity… it’s about the dish you’re eating. When you order Chicken cartilage fried; that’s what you get - with the recommended condiment - it’s not covered up by side dishes. (This texture may have scared some off - justifiably so though.)

The crab was fantastic - the artichoke mixture stuff was a mystery- but fantastic… very un-Japanese flavor there; almost reminded me of something you’d see in French cooking.

Yaki-tori could be a movement like sushi. It’s a whole different style; there are chefs that just make yaki-tori, restaurants that only serve yaki-tori. All meat… on a stick… grilled? Fantastic thing.

After the half a dozen Suntory Premium Malts a piece, we needed something warm. Ocha. Japanese green tea. Euphoric.

Our night-cap was Hobgoblin. A british pub. In Japan. Ha! I saw all sorts of British style pub grub on chalkboards written up on the walls; a pretty badass guitar player sang the Mississippi style blues - real cool stuff.

We drank Yebisus till it was time to get to sleep.

All in all… quite the homecoming.

Ichi The Kiichi (The Early Years) I


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Since being home and off-tour - I've found it very difficult to be able to type up new food adventures... so - to keep this bad boy alive, I will be posting old issues off my original tumblr food blog. I'm sure not everyone has had the chance to enjoy these original blogs. The writing ain't as good, I may be cruder, and the pictures are all iPhone... Guten Apetit. 


Day 1. Tokyo.

Having never done a blog based around my travels and gastro-adventuring, my friends and family have always encouraged me to start something like this up. All of these photos are iPhone photos in (obviously) some of the most un-photogenic lighting situations; so you’ll see the food pretty much as i did… in a semi-blurred haze (not unlike mine, which was induced by copious amounts of delicious japanese alcohol and jetlag).

As of right now, we are sitting in the ticketing area of the Narita airport in Tokyo - our flight is about 3 hours delayed, but the free wifi and ability to finally post some good food makes the weight a piece of… sushi.

I woke up at 4:00am on the first day (whichever day that was) to leave Orlando and my family to fly to NYC and connect into Narita. I DO NOT eat airplane food, or airplane restaurant food (with a few exceptions in certain places), so i always pack nuts, granola, granola bars, triscuits, and other uber-healthy-lame-food. The flying was long, tiresome… actually! funny story (for you, not me):

We were supposed to have extended legroom seats booked from our label due to a current knee injury i have; as all travel goes, ofcourse this didn’t happen- but i had two empty seats next to me.

Next thing i know, a mom and her daughter rush in; mom on the phone, frantic (i think they were late for something for some reason…) flight finally takes off. I take some sleep aid (you pretty much have to on these long flights when you have to get in and get working right away.) I pass out for about three hours and wake up to something odd. the daughter, sitting next to me, is half puking on the plane blanket that is on me. Hooray.

I look over in shock; see that her mother is still sleeping, i continue to quickly get all my stuff out of the way, rush to help find her an airsick bag (good job delta (who does not have any sort of entertainment or room on international flights (thanks cheap airlines)), i continue to help clean her up with wet-ones, sanitizer; push the bathroom line out of the way, and it’s pretty much done. The girl was embarrassed, but the mother never really seemed to come out of her glassy-eyed gaze (she was probably taking the same sleep aid as me.) Not so much as a thank you from mom. 

Oh well.

Fast-forward to Tokyo.

This was my sixth visit to Japan (excluding birth), and i requested to stay at the Tokyu Excel in Shibuya. I am very familiar with this area… it’s sort of what you’d picture of someone mentioned Tokyo to you: constant J-pop videos playing on massive video screens, incredibly well dressed men and women (who, on the very first visit to Shibuya, made me feel like a bum with how nice they were all dressed). The sheer volume of walking people, crossing the streets in impossibly orderly fashion is disorienting every time i come here. 

