Monday, January 31, 2011

chocolate finds

Recently came across these covered almonds.

Meiji, a well-known Japanese candy company & Kameda, a well-known Japanese snack company got together and came up with this.

The almonds are first covered with a thin wafer.

Then, Kameda's kakinotane (spicy rice crackers that look like persimmon seeds) are crushed and used along with Meiji's milk chocolate to cover the almonds.

Satoshi and I both agree, they can do without the almonds in the middle, somehow the flavors don't match.

Another variation of this tie-up is chocolate covered kakinotane.

This was nice and spicy.

Black cocoa baum kuchen with a dark chocolate glaze by MUJI.

Wow, this was rich...good.

Valrhona's Equinoxe series...dark chocolate (55%) covered almonds & hazelnuts.

The nuts are not roasted but are delicious with their semi-dark chocolate covering.

I say semi-dark because I don't feel that 55% can be called "dark".

Another item is the dark chocolate (55%) covered puffed cereal.


As February rolls around, I think there will be more chocolate finds...

Sunday, January 30, 2011

tan tan men

Lunch on Saturday was Tan tan men. A spicy sesame seed based soup with noodles.

I've made this from scratch in the past.

Since I didn't have much time to get lunch together, I used a pre-made noodle with an instant soup packet.

The only thing with the instant version is that there are no toppings, so I had to make these myself.

The meat on the top is called ja jan, to make the ja jan (seasoned meat) this is the recipe I followed.

This time around I only used 100 grams of pork, added 1/2 a tablespoon of shoyu (soy sauce) and 1/2 a tablespoon of sake (rice wine) and 1 teaspoon of tenmenjan (sweetened miso) when the pork browned. I cooked everything until the liquid evaporated then drained the meat onto a paper towel.

I cleaned some chin gen sai, which I think is bok choy and wilted it in a warm pan with a little water.

Then after cooking the noodles according to the package, I added hot water to the bowls for the soup then added the noodles.

I topped our bowls with the bok choy & the ja jan (seasoned meat).

The soup wasn't as spicy as some restaurants serve their tan tan men, but this was delicious and perfect for a cold wintry Saturday.

Saturday, January 29, 2011

donuts dept

Yesterday, we woke up to a light dusting on the roof tops and flurries in the air.

While I was all excited, Satoshi crawled deeper in bed and pulled the covers over his head.

Of course, he had to go to work, so he had to go out while the flurries were still dancing around.

Me, on the other hand, I debated as to what to do with my day.

The sun was out, the flurries had stopped but the air was dry and icy.

I thought to myself, I could stay in my pajamas and stay indoors all day in front of the computer...

Instead, I changed my clothes and walked to get some doughnuts from Donuts Dept.

Lucky for me, they had a new one called Ichigo Mountain (Strawberry Mountain).

Delicious plain donut topped with a strawberry glaze and half a strawberry which is then dusted with powdered sugar.


I also tried their matcha (green tea) and sugar doughnuts.

The matcha is subtle, but delicious.

And the sugar was different from the granulated sugar that normally is on doughnuts. This one seemed grainy yet powdery.

I really like these doughnuts, they never leave an oily feel in your mouth and are always tasty.

Satoshi says his favorite was the Ichigo Mountain, 2nd was the Matcha.

Friday, January 28, 2011

good news

Just got word from BIL that after nearly three months, MIL will be released from the hospital next week, though I think she still needs to do some rehabilitation.

She is also currently waiting for a home helper to be approved.

In the meantime, BIL and SIL will clean and make sure that her house will be ready for her.

BIL told us that once she is settled in we should go to visit her, so that is what we will do.

What a great way to end the week, thank you for your well wishes and prayers...have a good weekend!

Thursday, January 27, 2011


It has been awhile since I posted on Starbucks...

I thought that Starbucks used Tazo Teas...apparently they now have their own brand.

I think I've also mentioned that the treats at Starbucks are hit and miss.

This apple fritter was a definite miss.

I think apple fritters should actually have apple somewhere in them, don't you??

How is your week going? The wind is really icy but at least we have sun here.

Wednesday, January 26, 2011

char siu

It was my first time using the NOH char siu packet.

In Hawaii, our char siu is sweet and red.

I find that the red foods turn off a lot of people in Japan, not sure why though.

Japan's char siu is grey-ish brown and savory, but the red, sweet version is what I grew up on and love it.

