Japanese Language is … Difficult!

Posted July 30th, 2010 in Ume's Interests | 2 Comments »

Yes, I am Japanese and I speak Japanese.  But, Japanese language is very unique, and the people in different area have different accent and sometimes speak different words.  The standard Japanese that you may know is the formal Japanese language and most of the people around Tokyo speak this language.  

I’m from Western side of Japan and I speak Kansai language.  The basic words are the same as the standard Japanese, but people can tell I’m from Western side by listening me talk.  
As a Kansai person, I feel that it’s much easier for Tokyo people (the people who speak the standard Japanese) to speak polite Japanese.  The polite Japanese is very similar to the standard Japanese language.
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Why I’m writing this is because I recently received a complain at work that my Japanese is not good.  They said what I said sounded very rude :p
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Some people say Kansai language sounds “rude” “casual” and “offensive” :p  (It’s the stereo type, as almost all yakuza speak Kansai language)  but, this recalled my another experience that I had few years ago.
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I went back to Japan for about 6 months after graduating the school here, and I worked in a hotel near my house.  As you know, Japan’s society is very strict.  I had to speak politely to everyone including coworkers.  One day, I did something wrong and I wanted to apologize.  I said “Gomen-nasai”.  Then, the boss got even angrier and told me 「”Gomen-nasai”?  You shouldn’t use the word “Gomen-nasai”, you should be saying “Sumimasen-deshita”!」
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“Gomen-nasai” and “Sumimasen”  both means “sorry”, and I didn’t understand the difference and why the boss was so angry.  According to him, Gomen-nasai sounds more casual than “Sumimasen”…
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I’m not good at polite speech anyway.  Hmm…  Japanese language can be very complicated sometimes..
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Nikuman (Japanese Char Siu Pow)

Posted July 29th, 2010 in Food | 13 Comments »

Another winter food I miss is nikuman!

“Niku” means “meat”, and “man” is short word for “manju”.  It’s like a Japanese version of char siu pow, but it tastes different from those you see at yam char restaurants.

Nikuman is a popular winter fast food in Japan and you can buy them at many places during winter including convenience stores: Lawson, Seven Eleven, Family Mart, Cercle K, etc etc….  I love nikuman!  We just call nikuman, but there are several types in different flavors, including “pizza-man”, “an-man” and “curry-man”.  (sounds like character names in cartoon :p )  Different shops sell different flavors.

The good thing about buying nikuman from convenience stores is that you can buy it ANYTIME during winter, as convenience stores open 24 hours.  Whenever you feel like it, you can just grab the hot juicy nikuman and eat straight away.  And, the price is also the good part.  One nikuman costs around 100 yen ~ 150 yen.  Very cheap yet delicious snack. 😀

I just miss the juicy nikuman…. (><)  My favorite is the standard nikuman (different shop = different taste, and some shop use different pork meat such as black pork and try to stand out from others) …

Oh, when I went to China town in Yokohama, I had the most delicious nikuman from a stall.  It was huge, and the meat was very very tender.  “551 Horai” is also famous for its nikuman.  This shop is originally from Osaka.  (website)


Japan and Perth..

Posted July 28th, 2010 in Ume's Interests | 6 Comments »

I recently heard from my friends who moved to Japan permanently.  They said that the house they bought is very nice, and I should be visiting them on my next homecoming.  Sure I will! 🙂

They mentioned that they almost forgot how great the Japan’s services are.  For example, there was a problem in the electricity in their house, and they contacted Tokyo Power (like Westernpower here) and asked if the electricity could be fixed sometime soon.  It was Saturday and they seemed to be very busy, but the operator promised that the staff would visit the house within 1 hour.  And, they did.

If it was in Perth, we would probably have to wait their responses at least for few hours, I guess.  And, even if they promise to come and see what’s wrong, they don’t usually come straight away, or not on time. 🙁

Oh, and I’m really tired…. and feel sorry for my husband!  I’ve been waiting and waiting for my car to be ready to be picked up, but no phone call from the dealer yet.  My husband takes me/picks me up from the work every day even though he is busy for his own work.  As I wrote about the dealer before, they said they didn’t have black but they have silver.  I assumed that they have silver being ready to be sold.

I called them up today to see what’s happening.  Then, they told me that they had been actually preparing a SILVER LEAF for me.  And, they said they don’t have silver at the moment, and are still waiting for the delivery to arrive.  It will be another one and half weeks……   I NEED A CAR!

I was so upset… again!  First, they told me that they had black car, so I signed on the contract.  Then, they said they didn’t have black and offered me a silver.  Now, they said they didn’t even have a silver??? (@_@)

I can’t believe it… I’m used to this type of thing since I came to Perth, but still!  I sometimes really miss Japan..

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Undercover Boss

Posted July 27th, 2010 in Ume's Interests | 2 Comments »

I watched a tv show “Undercover Boss” last night on channel 10.  It’s the first time to watch this show (I think there’s one previous episode the other day) and yesterday boss was Seven Eleven’s CEO.  He traveled around the country worked undercover in stores, bakeries, coffee outlets, in the distribution centre etc.

