What is Yakiniku

Posted October 31st, 2009 in Food | No Comments »

Yakiniku is Japanese style indoor BBQ.  We use a table top hot plate, and cook meat, seafood and vegetables on it.  We cook on the table, and eat from the table.  One the food is cooked, pick it up and dip in a sauce (or sometimes with lemon juice, salt, miso sauce etc) then eat!  

I do yakiniku often at home, because there is no much preparation for it.  I just need to cut meat and vegetables, then it’s dine.  After that I just sit back, turn on the tv and relax while enjoying yakiniku on the table in front of me.

Mainly I use yakiniku sauce as dipping sauce which I buy from a grocery shop.  (Ebara brand is the popular one in Japan)  It goes with any meat such as beef, chicken, pork, as well as vegetables and seafood.  For beef tongue, I prefer eating with just a squeeze of lemon juice and a sprinkle of salt.  It’s delicious.

I sometimes enjoy yakiniku with ponzu sauce.  Add grated daikon radish into ponzu, it becomes very refreshing.

Enjoy with steamed rice, or just few beers. 🙂

Hair Salon in Japan and Jakarta

Posted October 29th, 2009 in Jakarta | 2 Comments »

My hair is now getting messy again and need to get trimmed …  It’s shame that I didn’t have time to go to a hair salon while I was in Japan.  I think I need to color my hair soon too..  My hair is originally dark dark black, and not straight.  My mum used to cut my hair when I was little, and I always looked like I was wearing a black helmet :p  I don’t like my hair because it’s little wavy, and go messy if I don’t take care of it using treatment and hair wax.

I’m flying off to Jakarta sometime soon and I’m thinking if I should go to a hair salon there… but I doubt if they can do the job as I expect.  I mean, I can’t speak Indonesian and they normally don’t speak English, so it’s gonna be hard to communicate and tell them how I want my hair to be done.  

If I end up going to a salon, I will be with mother-in-law.  If she goes to a salon, she offer me to get “cream bath”.  … I think I wrote about it long time ago on this blog, but when I heard about this “cream bath” thing I thought it was something like a “special treatment”.  Then I found out that hair salons in Jakarta and Japan are pretty different.  :p  I was surprised when they used cold water for shampooing too!  It was a kind of culture shock…  

I think some foreign people will experience culture shock too when they visit Japan’s salon.  I mean, there are some weird hair salons across Japan.  One of them is “maid salon”, where all the staff wear costume of maid and serve you.  It is a kind of cos-pure (short term for costume-play in Japanese)  Some of the salons have a few different kinds of costumes, and their services don’t only limit on hair-cut but also nail care, heard spa, ear cleaning…  Of course they are targeting on male customers ( ? ) though customers are not allowed to take photos inside and touch the staffs.

Well, I heard that hair salons in Perth don’t normally do shampoo and hair-blow as a service (or include in their prices).  If so, do customers go home with hair all over their clothes?  Or with wet hair?   It’s just surprising to me that Japanese salon usually does shampooing and blow-dry as a part of the procedure.

Except for the surprise of cold water, hair salon in Jakarta was fun to me.  Once they spread “cream” on my head, 2~3 staff come over to me and start to massage my arms and shoulders.  Ummm writing about this makes me want to get the massage!  Yes I think I will go to a hair salon in Jakarta.  Not for a hair cut, but a massage perhaps :p

Grand Opening of Esther’s

Posted October 28th, 2009 in Perth WA, Ume's Interests | 2 Comments »

Again, another good news!  Esther’s, a Chinese style bakery shop in Northbridge, is opening its second shop in Winthrop Shopping Village this Friday October 30.  Esther’s in Northbridge has been there for about 1 year or so (I think) and the bread and cakes are popular among Japanese people too.  

On the opening day, you can buy the first 3 items including buns, tarts, cake slices for $1.00 each.  Sweet bread, pandan cake, savoury buns…  $1.00 each is a really good deal!  The normal retail price applies from the third item.  

This special offer is available only in the shop in Withrop village on Friday October 30.  

Shop 25 Winthrop Shopping Village (cnr Somerville Boulevard &Jackson Avenue)

OPEN 7 days, 8:30am ~ 6:00pm

Gather up for Free Donuts!