The packet says to add water, but according to my mom (and she knows best), she says not to add the water, just dump the contents of the packet and marinade what you want...pork, chicken, both.

Since I only had one packet and needed to bake it on my oven's turntable, I did some pork spareribs and chicken drumettes.

The packet says to marinate for at least 4 hours but I let it marinate overnight.

The following morning, I baked them off following the directions on the packet and in about 40 minutes...voila!

My blog friend, Kim, tweeted that her dad often makes this sweet type of char siu, slices it thin and puts it in banh you know what I had for lunch yesterday??

> Banh Mi! minus the cilantro because I couldn't find some at the store.

(I actually found some at another store after lunch but wasn't willing to pay almost $2 for 1 stalk of cilantro!)

Since I had cooked bone-in pork spareribs, I took the meat off the bones and sliced them up for the sandwich.

I knew this was sandwich meant to happen because I had daikon and carrot in my refrig.

While the char siu baked, I whizzed some in my food processor and threw together the pickled veggies.

Then while the pickles soaked, I shopped for the baguette and cucumber for the sandwich.

Even without the cilantro, this sandwich was awesome, sweet sour and a little salty.

Then for dinner, I took some char siu chicken off the bone and shredded it for chinese chicken salad.

I also used okara chips because the taste resembles wonton chips.

Even though the weather is icy and cold, there was lots of comfort food and sunshine in my kitchen today.

NOTES: next time use boneless pork belly and boneless chicken, also buy more packets.

Tuesday, January 25, 2011

foodie kind of weekend

Saturday, the sun was out but the temperatures were way down.

Since Satoshi had to work, I went for a walk.

There was a Mini that I spotted from the train and wanted to check out in person.

You should know that riding the train in our area gives pretty much a bird's eye view of things. Most of the time you get views that you would not see while walking.

This Mini was the first left-sided steering that I've seen here. It also had a nice gas flap.

On the way home, I stopped by Suigetsu Park and caught this group of grandpas chatting and having fun.

I then stopped into Family Mart and came across Muji's Banana Baum Kuchen drizzled with dark chocolate. after seeing Manju's post, this was the perfect snack.

Sunday, Satoshi had the day off and we decided to visit several temples for hatsumode (first prayers of the year).

In Sone, we stopped at Hagi-no-dera, which is known for their god of promotions & success.

Then we walked to Hattori, about 15 minutes.

On the way to Hattori, I told Satoshi that I wanted to stop to photograph another Mini that I always see from the train in a parking lot.

Unfortunately, the parking lot is manned, so I couldn't actually go into the lot to get pictures.

Instead, I stood outside the lot and took photos from under the fence.

I think these were the first photos I got of a MINI that were up close.

At Hattori Tenmangu, we prayed to the foot gods and thanked them for keeping our feet in good shape.

Then we walked from Hattori to Shonai, about 25 minutes.

Satoshi was feeling hungry so we picked up a curry croquette (80 yen about US$.80) & a wagyu (Japanese beef) (70 yen about US$.70) croquette from Niku Fuji.

These were right out of the fryer, hot and delicious, not to mention reasonably priced.

After our snack, we walked around Shonai a little more.

There is a music university and Satoshi wanted to see it.

I was impressed because they even have an opera house.

Lunch was at a tiny shop called Boss. Their specialty is curry.

On a cold day like Sunday was, hot spicy curry really hit the spot.

Satoshi couldn't decide and finally ordered the fried shrimp with curry set (950 yen about US$9.50), this came with a salad, fried shrimp and curry with rice.

Whenever you eat curry in Japan, it seems that most do not have "stuff" in it, just sauce.

This curry had bits of beef but not a lot more, t is quite spicy and you can ask them for a milder version if you like.

I chose the gyusuji nikomi (simmered beef gristle/nerf) curry set (800 yen about US$8), this came with a salad, a huge serving of curry with gyusuji pieces and a tiny lassi (yogurt drink).

Satoshi wants to go back on a weekday to try some of the other items on their menu.

The weekend flew by but there was lots of walking and eating.

2-1-23 Shonai-higashimachi
Toyonaka, Osaka
Phone: 06.6332.9550
Open 11:30-21:30, Days off not set, call before going

Monday, January 24, 2011

creme de caramel au beurre sale

I don't know about you, but I am easily influenced by what others blog creme de caramel au beurre sale (aka salted butter caramel sauce).

