Thursday, September 30, 2010

cafe salunpowak

Wanting to share my recent cafe experience with Satoshi, over the weekend I suggested we go to Cafe Salunpowak for lunch.

The past couple of days, the sky really changed to Autumn clouds, though during the day, the nip is gone and it is still quite warm.

At least it isn't humid.

This cafe is vegetarian. Satoshi ordered the curry, this is made with root vegetables like gobo (burdock), carrot, potato and other vegetables....945 yen (about US$9.45)

If you order a drink with the curry they minus 100 yen (about US$1) from the price of the drink.

Satoshi chose to try the grain coffee, a non-caffeinated drink....450 yen (about US$4.50) with discount 350 yen (about US$3.50).

I chose the Pita sandwich set...1050 yen (about US$10.50).

This came with 3 pita sandwiches...onion carrot slaw, chickpea curry & tofu pumpkin. I loved the flavors of all of these, especially the tofu pumpkin because it fakes you into thinking you are eating egg salad. Though the pita were REALLY chewy.

My set came with a drink, I chose the iced version of the grain coffee and it also came with a tiny dessert...chocolate soy "ice cream" with nuts.

I think my lunch set was the best deal.

Satoshi enjoyed his curry, the coffee not so much but thought the ice cream tasted good too.

We liked the food and atmosphere overall, very quiet...we'll be back.

Wednesday, September 29, 2010

kamizono

Thank you for all the beautiful comments yesterday. Made me blush.

I wanted to share with you where we went the other night....Kamizono.

We've eaten there in the past but it was always at lunchtime.

Tables usually filled apparently it was a slow night for them and we wondered if we would be the only ones dining there. Finally after we ordered another couple came....whew!

You can go a la carte, but we decided to choose the prix fixe menu 3675 yen (about US$36.75) per person. We chose our entrees, and ordered a bottle of beer 525 yen (about US$5.25), and then the dishes came one by one out of the kitchen.

A chilled tomato which was cooked in kelp/bonito stock and topped with a single caper...It looks tiny in the photo but it was a nice 3-inch round size. Be sure to drink all the liquid that comes out of the tomato...lycopene!

Next a gratin made from gomadofu (a curd made from sesame seed paste), some sliced green pepper, topped with enoki (a type of mushroom, flammulina velutipes aka velvet foot), melted cheese...different but delicious.

Hamo (pike conger) with a delicious broth at the bottom, topped with some grated daikon, shichimi (7-pepper), kaiware (radish sprouts) & ume (pickled apricot) paste with a squeeze of sudachi (lime) was nice.

The fourth picture is of tsukemono (pickled veggies), which is out of sequence from our dining experience.

The wife of the chef does the pickles & veggie dishes, here she had pickled some ginger, a baby melon (which tasted like cucumber) & daikon.

Next came a steamy foil filled with matsutake (the king of mushrooms in Japan), enoki (flammulina velutipes), assorted colored bell peppers all cooked in butter and stock (bonito/kelp)...This dish definitely said "Autumn".

An assorted plate of sashimi (raw sliced fish)...the avocado that topped the maguro was a bit too firm for my liking but everything else was fresh and delicious.

Satoshi's entree was their fried shrimp. He orders this EVERY TIME we eat there. He said he loves the texture of their fried shrimp, it has a sort of snap when you bite into it.

You can't see his side dish, but it was a crisp slaw made from raw scallions. So good!

I chose the scallops. You could either have them fried or grilled with salt, I chose grilled.

These scallops were huge! and came with some grilled vegetables like yamaimo (yam), assorted bell peppers & fresh shiitake on the side. With a squeeze of sudachi this was really good. And as a palate cleanser there was a stalk of young pickled ginger.

You normally see this young stalk of ginger served with fish (as a palate cleanser).

Rounding out the evening we had a bowl of rice topped with some dried nori and tiny rice crackers to eat as chazuke (rice with tea), and the tsukemono that I mentioned above. (Thank goodness they give the ladies a bowl of rice half the size of the guys!)

By this point I was really full, I gave half of my rice and pickles to Satoshi. The chef and his wife noticed this and told me next time I should just leave the food on the side.

Of course, I did manage to squeeze in the fresh fruit at the end of the meal...Asian pear, persimmon & a grape...all Autumn fruits.

We were both so full that after dinner we decided to walk the 30 minutes home. We concluded that whenever we eat there it is best not to have any beer--makes you too full!

