Sunday, January 31, 2010



The sunrise looked like this.

Except for the rainy days, most mornings the skies have been clear, no clouds, which means it is very cold outside.

During the day, there is still a nip in the air, but indoors, you don't need to turn on the heater because the heat from the sun warms the room.

And dusk looked like this.

With a rather large full moon (though it looks teeny in this photo) in a cloudless sky.

I missed capturing the blazing sunset, but loved the bluish-purply sky.

Hope the first month of 2010 was good for you.

Saturday, January 30, 2010

culture shock(s)

One thing you may notice when you eat in Japan, is that many people leave their bags to hold their table.

I've sat next to people in Starbucks or other cafes and they just get up, leaving their belongings to go to the bathroom. No one (well, me) watching their bags.

Trusting, yet scary.

I too, am guilty of leaving my bag (though not an "LV") to hold my seat while I go to order something.

The other time I was in Starbucks, I was kinda blown away. The whole time I was there, this Louis Vuitton suitcase sat next to the garbage.

At first, I thought the owner was the guy sitting to the right of it, but it wasn't.

He got up and left and the bag was still there.

No one came to check it out (it could've been a bomb right?)

After about an hour, the owner, who was sitting farther inside of Starbucks, came to pick it up and left.

I was amazed that no one stole it and that no one thought it a suspicious item.

When Satoshi and I went to Kobe, I noticed that a lottery window was located right next door to the bank and thought it kinda odd.

I asked Satoshi about it and he said that long ago, a certain bank used to run the lottery. After many mergers, this particular bank is now in charge, so most their branches have the lottery window next door.

We don't have lotteries in Hawaii, so the whole concept was quite intriguing to me.

Friday, January 29, 2010


There are many times when my lack of Japanese knowledge creates problems. At the time they happen they are problems, afterwards, it turns out to be a pretty funny story.

Seeing the iyokan in the market recently reminded me of this story...

Awhile back, while I was in Hawaii, a relative called from Japan to say that she wanted to send a couple boxes of "iyokan", one for my Grandma and one for us.

("Iyokan" is actually a type of citrus, which I've posted about previously here.)

Since I didn't know (at the time) that what she was talking about was citrus, I heard "ii yokan", which I thought was "good yokan" (bar of sweet bean paste).

Thinking that the boxes were small, I told her to send them to our Osaka address, thinking that Satoshi could forward the boxes of yokan to us later.

A couple days later, I get a phone call from Satoshi..."there are 2 HUGE boxes of oranges (citrus)..."

I told him, I thought she said "ii yokan", he said no, "iyokan" is a type of orange....sigh.

Since I knew he couldn't send them to us in Hawaii (agriculture restrictions), I asked him to send a box to his mother and bring the other box to work.

Then I called the relative to thank her (without telling her my mistake, of course).

I still have lots to learn when it comes to Japanese.

Fast forward to the present...I made some muffins using the juice and zest of one iyokan. I also added a handful of pecans and dried cherries. This was nice with some earl grey tea.

And since I'm talking about citrus/orange, I wanted to share with you something I found at the convenience store, Orange M&M's.

These are not only orange in color but orange flavored too. It was interesting to see these white M&M's in the bag.

It's Friday here, hope you have a nice weekend!

Thursday, January 28, 2010


I wanted Satoshi to try the kim chee sandwich that I had tried at Tougarashiya the other day, so I made one for him.

When I went to the Co-op, the only kind of white bread they had was this thick sliced type, so I cut this slice in half.

Kim Chee Sandwich serves 1

2 thinly sliced bread
1 egg, scrambled
50 grams kim chee
thinly sliced cucumber
1 tablespoon mayonnaise (or less)
sanchu (korean lettuce)/lettuce

Toast your bread.
Add a half tablespoon (or less) of mayo to each slice of bread.
Add some sanchu (Korean lettuce)/lettuce.
Cook 1 scrambled egg as thin and flat as possible, do not flip egg!
Add some thinly sliced cucumber.
Add about 50 grams of kim chee.
Cut into fourths.


NOTES: I cooked my egg in my tamagoyaki pan (a pan that makes Japanese rolled omlettes), so my egg was longer than the bread, instead of cutting the longer portion off, I folded it over when making the sandwich. This was so easy to make and really quick to put together. I also got the thumbs up from Satoshi. I think the next time I will add some tuna salad...

I wanted to share with you this photo I took with my iPhone on one of my walks...loved the sun beams!

