Friday, May 24, 2019

lemongrass butterfly pea tea

Tried this Lemongrass Butterfly Pea Tea from Kaldi.

Satoshi wasn't too impressed with the color.

Me, I love the color!

Because it is blended with lemongrass, the lemongrass flavor stands out.

I hear if you add lemon juice to it, the blue will turn pink...hope to try that!

Our temps are supposed to hit 30C (86F) this weekend...eep!

Thursday, May 23, 2019

sad

Well, I was wrong. It’s not looking good.

This is how the condo looked on May 9th...you can see Mount Fuji in the background.

And then on the 22nd...the iron rods have gotten higher...gah! (no sign of Mount Fuji yesterday so I put an arrow where she should be, but the sunset was nice!)

guess it was nice while it lasted and we'll just have to go visit Mount Fuji more often...

Wednesday, May 22, 2019

"sumo"

The natsu basho (summer tournament) is going on now in Tokyo.

We thought we might be able to get a glimpse, but the daily amount of unreserved tickets were sold out by the time we got there....boo!

The flags of the wrestlers were so colorful!

There were many people with sumo trading cards that would run up to the wrestler and ask for their autograph.

It was fun to hang around outside the arena like paparazzi...

On our way to the station, we caught 3 sumotori (wrestlers) in a taxi...check out the back wheels...way too close to the pavement!

They have a painting of Musashimaru in the JR Ryogoku station...

I have a little more photos and video if you are interested, here.

Hopefully we'll be able to check out a real tournament in the future...

Tuesday, May 21, 2019

himehiogi

Came across this flower called Himehiogi around our neighborhood.

Apparently it is in the same family as freesia (anomatheca).

I've seen this in pink/orange and white.

Am wondering if it has the same fragrance as freesia.

Do you have this same type of flower where you live?

Monday, May 20, 2019

life hack

Got this info from a television show...

if you ever have leftover rice, freeze it in a "round" shape so that when you reheat it in the microwave, it will reheat evenly.

We rarely have leftover rice, but when we do, I try to freeze it like this.

I think this works, if you try it, let me know what you think.

Friday, May 17, 2019

purple cabbage namul

Tried a new recipe using purple cabbage.

The recipe said it was namul, but the ingredients are rather different from what I've used to make namul in the past.

Adapted Purple Cabbage Namul by Lee Eirin
150 grams purple cabbage, julienned/shredded
4.5 grams salt
2 teaspoons vinegar
2 tablespoons white wine vinegar
1 tablespoon olive oil
2 tablespoons grainy mustard
2 teaspoons honey

Add the salt and 2 teaspoons vinegar to the purple cabbage and set aside for 15 minutes.
Squeeze out the water after the 15 minutes
Mix the white wine vinegar, oil, mustard and honey.
Add the squeezed cabbage to the "dressing"
Enjoy!

NOTES: so easy, not authentic asian flavors, but delicious!

We ate some of this with our bi bim bap.

I'm always on the look out for new recipes to try with purple cabbage, I'm glad I tried this and would make this again!

Thursday, May 16, 2019

vanni

Tried Vanni's regular sized croissant filled with custard.

The first bite didn't have any custard in it, which was a little disappointing, but look at the middle!

Overflowing!

I'm glad I tried this.

The croissant is firm like the mini version.

I'll be back!

Wednesday, May 15, 2019

mottainai honpo

Whenever I go to the DIY store, they have an area where they sell snacks.

But, this area is usually AFTER the cash registers, so almost always, I forget about looking until after I've paid and am on my way out of the store.

Today, I made sure to look, but the items I wanted to check out were not there.

Then I found them in another part of the store.

If you've been to Japan and shopped, you know almost everything sold anywhere is "perfect".

"Perfect" sized, shaped and packaged.

Mottainai Honpo is a group in Ibaraki prefecture that sells the "ugly" items, some broken pieces, maybe a little on the burnt side.

I bought these arare (rice crackers) and kenpi (glazed fried sweet potato) to try.

I hope they taste good and will be on the look out for more items from this group.

Tuesday, May 14, 2019

hana musubi

Every since I started making bento for Satoshi back in January, condiments to add to rice catch my eye whenever I am shopping.

I've seen this at Kaldi and finally bought some to try.

It's called go-shoku hana musubi (literally 5 color flower rice ball).

