Ton Katsu Lunch with Keila

Posted on Monday, February 28, 2011 | 0 comments

   We went out for ton katsu a couple of weekends ago, but once again I'm only just getting around to posting the pictures. If you're not sure what ton katsu is (or if you want to see some cute pictures of Wasabi as a kitten, click HERE for an older post and explanation. Otherwise, enjoy these new photos!

                                      Hanging out with Daddy before lunch is served

                                              Deliciously unhealthy fried shrimp and veggies

                                     Yuki's massive cutlet and cabbage

                                           Little Billy Shatner reaching for the fried stuff

They're Taking Away Mt. Fuji, And All I Get Is Aluminum Foil

Posted on Friday, February 25, 2011 | 0 comments

                   Yes, sadly, construction on the empty lot next to us has begun. Meaning that not only are quiet mornings a thing of the past, but our lovely view of Mt. Fuji now has a limited number of days left. Sniff, sniff.
  As is customary here, the housing agency left us a token gift along with a note detailing the construction dates. The theory being that the surrounding neighbors should get something in return for being hassled by the construction. Or maybe it's just so they're less likely to complain about the noise. Anyway, this time we got a box of aluminum foil. Eh. I'd rather have Mt. Fuji, thanks!

                                       Cememony to bless the land before construction begins

                                  Pathetic substitute for Mt. Fuji

Wara: The Rice Bread Shop (Wasabi's Dream Come True).

Posted on Wednesday, February 23, 2011 | 0 comments

   For the past month or so, I've been watching the construction of this new bread shop with great interest, since it's different from your usual French-style bakeries that tend to populate Japan. The sign for this place, Wara, advertises 'rice bread', so we looked it up online. Originating in Jiyugaoka (a neighborhood of Tokyo), there are now quite a few chains around the country. And yes, it really is rice bread. All of their products are made from rice powder. Plus, they don't use shortening or margarine, a small miracle!
  Wara isn't due to open here in Shimizu/Shizuoka (a short walk from Kusanagi station along Minami Kansen, if you're interested) until this Friday, February 25th, but in another stroke of luck, they happened to be having a trial run when we drove by on the way to the grocery store the other night. Upon pulling into the parking lot, we were informed that the trial was invite-only, but since it was nearly over, we were welcome to go on in. Better yet, they weren't actually selling their products for the trial run---they were giving them away! 2 free pieces per person! Of course Keila was counted too, so we ended up with 6 free pieces that we selected, plus 2 more that the cashier threw in for good measure. Yep, 8 pieces of fresh baked goodness. Needless to say, my night was made! I would've happily paid for the bread, especially since it meant avoiding the crowds on opening day, but being free made it taste even better.
  We selected 1 raisin/walnut stick, 1 plain white rice roll, 1 sesame stick, 1 roll with curry inside, 1 matcha powdered roll (which contained what seemed to be yomogi-infused bean paste), and 1 hard plain roll. The 2 free ones were soft walnut rolls. With all that to take home, I was sorely tempted to not even bother making dinner! Especially since they had free samples in the shop, too. We tasted a chiffon/sponge cake made with rice powder that was w-o-n-d-e-r-f-u-l, but unfortunately they weren't giving any of that away at the time. I did manage to refrain from running away with the bowl of sample pieces, but just barely.
  If you go, from the ones we tasted I would highly recommend the sesame stick. After having half of it, I was really wishing we'd opted to take 2 of those home. Also, the matcha/yomogi roll is great, as is the raisin and walnut stick. Everyone was actually really good, but those were my top 3 picks (besides the lovely cake). I'll definitely be heading back to this place again once the crowds die down a bit!
  Oh, and Wasabi was also in paradise after Yuki gave her a few crumbs to munch on. We'd somehow completely forgotten that her two favorite foods in the whole world are bread and rice...until we caught her frantically trying to rip the bag open!


                        I didn't have the camera, but luckily Yuki had his cell phone on him

                                                 Keila thought it all looked good, too!

