Friday, February 28, 2014

crazy!

IMG_5403 I had the chance to walk through Kuromon Ichiba (literally Black Gate Market), a shopping arcade with food vendors and fresh groceries...

This caught my eye...

Whoa?! 1500 yen for 1 wasabi root (Japanese horseradish)

Crazy, yeah?!

It's Friday here, yesterday we had rain all day, they say our air will be polluted by that PM2.5 from China today(boo)and then over the weekend they say we'll hit another cold snap...I've never known how to dress during winter but with the weather flip-flopping I'm even more confused!

Have a nice weekend!

Thursday, February 27, 2014

critters burger

IMG_5399 I checked out Critters Burger on Tuesday.

It is a rather small shop with dark-ish interior.

After seeing Kirk's teri-beef sandwich, I was kinda craving something teriyaki...so I ordered their teriyaki burger and added a slice of cheese.

With a drink, it was 1000 yen, not bad.

IMG_5400 The bun was so good! light like a cloud and toasted nicely on the grill.

They are the sister shop of Westwood Bakers (WB), I think WB makes their buns which is why they were fabulous...

It was a little messy eating, but they have tons of napkins, and I would've liked that they marinate their burger instead of topping it with a teri sauce, but all in all I still enjoyed this.

They have other items on their menu that I wouldn't mind trying...I'll be back.

Critters Burger
1-10-35 Nishi-Shinsaibashi, Arche 11, 1F
Chuo, Osaka
Phone: 06.4963.9840
Open everyday 11:30-23:30

Wednesday, February 26, 2014

les toilettes

tamakikat In Japan, there are washiki (Japanese style, wah-she-key) toilets...these can be scary if you use them for the first time.

It's even scarier if there is no porcelain basin just a hole...if it is only a hole, make sure to secure your cell phone, glasses and anything that could fall in...

Let's just say that some remote areas of Japan (and train stations) still have these types of toilets...let's also just say that Satoshi "submerged" his cell phone there too...ahem!

Tamakikat took a photo of this "how to" sign, way back when she used a Japanese style toilet.

Oh, and girls, be sure to roll up your pants cuffs, you never know which way you'll pee while you are squatting...TMI, sorry!

toilet (2) Western toilets are called Yo-shiki (yoh-she-key).

If you see this teeny seat, it is for little kids.

Lift it up before using...

toilet (3) I once used a toilet which had a door so close to the toilet that it "rubbed" against the toilet to open and close.

Getting into the stall was a challenge.

Also, my knees touched the door when I used it, thank goodness I'm not 6-foot something...

toilet (4) That contraption on the wall that looks like a buoy is also for little kids to use the bathroom, I think.

toilet2 The toilet paper holder we have in our apartment has a jagged edge to tear the paper.

Also, there is no springy rod in the middle to hold the toilet paper roll in place, just tabs, so much easier!

toilet (5) Attached to the cover of the toilet paper, there is a little "pouch" to hold another roll.

toilet2 (2) Our toilet has a sink attached to the back, so you can't leave spare rolls here like some homes in the US have.

When you flush, the water that comes out is what you are supposed to wash your hands with...not the most sanitary if you ask me...

In Japan, a lot of homes also "decorate" their toilet, if you go to interior shops you can buy covers for the toilet cover, the seat, the toilet paper holder, even a mat for the base of the toilet, some even come with slippers for the toilet.

The seat cover is a life-saver if you don't have a heated toilet on cold wintry mornings...we don't have a heated toilet...

Before you buy these accessories though, you need to know what type of seat you have...O, U or washlette.

Our apartment toilet is an O, and to put that cover on the seat of the toilet takes talent.

There is a plastic rod that slips through the cover and creates the "O", this is placed on the underside of the toilet seat, the rest of the cover is then pulled through the hole of the seat and wrapped on the seat...confusing, right?!

A detailed example of each type here (in Japanese sorry!)

You know what is sad though, the toilet we had at our previous apartment was a U, so now I have a useless U toilet seat cover around somewhere.

toilet My parent's home's toilet...the spare roll is decorated with a "bear" cover.

My mother and I used to "fight" about the direction the roll faces....after I explained about our toilet in Japan, she understood why I always put the roll on in the direction I did.

Oh and a rule that my mom had, close the cover whenever you take out a new roll or anything from the cabinet above the toilet...let's just say I've dropped many things "in there" when I didn't follow that rule...

toilet3_1 The last time I met up with Fiona, there were funny toilet messages in a bathroom at a mall we went to.

Click on the photo to read all of it.

toilet3 I've probably missed some details, but I hope you enjoyed this post and "Always thank the spirits of toilets"

Tuesday, February 25, 2014

natural kitchen saison

IMG_5367 Saturday, the weather was overcast and cold, still, I made it a point for us to get out and walk.

We walked from our place to Ikeda, one station over from where we live.

Since we were feeling a bit hungry after walking, I suggested we eat lunch at Natural Kitchen Saison.

