Thursday, January 31, 2019

update

Finally finished re-pasting my photos onto the blog posts.

I think the deadline is February 5 for Flickr to reduce my 20,000-something photos to 1000.

Will need to check my blog again after the reduction happens.

AND if Google Photos decides to change how they do things, it will probably be the end for this blog...

Thanks for being patient and if I overloaded your RSS feed while updating, I'm sorry.

Also if you notice that there are links or posts not working, please let me know.

In other stuff, I'm still going to rehab, I've lessened the amount of days that I go (from 5 to 4) and it is definitely better than when I first started going.

I think it will take some time to heal...though this cold weather doesn't really help...

Anyway, as I type this we've not had rain/snow, the snow that was on Mount Fuji has started to melt...

I know there are many in States with krazy temps these days.

The world is definitely falling apart.

Be kind and be well everyone.

Wednesday, January 30, 2019

flammarion

Rowena google translated Flammarion's website and told me about their popular Escargot. (Thank you Rowena!)

Plain and chocolate...these are rum drenched brioche.

I'm glad I tried it but they were too "boozy" for me.

I also tried their fruit pound cake.

This was also "boozy" but not overpowering and I loved how it was packed with fruits.

I'll be back.

Tuesday, January 29, 2019

around ota ward

In Tokyo, there are 23 wards. The ward we live in is called Ota.

Tuesday, Satoshi took the day off to do some errands and also so we could explore the Ota Shijo, a huge wholesale market which is rather close to Haneda airport.

There are separate buildings for wholesale flowers, seafood, fruits and veggies.

When we arrived (at about 8:00) all the auctions were done for the day.

Auctions prices for the veggies and fruits that day.

While walking around, you'll see boxes and boxes of fruits and veggies all organized by types.

All the workers zipping around on their turret trucks...just like Tsukiji.

We were walking on the floor of the market (and felt like we were in everyone's way) and afterwards found out we weren't supposed to be walking on the floor of the market...oops!

Near the back of the market are several eateries.

We had a late breakfast at Sanyo Shokudo.

Satoshi had their ebi fry (fried shrimp) set...1100 yen (tax included)

While I had their pork ginger....1000 yen (tax included)

Both meals come with freshly sliced maguro (tuna).

Everything was delicious!

Since Ota Shijo is a wholesale market, there weren't any retail shops for us to buy fruits or veggies and even though there was no real signage as to where to go to view the market we were glad we were able to get a "feel" of the market.

They only open until 15:00, so be sure check their schedule (for days of closure) and go early.

Afterwards we walked about 30 minutes to the Omori Furusato-no-Hamabe Park which is apparently the only area in Tokyo where you can enjoy a sandy beach.

From where we were standing, I wasn't too sure where the sandy beach was though...

Nearby is the Omori Nori Museum. For over 300 years, nori (laver) used to be a huge business including "nori farming" in Tokyo Bay until it came to an end in 1962.

It was neat seeing all the different tools that they used to farm the kelp...like these geta (wooden shoes).

The nori farmers would look like this model...

If I read the display correctly, nori farming would run from Summer to Autumn and the harvesting would take place during the coldest months (December to February).

Even though I am not totally fluent in reading all the Japanese characters, it was interesting to see all these displays.

Still so much more to explore in Tokyo and I'm glad we got to visit these places within our ward.

Ota Wholesale Market
3-2-1 Tokai
Ota, Tokyo
Hours: 5:00-15:00, closed on weekends, holidays and some Wednesdays

Sanyo Shokudo
3-2-7 Tokai
Ota, Tokyo
Hours: 6:00-14:00, open when the market is

Omori Furusato-no-Hamabe Park
1-1 Furusato-no-hamabe koen
Ota, Tokyo
Hours: 5:30-21:00, closed December 29-31

Omori Nori Museum
2-2 Heiwa-no-mori koen
Ota, Tokyo
Hours: 9:00-17:00
Admission: free
Closed every 3rd Monday and during New Year Holidays

Monday, January 28, 2019

kobaya honten

When we visited Naritasan, I found some "peanut brittle type" of arare (rice crackers).

