Saturday, January 31, 2009

bernachon & yves thuries

Here are the first two of the chocolates that I tried.

Yves Thuries' macarons are not the "cookies" that I have come to love, but actually chocolate molded to look like macarons. Inside each were different fillings.

Dark chocolate had a dark caramel ganache praline. Milk chocolate had a nougatine (hazelnut) cream and White had a Montelimar nougat cream. They were all delicious but the dark's filling was surprisingly too sweet for me.

It is the first time for his chocolates to be featured at the Salon du Chocolat in Japan, so I was glad to be able to try them.

Bernachon's palet d'or were simple and delicious. Dark chocolate, cream and gold leaf. Each had hints of fruits, nuts and caramel.

He has been in Salon du Chocolat Japan for sometime now and his chocolates are really pricey, so I was glad to find something within my budget.

For the first far so good...

Friday, January 30, 2009

salon du chocolat kyoto

Man, I must be losing it, I thought yesterday was Friday...

Since my yearly trip home (Hawaii) will be a little later in the year, I went to check out the Salon du Chocolat at the JR Kyoto Isetan yesterday. The good thing about going to the one in Kyoto was that there were way less people.

The space for the event was about the same size as the one in Tokyo--which I went to last year before I went to Hawaii.

With my hesokuri, I got to pick up 10 different chocolates from different chocolatiers, mostly from France.

Here is what I got: Bernachon (France) 3 palet d'or, Yves Thuries (France) 3 macaron, Camprini (France) 4 piece bon-bons, Patisserie Kubler (France) 4 piece bon-bons, Mazet praslines, Pierre Ledent (Belgium) 3 piece bon-bons, Bonnat (France) 3 piece bon-bons, Van Dender (Belgium) 3 piece bon-bons, Quatrieme Chocolat Shin (Japan) 4 piece bon-bons, Gateau des Bois (Japan) 3 piece bon-bons.

It is a good thing that most of these have expiry dates that are several weeks away, I'll post more on them as I eat them...stay tuned., have a good weekend!

Thursday, January 29, 2009

kim chee chige

It has been really cold the past couple of days. This past Saturday we finally had some flurries but nothing that stayed frozen. (I was still excited by it though...crazy girl from Hawaii!)

I've been in a soupy mood but am sort of getting tired of miso or tomato based soups, so I tried something new.

Kim chee chige. A hot pot of veggies, pork and kim chee.

I surfed the internet and combined a little of this with that and this is what I came up with.

Kim Chee Chige : four servings or less depending on the size of your bowl

6 slices pork belly, sliced into bite sized pieces
1 eringi mushroom, sliced on the angle
1/2 carrot, unpeeled and sliced on the angle
1/2 yellow onion, sliced thin
1 shironegi (leek), sliced on the angle, including the green part
1 gobo (burdock), sliced on the angle
100 grams won bok kim chee
1 tablespoon sake (rice wine)
3 cups water
1 teaspoon miso (soy bean paste)
2 teaspoons shoyu (soy sauce)
1 teaspoon sesame oil

After preparing all the veggies and pork, put the pork and yellow onion into a pot to brown.
Add sake to deglaze, scrape bits off bottom.
Add water and veggies.
Bring to a boil, then turn heat down to a simmer.
Simmer for 10 minutes.
Add miso, shoyu & sesame oil.
Add kim chee.
Serve over rice or with rice on the side.

NOTES: Okay, so it still had some miso in it and I don't think this would be considered "true Korean cuisine", but this soup had a lot of flavor. I ate this with rice in my bowl and some Korean nori on the side. I will definitely be making this again, especially since Satoshi (who doesn't like Korean food) said it was "oishii" (delicious).

p.s. You can use what vegetables are available where you are. Also, if you want to make it hotter, you may want to add some ground Korean chili pepper.

I will also be sending this to Deb for her Souper Sundays, her round-up is posted every Sunday! Check it out or if you have a soup recipe, add it to her round-up.

Wow, the week has flown by, hope you have a great weekend!

Wednesday, January 28, 2009

tonkatsu hanamura

Sunday the weather was cold but sunny.

Satoshi and I walked to Ikeda--about a 30 minute walk. We intended to have a hot bowl of ramen at Ippudo (the ramen place that took over Momofuku-tei), but found that the line was outside the building and then some.

