Tuesday, May 31, 2011

made in japan

I recently bought some teas made in Kitsuki.

Kitsuki is a city in Oita prefecture, which is in Kyushu. The tea was featured on television recently and I was interested in trying them.

They had two black teas. I say "black" but the chinese characters for black tea uses the character for "red". Which is probably why the other time I bought that "red" tea I got confused...

Anyway, I bought a package of their rose tea & a package of their sakura (cherry blossom) tea...both are flavored, very very lightly.

No perfuminess, which is good, but no hint of what it is supposed to be flavored as, which is not so good.

It is a good black tea, you just need to "jazz it up" with a splash of milk or something.

And these yokai manju came from Satoshi on a recent business trip.

He didn't actually go to Sakaiminato, where these yokai (monster) characters are popular. By the way, these characters were created by Shigeru Mizuki.

He brought home a box of 12, there were 3 different fillings...sweet bean, custard, chocolate.

Satoshi's favorite was sweet bean, while mine was custard.

It's the last day of May but the weather is still a bit chilly...even though we've started our rainy season. Because it is cool, it isn't humid, so I won't grumble.

Monday, May 30, 2011

imo to daikon

There is a typhoon passing through this weekend, so we've been having rain since about Friday...lots of rain (and wind).

After Satoshi's class yesterday, we met up at NU Chayamachi to try out a buffet...Imo to Daikon (ee-mow-toe-die-con--which literally means potato & radish in Japanese).

Most buffets give you a time limit and this one gives you 2 hours...wow! that was more than enough time for us.

They had many vegetable dishes and more fish than meat dishes...they even had a delicious tomato soup! which I wouldn't mind trying to re-create.

That photo was my first round...I went back a couple more times after that, trying a little each time.

Intriguing were the desserts...soy milk pudding topped with honey sweetened tomatoes, okara (soy lees) black bean cake...the honey sweetened tomatoes, well, they tasted like tomatoes...good but kinda not what I expected.

The cake was really moist, tasty...I wouldn't mind trying to re-create this too.

The price of the buffet kinda made us hesitate at 2400 yen (about US$24) per person, because we usually don't eat our share. And this price doesn't include alcohol. The food is delicious, but I think this is a "special occasion" type of place.

Imo to Daikon (UPDATE: 2016 no longer in business)
NU Chayamachi 9F
Chayamachi, Osaka
Phone: 06.6373.7477

Sunday, May 29, 2011

aramaki rose park

Wednesday was a beautiful sunny day. Satoshi had the day off, so we went to check out the roses at Aramaki Rose Park.

We've visited this park since 2006 and love it. Whenever we visit here we make sure to bring some food because it is great to sit and eat among the roses.

As we took out our bento and started pouring some coffee, we were the envy of an older couple..."oh we should've packed something to eat", said the lady, while checking out what we were about to eat.

We had tamagoyaki (rolled omlette) with chorizo and onion, some swiss chard mixed with mayo, some grapefruit, some sansho konbu (kelp with Japanese pepper).

We also had some musubi filled with ume (pickled apricot) & ikanago (sand lance, a tiny fish that is seasoned with soy sauce, sugar, a little ginger).

Flourless chocolate cake and a small thermos of coffee.

The park was filled with school children as well as elderly people in wheelchairs.

Lots of people enjoying the day as well as the flowers.

I don't care for some of the photographers though, they often go into the plants and "arrange" them for their shot.

Some even break off leaves and stuff...not cool.

It was the first time I've seen this climbing rose looking so pretty.

It was attracting a lot of attention too.

The sun was blazing but it was a great day amongst nature.

Saturday, May 28, 2011

swiss chard

Do you like swiss chard? I hadn't known about it until the last time I went home (to Hawaii).

In Hawaii, lots of people grow veggies in their yard and share with family and friends when they get bumper crops.

Anyway, the last time I was home, we received swiss chard several times, from one of my grandma's friends...by this point, the rest of my family was tired of eating this, but for me it was something new.

It reminds me of eating the greens of beets, which are totally rare to see in our area of Japan. (the beets and the greens)

So, I was at the market the other day, they have a special corner now for veggies grown around Japan that are kinda "ugly", the items are deformed or not pristine like most veggies you see in the markets.

