Tuesday, June 30, 2015

foodie saturday

Saturday, after Satoshi's German class, we went to check out Harijyu Curry Shop.

Satoshi had the beef katsu curry...the katsu just as tender as when I had it the week before. Though he said the curry could've been spicier...950 yen

I had their hayashi rice (hashed beef) is a rich demi-glace based "beef stew". It was so good, though their peas were on the hard side...850 yen

Since they get their beef from their meat shop, we definitely recommend the beef dishes!

Since we had time before meeting up with Satoshi's friend for dinner, we went to check out Mondial Kaffee 328.

I was surprised it was right across the street from El.Zocalo Burrito.

In fact, the building that the cafe is in was new too.

Not a very large shop, they did have many chairs to lounge in.

Satoshi had their European blend while I had their matcha latte.

I liked that this latte wasn't overly sweet like some matcha lattes can be.

Dinner was with Satoshi's friend and his wife at a hotel buffet.

The buffet's theme was Australian. There was crocodile, kangaroo, lamb and lamingtons. I loved their chocolate fountain, you could coat just about anything with it at their dessert station.

A great foodie day, filled with lots of walking and lots of talking.

Harijyu Curry Shop
1-9-17 Dotombori
Chuo, Osaka
Phone: 06.6213.4736
Closed Tuesdays
Hours: 11:00-21:00

Mondial Kaffee 328
1-6-16 Kita-horie
Nishi-ku, Osaka
Phone: 06.6585.9955
Hours: 8:30-21:00, call to see if they are open--days off not determined

ANA Crown Plaza Hotel
1-3-1 Dojimahama
Kita-ku, Osaka
Phone: 06.6347.1112

Monday, June 29, 2015

ethnic bean salad

Dunno where I scribbled down this recipe from, so if it is yours, please leave me a comment and I will adjust my post to link back and credit you.

1/2 cup EVOO
1/2 cup red wine vinegar
3 tablespoons lime juice
2 tablespoons sugar
1 tablespoon salt
1/2 tablespoon pepper
1 clove garlic
1/2 tablespoon cumin
1/2 teaspoon chili powder
sriracha sauce

1 can of garbanzo beans, rinsed
a nice handful of edamame, cooked and shelled
half a red bell pepper, diced
handful of cilantro

NOTES: I hadn't scribbled down any amounts for the beans or cilantro, so I am noting what I used. Also, I cut the dressing in half. I didn't have red wine vinegar and used white wine vinegar instead. I grated the garlic and put in 1/2 teaspoon of sriracha.

The recipe didn't call for the edamame or red bell pepper, I just threw it in for color.

I like the flavors of this salad, a little tart, sweet and a little spicy. The taste was similar to the Fragrant Tuna and Chickpea Salad that I often make.

Next time, I would add more bean varieties, a little diced onion and maybe even a can of corn.

I'm making this again.

Sunday, June 28, 2015

cafe rakuta

I went to try the super spicy keema curry at Cafe Rakuta...750 yen (tax included).

They are not joking that it is super spicy.

In fact while I sat waiting for my lunch, the man at the next table was sniffling away as he ate his super spicy keema.

I thought I wouldn't be able to finish it, it was THAT spicy!

At first my throat got numb, then I coughed, and then my nose ran but I took my time and kept eating because even if it was super spicy I was determined to finish it.

Talk about mouth.on.fire. afterwards.

The other man that was also eating a super spicy keema was also coughing and had a runny nose too...

I won't order this again, but, I will be back for their other curries.

Saturday, June 27, 2015

oh em gee

So...our building is getting a facelift.

They put up scaffolding around us, which sounded more like drilling?! (turns out that they actually were drilling so that they can secure their scaffolding to the building!)

My "babies" (well, most of them) came indoors...

It'll take 4 or 5 weeks, longer if the weather gets funky...

At least it gives me a "good excuse" to turn on the a/c during the daytime.

Pray they finish earlier...

On a happy note, I cut off the pointy tip of a goya (bittermelon) seed and soaked it in water. It germinated, so I planted it. A day or two later, I noticed that it started to sprout...crossing fingers we actually see some bittermelon this time.

How's your summer going?

Friday, June 26, 2015

r valentino

Monday, my Twitter friend, H, invited me to have lunch with her, her daughter and a friend that was visiting from Hawaii.

