Tuesday, December 31, 2019

thank you

What a year it was!

So many natural disasters!

Thankful for the good days and the bad ones too.

I hope 2020 will be a good year for everyone.

As always, thank you for reading our blog and being a part of our adventures.

Monday, December 30, 2019

10 photos

I started doing this in 2008 as a meme, but now do this every year as a way to look back at the different kitchen adventures I've had over the year.

With all that happened this year, I am suprised that I cooked all that I did...

Sweet Sour Spareribs with Pineapple (juice)

It was my first time trying this recipe from my grandma's stash of recipes...I'm glad I tried it and the pork gets really tender with the pineapple juice.

Goya Namashi

Another way to use goya (bittermelon). This dish is perfect for the summer's heat.

Not Purple Shibazuke

I bought the wrong type of ume vinegar so my shibazuke didn't not turn purple-ish...still, the flavors were delicious!

Shogayaki (Pork Ginger)

It was my first time using a thicker piece of pork so mine turned out "tough", will use thinner pieces next time or cut the muscles and fat of the thicker pieces.

Ume Takikomi Gohan

This was a good way to use up leftover dashi (stock).

Oyakodon

This was easy and delicious...my kind of cooking.

Kachu-yu is a quick way to make miso soup, when you haven't made dashi (stock) beforehand.


Honey Miso Salmon An item that I put into Satoshi's bento and have made for our breakfast and dinner on occasion.

After discovering blood oranges, I was inspired by reader, Barbara H's comment and made a blood orange vinaigrette.

Purple Cabbage Namul This namul recipe was a new (to me) way of making namul, I look forward to making this again.

Hope you had a nice year in your kitchen.

Sunday, December 29, 2019

books 2019

With all that happened this year, you would think I wouldn't have time to read...I surprised myself too.

My least favorite was #3, 2nd least favorite was #8...my favorite was a tie between #6 & #7.
#7 was a children's book but I loved the illustrations and recipes in it.

1. Kathleen Flinn, "The Sharper Your Knife, The Less You Cry"
2. Ruth Ozeki "A Tale for the Time Being
3. Sophie Kinsella, "Shopaholic & Baby"
4. Diana Bletter, "A Remarkable Kindness"
5. Paulo Coelho, "The Alchemist"
6. Robin Mather, "The Feast Nearby"
7. Felicita Sala, "Lunch at 10 Pomegranate Street"
8. W. P. Kinsella, "The Thrill of the Grass"

If you had a favorite book this year, please share the title with me in the comments.

Saturday, December 28, 2019

sumobeya

I told you that we have a sumobeya (stable) in our neighborhood.

Earlier this week, I saw a few sumotori (Japanese wrestler) as I passed by their sumobeya (stable), but there were other people around, so I didn't take a photo.

Yesterday, when I passed by I was lucky to see a sumotori (Japanese wrestler) who had come out of keiko (practice/training) to catch his breath.

I have a few posts lined up but after that it may be a little quiet here.

If you have Facebook or Instagram, you can check up on us there, MIL doesn't have good cell service (her house is blocked by buildings), and if the hotels we stay at have wi-fi, I may be able to check emails and such, if not I'll talk to you again after Satoshi goes back to work on the 6th.

Take care and Happy New Year!

Friday, December 27, 2019

whoo

Satoshi's last bento for 2019.

For the next week I am looking forward to waking up a little later...

Am also trying to clean out our fridge for the time we are away, so I bought this fried squid and salad for Satoshi's bento.

I made the kinpira...

4 days until 2020...are you ready?!

Thursday, December 26, 2019

les cacaos

For Christmas, I purchased some pre-made foods from the supermarket, and these "cakes" from Les Cacaos.

It turned out that this "cake" didn't actually have any cake in it...it was just a rich chocolate mousse filled with a raspberry filling and "glazed" with a 72% madagascar chocolate ganache.

So good!

Will need to go back after March to try their ice creams...

Wednesday, December 25, 2019

merry christmas

Merry Christmas! Hope you are enjoying the holidays.

