Wednesday, January 31, 2007

daily candy

It is a snuggly day in Paradise today. The wind, kind of wild--the windchimes going kind of crazy. And it is raining--drizzling and pouring off and what's a girl to do? Curl up with a book and maybe some sweets...

Well, maybe you aren't here in Paradise...still, if you are near the SF area, check out my friend, Michael Mischer's shop, he's all set for V-day--here's an article in the Daily Candy today.

It sounds as though he's got some delicious creations to spice up the special day and every day after that too!

Tuesday, January 30, 2007


While browsing in the health food store, Down to Earth, I found a brand called Navitas--which means "energy" in Latin.

They sell the popular goji berries, maca and also cacao. I got a 16oz package of cacao nibs.

For those of you who don't have a health food store nearby, you can also find these on

I can't wait to make something using these nibs!

Monday, January 29, 2007

swiss treats

My aunty's friend, W1, just came back from Switzerland and brought these delicious florentines to our Sunday dinner.

These are made by a Swiss confectioner called Laederach (sorry, I don't know how to change the font to German). The bottoms are different kinds of chocolate-milk and dark and the tops are a thin brittle with almonds and citrus peel. Thank you!

Have a great week!

Sunday, January 28, 2007


I first read about Zaney's on Ono Kine Grindz' blog a while back and made note of it as a "place to try".

Today my friend, BFF and I went to check it out.

It is located just on the outskirts of Chinatown on Nuuanu Avenue. There is a pay-parking lot right across the street from the restaurant and also some on-street metered parking.

Their signature dish is the garlic fried chicken. The chicken is deep fried then tossed in a garlicky-shoyu (soy sauce) sauce. They also have other entrees too-- some change daily. The plates come in mini, regular, 2-choice and 3-choice (for the really hungry).

We tried the salad with garlic fried chicken plate for US$5.50. A bed of romaine lettuce drizzled with a creamy oriental dressing then topped with the sweet, salty and juicy garlic fried ono!

The portion is just right and the chicken stays crispy until the very end. If you go to Chinatown, be sure to check this place out.

1170 Nuuanu Avenue Suite 102
Honolulu, Hawaii
Phone: 808-523-3380

UPDATE: 7/21/09: looks like this place closed down or moved.

Saturday, January 27, 2007

cheap eats

If ever you want to have something quick and cheap, COSTCO is the place for you.

For those of you who don't know about COSTCO, it is a HUGE warehouse store. Catering mostly to stores and restaurants, they sell things in bulk and the sizes of items are also HUGE! They actually have a location in Osaka, but I've been too scared to go there because the portions are so large and we don't have the type of storage space as we do in Hawaii!

For $1.50, you can get either a spicy polish sausage or the regular hot dog PLUS a 20 oz. drink--mostly soda or iced tea--not sure if they had juice type drinks.

There is a little condiments area where you can "crank" out your fixings--catsup, deli style mustard, relish and onions. Be careful--they come out in clumps! I miss the sauerkraut that they used to serve!

On Oahu, there are 3 COSTCO locations:
94-1231 Ka Uka Blvd.
Waipahu 96797
Phone: 808-678-6103

525 Alakawa Street
Iwilei 96817
Phone: 808-526-6103

Hawaii Kai
333A Keahole Street
Honolulu 96825
Phone: 808-396-5538

Friday, January 26, 2007

legend seafood restaurant

Legend Seafood Restaurant has been around in Chinatown for quite awhile now. There is always a line out front, which can mean only one thing, they are good! I didn't know this, but they also have another restaurant in Waikiki--that's where my friend, Carroll, took me to lunch today.

In Hawaii, we call these Chinese items "dim sum" but I know in Japan and in other places, they call it "yum cha". I don't quite know what the difference in the namings are, but it is good to know just in case you are craving this type of food.

In Hawaii, the waitresses usually push around these carts with all kinds of different "dim sum" on board. She'll stop at your table, show you what she's got in her cart and you pick and choose what you want to eat. There are even some carts where they will cook the dish right at your table! Then, she'll mark a sheet with what you've eaten. If you go with someone who is REALLY hungry, your card may be filled with lots of stamps by the time it's time to settle the bill. I've never come across this style of dining in Japan yet.

We had char siu bao or as we call it in Hawaii--manapua. The pork filling tends to be red in Hawaii whereas it isn't in Japan and I can't remember if we had these in China. I love the outside of this, it is really soft and fluffy! And the filling inside is a little sweet.

We also had fried taro (a type of potato)--a light airy outside, taro in the center with a whole crispy fried shrimp stuck into the middle.

