Sunday, November 30, 2014

this and that

Did you fight the crowds on Black Friday? We don't have that here but my neighborhood cafe had a sale this past Wednesday, so it was a kind of "Black Friday" for me...

I left the house at 8:30 to find this line already out onto the sidewalk...

I bought myself this Hario V60 Buono kettle. It was 40-plus% off so it was hard to resist. I still need to get used to it, but I think it warms up water pretty quickly.

This sale also was for 200 grams and they give you an extra 100 grams...I bought some Mandheling Season Selection, I think it is a blend.

I actually wanted to try some "Geisha" but the price for the beans is krazy, so this wasn't included in the!

Out on a walk one day, there were no clouds. Lots of sun!

I am still having trouble figuring out how to dress...

The Christmas decorations have been up since is the "Toy Story" tree at Grand Front Osaka.

And the "Frozen" tree also at Grand Front Osaka.

Today we're planning to check out the leaves...I hope they all didn't fall off, yesterday it rained so hard! Can you believe only 32 more days until 2015?!

Saturday, November 29, 2014


 The other day I found myself needing to kill some time, so I went looking for a new bakery to try...Cocoro.

They are a teeny shop but they had all sorts of breads to choose from.

I picked up their fruit bread...385 yen (tax included) for half a "loaf".

This bread is packed with figs, walnuts, raisins...more fruit than bread.

It was good with cream cheese and smoked salmon one morning.

I hear they also make bagels...I'll be back!

8-1 Higashi Kozu-cho
Tennoji, Osaka
Phone: 06.7896.1438
Closed Sundays & Mondays
Hours: 8:00-19:00

Friday, November 28, 2014

omiyage from awajishima & akashi

Here's the omiyage (souvenirs) we brought back with us from Awajishima...instant onion curry...

mixed kodaimai (rice) & onion taberu ra-yu (chunky chili oil) with habanero.

The habanero that they use is grown in Japan.

onion senbei (crackers) & assorted seafood senbei (crackers) (squid, squid ink, seaweed, octopus, crab & shrimp).

And the omiyage from Akashi...assorted takosenbei (octopus crackers).

Can't wait to try all of these goodies! Have a nice weekend!

Thursday, November 27, 2014


Day 2 of our adventure started with breakfast at our pension.

After that huge dinner the night before, this breakfast was perfect...actually, this post should be titled "kuidaore" (eat until you drop) because this is what happened after breakfast...

We checked-out and went to the Hokudan Earthquake Memorial Park.

This is the area where the huge earthquake that hit Kobe in 1995 apparently originated. The purpose of this park is to preserve the memory of the earthquake and also to educate for larger earthquakes in the future.

There is a preserved house that sits on the fault. You can walk into the house and view the damage of the kitchen area and see the damage to the outer property wall when the property shifted.

There is a display area to educate you on topics such as active faults and earthquakes. There is also a video showing tsunami simulations.

The area that was the most freaky was the earthquake simulation room. For 40 seconds, you sit inside a "home" to experience a size 7 earthquake and then for another 10 seconds a size 4 aftershock.

Super scary experience but important to know about.

Since we had some time before the bus we needed to catch, we shared this...takopuri burger. Octopus and onions fried up like a croquette.

The onions were sweet and there were bits of octopus here and there, I think they could've put more octopus in it.

We then went to the Michi no Eki Awaji. This is actually a parking area. There are tons of these places all over Japan. If ever you see "michi no eki" you'll know this is a rest stop where you can eat and buy souvenirs...some of these rest stops even have hot spring facilities.

It was so cool to see the Akashi Kaikyo Bridge up close!

We had seen a poster for Awajishima Gyu-don (beef bowl)...can you believe there are 61 different bowls around Awajishima?!

They have some order to call it an Awajishima Gyu-don, the beef, onions & rice must be grown/raised in Awajishima.

And all other ingredients used should try to be from Awajishima.

From the list of 61, this was number 1...Awajishima Yakiniku Bowl...1280 yen.

Satoshi and I shared this. Garlicky tender beef with lots of green onions. They serve this with an onion potage and pickled onions.

This was so good!

After "lunch", we went up the mountain to Matsuho no Sato, an onsen (hot spring).

The view from the mountain is breathtaking!

This is where lunch #2 happened...Hitsumabushi-style Beef Bowl...950 yen.

Just like when you eat unagi (eel) hitsumabushi, you add some dashi to the gyu-don to eat this like "chazuke".

Of the two beef bowls, I liked the first one at the rest stop.

Satoshi had their nama-shirasu (raw whitebait) bowl...950 yen.

You can only get this between April and November...they actually have 48 versions all over the island!

We then caught the ferry to Akashi.

It is only 13 minutes. The boat passes under the bridge so it is nice way to see the bridge "up close".

Once in Akashi, Satoshi said he wanted to check out Uontana shopping arcade. Akashi is known for tako (octopus) so there are lots of takoyaki places as well as vendors selling tako, raw and prepared.

