Monday, October 31, 2011

things I'm liking

It's the end of the month, I'm cleaning out some photos and posting some random stuff I'm liking.

The weather was beautiful the other day, so I went to check out Aramaki Rose Park, I packed myself a bento, and went to check out the roses.

There was a slight rose fragrance in the air, though the rose bushes looked a little shorter than when we visited in the Spring.

I won these assorted coffees from Starbucks Japan. They were giving them away to 5000 people if you signed up for their online newsletter and as part of their celebration of 15 years in Japan...woot!

For this contest, you had to choose what you wanted to win. They were giving away a latte machine or a case of pre-made lattes or these coffees.

I figured everyone would choose the machine, and I don't have space for a case of pre-made lattes, so I went with the assortment.

I think it was a good choice. (Thank you!)

Muji's Rooibos Ginger Chai tea. Good with a little sugar and splash of milk, perfect in the evenings as rooibos is non-caffeinated.

Mini Reese's PB cups...they have no wrappers on them so be careful not to eat the whole bag in one sitting!

Muji's Amatriciana, just heat the bag in a pot of boiling water and pour over your favorite pasta.

I added a sprinkling of parmesan cheese and some ground pepper...delicious on a rainy day.

True North's almond pecan cashew clusters...serving size is 5. One cluster is the size of a sugar cube, let me tell you, they are hard to stop at just 5!

It is kinoko (mushroom) season here, I sauteed these (shimeji, eringi & maitake) with some chicken consomme, garlic, a little butter & chili pepper and served it over rice like a donburi (bowl).

Satoshi gave me the thumbs up for this dish.

La Bien Nommee's salted caramel with dark chocolate sauce which we got in France...this sauce gets firm in the refridge, but is still very delicious on hot scones.

Coco Ichibanya's curry furikake...starts off sweet and then the spiciness kicks in...good on rice!

A piece of cooked kabocha, mashed together with a hard boiled egg, some mayo and ground pepper...delicious on crusty baguette!

What are you liking these days?

p.s. Happy Halloween! if you're celebrating, be safe!

Sunday, October 30, 2011

ze roku

 There is a tiny coffee shop called Ze Roku in Honmachi that has been in business since 1913.

They only have 12 seats and their menu kind of limited...

Coffee, tea, cream coffee (ice cream coffee float), iced coffee, ice monaka, ice cream.

The nice thing about this place is that it is non-smoking and everything is under 500 yen.

Their top seller is their ice monaka. Vanilla ice cream with a hint of lemon covered with a dome-shaped wafer which tastes similar to a cone.

They have a "drive thru" window, which is more like a "drive-by".

While we were there, there were many people on bicycles who stopped by to buy some ice monaka from the window.

Coffee (or tea) and 1 ice monaka sold as a "set" only 300 yen.

It was a very homey place, several old-timers, sitting around chatting with the owners.

There weren't many seats, so many were turned away.

The ice monaka was about the size of my palm, maybe about 4-inches round?!

One each was enough for Satoshi and I but we were amazed that many were eating two each, which you could order for 200 yen.

I loved the buildings in this area too...this one is the Entrepreneurial Museum.

This one with a big saxophone player, according to Google Street View, has a huge trumpet player on the side of the building.

And this dome like objet.

We'll definitely be back when we are in this area.

Ze Roku
1-3-22 Honmachi
Chuo, Osaka
Phone: 06.6261.2606
Hours: Monday-Friday 9:00-18:00
Saturday 9:00-15:00
Closed: Sundays, holidays and 2nd, 4th & 5th Saturdays

Saturday, October 29, 2011

sin choi chow jee yuk

Did the title freak you out?! No, it isn't a typo.

When I was in Hawaii this summer, I tried sin choi for the first time with Nate.

Sin choi is a pickled mustard cabbage that is sweet-sour in flavor.

I scribbled down this recipe from my mom's stash.