It was another great experience at this restaurant and we'll definitely be back.

Tuesday, September 28, 2010

we're 5!

When we first moved to Japan in 2001, I would update our friends and family with emails.

But not wanting to stuff their inboxes nor bore them, I started this blog in 2005 so that if they wanted to read what we were up to they could whenever they wanted to.

Who would have thought that people from all over the world would also check into what we were up to??

Fast forward to today...this blog's 5th birthday...I can't believe I've kept a journal for this long!

To celebrate, I thought it would be nice to give something away...a care package to 1 lucky reader.

Keeping with the "5" theme...this care package will be valued at 5000 yen (about US$50) not including postage.

Hopefully you will not be allergic to anything I put in the care package nor will the customs guys decide that they need to receive the package or contents instead of you, or that they will make you pay some ridiculous tax or fee for it.

If you win, please blog about your care package after you receive it, linking your post to this blog.

To enter, please write a comment in our comments section by September 30, 2010, 9:28 a.m. (Japan time), no anonymous or ad type comments please, also to be fair, please enter only once....Satoshi will be pulling the name of the winner, and we'll announce the winner on October 1, 2010.

I would like to thank you for reading our blog. I am happy to have met some of you personally and also cherish the virtual friendships.

Blogging has really expanded my interest in food and my waistline (LOL) and I've learned a lot about cooking and myself in the process.

Not sure how long I will be able to keep this blog going but am definitely looking forward to blogging for at least the next couple of years.

Kanpai! (Cheers!) UPDATE: comments now closed, thanks for participating! to see what was in the box, click here.

Monday, September 27, 2010

foodie friday in minoo

It had been over 2 years since I'd seen Hiromi.

We live rather close to each other, but with our schedules, we've never been able to get together until this past Friday.

Since she's been working a lot, she had no idea where we should go for lunch.

I suggested one of my favorite cafes in Minoo, Per Caffe Bianco.

With the economy not being too good, they've cut back their hours and are only open from lunchtime (I think in previous posts I've written that they were open from 9:00 am).

We had their daily lunch 1050 yen + 100 yen to upgrade for cappuccino (about US$11.50)..choice of soup/salad, choice of pasta, drink (coffee or tea)

Our lunch consisted of pumpkin potage, penne arrabiatta & the cappuccino.

The potage was creamy with a hint of ginger, nice as the day was a bit nippy.

The penne was al dente and a little spicy.

Our cappuccinos were cute...a cat and rabbit (or maybe a mouse?)

After a very leisurely lunch, we decided to check out another cafe and she lead me to one in back of the Hankyu Minoo station, Cafe Salunpowak.

This cafe has several art galleries on their property and it reminded me of a country house.

We had some Earl Grey and chatted until Hiromi had to go to another appointment.

It was a great day with lots of chatting despite the clouds and nip in the air.

Cafe Salunpowak
6-2-18 Minoo
Minoo, Osaka
Phone: 072.764.8200
Closed Wednesdays, Open 11:00-18:00

Sunday, September 26, 2010

inspired

Recently we had dinner at Pietro, it had been some time since we had been there.

When we lived in Hawaii, we'd always go to Pietro. I asked Satoshi if he'd ever been to Pietro when it was located next to McKinley Car Wash or the one on Kapahulu, guess it was before he lived in Hawaii for him to remember.

Among some other dishes, we ordered the seasonal salad (pictured above). This came with warm veggies and cool lettuce and a very delicious ginger dressing.

I thought the dressing tasted like the sauce I use for pork ginger, so I tried it on some veggies for our dinner the other night.

It came out pretty good, though I think the Pietro version was a little sweeter.

If you'd like to try it for yourself please do...

nub of ginger (about an inch or so), grated
1.5 tablespoons sugar
2 tablespoons sake (rice wine)
2 tablespoons shoyu (soy sauce)

Put some oil into a heated frying pan and make sure to coat your veggies well with the oil, giving the veggies a nice sear.

After the veggies have a nice sear and are nearly cooked, add a couple of tablespoons of the sauce, let caramelize.

For the two of us, I used 1 eggplant, 1 eringi, 1/2 a carrot & 1/2 a red bell pepper.

We liked this and I'll definitely be making this again for our veggies during the cold months. The ginger in the dressing will also help us warm up.

p.s. the next night when I made this again, I sprinkled some green onions on top of the veggies, delicious!

Saturday, September 25, 2010

anne donuts

There is new donut shop in our area called Anne Donuts (pronounced Ahn).

