Tuesday, January 31, 2012

standard bookstore

The last time I ate at Standard Bookstore, I tried their chili dog, which I wrote about here.

Since then, I sometimes hangout here when the Starbucks below is filled and I want to have a cup of coffee.

The other day I tried their Standard Dog...this was topped with lots of sauerkraut, some relish & red onions...yummy! with coffee...780 yen.

The hot dog also came with a salad and their delicious mashed potatoes.

Satoshi chose their épice curry, this also came with a salad and drink...1030 yen

He enjoyed this, but I think the portion was a little too small for him.

Both of our meals came with something a little sweet...I think it was caramel flavored.

I noticed they've added sandwiches to their menu which I wouldn't mind trying...I'll be back.

It's the end of January, how time flies!

Monday, January 30, 2012


Saw this sign at the movies the other day..."Smoking Room, for adult smokers only", um, is there also one for children somewhere?!

I can't believe Japan wastes space to accommodate smokers. (I don't smoke so I am not empathetic.)

Good thing that I found at the movies, curry flavored popcorn.

Bad thing, they told me "once you enter the theatre, you aren't allowed to shake the box (it comes in)"...boo!

The curry flavored popcorn was good though, nice and spicy.

We had flurries on Saturday which lasted all of 10 minutes...how was your weekend?

Sunday, January 29, 2012

dojima toro-ya

Yesterday, we tried a new shop for dinner called Dojima Toro-ya.

They specialize in maguro (tuna) and toro (fatty tuna).

There was a lot of metal roofing used as partitions, which kind of reminded me of language lab at the university.

The lighting was the type you find on fishing boats.

Most seating is counter-style. The part I liked best was that it was non-smoking on weekends (I think sushi places should be non-smoking all the time).

Satoshi and I tried their kaisen-don (seafood bowl) sushi rice was topped with uni (sea urchin), ikura (salmon roe), hamachi (yellowtail), ika (squid), salmon & akazaebi (dublin bay prawn).

It also came with some tsukemono, hijiki (brown seaweed) & akadashi (red soy bean paste soup)....1000 yen.

From the time we ordered to the time we got our food it did take some time, but considering they just opened at the beginning of the week, I think it is understandable.

Afterwards, Satoshi and I realized we didn't order anything with maguro or toro in it...boo!

We'll be back.

Dojima Toro-ya
Hankyu Sanbangai B2
Phone: 06.4256.8033
Hours: 11:00-22:00, Closed when Sanbangai is.

Saturday, January 28, 2012

things I'm liking (disliking)

Almost the end of the month, thought I'd do a "things I'm liking" post...

Kinda disliking the tea by Kusmi...Algothe...it is a mixture of green tea, mint and seaweed...yup, seaweed...funky tasting.

My host-sister had given us this...walnut tea from Korea...this was funky also...kind of sludgy, not sweet at all...meh.

I tried these nail seals (the black one) recently which are made by a Korean company. It boasts that it lasts 10 days.

Well, if you wash dishes, it only lasts 2 days. Good part of these seals are that they peel off and you don't have to use any kind of nail polish remover.

Liking the mirror and cotton handkerchief that I got with a fashion magazine. It had the COACH logo, which I've already told you that I love.

Walnut an pan...a walnut bread filled with sweet bean paste....yum!

Just when you thought you'd seen it all with condiments for rice...along came miso-pi (me-sew-pee) pi is short for peanut.

Raw peanuts are sauteed in a miso (soy bean paste) and sugary paste. It kind of reminded me of a caramel leaning more towards savory.

On hot rice, it is really good!

The karaage chicken from the Chinese department at Daiei.

This area has cooks from China, and their food is tasty.

I love this karaage chicken, the skin is fried light and crispy and the meat is so moist and tender.

The chocolate caramel spread we brought back from France, it was nice on hot scones but even nicer on a nicely toasted baguette.

What have you been enjoying?

Friday, January 27, 2012

mac n cheese

Satoshi went off on business and it was just me for a couple of days, I usually don't cook when he's away, but for some reason I had mac n cheese on my mind and it had to be a creamy cheesy sauce...sigh! so I decided to make mac n cheese for dinner.

1 package of macaroni (150 grams)

1/2 tablespoon olive oil
1/8 of an onion, minced
1/2 a carrot diced
1/4 red bell pepper, diced
1 large eringi, diced
3 small slices of bacon, diced
1/2 small can of whole corn, rinsed

cheese sauce:
bechamel sauce (minus the salt, scallions & amount of parmesan, and add the amount of cheese that follows) :
3 slices of red cheddar, 2 small triangles of edam and 3 tablespoons of parmesan cheese.

Italian parsley

NOTES: I cooked my pasta 1 minute less than what the package said and drained it after it was cooked.

