Monday, December 31, 2018

thank you

What a krazy year!

Way too many natural disasters...

Still, I'm thankful for every day, both good and bad.

I do miss all the nature we were closer to when we were in Minoo...we definitely live more in the "city" now.

Thank you for always being a part of these adventures.

All the best for 2019.

Sunday, December 30, 2018

10 photos

Can you believe I've been doing this meme for 10 years now?! I started back in 2008 and now it is a nice way to look back at my kitchen adventures.

Aaloo Masala, a tasty potato salad-like side dish.

Borscht was a new way to use beets.

Chicken Gyoza, super easy and perfect in soup.

Saba Tartare-style, tasty and perfect with crackers or baguette.

Curry Okayu, perfect for cold mornings and easy if you have the "porridge" button on your rice cooker.

Tataki Kyuuri, a tasty and great way to get your stress out.

Momotaro Tomato Suzuke, inspired by the TV show "Kodoku no Gurume", this slightly puckery side dish is perfect for the humidity of summer in Japan.

Taiwan Soy Milk Soup, this soup takes a bit of work, but is nice when you are tired of eating out.

Maangchi's Braised Lotus
, I love her recipes, so easy and tasty.

Aunty Misao's Saba Patties, I'm glad I finally tried this recipe, so good.

I'm amazed with all that has happened this year that I still had enough adventures in the kitchen to write up this meme.

Hope your year in the kitchen was a good one!

Saturday, December 29, 2018


1. Amit Majmudar, "The Abundance"
2. Hilary Reyl, "Lessons in French"
3. Lisa See, "The Tea Girl of Hummingbird Lane"

Sad that I didn't get a chance to read more this year...hoping I'll be able to read a little more next year.

Did you read anything that you enjoyed? Please tell me about it in the comments.

Friday, December 28, 2018

this & that

I was hoping that I would be finished re-pasting the photos on this blog by the end of this year, but I still have 900-something posts more to go.

The good thing was that I only had to start from 2011 posts and not 2005!

Another good thing, it has been nice re-connecting with everything I've written.

My knee still isn't 100% so I guess I still need to go to rehab next year...

That, plus juggling all the other "real life" stuff, somehow it hasn't really felt much like the holidays for me.

Anyway, Satoshi will be off for New Years so we'll be on a little adventure soon.

We may not have wi-fi where we are going, so I’ll moderate comments when we get back.

In the meantime, I do have some of my "usual" year end posts lined up.

I hope you all had a nice Christmas and enjoy the rest of the holiday season.

I'll talk to you again after the new year starts.

Be well everyone!

Thursday, December 27, 2018

goma goma goma

Starbucks came out with everything sesame the other day.

The name is "goma goma goma" literally "sesame sesame sesame"...

I didn't try their sesame frappuccino or latte for fear of it being gritty...instead I tried their coffee cake.

Unfortunately it was dry, but I liked the flavor because they used black and white sesame seeds...very nutty flavor.

What have you been enjoying?

Wednesday, December 26, 2018

omiyage & lunch

Some omiyage we brought back with us from Kyoto...Tsukemono (pickles)

From Doi Shibazuke Honpo (left) Shibazuke & Suguki Kizami...shibazuke is a pickle made with red shiso leaves...suguki is a fermented pickle.

Daiyasu (right) Senmaizuke & Yuzusu Nagaimo...senmaizuke is pickle that uses the Shogoin turnip and is thinly slice to make senmai(1000 slices)...yuzusu (citron vinegar) is used to marinate nagaimo (chinese yam).

The chinese yam had the closest expiry date, so we've been eating it and it is so crisp!

Far right bottom: chirimen sansho from SIL (thank you!)

From MIL we received these "cookies" called Senju Senbei made by Kogetsu.

Wavy cookie with a cream filling. (thank you!)

For the ride back to Tokyo, I picked up some things from Oreno Pan Okamura.

We actually tried their cafe last year and weren't impressed with their food.

Their baked goods & sandwiches on the other hand were delicious.

Like this katsu sandwich with shibazuke pickles...the bread was so soft and the katsu cooked perfectly

And this matcha mame cube.

Matcha bread filled with all sorts of candied beans.

