Friday, March 31, 2017

jiro's pickles

Have you watched the documentary, "Jiro : Dreams of Sushi"? We have.

Recently my cousin asked us to call to make reservations at Sukiyabashi Jiro's for his BIL.

Unfortunately, we weren't able to make reservations for them, they ask that the people dining make their own reservations, or the hotel you are staying at make the reservations for you.

Afterwards, I asked my cousin what had happened and he said that his BIL and family were able to dine there...whew!

Anyway, while I was looking at Sukiyabashi Jiro's website, there was a recipe for pickles, so I scribbled it down.

Jiro's Pickles

3.5 tablespoons sugar
300 milliliters water
300 milliliters rice vinegar
1.5 tablespoons salt
2 chili
1 bay leaf
1 clove garlic (optional)

Heat liquid until salt & sugar melt and pour over your favorite veggies.
After it is cooled, refrigerate.

sukiyabashi jiro's pickles NOTES: actually the recipe is so that you can use the vinegar on his online shop to make the pickles.

I left out the chili & garlic, and made only half the liquid.

This was puckery but we enjoyed it.

He suggests pickling myoga (Japanese ginger), so I might give that a try when it is in season.

I am glad I tried this and would make it again.

Thursday, March 30, 2017

kochujang "sausage"

After seeing Jalna's post on Kochujang "sausage", I had to try.

It was a nice way to use the surplus of kochujang I have in my fridge.

Don't you hate it when you think you don't have something (like kochujang) some, only to find out you already have some in your fridge...grr!

Here's the recipe:
Korean Kochujang Sausage : Courtesy Glenn Shinsato

2 pounds ground pork
1/2 cup kochujang sauce
6 tablespoons garlic powder
1 ounce honey
1/4 cup soy sauce
1 large egg
1/4 cup fruit jam
Won bok kim chee, chopped (optional)

Combine ingredients and mix until sticky.
Shape into 4-inch patties about 3/4-inch thick.
Heat oil in pan and fry patties.

NOTES: this is super easy and got a thumbs up from Satoshi.

Anyway, I cut this recipe to 1/4 and left out the egg since I was gonna stir-fry it.

Cook on medium-low heat or it will burn because of the honey in there.

The mixture turns red, so it is also hard to tell when everything is cooked.

The recipe calls for fruit jam, Jalna said that her husband used an ume jam, since I didn't have any, I used some ume paste.

Also, instead of mixing in the kim chee, I served the kim chee on the side.

Next time I cook this I am gonna put everything on a paper towel to soak up some of the oil.

This was delicious, Jalna, thanks for sharing!

Wednesday, March 29, 2017


When we first moved to Japan back in 2001, the "trendy" food items in the US would usually take several years before catching on here.

These days though, it seems that a lot of "trendy" food items can be found more easily.

I recently found these snacks at Lawson under their "Natural Lawson" brand.

Coconut & Amaranth cookies...the cookies remind me of anzac biscuits.

Manuka Honey glazed almonds, crunchy and doesn't stick to your teeth.

Coconut sugar chocolate.

72% cacao & bits of coconut has a slight crunch to it...delicious!

What are you enjoying these days?

Tuesday, March 28, 2017

tempura makino

Friday, Satoshi had an appointment and would finish early, so we met up in Umeda for dinner at Tempura Makino.

This is part of the Marugame Udon chain except that this place only does tempura.

I ordered a beer while Satoshi ordered cold sake...boy, do they fill the container up to the rim!

Closer look.

In fact, when Satoshi moved to pour some into his ochoko (cup for sake), he spilled some...mottainai (what a waste!)

Satoshi's dinner had 8 tempura items plus asari-jiru (clam soup), while mine had 7 tempura items.

Satoshi had some different tempura items, so what I'm showing you is the ones I got to try.

Total for our dinner with our drinks was about 4200 yen (tax included).

A nice feature of our meal was this sakura salt...dehydrated sakura blossoms and salt...crush and use with your tempura, so delicious!

First up...shungiku (chrysanthemum leaves) with tiny shrimp...fried perfectly!

Sayori (half beak) & madai (red seabream)...forgot to take a photo before I started eating the madai...oops!

Highlight of the meal...tempura-ed...soft boiled egg!

Crisp around the edges and oozy yolk! so good!

bamboo shoot & nanohana(rape blossom).

Bummer that the bamboo shoot was on the tough side!

There was also a perfectly cooked shrimp but I forgot to take a photo of it...eep!

And Satoshi's asari-jiru (clam soup) many clams!

We really enjoyed this dinner. Everything is fried to order and comes out pretty steadily as you eat.

We'll be back!

Tempura Makino
Sanbangai 2F
Umeda, Osaka
Phone: 06.6372.0501
Hours: 10:30-23:00

Monday, March 27, 2017

out and about in kyoto

Saturday, we went to Kyoto to visit Satoshi's grandma's grave.

Then we walked to Ichijo-modoribashi to check out their sakura (cherry blossoms)...well, it was only 1 tree, but it was still beautiful.

