Thursday, December 31, 2015

thank you!

Thank you following our adventures. I appreciate your comments, feedback, emails and messages.

I hope you got to do everything you wanted to this year.

It's been a krazy year with the weather and nature-related events.

We had lots of visits from family and friends. And we were able to catch up with a lot of blog friends too.

Although there were some sad days, there were definitely more happy days.

May everyday of the new year be filled with new connections, re-discoveries and delicious adventures.

Thank you for a great year.

Talk to you again in 2016!

Wednesday, December 30, 2015

books 2015

Books read this year...please share what you read this year in the comments!

1. Jennifer L. Scott "Lessons from Madame Chic"
2. Samuel Chamberlain "Clémentine In The Kitchen"
3. Amelia Freer "Eat.Nourish.Glow."
4. Fran Gage "Bread and Chocolate"
5. Leslie Jonath "Everyone Loves Paris"
6. Marnie Hanel "The Picnic"
7. Alice B. Toklas "The Alice B Toklas Cookbook"
8. Sarah-Kate Lynch "The Wedding Bees"

Tuesday, December 29, 2015

10 photos

I first posted 10 photos back in 2008 as part of a meme, now I do this every year as a way to look back on the year.

1. Our first nabe (hot pot) using the clay pot we got from MIL's stash.

2. (not)Rolled Cabbage, a fun and easy dish.

3. Kei-chan, a dish we tried when we visited Gujo-Hachiman.

4. It was my first time making my mom's recipe for Bread & Butter Pickles. It was a really easy recipe and a nice way to remember my Mom.

5. Re-created a dish we had when we went to easy and so good!

6. Incorporating Autumn ingredients, I made this Autumn Corn Chowder

7. Was craving "home" with all the rainy days, so I made some W & M-style Sliders.

8. An easy keema curry that adds some marmalade.

9.Peanut Nishime, a dish that I recreated after trying it in Tokoname.

10. Sweet Sour Meatballs, a favorite comfort food.

Re-creating, re-connecting as well as trying new was your year in the kitchen?

Monday, December 28, 2015

saying goodbye

In late October, Grandma had a stroke. She was paralyzed on the right side, had a hard time eating and had some pain.

Several weeks ago, I face-timed with her, my brother & Aunty. (love technology!)

Even though she didn't recognize me, it was still nice to see her.

Unfortunately, she passed away the other day at 99.

I've said it before but she was the "tough one" in our family. The one to hold our family together.

Inspire us to move forward towards our goals.

I am thankful for the time I got to spend with her, for her words of wisdom, her love and guidance throughout the years.

You will be missed a LOT!

Love you.

Sunday, December 27, 2015

foodie saturday

Yesterday, we went to see a movie, "Sugihara Chiune" (a really good biography/historical type movie) and then went to Awajishima Burger for lunch.

It's been 5 years since we've been here and it is even more popular now.

In fact, walking to the shop, the burgers were literally calling us with their aroma.

I had their regular bacon cheese...800 yen while Satoshi had their large bacon cheese...900 yen

We also ordered some fries...150 yen

Their prices have gone up a bit, but the burgers are still delicious. Still super hard to eat without getting sauce on your face.

We'll be back.

After lunch, we wanted a little something sweet, so we walked back to Nishinomiya Gardens and had some gelato from Milkissimo.

Fondant chocolate for me (hard to see) and Mango for Satoshi and coffees.

The weather is still funky but I am still hoping to see flurries...have a good week!

Saturday, December 26, 2015

udon kichi

Two Sundays ago, after doing our o-soji (New Years cleaning), we had lunch at Udon Kichi.

I had their niku kasu udon while Satoshi had their curry udon with a side order of rice.

While we were waiting for their food, I noticed that they had a new item on their menu...mazemen (mah-zay-men).

"Maze" means to stir and "Men" is noodle.

I have seen mazemen around on the web, and most look quite spicy.

So, on Wednesday, which was a holiday, Satoshi and I went back for lunch.

I ordered the mazemen...800 yen and he ordered the curry udon with a side order of rice.

Atop the udon is the spicy meat topping, a dollop of what I think was kochujang, a raw egg yolk, some chives, green onion, strips of nori, as well as thin chili strips.

