Reunion with a friend from NY then, Hawaii, now in Tokyo

 A friend from US is now living in Japan.   She is also an ex-coworker.

The last time I saw her was perhaps on a flight either to or from New York.

Almost 20 years ago!?     We were both excited to catch up with each other having these delicious Spanish lunch.
Atico Dos is a minute from Shimokitazawa Station.

We shared these and paid for around 1200 yen, which is such a good deal.
You will also enjoy their dinner.  Small, not snooty ambiance is a typical example of Shimokitazawa restaurant.

Turned out that this friend lives fairly close to my place.

Looking forward to more outings with her.


Rice or Bread?

Haven't written for a while, so quick posting for now.

Do you eat bread for breakfast?   For us, Japanese, we have options.

Rice or bread?   If it's rice, rice, some small dishes plus miso soup.

I am thinking right now.   Do I want rice or bread?   In winter, I like something soupy for breakfast.  I can go with bread, and then carrot soup or something.

Or, I can have rice, spicy cod roe and grated radish, nikujaga, which is potato, carrot, onion and beef, cooked in sugar, soy sauce and sweet rice wine etc.

When I get up, I will see how cold it is and ask my stomach and decide.

Good night.


Reunion @ Bistro Eureka in Shimokitazawa

 A week ago, a former boss, his current colleagues came to Shimokitazawa.

I made a reservation at this cozy, bistro.   Feels like " you are in Paris."

Enjoyed catching up with him....

Funny part is he still talks about our Paris trip.   That's almost 7, 8 years ago?    We were working on some government's projects and needed to visit several schools there.   One of the famous schools is FEMIS, an elite film producers school.

While staying in Paris, I was able to see some friends living there, my boss and I enjoyed local cuisine, some free time......  just before our departure, we finally discovered "authentic"  fish soup..... Soup de Poisson.   When we left the restaurant, we were satisfied and literally full.

But!  At the airport, I wanted to have some palate cleanser.... but didn't want to mention that.... I was already known by my boss as a " big eater" and I wanted to put some chunks of sugared lemon/ginger peels into my mouth.

He went to the bathroom.  "  OK, now!  "  I put some into my mouth.... while I was busy putting more into my mouth..... he came back and found me.

"......... I can't believe you are eating again......"   He was taken aback....

Oh, well..... since then, he tells everybody this story.... over and over....Thank you very much!  LOL.

Last week, he was telling other people this story..... so?    I love eating!!!
Great Amberjack Carpaccio 

Cooked Beef 

Kamaboko & Chikuwa Fish Paste

Kamaboko - Fish Paste
Have you tried Kamaboko or Chikuwa?

Made of fish paste, you might have eaten it w/ Udon noodle, Ramen etc.

I had a privilege to try the course dinner last month.

According to this company, Yamasa Chikuwa, they change the fish depending on the season.  Didn't know that.

This was the starter of the course.  


Tokyo International Film Festival ---- AFURI's Ramen Noodle

Yuzushio Ramen @ AFURI
I would like to write about Chikuwa next since I was invited to a fabulous Chikuwa Dinner last week.

There are many pics and I'd like to take enough time for those....
Look forward to the report!

So, let me show you Ramen today.

AFURI has several shops in Tokyo and one in Kanagawa.  Ramen AFURI

Last night was opening of Tokyo International Film Festival --- TIFF.

A friend of mine got tickets for " Florence Foster Jenkins".   This title was official opening film for the festival.   I was told Meryl Streep was coming to greet to the audience!   Yes, I immediately responded.    She was beautiful, witty, charming.
There are much more adjectives to admire her.

Anyways, before the movie, we met at AFURI Roppongi Hills Branch and had this.
Yuzu flavored shio (salt ) ramen.   mmmmmm, yum!

The movie was excellent.  You can laugh and cry.  Heartwarming.


Tsukuba, Ibaraki Prefecture

Banana Crepe
I think this is from the night of Sep. 29th.

There are many pics in my PC and I feel I am so behind!

At the end of last month, I went to Tsukuba, Ibaraki prefecture and stayed overnight.

