April 12, 2012

Photo of the day: Japanese Bakery in Tokyo

Filed under: Cuisine, Domestic, Food, Tokyo places, Trips — myyearinjapan @ 1:21 am

Kobeya Kitchen in a bakery chain store. They have shops around Tokyo and Osaka. When I lived in Tokyo, there was one near my house and half on hour before they closed everything was half off, but as soon as the sale starts, everything disappears within 5 minutes. We used to try to time it so we could arrive 5 minutes before the sale, scope out the best pastries and quickly grab them once the sale started.

Sale on at Kobeya Kitchen bakery.


January 10, 2012

Anything Asian Restaurant?

Filed under: Cuisine, Domestic, Food, Tokyo places, Trips — Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , — myyearinjapan @ 12:55 am

Seen in Kameido in Tokyo. This is what happens when you can’t decide what country’s cuisine you’d like your restaurant to serve and rather than making a decision, you just toss everything in at once. This place seems quite a bit confused.

Asian food from all over Asia. The sign claims that the food is made by chefs hailing from Asia! How does the food look to you?

The countries/regions represented are Nepal, India, Tibet, Thailand, and Vietnam. It turns out that all these places have differnt cuisines. So... do they have chefs from each place on working at all times during open hours?

November 13, 2011

Butter shortage

Filed under: Cuisine, Food, Recipes — Tags: , , — myyearinjapan @ 1:04 pm

Around late October/early November, I started to notice that price of butter in my rural Japanese mountain town was rising. Before I knew it, the Hokkaido butter, generally the cheapest, had nearly doubled in price from about 230 yen per 200 g pack ($3USD for 7 oz) to 419 yen per pack ($5.40USD). In addition, the shelves were generally on the bare side.

This is now the cheapest butter...

A small local milk company's butter costs double what the Hokkaido one does! That's more than $10USD for 200g (7 oz) of butter!

The store had a sign suggesting that customers try using margarine instead of butter.

But as I was about to buy expensive butter, I spotted some whipping cream that was half-off and decided that I might as well make my own butter.

I went crazy and bought two little cartons of whipping cream, since it was half off.

See the results after the jump.


August 24, 2011

Thai Food

I didn’t need to got o Thailand to find out that I like Thai food. And the food in Thailand did not disappoint. Here are some examples of food that I saw and food that I ate.

Of course, Pad Thai. My first meal in Thailand.

All the necessary condiments to adjust the flavor of your food. (clockwise from top left) Chili pepper flakes to add spicy kick, chili peppers in rice vinegar, sugar for sweetness, and nampla fish sauce.

Thai iced tea. It was so hot the whole time I was in Thailand. I couldn't imagine having hot tea. While walking around, I kept popping into 7-elevens to get water. I tried the green tea and was amazed at how sweet it is! In Japan, putting sugar in green tea is a big no-no.

Foi Thong

Foi Thong was what I brought back as a souvenir for my co-workers. Foi Thong means “Golden Threads.” Foi Thong is based off  of a Portuguese dessert and there are several similar dishes to Foi Thong found in places like Japan and Brazil.  A woman of mixed Portuguese and Japanese ancestry who lived in Thailand in the 17th century is credited with introducing the dessert in Thailand.


July 20, 2011

Ultimate Fusion Cuisine

Filed under: abroad, China, Cuisine, Food, Hong Kong, Strange, Trips — Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , — myyearinjapan @ 8:06 am

Foie Gras Sushi in Hong Kong.

June 2, 2011

Afternoon Tea at the Peninsula Hotel

Anyone who knows me knows that I love tea. It is far and away my favorite thing to drink. Whenever I’m in the office, I always have my over sized Chicago Botanic Garden mug (a gift from some friends. Thanks friends!) filled with some kind of tea next to me. Usually I drink bancha (a type of green tea) or assam tea (a type of black tea) because those are the teas I can plunder from the snack corner of the office.

So when my friend in Hong Kong suggested going to the Peninsula hotel for their Afternoon Tea Service, I ignored her follow-up of “but it’s a bit pricey” and insisted that we go. We showed up on Sunday afternoon around 4 and got in the back of a long line. It was a holiday weekend and I guess we weren’t the only people with the idea that it might be nice to have some tea.

Tea drinkers drinking tea.

This is the queue as it was when we were about to be seated. The line had actually gotten shorter since we arrived, possibly because it was getting close to the end of the tea service at that time.


May 31, 2011

Cheung Chau Island (Part 2 – Food and Drink)

Yesterday I wrote a post about taking a day trip to Cheung Chau Island while I was in Hong Kong. But I didn’t show you everything, so today, I bring you more Cheung Chau fun!

First, I have some pictures of the dim sum I ate for brunch on Cheung Chau.