Akashi has their own type of takoyaki called akashiyaki. We tried some at a place called Gallery Deai...10 for 500 yen (lunch #3)

I personally don't care for takoyaki. I find the insides to be a little to mushy/raw. After trying Akashiyaki though, I think I could like this version.

Akashiyaki doesn't use flour, just egg seasoned with dashi (stock) it is like eating a tiny dashimaki tamago (omelette made with stock and egg) with tako in it.

Put it into a bowl of dashi (stock) and add green onion and pickled ginger. Satoshi liked it with only the dashi and green onion. He thought adding the pickled ginger didn't match.

I thought it was delicious!

Satoshi mentioned that he has never been to Akashi, so we went to check out the park.

In this park are the remains of the Akashi castle. There is also a large pond where you can rent paddle boats and a large sports facility too. There were also some beautiful maple trees too.

Another day of beautiful weather, lots of walking and way too much eating.

I hope you enjoyed this adventure as much as we did. Satoshi is hooked and wants to go back to Awajishima in the Spring!

Hokudan Earthquake Memorial Park
177 Ogura
Awaji, Hyogo
Phone: 0799.82.3020
Hours: 9:00-17:00 (closed during the end of the year, please check)

Michi no Eki Awaji
1873-1 Iwaya
Awaji, Hyogo
Phone: 0799.72.0001

Matsuho no Sato
3570-77 Iwaya
Awaji, Hyogo
Phone: 0799.73.2333

Gallery Deai
1-2-11 Honmachi
Akashi, Hyogo
Phone: 078.914.5728
Closed Tuesdays & Wednesdays
Hours: 11:00-19:00

Wednesday, November 26, 2014


From our place to Suma, it is about an hour on the train.

We stopped at Suma Rikyu Park to check out their fall foliage.

The last time I was at this park was back in 2011 with my host mom. There wasn't anything blooming at the time, so it was nice to come back to see the rose garden as well as the autumn leaves.

A couple of stops from the Suma Rikyu Park is Maiko.

This is where we caught the highway bus over the Akashi Kaikyo Bridge to take us over to Awajishima.

You literally have to go up on top of the bridge to get the bus, boy was that escalator steep!

About 10 minutes later you arrive on the other side of the bridge.

The view from the parking area is breathtaking. There is also a Starbucks that gazes at this view too!

Satoshi had a vanilla-chocolate soft serve, while I tried the Awaji Mojio (a type of sea salt) soft serve, my cone was a waffle cone and there was also a little scoop of sweet bean paste. The sweet-salty combination was delicious, the soft serve actually reminded me more of butter.

After finding our pension, we went to explore the port area.

There is a tiny island called Eshima which is believed to be the first island of Japan. There is a little folk story about it.

"At the beginning there was only one god sitting in the center of the Universe.

The Sky and Earth separated, appearing in human form as man and woman respectively. The first man, Izanagi, and the first woman, Izanami, descendants of the god above, got married and gave birth to all the Japanese islands and gods. Sadly, the last offspring was the Fire God, who caused his mother's death by fire.

They say that the first island born from this celestial couple was Eshima, near Awaji island."

The island is made of sand stone so it has a different feel to it.

The pension had a great view of the bay and the bridge. The lights on the bridge change every hour or so. You can even view the bridge from the bath area of the pension!

Dinner was fish...

lots of fish...

served all sorts of ways...

Awajishima is known for having delicious onions...this onion soup was so comforting and delicious!

Satoshi also ordered us some steak for dinner...we over-ordered...

Dinner ended with a scoop of ice cream...we were so full, it wasn't funny...

It was a great day, lots of walking and lots of eating....

Pension Pearl Shine
576-3 Iwaya
Awaji-shi, Hyogo
Phone: 0799.72.2901

Tuesday, November 25, 2014

this & that

This past weekend was a 3-day weekend and we went to Awajishima, an island near the Kobe area, for two days. I have to get my thoughts together and photos in order, so I'm posting a photo of the beautiful sunset we saw yesterday. I took this photo from the train.

On the downside...Japan is going through another butter shortage. I recently bought a 450 gram block of unsalted for 900-something yen and divvied it up into 9-50 gram pieces. I didn't need that much unsalted butter, but since the market I went to was the only place selling butter, I bought the only size they had. They also limited us to 1 block.

Satoshi was amazed I took out my scale to weigh each, yeah, when you bake it kinda needs to be precise...

I also needed salted butter and ended up buying a teeny 100 gram tub for 300-something yen.

With this shortage I am afraid that most bakeries will switch over to margarine...though I am hoping my favorite bakeries won't.

To end this on a good note...Thanksgiving is coming up this week. We won't be celebrating but will be thinking of all of our friends and family around the world.

Thank you for all your kind messages and comments. We appreciate YOU!

Have a good week!

Monday, November 24, 2014

weed or flower

I've seen this cute weed/flower along the riverbeds as well as on the edges of people's properties.

Apparently it is called persicaria capitata or himetsurusoba in Japanese. On Wikipedia, it said that it is also known as knotweed or pink bubble persicaria.