So, we walked up to a pizza place but they were filled, as well as another cafe. Not knowing where else to go, we saw a tonkatsu place.

Tonkatsu Hanamura is a tiny shop, under the Hankyu rail, it is a bit noisy when the train passes over, but the restaurant is very clean.

Satoshi ordered the Shrimp and Filet Katsu 1680 yen (about US$16.80) and ordered a large bowl of tonjiru (pork soup) 200 yen (about US$2).

I ordered the Hanamura set, this came with a lot of fried veggies and a filet katsu on the bottom. 1890 yen (about US$18.90).

We had a choice of the kind of rice and both ordered the 10-grain rice.

After ordering, they give you a mortar and pestel with a scoop of sesame seeds, while you wait for your order, you grind the seeds and add the tonkatsu sauce to the bowl to dip your katsu in. Delicious!

The amount of food I had was way too much for me and I ended up giving most of my rice and filet katsu to Satoshi.

Everything was delicious, the katsu came out straight from the fryer, hot and crispy. There was lots of cabbage on the side which was nice too. I think if we are in the mood for something fried this would be just the place to go.

Tonkatsu Hanamura (Under the Hankyu Ikeda Station)
4-1 Sugahara-cho, Blanc Marche #1 Building
Ikeda, Osaka
Phone: 072.752.1802

Tuesday, January 27, 2009

cafe la boheme

Saturday, Satoshi had to work, so I met him in Umeda for dinner.

I've seen this restaurant from the train and have often wondered what kind of food they served.

Cafe La Boheme is an Italian restaurant. The open kitchen mixed with chatter was quite loud. Satoshi couldn't believe how loud it was. I was telling him since we don't eat out much for dinner, this was probably the norm.

I had a glass of Puig Cuvee Afters Rouge, a dry red which I saw them pour from a box. It was delicious.

We ordered the Gado Gado salad (not sure what that means) 950 yen (about US$9.50) It turned out to be a warm salad with sweet potato, lettuce, asparagus, tomato, okra and a warm peanut dressing. The waitress brought the salad, and I readied my point and shoot, she then doused it with the dressing and mixed it up, I gasped and was a bit disappointed I couldn't take a photo of it before it got all mixed--definite sign of a food blogger.

The pizza we ordered was the La Boheme mixed pizza 1100 yen (about US$11). The pizza was delicious, the crust was a bit doughy for my liking, but the topping was just right, not the type that slides off as you eat it, and flavorful.

We also ordered pasta called desperato, 1100 yen (about US$11), this was with made with 7 vegetables, anchovies & capers. It was more of a meat sauce with specks of veggies here and there, no evidence of the capers or anchovy. There was a lot of garlic and was delicious.

It was a great dinner, though a bit noisy, but everything was good.

Cafe La Boheme
15-22 Urban Terrace Chayamachi Bldg A, 3F
Kita-ku, Osaka
Phone: 06.6292.1555

Monday, January 26, 2009


Remember the Osaka book? Well, when I saw the photo of the candied fruits and veggies I immediately thought of Shung Chong Yuein, the sweet shop which unfortunately no longer exists in Hawaii's Chinatown.

Last year when I was home, I visited Chinatown with Nate and he took me to his cousin's shop who was selling tong guo, the candied fruits and veggies for Chinese New Year.

For me, even though I'm not Chinese, it just isn't Chinese New Year unless I eat some tong guo.

So, I wanted to get the candied fruits and veggies from the book. Of course I had never tried it, but it looked similar.

Apparently, Tourindo, the makers of this candy, started making them in 1929, as a way to showcase the fresh fruits and veggies from the area.

They originally had five different fruits and veggies which ranged in five different colors, green from the butterbur, white from the lotus root, red from the carrot, yellow from the kumquat and black from the fig. Apparently these colors symbolized the wisdom one received from the various fruits and vegetables.

The name of the product is gochika (go = 5, chi = wisdom, ka = fruit or vegetable). When you bite into it, it is quite sweet, but the flavor of the fruit or vegetable shines through.

The set that I bought had 9 different items for 1260 yen (about US$12.60), shoga (ginger), kinkan (kumquat), ninjin (carrot), renkon (lotus root), fuki (butterbur), orange peel, yonashi (pear), gobo (burdock) & ichijiku (fig).