When we were going back to Tokyo, we had planned on shopping at the Istean Food Floor, but instead shopped at the arcade near the Hachijo exit...way less crowding and easier with luggage.

Tuesday, December 25, 2018

wedding reception

Back in 2009, I wrote about Japan weddings and the reception.

Since then, things have changed.

Over the weekend, we attended Satoshi's nephew's wedding reception.

Also back in 2009, Satoshi's nephew was in high school and has since graduated college, been working and recently married his high school sweetheart...

Last month, he got married in Hawaii.

The reception was held at a hotel looking out at the Kamo River.

Apparently, it was the same hotel that MIL and SIL's parents also had their wedding receptions held at.

The food was fabulous.

Lobster, uni (sea urchin), caviar and a creamy veggie puree.

Bacon and vegetable consomme soup.

Amadai (tile fish) that was fried with the scales and seared scallops

The scales so crisp and the flesh of the fish so moist...delicious.

Wagyu (Japanese beef) grilled and served with a wine sauce.

Blanc manger (a type of milk gelatin) topped with fruits...and piece of wedding cake.

There aren't many speeches given about the bride and groom, nowadays there are video messages.

Also, the hikidemono (gifts for attending) are sent directly to your home (we haven't received ours yet).

It was nice to spend some time with Satoshi's family, meet his nephew's wife and her family.

We wish them all the best!

Monday, December 24, 2018

buying shoes

I wanted to share my experience buying shoes for Satoshi's nephew's wedding.

I had found a pair that I really liked but the department store we were at didn't have my size.

So, the salesperson went online and checked out where the same model and size I was interested in was available.

It turned out that a totally different department store had the same model and size I was interested in.

I was amazed because who would send their customer to a rival department store?!

I was amazed because the salesman let me wear these slippers (see photo above) while he put "no slide" inserts in my shoes (for free!)

Of course the pair of shoes cost a very pretty penny...(and I'll probably need to wear them everyday next Spring to get good use out of them)

But, Japanese service is definitely top notch.

Sunday, December 23, 2018

thank you

Big thank you to my Instagram friend @yumyumtofu for sending me all these local Canadian chocolates.

Can't wait to try them soon!

Saturday, December 22, 2018


I went back to Stivale to buy their panettone...500 yen (plus tax).

Panettone is an eggy bread filled with fruits and nuts.

I was impressed when I cut this in half....look at how large the fruit pieces are?!

My mom would always wait for Costco or Sam's to bring in their panettone from Italy(?) only to be disappointed by the teeny bits of fruit in them.

After posting about buying the panettone on Instagram, Rowena said that they eat it with marscapone cheese.

I didn't have marscapone but did have cream cheese so, that is how we had ours.

I look forward to getting this again next Christmas.

Friday, December 21, 2018


We stumbled upon Kawase as we were walking back from the Ao Dokutsu to Shibuya station.

A tiny eatery they bring in ingredients from Kanazawa Prefecture.

The tsukidashi (stuff you don't order but have to pay for)...sweet potato simmered in citrus.


Buri (amberjack) Daikon...the fish was so tender you could swear it was melt in your mouth pork...

Potato salad wrapped with pieces of buri...interesting but super delicious. Potato salad is wrapped with a piece of buri then grilled.

Kaga veggie tempura...Vegetables of the Kaga area of Kanazawa...renkon (lotus root), sweet potato, fugu (puffer fish), kinjiso (okinawan spinach), heta murasaki nasu (eggplant), kaga tsurumame (type of bean).

They also had hot pots on their menu, but they need to be pre-ordered.

Overall though, service was pretty good and the food tasty...we'll be back.

2-1 Udagawa-cho, Shibuya Homes B1F
Shibuya, Tokyo
Phone: 03.6455.1040
Hours: 11:30-15:00 (lunch), 17:00-23:00 (dinner)
Closed Sundays

Thursday, December 20, 2018

ao no dokutsu

From Shibuya's Hachi-ko (Park with statue of Hachi the dog), just follow the blue lights to Yoyogi Park.

There you will find the Ao no Dokutsu (Blue Cave).

If only smartphones had a way to control long shutterspeed...

Still it was nice to see.

This event runs from November 30 to December 31.

Click here if you'd like to see a short video.

Wednesday, December 19, 2018

seikei geka

I had always thought that "seikei" meant cosmetic surgery.

