Saturday, May 31, 2008

odds & ends

It is the end of the month, so let's clean out the photos that weren't posted about.

Baked some scones using a new recipe. These definitely have to be eaten with jam--not sweet at all, still delicious though.

New version of stuffed bell peppers, added some renkon (lotus root) to the beef and onions and left out the egg.

Made some 3-bean salad (only with 2 beans--canned garbanzo & cooked daizu(soy bean)). Added corn, bell pepper and onion.

Curry fried chicken. Added some curry powder, salt and pepper to panko (bread crumbs). Dipped the chicken pieces in egg then dredged it in the panko mixture. Ate it with some tonkatsu (pork cutlet) sauce--delicious.

New version of Meiji's almond--this one has salted caramel wrapped around the nut. Japan's latest fad is salty sweets. Delicious, but gets quite salty after awhile.

Used one pod of the Lifou vanilla to make strawberry jam.

Have been enjoying the jam on yogurt in the mornings.

Cut some basil tops so that it wouldn't flower, put them in water---hydroponics?? (maybe) Planted them in the soil, hopefully they will grow.

Found these cute bananas, called "monkey bananas" in Japan and are also called Senorita. Thought they would taste like apple bananas, these were really sweet, not tart like the bananas we get in Hawaii.

Tried the Green & Black's Organic Cocoa. Followed the instructions on the can. Not much flavor. Kind of disappointing.

Got this Japanese confection from one of the memorial services. It is called Hakata no hito (lady from Hakata). A tiny baum kuchen with a sweet bean paste filling--delicious.

Our neighborhood 7-eleven closed on Friday. Satoshi and I are particularly sad to see it go because it came into the neighborhood the same year we moved into the neighborhood.

Another store which closed on Friday is the bakery in our shopping arcade a.k.a. my almost everyday lunch pick-up place. Since I have to find somewhere new, looked into buying bento (boxed lunch) from a sozaiya (pre-made foods store)--420 yen (about US$4.20)--rice with crunchy ume (pickled plum), hijiki (edible brown seaweed), tsukemono (pickled veggies), iwashi hamburger (sardine patty), tamagoyaki (omlette), pumpkin & kusamochi (rice cake mixed with yomogi (mugwort)).

Friday, May 30, 2008

matcha sweets

After meeting Maui Luna, I've been hooked on matcha sweets.

Here are just a few that I've eaten.

At Kimuraya, a matcha chiffon. Up close, this one actually looks like a moldy sponge, at least it didn't taste like one.

At Shouzan's cafe Bauhaus, I had the matcha cake. This one had a big kuri (chestnut) in the middle of the matcha cream and light cake.

This matcha coronet's cream from a bakery in our neighborhood supermarket was really sweet but the bitter powdered green tea on top evened everything out.

Baked Donut's green tea & black bean donut. Actually tastes like a moist cake rather than a cake donut.

Harvest's Uji Matcha cookie sandwiches. Like the previous coronet, the dusting of matcha on top evened out the sweet cream center.

Hope you have a great weekend!

Thursday, May 29, 2008



Yesterday, Satoshi came home all smiles. His university's baseball team took champs for their Spring league.

Omedetoo (Congratulations) Way to go Meiji!!

Wednesday, May 28, 2008


Sorry to have another rant this week...

I used to buy most of my books when I went home to Hawaii, but with the weight restrictions on baggage getting stricter and stricter, I started paying a higher price for the books that I want and ordering them from

So, I recently ordered 3 books from Whenever I buy from, they send me a payment notice, I print it out, pay for the books at the convenience store, then it is delivered to me.

Since only 2 books out of the 3 were ready for delivery, they sent me a payment notice. Before I could get around to paying for the 2 books, the 3rd book was ready for delivery, and they sent me a payment notice for that book the next day.