Sin Choi Chow Jee Yuk (Pickled mustard cabbage & Pork) adapted from Honolulu Gas Co. February 1965

Make the Sin Choi (pickled mustard cabbage)
5 bunches of komatsuna (Japanese mustard cabbage), washed and cut into bite sized pieces
1 cup boiling water
1 tablespoon salt
1 tablespoon sugar
1 tablespoon vinegar

Bring all liquid ingredients to a boil
Fill a bottle with the komatsuna and pour liquid over komatsuna

NOTES: The original recipe wanted you to blanch the cabbage before putting the sauce over, but I thought that way would be a p.i.t.a. quite tedious and decided to just pour the hot sauce over. The amount of cabbage I had was enough to fill a normal sized mayonnaise jar. After pouring the liquid over the cabbage, I waited until it cooled before putting it into the fridge.

For the pork:
135 grams thinly sliced pork, cut into bite sized pieces

1 teaspoon cornstarch
1 teaspoon shoyu

1 teaspoon cornstarch
1 teaspoon vinegar
1 teaspoon sugar
1/4 cup water
1/2 teaspoon shoyu
*Mix well so there are no lumps

In a bowl, put the thinly sliced pork, and pre-seasoning ingredients, mixing well, to coat.
In a pan, heat 1/2 tablespoon of oil and add the meat.
Just before pork is fully cooked, add some sin choi
Then at the last moment, add the gravy ingredients.
When the gravy starts to thicken over the pork and sin choi, take off the heat.
Serve over rice.

NOTES: the sin choi wasn't as sweet-sour as the one I tried at Lam's, maybe because the vinegar I used is Japanese and not distilled white vinegar or chinese vinegar?! Still, this was delicious and you'll need a lot of rice.

I'm making this again, maybe with shrimp or ika (squid).

Friday, October 28, 2011


The temperature is supposed to drop to the lower 10s Celsius (50s Fahrenheit), so I picked the one and only goya that grew this year.

It got bigger than a week or two ago...from around 10 centimeters to 17 centimeters!

With part of it, I sauteed it with some lup cheong. It was delicious, the sweetness from the lup cheong helped to cut the bitterness.

And with the rest I made goya tsukudani.

I really wanted to make stuffed goya, but I didn't have any cilantro growing and the goya was a little too teeny to stuff.

I saved the seeds from this goya...hopefully next year I'll have more goya to show you.

It is Friday here, the temps have dropped quite a bit over here, though they are talking about summery weather in a couple of days, WT?! Hope you have a nice weekend.

Thursday, October 27, 2011


If you look through my archives you'll see several many recipes for scones.

I've talked about these scones before here, but somehow never shared the recipe.

Here goes: Scones adapted from "O-uchi de cafe"
180 grams flour
8 grams baking powder
20 grams sugar
55 grams unsalted butter
30 cc milk
30 grams yogurt
1/2 egg

Cut butter into flour and baking powder
Add sugar, milk, yogurt and egg
Mix until dough comes together, knead it a little
Let sit in refrig for 30 minutes
Bake in 180C (350C) oven for 15 minutes

NOTES: the recipe says you can make about 20 but I came out with 14 using a 4 centimeter round cutter. They were kinda light when they came out of the oven, so I put them in the toaster for 3 minutes. With some fig jam and a cup of tea they were the perfect afternoon treat.

Wednesday, October 26, 2011

kabocha & roasted red bell pepper soup

I recently threw together this soup with some veggies I had in the fridge.

Kabocha & roasted red bell pepper soup: (5) 1/2 cup servings

1/4 kabocha (pumpkin), peeled & de-seeded

2 medium sized red bell peppers, roasted, skins removed
1 tablespoon olive oil

1/4 onion, roughly chopped
1 tablespoon olive oil
1 chicken consomme cube
3 cups water
pinch of dried thyme

*Scrape the seeds away.
Cut the pumpkin and place in a pot with water
Cook for 15 minutes.
Cut away the peel, set aside.

**In a 220C (425F) oven roast bell peppers with 1 tablespoon olive oil for 40 minutes.
When cool, peel skins off of bell peppers and remove seeds.

***In a pot, add onions and 1 tablespoon olive oil
Saute until onions are transparent.

Add water and consomme cube, thyme, salt and pepper.
Return pumpkin and red bell pepper to the pot.

