Friday, February 27, 2015

sesame dressing

Recently tried a new recipe for sesame dressing. This one was easy to put together and doesn't make a lot, so it was also easy to use up.

I first used it on steamed broccoli.

The second time I used it, I wilted some cabbage and then used some of the dressing.

Sesame Dressing from "Everyday Salads" by Masaki Higuchi
2 tablespoons sesame oil
1 tablespoon kurozu (black vinegar)
1 tablespoon sesame paste (tahini)
1/2 tablespoon shoyu
1/2 tablespoon kuromitsu (black honey similar to molasses)
1 teaspoon toasted sesame seeds

Place everything in a bowl and whisk.

NOTES: I didn't have black vinegar so I just used rice vinegar. Also, if you don't have kuromitsu, I think you could probably use honey. I added a little ground black pepper and threw everything into a jar and shook it up.

The author notes that you could also add cilantro, ginger, garlic and/or chives.

I like that this dressing isn't too sweet.

I'll be making this dressing again.

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

Wednesday, February 25, 2015

saying goodbye

We spent the past couple of days in Kyoto.

SIL's father passed away.

He had been ill for some time and it had been years since we last saw him.

He always had a warm smile and was fun to chat with.

We're gonna miss you!

Tuesday, February 24, 2015

boulanger s kagawa

There is a tiny bakery in the Nakazaki-cho area of Osaka called Boulanger S Kagawa.

I picked up a few things to try...the milk france (a baguette filled with a milky buttercream).

Loved this but I should have scraped out the buttercream before heating this up in the toaster oven...what a mess it made!

The chocolate bagel...meh! I'll stick to Happy Camper's bagels.

Fig rustic, packed with so many dried figs! love.

I love how you need to tell the people behind the counter what items you want and I love their "hard type" breads....I'll be back!

Boulanger S Kagawa
1-10-10 Nakazaki, Soleil Nakazaki 1F
Kita-ku, Osaka
Phone: 06.6374.0181
Hours: 7:30-19:00
Closed Tuesdays & Wednesdays

Monday, February 23, 2015

foodie saturday in kobe

Saturday it was sunny so we decided to check out the Chinese New Year festivities in Kobe.

It was packed and hard to find a place to eat lunch at.

Our first choice had a krazy line, and the restaurant next door had no line, so we chanced it and had lunch at Koshusaikan.

They said we may have to share our table. We ended up against a wall with a teeny table.

Satoshi and I ordered the dim sum lunch which came with 12 different "tastes"...980 yen each.

These lunches had been made and had been sitting awhile because the skins of the dim sum were dried out...blah!

The bowl of noodles had either hardened or at least the noodles were in a massive clump...probably the worst meal I've had in Japan?!

I guess that is the chance you take when you veer blindly off your "to try list"...

A bit hungry we walked around a bit and decided to check out Lima Coffee.

They just opened last October and are part of the "third wave" coffee trend sweeping Japan.

Siphon-style, Satoshi enjoyed watching the guy behind the counter brew the coffees.

Satoshi had their Mandheling (medium) while I had their Peru (small)...770 yen for both.

Their coffee was good!

Since we were still hungry we checked out the second place on my list, Hyotan Gyoza.

This tiny shop has been in business for over 60 years!

They only have 8 seats so be prepared to wait.

If you don't have time to wait, order some "to-go".

Warning: If you eat at their counter, you have to order at least one order of gyoza per person.

We ordered two orders (one order has 7 pieces)...740 yen.

The skins are thin and have a little pull.

Kobe style is to eat the gyoza with a miso sauce. The sauce is made with hatcho miso, a red soy bean paste. We added a little vinegar to it, but you could also add chili sauce or shoyu.

We also tried their garlic soy sauce (bottle stuffed with sliced garlic and soy sauce), by itself.

Both are good.

Satoshi enjoyed these. He said that if he lived in Kobe, he would be here often.

I'm glad he liked this place...we'll be back to the latter two places.

Have a good week!

2-10-8 Sakaemachi-dori
Chuo, Kobe
Phone: 078.393.0607
Hours: 10:00-22:00

Lima Coffee
3-8-1 Motomachi-dori
Chuo, Kobe
Phone: 078.335.6308
Closed Mondays
Hours: 8:00-18:00

Hyotan Gyoza
1-11-15 Motomachi-dori
Chuo, Kobe
Phone: 078.391.0364
Hours: 11:30-22:30, days off not set, call before going

Sunday, February 22, 2015

more chocolate

This is the different chocolates I picked up from various import stores...

Madécasse, chocolate maker that makes their chocolate in Madagascar.