Wednesday, January 27, 2010


I was inspired by Rowena's post to make these....

The first shot were mini pretzels.

The second shot was a huge sourdough pretzel.

I used 70% chocolate, but I think I may have to look for non-salted pretzels, these were way too salty for me.

Not wanting to fail, I tried using some milk chocolate (the last 2 shots).

It balanced out the saltiness. I guess the chocolate has to be about 50% for these salty pretzels.

Tuesday, January 26, 2010

I think Spring may be coming...

Sunday was a gorgeous sunny day. There was still a nip in the air but still enough warmth to erase some of those winter blues.

Unfortunately, Satoshi had to work, so I decided to check out Suigetsu Park by myself.

There were some ume/momo (apricot/peach) trees blooming.

And the robai (literally waxy apricot). I love this flower, it has a strong scent. The scent reminds me of yellow ginger.

Hopefully this is an indication that Spring is coming, and not a false alarm...

Then again on my walk in the early evening, the sunset was "blazing" in the sky, so I stopped and took some shots with my iPhone.

(after writing this post, Monday was gloomy and cold again, looks like we'll have some cold for awhile longer...)

Monday, January 25, 2010

chili soup

You ever had one of those days when you want to eat two different things and can't make up your mind which one you should choose?

That was my dilemma on Thursday night. I wanted something soupy, but I also wanted chili.

My solution, I combined the two...chili soup (a total throw together recipe)...

Kat's Chili Soup

1 large stalk of celery, chopped
all the celery leaves, chopped
1 small carrot, peeled and chopped
1/2 medium red bell pepper, de-seeded and chopped
1 small yellow onion, chopped
1 tablespoon EVOO
1 can borlotti beans, drained and rinsed
1 packet chili seasoning (I used Lawry's)
1 can diced tomatoes
2 cups water
1/4 cup total: wheat berries & pearl barley, rinsed

Sautee veggies (including celery leaves) in oil until onion is transparent and all are well coated with the oil
Add water and grains
Add chili seasoning, beans and tomatoes
Cook on low for 10 minutes, check to make sure that grains are not sticking to the bottom of your pot
Cook another 10 minutes.
Serve with rice or bread.

NOTES: this hit the spot! lots of veggies and kick from the chili seasoning. If you want your vegetables a little softer then cook it for longer. I tend to like my veggies a bit crunchy, so I don't cook it very long. I also didn't add any salt because those packets of seasoning tend to already be quite salty. I'm making this again.

p.s. About a week after going for my physical, I received my results (fast, yeah??)....and my cholesterol is high overall, but the "good" cholesterol number is higher than the "bad".

If you look at the summary, I had all "A"s, except for my eye test...I had a "D". I guess I should have brought my glasses with me, but didn't think to at the time.

Oh well, I'll still try to eat better and go for more walks.

Have a nice week!

p.s. I'm sending this over to Deb's for her Souper Sundays! (it will appear next week, but check out the round-up for this week!)

Sunday, January 24, 2010

cafe yooi

There is a place that I spotted on one of my walks.

Cafe Yooi.

There used to be a zakka (knick-knack) shop in this space and the next time I walked past, it had turned into a cafe.

I wasn't too sure of their hours, so I wasn't sure when Satoshi and I would be able to try them out.

Luckily, we were able to try them for lunch yesterday.

I love the high counter, wooden furniture and big windows. Very homey.

Satoshi ordered their nikomi hamburger set...950 yen (about US$9.50). A big hamburger patty simmered in a tomato based sauce.

This dish had a lot of veggies in it, came with a salad on the side and a drink (Satoshi ordered coffee).

I chose their beef stew set...950 yen (about US$9.50). A rich hearty stew with generous pieces of beef and vegetables in it.

This also came with a salad and a drink (I chose Earl Grey Tea).

It was a nice lunch, and I look forward to trying their curry and other items on their menu.

Cafe Yooi
3-2-13 Iguchido
Ikeda, Osaka
Phone: 072.747.9000
Closed Mondays

Saturday, January 23, 2010

kim chee potato salad

Still addicted to kim chee...this dish is a re-creation of something Satoshi and I had at the River Cafe in Umeda.

Kim chee potato salad.

The version we had was a bit spicier but this recipe is rather close.

