Wednesday, April 29, 2015

kobayashi memorial hall

Yesterday, while walking to the market, Satoshi and I stopped at the Kobayashi Memorial Hall to check out their baseball exhibit.

The house is located near the Ikeda castle ruins and was the residence of the founder of the Hankyu railways, Kobayashi Ichizo.

On the ground floor of the house is a French restaurant, Gazoku Sanso.

And on the second floor is where their living quarters were. This is also where the exhibit was.

The entrance was quite dark but I was fascinated by the decor.

Also, the living room area (on the ground floor) was large and I was amazed by the large windows and high ceilings, definitely not something found in Japanese homes during the 1900s.

The gardens surrounding the home are also something to see too.

I'm glad we got to check out this place and hopefully we'll be able to eat at the restaurant in the coming days.

Kobayashi Memorial Hall
7-17 Tateishi-cho
Ikeda, Osaka
Phone: 072.751.3865
Hours: 10:00-17:00
Closed Mondays
Admission: 300 yen

ps it's a holiday today and the start of Golden Week(GW), we have some adventures in the works!

Tuesday, April 28, 2015

tom yum nuts

I was browsing in Kaldi one day and came upon these...Tom Yum Nuts.

If you are familiar with Tom Yum Soup, then you'll know it is a Thai version of "hot and sour" soup. If you aren't familiar, you can read more about it here.

Cashews are coated with a "caramel" then dredged into herbs and spices like chili, lemongrass and kaffir lime leaves.

These are spicy! and they are similar to Sahale Snacks' Sing Buri...Sahale's were sweeter.

These are nice with beer.

I'm glad I bought two bags...

Monday, April 27, 2015


It seems that we've jumped from Spring head first into Summer...

The daytime temps have been quite warm.

At least early mornings and evenings have been quite comfortable.

Saturday after Satoshi's class, we headed to Fukushima for lunch at Pannya.

A tiny curry shop, they have about 6 different types on their menu.

I went with the dry keema...this wasn't too spicy and had lots of cilantro.

I loved the baked naan-thingy, it was crisp with a little salt...kinda like chips.

Satoshi went with the katsu curry.

His came with pickled cabbage and a nice piece of pork loin. The curry was "soup curry style" and very spicy (it had many chili pepper markings on the menu)

Both lunches also came with a small salad and cup of coffee afterwards (hot or iced).

There are other items on their menu we'd like to try.

We'll be back.

After lunch, we walked to check out the Noda fuji (wisteria) at their community center.

It was beautiful!

Have a nice week.

2-9-10 Fukushima
Fukushima-ku, Osaka
Phone: 06.4256.6319
Closed Tuesdays
Hours: 11:00-15:00 (lunch), 18:00-22:00 (dinner)

Friday, April 24, 2015


I've ranted before about the election system here in Japan.

Well, they are at it again...

A couple of weeks ago was the election for Minoo city (where we live), their city council or something.

This week it is an election for Ikeda city, their city council or something.

We just happen to live on the border of both cities so it has been "noisy" with all the campaigning using their loud speakers.

Ikeda has 30-something candidates, so each one has a loud speaker car trolling for votes from 8:00 to 20:00 (even on weekends!)...thank goodness their election is this coming Sunday.

Try not to be walking on the roadway when they pass or they will call out to you (over their loud speaker) about embarrassing!

I still wish they would combine their elections...this staggered system is crazy and I am pretty sure a waste of tax payer monies.

The sun is back...Have a nice weekend everyone!

Thursday, April 23, 2015

oh em gee

I think we received these gourmet jerky crisps from my Aunty when she visted...

We finally opened it on Sunday...oh em gee!

These are awesome!

Super crisp like a potato chip.

It is actually thinly sliced beef jerky crisped up...brilliant!

So good with beer...thanks Aunty!

Wednesday, April 22, 2015


Almond milk is finally in more markets these days.

Most of the brands I've seen are coming from Australia, though there are some from the U.S. as well.

I bought a couple of liters (almond & coconut and almond), though I wish they would sell "unsweetened" versions.

I'm not too crazy (no pun intended) about the company name though...Sanitarium, even though the product name is "so good".

Another thing in the markets trending these days are "greek yogurts" and "chia seeds".