Lunch was at R Valentino.

The owner is from Calabria, Italy and you can see him walking around chatting with customers and helping out with the service too.

Really homey atmosphere.

We all ordered the Lunch A...with antipasto, choice of pasta or pizza, dessert and choice of beverage.

The antipasto was a slice of omelette (frittata?), a slice of proscuitto, some fried fish and a little veggie garnish.

For the pastas, we chose spinach and shrimp cream fettucine, and sausage zucchini spaghetti.

The pizzas were margherita and a spicy salami. Love that these were baked in a brick oven, the crust was crisp yet a little chewy too.

We shared everything, so good and filling!

Dessert was a mango panna cotta and since the restaurant was celebrating 20 years, they also gave us all a little scoop of vanilla gelato.

I loved the Bialetti espresso saucers...so cute!

Not many pictures we were too busy chatting and eating.

I hope H's friend enjoys the rest of her trip.

Thanks for a great day and for treating me to lunch, H!

R Valentino
4-5-13 Kano-cho, Nuova Spirito Building 3F
Chuo, Kobe
Phone: 078.332.1268
Lunch: 11:30-14:00, Dinner: 17:30-21:00
*Reservations advised

Thursday, June 25, 2015


I wrote about those tall sequoias before here.

They used to add character to the sunsets.

Well, the 6-story apartment building is almost finished.

We used to be able to see the Inagawa Fireworks show (between two electric poles) and through those trees.

Sad and jealous that those people who are gonna live there will be able to see the fireworks now...boo!

Wednesday, June 24, 2015

udon kichi

The weather is weird...humid switching to cool, rainy then sunny.

Talk about the body having a hard time keeping up.

Lunch on Sunday was at Udon Kichi but at their other shop on the other side of our train station.

I ordered the same thing, tori ten bukkake udon.

But the one that came out this time was "true" chicken tempura.

I have feeling the other shop topped my udon with karaage (a fried chicken).

The chicken tempura was super light and crisp, the meat was still very tender and moist.

We like this shop because it is larger.

We'll be back to both!

Udon Kichi (East Exit Shop)
2-4-2 Ishibashi
Ikeda, Osaka
Phone: 072.761.3433
Closed Mondays

Tuesday, June 23, 2015

que rico

Dinner was at Que Rico which opened a shop in Lucua 1100. I've had this place on my list "to try" for awhile.

Their amuse bouche (the stuff that comes out without you ordering it) were these chips and salsa...200 yen per person...um, for that price I think we should've received at least another plate.

Satoshi ordered the SOL beer 650 yen...meh, he wasn't impressed and switched to Sapporo beer (450 yen) afterwards.

I ordered a strawberry margarita...600 yen (cute, yeah?!)

We ordered a plate of nachos...650 yen. Good flavor, just not enough food...

Tako ceviche...500 yen. Super spicy.

More tomatoes than tako.

Shrimp Ajillo...500 yen.

Two large shrimps and some teeny shrimp and some mushrooms.

Overall, the flavors were good just not enough food for the price.

Sadly, I don't think we'll be back here again.

Que Rico
Lucua 1100 Bar Chika (B2F)
Umeda, Osaka
Phone: 06.6151.1546
Hours: 11:00-24:00, open when Lucua 1100 is.

Monday, June 22, 2015

harijyu grill

On Saturday, after Satoshi's class and before his study session, we had lunch at Harijyu Grill. This shop has been in business since 1919!

They are a meat shop that uses their meats in their various shops.

Upstairs of Harijyu Grill is their sukiyaki and shabu shabu restaurant.

Next door to Harijyu Grill is the meat shop and next door to that is their curry shop.

The inside of Harijyu Grill is very retro, like you went back into time. Dark colored wood.

The tables are wooden and covered with their oil cloth tablecloths.

Satoshi ordered Lunch A...1800 yen.

This came with a corn potage, some rolls, a salad, some potato salad, a slice of ham, pieces of steak and fried shrimp.

At the end of his meal it came with a tiny cup of coffee.

I ordered the beef katsu sandwich...1900 yen.

Whoa! this was super tender.

I let Satoshi eat a piece and he was surprised at how tender it was too.

For that price, I'm glad it didn't disappoint.