Not wanting to have 2 boxes and 2 deliveries, I e-mailed them this:

I recently ordered 3 books, but 1 was delayed. In the
meantime, I received the payment notice for 2 books. A day later,
I received another payment notice for the remaining book. I am
planning to pay for the 3 books tomorrow, but will the 3 books be
shipped together? I hope that you will be able to combine the 3
books for 1 shipment in 1 box. Will this be possible?

This is the response that I received:

Thank you for contacting us at

First of all, please let me apologize for any inconvenience caused
by shipping your items separately when you requested the option to
'Group my items into as few shipments as possible'. Please note
that we did not add extra shipping and handling fees to this order.

Unfortunately, we can not ship your items together. To ship orders
more efficiently, our system is highly automated. Basically, we try
to ship your order using the shipping method which you selected,
however it is still possible that your order may be delivered in
multiple shipments. In that case, we will not charge you extra
shipping and handling fees.

Please refer to the below URL for the information about our
shipping policy.

Again, we are very sorry for this inconvenience. We appreciate your
business and hope that we will see you again soon at

Please let us know if this e-mail resolved your question:

If yes, click here:
If not, click here:

Please note: this e-mail was sent from an address that cannot
accept incoming e-mail. Please use the appropriate link above if
you need to contact us again about this matter. If you have any new
question, please use the link below to ask us.

Best regards,

C.Nishino Customer Service

If you have any questions, please visit our Help.

I wasn't worried about having to pay for shipping an extra time, I was more concerned with the delivery guy having to come twice bringing 2 boxes (using twice as much gas and another tree)...sigh. I know English isn't their mother tongue, but if their system is as "highly automated" as they say, shouldn't it be able to put two orders together for one address delivery after payment is received?...sigh.

So, I then emailed them in Japanese, thinking that Japanese being "their" tongue, they would understand what I was talking about.

I received an email again apologizing for any inconvenience. And to render any bad feelings, they were giving me a 300 yen (about US$3) gift certificate to be used on my next purchase from them.

So, the delivery guy has to come twice (he came once yesterday and is expected for another delivery today), two boxes were used, not to mention all that gasoline in the process, and I got a 300 yen gift certificate...something is definitely wrong with their "highly automated" system...

Tuesday, May 27, 2008


There is a huge recreation area near Satoshi's parents house called Shouzan. When Satoshi was growing up he and his brother would often go to the pool there during the summers.

The property has been reformed a bit and now holds several wedding chapels and party facilities. They also still have the bowling alley, pool, a large Japanese garden, several restaurants and cafes.

After the disastrous 49-day service, Satoshi's mom wanted to make amends with the relatives and have a late lunch after the 100-day service, which will be held at the end of June.

Since we went to visit her on Sunday, Satoshi's brother also stopped by, and she felt it was a good chance to check out Shouzan to see what kind of atmosphere their restaurants had.

When we arrived, Satoshi ran into his classmate, who works there, they chatted for a bit and exchanged business cards.

We then went to the Japanese restaurant, Senjukaku. The restaurant was full for the day, so we weren't able to taste the food or look at the rooms, but this is where we will be eating on the day of the 100-day service. Business cards were exchanged and we were shown to their yuka (summer eating area).

In Kyoto, especially near Kamo River, there are many yuka (literally means floor but are places to eat outside near the river), kind of like a terrace but you sit on the floor.

Shouzan has a kawadoko called Keiryoyuka. Sitting near the river was actually quite cold, but very relaxing.

The restaurant had two types of courses for lunch. One was 4042 yen (about US$40) and another one for 5775 yen (about US$58). Since there was 4 of us, we decided to get two of each and try the different foods from each others course.

The difference in price also meant a difference in presentation and quality of foods.

The first course was appetizers, the photo on the left is the more expensive courses foods. (inside of the shrimp was karasumi (bottarga)--this was my first time eating it and it reminded me of cheddar cheese.)

The next course was the sashimi course.

This was a dish that both courses received.

Next came the fried course, this was only for the more expensive course.

