Wednesday, October 28, 2009

hawaii remembers

The other week, after bringing my Aunty M's car down to my Grandma's, I intended to walk home, but instead walked up to meet my mom at the swimming pool, which took about 20 minutes.

With her busy schedule, she swims several times a week, when she has a chance.

It had been ages since I walked around this area.

To get to the pool from my Grandma's, you need to cross a busy road, and this foot bridge helps you cross safely. (top left photo)

I had some time before my mom would come to swim, so I checked out my old Intermediate school. There were some changes to the surroundings, but for the most part, the buildings were the same. (bottom left photo)

This is the pool in which I learned how to swim. There were free swimming programs when I was growing up which taught us how to dive, tread water, etc. I cannot believe that in Japan they have to pay to use the pools, we are truly lucky in Hawaii. (top right photo)

These steps are where I would wait for my mom to pick me up...they seemed W-A-Y bigger back then. (bottom right photo)

Good memories...

Monday, October 26, 2009

furlough fridays

Recently, the State of Hawaii started "Furlough Fridays", this is to "shut down" everything State-related for a day, in hopes to save on electricity, salaries, etc.

BFF, recently had a furlough day, and I too had a "furlough" from my duties, so we got together for lunch.

Since public schools were also closed due to this furlough, traffic was bad because everyone took their kids to participate in activities sponsored by the local mall.

At first, BFF and I intended to lunch at the local mall but went in the opposite direction of this traffic and instead headed towards the airport area to...Big Kahuna Pizza.

It had been many, many years since I had eaten here and was surprised to find out that they in fact had moved.

The restaurant is still tiny, only about 20 seats and many people were there to pick up their orders.

It took us awhile just to place our order and about 30 minutes later (actually maybe longer), we had the Sumo special...US$7.55+tax.

A 7-inch deep dish style pizza with kalua pig, portuguese sausage, olives, ham, bacon, italian sausage, onion, fresh mushrooms, chopped tomatoes.

I loved all the toppings. The crust was thick and a little on the sweet side. I love a thin crust (though a thinner crust probably wouldn't have been able to support all those toppings!).

With a bottomless cup of soda/juice..US$1.85 + tax, this was a filling lunch and I ended up taking home half of my pizza. (I should have gone for the bottled water!)

They are also known for their garlic cheese balls, which I've tried in the past (and could probably eat as a meal on its own), but we were good, and didn't have any "this time".

If you don't have much time for lunch, you should definitely phone in your order. Also, they don't allow credit cards, so have some cash on hand.

Big Kahuna Pizza
550 Paiea Street
Honolulu, Hawaii
Phone: 808.833.5588

Sunday, October 25, 2009

hawaii drives

My Aunty M drives a Prius, which I got to drive several times.

The feel of this car is...well, it reminded me of a golf cart, especially the gear shift. (Sorry Aunty!)

I'm sure it is great for the environment, but somehow for myself, I would want a little more umph! in a car...something stick-shift.

I love the public transportation in Japan and am not looking to buy a car anytime soon, but...if the MINI people are reading this, maybe they could come up with a hybrid...

Saturday, October 24, 2009


The other day in the garden, I noticed this...doesn't it look like asparagus?

It was actually the flower of the aloe plant.

Boy, what rock have I been living under? I've never noticed it before.

The shoot grows really tall then has these droopy flowers on them. The birds love the nectar.

Amazing when you take the time to see what is around you. Have a nice weekend.

Friday, October 23, 2009


I first heard about Goteborg Sausage from the way, my 2nd cousin George was also featured in Pomai's post; cooking this sausage on his local cooking show, "George Yoshida's Kitchen"...

On a recent trip to Tanioka's, after taking my grandma to her physical therapy, I bought the fish patty bento for my dad...US$4.40+tax.

The line moves fast and there are lots of people waiting, so you gotta decide quickly.