And it does.

But, when "seikei" is combined with "geka" meaning surgery, it means orthopedic surgery.

Back in October, my knee was sore, but I thought by waiting things out, it would heal on its own.

I thought we were walking too much...taking too many stairs (at shrines)...

Then in November, I could barely stand on it.

Satoshi told me to see the chiropractor down the street, but he only told me to put "cooling" bandages on it, which I was already doing, and it wasn't getting better.

So, I went to Ikegami Seikei.

The doctor took x-rays and then prescribed some "heating" bandages and some pain killers.

(The bandages ended up giving me a rash, so I was changed to medicine that could be taken internally.)

I was also instructed to go to rehab.

The amazing thing is that within the office, there is a huge area for rehab.

At least 15 people can be getting different treatments done at one time.

My rehab consists of having my knee sit under a heat lamp for about 10 minutes.

When I asked them how many times I need to come to rehab their reply was, "you can come everyday, but no less than 3 times a week"...

So, I go 5 days a week (they are closed on Thursdays and Sundays (and holidays))

The downside of medicine in Japan, you aren't billed afterwards, you need to pay cash every time before leaving...luckily with insurance my rehab only costs me 320 yen per visit.

About two weeks ago, I got a hyaluronic shot in my knee.

I'm sure if I didn't have to walk very often, it would have a chance to heal, but daily stuff needs to get done.

Anyway, the pain is slowly going away and I hope they will tell me to stop rehab by year's end.

Oh, and anyone that takes meds or visits a pharmacy carries around one of these books (see the photo above)...

When you pick up your prescription, they place a seal in the book to let any other pharmacy know what meds you are on.

This allows you to go to any pharmacy and fill your prescription.

You should also know that written prescriptions expire after 4 days, so you cannot "save them" up to fill all at once.

Not all pharmacies take credit card too, so make sure you have cash on hand...

What a year for medical stuffs (remember my root canal drama?!)...but thank goodness for insurance.

Tuesday, December 18, 2018


Alice's stollen is super dense, moist like cake.

Lots of dried fruits and some nuts.


Monday, December 17, 2018


Umaki is grilled unagi (eel) that is wrapped (maku) with an omelette.

The umaki at Hitsumabushi Nagoya Bincho is so fluffy and delicious.

Satoshi wanted to go to try the unagi here after I told him about the lunch I had with V & K.

On weekends though, the lines were krazy!

We waited about 30 minutes for a table, but it was worth it.

Sunday, December 16, 2018

meguro river illumination

Before V left Japan, she mentioned she was trying to find the Meguro River Illumination.

During the Spring, the Meguro River is a popular area for cherry blossoms, which I think they light up too.

But, during this time of year, apparently they use pink lights to give the impression of cherry blossoms....

Click the link here to see a very short video.

It turned out that it was the Meguro River, but only in the area between Gotanda and Osaki stations.

Satoshi and I thought the amount of people were quite sparse.

They did have three igloo type huts with kotatsu (heated tables) for people to sit in...I couldn't find any info though on how someone could use them though.

I really liked this blue tree near the Osaki station.

Thanks for telling me about this V!

I'm glad we got a chance to check it out.

Saturday, December 15, 2018

on the lanai

Back in October, I got the krazy idea to try planting radish.

After most of my plants died after the blazing summer, I planted the radish seeds in four pots.

I figured if they didn't grow, I'd at least have a lot of radish greens for our soups.

Well, I think they did pretty well.

I should've thinned out the sprouts like the directions had said...

Since I didn't thin them out, I ended up with all sorts of sizes and shapes.

I turned them into pickles which we tried with breakfast the other morning.

I washed the greens and froze them for our soups in the coming weeks.

I still have more seeds and will definitely try growing these again in the Spring.

Friday, December 14, 2018


If you click on the photo, you might be able to see the bird with a rather long blue tail. (sorry my picture is blurry)

Apparently it is called "onaga" in Japanese... (Azure winged magpie in English) the way, onaga in hawaiian is the word for the long tail red snapper fish

It is the first time for me to see one of these and I was surprised at how long it was hanging out on this tree while looking for bugs to eat (I went to the coin laundry and the onaga was still on the tree as I walked back home!)