And on them, most have the names of the farmers that grew them too.

I kind of have a pet peeve with how pristine most veggies are here and would be happy to pay a little less for an "ugly" one because I think it will almost more than likely taste the same or maybe even better than that pristine one.

Plus, I think the "ugly" ones may be organic...

Anyway, I spotted bags of this swiss chard in this area and they were so colorful!

And they were only 100 yen (about US$1) each so I bought 2 bags.

To prepare them, I washed and put them into a non-stick pan.

I wilted them down and then blanched them in cold water to stop the cooking.

Then I squeezed out the water, and cut them into about 3 inch pieces.

Before serving, I cut the pieces into bite sized pieces and then topped with leftover ginger-sesame sauce.

Usually in our household (in Hawaii), we eat spinach, beets (swiss chard) with a shoyu-mayo mixture.

Since the ginger-sesame sauce was a similar flavor, this went really nicely with it.

I'm glad I came across this at the market.

Friday, May 27, 2011

flourless chocolate cake

Got this recipe from my blog friend Kim, who tweeted about this cake recently.

I'd never tried making a flourless cake before so thought it would be interesting to try.

Instead of preparing a pan like the recipe says, I took the easy way out and did this in muffin papers.

Whenever I make muffins I usually only make 6 because it fits nicely on my turntable to bake, but I figured at least 8 would be the right proportion for an 8-inch pan, so I baked the extra 2 with muffin papers in ramekins.

(originally from Gourmet magazine, Nov. ’97)
4-oz dark or bittersweet chocolate, coarsely chopped
1/2 cup butter
3/4 cup sugar
3 large eggs
1 1/2 tsp vanilla extract
1/2 cup cocoa powder (pref. dutch process)

Preheat oven to 375F. Line an 8-inch cake pan with parchment paper and lightly grease.
In a small, microwave-safe bowl, melt together chocolate and butter, stirring with a fork until very smooth.
Pour warm chocolate mixture into a medium mixing bowl with sugar. Whisk to combine. Beat in eggs one at a time, waiting until each has been fully incorporated to add the next, then mix in vanilla extract. Sift cocoa powder into the bowl and whisk until well-combined.
Pour into prepared cake pan.
Bake for 25 minutes.
Allow cake to cool in pan for 5 minutes, then run a knife around the edge of the cake and invert onto a serving platter. Dust with cocoa powder, if desired. Serve warm or at room temperature. Store leftovers in an airtight container.

NOTES: I used 70% chocolate. This is rich and chocolatey (think dense brownie) and the size is perfect to soothe a sweet tooth.

Next time I'm adding nuts!

Thanks again Kim!

It is Friday here, and our area has started the rainy season, hope you have a great weekend!

Wednesday, May 25, 2011

trying new recipes

It has been some time since I've made a main dish with fish, so I was thinking of doing some salmon.

Then I found a really old can of halibut in my pantry and decided to make Ellie Krieger's salmon cakes using the canned halibut.

According to my archives it has been awhile since I've made these patties and that time I used a canned of smoked halibut.

This time, the halibut wasn't smoked so I tried the creamy ginger-sesame sauce which is in her "The Food You Crave" cookbook (same page as the salmon cakes).

She says that the sauce "makes a fantastic dip for raw vegetables, especially snow peas."

So, instead of raw, I served steamed asparagus and carrots.

The sauce is really easy to put together, I think the thing that took the longest was draining the liquid from the yogurt for the sauce.

NOTES: The combination of ginger, shoyu & sesame oil matched these patties and veggies perfectly. I think this sauce would be perfect on an Asian-type of salad too, creamy without all the calories. The serving size for the sauce is 1.5 tablespoons but I only used 1 tablespoon. I would definitely make this again.

Since I only made half the recipe of the patties & sauce, I had 6 patties. We ate 4 for dinner and with the other 2, we had halibut sandwiches for breakfast...delicious.

Tuesday, May 24, 2011


Man, Saturday was hot and humid! perfect weather for gelato.

Satoshi and I checked out the newly opened Deliziefollie in NU Chayamachi Plus before his German class.

Apparently, this is a French company and the name supposedly means "crazy delights". They have 2 shops in Paris and 10 in Japan...

They have 4 serving styles: medio (3 flavors), grande (4 flavors) in cups. And the same on cones.