I don't think anyone has ever instructed me to "stir everything until the noodles turn red"...whoa?!

So I did...

And it did turn reddish...This was so good!

Sweet, salty and spicy...super addicting!

As I was eating, I realized that I would have leftover meat I asked for a "shime-gohan" this is a bowl of rice to end the meal, usually when you have soup or something like 50 yen.

On the piping hot rice was a little more meat topping and green onions.

And then I was instructed to "dump it in and mix it well"

So I mixed...

I was (super full) but so glad I ordered the extra rice.

It would've been a shame to waste all that good topping...

I think this is going to be my new fave here.

Friday, December 25, 2015

playing with your food

If you've ever travelled to Japan, you may or may not know that the potato salad here is more like mashed potatoes.

I'm not sure why this is but I have found a new way to put potato salad out on your table for Christmas parties.

All you need is some potato salad, some lettuce and stars cut out of carrots or yellow bell peppers.

Just layer the potato salad between leaves of lettuce, top with a carrot (I used light yellow carrots) or yellow bell pepper star and voila!

You'll have a Christmas, yeah?!

When I saw this being done on tv, I wasn't sure as to how big the pieces of lettuce should be, so my leaves were quite large.

I made individual "trees", but think that if you break your lettuce up into smaller bite sized pieces it will be easier to make your potato salad tree.

If you do try this out, let me know what you think.

Merry Christmas everyone!

Thursday, December 24, 2015


Have been getting my fill of stollen this year.

First, Starbucks' version was more like a poundcake filled with nuts and dried fruits.

And then we tried Takibi Bakery's version, which has marzipan in the middle.

I loved all the whole pieces of nuts and fruits in it.

This version had a fondant like "glaze" over it, most places I've tried in Japan have powdered sugar on theirs.

I've never had an authentic version, but think this one may be very close.

Tomorrow is Christmas, may Santa bring everything you are hoping for.

Wednesday, December 23, 2015

owa beer

We recently stumbled across Owa Beer.

The maker is Japanese and is making his Belgian style beer in Belgium.

We tried the Amber and Stout. The amber had a bitter aftertaste while the stout had light coffee notes.

We had this with some yakitori as well as other munchies.

Love their label and hope to find their yuzu lambic.

Maybe you can find their beer where you are, check their website.

What have you been enjoying?

Tuesday, December 22, 2015


While waiting for Satoshi to finish his class, I was walking around and stumbled upon Foodscape.

This past Saturday, I went to check them out.

I tried their preserved lemon chicken tartine, this had green olives and thinly sliced onions. I liked the hard-type baguette that it was served on.

The pain au chocolat was flaky, super flaky but also had a little cookie dough mixed in.

A bit pricey at 970 yen for the two pastries and a cafe latte...but I like the laid back feel to the cafe.

I'll be back.

1-4-32 Fukushima
Fukushima, Osaka
Phone: 06.6345.1077
Hours: 08:00-20:00
check their FB page for days off (Japanese only)

Monday, December 21, 2015

super easy kim chee gyoza

I saw this done on a television show but adapted it.

Super easy kim chee gyoza : adapted from Hirano Remi's recipe : makes 2

30 gyoza wrappers
200 grams minced pork
50 grams kim chee

Mix your pork and kim chee together, set aside
In a 6-7 inch (15-17 centimeter) pan put a little water and 1/2 tablespoon of oil
Overlap 7 or 8 gyoza wrappers in a circle.
Put half of the meat mixture onto the wrappers
Then cover with another 7 or 8 gyoza wrappers
Press down slightly on the top wrappers
Turn heat on to medium-low and cover your pan
Cook for about 4 minutes.
Take the gyoza out of the pan and add some oil to the pan
Then flip the gyoza over and turn the heat on to low.
Add a little more water and cook for another 4 minutes.
Repeat and use the other half of the meat mixture for another gyoza.

NOTES: I used sesame oil but you could use a different oil. You can use a pizza cutter to cut for easier serving.
If you use a bigger pan, it may be harder to flip. This was fun, easy and I like how crisp the outsides got.
I'm making this again.