This was for an international conference.  It was a kind of interpretation and help the inbound guests ( mostly professors / specialist of some IT industry's professionals/ researchers ).   Since the morning start was early and Tsukuba is far ( from my place, say, door to door is two hour trip.) , my client booked a hotel for me. ( Very kind! )

I have a friend who is studying there, so contacted her and we met at CoCo's that night.   CoCo's is a family restaurant and originally from US, I guess.  The menu is very different from the states, though.

She's been studying there for several years now and I believe eventually she will acquire PhD.

It was nice to catch up with her.  I am not familiar with academic world, so she explained how she is doing and what the challenges are.  Learned a lot.  She is a writer, journalist, but still writing academic report seems to be difficult.  Totally different approach, skill is required.

Anyway, I only took this pic, but what I enjoyed the most was their fried potatoes!
Shredded, crispy potatoes with salsa/ avocado/ sour cream was delicious!

While I was waiting for her arrival, I finished the whole plate!!!  ( Too much calories!)

With a glass of beer and enjoyable talk, I fell asleep immediately after I went back to my hotel room.  LOL.

Oh, and one thing I'd like to remember from that trip is " sometimes I need to expose my 5 or 6 senses to nature."

What happened was interesting.  I shouldn't do it again, but I walked from Tsukuba station to the business hotel for 15 minutes at night.  Usually , in Tokyo, it's no problem.  Safe enough.....at 8 p.m. or 9 p.m.

However, in Tsukuba area, it's totally dark.  If I took the easy way, took a main street, it would have been much easier.

Somehow, I relied on my Google navigation..   Kindly, Google suggested me the fastest way which was to go though a rice field..... which is very dark!

I didn't think it would be that long... but it took me about 20 min.!

It was dark, very dark.    It was scary.   Luckily, nothing happened to me, but I shouldn't do it again... Too risky.  Too dark.  Japan is safe, so nothing happened, but I should remember that I was just lucky.

However, I learned something different. at the same time    I was able to feel the nature.  Utter silence, quietness.   My senses were on the alert and became sharp.

In usual city life, I don't use it.  May sound funny, but I felt I should use these senses once in a while.   Like digging out sleeping senses.... waking them.

If I don't use it, they will become stale, dull.   It was a kind of awakening.
Instead of taking too much risk like walking dark rice field alone ( ! ), I should visit forests, mountains or lakes..... more often.


Chinese Yum Gratin for Late Night Dinner

Chinese Yum Gratin 
How can I describe it!?    It tastes a bit like Takoyaki....fluffy, marshmallow like texture.

Very easy to make.

Half stalk of Yum.... grate it.
Stir one egg in.    I used toaster oven.

Cook it for 15 min.   The surface turns brown.   Then put a cup of dried bonito flake on it.  Chopped green onion to cover it.   Add one table spoonful soy sauce.  Done!

Delicious gratin!       I couldn't resist having a cup of sake with it.


" Gods of Egypt" Experienced 4D movie for the first time.

Roasted Pork w/ Cranberry Sauce
This is SILVER WEEK in Japan.
Golden Week is a long holiday week in May.  Tomorrow and Friday are national holidays and now this is called Silver Week.

Nothing special for me, but since I had tickets for " Gods Of Egypt", decided to try 4D and upgraded the given 2D tickets to 4D.
Wow!   The seat moves.   Water is splashed onto your face.   You can smell things depending on the scene....   How can I describe it?    The combination of amusement park and movie.     Entertainment industry is trying to find the next generation of movies.   I enjoyed it.    You might feel a little tired after watching.... I actually felt a little sleepy..... like after exercise.    Went to a cafe in MARUI Shinuku.   Cook Cope Cafe.   Girly place.  They serve healthy, light meals.


Vichyssoise --- After All Day Interpretation

6 hour-interpretation today.

Basically I am always hungry and love eating.

Today, I had too much chocolate during the break. ( Interpretation requires so much concentration and brain activity.  That consumes glucose in our brain.  Chocolate helps activate brain activity and concentration.)   When I came home, I felt not so hungry, which is very rare for me :-)    Made this and that was enough for dinner.