Any interesting food trends where you live?

Tuesday, April 21, 2015

kukuruza popcorn

Seattle popcorn maker, Kukuruza, opened a shop in Osaka late March. (don't you love their name?! I do. Apparently it means "corn" in Russian.)

They sell 9 different flavors and one flavor of the month.

The flavor for April is Cashew Caramel (shown above).

This past Saturday, I was in Umeda a little earlier than usual, so I queued up for this popcorn.

Not knowing what to expect since I was the first in line, I entered the store and proceeded to give them my order.

Little did I know that I was at the "tasting" area, and was directed to the register area for my purchases.

I like that the cashew caramel has a nice ratio of nuts to popcorn.

We also tried the Buffalo & Bleu Cheese...this one was created to resemble Buffalo Wings.

The bleu cheese is tangy. Not spicy. This popcorn is mixed with caramel corn. The sweet-salty combo was our favorite.

I'll be back.

Kukuruza Popcorn (UPDATE: 3/2017 they closed this location)
Lucua B1
Umeda, Osaka
Phone: 06.6151.1144
Hours: 10:00-21:00
Open when Lucua is

Monday, April 20, 2015

balyet toffee

Last year, Isetan Department Store closed (well most of it did, they kept some restaurants and parts of the food floor open).

Then, earlier this month, Lucua 1100 (pronounced ee-ray) opened in its place.

Lots of shops and also lots of food places too.

One of my friends on social media posted a photo of the toffee she bought, so I went to check it out.

Balyet Toffee is located in the food hall of Lucua 1100.

They make different types of toffee and also pair them with different blends of coffee.

They sell it in 5/8 ounce pieces. I bought some different toffees for us to try.

Pistachio No6...basic toffee with a dark chocolate layer and lots of pistachios.

Allspice & Nibs...basic toffee with a dark chocolate layer, allspice and cacao nibs.

Jumble Peeps...basic toffee with a milk chocolate layer, nuts (pecan, cashew) and orange peel.

I liked how these don't stick to your teeth. My favorite was the pistachio.

I'll be back to check them out again when they change their flavors.

Balyet Toffee (UPDATE: 2/2017 the food hall is no longer there)
Lucua 1100 Food Hall B2
Phone: 06.4301.3802
Open when Lucua 1100 is

Sunday, April 19, 2015


Sometimes when you taste something, you know exactly how to make it again when you get home.

Such was the roasted onion dish we had in Awajishima last month.

All you need to make this is:
sweet onions
your favorite bolognese sauce
shredded cheese
a little olive oil

Grease the dish you will be baking this in with some olive oil.
Peel your onions then make an "X", don't cut all the way through.
Drizzle a little olive oil into the "X"
In a 400F (200C) oven, roast the onions (uncovered) for about 30 minutes.
Add the bolognese sauce and cheese (amounts up to you), then put back into the oven for another 20 minutes.
The cheese should be a little browned at the end of the 20 minutes, if not put it in a couple more minutes.

NOTES: super easy and super delicious! Satoshi gave this a thumbs up. I'm making this again.

Saturday, April 18, 2015

w & m style sliders

With all the rain and gloom, I was craving some comfort food...a W & M Bar-B-Q burger.

Inspired by a recipe I found in the Hawaiian Electric Cookbook, I marinated some hamburger and made sliders.
makes 4 sliders

1/4 pound (total) ground beef & pork
1 tablespoon shoyu
1 tablespoon sugar
several grinds of pepper
1/2 clove garlic, grated
little nub of ginger, grated
1/2 teaspoon sesame seed oil
4 walnut rolls (or your favorite)
lettuce, washed

Mix the shoyu, sugar, pepper, garlic, ginger and sesame oil together, this is the marinade
Massage the marinade into your ground beef pork mixture and let it sit in the refrig for at least half an hour or overnight.
Divide the mixture into 4, roll into balls and then flatten out into patties
In a non-stick pan, cook these to your liking on medium heat
While the burgers are cooking, cut your rolls and toast them, if you wish
After your rolls are toasted, place the lettuce on top
When you sliders are cooked, put them atop the lettuce and add some mayo

NOTES: I think marinating the meat overnight made the burgers really juicy! After cooking these up, I had these with some rosé and they hit the spot!

