Friday, June 30, 2017


Yesterday, we got together for my host-brother's wife's birthday.

Usually my host-mom, my host-brother's wife and I go out for lunch, but yesterday, my host-father joined us too.

It was nice as I hadn't seen him in many years.

Lunch was at host-father had enjoyed eating at their restaurant in Tokyo but somehow yesterday's lunch was a bit lacking (according to him).

We (three) enjoyed the different courses though.

After lunch we headed across the street to Malebranche for something sweet.

I chose their peach cake. This had meringue as well as whipped cream and nice slices of sweet peaches.

Then we went to the food floor to get some omiyage (souvenirs).

My host-mom bought us these tea gelatin sweets from Nakamura Tokichi.

Here it is in a dish...

The weather this week has been so gloomy (humid and gross), so it was nice spending time with my host-family.

I'm grateful we get together at least a couple times a year to catch-up with each other.

Thank you!

Shin Hankyu Hotel Kyoto, B1
Phone: 075.343.5327

JR Kyoto Isetan, 6F
Phone: 075.343.2727

Nakamura Tokichi
JR Kyoto Isetan, B1

Thursday, June 29, 2017


Recently we tried these cute kanten treats called Kyo-temari by Seikanin.

Kyo is short for Kyoto.

Temari are normally balls that are embroidered and used in games.

I have a picture of one made of candy.

The outside of the Kyo-temari is coated with sugar and the inside is a semi-firm jelly-like kanten.

It comes in 8 different flavors (lemon, grape, sakura, green ume, ramune, peach, apricot, strawberry) and unfortunately are only sold in sets of 9 (7 of the above flavors plus 2 lemon), nothing sold single.

The lady working at the counter said to chill it, but it doesn't really get cold.

Still I'm glad we tried this, it makes a nice gift.

In most department stores, I bought this from Umeda Daimaru

Wednesday, June 28, 2017


Saturday, it was so brutally humid.

Still, we wanted to check out the fireflies, so we made our way to Minoo Falls.

Before heading out onto the trail, we stopped into Cafe de Crie for something cold...

Satoshi had a coffee float (iced coffee with vanilla ice cream)

And I got this...a bright bluish greenish mint chocolate drink...loved how it had bits of chocolate in it as well as that thick chocolate drizzle on top.

We only saw a handful of fireflies, and even though it was humid it was nice to be out and about and I'm glad we made it home before the rain.

Tuesday, June 27, 2017


We recently received more bambucha (huge) onions from Mayumi-san (thank you!)

This time around they were from Awajishima (Awaji Island).

I roasted one of them for our dinner on Sunday (because it was the size of a softball!)

Topped it with some homemade meat sauce and shredded cheese...I've made this before here.

The weather has been so hot and humid, so it wasn't the best day to be using the oven, but this was still a delicious way to enjoy this.

Thank you again Mayumi-san!

Monday, June 26, 2017


Have you tried 551 Horai?

Everyone in Osaka calls them 551(pronounced go-go-itchy) and I only tried them recently.

Silly me...I had thought they were the same as the nikuman (knee-coo-mahn, literally meat buns) sold at the convenience store...gasp!

551's steamed pork bun is a little sweet and thicker on the outside than the ones in the convenience stores, more like the steamed manapua (char siu bao) we have in Hawaii.

The inside filling is like pork hash and it is super juicy.

It comes with a packet of mustard and during the summer a packet of ponzu (citrus soy sauce) (I have only used the ponzu, so don't know what exact type of mustard is given).

Apparently, you can only find 551 in the Kansai area, so there are always lines to get them as omiyage (souvenir).

They hand fill and steam each bun on site, so you know everything is made fresh.

551 calls their pork filled buns, butaman (boo-tah-mahn literally pork buns) NOT nikuman, so try not to make a mistake when ordering...

They also sell shumai (pork hash) as well as other items at their kiosks.

There are many 551 Horai restaurants around the Kansai area too.

I want to try their char siu man (buns filled with sweet red char siu, like manapua), but need to visit their main store in Namba.

If you have tried 551, what items do you enjoy from them?

Sunday, June 25, 2017

a-ha moment

I think every once in awhile, we all have an a-ha moment.

Recently while Satoshi and I were talking about ika (squid), he was saying that there were activists against the way that squid was killed the minute it was caught so that it could maintain the freshness of the squid.

Which got us to talking about how veggies may even have "life", so would it be wrong to "kill" them too?

