Throwback Rice Packaging

Spotted: awesome throwback rice packaging.  I’ve been seeing this packaging more and more around town from specialty Japanese food and/or rice shops.  This 2kg bag of rice from Arobo in Hiroo is a more modern take on the design.

Note: Japanese rice is a great omiyage (souvenir).  It’s flavorful with a great texture that’s hard to find outside of Japan – especially if it’s from this year’s harvest!  Visit one of the specialty rice shops like Suzunobu in Meguro.

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Wasabi Really Is Green!

Japanese aged beef with freshly grated natural wasabi by oh my omiyage

Shock alert!  Natural wasabi is really as green as in the tube!  I always thought it was fake or at least enhanced by a lot of food coloring, but it isn’t.. at least not the natural ones :)  It’s quite indulgent using Japanese aged beef as a canapé for my wasabi, but it was mm mmm good!

Freshly grated natural wasabi by oh my omiyage

I first discovered non-tube wasabi on my first trip to Japan.  It’s a plant root that looks kind of like a short, green, scaly carrot.  You grate the root traditionally on a grater made of shark skin, but very fine graters work just as well.  I’ve grated some wasabi roots before, and they’ve come out whitish.  This time, I tried a really nice wasabi with the right grater, and it was exactly the same color as the tube kind!  The flavor is subtle and delicate with just a hint of bite.

Freshly grated natural wasabi by oh my omiyage

Go Japanese and give wasabi a try as a side for your steak.  It’s so scrumptious!

Taiyaki Shop

Taiyaki Shop: Shinjuku Tsubakian in Ikebukuro

I’ve been meaning to visit Kawagoe 川越市 for awhile now, and with the beautiful weather yesterday morning, I thought it’d be the day.  By the time we got to Ikebukuro Station, the wind picked up so all of the trains stopped until they could travel more safely.  Not wanting to wait around indefinitely, I strolled around Ikebukuro instead, where I spotted this small taiyaki shop (pronounced: tie-yah-key).

Taiyaki Shop: Shinjuku Tsubakian in Ikebukuro

Taiyaki is a Japanese sweet snack made from pancake batter, cooked in a fish-shaped mold, and stuffed with red bean paste.  It can be filled with other things such as chocolate, custard, or cheese, but red bean paste is the most common and traditional.

Taiyaki Shop: Shinjuku Tsubakian in Ikebukuro

Shinjuku Tsubakian is owned by a sweet woman, who is nothing but smiles and polite words.  She cooks everything to order so your taiyaki is fresh, hot, and crunchy!  Everything is homemade, and her shop specializes in thick crust teriyaki for 150 yen.

Taiyaki Shop: Shinjuku Tsubakian in Ikebukuro

Taiyaki Shop: Shinjuku Tsubakian in Ikebukuro

新宿椿庵 池袋店 Shinjuku Tsubakian

3丁目-13-9 Minamiikebukuro, Toshima, Tokyo, Japan
+81 3-5950-7887
http://tubakian.jp

Polar Ice Cubes

Looking for a ‘cool’ way to add some pizzaz to your summer party?  Look no further than these cute polar glacier molds!  They’ll instantly cool you down on those summer days.  And if that doesn’t work, at least they’ll distract you from thinking how hot you are for a few seconds.  “Oh those creative Japanese designers…”

Images and spotted via

Simple Homemade Plum Sorbet

Japanese Plum Sorbet

Japanese Plum Sorbet with Yuzu Mochi

I promised a few weeks ago that I would attempt to use an ice cream maker, and with the weather getting extremely hot and humid this week and my freezer emptied out, it was perfect timing. I happened to have a box of plums in my fridge that I probably wouldn’t have finished, but turn it into sorbet, and I couldn’t get enough!

Japanese plums are smaller and juicier than the plums I’m used to in the States.  They’re a little bit bigger than the size of a golfball.  I love their bright and vibrant color.  I’m not sure if they’re exclusive to Japan, but I haven’t seen them elsewhere.