Cook on medium until pumpkin is tender.
Turn off heat and whiz with hand-held blender until smooth.

Serve with crusty baguette.

NOTES: This was creamy and delicious, not to mention easy and fast. I hope to make more soups with the upcoming cold weather.

UPDATE: I'm sending this soup to Deb's Souper Sundays.

Tuesday, October 25, 2011

ça marche

Sunday, I went to check out yet another friend's art exhibit, only this time it was in Kobe.

The type of art is called sarasa, which I've written up about here.

My friend wasn't at the exhibit at the time, but had many pieces for sale and it was nice to see the different types of works by different artists.

Afterwards, I stopped in to a nearby bakery called, Ça Marche, which my French teacher told me about.

The shop is tiny and when you walk in the baked goods are "roped" off by a wooden railing. You stand behind this railing and tell them which breads you'd like to buy.

I guess it is more sanitary than you going up close to the bread and touching it with tongs. I liked that you needed to tell someone what you wanted.

You can eat there too, they do have a couple of tables on their terrace.

I took out though because the skies looked like it was gonna pour.

The sausage dog was delicious, a cheese bread filled with grainy mustard, a sausage with a snap and cornichon...367 yen. This was a little hard to eat because the bread was round not oblong to fit the dog.

Pain du chocolat...hard outside but very soft inside filled with LOTS of mini chocolate chips..210 yen

And an intriguing bread called patchwork...four flavors baked together...pretty, yeah?!..315 yen for 1/2 a loaf. I had them slice this bread, which came out to 4 thick slices.

A brioche dough mixed with (clockwise): matcha/pea, black sesame, raisin & carrot/orange peel.

Delicious toasted, eaten plain.

It was a good day and I'm glad I made it back home before the rain.

Ça marche
3-1-3 Yamamoto
Chuo, Kobe
Phone: 078.763.1111
Closed: Wednesdays
Hours: 8:00-19:00

Monday, October 24, 2011


I've told you before that I love to munch on karinto and other things.

We recently received this matcha (green tea) karinto from MIL. (thank you!)

Satoshi told me that the round one is made from sticks of karinto then coated with a sugar glaze.

The matcha flavor was very light, but these with a cup of green tea really hit the spot.

Sunday, October 23, 2011

foodie wednesday in osaka

Wednesday, Satoshi had the day off, so we went to check out a friend's art exhibit in Osaka.

It was just about lunchtime when we arrived at Honmachi, so we went to check out a cafe, but the line was out the door. (top left photo)

So, we checked out a ramen shop around the corner, Rakuzan.

This shop seats 15. The base of their soup is a curry, with a hint of coconut milk.

I tried their won ton men and all their ramen comes with a musubi...700 yen.

Satoshi went with their tan tan men (with a musubi)...750 yen.

This was good, just the right amount of heat and I liked their thin noodles.

Unfortunately, because it was peak lunchtime, we couldn't sit around and chat, there was a line of hungry office workers, ready to take our seats.

So we thought we'd have some coffee at Hiraoka Coffee Shop. This place has been in business since 1921.

They are known for their coffee 320 yen and donuts 120 yen each.

When you walk in, be prepared to be enveloped in cigarette smoke...blah!

And then when you bite into the donut your mouth is coated with oil...eww!

A definite hangout for older male office workers, I think they've stayed in business because of their coffee. As for their donuts, I think they need to keep them on paper towels or something...

After visiting the art exhibit, we walked around the area, you could still see a lot of people in search of lunch and feel the excitement of it in the air.

We saw this objet called the "global tree" and I liked how it reflected the surroundings.

I had an appointment in the afternoon, so Satoshi and I met up for dinner in Umeda afterwards.

We checked out Nakanoya, located in Lucua. I had the torisoboro teishoku, this came with soba or udon (I chose cold soba)...delicious and a lot of food for only 850 yen.

Satoshi had the take-kago (bamboo basket) bento...1450 yen, this came with all sorts of little dishes and soba or udon, which he chose hot soba.