Friday, December 18, 2015

gyoza tenshin

We tried Gyoza Tenshin the other week. Their menu is quite extensive but their specialty is gyoza (pot stickers).

We ordered 4 different types (from left to right)...kujo negi (a type of green onion), yuzu kosho (a type of chili paste made from yuzu, chili & salt), shiso (perilla) and chamiton (a brand of pork from Kagoshima).

We also tried some deep fried tako (octopus) as well as some edamame (soy beans).

There wasn't anything too spectacular about the chamiton or negi, but we did like the yuzu kosho & shiso gyozas.

They also have salads and nabe (hot pot) on their menu.

Everything is reasonably priced, our dinner with drinks was under 4000 yen...we'll be back.

Gyoza Tenshin
1-12-5 Ishibashi
Ikeda, Osaka
Phone: 050.5785.6703
Hours: Monday-Saturday 12:00-26:00
Sunday-Holidays 18:00-23:00

Thursday, December 17, 2015


Remember that can of saba (mackerel)?

Well, we finally had it today for breakfast, mixed with some mayo and put into a sandwich with some avocado.

To me, it was a bit "fishier" than tuna, but still very delicious.

I like that the pieces of mackerel in the can were whole filets, not broken up.

I'm definitely picking this up again.

Wednesday, December 16, 2015

cafe minatuki

Monday, I got together with Hiromi for lunch and some tea.

Lunch was at Natural Kitchen Saison and was delicious. This time around I chose their meat dish and it was a super tender beef simmered in red wine.

It was a nice lunch as we were the only ones in the restaurant for the most part.

After lunch we headed to Cafe Minatuki for tea.

I had their chai which is slightly sweetened.

It was our first times at this cafe, we enjoyed the laid back feel to this place and we are looking forward to trying their lunch.

A great day of walking and talking. (Thanks Hiromi!)

Cafe Minatuki
inside Ikeda Shopping Arcade
Phone: 072.737.5827
Closed Wednesdays
Hours: Weekdays 10:00-19:00, Weekends & Holidays 8:00-18:00

Tuesday, December 15, 2015

24/7 cafe apartment

Saturday after Satoshi's German class, we had lunch at 24/7 Café Apartment.

This shop recently opened in the Grand Front Osaka.

I like how the shop looks like someone's living room. The downside to the space is that it is really open and noisy.

I ordered their lunch set, choose 3 dishes and it comes with rice, miso soup and houji-cha (roasted green tea). I chose their fried shrimp with sweet chili mayo, tofu topped with some avocado, tomato and a non-spicy gu-iri-ra-yu (chili oil with stuff in it) and their spicy fried chicken. I really liked the non-spicy "ra-yu" and want to re-create this.

Everything was well seasoned and cooked nicely.

The rice was a black genmai, which had a nice chew.

Satoshi went with their curry. He enjoyed this and I liked the colors of his plate.

There are other items we want to try from their menu.

We'll be back.

24/7 Café Apartment
Grand Front Osaka Umekita Cellar B1
Phone: 06.6377.5777
Hours: 10:00-22:00
Open when Grand Front Osaka is

Monday, December 14, 2015

eco ring

For the past two Sundays, we've visited a recycle shop called Eco Ring.

In the past, I've written about recycle shops, here and here. They've refused some items, and they usually buy things from you for super cheap.

Eco Ring on the other hand are unlike those shops, as long as it isn't food or medication, they buy it.

Last Sunday, we brought a couple of things that our printer "used to use", cards and photo paper...this got us 10 yen...whoo!

And a Louis Vuitton paper bag...5 yen.

Yup, they even buy brand name paper bags and boxes!

This weekend, Satoshi went through his things and gave up his golf clubs, as well as some bags and other items.

I gave up some make-up bags, as well as some small items like watches, sunglasses and costume jewelry.

We figured we could at least get 200 yen for everything and were shocked when the woman working there gave us 2500 yen!

I think we are done cleaning our clutter for this year, but now we know where to bring stuff to be recycled.

Thursday, December 10, 2015

kim chee nikujaga

It wasn't too cold last night, but it had been awhile since I've made nikujaga (literally meat and potato).