And then I mentioned how when we say "itadakimasu" before eating, it is to let the food know that we are receiving their lives.

That is when the a-ha moment hit Satoshi, you should've seen his face light up.

All his life he thought that "itadakimasu" just meant, "thank you for the meal", and "thank you to the person who made it".

Afterwards, I let him read my post about itadakimasu & gochisoosama.

He was quite impressed that I knew this, and now I'm glad he knows this too...

Saturday, June 24, 2017

shikoku fair

Recently Hanshin Department Store held a Shikoku Fair.

All sorts of foodie items from Kochi, Ehime, Tokushima & Kagawa prefectures.

I was hoping that Hakurakuten would be selling their sauce for their yakibuta tamago meshi bowls...and they were!

We had this for dinner one night...I gotta figure out how to make the yakibuta (roast pork) similar but this was still delicious!

Friday, June 23, 2017

fbc, koln & furoindo

It had been ten years (or more) since I had been back to Rokko Island.

Before that, I had been to Rokko Island when I studied in Japan (many many moons ago).

Back when I studied in Japan, Rokko Island was still undeveloped and when Satoshi and I had visited 10 (or more years ago) it was still pretty undeveloped.

So, I was shocked to see it looking like a concrete jungle now...

Finding Foreign Buyer's Club was a bit of a hunt, but I'm glad I had brought my pocket wifi.

I could've easily ordered online from them, but I wanted to see their brick & mortar shop.

I'm glad I went because now I know that they don't have a lot of items there and have more items listed on their website.

I was able to get some deodorant...and a can of cream of mushroom soup (I wanna make scalloped potatoes).

At least I have some deodorant to tide me over for the summer...

In Okamoto, I had originally thought to buy some items from Furoindo, a bakery that has been around since 1932.

You know I wasn't a foodie back when I studied in Japan, because I only found out about them when we moved to Japan back in 2001.

Anyway, when I went to the shop, I was too early and all their shelves were!

So I bought all kinds of stuff from Koln...that tuna sandwich (bottom of the photo) was awesome, it had fried onions in it and I want to re-create it.

And that smiley face was a chocolate melon pan filled with chocolate cream...mmm!

I went to FBC and then just before getting on the train back to Osaka, I went to check out Furoindo again...and they had curry pan & an donuts...whoo!

Usually when you bite into curry pan, there is a huge air pocket where the bread separates from the filling.

I loved that both were filled to the gills with curry and sweet bean paste respectively.

The curry had a nice amount of spice and the an donut was covered with cinnamon.

The donut part was thicker and chewier than what I am used to but I think it needs to be that thick to hold all that filling.

I'll be back to both bakeries and buy from FBC online (thanks for telling us about this place Jo!).

Have a nice weekend!

Foreign Buyer's Club (2020 no longer in business)
5-15 Koyochonaka, 3F
Rokko Island, Hyogo
Phone: 078.857.9001
Closed Sundays
Hours: 10:00-18:00

1-5-13 Okamoto
Kobe, Hyogo
Phone: 078.451.0064
Hours: 8:30-20:30

1-11-23 Okamoto
Kobe, Hyogo
Phone: 078.411.6686
Closed Sundays
Hours: 9:00-19:00

Thursday, June 22, 2017


So, I doctored the ume jam up.

I decided to use the formula I use when I make yuzu marmalade which is 1 : 1 (fruit to sugar)...

As I was measuring out the sugar, I ran out...and it was raining cats and dogs yesterday, so I just made do with what sugar I had.

Luckily, it was about 80% of the amount I needed...

We tasted the jam this morning, it is tart but not sour.

I'm glad I was able to save this, it would be a shame if I had to throw it out.

NOTES: next time I'll taste the fruit...and decide what percentage of sugar to add, instead of just relying on the recipe given.

Wednesday, June 21, 2017

coin lockers

I haven't used a coin locker in awhile now, and was amazed at how high tech they are now.

You can pay for the locker with an IC card now. Apparently IC stands for Integrated Circuit.

In Japan these IC cards are popularly used to pay for train fares as well as for shopping and meals in many train stations.

I'm glad they had an "English" button to explain things too (I think they also had Korean & Chinese choices too).

I thought having the crab on my receipt was a nice reminder as to where I had left my bags.

Have you used coin lockers in Japan? How was your experience using them?

Tuesday, June 20, 2017

ume jam

When I was reading the instructions that came with the ume on how to make the syrup, I noticed that they mentioned making jam with the fruit after making the syrup.