I thought it was a really interesting concept.  Especially Seven Eleven is the company I used to work while I was a student in Japan, and my mum still works there.   I emailed her as soon as I finished watching the tv show.

I know there are many many food waste 3 times per day at convenience stores (not only Seven Eleven) and it happens everyday nonstop.  In Japan the shops throw away onigiri, bento, pasta… everything as soon as they are expired.  I’m not sure about America, but in Japan each item has a sticker of “expiry time”.  If there is a bento with an expiry sticker saying “15:00 22/Feb”, and if it’s 15:01, shop staff must throw it away in the bin.  It’s the safety standard thing.  But, of course, food doesn’t go bad immediately after the expiry time, they are still edible.  But at the time I was in Japan, it was a company policy that any expired food must not be taken or eaten by shop staff.  They must be thrown away.

I think it’s very good that this American CEO is considering to build up the charity process for the expired food.  I just can’t stand watching the food which are still edible thrown away to the bin…

Japan should also consider the charity or do something about the waste – expired food –  It could save people’s lives.

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Colourful Rice Balls (onigiri)

Posted July 26th, 2010 in Food | No Comments »

As I mentioned before, steamed rice is an essential item for Japanese cuisine.  We sometimes eat just rice and tea as a meal.  A rice ball (onigiri) is a very common snack food which can be purchased at convenience stores, super markets and kiosks at train stations.  (Normally in triangle shape)

When we make bento, we sometimes shape the rice into balls or triangles to enjoy the looks.  This colorful rice balls look cute and I sure want to use it as a bento item if I’m making one 🙂   You can also arrange the ingredients and make your own color of onigiri.

When making onigiri, the rice has to be hot.  Normally we shape the rice with bare hands, with a bowl of salted water to dip the hands before handling hot rice.  You can also shape onigiri using a plastic wrap film if you don’t want to use your hands.

<Colourful Rice Balls>  makes 1 set

Ume (pickled plum):

  • 50g steamed rice
  • 1 ume
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  1. Deseed the ume if it contains seed.  Mash the ume in a small bowl, and mix with hot steamed rice.
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Katsuo:
  • 50g steamed rice
  • 1 tbs bonito flakes
  • few drops soy sauce
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  1. Mix everything in a small bowl.
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Aonori:
  • 50g steamed rice
  • 1tbs aonori powder
  • 1/2 tsp roasted sesame seeds (white and black each)
  • 1 pinch of salt
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  1. Mix everything in a small bowl.
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Sausage…

Posted July 24th, 2010 in Food | 4 Comments »

I’ve been having such a big craving for … sausage!  I don’t know why, I just feel like eating the juicy, chunky sausage meat.  So, yesterday I run down to a butcher and bought several kinds of sausages – pork, chicken, steak and herb, and italian cheese.

I grilled them at home, and ate with grain mustard.  Before eating, I was so looking forward to enjoying the sausages… all the name (steak and herb, Italian cheese…) sounded so yummy!  But, unfortunately I didn’t enjoy. 🙁

I realised what I was looking for was something similar to Japanese sausages.  The sausages here are very meaty, and too fatty to me.  I couldn’t finish eating them all.  Heartburning….

The left photo is the Japanese sausage, and the right photo is the normal sausage you normally see around here.  The right one looks yummy, isn’t it?  But, I prefer the Japanese one 🙂  Japanese sausage can be eaten as it is: I think it’s a type of processed food like ham or bacon.  The meat is not raw, and you can eat as it is, boiled, or grilled.

I love the taste of the Japanese sausages.  The best brand is “Nippon Ham –  Shauessen” sausage.  What’s so good about it?  The difference is, the skin!  When it’s cooked, it has the very crisp skin and you can hear the sound when you snap the sausage into half.  See the video at Nippon Ham Website.

The best way to eat Japanese sausage is boiling. You cook them in a pot of boiling water for 3 minutes, the flavor and fat come together, and eat while they are hot.  I loooooove eating them with spicy grain mustard.

I may like Japanese sausages just because they are the one I had been eating since I was little.  Have anyone eaten Japanese sausages before?  I don’t know if foreign people also like Japanese sausages, or it’s just us.

Japanese sausages are available at some Asian grocery shop in Perth, but they are sold “frozen”.  I’ve never tried them, the taste may be different..


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Miso Soup

Posted July 22nd, 2010 in Food | 6 Comments »

On a cold day like this, I have a craving for hearty miso soup.  Miso soup doesn’t always have to be with simply tofu or wakame.  The variety is endless and you can add any ingredients according to what you feel like drinking.

Miso is usually made from soy bean (some miso paste is made from rice, wheat, or barley) and it is a good source of protein, dietary fiber and minerals.  I know some Japanese ingredients are high in salt, including miso paste and soy sauce.  It is because Japan is an island country (salt could be obtained from the ocean easily), and also because of the Japan’s traditional diet.  

