Thursday, February 28, 2013


IMG_3357 Made it back to Leai to try their lunch.

It was crazy!

Their lunch service starts at 11:30. A couple of people ahead of me, went upstairs to their cafe area.

They ordered, paid and then went to sit at a table.

I ordered, paid and went to sit at another table.

And then by 11:45 there were 10 of us waiting for lunch...and waiting.

They only have the plate lunch on their menu, so I was kinda shocked that it took so long for the food to start coming out.

By the time the lunches started flowing out it was almost 12:00.

And then all the chatter stopped...everyone was eating.

Portion-wise I'd say it was worth it.

There was pumpkin soup, salad, a pasta with cabbage, peas and ham and a beef stew (pot roast) type of dish.

Some bread on the side to mop up the gravy.

Coffee or tea...1000 yen.

If you chose not to have coffee or tea, the plate lunch is only 780 yen.

I think if you have time for lunch, this place is worth the wait.

I'll be back.

Wednesday, February 27, 2013

la maison de graciani

DSC03335 I've written about Grand Maison Graciani before here.

Sadly, this restaurant had a fire in 2012. The restaurant was in a historical building, so I am not sure they were able to rebuild after the fire.

I'm not sure of the whole story, I think the kitchen may still be working, but they are no longer operating as a restaurant.

Anyway, with the recent renewal of the Hankyu Department store in Umeda, they opened a new brand called La Maison de Graciani.

The other night, on his way home from work, Satoshi picked up a couple desserts for us to try.

This cake had a sweet sour taste. I think they combined strawberry and cherry. The middle was quite dense like a cheesecake but reminded me of buttercream.

DSC03336 This dessert was really airy.

There was a little cake, a lot of cream, some strawberries and pistachios...we liked this one of the two.

I hope in the future the restaurant will make a comeback, but in the meantime, we'll be back for their sweets.

La Maison de Graciani
Hankyu Department Store Umeda B1
Umeda, Osaka
Phone: 06.6361.1381

Tuesday, February 26, 2013

naminori johnny

DSC03327 This caught my eye at the market recently.

Chocolate tofu.

Naminori Johnny means wave riding Johnny, a brand of tofu by Sanwatousuian. Which is probably why the container looks like a surfboard.

The package says it is a "dessert tofu". In Hawaii, we have a pie that uses tofu, gelatin and whipped cream, so I thought it would taste similar.

DSC03328 It was more greyish than brownish.

I thought it could've been more chocolatey. Satoshi thought it was quite sweet.

By the way, they also have strawberry, cream cheese & pumpkin flavors...we agreed it was a bit too funky for us, but it was interesting to try.

Monday, February 25, 2013


DSC03331 Next door to Les Petites Papillotes is a tiny sweet shop called Benchi.

Did you know that "benchi" is the Japanese pronounciation for bench?!

Somehow we missed seeing this shop before, so we picked up some sweets to try like their vanilla cookies...220 yen.

These were dense, not very vanilla-y in my opinion. I think I would've preferred a crispier cookie too.

DSC03332 Their almond financier (150 yen) and ginger madeleine (120 yen) were moist and had a nice crumb.

The ginger madeleine had a nice kick to it too.

DSC03333 The rose marshmallows were soft, fluffy and the rose flavor "bloomed" in your mouth...delicious. (120 yen)

DSC03334 And the strawberry pâte de fruits (160 yen) was delicious too. The owner said it was quite sweet but we thought it was just right and had lots of strawberry flavor.

The cakes looked delicious too...we'll be back.

1-12-25 Kyomachibori
Nishi-ku, Osaka
Phone: 06.6225.8831
Hours: 11:00-21:30
Closed Mondays and the 1st & 3rd Tuesdays

Sunday, February 24, 2013

mannan hikari

DSC03230 A couple of posts back, Rowena asked me if we'd ever tried "rice" made from konnyaku (devil's tongue jelly) flour. We hadn't but I had heard of a diet food called "mannan hikari", a "rice" which I had heard was made of konnyaku.