Anne stands for Anshin (peace of mind) and Anzen (safe)...meaning that they sell products with no preservatives and use ingredients that are "safe" to eat.

I bought 4 for Satoshi and I to try.

Earl Grey...140 yen (about US$1.40) :lots of Earl Grey flavor

Cinnamon...130 yen (about US$1.30) : just cinnamon

Peanut...130 yen (about US$1.30) :roasted peanut bits

Okara...120 yen (about US$1.20) : (soy lees), this one is plain

I love their packaging...and that the lady at the counter wrapped the cinnamon one so as not to mix the flavors.

My favorite(s) were the Earl Grey and Cinnamon. Satoshi's were Peanut and Earl Grey.

We'll definitely be back to try more of their flavors.

Anne Donuts Factory
1-23-2 Ishibashi
Ikeda, Osaka
Phone: 072.761.2666
Open 11:00-19:00 or earlier if they sell out : take-out only

p.s. the weather has taken a 180 and is now very nippy...hope the sun will come out to warm the days (especially for my cilantro and chili pepper plants). At least the evenings are more comfortable, no need to use the a/c or fan.

Friday, September 24, 2010

cool

Recently, I did some frying and was wondering how to throw out the oil.

I usually don't do frying because it makes the house smell and plus throwing out the oil is usually a pain with all the "rules" we have for throwing garbage out.

But I found this neat item at the store.

I skimmed the directions and sprinkled the powder on and stirred (and stirred) wondering why it wouldn't dissolve.

Then, after taking the time to read the directions, I realized that the oil needs to be semi-warm, for the powder to dissolve.

Since my oil was cooled, I re-heated it to the correct temperature and the powder dissolved, while I stirred it.

Then, after waiting an hour, it hardened into this.

With a spatula I was able to throw it out with our burnable garbage.

Cool!

Since I have more of these packets, I think the next thing I fry will either be andagi (Okinawan donuts) or beignets (New Orleans donuts)....maybe both!

It is Friday here, hope you have a great weekend!

Thursday, September 23, 2010

wha??

Saw this sign from the community bus the other day...not sure as to what type of hair salon this exactly is, too scared to check it out...only in Japan could places have names like this!

p.s. today is a National Holiday, Shubun no Hi (Autumn Equinox Day), though Autumn is nowhere in sight. The humidity has returned and so has the heat.

Wednesday, September 22, 2010

foodie monday in minoo

Satoshi had Monday off, which was a holiday, so we went to see a movie. The Japanese movie "Umizaru, the last message" was in 3D, think BP oil rig meets Japanese Coast Guard.

The ticket price was 200 yen (about US$2) more than what we would have normally paid, which is normally 1800 yen (about US$18) by the way, so it was 2000 yen (about US$20) per person. If you wanted to bring home your 3D glasses, you could, I figure we paid for them, so why not??

Anyway, I was amazed at how technology has changed, the glasses are not with one lens red and the other blue, they are grey. The movie on the other hand has a red and blue tinge to it.

I've seen 3D televisions on the market here and can't imagine what type of vision people who have bought them must have.

After the movie, we went to check out Hakodate Ichiba, which is a conveyor belt type sushi place.

Most of their selections weren't too impressive, though two stood out for us.

A seared maguro (which could've been more seared) topped with ra-yu (chili oil).

The other was grilled eringi (mushroom) topped with some yuzushio (citron flavored salt).

After lunch we walked to check out a historical site, Kayano Sanpei's house.

This house belonged to a young samurai who also wrote haiku under the pen name Kensen.

This young samurai was apparently torn between filial piety and loyalty to his lord and in the process committed suicide on the anniversary of his lord's death...kinda dramatic, yeah??

In 1973 this house was considered a historical site by Osaka and in 1992 the house was donated to the city of Minoo.

In 1993, an addition was built called "Kensen-tei" which is continually used for haiku gatherings and tea ceremonies.

Satoshi went to check out this guy's grave which is located in a different area away from the house, so while I waited for him, I admired all the rice fields.

Satoshi was amazed at how much "country" there was where we live.

To get home, we tried out our city's community bus, which I touched upon the other day here.

I found out that this is actually a new system in our city.

Before, there was a bus only for senior citizens, but they have changed it and now anyone can ride the bus.

There are 5 lines (red, green, yellow, pink, blue). Depending on the route, for 200 yen, you can ride almost anywhere in Minoo.