I was impressed that the place didn't smell "oily" like some yoshoku (western) type shops sometimes smell of.

We want to try the curry shop around the corner, we'll be back.

Harijyu Grill
1-9-17 Dotombori
Chuo, Osaka
Phone: 06.6211.5357
Closed on Tuesdays
Hours: 11:30-22:30

Friday, June 19, 2015

foodie thursday in kobe

Yesterday, I went to Kobe despite the weather being forecast for rain.

The postcard for this year's Mariage Frères' Summer tea came and I wanted to pick it up as soon as possible since the number of samples were limited.

This year's summer tea is called "Summer Yuzu", a green tea base with yuzu zest and other citrus notes.

My first stop was Ça Marche, the tiny bakery that I've written about before here.

I picked up their patchwork bread and also their pain perdu (french toast) that was covered with dark chocolate and candied iyokan (a type of orange) peel.

Then went a couple doors down and popped into Kitano Groceries to see if they had small packets of ground turmeric, they didn't but they did have all sorts of other spices, it was nice to window shop there.

It started to drizzle while I walked down towards BAL (where Mariage Frères is located) and since it was close to noon, I stopped into Le Dimanche for lunch.

I chose their lotus root tartine (a baguette with slices of chicken and lotus root covered in cheddar cheese) and their donut.

Since I was eating in their shop, I needed to purchase a drink (in Japan, most places don't allow you to just have water), so I ordered a small iced coffee.

The girl at the register in her own world says to me, "what would you like to drink?"

I replied, "a small iced coffee".

She then says, "small or large"

I replied, "a small iced coffee"

She then says, "hot or iced"


At least I had the whole upstairs eating area to myself.

Too bad I didn't notice the toaster oven earlier, that tartine could have used a little heating up.

Dunno that I would eat there again, pick up and go definitely sounds the way to go here.

Then I headed to Mariage Frères.

Since I needed to purchase something in order to receive the sample, I got the "Imperial Russia", a Darjeeling base with lots of citrus notes.

I was kind of bummed that they only sell from 100 grams. I was kinda hoping they sold smaller sizes, like 50 grams so I could try more teas.

The guy at the counter let me smell all sorts of different teas, talk about sensory overload!

When I got home, I cold brewed both.

This morning I had the pain perdu...love this! so much candied peel and the semi-sweet chocolate matched perfectly.

I had the Summer Yuzu with lunch...meh, too perfumy and fake.

On the other hand, I did like the Imperial Russia which had a subtle citrus flavor.

Some hits and misses.

We'll be having the patchwork bread for breakfast tomorrow (Saturday).

Hope you enjoy your weekend!

Thursday, June 18, 2015


The humidity and heat have been quite krazy this summer. In fact, both started before June, in May!

I think as the years pass I become wimpier and wimpier to these types of weather conditions.

I also think it gives me a nice excuse to enjoy kakigori (shave ice).

Japan's kakigori has a lot of fruit flavors and they actually top them with fruits too!

We tried this one at Yukinoshita. Satoshi had their matcha(green tea) which was super bitter until he hit the ice cream in the middle.

I had their coffee which was sweetened plus had a little ice cream in the middle too.

And then we tried Ujien.

Satoshi had their matcha milk shigure which came with a bitter green tea shave ice, some condensed milk and ice cream.

I chose the hojicha (roasted green tea) milk kintoki which came with a hojicha shave ice, some condensed milk, some shiratama (white dumplings) and sweet beans.

The sweet condensed milk and beans are needed to balance out the bitter tea shave ice.

These shave ice tend to be HUGE, so be on the look out for "half-sizes" whenever possible.

I hear tiramisu flavor is trending this year, hope we get a chance to try it somewhere.

Keep cool everybody!

Tuesday, June 16, 2015

hibiki coffee

Saturday, while I waited for Satoshi to finish his German class, I walked to Tenshinbashisuji and had my second breakfast at Hibiki Coffee.

A tiny shop with seats mainly at the counter (they also have a few tables) the owner brews everything after you order.

I ordered the "just brewed" iced coffee since he had noted on his menu that it was a stronger brew...550 yen.

Instead of adding ice to the coffee, he "chilled" it in a bowl over ice.

It was a good cup but I think it could've been a stronger brew.