Posted October 27th, 2009 in Perth WA, Ume's Interests | No Comments »

I was browsing today’s community paper just now, and I saw a ad of Dreamy Donuts (I wrote about the donuts in here) saying that they are giving away donuts for FREE!!

On October 24 the first Dreamy Donuts store in Booragoon opened its doors, and they are cerebrating by giving away free donuts for 5 minutes every hour on the hour between 10am and 2pm this Saturday, October 31!  This “Free for Five” promotion is only available in Booragoon store in Garden City shopping centre (near Wendy’s, T2 area).  

If you live somewhere around Perth, why don’t you take advantage of this offer?  Free glazed donuts … remember, it limits one donut per person.  The family with lots of kids must go to Garden City this Saturday. 🙂

Food You Like and Dislike

Posted October 27th, 2009 in Food, Ume's Interests | 2 Comments »

Since I was a kid, eating was one of my hobby and I could eat almost any food.  The common food that kids normally dislike include green capsicums (called “pi-man” in Japanese), carrots, tomatoes… basically vegetables.  Like other kids, pi-man wasn’t my favorite food either because of its bitter taste, but I started to like it since I was 10.  Now it’s one of my favorite food.


<ref: www.syokuiku.net/>

To reduce kids’ dislike food, Japan’s school including kindergarden started to take “food education” seriously and worked hard to make kids like vegetables.  Most of schools in Japan (mainly public schools)  serve lunch to students (called “kyuushoku”), and cooks prepare meals to students everyday.  Those cooks try to make the food interesting to kids, so that kids would eat them and reduce their dislike food.  They cut vegetables into shapes of stars and hearts, and create a face or some scene with those cut vegetables.     

To recall my memory, I started to like lots of food as I aged.  I hated natto (fermented soy bean), rakkyo (a kind of pickles), umeboshi (pickled plum), chili powder, wasabi, etc etc before, but I love most of them.  (now I even love eating fresh chili and sambal)   I also didn’t like beer few years ago, but now I often feel like drinking it.

There are actually three food that I still can’t eat …  and I had never been able to eat them since I was a kid.  They are raw eggs, yama-imo (yam potatoes) and okura (okra).   I think the reason is their slimy texture…  Lots of Japanese enjoy a bowl of steamed rice mixed with raw egg and soy sauce, but I hate it and watching people eating it makes me feel like vomiting.. :p

Anyway, I may be able to eat all of them eventually as I age, but I’m not sure…  I can’t think about it at this point!  Do you have any food that you never thought you could eat them but it happened to be your favorite food??  Aging changes people’s food preferences … I think so.

Spicy & Juicy Deep-fried Chicken (Kara-Age)

Posted October 26th, 2009 in Food | No Comments »

I made kara-age with chicken breast the other day, and it turned out beautiful.  Normally Japanese use chicken thigh meat for kara-age.  Not only for Kara-age, actually;  Japanese eat thigh meat very often.  Yakitoki (grilled chicken on skewers), stir-fry, steam board, yakiniku etc.. thigh meat is mainly used for all of them.  On the other hand people prefer breast meat in Australia.  My in-laws don’t even eat chicken thigh, they only eat breast meat.

The reason why Japanese prefer thigh is that it’s juicier and tastier.  When you cook same dish with thigh and breast, the one with breast has less taste and is more dry.  Although thigh meat contains higher calorie and cholesterol,  Japanese still prefer it.

So, when I cook something for in-laws I have to use breast meat.  (otherwise they can’t eat)   With this recipe, the meat stays juicy and is very tasty.  The key is to marinade just 30 mins ~ 1 hour before cooking.

<Spicy & Juicy Kara-Age>

  • 300 g (1 fillet) chicken breast
  • 1 tsp minced ginger
  • 1 tsp minced garlic
  • 1/2 tbs soy sauce
  • 1 tbs sake (cooking wine)
  • 1/2 tsp cajun spice
  • plain flour to dust
  1. Slice chicken breast into the size you like.
  2. Place chicken meat in a bowl or plastic bag with all the other ingredients, then marinate in the fridge for 30 minutes to 1 hour.
  3. Heat oil in a pan to 165 degree (low).
  4. Coat chicken pieces with flour, and deep-fry for 3 minutes.  Turn them around, and fry another side for 3 more minutes.
  5. Remove chicken pieces from the oil.  Turn up the heat to 180 degree (high).
  6. Again, drop the chicken pieces into the hot oil.  Cook until it;s colored and crispy.
  7. Drain oil and serve with Japanese mayonnaise 🙂
The process of “twice deep-frying” gives kara-age crispy and juicy texture.  You can also use corn flour instead of plain flour.