I love that they don't skimp...look at all that coconut & cacao nibs!

(The popcorn, I wrote up about here.)

Askinosie Dark Chocolate Peanut Butter bar...they use Tanzania cacao. The peanut butter was in the background and this chocolate was creamy!

TCHO's Tchunky Tchotella--Gianduja...creamy with bits of roasted hazelnuts and just a touch of sea salt.

Mānoa chocolate..made in Hawaii. This one was fruity along with the sea salt.

Cacao Atlanta Chocolate Company's Candied Ginger with Pink Peppercorn...creamy milk chocolate studded with candied ginger pieces and pink peppercorns...surprisingly good!

Olive and Sinclair's salt and pepper bar. I'm not sure if this was dark chocolate but I like how the pepper snuck up on you while eating this.

Alma's Salty Nutty Toffee Bar (mini)

Love how there was more "stuff" in it than chocolate.

I think all of these bars are the trending "bean to bar" types.

I'm glad I got to try all of these.

Have you tried any of these? Which is your favorite?

Saturday, February 21, 2015

chocolate update

UPDATE on these chocolates...some I had tried before, so I will tell you about the ones that I hadn't tried before...

Rochef: Dark chocolate with salted!
Dark chocolate with maple sugar...the maple sugar didn't stand out so it tasted more like dark chocolate

Cadbury: Curly Wurly...caramel & milk chocolate, be prepared for it to stick on your teeth.
Crunchies...this was a spongy toffee center, kinda like honeycombs?! different texture, but fun!
Wunderbar...think Butterfinger with the addition of caramel...sugar coma!

Trader Joes: Fireworks the popping candy effect
PB & J: wow! tastes just like a peanut butter jelly sandwich (with chocolate in it)!

Thank you again for these delicious treats!

Friday, February 20, 2015


Last night we had "chinese" food for dinner since it is Chinese New Year.

Lup cheong rice & cantonese chicken with broccoli & maitake.

I marinated chicken using the recipe for the clay pot chicken, then stir-fried it with maitake and some steamed broccoli.

For dessert, mooncake.

I know it is for a celebration in Autumn, but you can find it here year round.

Nothing really authentic, totally just in the spirit of the holiday.

Have a nice weekend!

Thursday, February 19, 2015

won bok salad

In Hawaii, we call napa cabbage (chinese cabbage), "won bok". In Japan, we call it "hakusai".

In the markets here, you can buy the napa cabbage whole, or for smaller families, in fourths, I've even seen them in eighths!

Since I had some hakusai leftover, I used it in a salad that my mom used to make.

Wash your hakusai well and then slice thin.

Then pour this dressing over it....

Won Bok Salad Dressing adapted from "Wisteria Delights"
1 teaspoon sesame seeds
1 clove garlic, grated
1 cup olive oil
1/2 cup sugar
1/2 cup rice vinegar
2 teaspoons salt (omitted)
1/2 teaspoon pepper, ground
1/4 cup mayonnaise
1 teaspoon grainy mustard

Combine everything in a blender and pour over sliced won bok.

NOTES: I made 1/4 of this recipe and put everything into a jar and shook everything (instead of blending in a blender) before pouring it over the salad.

The original recipe calls for Coleman mustard which I believe is a dry mustard. I didn't have this and substituted with some grainy mustard.

The flavors were a little different from what I remembered which could be due to the mustard, but this salad stays quite crisp.

Make this ahead so that everything can meld.

It still isn't salad weather here, but I'm glad I re-connected with this salad.

p.s. if you are celebrating Chinese New Year, Kung Hee Fat Choy!

Wednesday, February 18, 2015

gyoza no osho

Gyoza (pot stickers) is a popular dish in Osaka. In Osaka, there are tons of places to get your fix.

Two of the most popular are Osaka no Osho & Gyoza no Osho.

Their names are similar because the minds behind each entity are apparently related.

As I understand it, the original shop was called "Osho", the two brothers decided to go separate ways and created their own "osho".

Recently we checked out the huge Gyoza no Osho that is located in our neighborhood.

It is sort of a "fast food-family restaurant" kind of place.

This place was at least 3 or 4 times the size of other Osho shops I have been to.

They had a counter area for people dining alone, booths and tatami mat areas for family and large group dining.

I ordered the JSM (Just Size Menu) in Janglish (Japanese-English) this means that the menu is "tailored to just the size you want to eat". In this case, 2 or 3 entree items. Each order comes with 3 pieces of gyoza, rice and soup.

I went with the 2 item...kani-tama (egg cooked with crab covered with a thick ankake sauce) and karaage (fried chicken).