Unfortunately it isn't a holiday here, so Satoshi went to work.

I went to Gotanda to check out the Nemu no Ki no Niwa...Nemu no Ki is a Persian Silk Tree...Niwa is Garden.

This tiny park is located on the land where the former Empress Michiko's childhood home once stood.


I think this would be nice to visit in Spring, when there are more flowers blooming...I'll be back.

Lunch was from Ikedayama.

Their tuna tapenade...tuna mixed with olive tapenade in a baguette...delicious!

And their croquant...reminded me of kouign amann....mmm! this version had lots of walnuts.

They have a seats to eat at...I'll be back!

When I got my new cell phone, the cell company gave me 3000 yen to spend using mobile payment called "pay pay" for being a long time customer.

It was my first time using it at the market and I'm glad the cashier knew what to do.

The weather is fahreezing, grey and cloudy...hope you are having a good week!

Ikedayama
5-10-18 Higashigotanda
Shinagawa, Tokyo
Phone: 03.5488.8046
Open daily 8:00-19:00

Monday, December 23, 2019

1st world problems

How are you doing? Christmas is 2 days away and the end of 2019 is coming rather quickly.

Santa brought my new cell phone on Sunday.

The amount of time we spent at the cell phone shop was definitely less than when Satoshi got his phone.

Not sure, but I think the SIM card size for my new phone was different from the old one, so transferring the data wasn't as easy as Satoshi's phone was.

I tried to transfer my data but couldn't...I tried using iTunes, but accidentally used an old backup and sent my iPhone data back to 2014...gasp!

I would show you photos of pho for lunch at Thi Thi, but it got erased when I used that old backup...

A big heartbreak was losing all my LINE friends and the bazillion Tsum Tsums I had from playing the LINE game...

So, I "manually" put in my contact list using my old iPhone as reference...

And at least most of the apps I had could be uploaded and logged into.

Live and learn...Satoshi said he was glad it wasn't his phone (yeah, I'd hate to have to fix that...)

Dinner was hakusai shumai. I've been using hakusai instead of cabbage because these days hakusai is a little less expensive than regular cabbage.

I don't put hoisin in the minced meat instead we eat these shumai with dressing.

Also instead of molding the cabbage around the chicken meatballs, I just put a layer of julienned hakusai on the parchment, place the chicken meatballs on top, then add another layer of julienned hakusai.

We're still working on our Holiday cards for Japan, I sent the ones for overseas family and friends out last week.

Hope you all have a good week.

Friday, December 20, 2019

tecona bagel works

Back in October I went to Yoyogi to check out a bagel shop, but since I didn't check their website, the day that I went, they were closed....well, I finally went to check them out today.

From Shibuya it is about a 20 minute walk.

Their shop is so teeny!

Just four or five of us in there was a major congested mess! with a massive line outside.

They have 3 types of bagels....fuka (which are soft, "fluffy" types), mochi (which are chewy types) and mugyu (which are really dense types).

I picked up mostly mochi & mugyu types.

Bacon olive and basil sandwich...this was delicious with a big slather of basil cream cheese.

Chocolate nut scone...this was filled with so much nuts, seeds and chocolate (love!).

Chestnut...this had a whole chestnut in it and a cinnamon sugar topping...delicious!

Onion and cream cheese...caramelized onion and cream cheese...topped with some shredded cheese on top...mmm!

Smoked cheese and pepper...I put this one into the freezer, so I don't know how it tastes, but I am pretty sure it will be delicious!

I hope to go back after the New Year to try more items.

Oh, this shop only takes cash...they ask you to bring your own bag (or buy one of their cloth bags) and check their Instagram account for detailed days off (they sometimes have last minute closings).

Mother Nature has been slapping us around...cold one day, really warm the next....rain most days, sun very rare.

There are Christmas decorations all around, they are even playing Christmas music in the shopping arcades AND they are already advertising for ehomaki (February)!