Then I sauteed the "goodies" in 1/2 tablespoon of olive oil and set it aside. And added the whole corn without heating it.

I then made the cheese sauce using the recipe for bechamel sauce (leaving out the salt, scallions & parmesan because I was adding cheese) and added the above amounts of cheese.

When the cheese was melted, I added the "goodies" and pasta and made sure everything was coated nicely with the cheese sauce.

I threw in a good sized handful of chopped Italian parsley and mixed that in as well.

I loved it! it was cheesy and hit the spot.

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

Thursday, January 26, 2012

on a walk or two

Most mornings if the sun is out, I get out for a walk.

My route changes with my feeling, but I try to walk at least 2 miles.

Sure the weather these days is freezing, but it gets me out of the house, I get a little exercise.

Here are some things that caught my eye...

This dahlia was huge! love the color too.

I thought this banner was cute.

It advertises ika-yaki and tako yaki (grilled squid pancake & octopus balls), they don't sound appetizing in English, but are pretty tasty, though I do prefer okonomiyaki.

This shop says they are "uchu-ichi" (ooh-choo-itchy) which means they are number in outer space...okay.

This tree stump was huge!

I noticed there were about 4 or 5 like this along the same road.

Too bad they had to cut these many trees down, but I have a feeling they were encroaching on the electrical wires above.

In Japan, land is premium so they often divide what in the U.S. would hold 1 home into a piece of land to hold 4 or 5 homes (or more).

If you click on the photo, it will enlarge, the orange arrow is the walkway for the house that is built, the green arrow is the walkway for the house next door, there is about a foot or so in between the houses.

Both of these houses don't have a garage. Most times you need to buy more land to have a garage. (or sometimes people park they cars on that walkway, where the arrows are)

I once heard that you needed to show proof that you had a garage before being able to purchase a car. But nowadays there are parking lots in residential areas, so I think that rule is no longer valid.

The yellow arrow shows where they plan to build another house.

I call this puzzle housing, because it is like a jigsaw puzzle.

My gripe with this type of building is that you lose the meaning of your windows if you are the houses in back (orange or green arrow).

If I pay for a window to be put in, I would hope I would be able to use it without having to look at my neighbor (or being able to touch their house from mine).

Been noticing these heavy, heavy kaki (persimmon)...almost like water balloons....splat!

I like the look of these garage doors, most are metal, but these are wooden, kinda reminded me of Paris.

Liked the re-use of these huge tea pots as watering cans.

There was a bald tree filled with these red berries which I found out is called "sanshuyu" or cornus officinalis.

6 heron in the trees. I usually see them in the river below, but I guess maybe they were trying to warm themselves up in the sun.

The wind has been icy, we had a teensy spurt of flurries, but overall, the sun has been out.

What have you been seeing on your walks?

Wednesday, January 25, 2012

earl grey chocolat chaud

Do you like Earl Grey tea? What about dark chocolate?

What about chocolat chaud (hot chocolate)?

If you answered yes to all of these, then you'll love this.

I recently saw this on Pinterest, it is a great way to get inspired not only about food, but fashion and other topics too. (WARNING: you will have lots of fun looking at all sorts of photos, and the time will fly!)

The original recipe is here, and this is what I did.

Earl Grey Chocolat Chaud : 1 serving
1/2 cup of milk
3 squares of 71% Valrhona chocolate
1 scoop of Mariage Frères Earl Grey Imperial tea leaves

Put the tea into a pot and add the milk, heat on low
While the milk heats, add the chocolate and whisk
When the chocolate is melted and well incorporated, strain the liquid into a mug
Add some cute marshmallows...voila!

NOTES: I liked this, the tea flavor is there but very subtle. I have other brands of Earl Grey, so I can't wait to try them like this.

Tuesday, January 24, 2012

work transfers

About this time of year and again during the Fall, Satoshi's company has transfers.

If you are being transferred, they usually give you 2 weeks notice. Within that two weeks, you need to move and be able to report to work on February 1st or if it is in the Fall, October 1st.

Can you imagine packing up all your belongings and moving within 2 weeks? (If you are being transferred overseas the notice is about two months prior)

Oh, and you'll have to find your own housing. Sure the company will compensate you a little, but still.

Recently, Satoshi's co-worker, got transferred from Osaka to Tokyo. He has a family (wife and child) and a mortgage, so his wife and child will stay in Osaka.

This type of transfer is called "tan-shin-fu-nin" (tahn-shin-foo-nin = to work away from your family). Can you imagine paying your mortgage and paying rent?! Ridiculous.

You might ask why his wife and child don't move with him to Tokyo.

Well, depending on the age of the child, transferring schools will disrupt their "daily routines" and may even affect the child's study behaviors, maybe even risking bad grades (which will screw up everything for getting into college).