Look at all those steaming backets filled with various goodies.

In the full post: chicken feet, shrimp dumplings and gaiwan cups. (more…)

April 3, 2011

Eating Basashi (Horse Sashimi)

Filed under: Cuisine, Food — Tags: , , , , , , , , , — myyearinjapan @ 11:54 pm

Basashi (馬刺し) is a horse sashimi dish (sashimi of course referring to raw meat). Basashi was fairly high up on a list of things I thought I’d never eat. But after watching my friend try some and getting his feedback (“hey, not bad”), I figured that it would be worthwhile to try it once. Plus, they were having a basashi sale at my local conveyor belt sushi joint (210 yen for two pieces).  How can you go wrong with cheap raw horse for dinner? I’ve already had various types of fish sashimi and when I was in South Korea, I tried raw beef (delicious!). But horse was a first for me. They definitely aren’t kosher because horse don’t chew their cud or have split feet. That’s like double not kosher.

Horse sashimi is a delicacy in parts of Japan. In my region, it is not particularly common and usually is not served at my local sushi shop. (Another reason I jumped on the chance to eat it. Limited time only!) Due to the pink color, it is often referred to as cherry blossom meat (桜肉). I assume that the local sushi place decided that it was fitting to serve cherry blossom meat during cherry blossom season. Horse meat to said to be low in calories, low in fat, low in cholesterol, and high in protein compare to beef, pork, and poultry. So, if nothing else, horse meat is probably a healthy choice, it seems.


That horse is definitely raw.


My friend came with and we both tried the horse together.

My thoughts: Some parts were soft and some were too chewy. The flavor was ok though. I think I would have liked it more if I didn’t know it was horse. I couldn’t stop thinking about the fact that I was eating horse.

What my friend said: it was interesting, but I was disappointed. Maybe it would be better at a shop that specializes in horse meat and serves good quality stuff. But it wasn’t the kind of delicious food that I would go out of my way to seek out.

March 31, 2011

Making Mochi Rice Cakes (Mochi tsuki)

Filed under: Cuisine, Events, Food, Interesting — Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , — myyearinjapan @ 7:58 am

It is hard to imagine Japan without Mochi, Japanese rice cakes. Anytime time of the year, but especially around new years, it is popular in many communities and families around Japan to pound rice and make mochi, a kind of rice cake. (I don’t particularly like defining mochi as rice cakes because rice cake can refer to many, many things, but I don’t know of a better definition.) Around new years, I was visiting an elementary school and explaining what new years in like in the states to them. While in Japan, there are particular children’s and games and food associated with New Years, a lot of the new years fun in the states is much more fun for adults, so I had difficulty conveying new years to them in an interesting way. When asked if there was special food for new years, I drew a blank. One kid asked me if we have mochi in the states and when I said no, he said, “good thing I was born in Japan.”

In the states, most people who know mochi probably know it in the form of mochi ice cream. Mochi ice cream was the first kind of mochi that I ever ate. In recent years, I’ve also seen small bite-sized pieces of mochi offered as toppings at some frozen yogurt chains.

To make mochi, glutinous rice is pounded down using a wooden pestle called a kine (pronounced key-neigh) and a mortar called an usu. As the rice is pounded, the individual grains cease to exist and it all becomes one sticky mass of rice. It is then shaped and eaten as is or put into a kind of soup. It can also be filled with red bean paste or sometimes with strawberries. For the lazy ones among us, there are now machines that pound the mochi for you, including ones small enough to have at home.

mochi tsuki

Preparing to strike.

mochi tsuki


in the mortar

In the mochi mortar. The mochi really sticks to the kine hammer.


In addition to plain, white mochi, we also pounded out some green mochi and pink mochi. This is yomogi (Japanese mugwort), the plant used to make the mochi turn green.


Preparing soem green mochi. We filled a lot of then with anko (red adzuki bean pastes). The anko is what you see on the left on the circular plate.

March 10, 2011

Making Wagashi, Japanese Traditional Sweets

A couple weeks ago, I got to make my own wagashi, Japanese sweets. Wagashi are traditionally made with ingredients such as pounded rice (mochi) and red bean paste (anko).

The samples of what we were going to make. These are the ones the sweets master made. The one on the right is meant to look like water. And the black dot is a black bean that was boiled with sugar.

Our ingredients and tools. At the top is the box we were meant to put the sweets in when we finished. There us already one piece in there. It's wakakusa, young grass, and it's a gelatinous confectionery. The other sweets were all made of different colors of red bean paste. I wonder how they dye it different colors....

View from the window of the sweets classroom.

These are the sweets I made. They don't look as perfect as the ones above that were made by the master. They also got a bit bunged up with I put them in the box and carried them around all day, but they were still delicious!

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