Friday, January 29, 2016


Yesterday, I tried Trigo, a teeny bakery in between of the Itami airport and Hankyu Hotarugaike station.

Loved the chicken katsu sandwich...249 yen (tax included) Fried perfect.

The bread was a bit chewy but I think it needed to be so as not to get soggy with the katsu sauce and mayo.

Pie manju...71 yen (left)

I thought it would be similar to the pie crust manju we have in Hawaii, but in Japan, "pie" means puff pastry...still delicious. Like a sweet bean filled croissant.

And their mochi donut...3 for 176 yen (right). Super chewy with bits of sweet potato in it. I gave Satoshi the other two.

They had so much to choose from, and although they are a bit out of the way of my usual market routes, I hope to go back soon.

Have a nice weekend.

1-26-5 Hotarugaikenishi-machi
Toyonaka, Osaka
Phone: 06.6857.7028
Hours: 7:00-20:30
Open daily

Thursday, January 28, 2016


Stumbled upon this stalk of brussels sprouts today...258 yen (tax not included)

It was the first time I've seen them sold this way here.

Am thinking of cooking them this way tonight.


Wednesday, January 27, 2016

yaki imo man

Heard a high pitched whistle thingy was the yaki imo (roasted sweet potato) man.

I've never bought from him though, kinda scared to.

Next time he comes around (and Satoshi's home), I'll be brave and check out the yaki imo man.

Tuesday, January 26, 2016

gattsu umai kome hashimoto

I tried a new place today, Gattsu Umai Kome Hashimoto.

They sell rice by weight and they also sell musubi. If you want, you can also eat at their counter.

I picked up a niku miso (left) and yaki miso (right)...410 yen (tax included).

When I first bit into the niku miso musubi, there was no filling.

A second bite and still nothing.

The filling was only in the very center. And it wasn't niku miso, just plain miso.

Pretty disappointing.

I'm glad I tried this place, but probably won't be going back.

Gattsu Umai Kome Hashimoto
1-1 Sakae-machi, Blanc Marche 1-bankan
Ikeda, Osaka
Phone: 072.734.8522
Hours: 10:00-19:00

Monday, January 25, 2016

the past couple of days

The weekend was forecast for the coldest front in many moons.

The weather dude even forecast that Okinawa may even get some snow!


We bought some water for drinking, just in case the power went out.

My survival skills go only as far as for hurricanes, so this blizzard thing was new to me.

Luckily (read disappointedly), we didn't have ANY snow.

In fact, the sun came out for the most part of the day.

Still, we didn't go outside, the wind was pretty icy.

Oh well, at least I got to finish a book I was reading.

Dinner was a nabe (hot pot) of pork belly, hakusai (chinese cabbage), a can of diced tomato, dashi (stock) and curry powder.

We also had some really pale gyoza...I still need to get the hang of cooking gyoza...

To end, we made ojiya and added some rice and cheese.

Hope your weekend was a good one.

Friday, January 22, 2016

shun shoku lounge

Recently I stumbled upon about 600 grams (a little over a pound) of beets at Shun Shoku Lounge for 520 yen (tax included).

This tiny shop in Grand Front Osaka, sells fresh veggies as well as other food items too.

The beets weren't too big, about the size of golf balls.

We enjoyed them for two meals, roasted in the oven with olive oil and a little balsamic vinegar.

I have been slowly seeing more "rare" veggies like beets, brussels sprouts and swiss chard at smaller fruit stand type of shops.

Hope this trend starts to pick up.

Have a nice weekend!

Shun Shoku Lounge
Grand Front Osaka Umekita Hiroba 1F
Umeda, Osaka
Phone: 06.6359.2182
Hours: 10:00-21:00

Thursday, January 21, 2016

japanese veggie soup with ginger

Awhile back, I tried this soup at Soup Stock Tokyo.

I finally got around to trying the recipe from their cookbook.

I adapted it to what veggies I had on hand.

Japanese Veggie Soup with Ginger : adapted from "Soup Stock Tokyo" : makes about 4 servings

2 tablespoons barley, water to reconstitute
150 grams minced chicken
1 stalk of gobo, cleaned then diced
1/2 a large carrot, diced
1/4 onion, diced
some maitake, finely chopped
3 fresh shiitake, cleaned and sliced (dice the stalks)
a small bunch of spinach, cleaned and diced
1 tablespoon oil
3 cups water
2 nubs ginger, grated
2 tablespoons shoyu (soy sauce)
1 tablespoon mirin (sweet rice wine)

In a bowl, put the barley and some water to cover, let sit for about 30 minutes
In a pan, on medium heat, heat the oil and add the carrots and gobo, toss to coat
After 2 or 3 minutes, add the onion
When the onion turns transparent, add the chicken and cook until it changes color
Add the rest of the veggies and then add the water and barley
Turn the heat up to high and bring to a boil
Scrape off the scum
Then turn down the heat to low and simmer for 5 to 6 minutes
When the veggies are the tenderness to your liking, add the ginger, shoyu and mirin

NOTES: Love this soup! The ginger helps to warm you up, which is perfect for our icy weather these days. The hardest part was chopping up all the different veggies. I'm making this again.