3 small potatoes (about 4 inches long and 1 inch in diameter each), peeled and cooked
1 egg, hard boiled
1/2 Japanese cucumber, sliced into short matchsticks
50 grams kim chee, chopped chunky
1/2 teaspoon sesame oil
2 tablespoons mayonnaise (preferably Best Foods, but I think they used Kewpie (a Japanese mayo))

After you cook the potatoes, mash but leave chunky
Peel egg and let egg & potato cool
Using a knife, cut up egg into small pieces
Add cucumber, kim chee, oil and mayo
Mix well
Serve on lettuce. (I served it on sanchu (Korean lettuce))

NOTES: This dish was served with crispy won ton chips on it, but I omitted it. It comes together quickly. I'm definitely making this again.

Friday, January 22, 2010


Yesterday, in the early morning, we were jolted awake by a teeny earthquake. I am normally a light sleeper so I normally hear and feel these things, but Satoshi is a deep sleeper, so he usually doesn't hear or feel anything.

I was surprised that he felt the earthquake. I actually heard it work its way up the street, it didn't last very long but still scared us.

Anyway, do you like kim chee?

I think I love it.

I must, I have about 20 posts tagged with the word "kim chee" and about 60 posts with the mention of it.

Anyway, I was surfing the web and came across something that piqued my attention.

Kim chee sandwich. Have I piqued your attention too? I hope so...

The best part? They are made near our shopping arcade.

The weather was rainy yesterday, not really fun weather to go out for groceries, but we needed some fruit, and I needed something for lunch, so I walked to our shopping arcade and decided to check out the shop that makes the kim chee sandwiches.

Tougarashiya is a tiny shop located a minute or two from the West Exit of the Hankyu Ishibashi station. By the way, tougarashi is chili and ya is shop, so in essence the name is the chili shop.

They sell kim chee, chijimi (pajeon) as well as a kim chee nori maki (which I think is kim bap and will have to check out on my next trip there!)

Everything is reasonably priced too.

The sandwich comes in two sizes, small and large. I bought the small...350 yen (about US$3.50). By the way, the large is 600 yen (about US$6)

I watched as the lady made the sandwich and it is so easy to make! Lots of kim chee, a layer of scrambled egg, sliced cucumber, mayo & bread.

I gasped when I saw her squirt about a tablespoon of mayo on both slices of bread AND the egg.

And then was sad when I saw her cut off all the crusts.

It was a little messy to eat, but was really delicious. I also had it with some leftover 4 bean salad.

I am re-creating this sandwich soon and eating them with the crusts.

1-10-24 Ishibashi
Ikeda, Osaka
Phone: 072.761.1125

It's Friday here, hope you have a great weekend!

Thursday, January 21, 2010

b-kyu gurume

In the States, you probably know about B movies, but there is something called B-kyu gurume (B class gourmet) here in Japan. 

This form of food is not "frou-frou", but found in shitamachi (working class areas). 

It is down to earth, cheap and delicious. 

These foods usually don't use the best parts of the animal, which is probably why they can sell things cheap. 

Anyway...Satoshi has been wanting to check out a monument...of a comic character, so we headed to Kobe. Tetsujin Niju-hachi go (Super Giant 28) was created by Yokoyama Mitsuteru, who was born near Kobe. 

Satoshi grew up with this cartoon on television. An NPO group came up with the idea for this monument as a way to "cheer up" their area which was decimated in the 1995 Kobe earthquake.

The project was started in 2006 and the monument was finished in 2009. 

It is 18 meters tall (59 feet high). 

Unfortunately, Mr. Yokoyama died in 2004 and was never able to see the finished product. The monument is located in a park near the JR Shin Nagata station. 

From the park, there are many shopping arcades, unfortunately, there were only a handful open because most shops have the day off on Wednesday. 

Still, I got to show Satoshi some of the b-kyu gurume that Nagata has to offer. 

First off, we shared an okonomiyaki topped with suji-kon from Iroha. 

Suji-kon is beef tendon cooked with konnyaku (devil's tongue jelly) in a sweet and salty sauce. 

Suji-kon is also called bokkake. 

We loved this okonomiyaki, it had lots of cabbage and the sauce was nicely balanced (not too sweet or salty)...330 yen (about US$3.30) 

I have tried something before with bokkake and blogged about it here

A couple blocks away from Iroha was Chizuruya, a butcher/croquette shop.

Just the smell of the oil frying up croquette drew us to them. 

Not to mention the line waiting for the croquettes. We tried a potato croquette 60 yen (about US$.60) and menchikatsu (minced beef (hamburger) cutlet) 70 yen (about US$.70). 

We ordered ours to eat right away, so they came wrapped in brown paper and were piping hot.

