Monday, August 31, 2020

janie's apple orchard

There is a program that Satoshi and I watch about the different foreigners living in Japan.

Each episode features a foreigner showing the area that they live and the reason they came to and now live in Japan.

Some have lived in Japan a long time, some have not.

We really enjoy this show because it shows Japan through a foreigner's perspective.

One episode featured US expat Janie.

She lives in Nagano and is making and selling her US style apple butter and apple sauce under the brand name Janie's Apple Orchard.

She came upon our tiny blog and the post I wrote about Japanese style apple butter

In that post I had written that I had never tried US style apple butter. 

Unlike Japanese apple butter, US style apple butter uses no dairy, just apples and a few other ingredients.

She wrote to us and asked if she could send us some of her apple butter and apple sauce to try.

I was excited to be contacted and eager to try her products.

Her apple butter is smooth and the only other ingredient beside apples is cinnamon.

Slightly sweet, this was delicious!

I think eating this with pork or chicken would be nice too.

Her apple sauce was delicious too.

Sweetness only from the Fuji apples and with some texture to it.

This would be good on plain yogurt.

It is also the perfect size to put in with your bento for dessert.

I'm glad Janie contacted us and that we got to try her products.

Where most other brands add preservatives and extra sugars, Janie's is just apples.

As her website says, her products are "Simple, Natural, Good".

Thank you Janie!

Disclaimer: I received these products from Janie in return for an honest product review. I was not compensated and the thoughts and opinions written here are my own.

Friday, August 28, 2020

this and that

Was excited to spot my first rainbow in Japan yesterday.

This was from our lanai that faces Haneda airport.

It was also neat to see the rainbow move with that big rain they say, "no rain no rainbow".
This was from the lanai that faces Mount Fuji on the opposite side of our apartment.

Can you see how blazing it was?!

The days are getting shorter though.

Love the clouds though and the sunrises and sunsets have been orange-y. 

Have a safe weekend.

Thursday, August 27, 2020

daily stuff

Back in 2018, I told you about our neighbors, the sparrows.

Well, recently, they have been getting harassed by the crows.

Almost every day when the sparrows want to enter their home (white arrow).

The crows tend to be sitting on top (red arrow) or somewhere nearby.

I usually hear the sparrow frantically chirping and take a peek outside.

Sure enough, the crow is sitting nonchalantly on top of the sparrow's home (or nearby) taunting the sparrows.

So, I open the curtains or the screen door to scare off the crows...

which stops the sparrows from "screaming"...hopefully the crows do not retaliate and start pooping on our lanai...

Wednesday, August 26, 2020

kitchen sumikko

Whenever I walk toward Kamata, I take different routes.

I stumbled across Kitchen Sumikko on one of these walks and have had them bookmarked to try.

Apparently Kitchen Sumikko is carrying on the flavors of Nanban Curry's curry, which was a popular shop in the Kamata area that closed back in 2010.

Even before the pandemic, Kitchen Sumikko has been doing take out for most everything on their menu.

So this past Saturday, Satoshi and I went to take some items out.

I chose their best seller, katsu curry...800 yen (tax included).

The outer coating is a bit loose around the meat so it falls off when eating, but the coating was super crispy and the pork was so meaty and tender!

Satoshi chose his favorite, ebi fry (fried shrimp)...990 yen (tax included).

It doesn't look like a lot of food but there is a lot of rice under there and quite a lot of curry.

Their curry is a little spicy and more on the soupy side.

The menu said that the dish comes with cabbage, which I think if you eat there they give you with your meal.

For take out, they don't give the cabbage and instead gave us each a half of a boiled egg (normally if you add an egg it is an extra 50 yen).

Anyway, this was too much for me, so I saved half for another meal.

We want to try some of their other teishoku items, so we'll call in our order next time.

We'll be back.

Kitchen Sumikko

7-23-6 Nishi Kamata, Izumi Corporus 1F

Ota, Tokyo

Phone: 03.3732.8458

Closed Sundays & Mondays

Hours: 11:00-15:00 (lunch), 17:00-20:00 (dinner)

Tuesday, August 25, 2020

miyako ichi

How are you doing?

We are doing fine, trying not to get on each other's nerves and staying indoors whenever possible.