I looked online to see if there was a store in Tokyo selling something similar and found Kobaya Honten.

Most of Kobaya Honten's shops are in Chiba prefecture but they do have a tiny shop near the JR Kanda station.

They sell peanuts and different arare.

And during the winter, they also sell yakiimo (roasted sweet potato).

Some of the types I bought were with green tea, bits of dried ramen noodles...At least now I know where I can find these and it is closer than going all the way to Chiba prefecture...I'll be back!

Kobaya Honten
6-2 Kanda Tomiyama-cho
Chiyoda, Tokyo
Phone: 03.5256.2708
Closed Sundays & Holidays
Hours: 9:30-18:30 Mondays-Fridays, 10:00-15:00 Saturdays

Sunday, January 27, 2019

vanni

Whenever there isn't anything interesting on television, I love checking out the local cable channel.

That's how I found out about Vanni, a tiny sweets shop in our area.

They have cakes as well as these cream puffs.

Like Beard Papa, they fill the cream puffs after you order.

I bought the almond chocolate one for myself and the cookie type for Satoshi...both were filled with their custard filling.

Delicious and the chou (cream puff) wasn't soggy...I'll be back.

Vanni
3-40-8 Ikegami
Ota, Tokyo
Phone: 03.3751.1716
Closed: Mondays
Hours: 10:00-17:00

Saturday, January 26, 2019

175 deno tan tan men

I am not too sure when I learned about 175 deno tan tan men...but we recently went to try them.

Buy your ticket from the machine and give it to the server.

We tried their shumai...good but nothing special.

Satoshi had their tan tan men with soup...you know they are serious about their tan tan men when they serve you the bowl with "that spoon" (with holes) to get all the bits.

Boy, was Satoshi perspiring after eating this.

I chose their tan tan men without soup.

Mix it 15 times so that everything is coated well.

Boy was their spices tongue numbing!

Make sure to take a paper apron before sitting down for your bowl!

They don't have many seats, so get their early or be prepared to wait.

I'm glad we tried this and will be back!

175 deno tan tan men
2-6-2 Ginza, Yoshida Building B1
Chuo, Tokyo
Phone: 03.6264.4044
Open everyday 11:30-22:00

Friday, January 25, 2019

sad news

We were sad to hear that MIL's brother passed away suddenly Wednesday.

I'm thankful that BIL is helping MIL with all the arrangements, though it's too bad that we don't live closer to Kyoto, they will be holding a service for him today.

Though we hadn't seen him in many years, he will be missed.

Thursday, January 24, 2019

osteria senti

Whenever I'm riding the trains, I usually look at the scenery.

Most times while looking out the window of the train, I come across restaurants and cafes to bookmark to try.

One restaurant that I bookmarked was Osteria Senti.

We got there a little after they opened for dinner and tried their seafood salad...It reminded us of the salad we used to eat whenever we ate at Capricciosa...marinated seafood served over greens coated with a vinaigrette.

Senti's version could have been marinated a bit more but it was still delicious and the salad portions were HUGE!

Iwashi (sardine) pasta had some almonds in the sauce.

Different but delicious! the pasta was a fresh pasta and was cooked nicely and it had a little chew.

The margherita pizza was simple and delicious.

Dinner with two glasses of wine was 4200 yen (tax included)...delicious and definitely reasonable.

The restaurant is very teeny so get there early, or make reservations.

We'll be back!

Osteria Senti
1-3 Chidori
Ota, Tokyo
Phone: 03.6410.3374
Closed Tuesdays
Lunch 11:30-14:00, Dinner 17:30-23:30

Wednesday, January 23, 2019

kondo tofu

I stumbled upon Kondo Tofu and have been wanting to try them for some time now.

I think one of the owners may have been ill, because they were closed for over 2 months!

I finally got to try their oboro tofu recently.

250 yen (tax included), this is a pretty hefty sized tofu.

Loved the freshness and creaminess of the tofu and it was delicious in Taiwan Mushi.

Kondo Tofu's oboro was softer than Gen's.

