Monday, March 31, 2014

we're back

We're back from a little trip to Kyushu...I hope to post more about it in the next couple of days...stay tuned!

Sunday, March 30, 2014


Most times for these memorial services we bring some sweets or arare as offering to the deceased while the prayers are being said.

After the service for FIL, MIL gave the church some wagashi (Japanese sweets) and what was left, we divided up.

Tons of sweets that need to be eaten soon...sigh!

Saturday, March 29, 2014

7 year service

It's hard to believe that seven years has passed since FIL's death, and a lot has happened since then.

We got together for his 7 year service and then had lunch at Kyoto Hyatt's Touzan.

All the dishes were delicious and used a lot of seasonal ingredients.

The dessert was a sakura mochi and had cherry blossom petals in it. Super refreshing and unusual!

There was way more food, it is just that I was too busy eating...ha!

The weather was nice and it was a nice gathering. I think MIL was glad that everything went smoothly.

We miss you FIL!

Friday, March 28, 2014

cabbage mochi

We recently received a lot of plain mochi (no filling).

I froze most of them. And with 3 of them I made this...cabbage mochi.

This is a pupu (appetizer) eaten in Fukushima prefecture. I learned about this one from that same show, Kenmin Show, that showcases different foods from the various prefectures in Japan.

Makes about 3 or 4 servings

1 small head of cabbage, cut into bite sized pieces
1 tablespoon of oil
3 mochi (rice cakes), cut into bite sized pieces
some water
1/4 cup mirin (sweet rice wine)
2 tablespoons shoyu
1 tablespoon sake (rice wine)

Cut your cabbage & mochi into bite sized pieces
Add the oil to a heated pan and put the cabbage in
When the cabbage is almost wilted, add the mochi and a little water to steam
Just before the mochi starts to melt, add the mirin, shoyu & sake
Cook for about 3 minutes and serve

NOTES: this recipe actually asks you to add freshly made mochi, but we didn't have any, so I added the ones we received and steamed them along with the cabbage to soften. There weren't any measurements for the condiments, so what I have here is what I used. If you do use freshly made mochi, cook the cabbage to your liking with the condiments and add the mochi at the end.

Super easy and a different type of beer chaser.

Thursday, March 27, 2014

things I'm liking (disliking)

The weather is still day it was sunny and then yesterday it rained all day...the cherry blossoms are supposed to be starting to bloom, so I hope this weather doesn't cut this season short...

On to today's post...

Random things I'm liking and disliking this cookie, well it was delicious, crisp and said "natural" oatmeal...but when I read the back of the had butter, lard & palm oil in it...whoa?!

This baguette filled with chocolate by Jean-Paul Bigot.

When this is toasted the baguette gets crispy and the chocolate melty and if you aren't careful it will ooze me.

Have been enjoying the jinchoge (daphne). The fragrance can be overpowering to some, but I really like it and associate Spring with this flower.

This ice cream sandwich called "nico sand" (nico means 2 and sand is short for sandwich) these are supposed to be butter cookies, but they don't use any butter (boo!) Still I like that for the price you get two sandwiches to share, or not.

What are you enjoying?

Wednesday, March 26, 2014


I saw this yuzu tree in Kyoto over the weekend.

It had huge yuzu (citron) on it.

And also these cute "flower" looking yuzu on it.

I could be wrong, but I think these "flower" ones eventually turn into the big yeah?!

Tuesday, March 25, 2014

kodomo yoshoku

Another easy recipe from that quirky show, Kenmin Show, that shows all the different foods from the various prefectures in Japan.

Kodomo Yoshoku literally means Children Western Food, this recipe combines potatoes (western), worchestershire sauce (western), green onions and sakura ebi (sergia lucens)

They didn't give any specific measurements, so I made this one up: (serves 2)

1 medium sized potato
1 tablespoon olive oil
handful of dried sakura ebi
handful of green onions
2 teaspoons of worchestershire sauce

Boil potato with the skin on until soft.
Peel and cut into bite sized pieces
In a pan, heat up oil
Add potato and toss
When it is coated with the oil, added ebi and half of the green onions
Then add the sauce
When everything is coated with the sauce, serve and top with the rest of the green onions.

NOTES: super fast, easy and goes well with beer. I'm making this again.

Monday, March 24, 2014

play with your food

I recently found out about these gummies...Puyo Puyo Tetris.

Apparently Puyo Puyo is a game by Sega, and to promote it, they came out with these candies.

By the time I found out about these, most convenience stores didn't have it. I ended up finding it at a nearby 100 yen store...whoo!

Cute, colorful.

A fun way to play with your food...have a nice week!

Sunday, March 23, 2014


Friday was a holiday, so Satoshi had the day off.

The weather dude said it was gonna rain off and on, so we planned on staying indoors all day.

But when we woke up, it was sunny.

So we went walking...bad part was that it was so windy. Icy windy...brr.