So with the fruit, I broke each ume by hand and took out the pit.

Then in a metal strainer, and pouring a little water over the pits, I used a wooden spoon to scrape what fruit I could off of the pits.

I weighed the pitted fruit and used 20% of the weight as the amount of sugar to use for the jam.

(The instructions had stated I would end up with 900 grams of fruit, but it was less, so after pitting it was even less.)

I also added about 1 cup of water.

While cooking this on medium low, I scraped off the scum.

After 15 minutes it was quite thick so I put the jam into jars. I labeled them and then flipped the jars over to create a vacuum.

And let it cool.

I ended up with about 3 cups of jam.

We tried the jam this morning...sour!

I should've tried the fruit after I took it out of the syrup.

Also, since I was trying to cut back on the amount of sugar, I only did 20%, but think I need to add another 20% (or so)...will try doctoring it up tomorrow.

Crossing fingers it will be okay after doctoring and I am glad I did not give any of this away before tasting...whew!

Still, this was a good experience.

Monday, June 19, 2017

ume syrup

If you have been following us on Instagram, you'll know we were making ume syrup and jam for the first time.

All these years I've seen it being sold at markets to be made into umeshu (liquor) & syrup, but never thought to try (thought it was too tedious)...I'm glad I finally tried because it was super easy.

1 kilogram ume
1 kilogram rock sugar
3 liter glass bottle

Wash the ume and gently dry with a paper towel or tea towel.
Using a toothpick, take the "belly button" thingy out of each ume (where the stem was), just gently "stab" it with the toothpick and it will come out
Freeze the ume for at least 24 hours

After the 24 hours, layer the ume with the rock sugar.
As the ume defrosts, it starts to melt the rock sugar and also starts the fruit to break down slowly.
Keep the bottle in a dark and cool place.
Every so often for the next 7 days, shake the bottle.

At the end of 7 days, remove the fruit (if not it will rot and may start to mold)
Transfer the liquid into a glass container and keep in the refrig.
The liquid is drinkable (diluted 1 syrup : 4 water or your favorite alcohol) after the 7 days but best after 1 month when all the rock sugar has melted.

Here are the jars when I first started.

I didn't have a 3 liter bottle but did have a 2 liter and 1 liter, so used that.

At the halfway point it looked like this.

At 7 days, I removed the ume.

When we opened the jar to remove the fruit, the aroma was so sweet and fruity!

I poured the liquid and rock sugar into an airtight jar and put it into the fridge.

So thankful I had my mom's jam funnel! (Thank you!)

Last night we mixed 2 tablespoons of syrup with 1/4 cup of awamori and filled the rest of the glass with carbonated good!

From the fruit of the syrup, I turned it into jam...I'll post about this tomorrow...stay tuned.

Friday, June 16, 2017

job fair

Awhile back I wrote about the new employees called

Did you know that in the 2nd year of college, most students start looking for a job (for after graduation)?!

Some run into problems after graduation like when the company they supposedly have a job with folds prior to their graduation...eep!

I thought this was an interesting scene...a job fair on a Saturday.

Everyone wearing their black suits (guess this is to keep everyone neutral), still with the weather as hot and humid as it is...I felt sorry for them.

I also felt sorry for them as they should be enjoying their college life instead of "rushing" to enter the working world...

Thursday, June 15, 2017

maison du bon

Back in May (I think), we won a giveaway by Maison Du Bon, a luxury online shop for French products.

Since we were allowed to choose any of their gift boxes, we chose the chocolate one...bien sûr (of course)

It came with all sorts of chocolate goodies, a tote bag & an apron.

There were also description cards of each item with interesting tidbits of the people who make the food items.

Since our weather was quite warm when the box arrived, there were some items that were "deformed"...

even though some were "deformed", everything was still edible and delicious!

(it is hard to tell from this photo, but the chocolate was coated with a bronze/copper-ish color...

The box mix for fondant chocolat, went against my "rule" for baking (50 grams of butter and 1 egg)...using 110 grams of butter and 3 eggs...eep!

Still, this was so rich and luscious!

There was also a tiny pot of chocolate fondue which I'm gonna save for later this year...

Merci Maison Du Bon we enjoyed everything !

Wednesday, June 14, 2017

snack pine

I picked up this teeny Okinawan pineapple called "snack pine" to try.

You are apparently supposed to pick off each "nub" and eat the fruit attached to it...kinda like artichokes?!