Since one of the foods Satoshi is supposed to eat more of is konnyaku (it apparently has a lot of fiber), I thought we should try this, as it may be an easy way to add more konnyaku into our diet.

If I understood the Japanese correctly, the konnyaku flour has an enzyme called "mannan" in it, which helps with blood sugar too.

DSC03231 The packets look like rice.

Here's how to make it according to the directions on the package: Wash a cup of "real" rice and then add 1 packet of the konnyaku rice. The package cautions you NOT to wash the konnyaku rice (for some reason I have a feeling it may melt if washed). As for the amount of water, you should add 1.5 cups. Cook as you normally do.

If you want to be brave, the package also suggest you do 1 cup of rice and 2 of the konnyaku rice, but we haven't tried this version yet.

DSC03232 There isn't any distinct flavor, but texture-wise it is a little like instant rice, not really sticky.

For this reason, the company website suggests that you do not cook the "rice" by itself.

Dunno how this product would fare as musubi or as fried rice, though their website says that it does freeze well.

Have you ever tried this or something similar? What do you think about it?

Saturday, February 23, 2013

les petites papillotes

IMG_3342 Yesterday, Satoshi had the day off, so we went to check out a place we had been wanting to try for! They now only do dinner service...sigh.

We ended up eating at a place nearby, but it really wasn't worth talking about because they had terrible service.

So on to dessert.

We went back to try Les Petites Papillotes' desserts.

Satoshi went with their financier and a matcha chocolat chaud (green tea hot chocolate).

He liked the financier but the drink was way too sweet for his liking. I didn't try his drink but have a feeling they may have used milk chocolate to compensate the bitterness of matcha (green tea).

IMG_3343 I chose their Levant and a cafe chocolat chaud (coffee hot chocolate).

The Levant was rich. A flaky crust topped with hazelnut praline, topped with a rich chocolate mousse glazed with a dark chocolate.

It was a bit messy to eat.

The cafe chocolat chaud wasn't sweet, but after such a rich dessert I would have preferred having black coffee or tea instead.

While I love chocolat chaud (hot chocolate), we were a bit disappointed that their drink menu only offered chocolate drinks.

IMG_3344 I hope they add coffee and tea to their drink menu soon.

Until they do, I probably would just take out their desserts.

Friday, February 22, 2013

hands cafe

IMG_3326 The other day, I was on my way to Umeda for an appointment.

As I was on the train, the person I was supposed to meet, left a message on my cell to!

I hate when that happens, especially when it is snowing and I could have stayed at home...

Oh well, things happen and appointments get cancelled.

Since I was already out and on my way to Umeda, I had lunch at Hands Cafe located in the Tokyu Hands.

If you've visited Japan before and visited Tokyu Hands, you'll know that they sell, pretty much everything from DIY stuff to beauty products.

Anyway, it was my first time trying their cafe, which is run by Wired Cafe. (I thought I posted about Wired Cafe, but realized I hadn't, guess we'll have to go back so I can post about them.)

I tried their "mexican" chicken salad...880 yen. This came with consomme soup, pretzel bread and a drink of choice, which I chose ginger ale.

I put mexican in quotes because what Japan considers "mexican" cuisine is usually pretty interesting...the chicken, while moist, had a lot of curry powder and cumin as seasoning, and while delicious, I would not say it was "mexican".

Still, I wouldn't mind trying some of their other dishes...I'll be back.

Hands Cafe
Daimaru Umeda Department Store 10F
Umeda, Osaka
Phone: 06.6347.7188
Hours: 10:00-20:00

p.s. it's Friday here, hope you have a nice weekend!

Thursday, February 21, 2013

canelé du japon

DSC03239 Have you ever tried canelé? It is a tiny French sweet from the Bordeaux area with a custard-y center and a dark caramelized outer crust.

To tell you the truth, the first time I tried canelé was from another shop and it was bad...dry no!