If I can't find it where I am, then I'm interested in trying to make it myself.

Anyway, awhile back, Kathy travelled to France and enjoyed jars of this stuff.

I happened across bottles of this in an import shop in Osaka and bought one to try.

It wasn't the exact same brand that she had tried but it was still from Bretagne (Brittany), France, where this type of sauce is well-known.

In fact, this sauce was darker than the one she tried.

I put it in the refrig and finally opened the bottle the other night.

I was amazed because even with the sauce being kept in the refrig, the sauce is soft, spreadable.

I zapped a tablespoon of the sauce and drizzled it over vanilla ice cream.

The sauce still stayed soft even on ice cream.

It was delicious! Salty and sweet. I think the next time I'm trying this on pancakes, I should actually try making crepes...hmm.

UPDATE: this is good on pancakes, tried it yesterday at breakfast.

Sunday, January 23, 2011

salaryman rant

After being married for 11 years, you would think I'd be used to having to look after "someone" after they come home from a night of drinking.


Part of the job of being a housewife in Japan means you are part magician because you can need to be able to fix "anything".

This especially means rips in pants, and sometimes the rips are in places that sewing machines cannot go, really.

Oh, and being a housewife in Japan means you also need to be part detective too, because you need to know where that someone put their glasses down the night before (WT??)...sigh.

Well, these pants are goners, thank goodness your knee didn't need stitches and I'm really glad you didn't bonk your head unconscious and made it home safely.

I've ranted about this before and I probably sound like a nag, but please stop drinking this way. And please stop sleeping in the bathtub (with it filled!)

Saturday, January 22, 2011

honor box + winner

I noticed this honor box while walking the other week.

In the past, when we lived in Takatsuki, there was an honor box near the housing that we lived in and it sold veggies and cut flowers.

When I noticed this particular box/stand, it had some daikon (long white radish) for sale, unfortunately, whenever I go walking, I usually don't carry any money with me.

I think the next time I go walking in this direction, I'll bring some coins, just in case they have some nice looking veggies.

The sign says that everything is 100 yen (about US$1) that is a bargain.

Now, onto the winner of the giveaway...

I want to thank everyone who entered, I loved reading your comments and hope that you all accomplish what you set out to do in 2011.

The winner of the giveaway is Linny!

She used to live in Japan and if I remember correctly, she emailed me once for info on a Kobe steak place that also served vegetarian fare (she's vegetarian but her significant other is not)...I hope this was how we "met"...

Thanks for entering everyone!

Friday, January 21, 2011

things I'm liking (and disliking)

Some things I'm liking (and disliking)...when I bought this bento from Daiei, I thought the "meat" in it was pork or beef, well it was pork...liver.

It was my first time having pork liver and the texture was a bit too spongy for my liking.

Needless to say, I ate it up first then ate the rest of the items to "cleanse" my palate.

We received these arare (rice crackers) from my host-mom, they are made by Mochi-kichi in Fukuoka.

The arare is so crisp and airy!

I also love all the roasted beans and nuts scattered in each piece.

From the Donuts Dept. Oyuzu-han & Maple Sugar...oyuzu-han is a citron donut with a citron icing, this one packs a bright delicious punch.

The Maple Sugar was light in comparison but still very moist and delicious.

Robai, waxy apricot are blooming these days. I think Spring is coming...I hope it is...

I love the Pork and potatoes simmered in shoyu, sugar & mirin by Matsuoka.

The sauce is worth drizzling over rice!

Coconut M&Ms.

I must admit that I was skeptical, but my friend, BFF told me it was like eating Mounds...and it is, with a hard shell.

Plus, how cute are the palm tree and flowers??

Is there anything you are liking? disliking?

It's Friday, hope you have a great weekend.

Thursday, January 20, 2011


Just before the end of 2010, I noticed we were nearing 500 followers.

At that point, I told myself that if we did indeed reach 500 followers, I would do a giveaway, as a thank you.

Well, we've actually gone past 500 and are presently at 503, whoo!

I can remember when I first started this blog intending it for family and friends and getting hits from all over the world.

Blogging is truly amazing!

So, I'm planning to put a box together, I must admit, some of the items that I've already purchased are kinda "girly".

The value of the contents will be about 5000 yen (about US$50).