To pay your 200 yen fare (as you get off the bus), you can use bus coupons, pre-paid/post-paid train debit cards or pay cash.

And if you want to transfer to another line, then you need to ask the driver for a transfer, and the transfer ride will cost you 100 yen (about US$1) cash only.

Not the most convenient transportation system for us because they run about once every hour (some lines are more infrequent), but it was a good experience and we hope to use it whenever we have extra time to get from one place to another.

Overall, it was an overcast day, kind of humid but not as bad as the week before.

We have another holiday coming up in a couple of days. Hope you have a great week.

Tuesday, September 21, 2010

couple of feet

It is amazing what you can see within a couple of feet.

Saw this Mini on a Used Car lot.

This one was on the same lot but closer to the entrance.

As we walked past the Used Car lot, this red Mini caught my eye, hidden in another parking lot.

And as I turned around, this Citroen 2CV was parked across the street.

Amazing catch all within a couple of feet.

Monday, September 20, 2010

imbibing

At the Foodie Staff Party, we always have lots and LOTS of alcohol.

Every year depending on who comes, depends on what will be consumed. Most times it is hard to predict.

One year it was lots and LOTS of beer.

This year it was wine.

We had bought a case of beer and some chu-hai (which is actually short for shochu highball, a drink made with juice and shochu (like vodka except it is made with sweet potatoes or barley) and Satoshi's co-workers brought many bottles of wine. (Thank you!)

First off, we started the party toasting with Santero's Pinot Rose, which I've tried in the past and written about here.

You should know that in Japan, maybe this is just in Osaka, but before any party ever starts, they toast and toast with beer.

Even if you don't want to drink beer, you have to toast with beer.

Anyway, I don't believe in this "ritual" and told Satoshi we are toasting with this sparkling wine instead and so that is what we did.

After drinking this sparkling wine, we opened Caliterra's Reserva Cabernet Sauvignon. I don't know much about wine, but this was nice and full-bodied.

So were the others that we tried...Chakalaka Spice Route, a South African wine. The wine was good and I like saying "Chakalaka".

Badet & Clement's Cuvee Prestige Blanc was a type of chardonnay (I think) it was nice chilled, light and easy to drink.

Hardy's Shiraz was kind of spicy.

Some people were drinking high-balls which they mixed Chivas and soda water.

I stuck to only wine, though most people went back and forth and mixed their drinks.

Major hangover today but I am pretty sure everyone had a nice time.

I found out from Satoshi at the last minute that there were not enough people for the party next week, so those who could come came this week, luckily for me I only had to cook for this one party!

Ooh, and the cilantro I got from Nate is growing! Will keep you posted on this.

Today is a National holiday, it is Keiro no hi (Grandparents Day), I wish I was able to spend the day with my Grandma, but am glad I was able to spend two months visiting with her while I was in Hawaii.


Sunday, September 19, 2010

foodie staff party

Satoshi's staff party entailed 7 co-workers, some new some not. Apparently we won't have to do this again next week.

We got together a little after noon and had...

Layered Taco Dip made with Ellie Krieger's Black Bean Dip

Ellie Kriger's Grilled Thai Beef Salad

Kim Chee Potato Salad

Spicy Poke

Shrimp Chips

And for dessert Cocoa Berry Mochi...which was inspired by something I had while in Hawaii at the Peace Cafe, only thing is that this version isn't vegan.

The recipe I got from my mom is made in a 9"x13" pan, which will NOT fit in my teeny oven, so I cut this recipe in half.

For this mochi recipe I needed 1/2 a can of evaporated milk and 1/2 a can of coconut milk...and when I went to Seijo Ishii, I was pleasantly pleased to find 1/2 sized cans.

In Japanese evaporated milk is called "eba milk" which is a shortened term. They don't have a "v" pronounciation so it pronounced with a "b".

Anyway, here is the recipe if you'd like to try it.

Cocoa Berry Mochi adapted from Koganji "Simply Delicious"
2 cups mochiko (rice flour)
2 cups white sugar
1 tablespoon baking soda
2 eggs
1/4 cup olive oil
1 can (12 ounce) evaporated milk
1/4 cup cocoa powder
1 can (12 ounce) coconut milk
1 cup total of dried fruits, walnuts & chocolate chips

Mix everything well. In a greased 9"x13" pan, bake at 350F (180C) for 45 minutes.
Cool completely then cut into desired serving size.

It seems that everyone enjoyed themselves and ate everything.