And then I heard about Canelé du Japon's canelé and was a bit leery to try them but....

The insides were moist and the outside had a nice crust like when you break the caramel topping of a crème brûlée...delicious!

They have 6 regular flavors (shiro, black sugar walnut, black bean kinako, anzu, matcha anko, hojicha). And 2 flavors that change with the seasons, which for winter was (yuzu, chocolate). Too bad I hadn't tried them earlier, autumn's flavors were kabocha (pumpkin) and kuri (chestnut).

DSC03241 Top row: black bean kinako (soy bean powder), black sugar walnut, yuzu (citron), shiro (rum) Bottom row: anzu (apricot), hojicha (roasted green tea), matcha anko (green tea with sweet bean paste), chocolate

My favorites were black sugar walnut, yuzu, anzu and hojicha. Satoshi's favorites were all except the black sugar walnut and hojicha.

I'm glad I gave canelé another try...We'll be back.

Canelé du Japon
1-6-24 Sakuragawa
Naniwa-ku, Osaka
Phone: 070.6920.8880
Hours: 12:00-19:00, Closed Tuesdays

Wednesday, February 20, 2013

cafe ata

IMG_3314 The other day, I stopped in for lunch at Cafe Ata, which I briefly wrote about before here.

IMG_3315 I had the keema curry...700 yen.

This came with a couple of slices of potato fritatta.

The curry is spicy, be prepared to cough and your nose to run.

It was perfect for the cold rain we had that day. (Though I've heard that spicy foods are not proper for warming up, they in fact make you perspire and cool down....anyway...)

I'll be back.

Cafe Ata
1-7-3 Ishibashi
Ikeda, Osaka
Phone: 072.763.3326
Closed Wednesdays
Hours: Sunday Monday Tuesday Thursday 11:00-18:30
Friday Saturday 11:00-22:00

Tuesday, February 19, 2013

kissa stove

IMG_3299 We recently checked out Kissa Stove.

Kissa is the Japanese word for "tea house".

This cozy shop is about 10 minutes from the JR Fukushima station.

We tried their Stove blend coffee which was a city roast and their Mamedake blend which was a French roast. Both were delicious.

IMG_3300 There was a bit of confusion when we ordered the cheesecake, the way the waitress mentioned it, it sounded like there were 2 kinds, chocolate and caramel, so we ordered one of each.

When it arrived at our table, we realized that she meant caramel chocolate was delicious though.

IMG_3302 And how is this cute dachshund bench in front of another shop?!

We'll be back whenever we are in this area.

Kissa Stove
2-10-3 Sagisu
Fukushima, Osaka
Phone: 06.4981.0875
Closed Mondays
Hours: 10:00-20:00 (weekdays) 10:00-19:30 (weekends)

Monday, February 18, 2013


DSC03204 I recently came across white maitake at the market.

I don't think it tastes any different from maitake and I'm glad we got to try this.

Sunday, February 17, 2013


DSC03208 Leai (loo-eye) is a tiny bakery and cafe in the Tanimachi area of Osaka.

We recently tried some of their baked goods...their chicken & kinoko (mushroom) quiche was nice and flaky, and there was lots of shredded chicken and pieces of mushroom in it.

DSC03209 The kouign amann was buttery and had slices of apple in it too.

DSC03210 And the almond croissant was flaky with a nice ratio of almond custard in there too.

I wouldn't mind trying their lunch, I'll be back.

6-2-27 Tanimachi
Chuo-ku, Osaka
Phone: 06.6191.0551
Closed Wednesdays & the 3rd Tuesday
Hours: 9:00-21:30

Saturday, February 16, 2013

culture shock

gmh3 During the winter you'll hear this cute children's song outside.

That's the cue that the gas truck is making its rounds in the neighborhood. Many people use the gas to heat their homes with gas stoves in the winter.

Our apartment complex does not allow the use of gas stoves, but I have seen some people in our building with plastic gas tanks...ahem.