Before starting the errands that we needed to run, we stopped in for lunch at Nagatomo. Apparently the cook formerly worked at a hotel restaurant, as a chef.

Satoshi went with ebi fry (fried shrimp)...I thought the mashed potato "swoosh" was fancy but overall plating was lacking some green like the shredded cabbage that usually comes with a dish like this.

Satoshi's lunch also came with a salad, miso soup and rice.

I went with the beef omu-rice (omelette with rice tucked underneath).

The rice was seasoned with beef, mushrooms and their demi-glace sauce.

The omelette was on the softer side making it easier to cover the rice.

It was topped with lots of ketchup and gravy and a nicely charred piece of beef.

My lunch also came with a salad and miso soup.

I think this restaurant mixes French and Japanese cuisines.

They have many choices for lunch, I think we'll be back.

Nagatomo (UPDATE:3/2015 this place is no longer in business)
Bell Flora Kawanishi East E-119
Kawanishi, Hyogo
Phone: 072.759.3715
Days off not set, so call before going
Lunch: 11:30-15:00 Dinner 17:00-23:00

Saturday, March 22, 2014

school housing

About this time of the year, you'll see a group of people "stalking" out the exits of our train station.

So what are they doing? They are trying to find students that need housing.

I am not to sure as to what happens next, but, I think they then bring the students to the various real estate offices in the area so they can find housing.

From what I've heard, most students don't share rooms with others, and the things that are needed in their room (cable tv, air conditioning, etc.) makes it sound like they are going on vacation more than study.

Since the school year usually starts in April, I'm sure in a couple of weeks, we'll then start seeing the "lost" students, trying to find their way to campus.

Friday, March 21, 2014

standard bookstore

Yesterday it rained all day.

I had an appointment in Umeda and thought I'd eat lunch at Standard Bookstore.

I usually get my taco rice fix here, but decided to try something new on their menu...low fat chicken sandwich...1030 yen (50 yen less on weekdays)

This sandwich was packed with shredded roasted chicken, sauerkraut, a little avocado and lettuce. I also liked that they toasted the bread.

With a salad, some chips and some grapefruit juice...this really was a nice way to brighten up a dreary day.

We have a 3-day weekend here, I hope you have a nice weekend!

Thursday, March 20, 2014

suigetsu park

A couple of weeks ago we had a nice sunny day, so I checked out Suigetsu Park.

I caught these grandpas having a nice time.

Many people were out and about even though there weren't many ume blossoms.

Then yesterday, Satoshi and I checked out Suigetsu Park again.

A lot of the blooms have begun to fall.

Though there were still a lot of trees in full bloom.

We're supposed to have rain today and then the temps are supposed to drop and then, Spring is finally gonna be here...cross your fingers...

Wednesday, March 19, 2014


I've seen many hanging buckets whenever I go to markets like Hounan Ichiba in Osaka.

When you buy something from the vendor, they fling the money into the bucket and put your item into a plastic bag, which is hanging right next to the bucket.

Don't get any funny ideas though, if you try to run off with their bucket, chances are that you'll snap back because that bucket is usually hanging by a bungee yeah?!

Tuesday, March 18, 2014


Popcorn is starting to trend here.

Garrett's, a famous popcorn maker in Chicago, has a shop in Tokyo.

I've heard from several blog friends that their Chicago mix is super addicting.

Well, I don't have any plans to go to Tokyo any time soon, so I improvised and bought a bag of G.H.Cretors' Chicago Mix at an import grocer here...

I like how the caramel doesn't stick to your teeth, and how the cheddar makes your fingers neon-orange.

Sweet-salty...addicting...I like that these are non-GMO too.

What's trending where you are?

Monday, March 17, 2014


I was recently inspired by Deb's post to try a new pesto.

Her version uses mint and pistachios.

I adapted from it and used kale in place of parsley and I also added some garlic.

Amazingly it tastes like you have basil in there...

I used some on a filet I pan fried.

And I also put some into an omelette to make "green eggs and spam"...ha ha.

A handful of mint leaves (I used a combo of spearmint and peppermint)
A handful of kale
A handful of pistachios (shelled)
1 clove of garlic
a little lemon juice
some parmesan cheese
3 tablespoons of olive oil
a little water to loosen things up

Whiz the first 6 ingredients then drizzle in the olive oil
If you need to add a little water to loosen things up

NOTES: this is a nice way to add mint into your diet, which is supposed to help digestion. my version was a bit chunky, but I enjoyed this. I'm making this again.

Sunday, March 16, 2014


The temperatures are still flip-flopping here...

still, everyone is preparing for Spring.

Hankyu Department Store in Umeda have their windows all primped with a lovely Spring scene.

Lots of fresh flowers, I think they may have also used some preserved flowers too.

Since I used to be in band when I was going to school, these music themes really made me smile.

Whenever you walk around Umeda, most times everyone is just rushing about.

I was relieved to see there were some who stopped to take in the windows.

