Tea Party

Posted June 28th, 2009 in Ume's Interests | 2 Comments »

Today one of my friend came over to my house.  We’ve been friends since we were students at one of English school in Perth.  She just got married with her long time boyfriend who is also from the same school, and they are having a baby!  I’m soooo happy for them.

When they called me up I was so excited and I started making some cream puff (in Japan we call them “choux cream”) using ready-to-make mixture and welcomed them.

They looked so happy, and told me that they just bought a land and building a new house.  This year, 90% of my friends who live here bought houses!  And, 4 people (including myself) is getting married (or already married) this year, and two of them are having babies!  What’s with 2009…?  Happy-rush??

I’ve been also thinking to buy a house, actually.  But I can’t make up my mind as somewhere in head my I’m still thinking to go back to Japan.  Buying a house is a big decision and a big shopping.  I’m not sure I’m ready to settle myself in this country and pay the loan for another OO years…

Anyway I think I’m spending huge amount of money this year…  for my wedding, trip to Japan/Jakarta, housewarming party, wedding gifts, baby gifts etc…

My brother and I are also planning a trip to Las Vegas with my dad as he is turning to 60 next year.  Being 60 is a pretty big occasion in Japan, and usually people stop working and start enjoying their life by receiving superannuation.  I remember my dad saying that he wants to go to casino in Las Vegas, so I really wanna take him there to cereblare.  He, as a normal Japanese man, is a hard-worker and I respect him a lot.  Actually he told me that he still wants to work even after his 60th birthday, and he already got a job for next year after retiring his current job at city hall.  … he sure likes working!  He also takes care of our rice fields too :p  That’s a man who I know as my dad.  Muscular! I don’t know if we can really go on the trip to LV as he desided to continue working, but I wish someday…


Kyoto

Posted June 24th, 2009 in Japan, Ume's Interests | No Comments »

As my home is in Kansai area, I often go to Kyoto and Osaka while I’m in Japan.  It’s about 1 hour away from my house, and just 10 minutes away from my grandma’s house to go to Kyoto by train.  You can drink and eat in the train in Japan, so it’s kind of like a picnic to me.
There are many vending machines, small food court and convenience stores inside of train stations so you can just grab some hot coffee and snack and enjoy it on the train.  Oh, you can only relax if you are sitting down in the train, by the way.  Usually train get crowded around Kyoto station, and you can’t find any seat.  Then, you will have to stand up whole trip and it will be a tiring, sleepy, boring trip.

Kyoto is one of my favorite cities in Japan.  I always recommend it to my foreign friends who want to visit Japan.  Kyoto has long history and you can enjoy visiting historical places and enjoy beautiful views.  Kyoto is famous for its healthy food too.
To me, however, I was born in Japan and always surrounded by those things, so I didn’t really have any interests in visiting historical places while I was young.  I mostly went to Kyoto for shopping and
visiting popular restaurants/cafes.  Now, things changed and I like visiting old temples/shrines on my homecomings.

People I met in Kyoto

2 years ago, I was staying in Japan for few months and one of my friend (from Czechoslovakia) visited Japan.  He asked me to show around Kyoto to him, so we met in front of Kyoto train station and headed to Ume’s Kyoto tour.  … Actually, I didn’t really know where the famous tourist destinations and how to get there :p   So, we went to tourist information concierge desk (which is located on the first floor in Kyoto train station) This place was a helper!  They know everything about Kyoto:  transport, bus/train/subway timetable, nice restaurants, historical buildings, etc etc.  And, they gave us a map written in English.  They also had maps in Korean, Chinese, French etc.
Then, we followed the map and visited lots of famous places in Kyoto.  We didn’t take any bus or subway from the start point.  We could just walk all the way.  …  We really walked a lot!!   but it was very nice trip.  We had delicious food, visited inside of famous temples, and took lots of photos.  One day wasn’t enough, actually.

The area I went with this friend was just a part of Kyoto.  There are more places that you can enjoy in Kyoto.

On this Sep, I’m planning to take my in-laws to Kyoto.  They requested me that they want to see “Japanese” things, so I’m planning to take them to Gion, Kawara-machi and Arashiyama.  We only have one day to spend in Kyoto, so I don’t think we can go other cities.