Anyway, I shot this video of the truck when we went to Kyoto last Autumn.

And here is a video I found online of the song with english subtitles.

What do you use to heat your home during the winter?

p.s. here is a picture of the toumyo, I wrote about, 10 days, yeah?! (by the time this uploads we'll have eaten it and we'll be starting round 3)...

Friday, February 15, 2013

little okinawa

IMG_3256 It was a 3-day weekend recently, and Monday was a holiday (National Foundation Day) which Satoshi had off, unfortunately he worked on Saturday and Sunday.

Anyway, not wanting to waste the day he had off, we went to check out Taisho-ku located in the Southern part of Osaka, also known as Little Okinawa.

Some of my relatives used to live here but have since moved back to Okinawa, too bad we'd never visited them while they were there.

This area is surrounded by the rivers of Osaka, kinda like an "island", though there are many bridges that connect it to Osaka prefecture.

Lunch was at a cute shop called Marutomi Shokudo, this place only has 4 tables, so if you go during lunch be prepared to wait or share your table with others.

I had the Okinawa soba (top photo), this was a shoyu based soup with tender seasoned pork belly, some kamaboko and some slices of hard boiled egg.

Perfect way to warm up on such a chilly day.

Satoshi had their soki soba, a miso based soup with pieces of tender seasoned pork ribs, daikon & cabbage.

There was also a complimentary andagi as well as green tea.

After lunch, we checked out the Thanks Shopping Arcade a.k.a. Hirao Main Shopping Arcade. There weren't many places open because it was a holiday, but check out this stash of andagi in front of a tiny grocery store.

From there we went to check out one of the 7 ferry landings in this area.

The city runs these ferries and each one is free of charge. The main purpose is for people to commute from Osaka prefecture to Taisho, without having to go all the way around to where a road or bridge connects Osaka to Taisho.

If you want to check out some of these ferries, here is the info in English from the Osaka city page.

I also shot a short video of our ride on the Senbokumatsu ferry route. You'll see that we pass under the freeway. It was also kinda noisy because of the wind. It is a great way for bicyclists to cross over to Taisho.

IMG_3284 Lastly, we checked out a man-made hill called Showa-yama. It is 33 meters (108 feet) high and made from the debris and rubble after digging the Osaka subway system.

Not many sights, but you really get an Okinawan vibe, there are other photos in my Flickr photostream tagged with "taisho-ku" if you're interested.

I'm glad we checked out this area.

Marutomi Shokudo
5-2-13 Hirao
Taisho-ku, Osaka
Phone: 06.6553.0274
Closed Tuesdays, Hours: 10:00-20:00

p.s. it's Friday here, I hope you have a nice weekend.

Thursday, February 14, 2013

happy valentine's day

DSC03213 Happy Valentine's Japan, it's only for the guys...which I've told you about here and here.

This is the recipe I used for the truffles, though I only made half the recipe.

Super easy and only 2 ingredients, well 4, if you consider the matcha powder and chopped almonds.

I tasted some before giving them to him and we also had some extras to enjoy too.

Have a nice Valentine's Day, everyone!

Wednesday, February 13, 2013

foodie saturday in kyoto

IMG_3226 Saturday, Satoshi had to work, so I met up with Tamakikat for lunch.

She took me to Kani Doraku for my birthday. It was my first time here and they serve crab, lots of it...check out my other photos on my Flickr labelled "kani doraku".

And how neat is this wooden tool to scrape and "poke" out the crab meat?!

IMG_3232 After lunch we did a bit of walking and came upon this tiny bakery.

Cute with the giraffe painted on the outside, yeah?!

Sidenote: Satoshi and I halved their an france (an pan) & curry france for our Sunday breakfast.

We loved the chewiness of the bread and there was a lot of filling. The an pan also had walnuts alongside the sweet bean paste.

IMG_3233 After picking up some baked items, we then walked up towards Kiyomizu temple and stumbled upon this taiyaki shop.