We then walked to Demachiyanagi to see the trees at Chotokuji.

There were many tourists photographing the blooms (including us)...

Afterwards, we went down to Fushimi.

This area has very clean water so there are sake breweries especially two major ones, Gekkeikan & Kizakura.

We also spotted some early blooming cherry trees inside a school.

All in all, it was a beautiful day despite all the junk in the air.

Friday, March 24, 2017

5-day roast pork butt

I tried this 5-day roast pork butt a couple of times now from a shop we have in the area called Co-Op.

I like how there aren't many ingredients involved...just pork, shoyu, sugar, mirin, honey, ginger, mizuame (rice malt syrup), thickener & oil.

(sorry, forgot to note that it takes 5 days to make when I first posted this)

Tastes like char siu without the food coloring.

They don't always have this, nor do I always shop here, but when I do go there, I try to pick it up.

It comes with a packet of sauce.

To eat it, I usually put some rice in a bowl, then I heat up the meat with some veggies, add an egg and then drizzle the sauce over everything.

Super comforting flavors.

What have you been enjoying lately?

Thursday, March 23, 2017

2 more to go

After taking the zabuton out of their covers...I realized I have 3 blue ones and 3 creme colored ones.

Yesterday, I went back to MUJI to pick up 2 more zabuton and worked on changing the innards.

I'm happy I am getting faster at doing this.

I will probably go back to MUJI over the weekend to purchase the last 2.

Wednesday, March 22, 2017


It's O-higan...around the Spring and Autumnal Equinoxes, most Buddhist sects observe this time.

Similar to O-bon, many visit family graves and think of loved ones.

I think it is cool that every year around this time the cyclamen that we had intended to give Satoshi's grandma blooms.

If you don't know the backstory on this cyclamen, check out this post I wrote here.

Anyway, O-higan ends on the 23rd, and we are planning to visit her grave during the weekend.

Thinking of you Hikone Grandma.

Tuesday, March 21, 2017

rainy day project

My grandma gave us 6 zabuton (cushion used when you sit on the floor) when we moved to Japan.

The innards are quite flat, not "poofy" like the zabuton you see here in Japan.

I think it may be due to the type of filling that my grandma used to use.

After asking my aunties about changing the filling, I bought 2 zabuton from MUJI and they are "really poofy".

My grandma's filling is about an inch or two thick, while the MUJI one is 4 or 5 inches thick...

Anyway, after channeling my grandma & mom (both were great at sewing) and "squeezing" the MUJI zabuton in, I was able to change it...whew!

Instead of buying 6 zabuton all at once, I decided to try with just I know I can do this and will go back and pick up 4 more.

Thanks Grandma & Mom.

Monday, March 20, 2017

shunbun no hi

Today was Shunbun no Hi (Vernal Equinox)...I think Japan might be one of the only countries in the world to have a national holiday for it.

Today was really "warm"...I think the weather dude said Osaka went up to 18C (64F).

We did quite a bit of walking today despite there being a lot of "junk" in the air.

While we were at the mall, we noticed these early blooming cherry blossoms.

We'll be back to single digits tomorrow but it was nice to be out and about today.

Hope your week is off to a good start.

Friday, March 17, 2017

made in japan

Since we had bought that organic green tea from the Shimabara/Nagasaki food fair, I thought it might be nicer to enjoy this ground up like matcha.

While eating the leaves after brewing was an interesting and delicious way, I feel like being able to drink it would be an easier alternative.

I bought the matcha mill by Porlex.

They are the same company that made the coffee mill that I wrote about here.

With just 1 gram of green tea.

You can make about a teaspoon or so of matcha.

The package says that 1 gram of tea will be enough for about 1 or 2 cups of matcha...

We tried some this morning with some frothed milk as a latte and think 1 gram (of tea) is enough for 1 cup rather than 2.

I still have to figure out how to get my frothed milk a little tighter...

Changing the subject...It's St. Patrick's Day and we'll probably be having canned corned beef and cabbage for dinner since I've not seen fresh corned beef here...

It's also a 3-day weekend here...though Satoshi needs to work tomorrow.

Hope you all have a nice weekend.

Thursday, March 16, 2017

craft burger co.

The other day, I had intended to have lunch at El.Zocalo Burrito, since it had been some time since the last time I visited.

But when I stood in front of the shop, they had their "closed" sign out and it didn't look like anyone was around.

The wind was icy and I wasn't willing to wait a couple of minutes to see if they would eventually open...

Luckily I spotted Craft Burger Co. just around the corner from El.Zocalo Burrito.

The shop isn't too large, and since they had just opened for business it was still quiet and there weren't any customers.

For 880 yen (tax included), you can choose from their 5 different burgers...

I chose their pulled pork which wasn't an actual burger but a nice sized brioche bun filled with tender pulled pork, bbq sauce and cole slaw.