Most people will be on vacation from the 28th, we will probably go to visit MIL, though we haven't decided what days yet.

Hope you are enjoying the Holiday season! Have a nice weekend.

Tecona Bagel Works
1-51-12 Tomigaya
Shibuya, Tokyo
Phone: 03.6416.8122
Closed Mondays and Tuesdays
Hours: 11:00-18:30 (or until sold out)
*cash only, bring your own bag
check their Instagram for detailed days off

Thursday, December 19, 2019

cutting the cord

While a lot of people have "cut the cord" opting to watch videos and such online instead of through a cable network, we are one or two steps behind technology and just signed up for cable.

The one and only free channel that offers programs in English here will no longer be available after March 2020...so we decided to subscribe to cable.

And while we don't really need 50 channels, it is fun discovering all the different types of shows & channels out there.

Earlier this week, I found some foodie movies..like "The Chef" (french title: "Comme Un Chef"), which I saw back in 2012.

While watching this movie I realized I had forgotten the story, this was quite a fun movie.

"Haute Cuisine" (french title: "Les Saveurs du Palais")

Another movie I had seen in 2012...I had thought there were not many food scenes but watching it again found there were quite a lot.

"Mostly Martha"...I had seen "No Reservations" with Catherine Zeta-Jones and this German version is actually the original.

The only problems I have watching these types of foreign films is that the subtitles are in Japanese.

I can't read Japanese too quickly, so it is a challenge trying to read the Japanese subtitles and listening to the foreign language...still I enjoyed these films.

Have you cut the cord? or do you still subscribe to cable?

Wednesday, December 18, 2019

santa came early

Santa came early for Satoshi...he got a new phone...

We've been using iPhone for awhile now and we decided to get new phones because these days our batteries do not keep the charge for very long.

So Sunday, we went a little after his cell carrier store opened and even though he told them what type he wanted, they tried to get him to go Android.

At one point, he was going to switch over to Android...because it is WAY cheaper than an iPhone.

You should know that the main reason Satoshi uses an iPhone is because his "manual" (me) uses the iPhone (so I can tell him how to use it)...ahem

Man, when he first switched from flip phone to smartphone...you should've heard me (try to) explain to him (in Japanese) about how to use it, what wi-fi was, etc...

The part that frustrates me is that every time he has a problem with the phone, he asks me to help him and while he's asking me, he is tapping away on the screen trying to fix it himself...grr

At first he was going to get the iPhone 11 Pro with "medium sized" memory...but after much thought, he purchased the iPhone 11 with a medium sized memory chip instead.

gads...we spent almost 3 hours at that store because they not only try to sell you the cell phone but also cable television, combining your electricity and gas, in other words, all kinds of other stuff...

We were starving by the time we got out of there and went to eat lunch.

I thought I had posted about this shop but I think I only did on Instagram...

Aona serves beef katsu and other dishes...the first time we tried them, I tried their beef katsu but it was super sinewy...bummer.

This time around I had their beef stew...while I loved the rich demi-glace sauce and veggies, their beef was so dry and kind of hard..meh!

After re-fueling, we went to my cell carrier store and went to see if they had the model I wanted...nope.

I needed to put in an order BUT they couldn't give me a timeline as to when it would come in...boo!

So...for now, Satoshi has his present from Santa, there are some differences from our 5s to these 11 models, so I hope to figure them out on his phone before my phone comes in.

Aona (UPDATE: 6/2020 no longer in business)
5-13-1 Kamata, GranDuo East 6F
Ota, Tokyo
Phone: 03.5713.6426
Hours: 11:00-22:00
Open when GranDuo is

Tuesday, December 17, 2019

thi thi

We've been trying to eat at Thi Thi, but every time we've tried, they were fully packed and only taking people with reservations.

This past Sunday, we finally got to try their food.

This shop was featured as one of the spots that the main character of the J-drama (soap opera), "Kodoku no Gurume" eats at while out on sales calls.

I actually saw this episode on a plane ride to Hawaii and was excited that it was nearby to where we live.