We both chose the medio in a cup...550 yen (about US$5.50) each.

Satoshi chose Cubano (rum & dark chocolate), Nocciola (made from Piedmont hazelnuts) and Arancia Rossa (blood orange).

I chose Fruitti Rossi (raspberry, cassis & strawberry), Pistacchio di Bronte (made from Bronte pistachios) and Stracciatella (milk gelato with chocolate chips)....650 yen (about US$6.50)

Mine was a 100 yen more because pistachio is a premium flavor...ahem!

Oh My! if you are going to eat gelato make sure you eat gelato here.

All the flavors are spot on. The fruit ones were really refreshing and the cream type ones were creamy and flavorful, not artificial tasting.

Though the one with rum was a bit overpowering with the alcohol and Satoshi was warned when he ordered.

Definitely going back here.

Deliziefollie (UPDATE: as of 10/2013 this shop is now closed)
Nu Chayamachi Plus 2F
8-6 Chayamachi
Kita, Osaka
Phone: 06.6485.7123
Open 11:00-21:00

Monday, May 23, 2011


The weather has gotten pretty warm during the daytime. Still, nights and early morning are cool and comfortable.

Satoshi has not been eating at home because of his business trip and a drinking party (oh man, I could rant about the after effects of that drinking party...but it would be TMI (too much info) and this is a food blog..ahem!)....

So anyway, while he was gone, I tried to use what I had in my fridge as much as possible.

On one night, I had a repeat of the summer rolls for dinner.

Then the other day, I bought some mini spring rolls with some leftover nuoc cham for lunch. (Along with a musubi and some iced earl grey tea)

In Japan, spring rolls usually have bean sprouts, some minced pork, carrots, sometimes harusame (vermicelli)...the taste and texture reminds me of what the Filipinos call lumpia.

These were freshly made at the supermarket and only 150 yen (about US$1.50) for three....mmm!

I love how most supermarkets have their own kitchens to make different foods instead of having other vendors bring them in.

Then for dinner on another night, I bought some fried squid and some harusame namasu.

Harusame namasu is vermicelli noodles, carrots, cucumber and kikurage (wood ear) marinated in a vinegar-sugar mixture...quite refreshing during the summer months.

I drained the vinegar mixture then placed the namasu on top of some lettuce, topped it with the fried squid which I heated in the oven, then drizzled on the last of the nuoc cham.

Wow! this version was awesome and I love how the flavors didn't overpower one another.

What have you been eating?

p.s. if you enjoy our blog, would you please "like" our Facebook page?! Thanks in advance.

Sunday, May 22, 2011


Chideji (chee-deh-gee) is what the Japanese call digital terrestial broadcasting or digital television.

Apparently most of the world is switching and Japan will switch over to digital television in July of this year.

In a country where they manufacture flat screen televisions, let me tell you that when the switch from analog to digital was announced a couple of years back the supposedly "only route" was to purchase a flat screen tv and/or get cable...so, that is what everyone did.

Of course not wanting to jump on the bandwagon too quickly, we waited until this year debating all along what we should do.

And we were leaning towards getting a flat screen when we thought, "hey, our television still works fine...I wonder what other options are out there".

And lo and behold...the converter box or as the Japanese call them, "chideji tuner".

The price for these tuners range from 4000 to 20,000 yen (about US$40-$200) depending on what you want the tuner to do and what your tv can do.

The electronics store is all pro-flat screen tv and you can tell too because the whole floor is loaded with them.

While the tuners are placed in a little corner, not able to attract much attention to them.

So, based on our television's abilities we purchased a tuner for about US$80 (on sale, woot!)...

But, guess who had to set it up?? Moi (me).

In fact, I set up all the appliances (including our computer) and put together all the furniture in our apartment...and the manuals are in Japanese! (thank goodness for pictures and lots of intuition.)

Anyway, I followed the instructions to set up the tuner and it worked okay, but our vcr (video recorder) wouldn't record properly.

Yes, we still have a vcr...some may think this is prehistoric in a world where DVD and Blu-Ray is everywhere but we are usually a couple of steps behind the times anyway.

A good thing was our vcr manual actually had instructions on how to record using one of these tuners.

The only thing with these manuals are they don't truly explain all the gory details.