Gion and Kawaramachi is close and you can walk.  There are things you can do&see between (eg: cafes, restaurants, department stores, Geisha town, game centre, theatre etc) so you won’t get bored.  There is a famous river called Kamo-gawa River in Kawara-machi, and there’re very very nice (and expensive :p) restaurants on the river.  Because the restaurants are on the river, it’s quite cool even in summer, and you can enjoy delicious food while listening to the sound of water in quiet surroundings.  You will forget that you are in middle of Kyoto!

Although the distance between Gion and Kawara-machi is not that long, some people may feel it’s a very long walk.  I prefer walking though, as I can look around things closely and also save some transport fee. 🙂

Arashiyama is a very popular tourist destination. You will need to take a bus, subway or taxi to get there.  The scenery is beautiful, and whole town is quiet.  River and tree, but it’s not like a country side.  You can experience things that you imagine about Japan: experiencing traditional Japanese tea ceremony, wear kimono (Japanese traditional dress) and walk around bamboo forest, eating very traditional and expensive Japanese food (called “Kaiseki Ryori”) etc.  I think my in-laws will love to see this bamboo forest.  This place is  so beautiful!


Japanese Beef Curry

Posted June 24th, 2009 in Food | 2 Comments »

You don’t need to go out for a delicious Japanese curry.  You can simply cook it at home.

  •   1 pack Japanese curry roux
  • 500g casserole beef 
  • 1 onion
  • 1 carrot
  • 1 potato
  • steamed rice to serve
  
  1. Cut beef into cubes.  Dice onion, carrot and potato into chunky pieces.
    Place potato in a bowl and cover with cold water to stop discoloration.
  2. Heat 1 tbs of oil in a sauce pan.  Seal beef over medium high heat, and add onion and carrot.  Stir, and saute over medium to low heat.
  3. Once onion start to look transparent, add 5 and 1/4 cups of water.  Add potato and turn the heat up to bring to boil.  
  4. Turn down the heat to very low, and simmer for 20 – 30 minutes.  Stir occasionally.
  
* You can simmer curry over very low heat longer than 30 minutes.  It makes curry taster if you stew awhile.
In Japan, we even cook curry the day before eating.  Longer you rest curry, deeper the flavor develops.

Mister Donut

Posted June 22nd, 2009 in Eat out in Japan | 2 Comments »

Mister Donut is my favorite donut shop in Japan.  I just love their whole concept : their characters, color theme, variety of food…

They don’t only serve donuts, but also rich shakes, puddings, ramen noodle, yam cha food, pies, muffins etc.  You get point every time you purchase some items, and you can exchange the points to receive character goods.  The round lion (Pon De Lion) is Mister Donut’s main character, and he (she?) is so cute!  I’ve collected its mug, plate, bath towel and aprons so far.

One reason I like Mister Donut is their price.  Very reasonable.  And, you can easily download coupons through their website.  They often do campaign too – ¥100 for the regular donuts.  Cheap and delicious.

 

    

Their new menu is so exciting!  “Donut Burger” and “Pote-Do” are on my things-to-eat list for Japan trip.  Donut Burger is sweet – consisting donut, chocolate pate and sweet sauces.  

  

It’s summer in Japan now, and they are doing summer noodle fare.  Everything is ¥399.


Finger Size Meatballs

Posted June 21st, 2009 in Food | No Comments »

Great items for luch, and tapas party!  They are small enough for kids to grab and eat too.

  • 500g beef mince
  • 1/2 onion
  • 1 tbs bread crumbs
  • 1 egg
  • chopped herbs
  • salt & pepper
  1. Chop onion fine.
  2. Place mince, chopped onion, bread crumbs, egg and chopped herbs in a bowl.  Season.  Using a hand, mix it through until the mixture become little sticky.  Move hand as if you are squeezing a wet sponge.
  3. Shape the mixture into little balls.
  4. Heat little amount of oil in a frying pan, and grill meatballs.
  5. Enjoy with your favorite dipping.

You can simply use pasta sauce for dipping sauce, or make home made tomato sauce for your guests ♪


French x Japanese

Posted June 19th, 2009 in Eat Out in Perth - Japanese Food - | 2 Comments »

A fusion of Japanese and French cuisine has been a big trend since I was a teenager, and now you can find it anywhere in Japan. Even in traditional Japanese restaurant they create a menu using French techniques.

I am one of people who loves this French x Japanese food, and I often went to restaurants to enjoy the delicious food in Japan. The food is so well presented that it makes me feel guilty to eat.