Anyway, to enter here are the rules:
1) in the comments section, write one thing you'd like to accomplish in 2011.
2) be subscribed to this blog's RSS feed
3) no ad or anonymous comments will be allowed
4) enter only once for this giveaway to be fair to others.
5) have a blog and post about what's in your care package, linking the post to this blog.
6) you can enter even if you've won in previous giveaways.

You have until Friday, January 21, 2011 at 5:00 p.m. (JPN time) to enter, the winner will be announced on Saturday, January 22, 2011.

Thank you for reading our blog and good luck!

Comments now closed thanks for entering!

UPDATE: to see what was in the box, click here.

Wednesday, January 19, 2011


season around here, though this year, the strawberries are apparently very expensive because of the bad weather.

I tried Kamuro's ichigo daifuku recently.

The mochi (rice cake) outside is like a fluffy marshmallow and besides the whole strawberry in the middle, what usually is a sweet bean paste, is instead made from egg yolk and milk and the texture is like a whipped custard.

Super light and delicious. I'm glad I only bought one otherwise I would have eaten more.

Tuesday, January 18, 2011

ritter sport

Found this Ritter Sport at Jupiter, an import market in Kyoto recently...milk chocolate, hazelnuts & nougat cream.

Delicious, lots of hazelnuts.

While I really enjoy dark chocolate, sometimes you just need something sweet.

Apparently this just came out for Winter and is only on their German site.

Monday, January 17, 2011

icy foodie anniversary

Saturday was our 11th wedding anniversary. The weekend was forecasted for snow.

We decided to spend it in Kyoto then go to visit MIL on Sunday.

For dinner, we tried to get into Moritaya, a great place for sukiyaki, but they had a long waiting list.

So, instead we went a couple of doors down to Tsukiji Sushi Kiyo. It wasn't like actually being at Tsukiji, but delicious all the same.

After dinner we got some Japanese sweets from Sentaro located on the food floor in Isetan.

The hotel we stayed at, Dormy Inn, offers a "midnight snack" (actually from 20:30-22:30)...ramen, and Satoshi had a bowl.

The hotel also offers a natural hot spring bath, the areas are separated for men and women, it was a nice way to unwind after all that food.

The next morning, we woke to the snow coming down and the streets all white.

The breakfast buffet at Dormy Inn was mostly Japanese foods, though they did have some Western types of foods.

Though if you are staying in Kyoto, I would recommend Japanese food because they have some of the best locally grown veggies.

The top left photo is my tray and the bottom right is Satoshi's (he also went back 3 times!...I think his wife doesn't feed him enough at home...)

They also served zenzai...though it was toward the end of the buffet time and there was mostly shiratama(rice flour dumplings) left.

After checking out, we went to visit MIL, she caught us up with her week and had her lunch.

We were relieved to hear that her rehab is going well.

After visiting with her, we headed back to Shijo and had lunch at Tohkasaikan.

We've passed this building many many times and often wondered what kind of food they offer.

The building was built in 1921 and since Kyoto wasn't bombed during WWII, the restaurant started their business in 1946.

We ordered lettuce wraps, sweet sour pork, and shrimp in tomato sauce.

Everything was delicious.

We also ordered their fried gyoza. This was bad.

The skins were so gummy and thick, it was hard to finish 8 of them.

We also ordered their fried rice.

We actually had wanted some noodles in soup, but we were surprised they didn't have any noodles on their menu and wondered if maybe Beijing-style Chinese restaurants do not serve noodles??

Anyway, we are glad we tried them, for the most part, their food was good and the atmosphere is like stepping back in time, though we probably won't be back.

We are interested in trying some of the other Dormy Inns located around Japan to see if their breakfast and bath are just as spectacular.

It was a nice weekend, I got my snow, we visited with MIL and were able to celebrate our anniversary.

I hope your weekend was just as nice.

Tsukiji Sushi Kiyo
JR Isetan Kyoto 11F
Phone: 075.352.6223

Dormy Inn Kyoto Station
558-8 Higashi-shiokoji-cho
Shimogyo-ku, Kyoto
Phone: 075.371.5489

140-2 Saito-cho
Shimogyo-ku, Kyoto
Phone: 075.221.1147

Sunday, January 16, 2011

rush hour door

I recently saw this "rush hour door" on a Keihan train car.