Anyway, that is the main reason why a lot of businessmen who get transferred often end up going to their new assignments alone.

And if you think 2 weeks is short notice, I've heard that banks in Japan give their workers notice on a Thursday and they must report to their new assignment by the following Monday. The reason for this is so that they can't "mess-up" accounts or do anything "bad" to affect the bank system (a.k.a. retaliation).

I guess the whole system is similar to the military, but I'm still thankful Satoshi has a job.

How do transfers work in your country or for your job?

Monday, January 23, 2012

kung hee fat choy

It's the start of Chinese New Years...the year of the Dragon.

I've posted a picture of this before.

This dragon was painted on the ceiling of Myoshinji in Kyoto. The unryuzu (picture of the dragon) is 25 meters (82 feet) long and 20 meters (65 feet) wide and was drawn on the ceiling by Kano Tanyu, no matter where you stand in the room, the dragon is always looking at you.

Kung Hee Fat Choy!

Sunday, January 22, 2012

u.f.o. sobameshi

I think I first talked about sobameshi here.

Nissin recently came up with a Cup Noodle flavored dish, but instead of the noodles they replaced it with rice, which I think they call "Cup Noodle Gohan", gohan means rice, I haven't tried it.

Since they figured out instant rice, they paired it with their U.F.O. instant yakisoba and came up with a sobameshi.

You pour about 3/4 cup of water into the container, then add the noodles and rice, mix well.

Then you nuke it for the directed amount of time...about 5 or 6 minutes depending on your wattage.

When it comes out, let it sit for 2 minutes then add the yakisoba sauce and mix well. Then top with aonori (green laver) & dried ginger bits.

I decided to take this dish to another level, and added an over-easy egg.

So good! I'm glad I tried it.

Saturday, January 21, 2012


Last Saturday after his German class, Satoshi met up with his niece.

She is still in college and is starting to look for a job, which I wrote up about here.

He received these wafers by Jouvencelle, called Coronetta, from her for taking time out of his schedule to talk to her about job hunting, interviewing, etc.

They are very thin, in fact, they were packed in bubble wrap. Inside of the wafer roll is a thin coating of green tea chocolate...delicious.

Hope she'll be able to find a job.

Friday, January 20, 2012

belated anniversary

Our wedding anniversary was on Sunday, but the places that Satoshi had chosen to have dinner at weren't in operation on that day.

So we just had a pupu party at home.

Then, I had an appointment in Umeda on Wednesday, so we met afterwards at Daimaru for dinner.

Satoshi chose Grill & Bar Sun, a restaurant run by Suntory, the beverage maker.

We started with some salmon tartar, the taste really reminded me of lomi-lomi salmon.

If you look carefully at the dish, that "chip" looking thing on top is actually a fried piece of salmon skin.

We also tried the stuffed cabbage made with chirimen cabbage. From the looks of it, I think chirimen cabbage is savoy cabbage.

This was delicious. The broth was a consomme type.

Next up, a whole tomato, some mozzarella and basil roasted in a tiny pot then served with an anchovy cream sauce.

Mash up the tomato and pour the sauce over the whole thing, then eat it with these tomato cheese toasts. So good!

A little rant: Japan serves these "mopping-up" type of dishes with several slices of toast. Most times when you ask for more, they charge you...

So, we asked for more toasts, we got it but had to pay more for it, sigh!

The dish we had been looking forward to trying...a whole onion beef stew.

In Japan, beef stew is demi-glace based. (In Hawaii, it is tomato based.)

Inside of a whole onion, is beef, tender beef.

When you cut the onion open, you'll see just how much beef is in there.

Very impressive dish, no wonder the chef won some kind of award for it.

Satoshi was still hungry so he ordered the vegetable sushi: (back row) asparagus, eringi, tomato, (front row) pickled ginger, zucchini and avocado. He enjoyed these.

I liked the dish it was served in. The top plate can be removed and ice can be placed underneath, this is to keep the food cool while not getting it wet.

To finish, we shared this special eclair. A l-o-n-g eclair filled with rich custard and a slice of strawberry. Delicious.

With 3 beers and a glass of red wine our bill came out to 8380 yen. A little pricey, but the food was delicious and it was a nice way to celebrate our anniversary.

Grill & Bar Sun
Daimaru Umeda 14F
Umeda, Osaka
Phone: 06.4796.7330
Hours: 11:00-23:00, Closed when Daimaru is

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

Thursday, January 19, 2012

roasted brussels sprouts salad

I forgot to mention that growing up in Hawaii, we had to work in the cafeteria once in a while, I enjoyed these times, because our lunch was free for that day.

Also, as far as cleaning went, we used to have to "clap" the chalkboard erasers to clean them once in a while, but never had to do the whole class room.

Thanks for all the great comments on yesterday's post.