There are 5 different "colors"...carrot, green shiso (perilla), akakabu (red turnip), shibazuke (a purple pickle), aona (a type of green veg),

For one cup of cooked rice you mix in one of the 8 packets.

(When I tried this, I actually mixed in 1 packet for 1.5 cups of cooked rice)

After mixing in the packet, let it steam in the rice cooker for at least 10 minutes.

So pretty, easy and delicious! You can't really taste all the different items separately, but it is a nice way to "jazz" up your rice.

Monday, May 13, 2019

egypt shio

I had bought this book in Osaka and wanted to find the Egypt Shio (literally Egypt salt) to try the recipes in the book.

I finally found it the other day and after looking around online, I realized this was actually dukkah.

Almonds, salt, pistachios, white sesame seeds, cumin and coriander.

I love the salty, flavorful and nutty taste of this.

One of the recipes in the book is for this toast...

Toast...butter, an oozy egg and some of this dukkah.

Delicious.

Now that I have the dukkah, can't wait to try more recipes from this book.

Have you tried dukkah and if so, what do you put it on?

Sunday, May 12, 2019

shakuyaku

I discovered shakuyaku (chinese peony) last year when I received one for the first time from the post office.

(I thought I blogged about it but guess I didn't).

I wasn't too sure what the reason was that they were passing them out, but I was happy to receive one.

It had a spicy fragrance and was really bright pink!

About this time of year is when you see them in the flower shops.

I went to my favorite shop in the neighborhood and bought myself one.

Most flower shops sell these for 600-yen plus! for one stem!

At my favorite shop, they were only 200 yen (tax included)!

I thought it wouldn't bloom, but it turned out, really pretty and HUGE!

Do you have shakuyaku where you live?

Saturday, May 11, 2019

blazing foodie day in nakameguro

After the kraziness of cherry blossom season, I wanted to explore Nakameguro in peace...

It was blazing, I think the weather people said our temps are July temps..eep!

The shade from the cherry trees was very nice!

I bought some bread and a tuna sandwich from Tolo Pan Tokyo.

The tuna sandwich was in an onion bun...with a little lettuce and tomato...delicious.

I also went to Green Bean to Bar Chocolate and bought us some pudding to try.

Um, when these were packed in the box there was no cover, not even plastic wrap!

While these were delicious, creamy and rich, I think they need to invest in covers for sanitary purposes...

There are cafes that I want to check out, I'll be back!

Tolo Pan Tokyo
3-14-3 Higashiyama
Meguro, Tokyo
Phone: 03.3794.7106
Closed Tuesdays
Hours: 7:00-19:00

Green Bean to Bar Chocolate
2-16-11 Aobadai
Meguro, Tokyo
Phone: 03.5728.6420
Closed Wednesdays
Hours: 11:00-21:00

Friday, May 10, 2019

gensouen

Gensouen is a tea shop in Nishi-Ogikubo.

They are run by Harada Tea which has tea fields in Shizuoka.

Apparently they were having a pop-up at Futako Tamagawa, so I checked them out when I was there.

Earlier in the day, I had a dentist appointment...they filled a cavity and took a mold to replace a ceramic cap.

Since they filled a cavity, I had had anesthesia and wasn't supposed to eat for at least 30 minutes.

That's when I bought this tapioca matcha milk drink and caught the train home.

It was slighly sweetened and the matcha (green tea) was super bitter and thick!

After mixing it though, it balanced out with the milk and was delicious!

I'm glad I tried this and look forward to trying more bubble drinks in Japan, they are starting to trend!

If I do get to Nishi-Ogikubo, I want to check out Gensouen's other matcha sweets.

Gensouen
3-14-3 Imagawa
Suginami, Tokyo
Phone: 03.3397.4188

Thursday, May 09, 2019

shogayaki (pork ginger)

Here's the recipe I used to make shogayaki (pork ginger).

Adapted from Sirogohan.com Serves: 2

200 grams pork loin
1/4 onion thinly sliced
1/2 clove garlic, grated
1 large nub of ginger, grated
cabbage, julienned
1 teaspoon oil
1 tablespoon mirin (sweet rice wine)
1 tablespoon sake (rice wine)
1/4 teaspoon liquid squeezed from grated ginger
2 tablespoons shoyu (soy sauce)
2 teaspoons sugar
1/2 teaspoon sesame oil
pepper

With a knife, lightly cut the fat and muscles of the pork
Coat the pork with the liquid squeezed from grated ginger, mirin and sake, set aside for 10 minutes
Mix the garlic, ginger, shoyu, sugar, sesame oil and pepper and set aside.
In a pan, heat the oil and cook the onions and pork.
Add the garlic ginger sauce and cook in the sauce for about 2 minutes.
Serve on julienned cabbage.