Apparently throughout the year the types of fruits and veggies that are candied changes. They also list grapefruit, eggplant, celery, shiitake, cucumber and many others depending on what they can get.

Even though it was pricey, I'm glad I tried this, with some pu-erh tea, it has started my Chinese New Year off nicely.

Kung Hee Fat Choy!

8-19-1 Yamamoto-cho-minami
Yao, Osaka
Phone: 072.923.0003

Saturday, January 24, 2009


The train system in our area run by Hankyu, has come out with an eco-train. I think the figuration is similar to the Toyota Prius (Toyota's hybrid)--whenever the train conductor presses the brakes, the train generates electricity to be used by other trains.

Inside the train, where the advertisements are usually for magazines or sales at department stores, they are instead all about ecology. (This photo was taken on another train line. I've always wondered how they change the advertisments, there is actually "someone" who does it.)

If I'm not mistaken, Hankyu plans to have 1 eco-train for each of their main lines (Kyoto, Kobe & Takarazuka) by July of this year.

I couldn't tell if the ride was any different, but I love the cute drawings on the outside of the train.

Friday, January 23, 2009

sophisto joes

How long has it been since you've eaten sloppy joes? I have a feeling the last time I had one was as a school lunch in elementary school.

The last time I was home, I saw this recipe in "Gourmet" and I wrote it down in my recipe notebook.

Since I had recently opened a bottle of wine, I figured that this was a good time to try this recipe. On top of that, it has been really cold and kind of gloomy and I've been in the mood for some comfort food.

Sophisto Joes from Gourmet, October 2007 : Serves 4

1 (14 1/2-ounce) can whole tomatoes in juice, drained
1 large onion, chopped
4 garlic cloves, finely chopped
2 tablespoons unsalted butter
1 medium carrot, finely chopped
1 celery rib, finely chopped
1 1/2 lb ground beef chuck
1 tablespoon chili powder
1 teaspoon ground cumin
1/2 teaspoon salt
3/4 teaspoon pepper
1/2 cup dry red wine
2 tablespoons Worcestershire sauce
1 1/2 tablespoons packed brown sugar
4 kaiser rolls, split

Purée tomatoes in a blender.

Cook onion and garlic in butter in a 12-inch heavy skillet over medium-high heat, stirring occasionally, until onion begins to brown, 4 to 5 minutes.

Add carrot, celery, and 1/2 teaspoon salt and cook, stirring occasionally, until vegetables are softened, 4 to 5 minutes.

Add beef and brown, stirring to break up lumps, 5 to 6 minutes.

Add chili powder, cumin, 1/2 teaspoon salt, and 3/4 teaspoon pepper and cook, stirring, 2 minutes.

Add puréed tomatoes, wine, Worcestershire sauce, and brown sugar and boil, stirring occasionally, until sauce has thickened, about 6 minutes.

Season with salt and sandwich inside rolls.

NOTES: First off, I cut the recipe in half, since there is only the 2 of us. I used a canned tomato sauce which had garlic and onion blended in. The sauce also had some sugar in it, so I think when I added the suggested amount of sugar, this made the sauce a bit sweet. The next time I make this, I think I'll either leave out the sugar or not use the canned tomato sauce.

Also, I used some roasted garlic that I had in my refrig instead of fresh garlic and EVOO instead of butter. I also did not know what chuck was in Japanese, so I just used the ground beef that is sold in the markets. Is it the same thing?

I didn't use the amount of salt they had listed, I just did a little sprinkle and several grinds of pepper. I couldn't find hamburger buns nor kaiser rolls at the supermarket, so I ended up getting butter rolls. Can you believe that they only sell 6 rolls in a bag here? Anyway, they were smaller than hamburger buns, but tasted good with this recipe. (I actually wanted to get the rolls with wheat/grains in them but they had some weird butter substitute in them.)

I served the sophisto joe with some cole slaw. This was a great combination of comfort foods. (I actually had another sophisto joe after eating the slaw and the one in the photo.)

Up until now, I have never used the canned version of sloppy joes nor have I ever made sloppy joes, but I think this recipe is a keeper--it is fast, easy and delicious.