I spotted this Goteborg Sausage musubi US$1.50+tax (I think)....I loved this peppery sausage--kind of like salami, kind of like portuguese sausage, but really peppery.

I also grabbed their Mochiko chicken musubi US$, if you want a musubi with umph! this is it. A thick boneless piece of mochiko chicken thigh sitting up on top of a lot of rice. Very moist and flavorful, definitely worth the $2.25!

As I was standing in line, I heard the woman behind me ask for lumpia US$1+tax (I think) when the cashier asked me, "anything else?" I asked for a lumpia too. By the time I got home, the middle of the lumpia was soggy, but the ends were still really crisp.

All in all, a really great lunch for just under US$5 per person.

Wednesday, October 21, 2009


Been enjoying fresh papaya every delicious!

Look at this one...over 8 inches long! from a walking friend of my parents...hope it is just as delicious!

Tuesday, October 20, 2009


The day I had to fly from Japan to Hawaii, I peeled this grapefruit for part of our breakfast.

I should have figured out something was fishy when I chopped off the top and there was a teeny hole next to the stem....eww!

If I had known this guy was in there (still alive too!), I wouldn't have bothered to peel the whole grapefruit.

Those yellowish-orangey specks looked like eggs or something...I guess you know they didn't use pesticides on this grapefruit (a good thing!) but ugh! what a thing to find inside.

Monday, October 19, 2009

whoo hoo!

Sorry this photo is so teeny...(from Satoshi's cell phone)

Before coming to Hawaii, I had some lottery tickets for a shopping mall's contest. I asked Satoshi to check the numbers and we won...a case of shoyu ramen (looks like he also got some other cup noodles too).

Guess I know what Satoshi will be eating while I'm in Hawaii (ahem)...

Sunday, October 18, 2009


Well, it has been a week since I've been back. Grandma is up and around. She uses her cane, when she remembers to (she's never had the need to use one up until now, so this is a good sign that she doesn't really need one.) We have been taking turns staying with her at night, but will try to let her stay by herself after this coming week.

Since I still have to eat...this is just a little round-up of what I've been eating...

From our neighbors...these bambucha (huge) avocados...These actually "fell" into our yard like a bomb...SPLAT! from tip to end they are about 6 inches long! creamy and delicious. (Thank you!) Can you believe the ginormous tree grew from a single avocado seed planted over 20 years ago?

A lunch of 3 crispy tacos with guacamole from Diego's....US$4.50+tax. More than the tacos, which were really dry, I enjoyed the homemade guacamole and homemade salsa. If there is one thing I miss in Japan is Mexican/Tex-Mex food. UPDATE: as of 3/2012, this place has closed

Lunch with my Aunty M at Ryan's. Satoshi and I used eat here often, loving their appetizers and frozen li hing margaritas.

My aunty and I shared the mango stacked salad (refreshing!), buffalo wings (spicy!) and their sweet potato fries (loved their BBQ aioli!). I'm sure if it were happy hour, my Aunty and I may have had some of their reknown mojitos...(Thank you for lunch Aunty!)

Hokulani's Red Velvet Cupcakes...4 for US$10...bought at the New Food and Product Show...Aunty M and I thought there were way more products than food.

They seemed smaller than the ones I picked up from Cake Couture. I guess these cupcakes were sitting out for awhile...the parts that weren't frosted were dry and the cream cheese frosting had a hard shell to them and seemed a bit greasy....meh!

My Dad, who is a man of few words, said they were okay, but he wouldn't have spent $2.50 for it. I guess it was good that we got to try them, will we go back? probably not.

What have you been eating lately?

Friday, October 16, 2009

pinch hitting

My Grandma recently had some work done on her leg. She's fine but needs to be watched since she doesn't quite have her balance back.

My Aunty M1 went on a trip, so in order to fulfill her duties as a daughter, I am the pinch hitting grand-daughter...