Well, maybe they are but I can't read all the Japanese kanji (Chinese characters) and Satoshi, even if he can read the characters, doesn't know too much about electronics, so he can't explain anything to me--which is when the pictures come into play (if there are any).

(You should also know this why we used to have the same type of cell phone, so I can be his "live" manual...sigh)

So anyway, with a 3-6 RCA cable and much trial and error, I figured out how to record from digital tv, the only problem is that you can't watch another station while it is videotaping...WT?

To do this, we would need one tuner for the tv and one tuner for the vcr...which is not as much as purchasing a flat-screen, so we may indeed go this route.

For now, with analog tv "still alive", we can continue to tape programs as we have been doing, and continue to watch our two screen tv--with one side digital, one side analog and continue to use our television for as long as it "lives".

At the end of all of this, I tried explaining the whole set up to Satoshi, including how to use it and it was like I was speaking another language to him...he had this blank look on his face the whole time...I guess I'll need to write down instructions for him, like I did with the washing machine and microwave oven.

Saturday, May 21, 2011

whiz it

If I remember correctly, my first attempt at smoothies was pre-immersion blender, and I think the texture was a bit more "chunky" then because I was using a food processor.

Fast forward to yesterday...Satoshi was on a business trip, so it was just me, myself and I for breakfast.

4 strawberries (about a handful), 1 small banana (12 centimeters, about 4 inches), 1/4 teaspoon ground flax seed and 1/2 a cup of milk.

Whiz it...this one was definitely smoother.

I think my favorite combo for smoothies is strawberry and banana.

Actually I've never really tried any other combo...I should be brave and experiment more.

I also had 1/2 a slice of toast with chocolate peanut butter spread and some black tea.

What did you have for breakfast?

Friday, May 20, 2011


An update to my rant...First off, thank you for all of your words of support, it really meant a lot to me.

I contacted Google and filed a DCMA with them about the said site.

Google removed the said site from their search engine as well as for certain posts.

In the meantime, the said site posted all of my other posts, but didn't post my rant on their site...feeling a little guilty maybe??!

I also contacted who I thought was the host server, but was told that they were not the host server of this site.

BUT, they did agree that my work was indeed stolen!

So, I've kinda hit a dead-end...and the crappy site will continue to steal my stuff as well as two other bloggers (who I've contacted).

Since the said site is apparently reading all content they are stealing, let me say this...

If you really had any morals, you would remove all the content you have stolen (or link each post back to each of our blogs like you are supposed to!).

In the meantime, I will wait for karma to come around...

Thursday, May 19, 2011

on a walk (or two)

Caught this butterfly, Nagasaki Ageha or Papilio memnon while I was walking.

Usually butterflies are way to quick, but this one was mesmerized with a candy wrapper or something, so I had a pretty good chance to get a picture of it.

In Hawaii, big black moths are not good omens, but in Japan, these black butterflies are huge, quite common and not thought to be good or bad omens.

Some doughnuts from Shichifuku.

These doughnuts were made with soy milk and were fried in menjitsuyu (cotton seed oil).

Caramel & Earl Grey.

Too bad these tasted like oil rather than doughnuts.

Momiji Bakery's chocolate danish. I liked that this was topped with a lot of chocolate chips.

More food than sights on my walks this time around...what have you been seeing on your walks?

Wednesday, May 18, 2011

dominique saibron

We recently tried some items from Dominique Saibron. His main shop is in Paris and he also has several shops in Tokyo, and this is the first one in Kansai.

Satoshi and I shared the following items for breakfast the other day....Escargot (Pistache), what Americans would call a "snail".

This one was a puff pastry style danish filled with pistachios...I love how even though we ate it a day later there was still a nice sheen to it.

Pied noir chocolat...a soft milk bread filled with mini chocolate chips.

I like that the amount of chocolate wasn't skimped on.

Pain au chocolat...this had just the right amount of chocolate and the pastry was flaky.

All very good.

He also has some chilled items like macaron and flan (what the Japanese call pudding).

And there is also a cafe area but I'll wait until the crowd dies down to check it out.

Dominique Saibron Marche et Cafe (UPDATE: 2/2015 this shop closed)
Lucua B1
Kita-ku, Osaka
Phone: 06.6151.1207
Hours: 7:00-23:00

Tuesday, May 17, 2011

made in japan

shimanto I drank this the other day.