                                                   Posing with the bakers

                                                   The new store

                                     Some of our goodies

                                 Wasabi going for the kill

                                   Plain rice roll, designed to look like a grain of rice

                                             One of the hard rolls

Matcha roll

Matcha Kit Kats

Posted on Tuesday, February 22, 2011 | 0 comments

    Just in time for spring: strong matcha flavored Kit Kats. I only purchased a mini one to taste, seeing as I've had green tea Kit Kats before...and they're all about the same every season. This newest one was no exception: sweet matcha flavor. Actually, I couldn't even tell that the flavor was any stronger than a regular green tea Kit Kat. Not to mention the whole issue of sweetened green tea (big no-no!). Don't bother trying one unless you actually like sugar in your matcha or ocha.
 Side note ...For those of you following along in order to see Keila, she'll be in the next post as soon as she lets me get some pictures uploaded!

                                    Cute packaging, rather unoriginal taste

More Love!

Posted on Friday, February 18, 2011 | 0 comments

              Valentine's Day, continued...
   We went out for kaiten zushi (conveyor belt sushi) that night, seeing as those types of sushi restaurants are baby-friendly. Now, I never thought that a chain like Sushi-Ro would become my go-to sushi restaurant, but it's actually not bad for the price..and if it means that we can take Keila, I'm all for it! So far we've hit them up on Christmas Eve and now Valentine's Day. Maybe I can convince Yuki that we need to celebrate St. Patrick's Day, too?

                                       Shatner loved watching the plates go by

                               Not so interested in the tuna

                                                  Western-style sushi roll

                               Keila again opted to have milk for dinner

Roly Poly!

Posted on Thursday, February 17, 2011 | 0 comments

               Keila update! Although she'd previously rolled onto her side about a month ago, she hadn't bothered to do it again until a few days ago. This time, I managed to get it on camera. Go Pooper!
   Also for your viewing pleasure, here's the link to a clip of Keila grunting happily at her Nontan book while Daddy reads to her. We're not quite sure whether she was grunting due to excitement at the story or because of the diaper explosion about 30 seconds after the video, but either way, she was quite content!
   Click here for Keila and Yuki reading Nontan

Sushi's Birthday

Posted on Tuesday, February 15, 2011 | 0 comments

   Happy Birthday to Sushi! She's a year old today. We celebrated by letting her wear a party dress, lucky girl! We were also going to give her some milk as a treat, but apparently she too is lactose intolerant, seeing as I found her happily eating one of my Lactaid pills a few days ago. Either that, or Fatty's diet is getting to be too much for her!

Happy Valentine's Day!

Posted on Monday, February 14, 2011 | 0 comments

  A few pictures of our adorable little Cupid to commemorate the day....

Baby Massage

Posted on Friday, February 11, 2011 | 0 comments

  Last Friday, Keila and I were invited over to a friend's house to learn baby massage (this friend is an instructor at a local women's center). Well, I got to learn massage; Keila just reaped the benefits. She really enjoyed the whole experience, especially when she got to talk to another 'baby'!

                                 Prepping for our massage

                                     Keila and her new friend

Mariko Day Trip and Togeppo Saiokuji

Posted on Thursday, February 10, 2011 | 4 comments

  This past Sunday, we visited Mariko, a nearby village. We'd gone there once last year to attend the well-known monthly morning market, but we'd never taken the time to explore the rest of it until now. My previous post has some background on the town, so click HERE if you're interested in the history.
  The Mariko area is also famous for tororo, which is Japanese mountain yam. It's rather expensive due to the fact that it's hard to dig up, so a lunch of tororo soba (grated yam served with buckwheat noodles) runs about 1200 yen. I'd post a picture of it, but we opted for a 1200 yen set lunch that seemed a much better value. We ate at Takumitei, a restaurant in the Mariko hand-craft arts center...aka the Mariko tourist center. This little set of buildings was built to recreate the feel of Edo-era Mariko, and while it's all obviously new, it's still a nice place to look around.
  After lunch, we took a short hike up the hillside to view some early-blooming plum blossom trees, and then we continued on to Togeppo Saiokuji (Togeppo Saioku Temple). This little temple was established in the early 16th century for the poet Saikuken Socho. It's modeled after Ginkakuji, the Silver Pavilion in Kyoto. Togeppo has been known for centuries as a famous spot for moon-viewing, and it is also called The Temple of Bamboo, due to the massive bamboo forest surrounding it. A old sign in English at the entrance also informed me that they served tororo soup, but apparently that custom was as outdated as the sign, since none was proferred on our visit. Soup or not, I would still recommend it if you're looking for a peaceful day excursion!