Yup, I am in Hawaii for the next 4 weeks, NOT to play...just to help out...since I've used up the posts I've had in draft, the posts may be spotty from now until the first week of November. Sorry in advance to all my friends here, I probably will not be able to go holo-holo (galavanting).

Thanks Satoshi for letting me go on such short notice!

Thursday, October 15, 2009

the pin

I have been wanting to get a shot of someone with these huge pins in their hair.

You may recognize them as the pins your hairstylist uses to pin up your hair for cutting, perming.

People in Japan (especially the younger generation), wear these pins (as fashion) to hold their bangs.

I've even seen guys wearing these pins.

There are just some fashion trends here that I shake my head at.

Wednesday, October 14, 2009

eco sight seeing

If you want to see Kyoto without using public transportation, you may want to rent a bicycle.

Tamakikat and I saw these bicycles parked near Heian Shrine. They are from Kyoto Eco Trip. The prices on their site seemed pretty reasonable, plus there is a cool gadget to hold your water.

The link above is in Japanese only (sorry!)

Kyoto Eco Trip
56 Higashikujomuromachi
Minami-ku, Kyoto
Phone: 075.691.0794
(near JR Kyoto station)

Tuesday, October 13, 2009

no to free

Recently, a lot of beer companies have been coming out with these alcohol free versions. I guess with the rise in drunk driving here, these companies still want to make some money on the people who are the designated drivers.

Tamakikat, first told me about this.

The other week, I bought one for Satoshi and I to try....nah, there was LOTS of bubbles, a faint beer taste, but no body.

I think we'll be sticking to the "real deal".

Monday, October 12, 2009

blingy saturday

Saturday we met our family friend, D, he is here with a group and had some free time to get together.

The first place we went to was Shinsekai, I've posted about this area before and we took him up Tsutenkaku, a large tower in lower Osaka where you can see the city.

The line to get up to the observatory deck of Tsutenkaku took about 45 minutes. After checking out the city from above, we walked to Namba (about 20 minutes).

We went to a bar that D had been to in the past and wanted to re-visit on this trip...Tako Tako King.

This bar serves takoyaki, as well as okonomiyaki and other items that can be cooked on a teppan (steel plate).

That photo above is actually of a takoyaki, in the lighting of the bar, this photo turned out to look like umeboshi (preserved apricots).

Everything we tried was delicious and very reasonable.

As we were walking back from the bar there was a showroom with all these blingy Benz. These were all covered in Swarovski studs! I checked their site and apparently they do accessorizing for Mercedes'.

After shopping a bit more, we made it back to D's hotel in time for him to meet up with his group.

We did a lot of walking and had a fun day with him. We hope he had a nice time. (Thanks D!)

Tako Tako King
2-13-1 Nishi-Shinsaibashi
Chuo-ku, Osaka
Phone: 06.6211.0071
Open from 17:00-late at night

Sunday, October 11, 2009

autumn = chocolate

Autumn in Japan means time to eat chocolate (well, to me anyway). Everywhere you go, you'll see pastries, cakes and other goodies made with chocolate because the weather is cooling down.

Here are some goodies I have been having lately...

Mister Donut's rich donut, I've posted about the rich donut filled with dark chocolate pudding before, but this is a dark chocolate donut filled with dark chocolate pudding and dusted with dark cocoa sure to wipe your mouth after this will surely leave a black ring...

Homemade bark...I melted 1 cup of 60% Ghiradelli chocolate chips and added a 70% Sarotti bar. For the bits, I added cashews, pecans, almonds, sunflower seeds, cranberries and chocolate covered kakinotane (a spicy type of arare(rice cracker))...mmm!

Bigot's Da Vinci...this is definitely "a work of art". A whipped chocolate mousse dome layered with wafers and some chocolate giving it a little crunch inside. The outside is a sheen coating of chocolate, topped with a carmelized hazelnut and some sliced! a chocoholics dream dessert!