I like the pink bubble you have something similar where you live?

Sunday, November 23, 2014

yuzu marmalade

The day I passed by the fruit stand, they had huge yuzu from Minoo and were selling them for 280 yen for 2.

I had debated whether I would have time to make marmalade and decided to wait...

The next day, the sun was out, so I went to check out the fall foliage, then figured to check out the fruit stand to see if she still had the yuzu...bummer, she sold out.

So, I went to a stand that brings in veggies and fruits from Kochi prefecture and bought 4 yuzu for 400 yen.

If I can get my hands on some Minoo yuzu, I'll definitely make another batch.

Saturday, November 22, 2014

nozaki vienna sausage

I found the vienna sausage made by Nozaki.

The can is about the same size as the Libby ones.

I also bought a can of their 50% less fat corned beef to try.

I was surprised because if I remember correctly, Libby's has only 7 vienna sausages in their can...Nozaki has 14!

Super cute and teeny but 14.

We had these for two breakfasts.

They are smokey flavored and they have casings with a nice snap.

Not something we'll be eating everyday, but at least I know I can buy something similar here.

Friday, November 21, 2014


I have been seeing this all over Japan's social media and blogosphere and had to try's called O-nigirazu.

If you remember, O-nigiri is what a lot of people in Kansai call rice balls...I've written a detailed post about that here.

Anyway with O-nigirazu, you don't mold the rice with your hands...which is why they call this O-nigirazu. In Japanese, using "zu" at the end of verbs makes the verb negative...I hope I'm explaining this correctly.

Take a sheet of nori...

Place some rice (about the size of the shamoji (rice paddle) in the center and spread the rice out thin but do not go all the way to the edge of the nori, keep everything as close to the center of the nori.

I also added a piece of fried chicken and some baby leaf lettuce. Add the fillings that you like.

Add a little more rice to top it off and bring up all the corners to the center, like when you make your own envelope.

NOTE: If the filling and rice combo is too much, your corners may not make it to the center.

I also used wax paper to hold everything together.

Then I flipped over the O-nigirazu and sliced it in half. Try not to "saw" at it, as it may fall apart.

When cut in half, it should kinda look like this.

These are perfect for picnics, parties or to put into your bento boxes.

NOTE: if you are bringing this on a picnic, you may want to wrap each half in plastic wrap. Also, if your filling has some sauce or gravy it may make things a bit soggy, so try to pick something that doesn't have too much liquid.

The different fillings are endless and you can even add furikake or tsukemono (pickles) to your rice, I hope you find a combo that you like.

I had fun making this and will make this again. Have a nice weekend!

Thursday, November 20, 2014


Part of the stash of candies that I had brought back with me from Hawaii...

Most have been consumed....

The girl scout cookie Nestlès were...meh!

The MEGA M&M...they really were huge! (too bad the store I bought them at only had the plain version)

I enjoyed the Rockin' Nut Road Rocky Road ice cream with caramel in it...

The Birthday Cake M&Ms were way too sweet. And I love mint chocolates, so the M&M version was delicious.

And always a winner...Snickers Peanut Butter Squared.

What are you enjoying these days?

Wednesday, November 19, 2014

yakiniku waou

A relatively new yakiniku place opened up near our station called Yakiniku Waou.

It's up above Family Mart (a convenience store), so you can't really see into the restaurant, making it kinda hard to see if it is popular or not.

We took a chance and had dinner there this past Saturday.

They have a large menu and we decided to try the small portion course which you need to have at least 2 people to order...4000 yen plus tax each.

Dunno why Japan likes to make these constrictive rules on course menus...kind of hampers us trying two different course menus...

Anyway, our dinner started off with a large salad, nothing quite out of the ordinary here though I loved the crunchy sweet potato chips on top!

There was also 3 different banchan (fern shoots, soy bean sprouts and spinach), delicious!

And then came the beef tongue...cooked for just a little bit and then a little squeeze of good! Melt in your mouth.

Chateaubriand and Sirloin Steak...

When Satoshi and I put the cooked piece of chateaubriand into our mouths we looked at each other because the meat just melted!

The sirloin was just as tender too.

And then some ribeye roast...this wasn't as melt in your mouth as the others but still very tasty.

They had also given us three different sauces but we didn't really use them, just the salt and pepper that most of the meats were seasoned with were enough.

Reimen (cold noodles) the salty broth reminded me of saimin broth and the noodles had a nice chew to them.

It was my first time to have these cold noodles with a slice of apple in it. It gave the whole dish a sweet-salty combination which I enjoyed.

To end we had a choice of vanilla, strawberry or matcha ice cream...I chose strawberry while Satoshi had matcha.

We agreed the quality of the meat here was way better than Mooh! and when we come back, we'll order a la carte instead of their course menu.

We'll be back.

Yakiniku Waou
2-2-14 Ishibashi 2F
Ikeda, Osaka
Phone: 072.761.2011
Lunch : weekdays only 11:00-14:00
Dinner: 17:30-24:00
Closed Mondays