Tarte Titan ----Japanese Pear and Pancake Version

Tarte Tatin Pancake Version 
Somehow, felt an urge to have something sweet for dinner.

This was today's dinner :-)

Tarte Tatin, pancake version.

Also, it wasn't apple.  I used Japanese pear.

Very easy, you can make it in 20 min.  I used pancake mix ( about 75 grams or half of the packet) , half of the big pear ( sliced ), an egg, 3 tablespoonful sugar.
A teaspoonful butter.  That's all.

First, you need to use small sized Teflon-coated deep pan.  Spread butter on the bottom of the pan and 1/3 depth of the pan.  ( like making butter wall )

Stir the egg in a bowl.  Add milk.  Stir well again.  Then add pancake mix.
Mix well.

Place the sliced pear on the bottom and make a few layers.  Add sugar.
Start cooking.  Water comes out of the pear.  Keep cooking till the water evaporates and disappear.

Pour the pancake dough into the pan to cover already sitting pear.
Close the lid.  Make sure the heat is very low.

Cook for 10 min.  Flip the pan onto a plate!  Ta-da-.  Voila!  Bon Appetit!


Cateriam --- Cat Cafe in Shimokitazawa

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Was a bit busy last week mainly from research task.

Friday night I decided to escape to a dream world..... that is a cat cafe.

This cafe currently has 11 cats.

You can try for 30 min. without drink and for 500 yen or stay for an hour with one drink for 1000 yen.     You can ask them to play with you (!) or simply enjoy watching them.       Felt content after playing with them and watching.

Thanks to cats.   I love you all :-)
Azuki ( Red Bean ) Latte


Shonan Club in Shimokitazawa

Sautéed Corn

Flavorful Fish Head 
Nice dinner with a friend of mine and also a business associate.

Both of us live in same area and actually our places are just 3 min. apart.    Naturally, we chose somewhere close...

Food was excellent!

Shonan Club- Garden Kitchen is a cozy, small restaurant where you can enjoy green garden from big windows.

Since we had typhoon yesterday, they didn't show up, but when it's clear, a family of raccoon come visit their garden.

Open for breakfast, lunch and dinner.

Cheese Risotto

Nectarine and Prosciutto
The wife of the owner speaks English. They have English menu also.

When you come to Shimokitazawa, come out of West Exit.  Take a right and come up to the ground floor.

You will see 7/11, convenience store on your right.

Take a left at the first corner.

At the end of the street, you will see this restaurant.

Their cuisine is Italian and Japanese.
Compared to those places located in central area in Tokyo, I would say, their prices are quite reasonable and you will enjoy their homey, warm hospitality.


Try Japanese Peach!

Peach Sandwich
I love seasonal fruits.

Japanese peaches are big and juicy.
Perfect for hot summer.

You could use prosciutto, grilled bacon instead of mozzarella.

The photo is today's breakfast.
Mozzarella cheese, basil and peach.   Since mozzarella is not salty enough, sprinkle some salt and pepper.   Yummy!


Light Dinner and Drinks after Sit-Down Comedy

Friends invited me to a sit-down comedy or RAKUGO last night.

The photo places are located under the JR railroad.  All these small diners are inexpensive, casual and not sophisticated at all!

These are so-called B kyuh gourmet....meaning not A class.... B class....food or foodies.

I enjoy all aspects of Tokyo food scenes from A class famous places to these casual places.....in a way, these places are homey....it feels like this ambience could bring people closer...technically the places are pretty small and physically close, too!

The invite was available for two guests so I invited a friend of mine who is a professional translator.

Laughed a lot......I am not a connoisseur of RAKUGO, just enjoy it several times a year.   Four plus one warm-up comedians' story telling technique was exquisite.  I love all those storytellers' voice, change of tones, silly acts.....  RAKUGO encompasses our stupidity, vanity, empathy and express those in a funny stories...
and people in the stories are stupid, funny, but there is a kind of sense which accepts people just the way they are, sentiment which I feel people are losing lately.

After the show, we went to a small diner in this area and discussed it including our own stupid, sad, funny stories.    Good Saturday night.

Yurakucho--- Underpass Diners


Hugo Desnoyer in Ebisu


When you go upstairs, it feels like you are invited to somebody's home.