I am not a city boy, but i could certainly live in Shibuya. I love it there. It’s a mix of old and new (like Japan is), traditional restaurants serving all sorts of regional specialities from all across the country that people from other countries would never have the chance to eat at their non-Japanese-run-pseudosushi-bars. There’s still a plethora of styles of Japanese i have yet to try (and my mother is Japanese - and one of the best damn cooks on the planet). 

Koji from Roadrunner Japan has become a great friend of ours; we know (and he knows) when it’s time for us to hang out - it means an offensive amount of good food and lude amounts of flowing booze. 

Jetlagged, sleepy, and starving (from my last 24 hour diet of nuts and granola) - we knew just the cure. Warazi-Ya is a spot we’ve hit first on many of our Japan tours. It’s an Izakaya restaurant (a style now budding in foodier hotspots like LA, NYC, Melbourne, and others). Izakaya is a sort of less formal sit-down restaurant where you share tons of small bites of different things (not unlike tapas in spain). 

The private booths are lined with wallpaper of ancient Japanese porn-art. Apparently a very popular old art fashion (heck- look at how popular it is nowadays… just more artfully done by the Japanese masters of old), it definitely sets an informal tone when you sit in the traditional booths.

The first dish that showed up was Daikon pickles; something i’ve had a lot in my life, but these have a strong wasabi flavor. The giant beans (not sure on the name) were a cross between edamame flavor and a green bean; the mystery mix of “chicken innards” was a fun experience. Even Koji wasn’t entirely sure what each non-descript little bite was… but i tasted some liver, heart, and most likely some intestine. The sauce that was on it was fantastic. The yellow orbs? No idea what those were; they had the texture of a hard-boiled egg and a potato. Oh delicious innards (i love offal/getemono (the japanese offal… translates to “ugly food”.)

The fried squid was fantastic. I love the way japan does fried foods; very very different even than the way fried Japanese food is done in the USA. The pork and vegetable dish reminded me of an almost Chinese flavor (not in the szechuan sense), but it had that sesame oil/vegetable liquid translucent goodness that enveloped the meat and veg.

(part II to follow)

Dawn Of A New Day (At In Flames' Restaurant 2112)

"Dawn Of A New Day"




"Dying In Your Arms"


Dawn Of A New Day (At In Flames' Restaurant, 2112)

Gothenburg, Sweden

Life used to be sort of difficult in Trivium: always hearing of "other bands" that either say that we suck or that "Matt Heafy is a _____ (insert numerous insults in blank)", or ludicrously cold commentary online about things surpassing the boundaries of necessity when you simply don't like a band. It hurt a bit being in my late teens just making the kind of music I wanted, but always having to "hear" about how bands, press, or kids thought I or the band sucked. Nowadays? I never hear anything band really (or don't mind), and I've managed to befriend some musicians that I always considered some of the greatest people on Earth. 

There are days and moments in life where I think I'll wake up and everything great going on wasn't real… but that doesn't seem to happen. I finished up the Moscot Mobileyes Foundation acoustic solo show, get home and notice that the clips of the songs are online; I received a text and it's from Peter Iwers of In Flames, saying how he really enjoyed the acoustic performance clips online and would love to see if I'd be into performing at his and Bjorn's restaurant 2112. Anyone who knows me knows that I wouldn't exist musically without In Flames - and over the years (and 8 tours together), In Flames has become some of my closest band-friends in the world; so that nice text from Peter was touching and inspiring. 

Peter and Bjorn own an amazing restaurant in Gothenburg, Sweden, and I've actually had the privilege of eating and drinking (lots) there several times; so any excuse to come back to 2112 is always a good one. There was a ferry-travel date in between Stockholm and Helsinki where I was able to coordinate flying into Gothenburg on the day off to perform at 2112 for Cancer Fonden Sweden (a cancer foundation). Unfortunately, In Flames was in the USA at the time I'd be performing, but I would still be able to hang out with some of their nearest and dearest pals of Gothenburg. 