Great foodie day, the weather has been quite sunny and HOT!

4-6-2 Hirano-machi
Chuo, Osaka
Phone: 06.6226.1417
Closed Sundays & Holidays
Hours: 11:00-15:00

Hiraoka Coffee Shop
3-6-11 Kawaramachi
Chuo, Osaka
Phone: 06.6231.6020
Closed Sundays & Holidays
Hours: 8:00-18:00 (M-F), 8:00-13:00 (Sa)

Nakanoya (no longer in business : 2021)
Lucua 10F
Umeda, Osaka
Phone: 06.6151.1382
Hours: 11:00-23:00

Saturday, October 22, 2011

ginger ale

I know I was talking about soup weather but during the daytime it's been kinda summery. Still, you see people wearing boots and mufflers. Which makes me perspire just looking at them.

And I know they are looking at me weird because I am still wearing t-shirts and capri jeans...whatever...

For some reason I've been craving bubbles, but didn't want to buy soda, so I made...homemade ginger ale.

So easy, take a tablespoon of ginger syrup.

Add 200 ml (1 cup) of club soda.

Not as sweet as some of the ginger ales out there, but delish and refreshing!

Friday, October 21, 2011

soup weather (kinda)

The weather is surely taking its time to cool down. Early mornings or evenings have cooled down quite a bit but during the daytime it is still quite summery.

Because it has been nippy in the mornings, we've started having soup for breakfast, with a crusty baguette or in this case, a slice of sweet potato sesame seed bread, it is a nice way to start the day.

If I haven't made a batch of soup from scratch, then some mornings I cheat and serve some instant soup.

Apples are in season, so sometimes we have that too, depends on what is on sale at the market.

Tea or coffee depending on what I feel like making that day.

The other night I made this soup from leftover pumpkin, sweet potato and spinach.

Here's the recipe if you'd like to try: makes about 4 servings

1/4 onion, diced
1 tablespoon olive oil
1/4 kabocha (pumpkin) de-seeded, peeled
1/2 sweet potato, cut into cubes, with skins on
4 tiny stalks spinach, cleaned and cut
1.5 cup water
1.5 cup chicken stock
1 pinch thyme
sprinkle of salt
couple grinds of pepper
1/2 cup milk

In a pot, heat the oil and add the onions and pumpkin and sweet potato.
Saute until the onions turn transparent
Add the water
Cook on medium heat for about 20 minutes or until pumpkin is tender
Add spinach, chicken stock and thyme
Add salt & pepper
Whiz with hand-held blender until smooth
Turn off heat and stir in milk
Serve with your favorite bread

NOTES: This was delicious, thick and a little sweet from the pumpkin and sweet potato. I'm sending this soup to Deb, for her Souper Sundays, a great blog event with soups, sandwiches & salads. Be sure to check out her blog on Sundays to see what everyone has sent in.

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

Thursday, October 20, 2011


Tuesday, the temperature was kinda summery. For dinner, I was inspired by a picture I saw on Pinterest for a chopped salad.

I wanted to add a little of this, a little of what I envisioned as a "small" salad, turned out to be my main dish for dinner.

Autumn chopped salad : two entree-sized servings + a little leftover
2 leaves of green leaf lettuce, washed, dried well then julienned

1 tablespoon olive oil
1/4 pumpkin, wash well, roasted then chopped
1 red bell pepper, roasted

1 eringi, cut into cubes
1/4 onion, minced
1 teaspoon olive oil

1/2 carrot, peeled and cubed
1/4 apple, de-seeded, chopped
1 handful dried cherries
1 handful pecans, diced
1 handful pumpkin seeds
1 packet feta cheese w/olives (150 grams), drain oil
1 grilled chicken breast, skin removed, store-bought, bite-sized pieces
several grinds of pepper

1 plain yogurt (80 grams) drained over cheesecloth for 10 minutes
1 mini-dressing--olive oil + balsamic vinegar (20 milliliters)

Drizzle 1 tablespoon olive oil over veggies (pumpkin and red bell) and roast in 220C (425F) oven for 40 minutes.
Peel skin of red bell after roasted, de-seed and cut into bite sized pieces.
Chop pumpkin into bite sized pieces with peel left on.