I had also ordered toast...250 yen (since he didn't have salad that day, he minused 100 yen off...whoo!) I was surprised because it still came with some scrambled egg.

Next time, I'm trying the other iced coffee he has on his menu...500 yen, for comparison.

I'll be back.

Hibiki Coffee
4-7-11 Tenjinbashi
Kita-ku, Osaka
Phone: 06.6358.1622
Tuesday-Friday 10:00-22:00, Saturday 9:00-22:00, Sunday 9:00-20:00
Call before going, the owner is an avid bike racer, so he closes shop whenever it gets close to a race, to train or to participate in races

Monday, June 15, 2015

the lilies

Last Sunday, we had checked out the white lilies at Ikeda Castle Ruins but they weren't quite ready.

A week later...they were beautiful. The fragrance, amazing.

Too bad the skies were overcast and cloudy.

Here's a panorama shot of the area and what 2000 lily plants look like...cool, yeah?!

What did you do this weekend?

Friday, June 12, 2015

mom's bread & butter pickles

The other day, we ate up the last of my "stash" of my mom's bread and butter pickles.

She always had a couple of jars in her fridge and whenever we ate egg salad or tuna salad sandwiches these would be eaten alongside.

Growing up though she would put sweet pickle relish in her egg salad and tuna salad, dunno when she changed over to these pickles...

So, since my stash was depleted, I decided to try my hand at making these.

If you want to make these here is her recipe:

8 cups cucumber, sliced
2 onions, sliced
1/3 cup Hawaiian salt
*mix and let stand for 2 to 3 hours

Sauce: 2 cups vinegar
2 cups sugar
2 tablespoons whole mustard seed
1 teaspoon celery seed
1/4 teaspoon cayenne pepper
*bring this mixture to a boil

After the 2 to 3 hours, squeeze out the liquid
Add the veggies to the boiled mixture
Put into jars


NOTES: This recipe is super easy! The thing that takes the longest is the waiting for the salt to "wilt" the onion and cucumber.

I cut this recipe to a fourth because even though I love these, I just don't have the space to keep them, especially with the awful heat of our summers.

Luckily the tiny vegetable stand had a bunch of cucumbers on sale. I used 6 for my batch.

Instead of cayenne, I added some chili flakes. I also had to use some brown sugar because I ran out of white. I thought the taste might differ because I used rice vinegar instead of white (which she used), but the taste is the same.

Now that I've replenished my pickle stash, I think we'll be eating egg salad and tuna salad more often.

If you eat bread & butter pickles, please share with me how you enjoy them.

Have a nice weekend!

Thursday, June 11, 2015

the pure land

Have you ever wondered why there are flowers blooming year round at temples around Japan?

I hadn't thought about it much until I saw a story on the news.

The priest mentioned that the reason most temples have flowers blooming year round is to replicate the Pure Land of Buddhism.

I thought that was pretty cool.

Next time I go to a temple, I'll appreciate the flowers a little more.

Wednesday, June 10, 2015

bäckerei biobrot

My host-mom was kind enough to buy this kürbiskern brot (pumpkin seed bread) from Bäckerei Biobrot, a tiny German bakery in Ashiya, for us.

It was such a big loaf, and with the humidity in the air these days, I froze most of it.

This wheat bread is so good!

I love how many pumpkin seeds run through this loaf.

This was perfect toasted and then eaten with a little butter.

Thank you!

Bäckerei Biobrot
14-14-101 Miyazuka-cho
Ashiya, Hyogo
Phone: 0797.23.8923
Closed Tuesdays & Wednesdays
Hours: 9:00-18:30

Tuesday, June 09, 2015

pasticceria amarena

Yesterday I got to meet up with my host-mom and my host-brother's wife for lunch.

We went to Pasticceria Amarena in Ashiya.

They had 3 types of prix fixe menus...one with pasta, one with steak and the other with both steak and pasta.

We were kind of shocked that there wasn't one with a fish choice.

We ordered 2 pasta prix fixes and one with both the steak and pasta (and shared the steak).

Sorry there aren't many photos, I was busy talking and eating...

The meal started out with an amuse bouche...a spoonful of duck and pine nuts (super tasty), the duck really tender!

Next was this pretty salmon terrine.

Loved the grapefruit "salsa".