Hope you have a nice weekend.

Thursday, January 22, 2009

boba tea

I recently found these two types of boba tea (bubble tea) 210 yen (about US$2.10) each at a nearby convenience store. They have probably had these out for awhile, but I only noticed them recently.

Since I've never had boba tea in my life, I bought both to try. (Actually if I did try boba tea, I really don't remember the experience.)

The one on the left is coconut milk flavored with strawberry and tiny white tapioca pearls.

The one on the right is a sweetened assam tea with big black tapioca pearls.

While I didn't like the sweetness of the assam tea, I did like the chewiness of the black tapioca pearls.

And while I didn't like the tapioca in the strawberry drink, it was kind of mushy, I did like the coconut strawberry combination.

I've saved my straw and hope to try making this on my own when the weather gets warmer.

Wednesday, January 21, 2009

trying a new recipe

I found about this site from Rowena's blog, where you can make almost any photo into an Obama poster look-a-like.

The inauguration was shown here in the middle of the night. I woke at 1:30 am to watch what was being shown here. There were some parts of the broadcast which were shown but with no audio as the local newscasters decided to give their analysis of things instead.

It was still an exciting moment and I am glad I got to witness it as it was happening.

Now onto food...I recently tried Fuji Mama's recipe for her Fuji Nana's Deadly Chocolate Almond Toffee. I've been wanting to try this recipe ever since seeing it.

Since butter is still pricey, I am still cutting my blocks of butter into fourths. So, I cut this recipe also into fourths.

I don't think I cooked my caramel long enough because it was pale and soft, but I am still happy with the results.

The caramel was sticky but not so much that it stuck all over your teeth, which is good because my dentist had said that my fillings were getting old. Also, since I didn't have walnuts, I topped the melted chocolate with cacao nibs to add a crunch to the top.

It was a great recipe and very hard to keep myself from eating the whole thing...

Tuesday, January 20, 2009


Last Thursday was our 9th anniversary. We didn't do anything special. In fact, Satoshi had to work late.

I didn't really feel much like cooking either. So, I made some pasta with zucchini, roasted garlic, pancetta and pesto. Really quick and easy. (I think the hardest part was putting the garlic into the oven to roast)

I bought a stinky cheese plate. It came with (a slice of Fourme d'Ambert (a blue cheese from the Auvergne area, lots of blue-grey mold), some Boursin Pepper cheese spread & Welcome cheese (a creamy processed cheese from France)) which I ate with toasted bread. I actually wanted crackers, but could only find Ritz and didn't think it would match.

I had thought that I may be allergic to blue cheese when I was in Hawaii, because I am allergic to penicillin and the mold in blue cheese is from penicillin (my mom told me about the mold in blue cheese), but since I didn't have a reaction to eating this blue cheese, maybe I just had too much blue cheese when I was in Hawaii??

I bought a Fair Trade wine from South Africa called Moonlight Organics. The 2006 Shiraz was kind of on the dry side, but delicious.

For dessert, I dipped some dried mango and strawberries in 70% chocolate.

It was a nice dinner even though we couldn't enjoy it together.

Today is my first day for the next round of French lessons, only 5 classes, but I think the topics for this round are more on food! Hope I can keep up in class.

Monday, January 19, 2009

foodie saturday in minami osaka

Saturday, Satoshi had the day off. We planned to see his friend perform Rakugo (Japanese comedy story telling), but before that, we headed to Shinsaibashi for lunch. I had heard about Nanshomantouten while watching the news one day.

The original shop is in Shanghai and has been in business since 1900. They are known for shorompo (xiaolongbao, a soup filled dumpling) Apparently the one in Shinsaibashi has been in business for over 70 years.

I ordered the C-lunch (1785 yen (about US$17.85)). This came with an order of shorompo (dumplings), a choice of an appetizer, a choice of noodles or rice and a choice of dessert. I chose the mochi rice shumai (steamed dumpling filled with seasoned glutinous rice), I also chose the mabo tofu (spicy pork, tofu over rice) and the annindofu (almond tofu). The mochi rice dumpling was well seasoned, and the shorompo was delicious with black vinegar and shredded ginger. To eat it you had to becareful not to burn yourself as the soup shoots out of the dumpling when you bite into it. The dessert was delicious too, firm and not too sweet.