It was bittersweet to see a story on tv about Hawaii and their lockdown recently.

I hope we will all be able to get our numbers down safely.

On a recent trip to the market, I noticed this package of chuka soba (literally chinese noodle).

Upon researching, I was surprised that Miyako Ichi is apparently the first "instant" noodle in Japan (they were manufacturing these noodles about 5 years before Nissin's chicken ramen).

Relatively healthy as there are only 3 ingredients...flour, salt and kansui (alkaline solution).

The noodles are not fried and there is no soup packet included.

One packet has two servings in it, plus it is super cheap (about $1.50 a package).

Since it has been so hot and I had some leftover dashi from making hiyajiru, I made hiyashi ramen for our dinner the other night.

According to the package it says to cook the noodles for 6 to 7 minutes, but I cooked them for 5 because I like my noodles on the stiffer side.

For the soup (2 servings), I used 300 milliliters of dashi, 2 teaspoons of shoyu, 2 teaspoons of sesame oil and some rayu (chili oil).

For the topping, I poached some shabu shabu (thinly) sliced pork, julienned some shiso, thinly sliced okra, myoga and also put some sliced cherry tomatoes and edamame.

It didn't look like a lot in the package but when cooked, one serving of noodles was quite a lot and I loved the texture of these noodles.

The package also said you can make yakisoba, so we tried them this way with the last lup cheong from our freezer.

I would cook these a little less than 5 minutes, maybe 4?! so the noodles would be a little more stiff when cooked with the yakisoba sauce.

Overall, I'm glad I tried this and would continue to purchase them in the future.

Monday, August 24, 2020

vinho verde

I am probably late to the game but I just stumbled on Vinho Verde.

Wines from the Vinho Verde region of Portugal.

Most have bubbles, light, fruity, some are dry and there are also rose versions too.

Don't forget to look for the seal of guarantee too.

What are you enjoying these days?

Friday, August 21, 2020


Hiyajiru (literally cold soup) is something eaten during summer when your appetite is supposedly not too great.

Luckily, I've never had a problem with my appetite during summer or any time of the year for that matter (ahem!)...

Anyway, I think we were watching a television show and it mentioned this dish, which Satoshi then requested me to make. 

Many prefectures in Japan have their own version and many families have their own versions too.

This summer, the heat has been pretty brutal.

Over the past week or so, sadly, many people, mostly elderly have died due to heatstroke because they were sleeping without their a/c.

In the past, I would set the a/c timer to turn off in the middle of the night, but this year we have had the a/c on all day and night...

The other night, I tried making hiyajiru.

Adapted from the internet : makes 2 servings

200 grams kinudofu (soft type tofu)

300 milliliters liquid dashi

2 teaspoons miso

1 cucumber, thinly sliced

1 can of tuna (75 grams)

1 myoga, thinly sliced

5 leaves shiso, chiffonade

2 okra, sliced thin

1/4 teaspoon ground sesame seeds

Break up the tofu into a bowl, add the veggies

Dissolve the miso into the dashi, pour over the veggies & tofu

Enjoy! with rice, somen or your favorite starch.

NOTES: super easy, tasty and definitely no cooking.

There are some recipes that ask you to heat the miso in the toaster or over an open flame to deepen the miso flavor, but I didn't do that.

You could probably use whatever veggies you have on hand since it is like cold miso soup.

Hope you have a safe weekend!

Thursday, August 20, 2020


Tuesday, we received this envelope from MAFF (Ministry of Agriculture, Forestry and Fisheries).

My first thought was "oh no it's those mysterious seeds being sent from China".

But upon opening up the letter, it was something being sent from the US.

It was 1 gram of wasurenagusa seeds...I looked up what that was.

"forget-me-not" seeds...

I called the number and talked to the person working there.

He mentioned that a letter addressed to us had be scanned and these seeds were in them.

The seeds were not marked as inspected by agriculture in the US, so they were not able to forward the seeds to us.

I asked him who was sending us this letter.

He told me the name and I realized it was my cousin in California.

Then I remembered that some families send seeds as a thank you whenever someone passes.

Which is why the seeds were "forget-me-not", they were for my Aunty who passed due to COVID earlier this year.

I told the person to remove the seeds and forward the letter to us.