NOTES: Of course, I didn't follow the recipe, so my pork turned out a bit "tough". If you lightly cut the fat and muscles, the pork should keep it tender.

I liked the flavor of the sauce...a little sweet-salty.

My sauce was a bit liquidy, so I took the pork and onions out and reduced the sauce a little before serving.

I'm making this again.

Wednesday, May 08, 2019

golden week (second half)

Thursday, May 2, we went to Kawasaki and Satoshi got to try CPK in Japan.

The menu is different from what he remembered, the portions seemed a bit smaller to him too.

The BBQ chicken pizza was delicious! (though the crust was a bit burnt)

The weather was funky, and at one point it rained super hard!

Friday, May 3, we woke up super early and caught the train from Kamata to Fuji (Shizuoka).

It was exciting to see Mount Fuji from the Mishima area all the way to Fuji city.

We then caught a local bus up to Sobinashita and walked about 15 minutes to Obuchi Sasaba.

This is where you can catch Mount Fuji with the tea fields.

They were having a festival and there were many people who rented tea picker outfits and stood in the fields to pose for everyone's photos.

I'm glad we got to check this place out and that Mount Fuji was not clouded over.

From Fuji we then caught the train all the way to Mito (Ibaraki)...boy, was that a trek! (because we weren't riding the Shinkansen (bullet train))

Dinner was at Hitachino Brewing...

I was super disappointed with this place.

Seasonal potato salad was nothing special.

Fried saba (mackerel) was thoroughly fried and hard.as.rock...the renkon chips were kind of fried to death too.

The only thing that was decent was the gyusuji (beef tendon) gratin, though they could've given us more bread...

The tasting menu was pre-set, so you couldn't try anything off their taplist...boo!

Glad we tried this place, but I won't be back.

Mimatsu Hotel was scary...dark halls...smoking almost everywhere...our room had a semi-double big enough for one...at least there was free wi-fi...sigh.

Saturday, May 4, started out early, rushing down to the breakfast buffet (which started at 6:45), eating and trying to get out to catch a train before 7:20.

Luckily we made all the connections and were at the Hitachi Seaside Park by 8:00-ish.

During this time of year, they open the park early (7:30) and even arriving at 8:00-ish, it was already packed with people!

You should've seen the line of cars waiting to get into the parking!

If you do visit this park, buy the one-day pass, it allows you to get on and off the Hitachinaka Kaihin train route (from Katsuta to Ajigaura) and take the free shuttle to the Hitachi Seaside Park.

The pass also gets you into the park too, so no need to stand in line to by your entrance ticket.

Our main purpose for visiting this park was this...nemophila!

A huge hillside with nemophila.

Tons of people, but we were glad to be here!

In another area of the park were tulips...lots of them!

Lunch was at the Nakaminato Fish Market...at a place called Morita Suisan.

I had the Kaisen donburi, which came with soft shell crab miso soup and other items...great deal at 1500 yen (tax included).

Satoshi had the sashimi set which was also a great deat at 1500 yen (tax included)...unlimited rice too.

After lunch he also had a farmed oyster for snack...300 yen (tax included)...huge yeah?!

I loved the signage in this area, so cute!

And then we headed back to Mito and checked out the azaleas at Kairakuen.

Huge azalea bushes.

The main attraction at this park is the ume trees, but since that season was over, we were glad to be able to see the azaleas.

And then it was a long trek back to Tokyo.

These days, whenever we travel, we try to get back a day or so ahead, so that we can recoup and get back into regular sleep patterns.

Sunday, May 5, we took it easy, though I went to the market to restock on some groceries.

"Someone" also caught a bug and has been a bit whiney...sigh.

Lunch was at Kaei.

A cute shop nearby.

Satoshi had their gomoku (5 item) noodles...he said it was delicious.

Their gyoza on the other hand wasn't up to the picky gyoza eater's standards...wrappers too thick (I have a feeling this is the type of gyoza in Kanto (East Japan).

I had their hiyashi tan tan men (cold spicy noodles).

This was spicy...it kind of crept up and lingered on your lips.

I loved this...we'll be back.