The karaage was very meaty and I liked the creaminess of the eggs.

Boy! this was filling.

Satoshi went with their kotteri (rich) set.

Everything on his tray definitely looked heavy and came with a ramen, donburi & fried chicken skins (plus 3 pieces of gyoza!)...eep!

Even though this was a great place for a quick lunch, I don't think we'll be here too often since everything on the menu is kinda high in calories.

Gyoza no Osho
4-3-47 Hanjo
Minoo, Osaka
Phone: 072.723.1004
Monday-Saturday 11:00-2:00
Sunday 11:00-23:00

Tuesday, February 17, 2015

les goûters

There is a tiny pastry shop near Utsubo Park called Les Goûters. Goûters in French means "snack" or "little taste".

While I was waiting for Satoshi, I went in to check them out.

They had a lot of baked treats, but what caught my eye were their "crayons".

Chocolate that is flavored and formed into crayons.

You can't write with them (I tried) but they would definitely make a cute gift.

I like how the package shows you what flavors you are getting.

We tried coffee, goma(sesame) & kinako(soy bean powder).

My favorite was coffee. Kinako's flavor was kind of non-existent.

We also tried their earl grey cookies, these could've had more tea flavor, but I liked the crispness of the cookies.

Even though they are take-out only, I wouldn't mind trying their cakes, I'll be back!

Les Goûters
1-14-28 Kyomachibori, UTSUBO+2 Bldg, 1F
Nishi-ku, Osaka
Phone: 06.6147.2721
Closed Mondays
Hours: 10:00-20:00

Monday, February 16, 2015


Bummer that the snack park in the basement of Hanshin Department store is closing.

It's been around since 1957!

This is where Dennis and I had ikayaki (squid cooked in a thin crepe), the most popular item there.

After some renovations, the ikayaki will be available as a take-out item only.

No more people watching though. I'm glad I got to take Dennis there before it closed.

Sunday, February 15, 2015

valentine's day

How was your Valentine's Day? Hope you had a nice day with your special someone.

Since the girls are supposed to give the guys chocolates in Japan, I did something simple and dipped some strawberries in milk chocolate (Satoshi's fave) then decorated them with some blingy sprinkles for Satoshi.

Satoshi received some giri-choco (obligation chocolates) from his female co-workers. Someone even gave him a heart shaped senbei (rice cracker).

Lunch was at Gasthaus 44. A German restaurant. I chose the housemade sausages. This came with spätzle, sauerkraut and a dollop of mashed potatoes.

I really enjoyed the sausages. The white one is eaten with a sweet mustard and you need to peel the casing off before eating it. The darker one is eaten with grainy mustard. (the darker one was juicy!)

Satoshi went with their housemade hamburger, which was a meatball that had lots of cumin in it. It smelled wonderful.

After lunch, Satoshi went to meet some of his German classmates for a study session, so I killed some time and headed to Takamura Wine.

They also do coffee, so I had a cup of Mandheling.

Then we met up at Utsubo Park, where we saw this huge black cat. Bigger than my niece, I swear that it was a baby puma!

The weather was sunny but the wind was really icy.

Dinner was an assortment of things from the department food floor with wine.

Hope you have a nice week!

Gasthaus 44 (UPDATE:2021 out of business)
1-12-8 Awaza
Nishi-ku, Osaka
Phone: 06.6533.3443
Closed Sundays
Hours: Lunch 11:30-15:00, Dinner: 17:00-23:00

Friday, February 13, 2015

thank you!

The weather this week has been pretty dreary...cold, dark, grey.

Two blog friends sent me some sunshine in the mail.

Thanks Rona!

Thanks LJ!

I am working through these chocolates as well as some that I had bought for myself too.

Will post on these as soon as possible!

Have a nice weekend.

Thursday, February 12, 2015

craft beer house molto

Yesterday was a holiday, but Satoshi had to work so I met him for dinner in Umeda.

We checked out Craft Beer House Molto.

They have many craft beers from around Japan on tap.

You choose how much you want to drink...small (about 240ml), medium (about 450ml) and large (about 660ml)

And which beer you want to drink.

I started with Iwatekura's Oyster Stout (small) I liked the full body of this beer.

Satoshi also ordered a dark beer called Schwartz (medium), his seemed a bit watery.

The amuse bouche (tsukidashi--stuff you didn't order but are expected to pay for) was a jar of mixed nuts (pistachio, cashew & corn nuts)

Haven't eaten corn nuts in awhile, so good!

Buri (amberjack) carpaccio was the carpaccio of the day.