They were having a special for their custard & chocolate filled taiyaki...only 100 yen!

I thought this was better than some taiyaki I've eaten before, the outside was crisp, almost like a waffle cone.

IMG_3235 While walking past some shops we came upon Happy Bicycle.

The owner, an expat of Chile, makes these wire bicycles. This particular model is made from 1 piece of wire!

He also had one which cheered on the Tohoku area.

IMG_3239 We ended our day at a retro coffee shop called Otafuku Coffee.

Their prices are reasonable and their coffee delicious. Downside of this place was that there weren't many seats and they allow smoking.

All in all, it was a great foodie day. Thank you Tamakikat!

Kani Doraku
525 Tenshojimae-cho, Sanjo Teramachi Nishi
Nakagyo-ku, Kyoto
Phone: 075.211.0671
Hours: 11:30-22:00

Pain Raku
458-2 Masuya-cho, Takatsuji-dori
Shimogyo-ku, Kyoto
Phone: 075.344.2378
Closed Sundays & Holidays
Hours: 10:00-20:00

Shiawase no Ougon no Taiyaki
5-126-2 Kiyomizu
Higashiyama-ku, Kyoto
Phone: 075.551.3160
Hours: 10:00-19:00

Otafuku Coffee
609 Teianmae-cho, Teramachi Shijo
Shimogyo-ku, Kyoto
Phone] 075.256.6788
Closed every 15th of the month
Hours: 10:00-21:30

Tuesday, February 12, 2013

les petites papillotes

This was the shop that suspended their cafe service until after Valentine's...Les Petites Papillotes.

Although we didn't get to try their cakes, while we were there, I picked up some of their mendiants to try--dark chocolate with marcona almonds, hazelnuts, pistachios & orange peel.


I'll be back to try your cakes...sometime after Valentine's..

Les Petites Papillotes
1-12-24 Kyomachi-bori
Nishi-ku, Osaka
Phone: 06.6443.7875
Closed Mondays & Tuesdays
Hours: 11:00-22:00

Monday, February 11, 2013

de tout painduce

It had been awhile since I visited Painduce.

Since then they opened a couple of shops, one which is closer to Umeda.

We tried their spinach black sesame and all grain bagels...I liked the all grain one better. The spinach one when toasted, was a bit too soft for my liking.

Still, we'll be back.

de tout Painduce
Osaka Eki Marche
Phone: 06.4797.7770
Hours: 7:30-22:00

UPDATE: we figured out the spinach black sesame bagel was a nori black sesame bagel...sorry for the confusion, I checked the shop's sign and it was definitely spinach black sesame not nori.

Sunday, February 10, 2013


Thursday was my birthday, Satoshi was able to take the day off so we went to have lunch at Ig Cafe.

We then walked to a cafe for dessert only to find out that they have suspended their cafe service until after Valentine', put this info on your website, s'il vous plait! (please!)

So, we walked back to Umeda and checked out an earlier showing of "Starbuck". (fun movie)

Afterwards we had some pupus (appetizers) at Enoteca.

And then dessert at Ladurée.

I had the Religieuse Rose Framboise filled with rose custard cream and fresh raspberries...mmm!

Satoshi who was still hungry had their Club Saumon sandwich. This sandwich was impressive though I wondered what they did with the rest of the bread...

The weather was drizzly and grey but all in all it was a great day. Thanks Google for sending me a birthday wish on their top page and thank you to all my friends & family and those on FB & twitter for their birthday wishes!

Saturday, February 09, 2013

matcha scones

Awhile back, Kirk asked if I had made matcha (green tea) scones, which I had not.

Well, I finally did.

This recipe is relatively easy. The scones are not sweet, you may need jam or something sweet (maybe a sweet beverage) with them. We liked them as is.

