Thursday, December 23, 2010

Xmas in Japan! 5 Fooooooood love

How can I not have a page dedicated to Japanese food?
This here is a Udon bowl (more specifically a Kake udon) with scallop. Udon is a thick-wheat noodle with a warm soup made from dashi (fish broth), shoyu, and mirin (cooking rice wine). Udon originate from China, coming to Japan via Buddhist priests during the 8th century. It was originally only consumed by the nobility, but surpassed soba in popularity during the Edo period thanks to the production of shoyu. Thank God, it's so good, I would hate not to be able to afford such tastiness :)

Beef Curry after a Mandolin concert at Kitara concert hall (looks very much like Walt Disney concert hall! Apparently Yo-Yo Ma played here once some years ago). I've noticed Japanese people like to take other cultures' food and make it their own (Udon from China, Curry from India, Tempura from Portugal, etc). Curry supposedly came to Japan at the end of the Edo period when the ports re-opened. The first curry recipe was introduced in Japan in 1872. The Japanese were eager to adopt the Western ways including food (the West at the time was consuming curry, which they were exposed to thanks to colonies), but it was super expensive! By 1910, the common curry recipe of rice, onion, carrots, and potatoes was invented. Due to its nutritional value and easiness to make, the Japanese army adopted this recipe. It is one of the most common, popular dishes found in Japan today! You can find curry bread, curry soup, curry udon, curry nato (stinky beans) and much more! That's how much love there is for curry!

Oyako-don or "parent-and-child donburi." (because it's made with chicken and egg... kinda eerie imagery, I know.) Donburi's are sweet or savory stems simmered over a bowl of rice. This dish apparently was shortly invented before the 5th National Exposition that promoted Osaka industries. It's hard to find a delicious oyako-don in Japan, but I discovered this place when I was fourteen and I come here every time I come to Japan! It's in a small restaurant on the top floor of Daimaru. The egg is not over-cooked and neither is the chicken. It also comes with a nice bowl of traditional kake udon (plus a fish cake).
Another donburi, this is Unagi-don or broiled eel. I love the smokey flavors of broiled
(freshwater) eel! You can get cheap unagi, but it's worth cashing out on because good unagi is
simply DIVINE! There are many shops that specialize in selling unagi. This unadon also came
with a salad, a broth in which to put the eel's heart in (heart is on small dish in center).

Sushi at Hakodate! BEST. SUSHI. EVER. Hakodate is an old port that used to be a bigger city than Sapporo. Those days are gone now. But being a port means access to ocean and access to ocean means super fresh fish. Apparently, sushi can be traced back to 4th century BC Southeast Asia. It was more of a preserved fish dish: salted fisht fermented with rice (nare-zushi). This was taken out a few months later and was eaten, the rice discarded. Soon it spread through China and made it's way to Japan in the 8th century AD (Heian Period). The Japanese liked to eat the fish partly raw with the rice (seisei-zushi). During the Edo period, the Japanese started making Haya-zushi, which was a way to eat both rice and fish. Here, rice was combined with vinegar and put together not only with raw fish, but also with vegetable and other preserves. Probably one of the most distinct Japanese dishes out there.

Hamba-gu from Burger chain Bikkuri-Donki! I got the hamba-gu + curry set. No need to go over curry history :) Hamba-bu is the Japanese-take on the Salisbury steak. It is made with a combination of meat (usually a combination of pork and beef), onions, eggs, hamburger spices, and panko (instead of bread crumbs). Usually served with a side of shredded cabbage or salad. No buns with this burger!

Monday, December 20, 2010

The Real Food Truck

The real food truck. Period.

Tako-Yaki truck (A dough ball containing octopus)

Sunday, December 19, 2010

Xmas in Japan! 4 Munich Xmas in Sapporo!

German Xmas in Sapporo!? I just keep running into German culture wherever I go it seems! (A sign that I have to learn German :P)

Down in the heart of Sapporo Koen (Sapporo Park), there's a German
market going. This is suppose to go on till the 25th. There's a lot of food stands and decoration stands. The decoration aren't all German though (lots of Russian, which makes sense since Hokkaido is very close to Russia).