Satoshi had this Larue Beer.

We shared this Cha Gio (fried spring rolls), I loved all the veggies and herbs.

We also shared this Bo Cuon Tom (shrimp and veggies that are wrapped with beef)

We loved this dish as well.

It is hard to tell from this photo but the beef wrapped shrimp were huge!

Thank goodness they sliced these in half.

Here's a shot of one half.

There was lots of thinly sliced beef wrapping the shrimp and veggies. The five spice flavor was nice too.

This is a small restaurant and there were quite a lot of Vietnamese eating here.

We want to try some of their noodle dishes...we'll be back!

Thi Thi
5-26-6 Kamata
Ota, Tokyo
Phone: 03.3731.1549
Closed Mondays
Hours: 17:00-22:30 (Tuesdays-Fridays), 12:00-22:00 (Saturdays & Sundays)
*cash only

Monday, December 16, 2019

saturday

Saturday, Satoshi went to a catch-up lesson for his German class, so afterwards we met in Shibuya.

And walked 30 minutes to Roppongi.

I've seen the Keyakizaka area on television and wanted to see it in person.

The best part of this view is Tokyo Tower all lit up.

If you go up on top a walkway between Roppongi Hills, you can get a shot of Tokyo Tower and the street below.

Afterwards we went to the Marunouchi area, which didn't seem as "sparkly" as the Roppongi area.

You can check out more photos and videos here, if you are interested.

I'm glad we were able to get out and about to check these areas.

Friday, December 13, 2019

warm thursday

Yesterday was warm...of course, I over dressed and had to take off many layers...

I went to Takeya to pick up some vitamins as well as some food items.

Afterwards, I walked to Kappabashi.

I wanted to pick up an oshibuta (drop lid) and a new oil screen, which I found at Kitchen World TDI.

I also wanted those aluminum ice cream spoons and butter knife, which I found at Niimi.

The heat from your hand is supposed to transfer through the utensils and "melt" the ice cream and butter when you use them.

FYI: this place is cash only.

For lunch I stopped into Halima Kebab Biryani (try saying that 10 times fast!)

After being seated and ordering, the place really filled up.

I had their lamb biryani set which came with salad, a little soup, raita (yogurt sauce) and your choice of drink (I chose lassi).

The soup was sour and didn't have much of anything in it...and the salad and biryani were spicy!

Talk about mouth.on.fire.

Thank goodness for the raita sauce and lassi, which cooled things down.

I want to go back to try their curries and tandoori chicken...I'll be back.

The weather was nice and I'm glad I found all the items I wanted from Kappabashi.

I hope you have a nice weekend!

Kitchen World TDI
1-9-12 Matsugaya
Taito, Tokyo
Phone: 03.5827.3355

Niimi
1-1-1 Matsugaya
Taito, Tokyo
Phone: 03.3842.0213
Hours: 10:00-17:30
Closed Sundays
*cash only

Halima Kebab Biryani
3-36-7 Higashi-ueno
Taito, Tokyo
Phone: 03.6672.1796
Hours: 11:00-15:30 (lunch), 17:00-22:30 (dinner)
*cash only during lunch time

Tuesday, December 10, 2019

sunday

Ever since we moved from Osaka to Tokyo, Satoshi has been going to classes and studying for various tests.

The tests eventually would allow him to be an interpreter/tour guide for foreigners, mainly for tourists/people who speak German.

He finally had the last test this past Sunday.

It was an interview.

He said it was pretty intense and the total amount of time to speak was only 5 minutes, but he said it was a good experience.

Send him good mojo, he'll know how he did in February...

So, while he was doing all of this, I went holo-holo (galavanting) on my own on weekends and weekdays to keep myself "busy"...

and went to check out the ginkgo trees near Gaienmae.

I walked from Shibuya...it was a nice 30 minute walk.

Was kind of disappointed because the trees were kind of bald on top...wonder if the typhoon and weird weather had anything to do with this?!