Then came the fish course, a whole ayu (river smelt)--the more expensive course came with a tiny crab and some soy beans.

The rice and soup course came next, the goodies in the soup were different and the kind of tsukemono (pickled veggies) were different--by this point, the waitress was all confused as to who had what course so, the tsukemono got mixed up....

Lastly was the dessert course--wasabi pudding and watermelon (not sure which was for what course, though my first impression of receiving wasabi pudding was that I had lost some kind of bet and had the boobie prize). Surprisingly, this pudding wasn't spicy, but sweet and there was a slight tingle as you ate it.

It was a nice lunch, I think Satoshi's mom enjoyed herself. She was also happy to be able to find a nice place for lunch for the 100-day service.

47 Kinukasakagamiishimachi
Kita-ku, Kyoto
Phone: 075.491.5101

Monday, May 26, 2008

refills, t.p. and rant

In Japan, a lot of items have tsumekae (refills), they usually come in these thick foil type bags that become flat after emptying them into a container.

Most of my cosmetics, laundry stuff and bathroom cleaners come like this. This way, you keep using the container you originally bought and the refills don't need to be sold in a new plastic/glass container.

The other day at the supermarket, I was pondering which t.p. (toilet paper) could give me the most for my money.

The brand that I usually buy (the one on the left), is the cheapest...258 yen (about US$2.58) for 12 rolls.

The brand on the right, was a whopping 468 yen (about US$4.68) for 8 rolls.

The catch...each roll that I usually buy is only 30 meters. The brand on the right, one roll is 90 meters! (3 of my rolls fit into 1 roll of the new brand)

So, the 468 yen is actually like my purchasing 2 packages of 12-rolls...which comes out cheaper than the brand I usually buy. Let's see if it lasts longer.

This next part is a rant....

In Japan, when you buy books, they ask you if you want them to cover your books. I don't take these covers, because it is a waste of a tree. I think it is interesting while riding public transportation to see what people are reading. Only thing is that most everyone in Japan covers their books, so I never know what most people are reading. Satoshi on the other hand, loves these covers. I told him he should make his own cover.

He said he didn't know how. I was shocked. Growing up, we used to take old paper packages and carefully take them apart at the seams then fold them to make covers for our textbooks. When we got home, I showed him how to make a cover, I also bought him fabric covers for his books (the black ones), so he wouldn't need to take the paper covers. Still, he takes these paper covers. I asked him, "are you reading porn?" He immediately replied, "no!"

Me: "Then why do you need to cover your book?"
Him: "It is just one cover, I don't know why you're making such a big deal about it."
Me: "Everyone is saying "it is just one cover"..."

This is just one of the reasons why I think that most people in Japan, the country who preaches recycling and being green, aren't really doing their share.

Another thing that gets me is the cellophane tape on top of the saran wrap at the grocery.

In order to get to the produce that I've purchased, I need to literally pry it open! This usually ends up involving scissors and leaving the saran wrap useless and unusable. I wish they would stop wasting both saran wrap and tape.

Whew...glad to get that out of my system....hope you have a nice week!

Sunday, May 25, 2008

paul macarons

On Thursday, I was wandering the food basement after beads class and came upon these macarons by Paul (a franchise by the Holder Group).

I was mad at the guy who packaged them--he just flung them into a bag and gave them to me. (obviously, he wasn't aware at how fragile these sweets are...)

I feared he smashed some. I was right.

Still, these macarons were different from any I've tasted. These had light, buttercream fillings, not the heavy ganache or gels that I'm used to.

So what kinds of flavors were they? The dark brown was chocolate (there were 2 of them), yellow was lemon, green was pistachio, light brown was coffee & beige was vanilla. Though these weren't unique flavors, it was different because of the buttercream.


Saturday, May 24, 2008


I forgot to include a portion of what we did last sunday.

When we went riding with the Yanagitas, they also took us to Sasayama.

Sasayama is part of the Hyogo prefecture and has the remnants of a castle in their tiny town.