I got me some currywurst with potato salad and pretzel. Wasn't feeling up for beer (I was standing in the
snow) so I got warm amazake (sweet rice wine) to heat myself up. There are lots of foreigners here!

The park is well known for their snow festival with snow and ice sculptures, which I've been to a number of times when I was younger. It appears their Xmas attraction are lights! They are beautiful!

Thursday, December 16, 2010

X'Mas in Japan! 3

Stepped into TokyuHands! Here's a brief looksy ofwhat department stores are like during the X'mas season!

Giant Pocky boxes. Like a stocking stuffer :D

Year 2011 is the year of the Rabbit. You need to get ready for the New Year's too.

More New Year's decorations. Lots of bunnies!

A Xmas Tree shelf selling little Xmas decoration. Probably not the best pic, but hey, it shows that they're selling!
Fondu sets have been popular this year...

Xmas party hats.
Xmas goodies! Can you see the Xmas shoe? they're very popular in Japan. They're mainly filled with candy with wrappers of popular kid's anime.

Tuesday, December 14, 2010

X'Mas in Japan! 2

Spent majority of the day in Harajuku today! Soooo many people here!

Before heading into the infamous Harajuku land (made famous thanks to Mz. Gwen), made a quick stop at Meiji Jingu. This Shinto Shrine has one of every type of tree you can find in Japan. It truly is beautiful! Walking in, I felt this sense of peace descend upon me. This shrine gets very packed during New Year's celebration. Everyone wants to come here to make their first New year prayers for some reason. After wandering around the pebbly road, taking in the sight, we turned around and headed back into the heart of Harajuku.

The energy is so different compared to the calm shrine! The road was packed and there was so much commotion wherever you looked! It was really draining.... But there was a lot to see! There are many creperies in Harajuku. Crepes are very popular among the teens. Cheap and delicious. Very good reasons. I ordered a strawberry, chocolate, and vanilla ice cream crepe. You cannot go to Harajuku without eating a crepe. Period.

The walls are covered with graffiti which I guess isn't so unusual for a city. In other parts of Japan, however, you are very unlikely to see it because cleanliness is highly prized here. I
passed by some flower shops which had more than your typical pointsettias.
Little ornaments dangling from the ceiling, reindeer logs, shrubs that look like xmas trees, and more. The flowers are gorgeous here! I have not once seen a brown spot on ANY plants here! I'm also digging the random Andy Warhol disply :)

Saturday, December 11, 2010

X'Mas in Japan!

Here I am in Tokyo in the middle of December! I've gone to Japan many times before growing up, but never have I spent a X'mas away from home! I am quite excited to see what the holidays are like over here (especially the New Year!).

Took a flight first class to Narita Airport. Lucky me, I got to get off the plane with two bottles of wine for FREE! Score!

I am over at my older brother's place, he is currently living in Tokyo for his new job :)) Tokyo is pretty chilly, but there's no snow. Regardless, it is too cold for a Californian. There were a lot of blue lights decorating the bushes outside. Some white, but mainly blue. Not a big fan.

Also have a final paper to still finish... Off to Starbucks!

Super excited to begin my Christmas adventures in Japan!

Tuesday, August 10, 2010

Wonderful Memories of HarpMasters

10 days have past and beautiful memories and friendships have been formed!

I met many amazing girls and gained more confidence in myself as a musician and harpist! My performance of the Fire Dance by David Watkins went decently (I got a blood blister that popped... I bled on the harp.) and now my solo trip solo Europe begins tomorrow!

I'm gonna miss everyone here! I hope and plan to come back next year :)

Wednesday, August 4, 2010


Won't lie, not a huge fan of Swiss food...

However, the food I'm being served at the hotel I'm staying at is HORRIBLE! Found dead flies in my pasta on more than one occasion :(

Decided to go out of way and head to Bern to get some decent food. I settled with Bratwurst Rosti while my companion went with Egg and Bacon Rosti.