I hope to try more of their items soon, I'll be back.

Kondo Tofu
4-3-8 Ikegami
Ota, Tokyo
Phone: 03.3751.1848

Tuesday, January 22, 2019

day at jingu stadium

In Tokyo, there are 6 universities that belong to a group called the Tokyo Rokudaigaku Sports League.

Tokyo, Rikkyo, Keio, Waseda, Meiji and Hosei...they compete against one another for all sorts of sporting events.

Since Satoshi went to Meiji, he is part of this group.

They recently celebrated their 30 year reunion by playing against each other at Jingu Stadium.

Meiji, Waseda & Tokyo players were on one team and Keio, Rikkyo & Hosei on the other.

Of course, he isn't too active in sports these days, so it was during this play, that some of blood vessels in Satoshi's leg burst...eep!

The bruise mark that was left was pretty scary looking and he was hobbling around for the past week.

But, he is on the mend and the main thing was that he had fun (even if "the people" in the stands were fahreezing!).

Monday, January 21, 2019

mother meat plaza

We tried these bento from Mother Meat Plaza (love the name of the shop!)

On the left is kalbi with tontoro...from what I could understand, tontoro is the meat from the neck area of pork.

It had kind of a "crunchy" texture because I think there was some cartilage with the meat.

The kalbi was a bit on the tough side but overall this bento was delicious.

Satoshi's bento was the kurogewagyu kalbi bento (right)...he said his kalbi was super tender.

The shop is actually a butcher shop, so I think for most of their bentos they use the cuts of meats that would normally be thrown out.

There were other items like their beef stew and curry that I want to try so I'll be back.

Mother Meat Plaza
3-39-24 Kugahara
Ota, Tokyo
Phone: 03.3751.4053
Open daily 10:00-19:30

Sunday, January 20, 2019

flammarion

For our anniversary, I purchased some Opera cakes from Flammarion.

Apparently they have been in business since 1959.

The cakes were super chocolatey! with a hint of coffee.

They had so many other cakes that I want to try...I'll be back.

Flammarion
3-37-7 Kugahara
Ota, Tokyo
Phone: 03.3754.8800
Closed Thursdays
Hours: 10:00-19:00

Saturday, January 19, 2019

mizore nabe

Recently we tried mizore nabe.

Mizore in Japanese means sleet.

Grating the daikon makes it look like "sleet".

I peeled then grated a 8-inch long piece of daikon, then set it aside.

Then, I filled up our clay pot with all sorts of veggies (chinese cabbage, chrysanthemum greens, carrots, maitake mushrooms) and a little pork.

Added 4 cups of dashi and brought everything to a boil then down to a simmer.

After cooking everything, I turned off the heat, squeezed out the water from the grated daikon and added it to the nabe, heating it in the clay pot for like a minute or two.

We ate this with ponzu (citrus soy sauce) and a little shichimi (Japanese 7-spice) but you can eat it with your favorite condiment.

I'm glad we tried this, it was a nice way to warm up and also use up some daikon.

Friday, January 18, 2019

ginza kikunoya

Ginza Kikunoya has been around since 1890...making these cute tiny senbei (wafers)...called "Fukiyose" (literally gathering fortune)

There are also tiny candies in the mix too.

I brought these to Kyoto for MIL, BIL in December and even sent these to Canada to Yumyumtofu as a thank you for sending me chocolates.

Great as omiyage or as a gift.

Ginza Kikunoya
inside Ginza Core, B1
Hours: 11:00-20:00 (Open when Ginza Core is)

Thursday, January 17, 2019

hanaichie

I found out about Hanaichie from a television program.

They are similar to the place V told me about in Kyoto as well as the one that I like from Kanazawa.

Their main shop is in Azabujuban, but I also found a kiosk at the Daimaru near Tokyo station.

When we went to Kyoto in December, I gave some to MIL.

This particular one has Asakusa nori (laver) in it.

Put some rice into a bowl.

Break it up and then pour some hot water or hot tea over it.

Delicious.