Wednesday, January 20, 2016

earthquake drill

Growing up in Hawaii, we never had "earthquake" drills just fire drills.

So of course, living in Japan now, we have earthquakes, luckily the ones in our area have been small (knock on wood), and to this day, I don't really know what needs to be done if a big one should ever hit...

21 years have passed since the Kobe earthquake.

Sunday morning our city sounded a siren (the first time we ever heard it!) and then when we walked around the neighborhood, we noticed all these yellow towels on door knobs, hanging on gates and out of mailboxes.

After coming back, we looked in our city "manual" and it said that you put something yellow on your door to let the city officials know you are safe.

Good to know.

We have some items in our emergency bags, but I think we need to add a couple of yellow towels.

Do you have earthquake drills where you live?

Tuesday, January 19, 2016

bib bar

It's been awhile since we ate at the Bib Bar.

The last time we ate there, I had their chicken "steak". At the time it was

Glad the person cooking this dish this time around kept the chicken tender and the skin very crispy.

I need to remember to ask for "no rice" though, it was just too much alongside their mashed potatoes.

In fact, I asked Satoshi about this..."Isn't rice considered a "starch" like mashed potatoes?"

His answer was "no, mashed potatoes is a side dish and rice is the starch"

Which is probably why you can get rice alongside of your udon...

Anyway, we'll be back.

Monday, January 18, 2016


Friday was our anniversary. We didn't do anything special, but did celebrate with some cakes from Patisserie Hare.

Marron Cognac for Satoshi (left) and espresso for me (right). Funny thing when I told Satoshi that there was cognac in there, he thought I meant konnyaku (devil's tongue jelly).

Anyway, I really enjoyed my was like tiramisu with lots of caramelized nuts on the outside.

Satoshi gave me this funky carnation as well as some tulips. (thank you!)

Saturday night, we headed back to Menu for dinner.

It started with their antipasto plate...assortment of cold items, highlighted by the tiny choux (cream puff outside) filled with camembert cheese and pumpkin purée

daikon soup

Duck pastrami pepperoncino..spicy but really flavorful.

Yuzu Kosho pasta...super creamy, cheesy with slices of yuzu and pepper.

Oomugi (barley) Pork with a red wine reduction, grainy mustard & mushroom purée. Also there was a little risotto underneath.

The pork was so tender. We enjoyed it most with the wine reduction.

Dessert was a soy milk fruit gratin. The top was brûléed and there was bananas, blueberries and a little orange in there.

Another great meal here and under 8000 yen (tax included) with drinks.

Another great anniversary...thank you Satoshi for putting up with me you!

Saturday, January 16, 2016

good provision

We finally got around to trying Good Provision.

They are located in Lucua 1100 but when they first opened, the lines were krazy.

Satoshi had their avocado bacon burger while I tried their spicy tartar sauce fish burger.

Satoshi's sandwich had lots of avocado and a nice slice of bacon.

Their fries were meh, but the fish was cooked nicely.

Super crisp on the outside and the fish still very moist.

The spicy tartar sauce was a chipotle type sauce and they also serve this with a caper mayo.

There are other items on their menu that we want to try...we'll be back.

Good Provision
Lucua 1100, 10F
Phone: 06.6151.1413
Hours: 11:00-23:00
Open when Lucua 1100 is

Friday, January 15, 2016

daily stuff

Yesterday, as I was coming back from the market, I passed by a little community garden and noticed this little guy atop a plastic bag filled with dried leaves.

I was kinda leery that he was dead, but he was breathing!


I am guessing this spot is super warm.

We've finally got wintry weather...have a nice weekend.

Thursday, January 14, 2016

baked luncheon meat

With the rest of the can of luncheon meat, I baked it in the oven and topped it with some guava jelly and grainy mustard.

It has been ages since I've eaten luncheon meat this way.

My mom used to make this for our dinner every once in awhile.

I am pretty sure we had this as school lunch as well...

Except their version had a sweet sour pineapple sauce.

Anyway, for dinner last night, I re-created a "school lunch"...baked luncheon meat, japanese cole slaw, rice, coconut cookies and some milk.

Good memories.

Wednesday, January 13, 2016

crazy pantry

Love Crazy Pantry!