Refrain's milk tea croissant....This croissant had a teeny layer of earl grey chocolate in the center. The outside was coated with a milk glaze that had specks of tea in it, while the inside layer had the most earl grey flavor, the rest was nothing spectacular...meh.

Refrain's couverture...a flaky danish with some chocolate in between the layers. Covered with milk chocolate, this one was definitely chocolatey.

Pafonte's nut danish...a danish covered with milk chocolate and topped with almonds, pistachios and walnuts. No skimping on the nuts nor chocolate...mmm!

Starbuck's latest macaron...marron (chestnut)...The bottom tasted like chocolate with some coffee in it. In the middle was chestnut paste...yum!

If the season is changing where you are, are you enjoying anything special?

Saturday, October 10, 2009

foodie friday in kyoto

Met up with Tamakikat yesterday for an adventure in Kyoto. Our day started out at the Hosomi Museum, near the Heian Shrine. This museum is owned by a businessman and everything shown are collections that have been accumulated over the years by his family.

The exhibit we saw was of Suzuki Kiitsu's works. His scroll paintings were very beautiful.

The only complaint I had was that the exhibit we saw was so small, definitely not worth the 1000 yen (about US$10) we paid for admission.

After the museum we headed over to Heian Shrine to sit and chat. It was a beautiful sunny day and they were getting ready for the Jidai Matsuri (Period Festival). I think this happens every year on October 22. People are chosen to wear traditional costumes from different periods in Japanese history. I went to this with my MIL the first year we moved to Japan in 2001 (pre-blog). It was a L-O-N-G parade but definitely worth seeing.

We then walked a few streets over to Nama Chocolat. I first heard about this cafe in Cocoaroma magazine and had been interested in checking it out.

Usually when I go to Kyoto with Satoshi we only go to visit his mom, so this outing with Tamakikat was a good chance to check it out.

Tamakikat has been here several times and really enjoys the atmosphere. It is very calm and peaceful.

I tried their chocolat set this came with 3 pieces of ganache (what the Japanese call nama chocolat) and an espresso. 650 yen (about US$6.50). From left to right: Austrian herb liquer, matcha (green tea) and Okinawan kokuto (black sugar). My favorite was the herb liquer.

The only thing that bothered me was that these pieces were served frozen. I am not too certain if this is how they are served regularly, but I guess it surprised me. I was expecting a soft creamy feel in the mouth. I am glad I got to check this place out though.
From the Heian Shrine area, we walked to Kiyamachi.

There is an area called Ichinofunairi, apparently there used to be many waterways in Kyoto where people and merchandise were transported. We stopped into a Chinese restaurant called Ichi no Funairi. The restaurant overlooks a tiny river.

We both ordered the lunch set 1500 yen (about US$15). This came with your choice of entree, salad, shumai, soup, tsa tsai (pickled mustard tuber), rice and dessert. Dessert was a coconut milk pudding (which I think is pannacotta). I chose Subuta (sweet sour pork) for my entree. It was filling and delicious.

The only thing about this place is that they close at 14:00 to prep for dinner, which means if you are finished eating, you need to leave.

Even though some things didn't turn out too well, it was a nice Autumn day full of culture, food and chatting. Thanks for a great day Tamakikat!

Hosomi Museum
6-3 Saishoji-cho
Okazaki, Sakyo-ku
Phone: 075.752.5555
Closed Mondays and when the exhibits are changing

Kyoto Nama Chocolat
76-15 Tenno-cho
Okazaki, Sakyo-ku
Phone: 075.751.2678
Open Wednesdays-Sundays, 12:00-17:00

Ichi no Funairi
537-50 Ichinofunairi-cho
Nakagyo-ku, Kyoto
Phone: 075.256.1271

Friday, October 09, 2009

chocolate lilikoi curd muffins

Wednesday night, the wind was howling as the typhoon passed overhead. Kinda exciting yet scary. I was worried that Satoshi would have to stay in Osaka to manage his tour's flights, but he was able to come home.