                                                      Keila put Dad's lunch on hold

                                  Tuna sashimi with wasabi and a shiso leaf

                               Japanese radish with plum sauce (the white 'flower), shrimp stuffed with potato salad, and an egg sushi roll

                                                Tired Mom with lovely William Shatner

                                     Overlooking Mariko

                                 Plum blossoms

                                   The famous moon-viewing garden of Togeppo Saiokuji

                                          Togeppo Saiokuji, main building

                                              Old village houses

                                    Another small temple, name unknown (ie, I can't read the Chinese characters on the building that state its name)

                               My favorite picture of the day

Kuchi Doke Almond Kit Kat

Posted on Tuesday, February 08, 2011 | 0 comments

   Another new Kit Kat flavor: Kuchi Doke Almond. Or, Melt-in-your-mouth Almond. Since I love just about anything almond, I was quite happy to test this one! Unfortunately, it only rated maybe a 5 or 6: tasted mostly like a regular Kit Kat with a bit of almond aftertaste...and I wasn't feeling any of that melt-in-your-mouth reference, either. It really wasn't bad...but not great, either. Definitely stick with the Almond Meltykiss instead!

Miracle Bread And A Cheese Meltdown

Posted on Monday, February 07, 2011 | 0 comments

    Lo and behold, a miracle: I have actually discovered trans fat-free bread somewhere other than in the organic store here! Admittedly, it's still comprised of 100% white flour and the package proudly boasts that it contains real cream, but baby steps are being made! Maybe one day we'll be able to buy whole wheat bread made with canola or olive oil....until then, I'll keep baking my own. (If you're confused about trans fats and why I hate them so, refer to this Mayo Clinic article.)
   Sadly, the trans fat manufacturers pulled one over on me last weekend...I'll blame it on lack of sleep, but when trying to purchase some cheese for pizza and discovering that our usual brand was out, I grabbed a package bragging that it had 50% less cholesterol than regular cheese. Should've realized then and there that it contained hydrogenated oils, but I was in such a hurry and so tired that it didn't register until we got home. Yuki looked it up online after being unable to figure out some of the listed ingredients (my suspicions were aroused by that point, so I asked him to translate for me), and it's produced by a margarine manufacturer. I pretty much lost it at that point, seeing as the oven was already preheating for dinner. Thankfully, my wonderful husband saved the day by running back out for some real cheese...after telling me to just pitch the offending and unhealthy fake stuff. So 800 yen went into the trash can, but I figure it was cheaper than the medical bills we could've incured from eating it. Lesson learned: if it's dairy product in Japan and the ingredient list isn't short, it likely contains man-made trans fats!

                  The label says 'Please enjoy this Melting Shred with pizza, toast, and gratin, etc'. Or you could just eat a bucket of rat poison and save yourself the trouble.

The ONLY bread I've found in grocery stores that doesn't contain margarine or shortening

Lunch and A Bath

Posted on Sunday, February 06, 2011 | 0 comments

            Last Sunday we went to a local hotel for lunch and some time in the Japanese baths. The plan included the use of a tatami room for the afternoon, so it was the perfect place to relax with Keila. The best part of lunch in a tatami room? Floor-style seating that allows you to have both hands free while your baby rests nearby!

                                                          Lunch service

                                          Katsuo (bonito) marinated in vinegar with tomatoes

                                                Mountain vegetables and mushrooms

                                               Sashimi plate: squid, shrimp, and tuna

                                               Vegetables, crab, fish cakes, and udon noodles

                                                 Steamed eggs with broth, seafood, and vegetables

                                                        Shirasu (baby sardines) and ginger

                                                  Keila checked out lunch before her nap