Then the pasta (we all chose the bacon with truffle and mushrooms). The sauce was a cream sauce, super rich.

And then the steak...super tender with thinly sliced root veggies. Talk about melt in your mouth!

Dessert was from their bakery.

I chose the berry crostata, lots of berries, loved the crust.

My host-mom chose their Sicilia (pistachio mousse and raspberry), super refreshing.

My host-brother's wife chose their Cassata (ricotta cheese mousse with lots of nuts and candied fruits).

It was a late lunch but a really nice gathering. (Thank you!)

Pasticceria Amarena
2-4 Chayanocho
Ashiya, Hyogo
Phone: 0797.35.5516
Closed Wednesdays
Lunch: 11:30-14:00, Cafe 14:00-16:00, Dinner 18:00-21:30
*reservations advised

Monday, June 08, 2015

le weekend

We started the rainy season here, though there have been more sunny days than rainy ones.

How was your weekend?

According to my archives it's been ages since we've eaten at Felice.

We re-connected with them on Saturday.

I had their chicken. Super crispy skin. The meat really tender. The sauce was a shoyu base, caramelized onion, so good.

Satoshi had their omurice & fried shrimp combo.

Their food is still good.

After dinner, we walked towards Minoo Falls to check out the hotaru (fireflies).

There weren't as many as last year, but we were still excited to see some.

Sunday the weather was hot and humid.

We walked to Ikeda and checked out Suigetsu park.

The hanashobu (irises) still pretty.

There was also a sign for white lilies at the Ikeda castle ruins, so we checked it out but it needs another week or so, so we'll try again.

Hope you have a nice week.

Friday, June 05, 2015

edamame hummus

Have been waiting for edamame (soy bean) season to come around so that I could try making edamame hummus.

I didn't follow a recipe just whizzed some ingredients together.

Soy beans (cooked and shelled)
bagna cauda sauce
lemon juice
a little water

NOTES:This was super garlicky but so good on corn chips.

I'm making this again.

Thursday, June 04, 2015

sushi zen

We've walked past the billboard for Sushi Zen many many times.

Their lunch special is a kaisen don (seafood bowl) and tonjiru (pork soup)...900 yen (tax included). The lunch special is only served Tuesday to Saturday.

Yesterday, since Satoshi took the day off for his birthday, we finally went to check it out.

First off, they bring out a HUGE cup of tea. The cup was about 5 inches tall (maybe taller?!).

We put a chopstick next to it for scale...

Apparently during the Edo period, since most used their fingers instead of chopsticks, these large cups of tea were served as a type of "finger bowl" for the customers who ate sushi.

The noren (curtain) you see in front of the shops, were also apparently used as a "napkin" for customers to wipe their hands on as they left the shop.

Pretty gross yet interesting, yeah?!

Anyway, the food takes awhile to come out because the owner slices the fish after you order.

I think there were at least 8 different toppings on the seafood bowl. The tonjiru had lots of daikon in it.

You can order other items during lunch, but it seemed like this special was the best buy.

I don't know that we'll be back for sushi, but I am glad we tried their lunch special.

Sushi Zen
2-7-16 Iguchido
Ikeda, Osaka
Phone: 072.762.6570
Hours: 11:30-22:00
Closed Mondays and the 3rd Tuesday of the month

Wednesday, June 03, 2015

a year older & hopefully wiser

Last Monday night, Satoshi came home all depressed.

He dropped his phone in a stream close to our place.

Imagine, 10-something at night, I am shining a teeny flashlight and he is in that stream (the photo above) looking for his phone.

Luckily we found it.

We put it into a container with those silica gel packets hoping for it to absorb all the water...

The next day we went to the cell phone shop to see if they could retrieve his data...nope.

Among the things that were deleted were all his photos.

You might be saying, "how come you don't use the iCloud?" well, for some reason, it doesn't work with our computer.

They let him use a loaner phone until they could get a replacement for the one that got soaked.

And luckily with his phone insurance the replacement would cost a little less.

Moral of the story: don't text or even try to pull it out of your pocket while walking

Actually, this isn't the first time his cell phone has gone into water...still, I hope he learned his lesson.

Today is his birthday, hopefully with becoming a year older, he's become a little wiser too.

Happy Birthday Satoshi!