Dripping wet, but safely. The "excitement" on our floor was the fire extinguisher getting loose from its stand and skittling across the hallway, then Satoshi going out to put it back. The wind was THAT strong!

All through the night you could hear the wind it was the strongest I've ever experienced here. I didn't get much sleep, just when I thought the wind would stop, you could hear the wind whip back up, plus something outside kept hitting the side of the building and you could hear a "boom" sound every so often.

Luckily there was no damage in our neighborhood, many trees lost their leaves, but at least no branches, power lines or trees fell.

Moving onto food...Sometimes not having enough of something turns into something delicious...

Case in point...these muffins.

I had flour but not enough to make an all yellow batter, so I remembered that I could sub in cocoa powder.

Luckily, I had the exact portions of flour to cocoa...

I also remembered a REALLY old, unopened jar of lilikoi (passion fruit) curd in the back of my refridge.

Chocolate Lilikoi Curd Muffins makes 6

140 grams flour
10 grams cocoa powder
6 grams baking powder
1 medium egg
80 grams sugar
50 grams butter, measured then melted
120 grams lilikoi curd

Sift the baking powder, flour and set aside.
Preheat oven to 350F (180C).
In another bowl, beat the egg and sugar for about 2 minutes.
Add the milk and melted butter, beat for another 10-15 seconds.
Add the sifted dry ingredients to the egg mixture.

Stir with a spatula and mix until just incorporated.
Fill 6 muffin papers half way with batter and spoon in curd. Then top off with rest of batter, trying to cover the curd as evenly as possible.
Bake for about 25 minutes.

The results...oozy lilikoi a rich chocolate muffin.

The original recipe called for lemon curd. If you want to make yellow batter, use 150 grams flour and minus the amount of cocoa powder.

You will definitely need to sit down and eat this...

Thursday, October 08, 2009

trying new recipes

Recently, I tried Ellie Krieger's Grilled Thai Beef Salad recipe.

This recipe takes some pre-planning because the meat needs to be marinated.

I used nampla (fish sauce) instead of shoyu (soy sauce) and sweet chili sauce instead of garlic chili sauce because these are the ingredients I had.

I didn't have the amount of lime juice, but I think if I did, the flavors would have been brighter.

Also, I didn't have cilantro and used up some Italian parsley. I know the flavors are different, but I really needed to use the parsley up.

I browned some yellow onions and added some sliced carrots and cucumber to the salad.

I thought the flavors would be overpowering but they were quite subtle. With a glass of merlot, it was a great dinner.

UPDATE: adding the lime zest to the sauce is also delicious.

Wednesday, October 07, 2009


After showing you the bell pepper plant on my lanai, nothing happened.

The other day, I was reading up on the care for bell peppers and found that they like heat and sun but not too high temps.

Back in August, the leaves were curling and falling off, a sign that it was just too darn hot.

So, now, the weather is getting cooler, we still have some sun during the day time and guess what...

(insert happy dance)

Will update when I harvest...

p.s. I just got a warning that my labels have reached the max of 2000 on blogger(which I didn't know there was a max, nor that I had that many labels (tags)), so I've started to edit some of my posts, taking out labels of restaurant names and product names, I hope I am not overflowing your rss readers by doing this, if I am, gomennasai (sorry!). Hopefully this doesn't affect searching for specific topics on my blog either....

Tuesday, October 06, 2009

funny foodie sunday

Sunday was unusually hot but a very nice day. Lunch was at Abientot. We've gone here for breakfast, and I've been wanting to taste their lunch menu.

I was surprised to see the place was doing steady business (on a Sunday), luckily we were able to get a table.

Satoshi and I both ordered the main dish set...1800 yen (about US$18) each.

This came with a salad (baby greens, sweet potato salad, proscuitto & fried renkon (lotus root), chamiton simmered in red wine served with roasted veggies & dessert.