Kat's matcha scones: makes 10-12

180 grams flour
8 grams baking powder
1 tablespoon matcha (green tea)
50 grams butter
20 grams sugar
1/2 egg
50-75 mililiters of skim milk*

Cut butter into the flour and baking powder
Add the matcha and sugar, mix
Add the egg and milk
Cover with plastic wrap and let rest in refrig for 30 minutes
Roll out to about 2 centimeters thick and use your favorite cookie cutter
Bake at 180C (350F) for 15 minutes

NOTES: To get half an egg, I scrambled a large egg then weighed it then divided the amount in half. The amount I used in this is 26 grams.

*As for the milk, first use 50 mililiters and if the dough is too dry, then add a little milk at a time while mixing.
The dough should be moist but not runny.
The cutter I used was a 5 centimeter (about 2 inch) round.

If you want to make these scones richer, use cream instead of the skim milk.

You could easily double this recipe so that you won't have to "half an egg"...

I hope Kirk makes these for his wife and I hope she enjoys them!

Friday, February 08, 2013


It had been 8 years since visiting the cafe at Ekchuah, which at the time was my very first post on this blog.

This time around it was my first time trying their lunch...1050 yen.

Their lunch menu changes daily.

On this particular day, it was a BLT (though the "bacon" wasn't crisp, it was more like proscuitto) and I think there was a thin omelette in there too, making it more of a BLET.

With lunch there was also some pickled veggies, some potato salad and a bowl of vegetable soup.

Oh and you also receive a truffle to snack on while you wait for your meal, I ate it after I finished my lunch while I waited for dessert.

Dessert was a slice of their kinako (soy bean powder) cake. It was nice and had lots of azuki beans on the bottom. There was a dollop of whipped cream and a drizzle of coffee.

Kind of like an Asian tiramisu.

And for 105 yen more I added a cup of their chocolat chaud (70%).

I'll be back.

6-17-43 Tanimachi
Chuo-ku, Osaka
Phone: 06.4304.8077
Closed Wednesdays
Hours: 11:00-22:00

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

Thursday, February 07, 2013


I went for my regular 3-month dental check-up the other day.

The hygenist asked me if there was any changes. I told her whenever I floss a certain area, the floss gets stuck.

She checked it out...she thought it may be a cavity so we had to x-ray the area.


The filling on a particular tooth cracked so they need to treat the cavity then re-cap it.

They numbed the area...

Technology these days...x-rays, just bite down on this spongy thing. None of those cardboard films that used to make me gag!

And computerized anesthesia! There is apparently still a thin needle but you don't even feel it. (they made me close my eyes so I didn't actually see, I found out about this by talking to a friend about it)

The down side to using this type of anesthesia is that it takes some time for it to take effect.

Boy, almost 5 hours afterwards it was still working!

Anyway, I need to go back next week and then another time after that.

I really dislike Japanese dentistry because they like to drag procedures out. For now, they told me not to floss that area.

Take care of your teeth people.

Wednesday, February 06, 2013

"warm" days

We had a couple of "warm" days the other week.

The temperature went as high as 15C (59C). You may not think that is warm, but when the temps have only been in the single digits (at times minus), 15C is pretty warm.

Anyway, on those "warm days" I tried two beers.

This one by McSorley's was kinda too watery for my liking.

While this Brekle's brown ale by Anchor Brewing was nice.

A little fruity.

By the time this post is uploaded, we'll have headed back towards the single digits...Is it warm where you are?

Tuesday, February 05, 2013

chocolate finds

February in Japan means there are lots of chocolates to be found.

I picked up these three recently.

Charbonnel et Walker's truffles.

You can really taste the alcohol in these champagne truffles, too bad they don't use dark chocolate in any of them.

Peters bon-bons are thin and delicious.

From top to bottom: Prosecco-Raspberry, Orange and Latte Macchiato. My fave was the orange.

The container makes a nice pen case, though it isn't too "thick", so you can't put a lot in there.

Dufflett's Nutt-e Dark chocolate with maple coated cashews.

This was more like a brittle coated with chocolate.

Everything was good, hope to find more chocolates in the coming weeks.