This is from my seat and behind me there was a bookshelf whose decoration was homey yet sophisticated... something like you would see in Architectural Digest.

Must Eat - Cutlet Sandwich

If you like "meat", you will enjoy this place in Ebisu.

This is my new favorite place.

Suggested by a friend of mine, we had lunch there.   All the dishes were very French....sophisticated, authentic, innovative ( sounds a little inconsistent ) , delicate, flavorful, delicious.

Especially their cutlet sandwich was soooo good... scrumptious.
I don't go to fancy restaurants usually ( although I enjoy fancy, upscale places also considering myself and prices, I don't go those places often! ) and this place is moderate.   The decor is.... very French.   Will try to upload the pics later.


Eating Early Dinner before Research Work

Steamed Mackerel & Veggies 
Some research work has started last Monday and it seems like they are going to give me additional work for tonight.

Before they send me the assignment, I cooked this quickly and ate.

Well, the weather here is sticky and not so pleasant, but blue sky was beautiful this morning.     When I have time, I would love to go swimming..... don't know when I can.    


Guacamole and White Wine ---- Summery Afternoon

Meiji Shrine --- Sangubashi Side
 Such a refreshing Saturday afternoon.   One session in the morning, then did some chores at home.

After lunch, headed for Sangubashi....it's like a backyard of Meiji Shrine.. say, if the main gate of this shrine is Harajuku side.

This side is more quiet... like a quiet picnic place... always relaxing.

Bought 3 big avocados which are from Peru ( usually avocados sold in stores are Mexican, so it was unusual.  ) .   Enjoyed guacamole with chilled white wine.

Hope you have a nice weekend !

Guacamole and Chips


WORKSHOP w/ Great Members

On Saturday, I participated in a 7 hour workshop.   The details are secret!, but I made great new friends there.

Learned a lot, laughed a lot.  Right downstairs of the place, there was an Indian restaurant.  Delicious two curries ( you can choose) , one drink, dessert are also included.  I had tried to focus on work for a while and also wanted to stay away from crowds, but this gathering was timely.

I do enjoy parties and meeting many people, but there are some seasons.... this season means psychological ones.  While sometimes my heart and energy are just like summer and enjoy " fireworks", there are some other seasons like fall or winter to nurture inner-self in tranquil settings.

Feels like I am in winter now.  For upcoming spring, this is the season to prepare and grow invisibly.    Feeling blessed to have great supporters around me.

Lady's Set ( spinach curry & chicken& egg plant curry)


Oh Yes, We Have Shake Shack Here.

Shake Shack Japan   has two shops in Tokyo.

One ( the first one ) is in Jingu-Gaien and the 2nd shop is in Ebisu.

Apparently, there are still lines.....I can't wait that long, meaning I have not tried them yet.

Yes, I just wanted to mention this since I wrote I started listening to Danny Meyers' Book.    ( The founder of Shake Shack )

We have Wendy's, Burger King, Taco Bell, KFC etc.... have heard that In -N- Out is coming soon?  ( I forgot where and when ..... )


Egg Plant and Shakespeare

My brain was so happy reading books this weekend. 
Back to classics..... read Shakespeare's " King Lear" and " Othello" .

When I was younger, perhaps I didn't understand them well enough.
Now I know!  Fabrication, Lies, Betrayal, Envy, Loyalty, Integrity, Fishing Expedition, Suspicion, Misperception, Pride, Greed, Love, Consideration, etc.etc..... 

Doesn't look old at all.  Enjoyed both, these are my favorites in his tragic ones.
During college days, I studied " Sonnet" along with Keats , Sherry...but have no recollection of taking Shakespeare's other classes.

Nature of human beings.  Learning a lot again from his stories.

It was hot today, so had this with chilled cold ( yet non-alcohol ) beer!

Deep Fried Egg Plant in Sweet & Sour Soy Sauce


Danny Meyer's Audio Book

For my English study and learning things, I am subscribing to Audible which is under Amazon's umbrella.   My new acquisition is this one, the founder of Union Square Cafe, Shake Shack etc.....   Since I teach hospitality English including cross-cultural mindset, am hoping to learn something from this book.  Narrated by himself.     Since there is still long line at Japan's Shake Shack, I have not tried them yet.   Will be different experience if I visit them after reading ( listening to ) this book.   Can't wait.