Stir-fry eringi and onion in a teaspoon of olive oil until onions are transparent.

When everything is cooled, put into a large bowl and toss with dressing.

NOTES: This was good, different textures. Kind of a rough recipe, lots of different steps because I wanted a little of everything, I think the next time I would leave out the olives, it made the salad a little too salty.

Wednesday, October 19, 2011


At first, I thought they were the pesky weeds that pop up in the soil at about this time of year....I'm glad I didn't pull them out...

because they turned out to be the Italian parsley I planted...woot!

Can't wait for it to get bigger so I can start cooking with it.

Tuesday, October 18, 2011

lup cheong rice

Earlier this year I made a rice dish using xiang chang (the fresh version of lup cheong, a chinese sausage), which I wrote about here.

Well, on my last trip back to Hawaii, I brought back a can of chicken stock (which is really hard to get in Japan) and some lup cheong (dried Chinese sausage).

I washed 1/2 a cup of mochi rice and 1/2 a cup of white rice.

For the liquid, I used a half cup of stock and half cup of water.

Then I threw in the last piece of xiang chang (fresh chinese sausage) I had and some pieces of lup cheong into the rice cooker.

And when it was done, I added a handful of green onions.

This tasted just as I remembered it, thanks for the recipe Mom!

Monday, October 17, 2011


Saturday before Satoshi's German class, we stopped in at Hope de Est for something sweet.

Their creation, Ghost, is a chocolate cake, topped with cream and pumpkin puree, like a Mont Blanc.

I notice that with every year that passes, Japan is getting into Halloween more and more.

The whole thing is wrapped with a thin soft mochi...cute and tasty.

Not too sweet too...with coffees, 1210 yen (about US$12.10)

While I was waiting for Satoshi to finish his class, I went up to the rooftop where they have a sitting area and many gardens.

I found this cosmos...loved the reflection in the pool behind.

Have a great week!

Hope de Est
Lucua B1
Umeda, Osaka
Phone: 06.6151.1216
Open 10:00-22:00 UPDATE: this shop is no longer at this location

Sunday, October 16, 2011

window shopping

Yesterday, the weather was kinda dreary, kinda rainy.

Satoshi's German class started up again, so while I waited for him, I did some window shopping.

I saw these slippers at an interior shop.

They are actually accents for your table or a shelf...made of metal and quite sturdy.

Can you believe that one side was 6000 yen (about US$60)?! (There were bigger ones for closer to US$100 for one side)

Even though I didn't buy anything it was still fun to look.

What did you do yesterday?

Saturday, October 15, 2011


About a week or two ago, I told you that a shoot of beets and one of swiss chard were coming up on the lanai.

Well, there is more to tell/show...I think these are the beets...There were more coming up, but I thinned it out because I was actually supposed to plant them 12-inches apart...eep! so much for reading the directions.

These are more like 2-inches apart...hope it doesn't affect the size of the beets.

And then in this planter...I got freesia coming is amazing what was in the soil I recycled!

So, among the freesia (and those pesky yearly weeds) I have two stalks of what I think is swiss chard...whoo!

And then I thought we wouldn't have any goya this year and...wham! I found a 10 centimeter one hanging on the lanai.

Hope it gets bigger, though the weather is getting cooler.

Anyway, that's the latest from the lanai. Anything exciting happening in your garden?

Friday, October 14, 2011


Autumn is here and it means that you see lots of pumpkin and sweet potato in the markets.

Chestnuts this year are quite scarce I hear because of all the weird weather. Oh and leafy veggies are scarce too, so prices are up for these items.

So, I was trying to figure out what to make for dinner while walking in the supermarket and decided to do something with pumpkin and sweet potato.

I usually go to the market with an idea of what I want to make, but if I happen to see ingredients for something else that is on sale that day, I usually change my menu.

Anyway, I love this cookbook because it shares different recipes for you to "eat the rainbow". And another reason why I like this cookbook is because they share recipes for 1 serving.