Spring rolls are always a must....we actually had more dishes, but I was so hungry, I had forgotten to photograph them.

And for dessert, almond float or as they call it in Japan, annin-dofu. I understand that in China they actually use tofu (soy bean curd) for this dish. The gelatin cubes are flavored with almond extract...very nice way to end a meal.

Legend Seafood Restaurant
100 N. Beretania St (Chinatown location)
Phone: 808-532-1868

2255 Seaside Avenue (Waikiki location)
Phone: 808-926-8999

Open daily: (Breakfast & Lunch) 10:30-14:00 and (Dinner) 17:30-21:00
Call for reservations if you have a large group, or to guarantee you a seat

Thursday, January 25, 2007

glimpses of paradise

The neat thing about living in Hawaii is that right outside of your home or office, you can find little glimpses of paradise...These are some I found outside my aunty's house.

Wai'wi (pronounced "y.v.") also known as strawberry-guava, is called this because when ripened, it is red like a strawberry and they are smaller than the other guavas found in Hawaii. These guava are great to make jellies and jams with...Ono! (delicious)

Tiare gardenia or sometimes called Tahitian gardenia. These fragrant flowers are perfect hair accessories, one resting on the ear. If the flower is on the left side, you are free. The right side, you are taken. And if you wear them on both sides, you are taken but you're looking for another.

The yellow hibiscus is the state flower of Hawaii. You can find this plant as landscaping shrubs all around the islands.

Wednesday, January 24, 2007

more chocolatey finds

Whenever I read other food blogs, not only am I interested in the delicious things bloggers are creating, I am also interested to see what chocolatey things are trendy or what others are sampling and I take notes.

For example, Paris Breakfasts' blog had Les Confitures a l'Ancienne's cocoa on her wishlist and had watercolored Pralus' Pyramide des Tropique. Chocolate Obsession's blog reviewed Dolfin and recently on Cream Puffs in Venice--a scrumptious tart using Amedei....yum!

On my way home from lunch today, I stopped in at the Honolulu Chocolate Company and got lucky--they had Les Confitures a l'Ancienne cocoa in individual packets--35% cacao, natural vanilla and unrefined brown cane sugar,

Pralus' mini Pyramide des Tropique--10-5g tastes of 75%cacao from places like Ghana, Madagascar, Tanzania and Sao Tome, just to name a few...

a neapolitan sampler from Dolfin--mostly dark chocolates--flavored with earl grey, anise, cumin & ginger. There was also some milk types flavored with cinnamon, orange and some 70% & 88% dark.

and Amedei neapolitans--Chuao and!

I think most of these may not be able to wait until I get back to Osaka to sample...

Tuesday, January 23, 2007

chocolate finds

Having only been here for 3 days...these are some of the chocolatey things that I've found so far....

While browsing in a bookstore, they had a deck of chocolate by Lori Longbotham. 50 chocolatey recipes, with beautiful, eye-catching photos...hmmm...which one to start with...

In Neiman Marcus...Vosges' exotic bars in: Oaxaca-- 75% cacao with oaxacan guajillo & pasilla chilies, Tanzanian bittersweet chocolate, Goji --41% cacao with Tibetan goji berries, pink Himalayan salt, deep milk chocolate and Calindia-- 66% cacao with Indian green cardamom, organic California walnuts, dried plums and Venezuelan dark chocolate.

Also in Neiman Marcus, Mariebelle's Spicy Hot Chocolate --63% cacao with cinnamon, nutmeg and chipotle. I've seen several reviews of this and had to get some for myself.

And the spread that mostly everyone has been blogging about...Nutella.

I have two more months here, I wonder what else I'll be able to find...

p.s. having not had turkey for Thanksgiving, I went to Paradise Bakery, in the Food Court of Ala Moana Shopping Center to have their turkey with cranberry sauce sandwich. I didn't realize it, but this is a franchise company from the mainland...still, the sandwich was delicious and it also came with two cookies!

Monday, January 22, 2007


In our family, Sundays mean gathering for dinners together. Growing up, my mom, and her two sisters would take turns making the meal and we would go over to each other's houses to eat. Since there were 5 adults and 4 children, the children usually had a special table all of their own, called what else, the "kid's table", here the 4 of us would get to eat alongside the adults then hang around the "adult table" to hear all of their chatting and gossip. When our grandparents came for a visit, things got even more lively.

As we got older though, most of us moved away for college and work. But the gathering rituals still continue to this day.

In Japan, most families do not get together with their families unless it is a special occasion, which is why coming home is really special.