Satoshi chose the B-lunch (1596 yen (about US$15.96)) His lunch came with an order of shorompo, a choice of an appetizer and a choice of noodles or rice. He chose the curry filled gyoza, which was actually a puff pastry filled with curry. He also chose the tan tan men (a spicy beef topping) with noodles and broth. He enjoyed everything and even ate some of my mabo tofu. They also gave us lots of jasmine tea, very fragrant and delicious.

After lunch, we did some window shopping and walked around before the performance, since we had some time to kill, we also stopped into Marufuku coffee for some coffee and something sweet. The interior of the cafe is very retro and they have been in business since 1934. We both ordered the cafe au lait (490 yen about US$4.90 each) and shared a plate of cookies (220 yen (about US$2.20). It was nice to sit down for a bit and we enjoyed our coffee and sweets.

After our little break, we went around the corner to where Satoshi's friend was performing. The group performed 4 different rakugo stories and it was quite funny. Sometimes the story telling is quite fast and sometimes I have a hard time understanding, but I still had a nice time.

Hope your weekend was a good one!

1-5-18 Shinsaibashi-suji, Fujii Building 1F
Chuo-ku, Osaka
Phone: 06.6120.2185

Marufuku Coffee
1-9-1 Sennichimae
Chuo-ku, Osaka
Phone: 06.6211.3474

Sunday, January 18, 2009


On a recent visit to Starbucks, I tried their Assam tea latte. This one was sweet, too sweet for my liking. I think I'll stick with their Lavender Earl Grey Tea Latte.

The Filone veggie sandwich is a baguette filled with asparagus, potato, red/yellow bell peppers, onions and a red pepper mayo...delicious.

On a different visit, I tried their Sacher torte, it was huge! Too huge and too sweet, after a couple of bites, I was ready to throw it out, but then thought I would be wasting good I ate it all. I am glad I had black coffee (Caffe Verona) to wash it all down.

Saturday, January 17, 2009

shogayu + winner

First off, I want to thank all of you that entered my giveaway, the lucky winner picked by the random number generator was Lynne! Please email me your snail mail address at kat (dot)nsatoshi (at) gmail (dot) com, so I can send out your box of "stuff".

Now, onto my post...depending on where you are in the world, you may have the need to warm up.

In Japan, there are packages of instant shogayu, but there is a pretty easy way to do it yourself.

First of all, what is shogayu? Literally it is ginger hot water. The packaged instant version has kudzu (arrowroot) in it to make it thick, and sugar but if you don't have kudzu you can make it with just 3 ingredients: water, ginger & your favorite sweetner.

I grated a nub of ginger using a fourth for a different recipe and the rest for the shogayu. (If you want it more "gingery", then grate more.)

In a pot, I put 3 cups of water and the grated ginger. When the water came to a boil, I stirred in a bit of honey. (You could make this really sweet or not, it is up to you.)

After the honey melts, strain the mixture into a cup (unless you want to drink the grated ginger). Drinking this mixture should definitely warm you up, naturally.

Stay warm everyone!

p.s. I think this drink would also be quite nice chilled too, but I'll try that in a couple of months.

p.p.s. the winner of this giveaway no longer has a public blog

Friday, January 16, 2009

it's been cold

It's been really cold the past couple of days, even though we've had sun, the temperature has been in the single digits...brr, but still no signs of snow where we are. (I don't want to be snowed in or anything like that, but I would like to at least see some flurries...being from Hawaii, snow/flurries is still a novelty for me.)

Anyway, since it has been so cold and Satoshi's been working late, we've been eating a lot of soup lately.

One that I made recently was a beef barley.

150 grams minced beef (about 1/4 pound)
1 tablespoon olive oil
half an onion, chopped
half a carrot, chopped
3 small potatoes, chopped
4 cups water
1 can of chopped tomatoes
1 consomme cube
1/4 cup of barley, rinsed
salt, pepper
a pinch of thyme

Put meat and onions into a pot and brown with oil.
Add veggies and coat with oil.
Add water and bring to a boil.
Add consomme cube, can of tomatoes and barley.
Simmer for 20 minutes while taking off the scum from top.
Season with salt, pepper & thyme.
Serve with toasted bread.