He said that due to COVID, the forwarded letter will take about 2 to 3 weeks! as it passes through the Japan postal service (and it is only going from Yokohama to Tokyo)...sigh.

Afterwards, I emailed my cousin and told her what had happened.

She confirmed that she did have a packet of seeds in with her thank you note for the sympathy card we had sent to her.

Thank goodness it wasn't from China...and thank goodness I was able to sort things out smoothly.

Wednesday, August 19, 2020

this lady

Walking around our neighborhood are the meter ladies. 

I say ladies because I have never seen men doing this job. 

Do you remember this post? I've not seen any ladies here in Tokyo checking the meters this way (yet).

Anyway, she has her mask on and jacket!

Her mask has a slit in it so she can drink water while she is on her route.
If you look carefully at her jacket though it has a built-in fan!

I've also seen men on construction sites dressed this way too.

The heat is brutal this year, hope you are keeping cool (and safe) where you are.

Tuesday, August 18, 2020

flourless okonomiyaki

This was actually supposed to be a huge flourless takoyaki, but I didn't read the recipe and assumed it was okonomiyaki.

Super easy and kind of cooking these days.

Serves 4: adapted from 3 minute cooking

300 grams chinese yam, weighed, rinsed, peeled and grated

1 cup dashi (liquid)

4 eggs

200 grams pork belly

100 grams julienned cabbage

shaved bonito


okonomiyaki sauce


Mix the grated yam, eggs and dashi.

Add the cabbage 

In a heated non-stick pan, add the cabbage mix

Cook for 5 minutes on medium heat

Before flipping over, add pork belly

Cook for another 5 minutes

Top with okonomiyaki sauce, bonito, aonori & mayo

NOTES: delicious! more like a fluffy omelette but perfect if you cannot have flour or are cutting back on flour.

Will try with boiled tako (octopus) to make this like takoyaki next time.

Monday, August 17, 2020

the gyoza snob

I am a chocolate and coffee snob, Satoshi is a gyoza snob.

He says he hasn't found a gyoza that he likes in Tokyo.

One day when I was looking at my favorite supermarket's ad, I noticed they had frozen Min Min gyoza on sale.

Min Min is a popular place in Osaka...of course, the gyoza snob loves Min Min's gyoza...he also loves Kyoto Ohsho.

So, I didn't tell him I bought this...

Instead I cooked up half the batch and kept the rest in the freezer for another meal.

After he took his first bite, he looked at me and said, "is this Min Min gyoza?!"

My secret was out...He's knows his stuff yeah?!

I noticed they have a couple of shops in Tokyo, so we’ll check them out when it is safe to eat out.

Friday, August 14, 2020

hibiya park

One place that Satoshi found near his workplace is Hibiya Park.

This park is large and a nice way to get away from the hustle of the city for a bit.

He said he eats his lunch here.

From his photos, I think this is Kumogata Pond.

I haven't explored this park (yet), but look forward to in the future.

Have a safe weekend everyone.

Thursday, August 13, 2020

this guy

When we first moved to Tokyo, I saw this guy and thought he might be homeless because he had so many things on his bicycle.

And then, once when I was walking back from the market, I saw his bicycle parked in front of one of the many pocket parks we have in the neighborhood.

I then realized he wasn't homeless, all the stuff on his bicycle is what he uses to clean the restrooms in these pocket parks.

I've never used the restroom in these pocket parks, but at least now I know they are cleaned.

Wednesday, August 12, 2020


Saturday I made some mac nut pesto using the carrot tops that I had kept in the freezer from that time we ordered veggies from Suzunari Farm.

The carrot tops are bitter but delicious in this pesto. (afterwards, an IG friend mentioned that I should blanche the tops before using to cut the bitterness, thank you!)
Am thinking to use the rest of this pesto with some pasta.

I made the same dough that I used for pizza back in May.

Since the dough was really wet and sticky the last time, I added the water in a little at a time, and ended up using less than what the recipe had listed.

In Elle Gourmet, besides pizza, they also suggest that you use the milk bread dough to make beignets.  So instead of filling them with jam like they suggest, I just fried them up plain and we ate them like savory doughnuts with the pesto and oil sardines.

And since I was frying, I fried up some shrimp chips that I have had in my pantry for ages.

These were so light and fluffy!