Before the last acoustic show, I was a nervous wreck… I'm used to playing Trivium shows - that doesn't phase me; but playing completely by myself is a little nerve-wracking since by that point, I had only performed once solo. Even before the European Headlining Trivium tour started, I was rehearsing the full set of songs daily - ensuring that I would perfectly nail these tracks at one of my favorite bands' restaurants. Throughout the whole tour, I would rehearse the acoustic sets and ensure my utmost healthiness to save my voice all for that one acoustic show. 

I fly out of Stockholm, and there was a group of 6-8 amateur basketball players: half of them American, half Swedish, all very tall and loud (the Americans at least). I sit in my seat, and recline when it's time to recline - violently, my seat is force-shoved back forward and held in place by the kid behind me. I turn my head slightly, shaking in rage, about to tell him off - when I start to realize that I am surrounded by his "boys" (as far as seating is concerned); having recently dealt with gang-mentality recently (and being assaulted and threatened with a gun) my mind played out the scenarios of what I could say and what would happen. It sucked - but I had to just suck it up and sit there… I knew that if I turned around and got vicious - I would be outnumbered by a bunch of half-wit wanna-be amateur gargantuan-children. Later on, I stood up on the flight and looked right at the kid - he kept eye-contact to the ground… maybe he didn't realize that the dude in front of him was decked out in all black with a massive pentagram on his back with tattooed arms… fuckin' asshole. It was another one of those moments that the human race let me down; like the gang jumping. Long story short: I was punched in the face and chased into the street by 8-10 kids threatening to kill my manager and I; gun pulled out and all; they later cut us back off by our bus, shattered our managers collar bone - luckily I phoned the police on the way back before we were cut off and they showed up to break it all up. I've never had a moment in my life before that I thought I would never be going home again. 

Flash back forward a few months. I arrive at the Elite Plaza Gothenburg - a quite nice hotel for the evening; I was even upgraded to a suite for free - bonus. I meet Jorgen and Sara from 2112 for a quick lunch at Bliss (the restaurant next door to 2112). The restaurant was closed, but Sara knew the chef, so he busted out a plate of the fish special of the day for me. This fish was some kind of white Swedish fish (most likely cod), simply prepared with a very tasty white sauce and that lasagna-looking traditional Swedish vegetable side-dish. Beautiful little dish. New Swedish I'd call it. Jorgen, Sara, and I chat a bit, then head over to 2112 to build a stage out of some wooden-crate platform-things and rugs (punk rock, but it works) and I rehearse a track or two. 

Amazingly, I was able to score a haircut at Bena with Stina before the gig - I headed over there and got my Kramer-situation situated wonderfully. Post new-doo, it was time to yoga and rehearse a bit more before the performance. 

2112 was packed to capacity with people happily chowing down on the restaurant's new menu (all gourmet burgers) and drinking their world-class beers; I headed into the stock room for some final nervous-prep and a glass of water. When it was stage time, I walked through the crowd and sat upon my make-shift stage and belted away some oldies…

The set went flawlessly on the covers. I went from "Can't Help Falling In Love" into "Sweetest Perfection", then "Hurt", "In Dreams", "Eleanor Rigby", "Hallelujah" (the show stopper), "Dawn Of A New Day" by In Flames, "Harvest" by Opeth, then closed with "Dying In Your Arms" by Trivium. Hilariously, I botched "Dying" (charmingly at least) - then the set was over. It was a pleasure to do a great little acoustic set for some Swedish friends for a good cause; I thank Peter and Bjorn for allowing me into their fantastic spot once again. 

After some photos and signings Jorgen, Sara, Tomoko (Trivium Japan), myself and a rotating cast of 2112/In Flames' nearest and dearest all begin our feast on some of 2112's best grub. 

Directly from the menu:

6 oz Cod & Salmonburger served with 2112′s homemade Skagenröra with shrimps, arrives with tomato, salad & onions, served on a homemade coarse bread.

Gelotte Grande
6 oz Vealburger with Chiliaioli, aged Cheddar cheese, onionring, salad, tomato, served on homemade bread.