Burger King in Japan

Posted October 23rd, 2009 in Japan, Ume's Interests | No Comments »

Burger King Japan cerebrates the release of new Microsoft OS “Windows 7” with a limited burger – called “Windows 7 Whopper”.  As you can see on the photo above, 7 layers of 113g beef patty are stacked between a 13cm bun.  

This Windows 7 Whopper is available until 28th October at Burger King in Japan, and the first 30 customers on each day can get it for 777 yen.  (Windows “7“)  The normal price is 1450 yen.

I’m not sure if I’m brave enough to try this burger…  but it sure sounds tempting!

Wasabi and Green Tea

Posted October 22nd, 2009 in Perth WA | 2 Comments »

There is a newly opened shop in Victoria Park which sells some Japanese products.  The name of the shop is “Wasabi and Green Tea”…  very Japan-like. 🙂

Even though the size of the shop is not super big, the variety of the product is huge!  There are some stationary, kitchen ware, clothes, bags, and even food are available in this shop.

When I visited this shop the owner lady showed me some products, and explained what they are.  For example, the donabe (the first picture above) she sells is not really made of clay, but with aluminium.  Which means, it’s very light in weight and can be used for both gas stove and IH.  

The variety of tea is amazing.  Some of them are directly imported from Japan, and very rare.  Obviously they contain some kind of good vitamins or extracts, = good for your body 🙂

I really loved the small gadgets there, and they are pretty cheap!  (eg: small carry bag from Japan = $2.50)

She told me that this shop’s speciality will be Bagelier bagels!  

<Wasabi & Green Tea>

Shop 4, 9-12 Albany Hwy, East Victoria Park (next to a petrol station)

08 9470 5213

Open Monday to Saturday (6 Days)

Fun Experience at a Chinese Restaurant

Posted October 21st, 2009 in Eat out in Perth, Perth WA, Ume's Interests | 2 Comments »

The other day I went to Hon Kong BBQ in Northbridge with my friend for dinner.  I just wanted to have a chat with her as we hadn’t seen each other since I came back from holiday.  We had so much to talk about!

It was still early when we went in, so there’s just few customers inside.  We sat down, and had a look at their menu.  Then we noticed that the menu is written in 3 languages: English, Chinese, and Japanese.  Naturally we were browsing the Japanese words, and we both couldn’t stand but laugh…  We didn’t want to be rude, but the Japanese description was really funny.  I don’t know how they translated the menu into Japanese, but if they are thinking to remake menu books maybe I can help to write Japanese for them.  All the Japanese words on the menu does make sense, but are really funny…  It was a good laugh though, not trying to make fun of them!  

BTW, Japan also do the same thing to English.  We sometimes use English for sign boards, business cards, posters etc, but some of them are wrong-spelled or totally doesn’t make sense.  Like engrish.com, people make fun of it … and I agree, it’s funny! 🙂  

At Hong Kong BBQ we ordered braised beef with oyster sauce, and Chinese vegetable with mushrooms.

They’re delicious.  With just those two dishes and steamed rice, we stayed there for 2 hours!  Then we noticed some customers were waiting for the seat, so we left the restaurant.  

We still had 30 mins until my friend’s bus, so we looked for a place to have a quick coffee… Chutney Garden – an Indian restaurant.  Unfortunately they didn’t have any coffee menu, but they offered us Masala tea.  We didn’t really have time to move to another place, so we decided to have the tea.  The restaurant was filled with some kind of spice smell …  Indian Curry?  After few minutes very polite wait staff came to our table with 2 cups of Masala tea.  The spicy tea was fragrant, delicious, and warmed up our body.  It was really nice.