They often have "not so common" veggies like colorful carrots, swiss chard...and recently..beets! or I should say beet!

This huge orb (about the size of a softball) was only 145 yen (plus tax).

It was labeled as a golden beet.

When I cut into it there was a slight layering of white and red, and after roasting a little golden tinge and a little fluorescent pink.

We enjoyed this with an herb vinaigrette.

What are you enjoying these days?

Tuesday, January 12, 2016

smoked ahi (tuna) dip

Remember that smoked ahi dip I tried when I was in Hawaii last year?

Well, I think I came pretty close to re-creating it.

The biggest problem was to find smoked ahi (tuna). I've seen some places selling smoked tuna online here, but they have it already seasoned.

Then I stumbled on smoked shoyu...don't ask me how they smoke it, but it is really good, and doesn't overpower the shoyu taste.

Smoked Ahi Dip : adapted from the ingredients on the Kokohead Foods label : makes about 1/4 cup

70 grams tuna, oil drained
1/8 teaspoon tamarind pulp, thinned with 1 teaspoon of water
1/8 teaspoon onion powder
1/8 teaspoon garlic powder
1/4 teaspoon smoked shoyu
1/8 teaspoon chipotle chili pepper flake
1/8 teaspoon anchovy paste
1 tablespoon mayo

Mix everything together and chill. Serve with lavosh or baguette.

NOTES: So easy to put together! We had this with toasted baguette. Satoshi didn't try it in Hawaii but gave this one a thumbs up. I would definitely make this again.

Monday, January 11, 2016

daily stuff

Today is a holiday, Coming of Age day, celebrating all those turning 20.

This morning's sunrise was beautiful, too bad this picture doesn't do it justice.

Awhile back, Satoshi brought back this can of Tulip luncheon meat from Okinawa.

I decided to try it as "spam musubi".

Well, while trying to open the can with that key thingy, it broke off...I ended up mcgyver-ing the can with some flat nose pliers and a screwdriver.

The width of the luncheon meat was a little smaller than Spam.

I also noticed that Tulip puts coriander and mace into their luncheon meat.

This morning when we had it as "spam musubi", it did taste different from the Spam I grew up with.

Hope you have a nice week.

Thursday, January 07, 2016


On our last day in Totsukawa and the last day of 2015, we started with a big Japanese breakfast...chagayu, TKG (tamago kake gohan), yudofu as well as other delicious dishes.

After breakfast, we had some time before the bus took us back, so we checked out the Sarukaibashi, another suspension bridge, which is 131 meters (143 yards) long and 34 meters high (111 feet), this was was the sturdiest of the ones we tried. (can you see Satoshi?!)

We had some time for coffee made with hot spring water.

The homes and hotels in this area have non-stop running hot spring water, so many homes use it to cook with.

This area was hit by a flood in the 1800s which spurred some of the villagers to relocate to Hokkaido.

Nowadays, there is a area called "Shin-Totsukawa" (literally new Totsukawa) in Hokkaido.

Recently the Totsukawa area in Nara was again hit with a flood, if I'm not mistaken this was about 4 years ago.

This photo shows how far the roadway is from some of the housing but also how close the rivers are to some of the housing.

We had a longer break time at the Tanise suspension bridge, so we "walked" across. (this was the view from the other side)

This was super scary! Probably because we were up so high. Probably because the boards under our feet lifted quite often. Probably because there were at least 10 of us crossing in either direction. And probably because it was krazy windy!

I think we are done with suspension bridges for now...

One thing we tried was Roppoyaki. This one was made by Fukuyarikyu in Totsukawa.

It is like a cake type manju...delicious, but not different from most sweets with sweet bean paste in them.

And at our last "pit stop" we picked up some kaki no ha sushi (sushi that is wrapped in persimmon leaves). This is a well-known item of this area.

The version we picked up had saba (mackerel), sanma (saury), tai (snapper), shrimp and salmon.

We had this for dinner with some toshikoshi soba.

We hope you enjoyed this adventure as much as we did.

Wednesday, January 06, 2016


We woke up early the next day and went to have a morning bath before breakfast.

I had ordered their "western" breakfast while Satoshi had their "japanese"...still, my meal came with chagayu (what we call chagai in Hawaii), rice porridge with hojicha (roasted green tea).

My breakfast had way too much food while I thought Satoshi's was kind of small...I gave him my chagayu after tasting it.

While eating breakfast, I loved watching the birds pop in and out of the bird feed.

And then we were off on an adventure...

First we had to cross the Yanagimotobashi (Yanagimoto suspension bridge). This bridge is 90 meters (98 yards) long and 10 meters (32 feet) high.