The temperature is supposed to go up this week, close to 20C(68F) only to have a cold snap at the end of the week...hope you have a good week!

Saturday, March 15, 2014

hounan ichiba

I told you a little about the Hounan Ichiba (hounan market) in yesterday's post.

This place is rather large and many eateries buy their ingredients from here.

There are many vendors selling different things. I thought their prices were quite reasonable.

In Japan, most vendors specialize in particular items, for example you buy fish from the fishmonger, meat from the butcher, etc.

Unlike the U.S., where most items are sold at supermarkets these days.

I picked up this bag of chirimen (whitebait)...200 grams for 475 yen. I divvied them up into 10 grams each and froze most of it.

Scored "bambucha" (huge) brussels sprouts...not sure how heavy these were but they were only 400 yen.

Which I used some in a Kimu-Taku stir-fry...we had this with lots of rice.

Huge San-Fuji apples, these are about 200 yen each, I think the markets sell each for more.

I also found super cheap goya (bittermelon)...2 for 150 yen.

I used 1 for goya tsukudani and the other one for goya champuru.

By the way, our weather is still funky, Thursday it

And then yesterday there was hail and flurries!

Not to mention there was also a huge earthquake 5 or 6 level near Shikoku which Satoshi and I didn't even feel (we were in deep sleep), though it rocked pretty much all of Kansai and Kyushu...

At the rate we are going Spring is gonna whiz by and then we'll be left with super-humid-hot-blah Summer until October...sigh.

Hope the weather is warmer and nicer where you are.

Hounan Ichiba
right outside of Hankyu Shonai station
Toyonaka, Osaka
Open everyday except Sundays & Holidays
Hours: 9:00-18:00

Friday, March 14, 2014

ginza shokudo

Sometimes I find places to eat while riding the train.

This was how I found out about Ginza Shokudo.

I was on the local train and we were stopped at Shonai, it was then that I notice a tantalizing photo of a plate of food.

I looked up their info on Tabelog (Japan's Yelp) and noted it.

Yesterday, the weather was quite nice, and Satoshi had the day off, so we headed down to Shonai for lunch.

We got there a little after 11:30 and they were already quite full. Luckily, a lady was nice enough to let us sit with her.

I ordered their Daily...780 yen. And Satoshi ordered their Ginza Lunch...880 yen.

Both of our lunches started off with this...consomme soup with lots of root veggies in it, and a piece of tofu topped with pickles.

Here's Satoshi's lunch...a hamburger topped with their tomato sauce and fried shrimp (his fave). It also came with some potato salad, green salad and rice.

My lunch...grilled lemon herb chicken, asari (manila clam) milk soup, salad, napolitan (spaghetti sauteed in ketchup) and garlic cabbage.

Everything was delicious, the asari milk soup reminded me of corn chowder.

I don't think they should've given me the consomme at the beginning of lunch, I was quite full with all those soups! and gave most of my rice to Satoshi.

Lunch ended with a teeny jar of orange gelatine.

This was really refreshing and actually just the right size. Made with orange juice and orange pieces.

Apparently they source their ingredients from the Hounan market next door. We walked around this market after lunch and there were lots of reasonably priced foods and ingredients there.

I wouldn't mind coming back to try other items on their menu...we'll be back.

Ginza Shokudo (UPDATE:as of 10/2015, this shop is no longer in business)
1-9-17 Shonai Higashi
Toyonaka, Osaka
Phone: 06.4866.6741
Lunch: 11:30-15:00, Dinner: 18:00-22:00
Closed Sundays & Holidays

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

Thursday, March 13, 2014


Tuesday, I had my 3-month check-up and cleaning for my teeth. (no cavities!)

The weather was really nice but the winds were strong and icy.

After getting my teeth cleaned, it was lunchtime, so I walked across the bridge and had lunch at Label Cafe.

This cafe looks out onto the Dojima river...First floor for non-smoking, basement for smoking...

I ordered their daily lunch plate...900 yen.

This came with an assortment of foods and the main dish was maguro tatsuta-age, it is tuna that is fried but the coating is potato starch instead of flour.

The miso soup was made with Torii Miso, a local maker that have apparently been in business since the Edo period (between 1603-1867).

All veggies were local too.

There was also preserved kumquats, tsukemono potato salad, caprese salad, egg cabbage stir-fry, pickled chinese cabbage.

It was nice to have little tastes of different foods.

After a really filling lunch, I walked to Osaka castle to check out their ume (apricot) grove.

This shot would be perfect with blooming cherry blossoms...(those are cherry trees overhead).

Many people were out and about.

And a lot of the trees were in full bloom.

One grandpa with a huge lens camera was dissing my taking photos with my each his own!

I caught these two grandpas enjoying their harmonicas...

All in all it was a great day, I'll definitely be back to Label Cafe for lunch.

Label Cafe
1-1-11 Nishi-tenma
Kita, Osaka
Phone: 06.6366.1185
Hours: 11:30-23:00
Closed Sundays