I'm making these again, next time, I'm adding cheese...

Friday, April 17, 2015


How many sunny days have you had so far for the month of April?

Apparently we've only had four...FOUR!

It actually seems less...

The photo was taken on a brief break from the rain...

Hope it starts warming up still wearing socks too...

Have a nice weekend!

Wednesday, April 15, 2015

keema curry

Boy, the rain sure does make things dreary.

Not really wanting to cook, I flipped through my cookbooks and looked for something easy.

I found a rather easy keema curry recipe by Mizuno Jinsuke.

I didn't have all the ingredients he listed so ad-libbed here and there.

Keema Curry adapted from "Hajimete no Spice Curry #2" : 4 servings
2 tablespoons olive oil
1 clove garlic, grated
1 nub ginger, grated
1 onion, minced
15 grams butter
1/2 teaspoon turmeric
1/2 teaspoon cayenne pepper
1 tablespoon ground cumin
1 tablespoon flour
200 milliliters hot water
2 tablespoons orange marmalade
400 grams ground beef
50 milliliters rosé
cherry tomatoes, sliced
sugar snap peas, blanched

Heat the oil in a pan on medium and add the garlic and ginger
When fragrant, add the onion and cook until the onions get a little color
Add the butter, turmeric, cayenne & cumin, stir well
Add the flour, stir well
Add the meat and cook until it has some color
Add the wine and let the alcohol burn off
Add the hot water and bring everything back to a boil, add the marmalade
Turn the heat down to simmer and cook for 20 minutes.
Serve over rice and garnish with diced cherry tomatoes and blanched sugar snap peas.

NOTES: the curry was a bit sweet with the marmalade so I would probably cut back the amount. Other than that, I liked the amount of heat the curry had and how easy it was to put this together.

I'm making this again.

Oh, and I served this with coconut flavored cabbage (sabzi).

Hope the rain stops soon...

Tuesday, April 14, 2015


Sunday while shopping for some ingredients for dinner, we came upon a tsukemono display. They were selling different types, 3 (120 gram packages) for 1080 yen (tax included).

Marukoshi is a Nagoya tsukemono maker that has been in business since 1914...

Satoshi, the taster, tried almost all the different ones that the guy had out.

I didn't taste any of them but picked out these...

Mamekyu (mame = beans, kyu = short for kyuri (cucumber). I really liked the hits of ginger in this one.

Cubed daikon with a sakura gelee.

The sakura flavor is so "springy". My only peeve is that they don't use sugar but an artificial!

Spicy gobo..basil, garlic. An "Italian" flavor.

Different but each one so good!

We had these along with some maguro tsukudani for breakfast yesterday.

The weather is back to rain. It is supposedly gonna rain for the next three days...sigh!

Hope you have a nice week!

Sunday, April 12, 2015


After all that rain during the week, Saturday was still cloudy, but with periods of sun mixed in.

I tried Garb Monaque for breakfast. The restaurant is part of Grand Front Osaka, I just never knew that they opened for breakfast.

I went with the bread set...500 yen (tax included).

It comes with salad, yogurt, your choice of drink (I chose coffee) and a screaming hot piece of bread.

I realized this bread was in fact "nuked" because towards the end of my meal, it was quite rubbery.

Not a good thing.

I liked how they gave two pats of butter and some strawberry jam for the bread.

Though I would've appreciated coffee served at the same time of my meal. By the time my meal came, my coffee was lukewarm.

Still at 500 yen it was a bargain.

And since all their other breakfast items are 500 yen too, I'll be back to try something else.

After breakfast and across the courtyard, I noticed these guys unveiling this huge robot...

Not knowing very much about anime, I uploaded it to IG (Instagram) and one of my followers said that this character was called "Patlabor" (Patoreiba in Japanese) If you are interested, you can read more about it here.

Apparently, they were there for a promotion of their new movie. By the time we left, after Satoshi's class, there was a huge crowd checking it out.

While I was waiting for Satoshi to finish, I wandered around Hankyu Department Store. I went up to their event floor and there was a huge line. Instead of directly standing in line, I checked out the other booths first.