Japanese style Chili Tofu (Mabo Tofu)

Posted October 19th, 2009 in Food | No Comments »

Mabo Tofu is a typical Chinese food we eat in Japan.  Apparently it’s little different from the original dish, but we still call it “Mabo Tofu” and we enjoy it.  Some people add more chili to make it spicier, and that’s became one of “summer food” in Japan.  (In Japan we eat hot & spicy food in summer)

There is a dish called “Mabo Donburi”, it’s basically a rice served in a bowl, covered with mabo tofu.  You can find it even in convenience stores in Japan during summer.

Mabo Tofu (ma-bo dofu)

<Mabo Tofu>

  • 50g pork mince
  • 300g silken tofu
  • 1tsp grated ginger
  • 1tsp grated garlic
  • 1tsp tobanjan
  • 1tbs sesame oil
  • 1tsp corn flour + 1tsp water
  • 1/2tbs sake (cooking wine)
  • 1tbs miso paste
  • 1tbs soy sauce
  • 1tsp sugar
  • 150cc water
  1. Cut tofu into cubes. Mix the ingredients from <a>.
  2. Heat sesame oil in a frying pan, and saute ginger, garlic and tobanjan. Once you start to smell nutty aroma, add pork mince and stir. Break down the mince with wooden spoon while stirring.
  3. Pour the mixture <a> into the pan, and bring to boil. Reduce the heat and simmer for few minutes.
  4. Add tofu cubes in the pan. Try not to break the tofu as they are pretty soft. Gently stir the sauce, avoiding to crush the tofu, and stir through the corn flour water to thicken the sauce.
  5. Garnish with chopped spring onion.

Katsuo Tataki

Posted October 16th, 2009 in Food | No Comments »

Although I see Gyu Tataki (beef tataki) on Japanese restaurants’ menu board often, I seldom get to see Katsuo Tataki. Katsuo (bonito fish) tataki is a fillet of Katsuo that has been lightly seared on all sides leaving the inside raw. You can buy a packet of frozen Katsuo Tataki from some Asian grocery shops around Perth. It has been already grilled and then frozen, so after you defrosted it is ready to eat.



You can simply slice it and garnish with chopped onion and grated ginger. Grated daikon radish is also a common accompaniment to Katsuo Tataki.  Pour ponzu sauce over, or dip in ponzu sauce to eat.


Some people might not like this dish – especially people who don’t like the smell of raw fish. However, this is a great food to be eaten while drinking sake, or some other alcohol.

Ogori Cafe – Japanese Unique Rule-

Posted October 14th, 2009 in Eat out in Japan, Ume's Interests | 1 Comment »

What would you feel if you get something different from what you ordered at a cafe?  You may feel confused, disappointed, and some may feel upset.  Actually, there is a cafe in Japan which has very unique rules for its customers.

At this Ogori Cafe in Kashiwa (CHIBA prefecture) in Japan, customers will not get what they order.  At this cafe, you get what the person before you ordered.  The next person gets what you ordered.

I find it very very unique, and bizarre… but very interesting.  Let’s say, even though you have something particular that you want to eat/drink , you won’t get it.  Instead, you will get something the previous customer ordered.  How unique the system is! 🙂  I wonder what the first customer on the day will get…  

I found about this cafe from someone’s blog, Cabel.  According to his story: “my friend went up to the cafe, and ordered a little bit of everything: some ice cream, some snacks, some candy, some drinks: worth about 2500yen (AUD$25) for the next lucky customer. (After his order, he received single iced coffee.)  After a while he heard an extremely excited “arigato goazimasu!! thank you so much!!” yelled in his direction, from an ecstatic mom and her equally excited young son. They truly appreciated the surprise.”  

I like this type of unique system!  And establishing the system in an actual cafe is fascinating.  The owner must be an unique person too 🙂

BTW there’re a few rules at this cafe:

Rules :  

  1. Let’s treat the next person. What to treat them with is your choice.
  2. Please form a single-file line when your order, and you can’t buy twice in a row.
  3. Please enjoy what you get, even if you hate it.  (If you really, really hate it, let’s quietly give it to another while saying, “It’s my treat…”)
  4. Let’s say “Thank You! (Gochihosama)” if you find the person with your Ogori cafe card.
  5. We can’t issue a receipt.
It would be a great thing to do something good for strangers!