I've past this place on my morning walks to the market and made a note to bring Satoshi here.

We both ordered the Bistro Set...1500 yen each.

This started out with salad, some garlic cauliflower, chicken breast & carpaccio.

IMG_5368 Next was a bowl of potato potage (a thick creamy potato soup).

This had a little sprinkle of curry on top.

IMG_5369 I chose a meat dish for my set, this was their pork with steamed veggies. A little too salty but the meat was tender.

IMG_5370 Satoshi chose a fish dish for his set, tara (cod) with a tomato sauce and vegetables.

The fish was perfectly cooked and I liked the tomato sauce. It was nice mopping it up with the bread that came with our meal.

IMG_5371 Dessert was a caramel mousse, vanilla ice cream with a fruit compote and a slice of chestnut tarte.

Satoshi had coffee while I had an espresso.

For the money, it was worth it and delicious. They do get busy, so you may want to make reservations or go early...we'll be back.

Natural Kitchen Saison
9-3 Masumi-cho
Ikeda, Osaka
Phone: 072.752.1044
Hours: 11:00-15:00 (lunch), 17:00-22:00 (dinner)
Closed Wednesdays and 3rd Tuesday

Monday, February 24, 2014

petit bisou

IMG_5232 On my birthday, my host sister, Tomoko, sent me some cake...8 mini cupcakes/muffins from Petit Bisou.

IMG_5233 Just love how special places make you feel with their wrapping.

IMG_5234 Two tiers of 4 mini cupcakes/muffins...this tier is matcha white chocolate, chocolate chip, oreo, cranberry.

IMG_5235 This tier was a decorated white cupcake, banana walnut, apple & another decorated white cupcake.

I must say that the cupcakes were moist but the muffins were kind of dry.

Still, it was a very thoughtful and delicious gift.

Thank you Tomoko!

Petit Bisou
7-8 Omasu-cho
Ashiya, Hyogo
Phone: 0797.34.6101
Hours: 11:00-19:00

Sunday, February 23, 2014

spring?

IMG_5345 I think Spring may be on its way...the ume (apricot) blossoms have started.

Though yesterday was fahreezing!

IMG_5346 The weather dude says it will hit 15C (59F) this week...so Spring might be coming...maybe.

How is the weather where you are?

Saturday, February 22, 2014

denraku

IMG_5330 We stumbled upon Denraku the other weekend but tried them this past Wednesday.

They serve different teishoku (set meals) as well as Kanazawa curry (which I think is B-kyu gurume).

Satoshi went with the ebi fry (fried shrimp) Kanazawa curry...880 yen.

It comes out on a huge plate with lots of rice, a thin layer of julienned cabbage, spicy curry ladled on top, then fukujinzuke (pickles) and kaiware (radish sprouts) scattered before being topped with the fried shrimp.

He also had two pieces of karaage tucked in there...a nice surprise.

IMG_5331 I went with the Kanazawa yaki-curry...780 yen.

A baked version, with grilled chicken topping it.

Super filling! but really good and cheesy.

IMG_5333 Satoshi also ordered some Hamamatsu gyoza...300 yen...meh! He said that the moment these were brought out, he knew they were frozen types, nothing to rave about.

This shop is definitely a "manly" place, there were so many construction workers there and all of them smokers too...*ack*

We'll be back, hopefully when no one else is there to smoke us out...

Denraku
1-1-1 Sakura
Minoo, Osaka
Phone: 072.721.1114
Lunch: 11:00-14:00, Dinner 18:00-23:00

Friday, February 21, 2014

curry fridays

IMG_5122 Did you know that the Japanese navy eats curry on Fridays?

I can't remember where I heard about this but it was so that they knew what day of the week it was.

Being at sea so long, the days kind of "blend", so to know when the end of the week was, they were served curry on Fridays.

Satoshi picked up these two curries when he went to Hiroshima for business recently.

IMG_5124 I checked back on my archives and we had tried this one before.

IMG_5289 I liked this one because it had lots of goodies in it.

It was a mixture of nikujaga & curry, so it had beef, potatoes, carrots and konnyaku (devil's tongue jelly).

IMG_5290 If you're interested, you can look back at our adventure to Kure here, here, and here.

Have a nice weekend!

Thursday, February 20, 2014

fun

IMG_4931 I've shown you the army men near the Tokyu Hands before, here, well, I'm starting to get quite a collection...

Here is a photo of them in the "snow"...

IMG_5324 And this one with the nanohana (rapeseed blossoms), they are ready for Spring even if Mother Nature isn't...

Anything fun happening where you are?

Wednesday, February 19, 2014

apsara cafe

IMG_5320 After a weekend of junky weather (snow, rain & clouds), Monday was sunny, so I went walking.

I took the long way to Toyonaka and had lunch at Apsara Cafe.

Their lunch menu is made from local veggies.

I ordered their tomato curry...950 yen.

I think the pumpkin slices were slightly fried in coconut oil, you could taste a little coconut when you ate them.

Coconut oil is slowly becoming popular over here...