Le Petit Pedda
6 oz. Ground Wagyu Prime rib served with grilled Foie Gras (Duck Liver), truffles mayonnaise, Salad, Tomatoes, Red Onions, presented on homemade coarse bread.

2112 Famous Burger
6 oz. American ground Prime Rib with truffle mayonnaise, Salad, Beef Tomato, Red Onions, Swedish aged Prästost, served with homemade bread.

All burgers are served with 2112′s famous homemade Coleslaw Salad. All buns are freshly baked at 2112.

We also had onion rings and some seriously fat-cut proper-chips. 

I was at first saddened to hear that the original chef I had become so accustomed to at 2112 had departed (he was behind all the dishes you've seen me previously consume) however- these gourmet burgers delivered some serious flavor. The combinations of the minimal ingredients and the interesting meats (like the iCod and the Pedda) made for some palette-excitement. My favorite has to have been the Le Petit Pedda; veal burger with foie gras?? Fuck. Yes. Well done 2112, well done.  

I insisted that my dinner-guests and I all simply share the dishes like good caveman-friends; I wanted us each to just pass the burgers around and take massive bites off each (the most fun way to eat with your friends). I had a fantastic set of burgers and fries with some delicious Swedish and American Micro Brew Beers (2112's specialty). 

All in all, it was a really fun night and for a good cause. I was treated like royalty at 2112 by the staff and by the patrons. I can't wait to get back over there. 

Praha Part II

Prague, Czech Republic

After the legendary feast at Cestr, we headed into the central part of the city to explore and see the sights. We basically hit all the main spots you're supposed to see: castles, churches, street markets, the Jewish quarter, astronomical clock tower - all that goodness. I find the clock tower intensely creepy - especially the weird little animatronic mini-villagers that come out from the windows at a specific hour in the day; some skeleton dude pops out up there too if I recall correctly.

We walked from the old town into the new town (or was it the other way around?), having all the classical spots pointed out by our guide Jana. Eventually - it was coffee break time (somewhere around hour 4/8 of wandering Prague) and we sat and chilled a bit. Turns out Jana was as big a black metal geek as me; we chatted our current favorites of the genre and let our appetites build back up. Once Paolo's Americano was downed (his signature drink mind you) and our coffees were slurped up, it was time to hit the Hrad. 

The Hrad is the mammoth of a church that overlooks the entire city of Praha. We hit it at such a late hour that photos and inside touring of the castle weren't quite available - but it was a staggering site regardless. A trek down a winding stone staircase and a wander back into the central of town, and it was dinner time. 

Mlejnice was to be our banquet hall; I begun the supper with a Pilsner Urquell and the ubiquitous Euro-bread showed up. Paolo and I are big fans of European bread. We feel there is quite a bit of care and significant history behind the ever-present European loaf. Even if you look back at all religious significance of bread - it's really impressive that something we take so for granted has been around for as long as it has; I love when it's done right. The rye-flavored brown bread here was delicious; simply served with no accompaniment. 

We started with baked peppers with pickled Balkan cheese. Succulent olive oil dressed the dish; the Balkan cheese was somewhat like feta, crumbly like bleu cheese. This was some impressive cheese - tart, salty, but with that feta-sharpness that I love so much. The peppers reminded me of Italian pickled-peppers. We had a traditional salad with veggies, then cabbage pancakes. Hot damn were those cabbage pancakes something special. Imagine the latke (the Jewish potato pancake) only done with cabbage… with that succulent Eastern European sourness of their cabbage, battered and fried into golden perfection. Heart-clogging vegetables - my favorite kind of vegetable.

My main: Beer Goulash served in a loaf of bread. Look at that thing. You want that. A massive sphere of hard Czech bread - lift the lid and be greeted with that thick, hot, hearty beef-stew. By this point, we were all already full, but with those thick burgundy-lava-filled orbs… you just had to suck it down. Such a rustic, traditional, delicious dish. Just as good as the first one I had years back. 