Since I thought that way would be kinda p.i.t.a (pain in the a)....I tried peeling it like a normal sized pineapple....

It wasn't as easy as a normal sized one.

In fact, there were still lots of hard outer parts on the pieces I cut.

The fruit is super sweet though.

I've tried planting the crown, so we'll see what happens...

Tuesday, June 13, 2017

japanese deodorant

I have been trying to wean us off of different products that I used to bring home from floss, deodorant as well as other things because of the baggage weight limits.

We're weaned off of dental floss and I thought we might be able to stop bringing back deodorant...if only Japan's deodorant actually worked.

I found something interesting on Wikipedia...your earwax determines what kind of perspiration/body odor you have...what???

From Wikipedia:

"There are two distinct genetically determined types of earwax: the wet type, which is dominant, and the dry type, which is recessive. While Asians and Native Americans are more likely to have the dry type of cerumen (gray and flaky), African and European people are more likely to have the wet type (honey-brown to dark-brown and moist)… In Japan, wet-type earwax is more prevalent among the Ainu, in contrast to that country's Yamato majority…

A specific gene has been identified that determines whether people have wet or dry earwax. The difference in cerumen type has been tracked to a single base change (a single nucleotide polymorphism) in a gene known as "ATP-binding cassette C11 gene". Dry-type individuals are homozygous for adenine whereas wet-type requires at least one guanine. Wet-type earwax is associated with armpit odor, which is increased by sweat production. The researchers conjecture that the reduction in sweat or body odor was beneficial to the ancestors of East Asians and Native Americans who are thought to have lived in cold climates."

Krazy but interesting yeah?!

Anyway...the deodorant that they have here:
*stick type is super teeny...20 grams vs the 50 something grams the US has...higher price too!
*more fragrance than to actually stop perspiration
*doesn't last very long throughout the day

Since this summer is gonna be a scorcher here in Japan, am gonna stock up on deodorant the next time I go back to Hawaii.

Monday, June 12, 2017


We met up with Michelle and her family on Saturday since they are visiting.

They wanted to see the Minoo Falls, so that is what we did.

(if you click on the photo you should be able to view the short video of the Falls).

It was nice chatting along the 3.8 kilometer (2.3 mile) trail.

Along the way there was a monkey in the trees...I told her kids to hide their snacks so that the monkeys wouldn't attack them...eep!

Dinner was at a chain izakaya near the Hankyu Minoo station...what crappy service!

Our "waitress" only took orders for drinks...if we wanted to order food, we had to "talk" to the touch panel menu...even if she (the waitress) was right in front of us...

Satoshi said that a lot of places are like this these wonder we don't eat at these types of places...

Still it was nice to meet up and catch up with them.

Thanks for a great day, Michelle & family, enjoy the rest of your trip!

Friday, June 09, 2017


Rainy season started Wednesday and it rained

Tuesday night though, we had this...globe zucchini stuffed with pearl barley, quinoa, parmesan and a tomato meat sauce.

I had seen others cooking with this type of zucchini online but this was my first time to actually find it at the market and try cooking with this.

I wasn't too sure if the ones I found were large or small...but think it was quite large.

This year, we sure have had been lucky with bambucha (huge), here and here.

I hope to come across these again at the market...

Have you cooked with this type of zucchini before? How did you cook them?

Thursday, June 08, 2017


While waiting for Satoshi's German class to finish, I was wandering around the food area of Hankyu Department Store.

I came upon a line for fruit daifuku.

While strawberry daifuku is commonly seen around Japan.

I thought it was neat that Isshindo was putting things like watermelon, kiwi and other seasonal fruits in their daifuku.

Isshindo's main shop is located in Sakai, which is the southern area of Osaka.

So, I stood in, the people before me were buying up the place....

I chose a peach & mango daifuku...864 yen (tax included) for both. juicy and sweet!

These were bigger than the peach daifuku I've tried from Korakudo.

the mango wasn't stringy too!

I'm glad we got to try this and hope to try other seasonal fruits in the future.

Hankyu Umeda B1
Umeda, Osaka
Phone: 06.6313.0240
Open when Hankyu is

Wednesday, June 07, 2017


Back in 2008, we visited the Karasuma peninsula and saw 13 hectares (about 32 acres) of lotus blossoms!

We were in awe and amazed by the beauty of this area.

(photo from the Kyoto Newspaper) This is what the area looks like recently...all the lotus roots have disappeared.

They aren't too sure what caused it to die off (global warming, disease, maybe other reasons) but how sad is this?!