Vanilla Ice Cream with Hot Orange Sauce

Posted October 13th, 2009 in Food | 2 Comments »

Although I’m not a big fan of citrus fruits, I push myself to buy them and eat regularly. I don’t mean I don’t like them, I just prefer other fruits. The reason for trying eating citrus fruits is that they are high in vitamins. Especially when I’m sick I eat oranges/grape fruits, or squeeze out lemon juice and drink it with water.

Vitamin C, contained in citrus fruits, works on your skin and bones (helps absorption of collagen, decrease melanin on your skin, etc), lower stress level, helps increasing immunity against virus, and much more.

This hot orange sauce gives a great refreshing taste and it matches with rich vanilla ice cream. Pour the sauce while hot and serve immediately.

<Ice Cream with Hot Orange Sauce> 2 serves

  • 1/2 orange
  • 100ml orange juice
  • sugar
  • 1tbs Cointreau
  • 2 serves vanilla ice cream
  1. Cut off orange skin, and remove just orange flesh (segments).
  2. In a sauce pan (non aluminium pan) place orange flesh, orange juice and sugar, then turn on the heat. Simmer for few minutes, just to reduce the amount of liquid. (not completely) Turn off the heat.
  3. When it’s not too hot but still warm add Cointreau and pour over ice cream.
  4. Serve immediately.

2009 Bonsai Show

Posted October 12th, 2009 in Perth WA, Ume's Interests | No Comments »

Yesterday I went down to Fremantle for annual bonsai  show.  It’s kinda funny but my hubby and I were at Bunnings on Saturday looking for some shrubs to create our own bonsai, then we noticed a tiny piece of paper at the till saying that there’s a bonsai show held at Fremantle town hall from 10~11st October.  It says annual, but we never heard of this event before.  Anyway it says there’d be a bonsai demonstration as well, so we decided to go hoping to get some tips of how to create beautiful bonsai!


There’s a number of bonsai at the town hall, and they all looked beautiful. Many bonsai have moss on its soil, and that’s what we are trying to do at the moment.  Sounds weird but we’ve been trying to collect moss for our bonsai. :p  

Bonsai is a Japanese thing, but I’ve never actually seen people who does bonsai at home in Japan.  Instead, lots of neighbors’ garden have beautifully trimmed  trees (Japanese pine tree, momiji (Japanese maple tree) etc) with some stone statues.  Someone has little pond in his garden.  I remember my husband kept taking photos of neighbors’ garden…  Bonsai is a miniaturization of trees, (or of developing woody or semi-woody plants shaped as trees) by growing them in containers.  I believe some Japanese people do enjoy these miniature trees, but there’re also people who enjoy the real size trees with beautifully trimmed shapes in their garden 🙂

Angus Burger

Posted October 11th, 2009 in Food | No Comments »

The other day I tried McDonald’s new Angus burgers.  Using sour dough bread and 100% Aussie beef tempted me.

I actually didn’t know that McDonald’s has been sourcing beef from Australian farmers for over 30 years.  For those Angus burgers, they use verified angus beef by certified Australian Angus Beef Pty Ltd.  Angus beef means that has been bred purely for the production of highest quality beef indicated by the smooth, close-grained texture, carnation red color and finely marbled fat within the lean muscle.  Those gives the meat very juicy tender texture.        

At McDonald’s, I tried both Grand Angus burger and Mighty Aungus burger.  Grand Angus comes with thick patty of Angus beef, cheese, baby salad leaves, tomato, red onion, mayonnaise and mustard.  On the other hand, Mighty Angus comes with thick patty of Angus beef, cheese, bacon, red onion and zesty relish.  

Both are encased in soft sour dough bun, and the thick juicy meat patty are very tasty.  They are pretty big burgers but I managed to finish one by myself!  I like Grand Angus because there’re more salad inside.  My hubby likes Mighty Angus because it’s saucy and meaty.

Aussie beef is a big brand in Japan too, and I’m lucky that I can eat those Australian beef burgers here 🙂  Seems that McDonald’s in Japan doesn’t have Angus burger in their menu, whilst America does..