You can also choose between brown rice or 8-grain rice. I chose their 8-grain rice.

IMG_5321 There was also a salad, some kinpira and a veggie stir-fry.

I really like their chopstick rests too, cute!

I'll be back.

Apsara Cafe
6-1-3 Honmachi, 195 Street Building 1F
Toyonaka, Osaka
Phone: 06.6854.5188
Lunch: 11:00-16:00
Dinner: 16:00-21:00
Closed Wednesdays

Tuesday, February 18, 2014

spice gouda

IMG_5312 We recently came across this cheese at the market...spice gouda.

Cumin seeds generously sprinkled throughout this cheese.

Some might be put off by the smell of cumin but we like it.

A nice balance of spice to cheese.

I think it might be also delicious melted.

Monday, February 17, 2014

le matin de la vie

IMG_5205 I had seen La Matin de la Vie featured in a magazine and asked Fiona if she wanted to check them out.

See, they are in her neighborhood.

A tiny bakery, they also have 2 tables to sit and have your baked goods at.

Unfortunately the day we went, they were having some kind of renovations done to the building so there was drilling going on the whole time we were there.

IMG_5206 We both had the renkon bacon bread.

A foccacia type bread topped with renkon & bacon. Crunch from the renkon (lotus root) and saltiness from the bacon. Kinda like a pizza.

IMG_5209 I tried their marron danish.

This had glazed chestnuts, some sweet bean paste and some walnuts. So delicious, with just enough sweetness.

It was great meeting up with Fiona, I hope she enjoyed this place as well. I'll be back whenever I'm in this area.

Le Matin de la Vie
3-57-16 Yamada-nishi
Suita, Osaka
Phone: 06.6876.5547
Closed Sundays & Mondays
Hours: 10:00-19:00 (cafe from 11:00-)

Sunday, February 16, 2014

café clicquot

IMG_5258 Yesterday, it rained all day long. And the wind was crazy! So we stayed indoors, and I worked on blog posts...

We stumbled upon Café Clicquot because our first choice for lunch had stopped service by the time we arrived...boo!

The aroma of garlic cooking is what drew us in.

IMG_5257 Love the door! Reminded me of Paris.

IMG_5255 The cafe itself is quite tiny.

IMG_5256 But their pasta was delicious.

I had their carbonara...creamy, cheesy goodness.

Satoshi had their mushroom & bacon pasta with a garlic oil sauce, he ate so fast, I couldn't get a photo of it!

Our lunch also came with a small salad...800 yen each.

This area has a lot of cafes and knick-knack shops, we'll be back!

Café Clicquot
3-1-12 Nakazaki
Kita-ku, Osaka
Phone: 06.6371.2477
Closed Tuesdays, Hours: 12:00-21:30

Saturday, February 15, 2014

odds & ends

IMG_5293 Not enough days to blog about everything, so this post is packed with randomness...

Yesterday, we had snow, all.morning.long.

Luckily, I didn't have anything planned, so I stayed indoors and made this brownie dessert for Valentine's.

I used milk chocolate since that is what Satoshi likes. I didn't add sugar to the recipe since I was using milk chocolate and I also made a glaze/frosting for the brownies...don't ask me how much butter I used...gasp!

IMG_5172 Earlier this month, we had some Chinese food for Chinese New Years at Lei Can Ting.

I don't think anything on my plate was traditionally Chinese New Years food, but it was fancy and really delicious.

There was a piece of shrimp coated with a sweet mayonnaise, daikon cake, half a piece of spring roll, some steamed dim sum, salad, a soup with a gyoza in it and for dessert a jin dui filled with sweet bean paste...oh an a bowl of congee topped with crunchy spring roll skins, pieces of pickled daikon and green onions...whew!

You can see close-ups of everything here, here, and here.

IMG_5157 Had to try Deb's caramelized pineapple with dark chocolate, after seeing her version, here.

I didn't grill mine, just used a non-stick pan, and my sugar coating was a bit watered down, so it took awhile to caramelize, but it was so delicious with the dark chocolate.

The sweet from the pineapple and the tartness from the dark chocolate...great with wine.

IMG_4976 And then there was an evening when we had buri sushi (amberjack).

The pieces of fish were so thick and fresh. Love the supermarket's pre-made food area.

IMG_5244 Recently tried this imperial porter called "To whom it may concern, we didn't ask you what kind of beer you like, sorry".

Made with black sugar it had hints of chocolate and caramel...yum!

IMG_5246 Celebrating 30 years, Haagen Dazs came out with a rose ice cream...wow the rose flavor is so nice, not perfumy or overpowering.

IMG_5276 On the other hand, their sakura ice cream was bad, really bad....even if sakura translates to cherry, it isn't the same cherry as bing or sour cherries...blah!

IMG_5270 Ginormous potato, and only 38 yen!

IMG_5275 I boiled the potato and mixed in a tablespoon of andasu and some mayo for a kind of potato salad...delicious!

What have you been enjoying?