Oh em gee...this bridge swayed so much as we "walked" across it.

If I were in the circus I imagine this was how the tightrope must feel...scary! as there really was nothing to hold onto going across as it swayed!

Not to mention the boards under your feet flip up a little...eep!

We trekked up the Hatenashi Pass which is a tiny trail that connects to a pilgrimage trail that leads to the Kumano Hongu in Wakayama.

This particular trail took about 40 minutes and was very steep and rocky, while the overall trail is about 70 kilometers (43 miles).

Apparently the majority of the trail is still in its natural state.

Walking up gave me a feel as to how people used to travel in Japan before trains & cars.

It is a very tranquil trek too, a nice chance to reflect on things.

At the top, this was the view.

While there we said "good morning" to the people living here.

And then we made our way back to the hotel to pick up our things.

We came upon this waterfall called "men taki".

Of course, to return to the hotel, we had to cross that bridge again!

It took us about 2 hours in total to do this but we were glad we did.

After dropping our things off at the hotel we would be staying at that night, we hopped on the bus again to the area near the city office.

It is a good half an hour ride to the city office area.

Satoshi had wanted to check out the Totsukawa museum and I wanted to check out their michi no eki (rest stop) for souvenirs.

Well, because we were there near the end of the year, the museum was!

I was able to buy a yubeshi at the michi no eki which I'll post when we eat it.

Luckily at the michi no eki, there was a soba shop, so we were able to grab lunch...whew!

Unfortunately, the bus that we had planned to catch back to the hotel was not running that!

So we had to figure out what to do with ourselves for two hours!

I was amazed at how everyone builds to meet up with the roadway...

We eventually made it back to our hotel, Kosenkaku Yoshinoya.

We checked out the surroundings including a trip "up" to the Fukuyama shrine.

And then we had a bath before dinner.

Highlights of dinner were seared wild boar slices and botan nabe (wild boar hot pot).

Another long day, and even if we weren't able to go to the museum we were still enjoying ourselves and the area.

Kosenkaku Yoshinoya
432 Totsukawamura Hiratani
Yoshino, Nara
Phone: 0746.64.0012

Tuesday, January 05, 2016


From where we live it is 3 train rides and a 4 hours 20 minute bus ride to the Totsukawa area of Nara.

Nara prefecture has a campaign going on now to visit this area in which they paid for our round-trip bus fares (7300 yen per person).

If you've travelled on the local buses in Japan you'll know that they calculate the fares by the distance travelled (the farther you go, the higher the price).

Look at how blue the river water was...(I took this picture from the bus)

The road to Totsukawa was winding, and was mostly one laned.

Thank goodness they made "pit stops" along the way.

At the first pit stop, we didn't think to buy lunch...this would majorly affect us later...

The second pit stop was at the Tanise Suspension bridge.

This bridge is huge!

It is 297.7 meters in length (325 yards) and 54 meters high (177 feet).

We didn't have a chance to cross the bridge because the break time was only 10 minutes.

80 or so bus stops later we got off at our final destination...Hotel Subaru.

This facility was more like a hostel than a hotel.

We caught some kids using the yaen (human powered gondolas).

Because this area is mountainous with lots of rivers, yaen was often used to cross over to the other side.

You can still find these here and there around Totsukawa but nowadays it is mainly used by tourists.

The lobby was filled with beautiful Totsukawa furniture.

Apparently Totsukawa's key industry is forestry and since it is struggling, they came up with this project to attract more business by using local sugi (cedar) and hinoki (cypress) in furniture and dwellings.

If we had a bigger apartment, I would love this table!

So, I told you we hadn't bought lunch at our first pit stop, well, when we arrived at the hotel, they had just finished lunch service!

Luckily, they had some instant noodles to buy from their gift the time dinner came around though, we were starving!

Some highlights of the meal...yuzu wrapped with kaki.

This reminded of the one we found in Gokayama.

Yubeshi with cheese. In Nara, yubeshi is a type of non-perishable. Yuzu is hollowed out and filled with katsuo (bonito), miso, sesame seeds then wrapped in straw and put up out onto the roof tops for 6 months. Before eating it, it is sliced thin.

This was delicious with the cheese.

When I heard "yubeshi", I had thought it was similar to the one we found in Wajima.

This one was savory while the one in Wajima was sweet.

Mukodamashi...a millet cake. Muko means husband and damashi means deceive.

Rice was often hard to come by in Totsukawa so in order to have "mochi" for New Years, the wives would make these millet cakes.

These are really dense and filling.

A long day but we were amazed with the tranquility of the area.

Hotel Subaru
909-4 Totsukawamura Hiratani
Yoshino-gun, Nara
Phone: 0746.64.1111