Nagata is also known for being an area which makes shoes, so we went to check out a building called Shoes Plaza, unfortunately this place had the day off too. 

If you go to check them out (when they are open), they have many shoe shops inside and in front you'll see these huge red high heels. 

Across the street from the Shoes Plaza there is a tiny okonomiyaki shop called Fuji. 

There was a dish that I wanted Satoshi to try called sobameshi, luckily they had it on their menu. 

Soba is yakisoba (fried noodle), meshi is rice. 

This dish is like fried rice but with the addition of fried noodles. 

They are cooked with cabbage, green onion and the noodle is chopped up as it is cooked. 

At the end, it is topped with some of the sweet and salty sauce. 

You can find many variations of this dish in Nagata, but I think the best is with bokkake in it. 

Satoshi and I shared the sobameshi and suji 1400 yen (about US$14). 

I loved how the noodle got crispy from staying on the griddle while you ate. 

Both dishes came with a serving of miso soup & pickles. 

Very filling but with all that walking, surely hit the spot. 

Despite most of the shops being closed, it was a nice sunny day, a bit chilly, but lots of delicious foods to try. 

6-1-1 Ohashi-cho 
Nagata-ku, Kobe 
Phone: 078.611.1798 
Chitsuruya Seiniku 
5-1-1-128 Futaba-cho 
Nagata-ku, Kobe 
Phone: 078.642.4129 
Closed Fridays 
Okonomiyaki Fuji 
6-7-14 Kagura-cho 
Nagata-ku, Kobe 
Shoes Plaza 
7-1-9 Hosoda-cho 
Nagata-ku, Kobe 
Phone: 078.646.5266 
Closed Wednesdays

Wednesday, January 20, 2010

things I'm enjoying

After seeing Rowena's photo (I thought she blogged about it but I guess I was mistaken), I roamed Carrefour's wine section (while Satoshi was at the movies) and found this.

Cono Sur's 2007 Reserva Carmenere...1180 yen (about US$11.80). This wine was a deep purple, full bodied and was great with a cheese plate (Norwegian Ridder, French Brie, Chaource, 6 month Mimolette & a rolled herb garlic cheese) from Carrefour's deli, as well as some of their paella.

It also went nicely with some Pere olives and leftover pork.

Also at Carrefour, I found this Feodora Chile & Lime bar and only 99 yen (about US$.99).

75% cacao, with a nice lime fragrance and some kick from the chili. This bar had a nice snap too.

These Dark Tim Tams which I received from Tamakikat, which she brought back as omiyage (souvenirs) from her trip home.

They are crisp, chocolatey and delicious (Thank you!)

Lastly, I had been looking for a small cafe bowl to put a little soup in or some salad or even some yogurt for breakfast.

I happened to find these at B-shop in Breeze Breeze. They are made by Apilco, a french tableware maker...1400 yen (about US$14) each.

They are about 11 centimeters (about 4 inches) in diameter and hold about 1/2 cup.

What are you enjoying?

Tuesday, January 19, 2010

coco ichibanya

The other week, Satoshi had the day off and we went to Visola. He wanted to see "2012" (I didn't, instead I walked around the mall).

Before the movie, we had lunch at Coco Ichibanya. I believe the last time we ate at Coco Ichibanya was in Hawaii (definitely many moons ago).

I ordered the pork curry topped with spinach and tomato puree.

Satoshi ordered the fried squid soup curry. This came with a really small portion of rice so I gave him some of mine (my plate was half filled with rice!).

There is a container of fukujinzuke (pickles that are usually eaten with curry) and a big pitcher of water.

Most curries can be ordered to your liking of heat, favorite toppings and the amount of rice that you want.

The calorie content of these curries are pretty high, we'll be back from time to time.

Coco Ichibanya
Minoo Visola West 1F
4-5-20 Boshima
Minoo, Osaka
Phone: 072.720.6551

Monday, January 18, 2010

anniversary dinner

Friday, I received these tulips (my favorite flower) from Satoshi. (Thank you!) We didn't get to eat dinner together because he had to work late.

Saturday, after Satoshi's German class, we met for dinner, and as I was waiting for his class to finish, I noticed the sunset reflecting off of some buildings in Umeda.

Inside of XEX West, there are 3 restaurants. Salvatore Cuomo Bros, a Japanese restaurant and a bar lounge.

We had made reservations for Salvatore Cuomo Bros because I had heard that they make really good Napoli pizza.

The interior of the restaurant was somewhat dark but had a nice mood. Satoshi thought the music was playing a little too loud, I told him he's getting old.