Then after waiting in line for 45 minutes or so, I was able to buy 2 rolls.

Amafune makizushi made by Meister Kobo Yachiyo. The shop is located in a remote area of Hyogo prefecture.

They sell up to 1500 rolls a day! If you go to the shop, they limit you to 5 rolls per person.

According to a friend, this makizushi is so popular that it is very hard to get your hands on them.

During this time of year, cucumbers aren't plentiful, so there is only half of one in each roll. (Apparently during the summer, they put a whole cucumber in there!)

Also in the roll are seasoned kanpyo (gourd), seasoned shiitake, koyadofu (freeze dried tofu), and egg.

The flavors were simple. I am glad I stood in line and we got to try this.

Garb Monaque
Grand Front Osaka Umekita Hiroba 1F
Umeda, Osaka
Phone: 06.6359.5180
Breakfast 7:30-10:00, Lunch 11:00-15:00, Dinner 17:00-24:00
Open when Grand Front Osaka is

Meister Kobo Yachiyo
46-1 Nakamura, Yachiyo-ku
Taka-cho, Hyogo
Phone: 0795.30.5516
Closed Monday, Tuesday, Wednesday
Hours: 10:00-16:00 (if they sell out earlier they close earlier)

Friday, April 10, 2015

this and that

So the weather has gone from Spring back to Winter (Tokyo had snow!).

Most days are gloomy, cloudy. Sometimes it

Have been entertaining myself with all the spring veggies at the market.

I was excited to find portobello mushrooms, they're being grown in Chiba prefecture...whoo!

Not as big as some I've seen in the States, and they look more like brown mushrooms on steroids, but still excited to see them in the markets.

If I see them at the market again, I want to try making "burgers" with them.

From the lanai, I harvested some baby kale, swiss chard and beet tops.

Last night, dinner was the portobellos with a touch of butter and tonkatsu sauce. I sauteed the kale, swiss chard and beet tops with some sweet onions in olive oil. We also had avocado (it was a little firm) and Japanese cole slaw using purple cabbage.

Also brightening up the days are all the freesia from the the fragrance!

And the double petal sakura have started blooming.

Today is one of those "supposed to rain all day" days, so I'm hanging out at home.

Hope you have a nice weekend!

Wednesday, April 08, 2015

omiyage from awajishima

When we visited Awaji Island last month, we picked up some purple sweet potato from the farmer's market.

Boy, was this purple! Peeling the potatoes my hands got purple too.

I used all of the potato in two batches of sweet potato salad, the recipe is here.

Before serving it, I added some blanched sugar snap peas.

Loved the colors! Really brightened up some grey days.

Another thing we picked up were these chocolate covered fruits from Nagatechoeido.

I've tried the chocolate covered orange peel before and written about it here.

The figs are locally grown on the island and are marinated in red wine and sugar then semi-dried. The figs come covered with white chocolate and with dark chocolate.

Both ways are delicious.

It was a short trip so we didn't pick up a lot of omiyage this time around, I'm glad we got to try all these goodies.

Tuesday, April 07, 2015

sakura in osaka & hikone

Saturday, Satoshi started his next rounds of German language classes, so I had some time to walk around and check out the sakura on the top floor of Lucua.

They have a small Japanese garden here with about 3 sakura trees. Really beautiful when they are in full bloom.

The sun was playing hide and seek with the clouds...

After his class we caught the train to Hikone.

We checked out the keyaki michi which I've mentioned here.

And then walked around the Hikone castle grounds. There are a lot of areas you can check out without having to pay the admission.

We found this huge sakura tree in one of those spots.

Near a corner of the castle we also found this grove of huge and beautiful!

Love the reflection on the water too.

It was even more beautiful lit up!

The weather is drizzly today. Hope the sun will come back soon!

Monday, April 06, 2015

50 year service

How many immediate family members do you know that have been gone for 50 years? For me, no one.

Until yesterday.

We got together in Hikone to hold a memorial service for Satoshi's grandpa...he's been gone for 50 years.

The priest mentioned that while it is a sad thing that Satoshi's grandpa is gone, it is also an amazing thing that family would be around and able to hold the 50th memorial service, so in a sense it is quite a celebratory event.