Japanese Plums

Japanese Plum Sorbet

I arranged the sorbet into little parfaits with marshmallows, 2 scoops of sorbet, some yuzu mochi, and a decorative orchid for color.  Now with my first attempt at sorbet out of the way, I feel confident enough to use even nicer ingredients.  Kyogo grapes here I come!

Simple Homemade Plum Sorbet
Makes 4 servings

Ingredients:
1/2 – 3/4 cups sugar
3/4 cups water
450 grams plums (about 8-10), roughly cut with pits removed*
*If you can’t find Japanese plums, regular plums will work too

1. Make a simple syrup: Put the water and sugar into a small saucepan on low heat. Stir the mixture until the sugar dissolves fully. Turn off the stove and let the syrup cool completely.

2. Blend the plums in a food processor and pulse on low speed about 10 seconds. Increase the speed and continue to blend until smooth.

3. Press the plums through a fine sieve. This should yield about 3 cups. Discard the leftovers.

4. Mix the plum and syrup together thoroughly and place this in the fridge for an hour.

5. Remove the mixture from the fridge and place it in your ice cream maker for about 25 minutes. Serve as is or place the sorbet into an air-tight container and put it in the freezer for another 2 hours for a harder consistency. Serve as you like!

The Food, Fans, and Fun at Japan Baseball

Once we got into the Tokyo Dome, the fun continued.  This was the part that I was looking forward to the most – game food!  I had high expectations especially after all of the fun exploring festival and street food (here and here) a few months ago, and I wasn’t disappointed.  Just like the rest of Japan, there was food everywhere!  The food stands were very casual and not very sophisticated.  They sold basic snacks like churros, hot dogs, crackers, nuts, fries, and these huge popcorn cones:

Huge Popcorn Cones at Tokyo Dome Giants Baseball Game

They also had a lot of Japanese meals and snacks like Giants-themed bento boxes (they were all sold out by the time we got there!), curry and rice, donburi, yakisoba, karage (fried chicken), miso soup, soft serve ice cream, and dried squid.  It’s all very no fuss, Japanese street food.

Karage Japanese Fried Chicken on a Stick at Tokyo Dome Giants Baseball Game

Tokyo Dome Giants Baseball Food Stand

Despite it being a regular-season game, the stadium was packed and boy were the fans supportive!  Everyone came to the stadium ON TIME, which is almost unheard of in LA.  Almost every seat was filled with fans sporting their team’s colors.  There was endless cheering, singing, towel waving, and drum beating.  During the whole offensive inning, the team’s sections were all on their feet while the opposing section right next to them were all seated and unmoved.  Just like Japan – very organized!Tokyo Giants Baseball Stadium

Once we got inside the stadium and to our seats, there was even more food!  There are tons of vendors literally running around selling various treats and drinks like this Meiji Tokyo Dome-shaped ice cream sandwich (in the hands of a goofily happy Zhing!).

Meiji Ice Cream Tokyo Dome

Tokyo Dome Stadium

More about these fun vendors tomorrow! Happy Friday!

Furoshiki Wedding Welcome Bags

I’ve been in love with furoshiki since I moved to Japan and discovered how useful it is.  For our wedding, I wanted to integrate some Japanese traditions so I decided to make furoshiki welcome bags.  In addition to being functional as a hang bag, the guests could reuse this furoshiki during the weekend as a beach bag, bathing suit wrap, or picnic mat, and they could take it home for many other uses!

I picked up some fabric from Nippori, and my mom and I (mostly my mom!) went hard to work sewing 60 1 meter x 1 meter furoshikis.  We made them especially large so that the guests could use them for a lot more things later on!  These welcome bags were hung on the doors of our guests rooms or we gave them in person.

We gave gray furoshiki to most of our guests, but my bridesmaids and family members got special red ones to stand out.  I loved seeing our guests use their furoshiki the whole weekend!