Tonight was no exception, and although there were only 5 of us, it was still a nice gathering and we all got to catch up on things.

Here's what we had: (sorry the pictures are a bit dark)
tofu (soy bean curd) salad with taegu (Korean-style cuttlefish), cucumbers and tomatoes.

Corned beef and cabbage with onions

And konbu maki (pork, carrots and gobo (burdock) wrapped with konbu (kelp) and tied with kampyo (dried gourd), my mom also threw in some araimo or satoimo (dasheen).

Lots of good food and conversation...Sundays.

It's great to be home, hope you have a great week!

Sunday, January 21, 2007

made it!

Well, I made it. The plane ride was quick only a little over 6 hours, the nice woman next to me chatted with me the whole way--which made time fly by even faster.

Gotta catch some zzz--get adjusted to the time difference.

Thanks for all of your send-off messages. They were a nice surprise to find when I logged in.

Take care!

p.s. I won't be adjusting my time zone for Blogger, so it may look like I'm a day ahead...

Saturday, January 20, 2007

see you soon!

Well, my bags are packed and have been sent to the airport ahead of me. The house is cleaned.

Satoshi had his German lesson today, so I'm off to meet him for lunch before heading off to the airport.

This year, winter in Japan has been very mild. Which makes Satoshi happy (he doesn't like the cold). My tulips have started to show themselves, I'm hoping they won't bloom until I return, but it isn't likely. The ski resorts here are crying--there is little to no snow which equals no skiiers. Definitely global warming....

I want to thank all the readers who have been e-mailing me their questions about Osaka or Japanese culture. I hope the information I gave you will help you have an enjoyable trip and understand a little more about the culture.

While in Hawaii, I hope to see family and friends and have some foodie adventures as well. I will try to post as much as possible.

Take care everyone!

Wednesday, January 17, 2007

salon du chocolat

Now, I knew I loved chocolate, but didn't realize how much of a "foodie" I was until recently...actually since starting this blog and reading other food blogs, my information on food and things related has expanded ten-fold!...

While looking up something on the web, I came across the Salon du Chocolat site. A lot of bloggers have posted about this event in the past. And while I thought that it was only held in Paris and NYC, I delved deeper to find out that it has been also held in Tokyo and Kyoto for the past 5 years! All while I am enjoying the sunshine and tradewinds of Hawaii....sigh...oh wella, you can't have it all and there is always next year!

Tuesday, January 16, 2007

the reason why....

A couple of you have asked me about my host-mom. I had posted about this previously, but I want to talk about this a little more in depth.

Way back when I was a university student majoring in Japanese, a conversation teacher told me to change my major in my 3rd year because I would never be able to speak Japanese (I think I could really tell her a thing or two now...)

Anyway, fortunately for me, that same year, my university joined up with an exchange program with a university on the continental U.S. (by the way, we call the continental U.S.--"the mainland"). It was the first time for my university and the students chosen would be the "charter students". I took my chances and applied. One of the things we had to do to apply was write an essay as to why we should be chosen. I don't really remember what I wrote (although if I dig through my belongings, I know I still have it) but I was chosen!

Eight of us, from different majors and different parts of Hawaii, were sent along with 22 others from mainland colleges.

It was the best year ever! Not only did I get to immerse myself into Japan--the culture, and language, but I got to meet new friends and learn about "college life" (I never drank until my study abroad...)

Everyone was paired up with a family that best matched their family structure at home. My family was really kind, they sent me a letter welcoming me to their family, along with some rules of their home.

After arriving in Japan, we were all taken to a ryokan (Japanese Inn), where we were allowed to get to know one another, take some tests to see what classes we qualified for, as well as be briefed on how we should introduce ourselves.

We had to get up on a stage in front of EVERYONE with our host-moms and introduce them to everyone. Talk about being nervous, especially since I didn't like speaking in front of a crowd. But, I got through the introductions and then everyone went their separate ways with their respective families.

My host-mom was very kind and patient. She spoke slowly and always smiled. The first thing she told me was "don't worry about grammar, just speak". This really put me at ease. And although a lot of times I didn't know the right word for things, somehow we were able to communicate.

The first time I had to go to school, I remember she rode the bus and train with me, just to make sure that I made it. And anytime I had to go somewhere, she always drew me maps or wrote things out for me, so that I could at least ask someone when I got near the destination.

I was very fortunate to have a kind and patient family. Some other students were not so lucky. After the program ended, we kept in touch, writing letters and then sending email. I would go to visit them but they always said that they would only come to Hawaii when I got married.