In fact, instead of using a white candle, they light a red one as a symbol of celebration.

Since the service would be held in Hikone, Satoshi and I went a day earlier and stayed over in Hikone.

In the morning, we met up with BIL, SIL and MIL.

Unfortunately it rained all day.

Lunch was at an unagi (eel) shop called Gennai.

I am not too crazy about unagi but know that Satoshi and his family love the stuff.

I enjoyed the way this unagi was prepared though. Crisp on the outside and tender on the inside.

Though Satoshi never met his grandpa, I'm glad we got to attend the service.

Apparently the next service is in 50 years...

2-1-6 Honmachi
Hikone, Shiga
Phone: 0749.27.5025
Closed Tuesdays
Hours: 11:00-14:30 (lunch), 17:00-20:00 (dinner)

Sunday, April 05, 2015

more peas than pork guisantes

Truth be told I'd never tried pork guisantes until a few years back, when my father's friend made some for us.

Recently, family friend, D, gave me one the Hawaiian Electric cookbooks (thank you!).

I flipped through it and pork guisantes was one of the recipes in it.

Springtime in Japan is the perfect chance to get your hands on fresh peas, or "usuiendo" or "endo mame" as they are called.

I decided to try this recipe.

I also incorporated another Hawaiian Electric recipe I found online and came up with this...

More Peas than Pork Guisantes adapted from 2 Hawaiian Electric recipes
couple of thinly sliced pork, cut into strips
part of a red bell pepper, sliced into 1-inch slices
part of a yellow bell pepper, sliced into 1-inch slices
2 styrofoam packs of peas, taken out of their "shells" (about 50 grams)
1 can tomato sauce
1 cup water
1 clove garlic, grated
part of an onion, thinly sliced then diced
1 tablespoons oil
1 cinnamon stick
1 bay leaf
1 teaspoon vinegar
salt & pepper to taste

Pre-cook the peas for about 15 minutes, drain and set aside.
Heat a pan with the oil and saute the meat with the onion and garlic
Then add the tomato sauce and water.
Bring to a boil.
Turn the heat down to a simmer.
Add the cinnamon stick, bay leaf, vinegar, bell peppers and peas
Cook for about 30 minutes.
Check the tenderness of the peas.
Add salt and pepper to taste.
Serve over rice.

NOTES: the amount of pork was less than the amount of peas I had thus the title. Feel free to up the meat if you wish, or up the peas if you wish. This was so easy and so good over rice. I liked the addition of the cinnamon. I'm definitely making this one again.

Saturday, April 04, 2015

cloudy sakura walk

Friday started off cloudy but was forecast for rain by lunch time.

Since I needed some groceries, I got out and about a little earlier than I usually do and went to the market.

Along the way, I saw this huge sakura tree along the Minoo river.

And this one near the driving school in our neighborhood.

This weeping cherry was really nice too.

This cloudy/rainy weather is forecast for the next week or so in!

Hope it is sunny where you are.

Friday, April 03, 2015


Wednesday, it rained

Thursday, we were lucky to have sunshine and high temps.

My friend, Sachiko, who lives in Tokyo, contacted me. She was in town for "spring break" and wanted to get together for lunch.

It had been ages since we'd seen each other!

We had lunch at The City Bakery Brasserie Rubin.

The pork belly with hummus and roasted veggies was good, though the balsamic vinaigrette was a bit overboard.

After lunch, we had coffee and tartes at Qu'il Fait Bon.

I tried the white strawberry...not sour but not sweet either...different for sure.

It was nice re-connecting with Sachiko.

I hope when she comes back this way, we'll be able to lunch again, until then I hope we can keep in touch.

It's Friday, we're expecting more rain...hope you enjoy your weekend!

The City Bakery Brasserie Rubin
Grand Front Osaka South Building 7F
Umeda, Osaka
Phone: 06.6359.2266
Hours: 11:00-23:00
Open when Grand Front is

Thursday, April 02, 2015

sakura walk

Tuesday, I walked from our place towards Ikeda.

I checked out an area by a school.

And the Ikeda Castle Ruins Park.

Rain is forecast over the next couple of days.

Hope the blossoms will be able to hang on...Spring is way too short these days.