On a recent foodie show, the chef introduced a new nikujaga version...

Kim chee Nikujaga adapted by Edamoto Nahomi, Foodies TV : makes about 4 servings

200 grams pork belly, sliced into bite sized pieces
1/2 tablespoon sesame oil
1/2 onion, relatively thinly sliced
4 potatoes, scrubbed and cut into 1-inch slices

Simmering Sauce:
2/3 tablespoon sugar
3 tablespoons sake (rice wine)
3 tablespoons mirin (sweet rice wine)
3 tablespoons shoyu (soy sauce)
1 teaspoon kochujang (spicy korean miso)
1 cup dashi (stock)
1/4 cup water

Add at the end:
100 grams kim chee
nub of butter

Saute the pork, onion and potatoes in the sesame oil.
When everything is coated, add the simmering sauce.
Bring to a boil then turn down the heat to a simmer.
Put an oshibuta (drop-lid) on and cook for 20 minutes.
After the 20 minutes, check the potatoes for tenderness
If the potatoes are tender, take the oshibuta off then cook for about 10 minutes to let some of the sauce evaporate.
Then add the kim chee and butter and turn off the heat.
Serve with lots of rice.

NOTES: the original recipe asks you to steam the potatoes before adding it to the simmering sauce. Instead, I made it the way I make nikujaga, just adding it to the simmering sauce.

This was nice and spicy and so good with rice.

I'm making this again.

Wednesday, December 09, 2015


Since the weather has gone back to "warm" I decided to get out and about to check out if the fall foliage "finally" changed did.

Still, these weren't as vibrant as some we've seen in the past.

I'm glad that they did change colors (even though it was several weeks later).

Now we can move on to winter...

Tuesday, December 08, 2015


I've written about anpo-gaki here.

We recently tried some from Tottori prefecture that are called Saijo Persimmon.

The seeds really look like kaki no tane (rice crackers).

Even though these were the first ones that had seeds in them, the persimmon itself didn't disappoint.

Sweet and gel-like.

We're back to "warmer" weather this week. Hope your week is going well.

Monday, December 07, 2015


Saturday, after Satoshi's German class, we had lunch at Mansaku, which specializes in Miyazaki cuisine. Which if I'm not mistaken, is all things chicken.

Satoshi's not that much of a fan of chicken (unless it is fried), so he chose the Miyazaki beef bowl.

This was a nice sized serving topped with a poached egg. His meal also came with some salad and miso soup.

I chose the Tori Namban.

Fried chicken dipped into a shoyu based sauce then topped with tartar sauce.

Tartar sauce in Japan usually has hard boiled eggs in it.

This piece of chicken was huge!

I usually can't finish all the rice I'm given so I gave the rest to Satoshi.

The food was good here, and there were other items we would like to try...we'll be back.

Grand Front Osaka South Building 7F
Phone: 06.6485.7474
Weekdays: lunch 11:00-15:00, dinner 17:00-23:00
Weekends: 11:00-23:00
Open when Grand Front Osaka is

Thursday, December 03, 2015

daily stuff

Yesterday, just as I was about to print out a sample of our nengajo (New Years card), our printer literally sizzled out of existence.

We decided not to replace the printer, we hardly use it.

If we really need to print something out, we can do so at the convenience store as long as the data is on a USB memory stick.

We also decided that our nengajo this year will be "old skool"...handwritten and decorated with rubber stamps.

Since today is rainy, I have been working on the ones I want to send to friends and family in Hawaii, the US mainland and other worldwide destinations.

The muscles in my writing arm are getting a loud reminder that they rarely get used these days with computers and smartphones...

Hope your week is going well.

Wednesday, December 02, 2015


We were lucky that MIL let us stay over on Saturday night.

After breakfast, we headed to Sennyuji to visit the family grave.

This tree was probably the only reddest tree we saw all Autumn...

After putting some flowers at the grave and cleaning it a little, we headed back to Higashiyama where we had drinks with Kirk and the Missus the night before.

Satoshi had never explored the shopping arcade there...or to be specific, had not known it had existed.

I had passed through there once before with Tamakikat.