Change of Lifestyle

Posted October 10th, 2009 in Ume's Interests | No Comments »

Do you feel great everyday?? If not, you can try some of the things I do .. ↓↓↓

I’m not trying to be cocky, but I always thought I was very strong, healthy, can-do-anything person since I was a child. I started to work when I was 15 to save money for my schools, and also to come to Australia. I liked helping with my family’s rice fields, carrying heavy rice bags and driving a truck. I flew to Okinawa few times by myself when I was a teenager to get home-stay experience at an Amerian family in Okinawa base, (which I organised everything myself) and also to get scuba diving license. I’ve worked under super strict people in hotels and restaurants both in Japan and Perth, doing some heavy jobs. I didn’t usually get sick, and was always running around outside with friends, my dog, and sometimes just by myself even in a typhoon day. I was like a macho girl 🙂

Now, however, I’ve been experiencing some changes in my body for few years. It actually started after coming to Perth, but it may be because of my age.
I feel cold even in a hot day, and my body get tired very easily.
I think the main reason is the lack of exercise. I know I haven’t done much exercise for the last couple of years, and I knew I should be doing some sports or even go walk around the park. It’s my bad.
Another reason: I originally have low blood pressure, but I didn’t really do anything about it. I thought there is nothing I can do. But since I experienced feeling cold all the time, I knew my blood circulation is also not good. This is actually causing me a heavy period pain as well. (fever, nausea, body ache, fainting, etc)
I tried to find if there’s any cure for my body! Then, I started to do the followings everyday ..
  • Drink soy milk everyday (Isoflavone from soy is good for women hormones)
  • Stretch and massage body after shower
  • Yoga
  • Drink hot water + grated ginger at night (before going to bed)
  • Wear warm clothes in cold weather
  • Exercise if there is a time
  • Try not to get stressed out, be easy-goin
Especially the last one is the most important… try not to hold up the stress! Keep smiling and try to enjoy everyday 🙂

Ryokan -4-

Posted October 9th, 2009 in Japan | No Comments »

We were awaked by delicious breakfast ♪

People may be surprised by the photo above – so many dishes in the morning!  But this is a typical Japanese breakfast.  Typical Japanese breakfast items include steamed rice, miso soup, tamago-yaki (square shaped seasoned omelet), grilled fish, pickles, etc.  The breakfast in this ryokan was gorgeous 🙂

On the second day we walked around famous Lake Kinrin-Ko area.  The name of the lake means “shining shinning scales of fish in the setting sun”.  … it was bit smaller than I thought, but I guess it’s because I’m from Shiga and I know how big the Lake Biwa (the biggest lake in Japan) is. :p

There are many souvenir shops around, as well as Hello Kitty shop…

We came back to ryokan around 3pm, then stayed in room.  Taking bath, relaxing … until dinner time!

This night we had …

grilled white fish with white miso sauce – assortment of eight dishes -cabbage roll – samma sashimi – local wagyu shabushabu – chargrilled crab legs and matsutake – okowa (sticky rice) with mountain vegetables – dessert.

We throughly enjoyed it!  So full…

Ryokan -3-

Posted October 7th, 2009 in Food, Japan | No Comments »

As well as Onsen, the food was also one of my interests on this ryokan.  My friend (who recommended me this place) told me that food here is very nice, and I know that she’s been to thousands of nice restaurants around the world so it must be good!

On the first day, after enjoying onsen we left our room and headed to the dining area in the different building.  Of course, wearing yukata. 🙂  There’re numbers of private dining rooms, and a kind staff led us to one of them.  The room got a wide window on the side and we could see forrest and river right in front of us.  Staff told me that they can see fireflies around June.  That means this area is still clean, because fireflies can’t live in dirty water area.