So I had been eyeing this recipe for sometime and finally got around to trying it...Kabocha Chakin-shibori.

Kabocha is pumpkin. Chakin is a cloth used in tea ceremony. Shibori means to wring.

Usually you see chakin-shibori in sweet form so I liked the idea of this being a savory recipe.

Adapted from "Colorful Bento" makes about 6 "balls" : 1 serving about 3 "balls"
100 grams pumpkin
3/4 tablespoon grated parmesan cheese

1. Wash and scrape seeds from pumpkin (make sure to leave the outer shell of pumpkin on).
2. Steam for about 20 minutes, test for tenderness.
3. Mash with potato masher.
4. Add cheese, mix well.
5. With a piece of plastic wrap, scoop about a half tablespoon of mixture, place in the middle of the wrap, bring up the sides and twist tightly.
6. Unwrap and plate, continue steps 5 & 6 until all of the mixture is used up.

NOTES: This was tasty, salty from the cheese and sweet from the pumpkin. Plus, at room temperature it is perfect for bento. I ended up with 3 small "balls" (about 1 inch round) and 2 larger ones (maybe closer to 1.5 inches round). I'd definitely make this again.

The other recipe I tried was for Satsuma imo gohan (sweet potato rice).

This recipe was easy because you literally "throw" everything into the rice cooker and let it do all the work.

Satsuma imo gohan adapted from "Elle a Table" November 2011
servings: 4

2 cups of rice, uncooked
1 tablespoon zakkoku (assorted grains)
1 small sweet potato
1 tablespoon sake (rice wine)
1/2 teaspoon salt

Wash rice and set aside
Wash and cut sweet potato into bite sized pieces
Add 2 cups water
Add sake & salt
Turn on rice cooker
When the rice cooker clicks off, gently mix the rice with the sweet potato (try not to mash the potato)

NOTES: Easy and delicious, definitely a keeper.

I served these two dishes with some miso soup, easy and perfect for a chilly Autumn evening.

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

Thursday, October 13, 2011

things I'm liking (disliking)

While I like being able to get Illy coffee in a can, I'm not liking that this one was too sweet for my liking.

And that this one, with no sugar added, was way too bitter for my liking. Even Satoshi, who drinks his coffee black said, "whoa?! that is bitter"

I'm liking this exhibit, a huge Hermès Kelly bag in which you can go inside to see how it feels to be inside the bag.

I didn't get to check it out but it looked kinda fun, don't you think?! (by the way that is a real security dude standing next to it, looks like a mannequin, yeah?!)

The cheeseburger from Ferdinand, this had lots of different "stuff" in it...I think there was a demi-glace sauce, ketchup, relish, lettuce, mayo and cheese besides the burger.

Messy for sure, but really delicious.

Love toro-salmon. Toro is usually the term used for the fatty belly of tuna but in recent years it is used for the same area on salmon.

We recently checked out a new kaiten (conveyor belt) sushi place in Minoo and I had a plate of toro salmon among other items...yum!

My cousin once ragged on me for eating only salmon at the sushi shops, "to each his own" I say!

Gianduja chocolates from the Peninsula Hotel in Hong Kong from my host-sister.

She and her family recently went to Hong Kong Disneyland and this was her omiyage (souvenir) that she brought back for us.

Gianduja (hazelnut) ganache covered with white, milk and dark chocolates. I ate the dark ones and gave Satoshi the bulk of this box. (Thank you!)

Loving these Mariani honey bars...especially the sesame one, it reminded me of Chinese sesame peanut candy only a little softer and a little sweeter.

I thought I should also pass along that the package says they are "gluten & wheat free".

The caramel nougat from La Cure Gourmande was delish!

A soft caramel centered betweeen two pieces of nougat...OM!

And the bolognese udon at Tsurutontan Top Chefs in Daimaru.

The udon was over cooked and a bit too soft for my liking but I liked the idea of using udon for a Western-style dish.

Min Min's shrimp spring roll...these were stuffed with glass noodles, veggies and good!

What have you been enjoying?