Now onto today's post...after French class on Tuesday, I went to Daimaru to pick up a couple items for dinner.

Upon looking at the veggie section, I found a little pack of brussels sprouts (10 orbs for 298 yen). In Japanese, brussels sprouts are called Me-kyabetsu (literally sprout cabbage).

It was my first time cooking with it and I winged it.

After cutting off the stems and washing them, I cut them in half then drizzled some olive oil and roasted them at 420F (220C) with a half of an onion for about 15 minutes.

While I was waiting for the sprouts and onion to be done, I sauteed some pancetta (3 thin slices) that I had cut into bite sized pieces, and drained it onto a paper towel.

Then, I put a handful of dried fruit and the drained pancetta into a container and drizzled one mini container of olive oil basil-balsamic dressing (20 ml, about a tablespoon).

After the sprouts and onion were done, I added them to the fruit and pancetta then drizzled one more mini container of the olive oil basil-balsamic dressing (20 ml) because the dried fruit and pancetta soaked up the first "drizzle".

And since I had some marcona almonds in my freezer, I toasted them in the a 300F (150C) oven for 10 minutes and added them to the mix.

NOTES: a little tangy from the dressing, crunch from the nuts though I think I overcooked the brussels sprouts because they were a bit bitter (which I read about online). Still, I really enjoyed this. It was good warm and even better the next day cold. I hope to see more reasonably priced brussels sprouts in the future so I can make this again.

Wednesday, January 18, 2012

school lunch

I recently came across this building on my walk.

This is where they make the school lunches for all the public schools in Ikeda. (Apparently there is one for Minoo, where we live too)

I previously wrote about Satoshi's school lunch experience here.

Satoshi also told me that usually during elementary school, their homeroom teacher teaches all their subjects, so they never move from class to class.

Then in middle and high school, the teachers move from class to class and the students just stay put in their seats.

I don't know that I would be able to stay in my classroom for classes then for lunch too.

The students also have to clean their classrooms after school everyday, which shocked me.

He asked me, "so who cleans your classrooms?" I replied, "the janitor", which shocked him.

Did you have to clean your classroom while going to school?

Tuesday, January 17, 2012

north farm stock

My host-brother's wife, recently sent us a jar of bagna cauda and a jar of espresso milk jam made by the North Farm Stock in Hokkaido.

My first food experience with bagna cauda was about the time I started this blog. I really didn't know what it was especially with the name of the dish in katakana.

Since that first experience, bagna cauda has been seen more and more over the years on various restaurant menus here.

I was reading the directions on the bottle and it mentioned it is good with pasta or on bread.

I decided to use it to saute some veggies and eat that concoction with baguette.

It wasn't too garlicky, or fishy, I liked it.

We tried the espresso milk jam...meh, the flavor was so weak.

I thought it would be shouting "espresso"! but no it was just a whisper.

On top of that, the texture was more like whipped cream than what I know as milk jam.

Still, I'm happy that we got to try these items. (Thank you!)

Monday, January 16, 2012


There is a tiny eat-in area called Kakiyasu on the food floor of Daimaru Umeda. We've eaten at the udon place and omurice place on the same floor, but the last time we tried to get into Kakiyasu, the wait was quite long and we were short on time.

There are only 6 seats which is why they fill up so quickly.

Luckily, this past Saturday, we got seats right away.

Satoshi ordered their kuroge wagyu sukiyaki-jyu, a lacquered box filled with thinly sliced Japanese beef seasoned with a sweet-salty sukiyaki sauce.

His meal also came with some pickles and miso soup...1500 yen.

He enjoyed this, he said the beef was very tender and the rice had thinly sliced konnyaku (jellied devil's tongue) and gobo (burdock root).

I went with the kuroge wagyu zeitaku curry...1050 yen. Zeitaku means extravagant or luxurious.

They also have a beef curry for 880 yen but for 170 yen more, I think the zeitaku version is worth it.

For one thing, the curries in Japan tend to come without a lot of stuff in it, just sauce, so the zeitaku version has a little more meat than their beef curry.

My meal also came with a really large bowl of salad. (It doesn't look big but the bowl is really deep)

The pieces of meat were cooked tender and then topped with their spicy curry and fried garlic chips.

Apparently the type of beef they use for their dishes is Matsusaka beef, a brand of beef from Mie prefecture which is similar to the renowned Kobe beef.

If you don't have time to eat there, you can always purchase a bento (boxed meal) from their counter one floor up.

Or if you want to try your hand at making your own, you can purchase some raw meat to prepare your way at home from their counter right outside the eat-in area.

We'll be back.

Kakiyasu (eat-in corner)
Daimaru Umeda B2
Phone: 06.6343.1231
Hours: 10:30-20:00, closed when Daimaru is