Hanaichie
Daimaru Tokyo, B1

Wednesday, January 16, 2019

mount fuji

Not sure how much you enjoy seeing Mount Fuji, but if you get excited about seeing Mount Fuji as much as we do, here are a few of our "secret" spots to view Mount Fuji.

Click the links to view short videos...

Tamagawa Sengen Jinja...about 3 minute walk from the Tokyu Tamagawa station.

The rooftop observatory deck Domestic Terminal 1 at Haneda airport.

No humidity is key to viewing Mount Fuji.

Good luck!

Tuesday, January 15, 2019

thank you

It's our 19th anniversary today...thankful for Satoshi always putting up with me.

Love you!

Monday, January 14, 2019

mikan

We've been enjoying different mikan (tangerine)....

starting with these Hinomaru Senryo (left) from Ehime (Shikoku) Nishi-Uwajima and Nagasaki Saikai's Ajimaru (right)...

The ajimaru's peel was so thin!

Ehime (Shikoku) Maana...all were so sweet!

I learned something new recently.

If you carefully take off the stem's nub, you will see...

these little partitions...and if you count them (click on the photo, I circled them)...

you should end up with the same amount of tangerine pieces...cool yeah?!

Saturday, January 12, 2019

tataki gobo & namasu

I mentioned that I made namasu and tataki gobo for our osechi...these two are really easy to make.

Tataki Gobo adapted from Orange Page
1 "stick" gobo (burdock root) about 8-inches long, scrubbed and cut into half then into fourths.
water

1/4 cup dashi

A: 2 teaspoons sugar
1/2 tablespoon mirin
1/2 tablespoon shoyu

B: 1/2 tablespoon sugar
1/2 tablespoon shoyu
1/2 tablespoon sake
1/2 tablespoon vinegar

2 tablespoons ground sesame seeds

In a pot, put the gobo and water and when the water boils, turn down the heat to medium and cook for 10 minutes.
Take the gobo out then using a rolling pin (or something heavy), "roll" over the cooked gobo a couple of times (to break down the fibers).
Then put the gobo, dashi, and ingredients for "A" into a pot and cook on medium until the liquid evaporates.
After the liquid evaporates, coat the cooked gobo with "B" and the sesame seeds.

Namasu
4 inches wide daikon
4 inches long carrot
1/2 teaspoon salt
1 tablespoon sugar
1 tablespoon vinegar

Peel and shred daikon
Peel and shred carrot
Add 1/2 teaspoon salt and wait for 3 minutes.
After 3 minutes, squeeze out water from daikon and carrot
Put daikon and carrot into sugar vinegar mixture.

NOTES: after making this, I felt the daikon and carrot should be marinated separately then put together before serving to keep the white and orange colors separate.

If you try these, let me know what you think.

Friday, January 11, 2019

naritasan

Since Satoshi had one more ride using his Seishun 18-kippu, we went to check out Naritasan Shinshoji (a temple) in Narita city, which is in Chiba prefecture.

From Tokyo, it took us about 2 hours.

And because it was the start of the new year, there were lots of people there.

After all the different shrines we went to in Tokyo during the New Year break, I was surprised that no one was selling baby castella...tiny castella in the form of different characters.

In Osaka, there would always be several vendors selling this at festivals and near shrines during their events, but in the Kanto area, we've noticed they aren't easy to come by.

During the New Year break (in Osaka) when we would go for hatsumode (first prayers of the year), I often would buy a bag, and Satoshi and I would munch on the warm little castella as we walked from one shrine to the next.

Luckily, we were finally able to get our fix in Narita.

On our way to visit the main shrine, we noticed that a lot of shops had lines in front of them, we looked at the time and it was nearing lunchtime.

This particular area has many unagi shops.

It was once said that during the Edo period it took at least 2 days to walk to Narita, so unagi (eel) was eaten to relieve the fatigue.

We stopped in at Surugaya (which if I understood correctly has been in business since 1798!) and got a numbered ticket for a table.

The man at the ticket machine mentioned it would probably be an hour and a half wait....

So, we went to the main shrine and checked out various areas of the property.