When I saw the label, "Shimanto Red", I thought it was Rooibos tea, but when I read the label I realized it was a straight black tea.

Shimanto is an area in Kochi prefecture. Apparently there are many tea farms there.

This tea is smooth and I am glad they add no sugar to it.

I noticed on their website that they also have a Royal Milk Tea version, so I'll be keeping my eye for it around here.

Monday, May 16, 2011

summer rolls & nuoc cham

It was my first time making these summer rolls. I had bought the rice paper awhile back and the expiry date was coming up, so I thought it would be nice to make some for dinner.

I followed the directions on the rice paper package.

The harusame (vermicelli noodles) I bought were kinda too fat.

After blanching the shrimp, I cut them in half, because I saw online that they are easier to roll.

I also added some thinly sliced carrot, cucumber, a few pieces of lettuce & some cilantro.

Actually, the cilantro I had on the lanai, had "fainted" with the heat, so I used what I could salvage.

For the dipping sauce, I adapted a recipe I copied down from Saveur's May 2008 issue, which I found online here.

I didn't have Thai chili and subbed Chinese chili paste instead. I also didn't add the garlic.

The sauce could've been a little more spicy, and maybe I could've rolled these a bit tighter, overall the hardest part was getting all the components together.

But for a first try, these were good.

I have a couple more sheets of rice paper, and have a feeling I'll be having these for lunch this week.

Hope you have a good week!

Sunday, May 15, 2011

rosy foodie saturday in osaka

Yesterday, Satoshi had his German class in the afternoon, so before that, we bought some bento (boxed lunch) and headed to Utsubo Park.

Satoshi had a boxed lunch of assorted kushikatsu (fried items on sticks), as well as some yakiudon.

I had bibimba. This even came with a soft boiled egg, which you cracked and put onto the bibimba yourself.

It was quite windy, so we had to shield our food from the flying debris every so often, but all in all it was a nice lunch.

After lunch we walked around Utsubo Park to see their roses.

They were having a Rose Festa, so they had some booths as well as some entertainment going on.

It was nice to see a lot of people out and about.

From Utsubo Park, we then walked toward Kitahama because I wanted to check out the roses at Nakanoshima.

By then, Satoshi had to go to class, so he took the subway back towards Umeda.

I stopped into a little cafe along the Tosabori River called Moto Coffee.

The cafe is very small and they have a nice little terrace out along the river.

Their muffin and iced cafe latte were a bit pricey though...920 yen (about US$9.20).

The muffin was more like a dry scone with nuts, orange peel and chocolate chips in it. I liked that they didn't skimp on the "goodies" in the muffin.

And even though it was dry, it went nicely with the iced cafe latte.

After sitting and recharging a bit, I walked across the street to the Nakanoshima Park.

Their roses were in bloom and there were many people.

The weather was nice and sunny so everyone was sitting and eating their lunch and chatting with friends.

After Satoshi's class, we met up for dinner and decided to have sushi at GyoGyo.

I ordered the Ladies set and had some California roll, which you don't see too much of in Japan. The set also came with miso soup & chawan mushi (savory custard)....1260 yen (about US$12.60)

Satoshi ordered a set with salmon sushi in various forms and also added tempura to his order. His set also came with miso soup & chawan mushi...1260 yen (about US$12.60)

It was a beautiful day. Lots of walking, eating and bonding with nature.

Moto Coffee
2-1-1 Kitahama, Kitahama Lion Building
Chuo, Osaka
Phone: 06.4706.3788
Closed Sundays & Holidays
Hours: 12:00-19:00

Saturday, May 14, 2011

dotombori kamukura

Thursday, Satoshi had the day off and we went to pick up my foreigner visa.

Afterwards, we went to check out Dotombori Kamukura.

Apparently this ramen shop has been around since the late 80's and Satoshi has eaten at the shop in Namba.

A new shop recently opened in Lucua and we stood in line for lunch.

The line moved quite quickly, and while you wait in line, they take your order.

When you get inside, you pay for your meal and then wait for a seat to open up.

After being seated, it takes some time for your meal to come out because the noodles are being cooked right before you sit down.