The dinner on first day:


clear soup – fugu sashimi – assortment of eight dishes – local wagyu on hot stone – seasoned matsutake rice with hot green tea – dessert

While enjoying dinner we had two surprise visitors.  Managing director of this ryokan, and the head chef came to our table to say hello to us.  They were very polite and told us that they are so happy to have us here.  We had nothing to say!  I mean, who would expect to see those people and listen to them thanking you.  We were overwhelmed… and I felt little embarrassed because they were wearing nice suits or itamae (Japanese chef) uniform, but I was wearing room yukata with dumped hair and non make-up face :p  Anyway, we sure felt great and again shocked by their king-and-queen treatment.  Do they do that to every customer, or is it just for us ??  I have no idea…

After dinner staff told us that there’re complementary cocktails and sweets for us at a bar in downstairs.  The view from the bar was also stunning…

Kuri – chest nuts-

Posted October 6th, 2009 in Food | No Comments »

I got this muki-guri (roasted chestnuts) from Maruyu Convenience Store the other day.  Maruyu is a Japanese grocery shop located on Barrack street (inside of a building).  Apparently Maruyu in Sydney is much bigger…  This shop sells not only food items, but also some Japan’s cosmetic products such as hair wax, hair die, skin lotion etc, as well as 100 yen items from Japan.  These 100 yen items are sold as $3.00 here.  

I bought this small pack of kuri just because it was cheap, but it also reminded me of Japan.  Kuri is an Autumn food in Japan and it should be in the market right now.  In fact, when I was chatting with my brother on skype few days ago he told me that my dad already bought a bag of roasted kuri from somewhere.  Kuri is pretty expensive, I think it’s about 900 yen for a bag of 500g.  It’s not a high-class food or anything, people still buy it regularly, but I thought it’s a bit expensive snack to buy with my pocket money when I was a kid, and I still have the idea in my head somewhere.    

Probably this kuri I bought from Maruyu is not a product of Japan (that’s why it was cheap), but eating this with hot green tea really reminds me of myself long time ago, watching tv with family!  I miss freshly roasted kuri (>v<).

Sizzle Mania

Posted October 4th, 2009 in Eat out in Perth | 4 Comments »

I would like to take a break from writing about my Japan holiday here.

On this weekend I finally had a chance to go to Sizzle Mania.  Yes, I wrote about this place before but never actually gotten a chance going there.  I was told that Sizzle Mania now has new menu, so I headed there to try out their food 🙂

I was hoping that they’re open…… yes!  they’re open.  I went inside, and had a look at their menu.  As I was told, they had new menu of teriyaki chicken, noodle, curry, dumplings, satay chicken, etc.  I know I should have tried their recommendation “pepper steak” but I couldn’t feel like eating chunks of meat that time.  Neither was my husband.  That was weird, he usually like meat stuff…  Anyway, we decided to try sizzling teriyaki beef and sizzling satay chicken.

Ummm… frankly I didn’t think it was great .. (><)  It was ok, but I’m guessing they’re using satay sauce that you can buy from super markets.  I doubt they make their own satay sauce there.  And, I felt that teriyaki sauce was little taste-less…  I think they can add more “kick” to the sauce, such as garlic or ginger or something.

The whole concept is interesting.  The feature of this restaurant is sizzling steak, but I think that maybe they can add few more interesting food items featuring this sizzling hot plate.  I’m not saying they should be like Korean restaurant, but they can “copy” Korean sizzling bibim-ba (ishiyaki bibim-ba).  In Korean restaurants ishiyaki bibim-ba comes with steamed rice, namuru (Korean seasoned vegetables), kimuchi, raw egg, etc in a hot stone bowl, and customer mix it themselves and cook the egg and rice until little crunchy.  In Sizzle Mania, maybe they can add menu that comes with some seasoned rice with raw egg in the centre, and customer mix it themselves.  The rice can be curry flavored (like Indian flavored rice) or tomato, or anything.  Or maybe sizzling vegetables that comes with cheesy sauce?  Pepper steak with potato rings instead of steamed rice?  In my opinion, lots of people wouldn’t want to be served raw  white fish fillets and cook it themselves…  And I hope they can do something about the oil coming from satay sauce.  It wasn’t something I wanted to look at.   Anyway I hope they can do well in the future 🙂

Ryokan -2-

Posted October 2nd, 2009 in Japan | No Comments »

It was a drizzling day in Osaka. It sure wasn’t like summer anymore. We took a domestic flight from Osaka to Fukuoka, the biggest city in Kyushu island. The plane was kinda small, but packed with people. It took 1.5 hours to get to the destination. After we arrived in Fukuoka airport, we took a highway bus to Yufuin city – where the ryokan is -. It took around 2 hours.