Spring Collection 2016 Bread, Clam and Shrimp

What is this?  Guess!

I 'd like to avoid " Spoiler Alert! " So, I will not explain too much.
This will be something later.... can you guess?     The process is more important.  
Clam Dish
Grilled Langoustine Shrimp


NOMA --- World's Top Restaurant Movie

They just finished Tokyo and moved onto other regions.

Shoot.  I missed it.  Lately, theatrical movies cycle is too short.

NOMA --- Danish Restaurant's Documentary

If it comes back here to small theaters, I can't miss it or I will watch it on DVD or NETFLIX...

NARISAWA's dishes have stories, arts and beautiful presentation as well as international staff's multilingual explanation.

It seems NOMA's dishes and their style is similar to NARISAWA.
Or maybe it is the trend now.

Spring Collection 2016 Continues

Finger Sushi

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This whole course is called Spring Collection 2016.

The ingredients are from all over Japan.

The top plate is Kobe beef and Ise Prawn sushi. The soup stock is made of sea snake indigenous to Okinawa.

Yes, they actually have the soup in Okinawa.

The bottom is sea bream from Akashi, Hyogo Prefecture.

Before Blogging about NARISAWA --- Pasta Alfred w/ a Touch of Japanese Flavor

Alfredo with Japanese Touch
I'd like to continue about amazing memory of NARISAWA.

After this post, I will do so.

Listened to my body or stomach, I realized I wanted to eat Pasta Alfredo.

Plain cream and cheese is good, but wanted to have something in it..... chicken would be ideal, but I didn't have it.

Used Japanese basil and Chinese barbecued pork.   Yum.

Alfredo sounds like Italian, but it's actually American pasta.... I learned.
( Check wikipedia )

Feeling satisfied, now ready to write about artistic dishes.  :-)


Spinach Curry & Rice w/ cherry tomato + cottage cheese

spinach curry & rice
How do you decide "what to cook" " what to eat" ?

I listen to my body.
They know what my body needs.

There is no logical reason, but it seems like my body knows what she needs.

This is from Sunday night.  ( I know I still have more pics from NARISAWA, but be patient, please. )  

Somehow, I felt " I'd like to have some spinach..... but not traditional Japanese cooking.... something like Marks  & Spencer's Chicken Saag Curry....didn't they have something like this?

Anyways, this is easy, if you have Braun's Multi Quick or Bamix.  ( Food Processor is also fine.  I just hate washing the big machine. )

Ingredients:  two servings

Ginger and Garlic    finely chopped  one table spoon
Spinach ( for myself, half package )  chopped.
Onion ( This time, I didn't use it, so not necessary)
Cherry Tomato       a few , cut in half/ for decoration and color
Cottage Cheese     one spoonful
Minced Pork       50g to 100g
White Wine or Sake     3 table spoons
Curry Paste ( I used boxed store bought curry blocks.  Used 2 blocks for 2 servings. )
Salt & Pepper  

1.  Heat the pan.  Start cooking ginger and garlic.
2.  Make spinach paste by using Multi Quick. ( Add some water first )
3.  In the pan, add minced pork.  Cook.  Salt & Pepper.
When the color changed, add white wine and evaporate.
4. Add 1.5 cups of water.  Keep cooking.   Bring it to boil.
5. Turn off the heat.   Add curry blocks.  Dissolve.
6. Turn the heat again.  Add the spinach.  After this, you don't cook that long.
Just 5 to 7 min. till the spinach gets warm or hot enough.

Ladle the curry over steamed white rice.  Place some cottage cheese and cherry tomatoes.   Enjoy!


BangBang Chicken --- for Breakfast

BangBang Chicken

Steamed white rice, Miso soup.

Bangbang Chicken and Cucumber.

Worked all day long.

Too tired to describe fancy dishes.

Quick introduction of quick meal.