Chamiton is a brand name for a type of pork in Kagoshima. A couple of years back, kurobuta (Berkshire pork) was all the rage, apparently now it is chamiton. The pork in this dish was cooked so tender, you really didn't need a knife to cut it. I loved the free refills of bread to mop up the tomato based sauce!

Dessert was a little scoop of vanilla ice cream and pineapple cheesecake. The pineapple cheesecake was whipped so it was really light. I also thought it was neat how they didn't serve it on a crust.

After lunch, we went home to rest.

UPDATE: as of 2/2012, Abientot no longer has breakfast or lunch service, instead you may purchase breads and eat in their dining area.

In the early evening, we walked to the Ikeda Community Hall to watch Japanese stand-up comedy.

Some people often say that in order to be truly bi-lingual, you need to be able to fight and to understand jokes in the said foreign language. While I don't understand all the jokes/humor in Japanese, I think I could hold my end when it comes to verbal fighting (if I had to).

Anyway, in Kansai, especially Osaka, manzai (stand-up comedy), like rakugo (Japanese comedy story telling) has been around for decades.

With manzai, there are 2 people, the tsukkomi (straight talk) and the boke (makes fun, literally means fuzzy). The tsukkomi usually is telling a story and the boke usually interrupts making fun, using puns.

Sometimes the tsukkomi slaps the boke for making such funny remarks to his story.

While I do not like when they hit each other, I do enjoy when I understand the puns.

Also, there are some manzai-shi (stand-up comics) who shout during their performances, I don't appreciate this type of comedy, to me, it makes it harder to understand what he/she is saying.

Nowadays, I think manzai is called o-warai (literally big laugh) because not all performers are in pairs.

On one of my walks in August, I noticed the poster for this show. I told Satoshi about it and we went to buy tickets after we came back from Palau...3500 yen (about US$35) per person.

2 hours of laughing, definitely good for the soul.

After the show, we ran across the street for dinner at a tiny Chinese restaurant called Chaina (that is how it is spelled).

This shop only has about 16 seats. We tried to eat here before during the summer, but the place was packed and they didn't know how long it would be before a table would open up.

As we walked in, the place was quite full but we were able to get seats at the counter. Satoshi and I both order one of the two specials.

One special was the chinjaorosu (thinly sliced bell pepper with bamboo shoots, mushrooms and pork). This came with karaage (Japanese fried chicken), egg drop soup, cole slaw, and lots of rice....800 yen (about US$8).

The other special was an eggplant-pork dish. This came with spring rolls, cole slaw, egg drop soup, some gyoza and lots of rice...800 yen (about US$8)

Satoshi also ordered 6 pieces gyoza..220 yen (about US$2.20) and a jocky of beer on tap 400 yen(about US$4). In Japan, they call these tall glass mugs, jocky.

The food took some time to come out but everything was nicely seasoned, not too salty nor too oily. The serving of rice was quite large, I gave half to Satoshi. The restaurant is only run by 2 people so be patient, it is worth the wait.

It was a great Sunday.

1-1-16 Tenjin
Ikeda, Osaka
Phone: 072.763.1147

Monday, October 05, 2009

If you feed them...

minoo2008 (51)
Originally uploaded by katnhwi

Starting next April, the city of Minoo will impose a fine of 10,000 yen (about US$100) for feeding the monkeys in Minoo Park.

Apparently with these feedings, their body rhythms have changed and have increased the amount of births. You might think that an increase in births is not a bad thing, but apparently it is, because the increase seems to have tripled the amount of monkeys within a couple of years.

The increase in monkeys has also increased the amount of attacks on people eating in the park and damages to crops nearby.

There are many other areas in Japan with wild monkeys and similar problems, but Minoo is the first city to place a fine on feeding them.

So, if you feed them (especially in Minoo), be prepared to pay.

p.s. The harvest moon was more spectacular on Sunday night...