I know, it was a long trip. We had to catch a plane and a bus to just get to this hotel, but this Yufuin city is very famous for its natural hot spring and I’ve been always wanted to go there. This long-distance-trip is not a thing we can do anytime, and I didn’t know whether I’ll ever have a chance going there if I miss this opportunity. That’s why I decided to use this “special occasion” to go to this Onsen city.

By the way, transport fee is very expensive in Japan. Before flying to Japan I searched on internet if there’re any good deals or sale fares in Japanese air companies (ANA or JAL), bus companies and shinkansen (bullet train). I compared prices and found a cheapest way to go to Yufuin from Osaka. On the way we took a plane and bus, and on the way back we took bus and shinkansen. Transport companies sometimes do limited-time-only campaigns and sale fares, so if you are thinking traveling around Japan I recommend you to browse their sites in advance. I booked our tickets and paid few months before this trip and I could save more than AUD$300.00.

Kyushu island consists of 7 prefectures, and Yufuin city is in Oita pref: top right on the map. Around this area there’re lots of sources of hot springs, therefore there’re many ryokans featuring natural hot springs. Unfortunately we could only stay in Yufuin for 2 nights because of our schedule.

As soon as we arrived the ryokan, we were SPEECHLESS. This ryokan is located in the middle of mountains.. lots of trees, rivers and very quiet as if it was an another world. SO BEAUTIFUL. And, we’re very surprised by staffs – super polite yet kind and friendly. They bowed every time they saw us and treat us like a king and a queen! :p This is Japan.

It took about 5 mins from lobby to our room. We crossed a bridge, passed many stirs… and here it was. At a glance, our room looked like a traditional Japanese house. We opened the sliding door with a key, then took off our shoes and went inside. There are 2 rooms- living room and sleeping room- and the floor was of course tataki-matted. There is a beautiful garden and one private open air onsen. (roten-buro) Yet the toilet was modern. :p

Staff brought us freshly made maccha green tea and Japanese tea snack. It was already 5pm so we could listen to Autumn insects singing… As our dinner booking time was 6:30pm, we took bath in roten-buro in the garden. The air was cool and it was so relaxing. After that we changed to yukata and lay down on wooden floor on engawa until dinner time…

Ryokan -1-

Posted October 1st, 2009 in Japan | No Comments »

While staying in Japan my husband and I went on a little trip to Kyushu island, southernmost of the 4 main islands of Japan. It was actually my first time going to this island. The purpose of going to Kyushu was, the famous Onsen. I was dying to go to Onsen because I’m Japanese, but hadn’t taken proper bath for long long time… (Japanese people take bath everyday) And, I had been to Onsen just few times in my life, so I wanted to go on Onsen trip with my husband together.

I asked one of my friend -an Onsen Somurie (expert)- which Onsen we should go to. It was kind a special occasion for us (just married) and there are thousands of good Onsen around Japan. She recommended me an Onsen ryokan in Yufuin, in Ooita prefecture in Kyushu island. Ryokan is a term for a Japanese style hotel, and usually features tatami-matted rooms, sleep on futon on the tatami floor, and has everything you can imagine of “Japan”. Guests wear yukata (Japanese casual summer wear /after-bath wear) and walk around public area. Usually staying in a ryokan is more expensive than staying in a normal hotel.

Yufuin is one of famous Onsen area in Japan, and I had seen many tv programs featuring this area on tv before (like “Postcard WA” type of tv show). A ryokan my friend recommended me is called “Gettouan”, and I decided to stay there as our petit honeymoon. Because it was a special occasion, I booked a room in their annex with Honeymoon Plan. The annex is separated from its main building and we had to walk through a bridge – the view and atmosphere was magnificent!!! Sooo beautiful.

Our room – like a house – had a beautiful garden with natural mountains and river in background (of course the garden was surrounded with wooden wall for privacy), with private bathroom where we can enjoy Onsen (natural hot spa) by ourselves. Everything around this building is made un-artificial (eg: no concrete walls, no electric wires ) and I felt like I was back in samurai era!

I will write about the room, staff and food in another post. Staying in this ryokan was like a “dream” and took all my stress away!