Under the trees the light was a brownish-yellowish glow with not many leaves on the ground.

Afterwards, I walked back to Shibuya bought some dessert for dinner and headed home.

Dinner was kefta, which I've made in the past.

Dessert was from Libertable whose main shop is near Akasaka. Their Enfant is a verrine (glass/cup) dessert...custard topped with caramel gelee and marron (chestnut) puree.

Delicious! the caramel gelee had a little bitterness to it, but balances out the rich custard and sweet marron.

I hope to try other items from this shop again.

We need to start working on holiday cards as well as prepare for the end of the year.

Hope you have a good week!

Libertable
ShinQs Hikarie Shibuya B2
Shibuya, Tokyo
Phone: 03.6434.1848
Hours: 10:00-21:00
Open when Hikarie ShinQs is

Monday, December 09, 2019

sora to mugi to

When I went to the Pig and the Lady, I also stopped in at a tiny bakery called Sora to Mugi to (literally sky & wheat &)

Their breads are the hard type.

We tried their gorgonzola walnut (long) and their nut bread (roundish).

I loved that their breads are packed with nuts.

We ate these toasted with meat sauce for dinner on Friday.

I hope to try some of their sweet baked goods...I'll be back.

Sora to Mugi to
2-10-7 Ebisunishi
Shibuya, Tokyo
Phone: 03.6427.0158
Closed Sundays & Mondays
Hours: 10:00-19:00

Friday, December 06, 2019

grey friday

Last night they shut off our water from 23:00 until 6:00 to work on the water mains in our area.

Just before 6:00 I heard everyone in our building using their water, so I knew that the work was done and we had water once again.

I usually wake up at 5:30 to make Satoshi's bento, but since we couldn't use the water until 6:00, I got to sleep 30 more minutes...whoo!

Today was grey and cold..single digits..9C (49F)...there is talk of maybe some snow or flurries this weekend.

I went to check out the new Pig and the Lady restaurant that opened up in Ebisu.

I was asked if I had reservations upon entering.

I didn't and was glad I was able to get a table for lunch.

The menu has some of the popular items that the Hawaii restaurant has, but since it was fahreezing, I ordered a bowl of pho ga (chicken).

It was delicious, the chicken tender and hit the spot.

Hope to bring Satoshi here, so he can try their food too.

I noticed this line of ginkgo trees near the station.

The yellow really brightened up the grey and gloom.

Hope you have a nice weekend.

Pig and the Lady
1-4-15 Ebisuminami, Ebisu Ginza Cross 2F
Shibuya, Tokyo
Phone: 050.1743.1650
Hours: Weekdays lunch 11:00-14:00, dinner 17:00-23:00, Weekends & Holidays 11:00-23:00

Thursday, December 05, 2019

amazuzuke

Recently came across red-purple daikon at the market.

In Japanese, they called it "aka daikon" on the package, literally red daikon...but this looked more purple to me, especially when I cut into it.

On the package, there was a recipe for amazuzuke which is literally sweet vinegar pickles.

I had used some daikon for salad, so I didn't have the total weight of daikon....if you'd like to try the "marinade" for pickles, here it is...

600 grams daikon, thinly sliced
100 cc vinegar
5 tablespoons sugar
1 teaspoon salt

Let everything marinate for at least half a day...enjoy!

NOTES: the flavors were light when we tried it for breakfast this morning, but the daikon stays crunchy.

I love the purple color!

Tuesday, December 03, 2019

shinjuku gyoen

Sunday I went to Shinjuku to do a little shopping.

Since I got there before the department stores opened, I walked over to Shinjuku Gyoen to check out the fall colors.

It was pretty early, so there weren't the krazy crowds.

There was a man pulling leaves off the tree branches that were "interrupting" his shot of this pond...ahem!

Most of the leaves were yellowish-brownish in color.

The reddish ones were only at the very tippy tops of the trees.

Still, I'm glad I got to bond with nature a little.

If you'd like to see more pictures/videos, check here.