Skin the chicken breast.  Bring the water to a boil.  ( 2/3 of the pot to cover the chicken. )  Put the chicken into the pot.

Turn off the heat.   Leave the chicken in the hot water and cover the lid.
Wait for an hour or two.   Keep the water since you can use it later.
Take out the chicken and tear it into narrow strips.   Put the chicken strips into the cooked water ( soup ) and place in the fridge.

This chicken can be used for various dishes.    This morning, I made bangbang chicken as shown in the photo.  Make the bed with strips of cucumber.
Place the chicken on them.  Pour sesame dressing.

Then, for dinner.   I made udon noodle soup.   Used this chicken and added some grated ginger and chopped green onion.  

Chicken breast is inexpensive and healthy.    


Baby Sweetfish w/ Sakura Jelly

Baby Sweetfish
Seasonal Presentation and the image of nature is specialty of this restaurant.

Two fish look like swimming on the plate.

Cherry blossom petals are scattered beautifully.

Fish has slightly bitter flavor....with faint melony scent.    Early summer or late spring is the season for this fish.


Clam Miso Soup Rice

Clam Miso Soup Rice 
A little break from the course menu of French Cuisine.

This morning's breakfast.

Make clam miso soup first.

Chop a half stalk of scallion.

Place the rice into the bowl.
Pour clam miso soup over the rice.   Sprinkle the chopped scallion.

Use your condiments such as Yuzu Kosho ( Yuzu Pepper ) or grated ginger,  shichimi....

To remove sand from clam, make 3% salt water and place clam into it.
Wait for 2, 3 hours.


Soft-Shell Turtle Ball with Coco Farm & Winery's White Wine

Deep Fried Soft-Shell Turtle Ball
Soft-Shell Turtle is usually served as soup or nabe.

How can I put it?   You wouldn't notice if you were not told.

Tasted a bit like chicken....

After a glass of sparkling wine, we started having white wine.

I forgot to take the photo of the wine.
It was a bit buttery like Chardonnay.

Have you heard of Coco Farm & Winery in Tochigi Prefecture?
They are known as " Farm & Winery whose workers are intellectually disabled."

The wine was from there.  Liked the flavor.  I might purchase one on ONLINE someday.  ( Should be good for summer. )


Wood Flavored Water and Edible Forest

Essence of Forest 
This was the starter plate.

The top left is water to cleanse your mouth and feel the forest.

I could smell cedar.

The green powder is soy pulp or okara.

Everything was edible.  ( The water container was only thing I couldn't eat! )

The wood or firewood is deep-fried burdock root.   Artistic presentation was breathtaking.

From here, every single dish amazed us.  


Picturesque French Cuisine Experience ------ Sakura ( Cherry Blossom ) Sparkling Wine

There were many in the course.

This restaurant,  I cannot afford even lunch.
Luckily, a friend of mine visiting Tokyo invited me and I had once in a life time experience.

We started w/ this Sakura Sparkling Wine.



Small House or I'm Hungry !?!?!?

In Spanish, this means small house?

In Japanese, it sounds like " I'm hungry."

This vegetable & seasoning shop was opened about a week ago in my area.

Vegetables are limited... only basic ones such as onion, carrot, spinach, etc...
They are so cheap.   They stock up the cheapest seasonal vegetables only.  That is why the prices are way lower than other stores.

4 min. from my place.  Yay!


Pickled Cauliflower

Do you sometimes get this kind of urge?   I wonder if my body suggests me when it feels " I need this nutrition!".

Today I felt  " Cauliflower" urge.
So made it.  Easy.  Used Sushizu= Sushi Vinegar.

It is a little sweetened vinegar, meaning ready made vinegar for sushi.

Added a little salt and a spoonful sugar and  some chili pepper.
Soaked lightly boiled cauliflower into the vinegar.  Chilled for a while.

Yummy and healthy snack.  

I had a good morning lesson and taught 4 students, two of them were new.
Always enjoy meeting long time students and new ones.  I learn from them, too.

Then worked on translation, enjoyed nice chat with friends and helped an IT engineer with English a bit and then helped by him on setting an e-mail account.

Nice Sunday.  Peaceful and joyful.