There are a couple of areas of the town that have been preserved from the Edo period (1600's). Sasayama is known for many foods especially kuromame (black beans), they grow like soy beans but the beans inside are bigger.

If you were to buy Tamba (is the area where Sasayama is) kuromame you will surely pay a pretty penny or two, but their kuromame is worth it.

One thing that we were amazed with was that parking was free (up to 45 minutes) and after that just 200 yen (about US$2) for the rest of the day! You would never see something like that in downtown Osaka, where they charge 200 yen for every half hour!

Hope you enjoy your weekend!

Friday, May 23, 2008

easy pizza

I saw this recipe on a show the other week.

This show features many O-ne (o-nay) or effeminate males. It is amazing how open they are about showing these guys off on television, but no one really "talks" about being gay.

Anyway, the recipe is really easy and takes no time at all.

Adapted from O-nemans television show.

Crust: Makes 1 crispy crust pizza (25 cm or 9 inches)
3 cups panko (Japanese bread crumbs)
1 egg
3 tablespoons milk
1 teaspoon herb de provence
salt and pepper to taste

Mix well until a dough forms.
Spread parchment paper on the bottom of your frying pan.
Press out the dough until you get a very thin crust.
On low heat, cook the first side for 10 minutes
After 10 minutes, flip over and cook for another 4.

Easy sauce: enough for two or three pizzas
1 400g (32 oz) can of whole tomatoes
1 clove garlic, crushed with knife
1 bay leaf
salt and pepper to taste
1 tablespoons olive oil
1 teaspoon Italian seasonings
3 leaves basil, julienne

Heat oil and add garlic, take off heat.
Add tomatoes and break up. Put back onto medium heat.
Add bay leaf, basil and seasonings.
Heat for 7 to 8 minutes.

Putting pizza together: After cooking crust, paint on some oil and then put some sauce, add your toppings and cheese. Let cook on low until cheese melts (about 4 minutes).


NOTES: I had a hard time getting the dough to spread out onto the pan, but once it was on the parchment paper, it was easy to cook. It is best to cook your toppings before putting it onto the pizza. Also, do not to put too much sauce.

Satoshi felt it was too bready. I think I need to spread the dough out thinner. I also want to try making my own bread crumbs, the panko that they sell in Japan is made with shortening.

UPDATE: I tried this recipe again, this time, using a rolling pin to flatten out the dough. And dividing the dough in half to make 2 small sized pizza crusts. Put the dough in between of two pieces of parchment paper. Roll out very thin.

Wanted to show you what happened when I put this in the oven to re-heat. The element in my oven is on top and comes down when I toast or grill...I guess it touched the parchment. The scary part was that the parchment paper didn't smell like it was burning, so I didn't realize it was....

Have a great weekend!

Thursday, May 22, 2008

seared pork chop with kim chee

This is a recipe that I saw in the Honolulu Star Bulletin while I was in Hawaii.

Seared Pork Chops with Kim Chee adapted from Honolulu Star Bulletin (3/9/2008)

4 boneless pork chops (1 inch thick)
50 grams (1.7 ounces) kim chee
1 tablespoon rice oil
1/2 cup sake (rice wine)
1 teaspoon honey
1 pat butter

Smear pork chops with kim chee
Marinate for at least 30 minutes, longer is better
Wipe off kim chee and use to make sauce

Sauce: kim chee, sake & honey

Heat oil in skillet
Sear pork for 3 minutes on each side or until golden brown
Reduce heat and simmer until done (about 7 minutes turning once)
Transfer to plate and cover with foil to keep warm

Add sake, honey & kim chee to skillet.
Turn up heat to high and cook for about 3 minutes until most of the liquid evaporates.
Add butter.
If sauce is sour, add more honey.

NOTES: the next time I make this, I think I'll raise the heat, so I'll get a nice sear on the pork, mine was pale. Don't forget to put sauce on your rice, it was heavenly!