Fast, delicious and a great way to warm-up!

I'm sending this one to Deb's Souper Sundays, check out her blog on Sunday for her round-up. I am amazed at all the varieties of soup there are.

Thursday, January 15, 2009

host family

Monday was a holiday, the "Coming of Age" day for 20 year olds to be accepted into society as adults....sigh. I hate this day, it means these people can legally drink which usually means lots of "not nice" things to see all over the place...eww and rowdiness.

Anyway, let's change the subject. Monday, we got together with my host-family in Kobe.

Every year we try to get together for New Years, but lately we've been getting together after the New Years, I guess schedules conflict and so it ends up after the New Year starts.

It doesn't matter though because it is always nice to see them, my host-parents are always busy with hobbies and projects. I think my host-father is planning a little excursion to Europe for himself soon.

My host-brother, his wife. Their 3 children are so lively. His wife talks so fast that sometimes I have a hard time keeping up with what she is saying. My host-sister, her husband and their daughter are also expecting a little brother soon, so my host-sister was getting advice from her sister-in-law about things.

My host-mom kept us all well-fed with all the delicious dishes she made. (I hope she had time to eat...)

We usually don't trade Christmas gifts and save them for when we meet up in the New Year.

My host-mom gave us these cookies made by Madlon conditorei die Traume. Schiffchen (which I think means boat) is a brittle type cookie and Kleines Schokoladenblatt is a puff pastry type...delicious.

I think I've told you that my host brother's wife is a foodie...on a recent trip to Tokyo, she picked up a box of these chocolate covered macarons for me and my host sister from Laduree. (I checked the internet for info on the fillings and found out instead that a box of 9 macaron (which is what she gave us) costs 4700 yen (about US$47)...yikes!)

The milk chocolate covered macaron (actually just the cap, not the whole macaron) is filled with caramel, the dark chocolate covered macaron with the "L" on top is filled a pistachio filling and kirsch, the other dark chocolate covered macaron is filled with chocolate ganache.

My host sister, another foodie, gave us a jar of jam from eS.Koyama, a well-known patissier in the Kansai area. He is actually known for a rolled cake, but apparently you need to wait several hours for it and she wasn't willing to wait. So, my host-sister bought some macarons for us to try at the gathering, as she was passing them out, she asked each person, "do you know what a macaron is?" If you couldn't answer her, she didn't give you one. (She wasn't willing to "waste" a macaron on a non-foodie, I don't blame her.) Anyway, this jam sounds really good, blueberry-raspberry & orange....besides toast, don't you think it would be nice on pork or chicken??

It was a great gathering, the children are getting bigger and we all had a nice time catching up. (Thank you!)

Wednesday, January 14, 2009


This past Saturday, we went to Kyoto for a memorial service of sorts. My FIL's 1 year memorial is coming up in March (so fast, yeah?) And my MIL wanted to re-do the grave in order to be able to put my FIL's ashes in, so we went to the temple to pray before they move the ashes that are already inside of the grave (Satoshi's grandfather, grandmother and some unknown ashes).
After the praying, we went down the street to the Kyoto Hyatt. I'm not sure what this hotel was called before it became the Hyatt, but it is really beautiful now.

Touzan is the name of their Japanese restaurant. This is also the restaurant that my MIL wants to have lunch at after the 1 year memorial, so this was a good chance to check it out. The interior of the restaurant is decorated with all sorts of dishes, really nice.

Their lunch menu isn't too extensive, so we each chose different things.

Satoshi chose the shokado bento, this started with some sashimi and then a boxed lunch.
My BIL & MIL chose the sushi, this came with some appetizers and then the assorted sushi (sorry that was blurry).

My SIL & I chose the toridon, this had a balsamic-teriyaki sauce, roasted onions, whole seed mustard and moist chicken.

Everyone's lunch came with a matcha tonyu (green tea soy milk) pudding. Which was really good, not sweet at all.

Although it was a cold day, we were able to pray for our ancestors, then check out where my MIL wants to hold the memorial luncheon for my FIL in March.

Hope your week is going well.

Hyatt Regency Kyoto
644-2 Sanjangendo-mawari
Higashiyama-ku, Kyoto
Phone: 075.541.1234