Tuesday, June 27, 2017


more huge onions, this time from awajishima, thank you again mayumi-san! #awajishima #japan #onion #淡路島 #玉ねぎ We recently received more bambucha (huge) onions from Mayumi-san (thank you!)

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

Untitled 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


IMG_0954 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.

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

gmh3 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

Untitled 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!

Untitled 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

Untitled 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...

Untitled 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...

Untitled 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 empty...boo!

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!

Untitled 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!

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

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
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


a little tart but not sour❤︎ #ume #jam #osaka #japan #toast #coffee #yogurt #granola #トースト #珈琲 #ヨーグルト #グラノーラ #梅ジャム #大阪 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 ashame 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

Untitled 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).

Untitled 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

Untitled 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.

Untitled 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.

Untitled 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.

tried the ume jam (needs to be sweeter), will doctor it up sometime this week❤︎ #ume #jam #osaka #japan #梅ジャム #大阪 #coffee #watermelon #西瓜 #珈琲 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

Untitled 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.

the recipe that came with the ume said to freeze the fruit for at least 24 hours, so after cleaning them, I froze them. today I added them to bottles and "layered" in the rock sugar...7 days to ume syrup and then I'll make jam with the fruit...exciting:pr 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.

halfway done❤︎ #梅シロップ #梅ジャム #大阪 #ume #syrup #jam osaka #japan At the halfway point it looked like this.

Untitled At 7 days, I removed the ume.

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

Untitled 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!)

ume syrup mixed with awamori & carbonated water and nibbles❤︎ #sundaydinner #osaka #japan ##大阪 #梅シロップ #泡盛 #炭酸水 #おつまみ Last night we mixed 2 tablespoons of syrup with 1/4 cup of awamori and filled the rest of the glass with carbonated water...so 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

Untitled Awhile back I wrote about the new employees called freshers...here.

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

Untitled 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.

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

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

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

Untitled 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!

Untitled 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

Untitled 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

gmh3 I have been trying to wean us off of different products that I used to bring home from Hawaii...dental 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


Untitled 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!

Untitled 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 days...no 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


Untitled Rainy season started Wednesday and it rained all.day.long.

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.

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

Untitled 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


Untitled 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 line...man, the people before me were buying up the place....

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

Untitled oh-em-gee...so juicy and sweet!

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

Untitled 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


mizunomori2 Back in 2008, we visited the Karasuma peninsula and saw 13 hectares (about 32 acres) of lotus blossoms!

mizunomori15 We were in awe and amazed by the beauty of this area.

photo from kyoto newspaper (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?!

Tuesday, June 06, 2017


reconnected with cousins from cali, thanks for a great day❤︎ #honkeootako #dotombori #osaka #japan #本家大たこ法善寺店 #道頓堀 #大阪 Back in January, I got an email from cousin E.

The last time we saw this cousin was back in 2012.

Before that, was way way back when I was in high school (I think)...

Anyway, his email was to let us know that he and his family were coming to Japan in June.

After emailing a couple of times, we decided to meet yesterday.

Even if met up in 2012, it was actually our first time to "hang out" with them.

Instead of eating at the shopping mall we met up at, we bought some bento and other items from a supermarket in the complex and had a makeshift picnic near the Osaka Castle.

I think they enjoyed checking out the pre-made food section at the supermarket too.

Then after walking through the castle, we walked around Dotombori and had an early dinner at Honke Ootako.

Takoyaki, yakisoba, okonomiyaki and other nibbles.

I think everyone had a nice time and I hope everyone had enough to eat.

side note: If you just want to eat takoyaki, Honke Ootako has a stand called Ootako around the corner from their shop. (as we left, we saw wait staff running orders of takoyaki from the stand to the shop)

I don't really care too much for takoyaki as the "innards" are always kinda undercooked for my liking, but this shop's takoyaki was delicious with huge pieces of tako (octopus) inside.

It was a blazing day, but I'm glad we got to spend some time reconnecting with them and I hope they enjoyed their visit to Osaka.

Thanks for a great day, E & Family!

Honke Ootako
1-1-6 Namba
Chuo, Osaka
Phone: 06.6213.1888
Hours: 11:30-23:00

Monday, June 05, 2017

happy birthday

hubs birthday request : mentaiko spicy pollack roe) & rice...all the best for 2017, love you◡̈♥︎ #mentaiko #rice #osaka #japan #birthday #辛子明太子 #米 #大阪 #お誕生日 Saturday was Satoshi's birthday.

I am not too sure when we had the conversation about mentaiko (spicy pollack roe), but he had mentioned that even if the nutritionist said it was "bad for him", he wanted to eat some with rice.

So, I figured, for his birthday...why not?!

Little did I realize that most vendors are putting sorbitol in their mentaiko...WT?!

Wasn't it a salty, savory food?

Why was it necessary for artificial sweeteners?!

birthday boy request : mentaiko I found a box...kinda pricey at 1166 yen (tax included).

It is made in Japan, the roe also comes from Hokkaido. (most are from America or Russia)

AND they don't use any red food coloring.

birthday boy request : mentaiko Satoshi enjoyed this thoroughly...even licking the plate.

Happy Birthday...may 2017 be healthy & happy...love you.

Friday, June 02, 2017

mizunasu tsukemono

Untitled During this time of year, you may or not be able to find mizunasu tsukemono in Osaka.

The pickles are made asazuke (light pickling) style...not too puckery or too sweet because they are not soaked for very long.

The mizunasu (literally water eggplant) are grown in the southern part of Osaka and have lots of moisture.

Since this pickle is very popular at this time of year, it is rare to find them in big supermarkets.

Most are found at small pickle shops, at the department stores or if you have "connections".

I'm pretty sure this was the first time we tried this because it is just that rare & pricey...for a small sized eggplant I bought this for 350 yen (tax included) at the department store.

There is another way of pickling the mizunasu...nukazuke (pickling in rice bran)...which I also saw at the department store.

Hopefully the next time I'm wandering around in the department store they'll have some for us to try.

If not, we'll just try to get some next summer.

Thursday, June 01, 2017


price of butter going up (again) tomorrow...guess I haven't bought butter in awhile(I probably forgot...only 150 grams instead of 200?!)😳 #butter #japan #krazy #バター #値上がり #グラム数減った #ビックリポン The price of butter is supposed to go up today.

I really haven't been buying butter in bulk (or baking) because of this.

Since "my stash" in the freezer was starting to run low though, I decided to get a box before the price went up.

eep! They decreased the amount of grams...from 200 to 150!

The grams have probably been decreased for some time now, I just either forgot that this was what happened or hadn't bought a box in a really long time.

sigh...I can only shudder that more bakeries will switch over to margarine because of this.