There were a few shops open for lunch so we popped in to Beauty Kitchen, which was right across from Beer Komachi.

While the food was good, the lady who owns the place was just plain rude...we won't be going back.

On a side street of the shopping arcade was a tiny café, Café Green Door.

The owner's grandfather is actually a tenugui (Japanese towel) print maker. You can see some of his works as well as buy some tenugui & pottery too.

We had a doughnut and coffee.

As we were walking to the Hankyu Kawaramachi station, we came upon a bakery, Le Bac à Sable, that was selling veggies out front.

Beets (300 yen) and colorful carrots (250 yen), which I roasted the next day for dinner.

I want to go back to try their baked goods and pick up more veggies too.

It was a great weekend. The weather was very cooperative, Satoshi got to reconnect with the Higashiyama area and we got to do quite a bit.

Beauty Kitchen
inside of Furukawa Shopping Arcade
Higashiyama, Kyoto
Phone: 075.541.7810
Closed Thursdays
Hours: 11:00-15:00 (lunch), 17:00-21:00 (dinner)

Café Green Door
448 Hachiken-cho
Higashiyama, Kyoto
Phone: 075.531.6118
Closed Tuesdays, Wednesdays, Thursdays
Hours: 9:00-17:00

Le Bac à Sable
51 Minamisaikaishi-cho
Higashiyama, Kyoto
Phone: 075.746.3080
Hours: 7:00-19:00
Open everyday

Tuesday, December 01, 2015

okariba & beer komachi with friends

Saturday night, we met up with Kirk and the Missus.

They are back in Japan checking out new places and reconnecting with some that they enjoyed on their previous visit.

One of their reconnecting spots was Okariba.

A cozy bar with grill spaces at each table.

Since Satoshi and I had never been here, we let Kirk and the Missus do all the ordering.

The tsukidashi was a broccoli salad.

The grilled wild boar with a shoyu based glaze.

A hot pot with pork or maybe boar?

An assortment of Shinshu pickles...the owner is from Shinshu, Nagano.

One delicacy of the area is inago tsukudani...locusts! (the dark pile near Satoshi's hand in the photo)

It was my first time trying this and if no one said it was locusts (and I did not look at them), I would've thought it was shrimp, similar to some of the shrimp tsukudani we have had.

Wasabi leaves...spicy!

Houba miso, the Missus' fave. Miso, green onions and mushrooms are cooked on top of a magnolia leaf. We've had this when we went to Gifu and the surrounding areas...good with rice!

Basashi...raw horse meat...not gamey and when eaten with ginger and the thick shoyu it was delicious and a little creamy.

Lots of new dishes tried and it was great catching up with them.

After dinner, we caught a cab back to the Higashiyama area to have a beer at Beer Komachi.

This was also a reconnecting spot for Kirk and the Missus.

The place was packed with the bulk of the customers being foreigners.

Kirk had a Kyoto Belgian Wheat, The Missus and Satoshi had a Kyoto Wheat Ale and I tried the Ushitora Coffee Stout.

The Missus decided she liked Kirk's beer better so he ended up drinking her Wheat Ale.

I loved the Coffee Stout, lots of coffee aroma and really chocolatey (wish I had had some vanilla ice cream to put into it!)

We also tried the Ballast Point Grapefruit Sculpin (a beer that is brewed in San Diego)...fruity, but really bitter!

We had a blast chatting and we also made friends with the couple at the next table too.

Kirk gave us some Chuao chocolates which we will try soon.

It was great reconnecting with them and checking out some of their "hangouts" in Kyoto.

Thanks Kirk and the Missus, we hope you enjoy the rest of your trip and look forward to meeting up again!

43-3 Higashitenno-cho, Residence Okazaki 1F
Sakyo-ku, Kyoto
Phone: 075.751.7790
Closed Mondays
Hours: 17:00-24:00

Beer Komachi
inside of the Furukawa Shopping arcade
Higashiyama, Kyoto
Phone: 075.746.6152
Closed Tuesdays
Hours: Monday, Wednesday, Thursday, Friday 17:00-23:00
Saturday, Sunday, Holidays 15:00-23:00