We saved two to dip into dark chocolate for ono!
Since the weather is so hot, will definitely think of another way to use this milk bread recipe.

p.s. Yesterday, most of the Kanto (East Japan) areas hit 40C (104F)...the humidity brings the temps up 10 degrees!

We've been sleeping with the a/c on...can you believe July only had 1 day of sun? Looks like Mother Nature is trying to play catch-up in August.

Stay cool, stay hydrated and stay safe!

Tuesday, August 11, 2020


If you look through this blog, you'll see several "mcgyver" posts.

Well, the other day on the way to the market, my slipper broke.

I asked Satoshi to run to the 100 yen shop (which was kind of nearby) to buy some hair elastic or string, he tells me, "I don't know what to get, so you wear my slippers" and go buy some....gah.

So, instead, I took the hair elastic I was already using and fixed my slipper temporarily.

I didn't want to throw this slipper out because it was still relatively "good" but looking back on my blog archive, this slipper is actually 11 years old! 

Since I only use my slippers during the summer months, I guess it lasted longer than if I used them all year around.
Will have to look for another pair, but at least I know that if I'm in a pinch, I'd be able to fix it.

Monday, August 10, 2020


So, I've been tracking my ballot, the status still says it is in California...

I saw something that Deb of Kahakai Kitchen posted on can check if the Voting office received your ballot.

So, I did.
 And they received it.

Love technology!

Hope you got your vote in too.

Friday, August 07, 2020


Yesterday, I needed to pick up a few things at Takeya, so since I was in the area, I thought I'd check out the lotus flowers at Shinobazu Pond too.

I think I was a little too late this year because there were not many flowers to be seen.
After picking up the items I needed from Takeya, I stopped off at Tokyo Station to check out their newly renovated Gransta area.

Satoshi and I had these amiyaki niku (grilled meat) bento from Niku Oroshi Kojima.

Rice topped with teriyaki style grilled beef ...delicious!

Our temps have been blazing and the humidity has not helped either.

It is bad enough that we need to worry about COVID-19 but also need to worry about heatstroke.

Hope you have a safe weekend.

Wednesday, August 05, 2020

7 years

7 years...wondering what you would say about this pandemic.

Family friend, D, mentioned yesterday that this was the first summer I wasn't going to be in Hawaii...

I thought about it and it is the 1st time in the 19 years that I have been living in Japan that I won't be going to Hawaii...

Wear a mask, social distance and hopefully we can all meet up in person soon.

Miss you Mom.

Monday, August 03, 2020

new month new things

We received a care package from V (thank you!) the other day. It was filled with all sorts of snacks and these pretty masks made by Honolulu Aunty.

They are much cooler than our origami ones and they fit nicer than the ones the Japanese government gave us...can you believe the Japanese governent ordered more of those teeny masks to pass out?! What a waste of money!

As V said in her letter, it looks like we are going to have to wear masks for awhile longer...sad but true, yeah?! Dunno about you, but I haven't worn lipstick in what feels like ages...

Saturday, Tokyo's rainy season was declared over, later than usual and with so much more rain than other years...let the blazing begin!

We went to the Shinbashi/Toramon area.

Satoshi was reassigned to help out with that Go To Campaign, so we went to check out where his new office is.

He is not looking forward to "what" he'll have to do, but is excited because it is "something" to do.

Plus, he'll be in a different part of Tokyo, so he'll have new places to explore...sort of.

I’m just glad his company hasn’t let go anyone.

Changing the subject, how is this soba shop near Satoshi's new work place?

...looked it up and it has been in business since 1872!

Hope to check it out when this pandemic is over.
Some businesses were asking local government to help them get customers back into their shops, so many cities/prefectures around Japan have started to put stickers on their windows/doors to let customers know that they are abiding by the guidelines that the city/prefecture has set up to combat cluster infections.

FYI: this is Tokyo's.

Hopefully this will bring more customers back into shops...for now we feel it is too risky to eat in any restaurant and are still doing takeout until we can be tested and more asymptomatic people can be too.

Oh, and my rehab place went out of business, I found out as we passed by yesterday.  

Hope the doctor retired and nothing serious happened to him (he was kind of elderly and the close was kind of sudden)...sad I didn’t get to say goodbye & thank you for his care.

Hope everyone has a good week.