It was actually a sensational experience to me when I had this unique sushi at one of modern Kaiten sushi bar in Kyoto 10 years ago. Sushi rice was cooked in red wine, and thickly sliced roast beef was arranged on the rice with a dash of mustard and shredded white spring onions. It looked wonderful and unique as red wine beautifully colored the rice into vivid red/pink.

In Perth there are few Japanese restaurants who serve some fusion food. One of them is Absolutely Chez Unicho, which used to be in Mosman Park. The Japanese chef creates very nice French x Japanese food. Unfortunately they have closed their restaurant in Perth and moved to Melbourne few months ago.

And, K’s restaurant in North Bridge. I’ve been wanting to go there but haven’t got a chance yet. One of my friend has been there few times and she said the food is nice. They have course meal, and you can choose the course depending on your budget.

Has anyone tried those restaurants? I think I will go to K’s sometime next month.


Yaki Udon

Posted June 17th, 2009 in Food | No Comments »
In Japan there are two main noodles people eat : soba, and udon.  Soba is mainly eaten around Eastern side of Japan = Kantou (eg: Tokyo, Chiba, Kanazawa etc) and udon is mainly eaten around Western side = Kansai (eg: Kyoto, Osaka, Nara etc).  I don’t know why these two regions separate things, but this is true.  Yes, people in Kansai also eat soba, of course, but they eat udon more than soba.  You can find lots of udon restaurants in Kansai area, but I’ve never seen any restaurants which specialize in soba noodle.
I’m from Kansai (Western Japan), so I eat udon a lot.  Actually udon is one of my favorite food.  My friend who is from Eastern Japan says “udon is too heavy” “no taste” “bold” “too chunky” , but I like this food.  In my opinion, soba is just thin buckwheat noodle, and nothing special.  Well I don’t mind eating them but if there’s a choice between udon and soba, I’d go for udon always.
… Anyway, I like udon and usually eat in soup, such as Kitsune udon, Tamago-toji udon, An-kake udon, Zaru udon, Curry udon etc.  Even though I prefer soup udon, I sometimes feel like Yaki udon (stir-fried udon) for a change.  Yaki udon is just stir-fried udon noodle with some vegetables and meat/seafood.  I like the texture; it’s kind of chewy.
I had squid in my freezer, so I cooked Ika (squid) yaki udon.
<Ika Yaki Udon>

  • 1 portion udon noodle
  • 2 tsp soy sauce
  • 1 tsp mirin
  • 1/2 tsp dashi powder
  • 1 tsp oyster sauce
  • 1/2 tsp grated ginger
  • 1 tbs spring onion – chopped
  • 1/8 onion – sliced
  • 1/8 carrot – jullienne
  • few pieces squid – defrosted
  1. If you are using dry udon noodle, you need to cook the noodle in boiling water first.  If you are using frozen udon, briefly defrost in hot water.  If you are using fresh udon, simply pour boiling water over and loosen it up.  Drain.
  2. Heat 1 tbs of oil in a frying pan, and stir-fry sliced onion, carrot and spring onion.  Add squid and ginger together, fry over high heat until well-cooked.
  3. Add udon.  Udon noodle really stick to the pan, so I recommend to add little amount of water into the pan once after adding udon noodle.  Briefly stir-fry (don’t stir too much otherwise udon noodle break and become mushy)
  4. Add sauces and mix through.
  5. Garnish with chopped spring onion, bonito flakes and red ginger.

Japanese Tale

Posted June 15th, 2009 in Japan, Ume's Interests | 3 Comments »

I was told lots of Japanese old tales from my grand parents when I was little.  Some of them are famous stories like “Momo Taro” “Saru Kani Gassen” “Kachi Kachi  Yama” etc, but also they told me about “hell” quite often.

In Japan we say that liars will go to hell after death and get their tongues taken away by Enma as punishment.  We also say that people who go to hell will have to take bath in a pool filled with blood, have to walk on burning stones, and will be slaves of devils for ever.

I don’t remember all the stories that my grand parents told me, but here is one of them …

In hell, hungry people are sit in front of a big table.  There are lots of food on the table and everything looks so delicious.  Now, they can eat all the food as much as they want, but the rule is that they have to use the chopsticks that is 5 metres long.
People try to eat some food using the chopsticks, but they can’t pick up anything because the chopsticks are too long.  They are so hungry, they want to eat!  Everyone looks so furious and crazy; with anger, sadness, grudge and vexation…
One of them cries “There are delicious food in front of me, but I can’t eat.  ‘m so starving…  it is hell, indeed.”