Since I don't usually travel during rush hour, I don't really know the depth of how crowded trains can be during that time of the day.

Apparently it is more intense in Tokyo than it is in Osaka.

This particular door adds another exit, giving people 3 exits instead of the usual 2.

Getting caught up in taking a photo of the door, I ended up missing the train (because the door I photographed, didn't open)...

Oh well, live and learn!

Saturday, January 15, 2011

keeping warm

The weather dudes here are saying that this is one of the coldest winters.

In fact, this weekend we are actually supposed to have snow!

People who are used to seeing snow are probably rolling their eyes, maybe bundling even more reading this, but I'm from Hawaii where there is rarely snow.

Growing up I've experienced hail but that is about the extent of it.

Apparently on the day before the New Year (12/31/2010), there was a huge snowstorm all over Japan.

Since we missed it, I guess Mother Nature thinks we need to experience it.

I'm giddy while Satoshi is dreading it.

During the past days, I've been keeping warm with tea.

I got this Mango Tea (by Hawaiian Island Tea Company) from a friend and it is delicious. I shared some with my host-mom and she raved about it.

She actually wants me to bring some home with me the next time I go to Hawaii.

Tokumasa's curry udon is good, and now they've teamed up with Nissin.

It is an instant version but takes a little more "work" than just adding water and waiting the 3 minutes.

First you need to "cook" the noodles, add hot water and wait 1 minute, drain.

Then you make the soup...add hot water to the dried soup, "goodies" (green onions, meat, tempura kasu (bits from frying tempura)) & curry paste.

The taste is spot-on...sweet then spicy. Whenever I eat noodles, I usually don't drink all the soup (because there are supposed to be lots of calories and salt), but did so on this day.

And yes, I ate these with a fork...

I actually wished I had a scoop of rice to eat with the leftover curry soup.

Recently KFC came out with a Jandare chicken sandwich. The chicken is coated with a kochujang sauce.

The base of the sauce tasted like Western barbecue with some spicy kochujang (Korean miso) worked into it.

This was really messy to eat but really delicious.

Another way to keep warm is with the sun.

Unlike some areas, our area tends to have sunny, clear days.

Though the temperature doesn't get too warm, having the sun shine is definitely good for the soul.

So, if it is cold and dreary where you are, how are you keeping warm?

Friday, January 14, 2011

shoes + rant

You know, most adults I see around Japan have shoes WAY too big for their feet.

It isn't like you're gonna grow into them.

It makes you walk funny because you're sloshing around in them.

And then there are days when they (your shoes) "fly" onto the railway tracks because they don't stay on your feet.

Saw this and took a photo. (kinda blurry because it was with my iPhone)

In order to get her shoe back, she told someone in the station office and they picked it up for her.

Can you believe the person she was with was actually stupid enough to want to jump down onto the the track to get it?

The station worker quickly shouted at them not to...sigh.

It is Friday, all sorts of natural disasters going on all over the world. Hope next week will be better.

Thursday, January 13, 2011

on a walk

On a walk, I caught this soba delivery guy.

Someone actually jumped in front of his bicycle which made him lose his momentum and almost made him fall over.

This actually gave me some time to whip out my camera.

I noticed this tall crane lifting planks of wood off of a truck and wondered why they needed the crane.

I realized that there are many electrical wires in between the truck and construction area, so everything needed to be lifted up and over the wires.

How cute are these two?

The man was leading the lady, making sure she didn't fall.

This tree is called kamisori no ki (razor blade tree or Euonymus alatus).

During the year, this tree is filled with leaves, but come Autumn/Winter, only the branches are left and look exactly like criss-crossing razor blades.

The river water was so calm that the reflection was so clear.

My afternoon walks these days are usually highlighted by warm yet beautiful sunsets.

It is the Year of the Rabbit, I think you'll be seeing a lot of rabbits now and then on this blog.

These were on the wall of a neighborhood pre-school.

Like I said previously, the river was so clear. I think this heron was busy looking at itself.

The tree on the top of the photo is actually a reflection.

I ran into a group of people getting ready to pound some mochi (rice cakes).

This is the usu (mortar) that is used to pound the rice.

Don't know why they were pounding mochi after New Years, but thought it was nice that their group was having lots of fun.

I also noticed that this house got another Hello Kitty for their entrance, wearing a Chinese dress.

What have you been seeing on your walks?