We wandered back to the hotel, said our goodbyes and were beyond delighted to know that we indulged on so much more than the Kentucky Fried Crap that the rest of the band and crew ate in their stale cells all day. 

Praha Part I

Prague, Czech Republic

The Czech Republic for me has always been a place of mystery. I remember the first time we were to play there, we were quite a ways away from Prague's center. That was back on the Unholy Alliance (Slayer, Trivium, Mastodon, Amon Amarth) tour. Some of us decided to grab a cab and go check out the city for the day - our tour management at the time were a headache to say the least (constantly slightly sabotaging our good times with early bus calls to prevent us hanging out among many, many other things) and in their typical fashion, made getting there a dramatic event. I'll skip the specifics - but me and Paolo were able to break off from them and stumble into a random restaurant and be completely blown away. I remember having a Goulash in a giant bread-bowl and a whopping Medieval hunk of Pork Knuckle (that is the knee). It was insanely delicious - one of those random lucky meals you don't forget. 

Flash forward to the headlining gig in Prague, on the way up to supporting In Flames in Europe - where we were to have a full day off on the outskirts of the city. I contacted the local Roadrunner rep if they'd be keen on a hang and perhaps showing us where to go - unfortunately, schedules didn't line up - but they got me in touch with Jana at a local CZ music magazine. Jana agreed to come out the morning of our day off and show us all around Prague - eating and seeing as much as possible in that one day.

Thank the metal gods for Jana, for the day we were about to have goes down in history as one of my favorite days off in recent years on tour. 

Our first stop was at Cestr - a sort of higher end restaurant in Prague that does I guess what could be called as "New Czech"? If you're from the States, or familiar with the New American genre… it's that… but Czech. Cestr utilizes the typical Czech colors, but alongside quite a modern presentation. There were cow-graphs on the walls and on the menus that list what every part of the cow is when talking the edibles; impeccably well-designed menus and logos and fonts and presentations of all things aesthetic were ever-present; even the charcuterie room was visible slightly further down from the partially open kitchen area. Massive tanks of beer in their golden-beauty were also available to the eye. 

The Czech Republic is hailed by many a beer-nerd as a a holy land. There is something about the way the Czechs do beer that makes it constantly rank as "one of the best beers on Earth." Creme Urquell. My elixir! This stuff goes down like water - tastes crisp, clean, fresh, not too hoppy, not too anything really. It's very tricky to describe a Czech beer - but I can maybe say: picture you're favorite Pilsner, then make it taste about ten times better. That's the best I can do. That beer that Sam Gamgee in Lord Of The Rings wanted to try in that one pub that they didn't end up going to? This probably was it - only with a Hobbit-name. That good.

The amouse that greeted us was cottage cheese on house made bread, greens on top. Simple. Fresh. That European rye-tasting soft, brown bread with that light cheese - perfect compliment. There was a simple Czech-style stewed cabbage, dumplings made from grated raw-potatoes, and creamy mashed potatoes as sides. Each one presented in a humble, rustic grandma-style serving dish or pot - each one presented so minimally, but with flavors bold and delicious. Cabbage is a big thing in this country - and here, it was done incredibly; dumplings - another massive thing here… insane! The smoothest, creamiest mashed potatoes I've had in Europe. 

My main was the Knuckle (low-temperature roasted under vacuum with garlic and marjoram) and Paolo's was some cut of steak. The knuckle was presented in a sleek, gorgeous little sauce pan - the meat came with a spoon - and yes, it was soft enough to be completely enjoyed with only a spoon. The food was done perfectly.  

If you're eating with me, you know a desert must happen post gorge: Stuffed dough buns. Buns filled with poppy seeds with a rum-flavored mousse. Positively delicious. Imagine a little doughnut hole in a creamy, airy sauce that has a nice obvious taste of rum. I washed it down with a turek (Turkish coffee apparently is something enjoyed quite a bit here in Prague) and we were on our way.