They gave me a triangle paper sleeve for my burger and told me to put the burger inside before eating...

um, please put the burger in the sleeve for me...since my sandwich wasn't an actual burger it wasn't actually sturdy enough for me to one handedly put it into the sleeve.

I ended up nixing the sleeve and just eating the sandwich with a fork.

The meal comes with your choice of a side and I am glad I chose these fried potatoes.

The outside was crisp and had a nice amount of rosemary and salt.

For 120 yen more you can order a I added a cola.

Of course, as I left, I noticed El.Zocalo Burrito had opened for business...

I still hope to go back to El.Zocalo Burrito one day, but if they aren't ready for business, I know where else I can lunch at.

Craft Burger Co.
1-6-12 Kitahorie
Nishi-ku, Osaka
Phone: 06.6556.6682
Closed Mondays
Hours: 11:30-22:30

Wednesday, March 15, 2017


The other day, I went to Talo Coffee for lunch.

I had intended to try their thick omelette sandwich, but figured I would just miss the serving time (11:00).

When I got there, there were many seats taken and the lunch menu was displayed outside.

The waitress asked me if I was there for lunch, and I said "yes". She then asked, "You aren't here for the thick omelette sandwich?"

(I was actually there for that but figured that they weren't serving it already and said I was there for lunch...)

So I said, "no I'm here for lunch".

She again asked me about the sandwich and I again said I was there for lunch...geez!

I ordered the ladies set which was a daily special...chicken with vegetable italian yaki (which turned out to be chicken, veggies, some ketchup and cheese that was stuck under the broiler)...salad, rice and a mini dessert (which I think was a type of cheesecake) and coffee...990 yen (tax included).

As I waited for my lunch, I people watched...

There was tension in the air from the kitchen trying to fulfill orders and tension from the waitress trying to serve and wipe/wash dishes...

A table with about 3 ladies were having a nice time chatting...

As I was eating...a woman came in and asked if she could order "the sandwich"...they told her she could, but if an order for lunch came in, her order would be put aside until the lunch order was filled...eep!

Apparently in order to make "the sandwich" it takes awhile to make the omelette...still, she agreed to wait if she needed to.

Then, a group of ladies came for "the sandwich" and were told they would need to come back at 13:00 when the lunch crowd died down...

It was then that the owner told the group chatting that they needed to leave in order to turn over their table..

I was shocked to see this as it wasn't overly busy....

It's a kind of want to get your business out there, so you agree to be published in magazines and media adds more "advertising"...the wave hits and you are krazy busy...some go out of business because they cannot keep up...most regulars are unable to visit and this usually leads to your business falling apart...

I can understand that when you are a "one man show" in the kitchen, things can get kind of krazy especially when all the tables are filled...

I notice that Japan has a hard time saying "no".

If you need to place limits it's what you need to do...

And we should respect these limits...

What I didn't really like about the whole scene was that they were shooing out customers that had just finished eating and were enjoying themselves.

If there was a line out the door waiting for tables, I would understand, but there wasn't.

For now, I'm won't be going back...

Sad because it was a really laid-back place before...

Tuesday, March 14, 2017

this and that

Love seeing all the different produce at the fruit this huge lemon!

Grown in Wakayama it was only 100 yen (plus tax)!

I recently have been seeing beets, so I tried pickling it raw...yummy!

This particular variety was called Detroit Dark Red.

This other variety I found was called Golgo in Japanese, (Gorgo, not sure of the spelling) also known as Barbabietola.

Love the pink rings!

We ate it raw, pickled...

and roasted.

Saw this Rittersport on Rowena's flickr page and kept my eye out for it.

The stores haven't really been bringing in new flavors, but I'm glad I found it and got to try it...salted honey almonds & milk good! I didn't share...

Tankan, a type of citrus.

They look really ugly, but when you cut them open they are bright orange.

They don't have any seeds and they are really sweet.

They reminded me of the oranges my mom used to grow.

What have you been seeing in your markets?

Monday, March 13, 2017

happy birthday MIL

Yesterday was MIL's birthday.

It was a special birthday as she turned 88.

In Japan, they call this birthday "beiju" (bay-joo).

In the early days, most people didn't live past 50 so any age past that was considered a joyous occasion.

Beiju is written with the character for rice.

Rice was respected by everyone not only as a staple but also a symbol of their livelihood and happiness.

A fundamental part of Japanese society, rice also symbolizes purity and goodness.

BIL, SIL and nephew turned out for the occasion.

With everyone's busy schedules, it was nice to get together with everyone.

Happy Birthday MIL!

Friday, March 10, 2017

float lemon tea (heart)

After that krazy lunch...I went to check out the mall up the street, before catching the bus back home.

As I was wandering in my favorite knick-knack shop...I found the tea with the dried lemon hearts!

The green box has tea from Miyazaki Gokase and the red one has tea from Shimane Izumo.

The heart shaped lemon is from Hiroshima.

Brew the tea then set the dried lemon on top.

So cute!

I'm glad I found this and didn't have to enter the lottery to get them.

We're back in a cold snap the past couple of days...have a nice weekend!