When lined up against over-cooked pasta, flavorless bread and dry salad; these rosti's were DIVINE! We are starving musicians/artists! :D

Rosti is considered a national dish in Switzerland. The basic dish is fried, grated potatoes (similar to hash browns) and depending on the region, is usually topped with onions, herbs, cheese and/or meats.

Definitely savored every bite.

Friday, July 30, 2010

Muchenbuchsee for HarpMasters!

Finally in Bern! Got a little sick of Zurich... It's not for me :/

Actually arrived here yesterday (which was my 21st birthday! Unfortunately, I couldn't find anyone to flash my ID at to prove I am now legal. It's Europe). It's a very different vibe from Zurich, probably because it's farmland! It's beautiful though! See for yourself:

Cow's on the way to the music school!

Scenery walking to school #1 Field of Grain

Scenery walking to school #2 Swiss Alps!

Tuesday, July 27, 2010

Day 2 in Zurich

Visited the National Swiss Museum today . Here some pics!

Carriage at entrance

Of course, there's a Swiss Knife Exhibit

Blade with over 300 knives... Defeats the purpose of a POCKET knife, don't you think? For a Neutral country, Switzerland has a strange obsession with knives...

Monday, July 26, 2010

Hello From Zurich, Switzerland!

Zurich train station

Hello from Zurich! It's 9 PM here and the sun is STILL out! It gets pitch black around 7PM in California, so this sunlight is all a shocker to me :P

This is my first time in Europe and I am quite excited! Well, I take that back, I've been to Europe a once upon a time when I was younger, but I was too young to really appreciate it then. I am here to attend a Harp workshop called Harpmasters. It's located near Bern in a town called Muchenbuchsee, but I'm gonna hang out in Zurich for three days before making my way over. Super stoked :)

View from a Church tower

Sprungli Confectionary Shop in Zurich. BircherMuesli.

Yeah, so far Swiss food has not really appealed to me.... The prices aren't helping either (-_-) I am a sucker for oatmeal though and I just discovered muesli! I'm hooked! Apparently, Lindt's confectionary shop, Sprungli, is famouse for their Bircher Muesli. HAD to get it of course! Price is not an issue here :P With that, I got chamomille tea and a box of four Luxemburgerli (basically a lighter version of Parisian macarons).

The muesli was very refreshing! Perhaps I don't have enough Muesli experience to really talk about Muesli... But I love the texture of it and how light it was! The little bread that came with it was nothing to rave about, but carbs are always much appreciated :)

Muesli is basically a popular cereal containing uncooked oats, fruits and nuts. It's health food created by doctor Maximillian Bircher-Benner for his patients during the 1900's. Traditionally, it was originally eaten with orange juice instead of the milk/yogurt we see today.

Some health benefits listed on Wikipedia are:
  • Muesli is packed with nutrients from fresh fruits and vegetables that can reduce the risk of cancer.
  • The oat content of Muesli helps lower cholesterol concentration and the risk of atherosclerosis.
  • Some of its nuts content like walnuts is rich in omega 3 fatty acids which is also good for the heart and development of the nervous system.
  • The presence of manganese in Muesli along with low saturated fats keeps your heart safe.
  • It reduces the risk of cancer and other age-related diseases.
  • It lowers glycemic index which controls diabetes.
  • Fulfills the daily fiber requirement: In this age of processed food, very few people are able to achieve their daily fiber requirement through regular meals. Muesli being a very rich source of dietary fiber - both soluble and insoluble - helps in lowering the blood cholesterol level. The soluble fiber (beta-glucans) in muesli helps in avoiding dramatic changes in blood sugar level. It also relives constipation by improving the bowel moment in the intestinal tract.
  • The oats and nuts present in muesli constitute of a phytochemical known as lignans. This phytochemical agent helps in reducing the chances of breast cancer, ovarian cancer and prostate cancer.
Sounds pretty good to me!
The site also has the original Bircher-Benner Muesli recipe if any of ya'll are interested :)