I hope everyone had a nice time...I enjoyed having everyone over, now to clean up.

Saturday, September 18, 2010

on a walk (or two)

Since we're having our get together today, I probably won't be near the computer at all, so I thought I'd post somethings I've seen on my walks.

Our community bus. I think it is new. We've never used the community bus system because they don't run very often, I think once an hour or something like that.

We were looking at the routes and figure if we need to get somewhere and have some time to get there, it would be a good means of transportation as it only costs 200 yen (about US$2). (The city bus runs more frequently and the fare is determined by the distance travelled, the more distance travelled the higher the fare.)

A cute Mazda Porter. I've seen this truck from the train and finally went to take a picture of it.

This cat was so sleepy...didn't even budge when we went to snap its photo.

It is a 3-day weekend here, hope you are enjoying your weekend.

Will give you all the details on our get together tomorrow!

Friday, September 17, 2010

art coffee

This was an interesting "instant" coffee filter by Art Coffee that we got from MIL.

It actually reminded me of a spider.

I also liked it because it could fit over a wide mouthed mug. A lot of these "instant" types can only fit over tiny coffee cups.

The coffee wasn't the greatest though, it had a sort of medicinal taste to it...blah!

It is Friday here, for the next two Saturdays we're having some of Satoshi's co-workers over for lunch/dinner, so I'm probably spending all of Friday cleaning and getting ready.

I'm kind of still mulling over the menu, will let you know how it goes.

Thursday, September 16, 2010

good & bad

Let's start with the good...

Ippudo in Ikeda brought back my favorite ramen, the Karakamen, a spicy tonkotsu broth topped with miso flavored ground beef and cashew nuts.

The bad part is when I reached to get a shot of my ramen, the camera literally flew out of my hands and part of it went *plop* into my ramen!

I was in shock for a few seconds before fishing it out.

Luckily, it wasn't the battery or memory card part of the camera that fell in, unluckily though it was the lens and lens cover...which is why my photo has a nice fuzzy texture to it.

After I got home, I wiped the camera down several times, hopefully it will be okay.

The weather has been flip-flopping between humid and cool.

Since I'm not much into standing by the stove these days, I threw together a wheatberry salad for dinner.

The good thing about this salad is that to cook the wheatberry and grain mixture, I threw everything into the rice cooker, which I totally loved because I didn't have to stand by the stove.

Recently, we had Jever Pilsner, a German brew.

Very bitter but really nice with all the nibbles and noshes we've been eating.

More good things than bad equals not so bad, hope your week is going well.

Wednesday, September 15, 2010

foodie tuesday in kyoto

Met up with Tamakikat in Kyoto. She had travelled to Europe as well as mainland America over the summer, so there was lots to talk about.

We walked around the grounds of the Kyoto Imperial Garden. The grounds are very large, with smaller gardens here and there.

The saltzberry as the Japanese call it (or crape myrtle) is in full bloom now. I've mostly seen it in bright pink but also have seen white and light pink blooms too.

It was my first time but I was glad I got to see the grounds.

Lunch was at Honke-Owariya, a soba shop that has been in business since 1465. Even though she lives in Kyoto, Tamakikat had been wanted to try this place. I was amazed at how many people could be seated in their tiny shop.

I ordered the sobazushi, sushi made with noodles instead of rice. I have had sobazushi in Hawaii but never in Japan.

This was simple. Delicious with lots of flavor from the wasabi that was in it.

After lunch, we were craving something sweet and decided to check out a donut shop just a few doors down from Owariya called Nicotto & Mam.

This shop is tiny with only a few seats and had about 9 different donuts to choose from.

We decided to get 3 each and split them to try.

Cinnamon, Peanut & Matcha Milk...cinnamon and peanut stood out in this group.

The donuts have a nice texture and the glaze is just right.

Matcha just didn't have enough "matcha" flavor though.

Black & White, Plain & Mocha...black & white and plain stood out in this group.

All in all the weather was overcast, though we did get caught in a passing shower, it was a good day and nice catch-up.

Honke-Owariya
Kurumaya-cho Nijo Sagaru
Nakagyo, Kyoto
Phone: 075.231.3446

Doughnut Cafe Nicotto & Mam
Kurumaya-cho Oshikoji Agaru
Nakagyo, Kyoto
Phone: 075.223.3630
Closed Sundays

p.s. while at the gardens, I spotted this cat inside of a stone lantern...shhh! don't wake it.