We also caught a glimpse of the priests making their way through the property...if you'd like to view a short video, click on the link.

At about an hour's wait (12:00), we went back to see what number they were on...they were no where near ours...sigh.

To kill time, we walked around looking at shops...the only thing is that there were so many people so it made walking around kind of tiring.

And the shops that they have all kind of repeat themselves after awhile...

In the end, we ended up just waiting in front of the shop where an hour turned into two and a half hours...

While waiting for our table, I shot a short video of the men preparing the unagi...here.

Then they called our number!

We were seated but were told that after ordering it would take at least 20-25 minutes for them to grill our unagi...nooo!

We ordered some beer and waited for "lunch".

(actually while waiting in line, we chatted with another couple and they had mentioned that they had tried other unagi places along this shopping arcade but loved this one because they actually grill to order. Some of the other places they tried would just bring out the unagi right after you ordered it...)

Finally at about 15:00 we got our meals...

Someone looks happy, yeah?!

It was delicious...the flesh was kind of fluffy, though I wished the skin was more crisp.

The wait was krazy but I'm glad the unagi didn't disappoint.

On the way back to Tokyo, we picked up some hand grilled arare (rice crackers) from Sakurayahonten and since Chiba is known for their peanuts, I was happy to find some of my favorite "peanut brittle" type of arare at Mame no Fukudaya, which kind of look like this...

(this particular one is from Aoki Koetsudo, Kyoto and called Kokyodaiko)

It was a long day, but I'm glad we were able to use Satoshi's last ride using his Seishun 18-kippu and that we were able to visit Narita city.

Surugaya
359 Naka-machi
Narita, Chiba
Phone: 0476.22.1133
Closed Thursdays
Hours: 10:00-17:00

Sakurayahonten
547 Kami-cho
Narita, Chiba
Phone: 0476.22.0725

Mame no Fukudaya
526 Hanazakicho
Narita, Chiba
Phone: 0476.22.2471

Thursday, January 10, 2019

shima onsen-takasaki-tokyo

The next morning, the owner put all our futon away and then brought breakfast.

A lot of things...including natto and what we thought was a raw egg, turned out to be an onsen tamago (soft boiled egg)...whew!

After breakfast, the owner brought us back to the bus stop and we caught the bus back to Nakanojo station.

From there it was about an hour and a half by train to Takasaki.

Apparently, Gunma is the leading producer of daruma (the Japanese traditional doll modeled after the founder of Zen Buddhism).

We then caught the community bus to the Byakue Kannon.

This statue is 41.8 meters (137 feet) and you can climb the stairs all the way up to its shoulders (Satoshi did! (300 yen admission))

From the shoulder of the Kannon, you can see the city of Takasaki (Satoshi's photo).

Lunch (kind of sorta) was miso oden at Seishotei, a local dish.

Skewered pieces of konnyaku (devil's tongue jelly) slathered with a slightly sweet miso sauce.

Since it was near the end of the year, most of the shops in the area were closed, but I liked the atmosphere of their shopping arcade.

Back at Takasaki station, we picked up some snacks for the ride back to Tokyo.

I bought a sauce katsu sandwich by Fukuro.

Super thick pieces of pork that was very tender!

Satoshi bought a kamameshi bento that came with a teeny container of tsukemono.

Umeboshi (pickled apricots) not too sour, nor too salty, nor too sweet.

Oh em gee, this arare (rice cracker) topped with a savory caramel and shimonita leeks was so good! (wish I had bought more!)

And this shimonita leek wafer made by the same company as the arare above (Tsutsujian)...was also super tasty!

There was also some fried udon coated with curry powder that was good too (forgot to take a photo of it).

From Takasaki, it took us several hours to get back to the area where we live in Tokyo.

It was a quick trip, but we enjoyed ourselves....Hope you enjoyed this trip as well...

p.s. If you look under "Photo Gallery" under "Gunma" you can view some other photos not on these posts.

Byakue Kannon
2710-1 Ishihara-machi
Takasaki-shi, Gunma
Phone: 027.322.2269