At the same time, there is a same situation going on in heaven.  People are sit before lots of delicious food.  The rule is same: they can eat as much food as they want, but have to use 5 metres long chopsticks.
In haven, however, people start enjoying the food immediately without any troubles.  Their face is so peaceful and happy.  They are actually using the long chopsticks to feed each other!
One of them says, “There are delicious food in front of me, and people help each other to feed.  The food is so delicious, I’m so happy.  It is heaven, indeed.”

The circumstance for both is exactly same.  The difference is the way people think.

Summary: If you change a way of thinking , it can be heaven and hell.

Life is tough and we experience lots of bitter things, but we can at least try finding the way to change what we think of it, and enjoy everyday.  Life is short!  🙂
By the way if you want to tell some of famous Japanese tales, you can find them from here.

One of Ume’s day

Posted June 13th, 2009 in Eat out in Perth, Food | No Comments »

Time passed really quick today!  This morning I went to a church to meet this lady who does flower arrangement.  I’m still looking for someone who can prepare my bouquet and flowers for my wedding :p

I want to cut down the cost on the wedding as much as I can, and I actually don’t really care about flower… any flower will do, I just don’t wanna spend big money on it.

Anyway, I had a chat with the lady, and then went home to pick up my partner for his hair cut.  I always wondered how come his face is covered with lots of tiny hairs after hair cut…  don’t they wash hair and wipe off his face?  In barbers all the customers have to go home and take shower afterwards, or is it only him? :p

So, we went home first so that he could take shower.  Then we headed to Northbridge to have lunch at Big Bowl. I had seafood ho fun and he had beef brisket noodle soup.

You can choose what type of noodle you want, and they cook right after you order.  Of course they make noodle by themselves.  Despite that, food came out pretty quick.

The taste was ok, I think I should try their “cheese noodle” next time.  Gratinated cheese on soup noodle… I’m curious to know how it tastes.  And, pork trotter noodle sounded tempting to me too!

Ummm…  Autumn.

We headed to IKEA for shopping after lunch.  I need to buy some storage unit for my clothes etc…

Tea time.

By the time we left IKEA it was already getting dark outside.

Now I’m just sitting down in the living room to set up the storage unit I bought.  Ummm is there any nice movie on tv tonight?


Just thinking aloud

Posted June 12th, 2009 in Japan | 4 Comments »

As I mentioned on this blog before, cost of living in Perth is pretty expensive…  Everything, the price has been increased a lot in the last couple of years.  Even the price of stamp has changed more than 3 times in few months.  Not only stamps, but also food, house, everything…  I lived in Japan for 20 years, but I didn’t experience such dramatic change on the prices there.  Even now most of things are almost same price as ones in 6 years ago.

I’m not intending to be offensive, but quality of products in Japan are much better than those in Perth.  Considering the quality, they are actually cheaper.  My friend who gave birth to a boy few months ago, she asked her parents to send diapers from Japan to here.  Even though there is a postage fee, the total price was almost same: plus better quality of diapers :p

I also buy lots of things in Japan and bring them back here.  It’s really shame that Australia has very strict regulation on importing products.  By the way my friend told me that her friend who had a wedding in Perth actually got her bouquet sent from Japan!  I wonder how she did it… or maybe the person was in other country?  I don’t think you can get fresh flower imported to Australia.

I don’t usually go shopping in Perth, so I become a shopaholic while in Japan.  Everything I see make me want to buy it.  I really need to tighten the purse string in September…

Because my in-laws are coming to Japan with me, I’m going to lots of places around Kansai area.  I’m going to take them to Kyoto (Gion, Arashiyama, Kawara-machi) and Osaka (Nanba, Shinsaibashi, Umeda, Nankou etc) so there will be lots of chances of me buying things.  I don’t really crave to go to Tokyo area, but people who want to visit Japan; espacially Tokyo, will need to prepare lots of money for shopping!

… by the way this is my current favorite song ↓↓↓

Aishiteru

Monkey Majik is a Japanese band composed of two Canadians and two Japanese.  Apparently the vocals are Canadians, but their Japanese sounds perfect!  I didn’t know this group until my hubby showed me their MV.  They apparently have released few albams in the past.  This song is a theme song of drama series called “Aishiteru ~Kaiyo~”(アイシテル~海容~)