I liked the oiliness of this fish. They serve it with a gelee type dressing.

Assorted smoked items.

These come to the table on a smoking platter. Most of the items have been smoked previously keeping the meats/seafoods half raw.

This platter had tako (octopus), hotate (scallop), sasami (chicken breast), pork and salmon.

Under the salmon is a dollop of their potato salad.

Margherita pizza...tiny 4 or 5 inch.

The bottom was super crispy and the crust chewy.


By this time, Satoshi had had another beer (medium) (I cannot remember what) and ordered another one (medium) with my Isekadoya's Yuzu beer (small).

The yuzu beer started off with a nice yuzu aroma, but then the yuzu got to be too perfumy for my liking.

The view from the 31st floor was wonderful.

The weather was overcast, so the sunset was meh!

Total damage was a little over 8000 yen (the beers are what makes this place pricey). If you aren't a beer drinker they also have wines and cocktails too.

Make reservations if possible, they don't have that many seats and especially if you want to be seated by the windows!

We'll be back for special occasions...

Craft Beer House Molto
Hankyu Grand Building 31F
Kita-ku, Osaka
Phone: 06.6809.2641 (info), 050.5868.3983(reservations)
Lunch: 11:30-15:00, Dinner: 17:00-23:30
Open when Hankyu Grand Building is

Wednesday, February 11, 2015

talo coffee

Last year when I bought some bread from Cocoro, I stumbled upon Talo Coffee.

I made a note to try them and finally got a chance to yesterday.

From the outside they don't look too spacious, but when you go inside, wow! I loved the place. Huge windows at the front of the cafe gives the place lots of light.

They had 5 different plates to choose from for lunch...all 950 yen (tax included).

The plates come with salad and choice of coffee or tea.

I ordered their hamburger with teri-mayo sauce & nikujaga(literally meat and potato) croquette.

Everything is homemade.

I loved the moist hamburger patty!

For my meal, I had chosen coffee. I love that all their coffee is siphon-style.

The mug that they served it in was cool too!

This cafe is a nice find, I'll be back.

Talo Coffee (UPDATE:2021 moved to new location)
3-10 Higashi Kozu-cho
Tennoji, Osaka
Phone: 06.6765.7080
Hours: 7:00-19:00, Closed on Sundays & Holidays

Tuesday, February 10, 2015

okinawan instant curries

A couple of weeks back, we tried two Okinawan instant curries, for Curry Friday.

One was a soki (sparerib) curry, this one had lots of tender spareribs in it. And an awamori (Okinawan liquor) keema curry.

The awamori one is on the left and the soki one on the right.

I didn't care for the awamori one, it had a really heavy alcohol taste to it, like the alcohol wasn't cooked off.

I'm glad we got to try these and would definitely buy the soki one again.

Monday, February 09, 2015

over the weekend

Over the weekend, I turned another year older.

I had breakfast at City Bakery. Their shrimp avocado egg open sandwich. This was so good! I have to try to re-create this one.

Since it was Satoshi's last day for his German class for the semester, we had a late lunch at Echi Ponte Vecchio.

Lunch started with a salad...lots of different veggies and topped with lots of proscuitto.

I had a glass of sparkling wine, while Satoshi had a glass of red (the wine portions are definitely better here!)

I ordered their Winter Veggie Pizza. This was also topped with little dollops of their salami dip.

The dip gives the pizza a little salty zing. I loved all the different veggies on it, especially the brussels sprouts.

Satoshi had their mushroom pizza.

All sorts of mushrooms and thin slices of proscuitto. Love the white sauce.

To end espresso for me, a coffee for Satoshi and some of their truffles. They have bits of citrus peel in them which was nice with the rich chocolate.

Since we had such a big lunch, dinner was simple..salad and dessert! (and a little wine)

We bought some sweets from La Pâtisserie des Rêves. I have been wanting to try them for awhile.

Especially their Paris-Brest (mini). Hazelnut creme filling, so good!

Fraiser...simple and not too sweet. There were big pieces of strawberry in it which was nice.

I like their fluorescent pink "stoppers" these keep the cakes from sliding around in the box.

If you did some shopping (or eating) at Lucua, bring your receipt of 1000 yen or more to the Lucua customer service counter and get a pretty rose....until Valentine's Day!

Satoshi also gave me a bouquet of flowers. (thank you!)

I also received some ice cream cake from my host-sister, as well as emails, and lots of nice messages from friends and family on FB. (thank you!)

A rather low-key birthday. Just the way I like it.

We have a holiday on Wednesday making this week a short one. Hope you have a good week everyone.