On the last day of Golden Week, Monday, May 6, we again stayed close to home.

Lunch was at Capricciosa with pizza, pasta and salad.

Dinner was shogayaki (pork ginger)...I'll post the recipe for this tomorrow!

Many Japanese felt these 10 days were too long a break, others loved it.

Most doctor offices shut down.

And there were areas without trash pick up.

Golden Week is a nightmare for people driving cars or riding tour buses, though the trains are also packed...

I'm glad we got to do all that we did, though we need to go on a diet.

Hope you enjoyed our Golden Week as much as we did.

Hitachino Brewing Mito
Excel Minami 4F
Mito, Ibaraki
Phone: 029.306.7575
Open when Excel is
Hours: 11:00-22:00

Mimatsu Hotel
2-4-26 Miyamachi
Mito, Ibaraki
Phone: 029.224.3005

Morita Suisan
21-7 Minato Honmachi
Hitachinaka-shi, Ibaraki
Open when the fish market opens
Hours: 8:00-16:00

Kaei
2-6-13 Higashiyaguchi
Ota, Tokyo
Phone: 03.3758.1150
Closed Mondays
Hours: 11:30-14:00 (lunch), 17:00-21:00 (dinner)

Tuesday, May 07, 2019

golden week (first half)

How have you been?

Hope you haven't forgotten about us.

I've broken up this post into two parts...are you ready?!

Saturday, April 27, we went to visit MIL.

Before landing in Kyoto, we stopped in at Hikone, to visit the family grave, where MIL's brother was laid to rest.

We also had some coffee and sweets at Micro-Lady Coffee Stand, glad they are still in business.

Then we headed to Kyoto and had lunch at Dragon Burger.

We've been wanting to try this place every time we've gone to visit the family grave near Sennyuji.

Satoshi had the Wasabi Burger...he felt this one could've had more kick.

I had the Cacao BBQ Burger, the first bite was awesome, loved the BBQ sauce...after that, the texture of the burger seemed weird...chunky in places.

Still, I'm glad we got to try them.

After lunch, we visited the family grave and also went to visit Satoshi's Grandma's grave.

Dinner was an assortment of things, especially this impressive sashimi platter from a fish shop near MIL's called Kawaharu.

Sunday, April 28, we went to check out the fuji (wisteria) at the Toba Water Treatment Plant located in the southern part of Kyoto.

They had buses that ran from the Kyoto Station or Takeda Station to the plant for 100 yen one way.

It was great to see lots of wisteria blooming.

Monday, April 29, we got together with Hiromi and her family in Osaka.

Lunch was a buffet at Chedi Luang, a Thai restaurant which had lots to try.

There was also soft shell crab and egg curry...delicious!

It was nice to spend the afternoon with them and we were happy that they had some time to meet up. (Thank you!)

Tuesday, April 30, it was nice spending some time with MIL, we headed back to Tokyo after breakfast...everything on television was like a countdown to the new year, it was interesting to see the ceremonies that were performed for the outgoing emperor...Thank you Heisei!

Wednesday, May 1...Reiwa starts...it was neat to see the streets lined with flags congratulating the incoming emperor.

We tried the Denny's in our neighborhood for the first time.

Their cheese galette was delicious and less carbs than the original breakfast I was going to order.

After buying some groceries, we went to Nippori and had lunch at Bazoku.

They have hand pulled noodles and use handmade gyoza wrappers.

Their Sapkota curry noodles were delicious...if I remember correctly, this shop is owned by a Nepalese and this dish is named after him.

The curry wasn't too spicy and the noodles were quite thick, still I enjoyed this.

Satoshi had their tan tan men and gyoza.

He said he enjoyed this.

He is super picky about gyoza and didn't like these thick gyoza wrappers.

Me, I liked how it was crisp on the outside! and had a little chew to them.

After lunch we walked to Nezu Shrine to check out the azaleas, so pretty.

If you have time, pay the 200 yen admission to the azalea area, so worth it!

If you want to see more photos, please look here...I'll wrap up the rest of Golden Week tomorrow!

Chedi Luang
4-7-28 Kitahama
Chuo, Osaka
Phone: 06.6209.2000
Hours: 11:30-14:30 (Lunch), 17:30-23:00 (Dinner)

Bazoku
2-18-2 Nishi-Nippori
Arakawa, Tokyo
Phone: 03.3805.2430
Hours: 11:00-23:30