In 1997, when my host-sister got married, they invited me and treated me like part of their family. Then in 2000, they were able to come to Hawaii to attend our wedding, and at our 2nd wedding reception, my host-father helped with the greetings in Japanese (since my father can't speak Japanese). And when my host-brother married in 2001, Satoshi and I were again treated like part of the family.

I am very lucky to have 3 moms (my mom, mother-in-law and my host-mom), 3 dads (my dad, father-in-law and my host-dad) and a whole lot of brothers and sisters!

If it were not for my host-family, I definitely would not be able to speak Japanese. They made my year in Japan a very memorable one, which still seems like yesterday sometimes.

Monday, January 15, 2007

foodie monday

Today I met my host-mom in Kobe for lunch, it is about a 45-minute train ride from our place. Last year, when I had lunch with her, she had mentioned about going to lunch at the Kobe Kitano Hotel. But with all the busyness throughout the year, we were only able to get together today.

The hotel has two restaurants, one fine dining restaurant and a cafe, igrek--where we had lunch. The hotel also advertises the "best breakfast in the world", I've heard that they serve fine quality breakfast items here. We ordered the weekly lunch.

It started off with an appetizer of proscuitto that is aged for 22 months, a small caprese salad and watercress.

Next was the daily soup--a pumpkin potage. This was really sweet and creamy.

Our main dish was fried tai (sea bream) with a kabu (turnip) puree (the white sauce) and the kabu leaves puree (the green sauce)--the fish was tender and the sauce, creamy.

For dessert, I chose an orange layered mousse with chocolate bottom. They also served it with a raspberry puree and grapefruit sorbet.

Everything was delicious and we enjoyed chatting while we ate.

My host brother's wife, who is also quite a foodie, gave us these delicious butter caramels made by Henri Le Roux. They will be having a Salon du Chocolat in Tokyo soon and this is one of the chocolatiers that will be there. This caramel is very good, a nice mix of sea salt, butter, and walnuts--addicting!

My host mom gave us these fluffy cakes called "squared egg" made by Fouquet's, a Kobe patisserie. A fluffy sponge cake sandwiches creamy vanilla custard--yum!

The year has only begun but we've had a lot of foodie adventures so far...

Kobe Kitano Hotel
3-3-20 Yamamoto Avenue, Chuo area, Kobe city
Phone: 078-271-3711

simple, but good

The weather has been quite cold over the past couple of days. I wanted to make a warm treat, but something not too sweet...

Rice pudding.

Last Halloween, I tried making Pierre Herme's version of it. And while going through the blogs that I read daily, I have also been seeing posts about rice pudding, especially here.

For our dessert last night, I decided to make a "new" version and top it with the chocaviar that I just bought.

I used part of Cream Puffs' recipe, but I didn't put the second addition of butter or sugar. I also added a little cinnamon, cardamom and allspice at the end. Topping it with the chocaviar was a good idea, the bitterness from the chocolate brought the sweetness down. Plus, stirring it into the warm pudding, the chocolatey aroma mixed with the spices and it was heavenly!

Very simple, but oh so good! I think the next time, I want to add some nuts and dried fruits.

Hope you have a great week!

Sunday, January 14, 2007


This year, our anniversary falls on a weekday, so we decided to celebrate a little early and went to a hot spring in our neighborhood called Minoosansou-Kazenomori. This place is a bit pricey so we were saving it for a special occasion.

From the Hankyu Minoo station, there is a shuttle bus that runs every hour and twenty minutes for guests. The first impression as you enter this hotel is the lobby area--its large windows overlook Minoo city and there are many places to sit and just daydream.

After checking in, we went to our room and had some tea and sweets. Every room has a view of Minoo city also, so it is quite a nice place to just sit and chat.
It is said that you should bathe at least three times while at the hot springs....once before dinner, once right before bed and once before that is what we did.

Our dinner started off with o-tsukuri (sashimi in other places--sliced raw fish)

Assorted kobachi (appetizers)

The main dish was "sansou nabe", an original hot pot filled with a miso (soy bean paste) and dashi(stock), beef and lots of veggies. The soup was a bit sweet, but tasty.

And for dessert, fruits.

After the sun sets, you can look at the city lights and sit quietly in the lobby area and chat. This lamp was interesting, woven from wood.

I really enjoyed this place, lots of interesting art and the places to sit were different shapes and sizes and all made from wood.

It was a great, relaxing weekend.

Hope you have a great week.

2-14-71 Minoo
Phone: 072.722.2191