We chose the Napoli Cena 5800 yen (about US$58) per person. Starters included a choice of an assortment of appetizers or selection of charcuterie. Choice of two dishes from the antipasto, secondo (main dish), pizza or pasta lists. Choice of dessert and choice of hot beverage.

Satoshi chose the assortment of appetizers this came with cold (a cold fish mousse, piece of sashimi & a spoonful of salad) and hot appetizers (fried wakasagi (pond smelt) and a tiny ramekin of potato gratin). I chose the selection of charcuterie, this came with tastes of salami, proscuitto and melon and culatello.

I had a glass of Nero d'Avola Siciliana 900 yen but this paled in comparison to the glass that Satoshi had by Tormaresca called Bocca di Lupo...1800 yen. You could tell and taste that his was a better wine.

It was made from Aglianico grapes and was full bodied and had some spiciness to it. (After we came home, I looked online and this wine sells for was about $40 a bottle here, no wonder it was so delicious!)

We shared the antipasto--Tarabagani fritto (Alaskan king crab) which was a lightly battered AKC leg and some nanohana (rape blossom) and dasheen. This came with some coarse sea salt to dip into. I gave Satoshi the claw to eat and cut up the rape blossom and dasheen so we could both try it.

We also shared the D.O.C. pizza, this was a buffalo mozzarella, cherry tomato and basil pizza, this particular pizza has won awards. I loved the chewiness of the crust and creaminess of the cheese.

Then the pasta came, oyster and mushroom with a cream sauce flavored with yuzu (citron). The aroma was refreshing and complimented the oysters and mushrooms.

The main dish was a seafood cartoccio, which was seafood wrapped in parchment and cooked with tomatoes, olives and some other veggies. The soup from this dish reminded me of portuguese bean soup (a Hawaiian favorite).

When this dish came out it attracted the attention of many diners around us as the plastic pouch it was in was puffed up and then the waiter took the dish on the side to halve it for us.

We also asked for more bread to mop up the soup. (good call!)

For dessert, Satoshi chose the milk gnocchi with vanilla gelato, pannecotta & strawberry soup. This was delicious and light.

I chose the warm dark cherry and chocolate tart topped with caramel gelato. The raspberry puree on the bottom overpowered everything but was still delicious.

For hot beverages, Satoshi chose coffee while I chose cappuccino.

I was pleasantly surprised to receive this cute bear.

They also served some mignardise--homemade caramels & orange water almond biscotti.

It was a great meal, the service was very attentive and food for our bill with 10% service charge was 17,270 yen (about US$172.70), not bad when you consider Satoshi had 2 beers, and we both had a glass of wine...we'll be back.

XEX West
Herbis Plaza Ent 7F
2-2-22 Umeda
Kita-ku, Osaka
Phone: 06.4795.0065

Sunday, January 17, 2010

foodie friday in kobe

Friday, I met up with Tamakikat. She had been wanting to check out IKEA, so we caught the free shuttle out of Sannomiya and grabbed some lunch in their restaurant before checking out the store.

I had the veggie hamburger, which the cook reminded me was "not made of meat" was very dry, thank goodness for gravy! with some bottled water it was a reasonable but overall tasteless lunch...739 yen (about US$7.39). At least we had nice conversation.

After checking out the store, we headed back to Kobe and walked to Chocolat Republic to have some dessert.

Their menu noted a cake set, but in actuality, it was just the price of your cake plus the price of your drink. Only if you ordered a cake over 400 yen would they take off 50 yen off the total price.

In Japan, usually a cake set would give you the drink or cake at a cheaper price, rather than a la carte prices.

We ended up having their creme brulee chou & a cafe latte...750 yen (about US$7.50).

We enjoyed the chou, especially the nicely burnt caramel on top.

Since Tamakikat had some time, I dragged her along while I checked out Le Dimanche to pick up something for my lunch on Saturday.

I chose the zucchini, eggplant & anchovy tartine and the baked curry bread...483 yen (about US$4.83).

I've had this baked curry bread before, a chewy baguette outside and curry filling inside...both were delicious!

I also dragged her around the corner to La Pierre Blanche where I picked up nougat & chocolate caviar...610 yen (about US$6.10)

The nougat was tough, not chewy at all. I rather have it on the chewy side. I loved all the nuts in it though (almonds, hazelnuts & pistachios).

And the chocolate caviar was dark and delicious.

Thanks for a great day Tamakikat!