Satoshi ordered the gyoza set...850 yen with a soft cooked egg (plus 100 yen)...total about US$9.50...this set also comes with a musubi with your choice of "innards", he chose konbu (kelp).

I ordered the original which is called "oishii ramen" (delicious ramen) 600 yen and added a topping of kim chee 100 yen (total of about US$7).

The broth...OM! is so rich and delicious. I think it was chicken based and kind of smoky.

The char siu...wow, thinly sliced and lots of flavor...this was shoyu based and roasted.

Their kim chee is delicious too, spicy and a nice crunch.

Also, there is a lot of hakusai (chinese cabbage).

The gyoza filling seemed like it was chicken too with a little shiso inside...yum! You can choose between original sauce and garlic flavored sauce, we tried the original to dip the gyoza in.

Very very good ramen, and now I understand why the lines were insanely long.

It isn't a place to have a leisurely lunch, but for really good ramen, it is the place to try.

Dotombori Kamukura
Lucua 10F
Umeda, Osaka
Phone: 06.6415.7070

Friday, May 13, 2011


The weather has been crappy over the past three days. We had rain rain and more rain.

On top of that a certain "blog" has copied every post that I have posted over the last month or so, which put together with the ugly weather, has made me really grouchy and upset.

I kind of want to link the said site so you can see all the stolen material, but don't want you to all rush over there and give them the "hits" that they are probably looking for.

Sure, they have my URL in their side bar, but they don't actually link my posts to my URL. (They don't even have a place to comment or to contact them...)

Well, I've filed a DCMA with Google, I think I have also found the actual host of this site and have sent them a complaint too.

I have no idea why anyone would want to copy stuff.

Definitely no class.

Anyway, it is Friday here, hope your week is going better than mine is and I hope your weekend will be nice too.

Thursday, May 12, 2011


Over the past couple of weeks a lot of new shops and eateries have opened up in the Umeda area.

In Daimaru, which renovated all their floors, there is a Tokyu Hands. Tokyu Hands is an odds & ends shop, you can find almost anything and everything there.

They even opened a cafe which we want to try. Their store is on 3 separate floors, it is really big.

Also in Daimaru is a huge Pokemon Center as well as a cooking school.

Then NU Chayamachi opened an annex called, NU Chayamachi Plus.

They have all these statues of colorfully painted gnu lining the street in front. (I thought it quite weird that they named their building after the animal (gnu)...)

I liked how they are using real plants to create their sign, hope they can keep this up with summer approaching.

I stopped into the Starbucks in this complex. It was relatively empty.

I tried their new mini macarons...it came with one green tea and one black sesame. The green tea one had a white chocolate green tea cream, but needed more green tea flavor. The black sesame had a dark chocolate filling, this was good but needed more filling.

The JR Osaka station has been renovated too.

There is a huge domed roof and very very long escalators, doesn't it look like you are going up to heaven?!

Actually by going up these escalators, you can go straight into Daimaru. They even have an open cafe on this level.

Two department stores, Lucua & Isetan opened too.

These places were packed, mostly people riding the escalators to check it all out. (like me!)

I was happy that they have a place to sit on the 11th floor and a roof garden on the 14th. (If there is one thing you'll notice right away in Japan is that places to sit are really rare.)

Satoshi and I tried a tapas restaurant called Rosa Roja for dinner. This restaurant is actually run by the Osaka Granvia Hotel. The food is good. I particularly enjoyed the gyu-tan (beef tongue), it was tender and delicious with the thinly sliced veggies.

The Spanish wine, Volteo Tempranillo we tried was good too.

There are many food places from Tokyo which I'm sure we'll be able to check out in the coming months, but for now, it is best to let the crowds die down.

Rosa Roja
Lucua 10F
Umeda, Osaka
Phone: 06.6151.1384

Wednesday, May 11, 2011

on a walk

Saw this "graffiti" on a walk. Looks more like the artist drew it on a piece of paper, then stuck it onto this pole.

Caught a butterfly "resting".

This is a common bluebottle or in Japanese, aosujiageha. (I googled)

I really hope it was resting and not injured. It stayed a really long time while I photographed it.

A really small car. This is a new Suzuki Twin. I think two people will fit in there, no more...

What have you been seeing on your walks?