Traditional meal always consists of rice as a “main food”, and some side dishes.  To eat rice, side dishes had to be salty to accompany the bland taste of steamed rice.  Miso soup, pickles, seasoned nori sheets, grilled fish with a sprinkle of salt are the examples.  A Rice ball (onigiri) has been a popular lunch item since loong time ago in Japan for kids and husbands who work outside, and it was just a shaped steamed rice with salt back then.  Nowadays, onigiri usually contains a nori sheet, or some kind of seasonings.  

Go back to the miso soup..  I had a craving for a simple tofu miso soup last night, so I made it this morning for breakfast.  To me, the miso soup has to be super hot.  But, when you make miso soup you can’t boil it after adding the miso paste to the soup otherwise it’ll lose the flavor.  And, to me the tofu for the miso soup has to be silken one.  I love the texture.

While in Japan my favorite miso soup (other than tofu) was shijimi (tiny clam) miso soup, cabbage miso soup, and onion miso soup.  If you go to sushi bar in Japan you can enjoy lobster miso soup or fish head miso soup.  They are quite tasty too 😀

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Good Bye Jazz

Posted July 21st, 2010 in Perth WA | No Comments »

I passed my car to the buyer today and completed all the ownership transfer process.  Now I just need to wait until my new car is ready to be picked up…

Oh, by the way the dealer called me again and asked …

“Ume, did you want the SILVER or SILVER LEAF?”

……  SILVER, please.  I will be really mad if they mistake the color again (@_@)

Before I passed my car to the buyer, I asked a cleaning company to wash my car.  I wanted the car to be sparkling clean before giving to someone.  I’ve known the cleaner for quite a long time as they clean my office, and they do a really great job each time.

It was the first time to ask them for washing a car … well, I’ve never asked anyone to wash my car before, as I normally do it myself.  Maybe that’s the reason, but my car was always little dusty and I really thought I needed to replace the whole front screen.  The front screen was not transparent anymore, and I thought it was because of the damage from the strong sunlight in WA. :p

After the car wash…..   I was amazed!  I thought I was driving a brand new car.  There was no single dust, the little scratches around key hole were gone, the black body was shining, and…. the front screen was very very transparent.  You wouldn’t know if there is a glass in front of you.  This is how pro cleans….  Unbelievable.

Oh, I totally recommend this cleaner!  They are very friendly husband and wife, and the wife is Japanese.  Their website is still under construction, but I will update it later when it’s out. 😀

Contact: 044 918 0017

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Maccha Banana Shake

Posted July 21st, 2010 in Food | No Comments »

As I bought lots of banana from a market and they started to turn black already, I decided to finish them up by making a banana drink!

I didn’t have much ingredients to use in the fridge, so I just added milk and honey to taste.  With a dash of maccha green tea powder, it turned out to be delicious 🙂

It was little thick, just how I like it.

<Maccha Banana Shake> makes 1 glass

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  • 1 monkey banana (or 1/2 normal banana)
  • 1/2 cup milk
  • 1 tsp honey
  • 1/2 tsp Maccha powder
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  1. Place all the ingredients in a blender, and mix until combined.
  2. Pour into a glass, and dust with extra maccha powder.
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Tomato Curry with Somen Noodle

Posted July 20th, 2010 in Food | 4 Comments »

Somen Noodle + curry??  It sounds a little mismatch, but spicy tomato curry does go with simple somen noodle.  Enjoy with lots of mushroom ♪

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<Somen Tomato Curry with Chicken and Mushroom> serves 4

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  • 1 chicken breast fillet
  • 2 baby eggplants
  • 1 pack shimeji mushroom
  • 2~3 button mushrooms
  • 1/2 medium onion
  • 1 clove garlic
  • 1 tsp minced ginger
  • 2 tbs curry powder
  • 100ml sake (cooking wine)
  • 400g tomato tin, peeled
  • 100~150ml chicken stock
  • 1 bay leaf
  • salt, sugar and pepper to taste
  • 200g somen noodle
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  1. Bring the large pot of water to the boil, and cook somen noodle.  Drain and set aside.
  2. Peel a part of the skin on baby eggplants.  Halve lengthwise, then cut each halves into 1 cm. Leave them in a bowl of cold water.
  3. Cut chicken into pieces.  Chop onion and garlic.  Slice cup mushrooms. Separate shimeji into small pieces.
  4. In a large frying pan, heat 1 tbs of olive oil and grill the chicken.  When it’s coloured, add garlic, ginger and onion and saute.
  5. Add mushrooms, and saute for few minutes.  Add curry powder, and cook for another few minutes.
  6. Drain the egg plants and add to the pan.  Pour sake, chicken stock and tomato into the pan, and bring to the gentle boil.  Reduce the heat, add a bay leaf and place the lid.  Simmer for 10 minutes.  Season to taste.
  7. Divide the somen noodle into the serving bowls, and pour the curry over.  Serve while hot.
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