// category

Daily findings

This category contains 154 posts

Sunday Mayhem



























Please someone tell me where I can find insulted butter.

Macrobiotic cooking

How much have you gained over the holiday break?

Woo… I hear many gasps and fainting sounds everywhere. I know many people trying to get back to where they were before the Christmas season. Oh, me? Dude, I’ve given up long time ago, yo. I’ve reached the point where I simply accept the fact my stomach’s been fatter and fatter without no sign of thinning.

Yup, I like any meat, oily deep-fried stuff, with chocolaty dessert afterwards. But I equally like my greens, grains and beans too. Because I like anything that tastes good. So I had no problem trying out a new eating philosophy / method called Macrobiotic diet that’s been quietly increasing its popularity all over the world.

So what’s macrobiotic diet? You should go ask professor Wiki for its definition and explanation in details. But to me, it seems alot like a traditional Japanese regimen or I could roughly paraphrase as “stuff my grand parents used to eat.” Alot of veggies in seasons along with grains and beans cooked in Konbu dashi.

class_1

Along with two other friends, I attended a macrobiotic cooking class run by Keiko the macrobiotic instructor at Soramame. Something I found particularly interesting and rather easier for all of us to take on daily healthy eating is that the macrobiotic diet doesn’t have much strict dietary restriction like vegetarian and vegan diet. Ingredients and condiments are categorised into yin, yang, and neutral. Then these are to be combined and cooked so the finished dish would be balanced out to be neutral.

The recipes for this class were focused on after-holiday detox. Yup, exactly what I needed. Desperately.

• Detox cleansing drink (soup) – facilitates getting rid of accumulated body fat.
• Macrobiotic style Nanakusa Gayu (Japanese Seven-herb rice porridge)
• Oatmeal & Tofu meat balls with sweet & sour sauce
• Pressed salad
• Orange crushed jelly

class_2

One of the variations of Japanese pickles is called Asazuke, which literally translates to “quickly marinated/pickled.” And this salad was just like that. Sort of like a coleslaw without mayo. Thinly sliced carrot, cabbage and cucumber combined and rubbed to marinate with sea salt and lemon zest. Then press it down with weights or simply water filled bowl on the dish until water gets out.

class_3

Now, this reminded me of the Oroshi Tofu Steak that I’ve recently posted. In this macrobiotic version, we combined firm tofu, oatmeal, grated carrots, sauteed onions and mushroom, soy sauce, sesame oil and sea salt. Unlike my version, there’s no egg nor Hanpen used, but adding oatmeal holds the mixture quite well. How come I never thought of using oatmeal as a substitute of flour/egg before! *slapping forehead*

class_4

Nanakusa gayu (porridge/Congee) macrobiotic style. Instead of white rice, we had brown rice and millets. It’s more watery than ordinary rice porridge/congee, but with alot of other ingredients like white radish, turnip, bok choy, red beans, italian parsley – it’s quite filling I must say.

class_5

We all initially expected this to be served chilled, but it was rather a soup. Grated carrots and white radish (Daikon), water, Nori (seaweed paper), Umeboshi (Japanese pickled sour plum) and soy sauce. This drink helps getting rid of fat accumulated in body, lowering cholesterol level, prevention of kidney stone, solving problems in bones, joints and lung.

class_6

I <3 jellies in summer. In macrobiotic diet, use of gelatine, corn/potato starch is substituted with Agar (Agar agar/Kanten/Japanese isinglass), Kudzu or arrowroot. For this jelly, powdered agar was used. I actually prefer fruits jelly to be made with agar for its firmer texture and ‘crunchiness’. Oh, also I was super surprised how quickly the jelly sets with agar. It wasn’t even in the fridge!

Now the tasting time!

class_7
Tofu & Oatmeal ball (with thicken sweet & sour soy sauce)
“Hmmm yum!” naturally came out of my mouth. Well, I love tofu to begin with, but adding Oatmeal to the mixture actually holds the combined ingredients well together and added another layer of flavour. My favourite of all.

class_8
Nanakusa Gayu
To be honest, I’m not really a big fan of congee. However, I really didn’t mind having this as “once every week” sort of food.

class_9
Detox Drink
Here’s the detox cleansing drink that I was very much intrigued. Lots of grated daikon radish and carrots with nori (seaweed paper) means lots of fibre to eat! And it tasted quite good as a soup, so that’s definitely a good thing when I have to emphasize on “detox” part.

class_10
Pressed salad
Wasn’t really nothing new to me on this one because I already do this sometimes. But surely a refreshing dish on the day of the class!

class_11
Crushed Orange Jelly
I LOVED IT! I wouldn’t usually choose agar to make jelly simply because it’s rather hard to find at supermarkets. Next time I see agars, I’ll definitely get one for sure!

OK, overall after trying out macrobiotics dishes, I was pretty impressed how filling and flavoursome these simple ingredients had turned out. Plus, as I mentioned at the beginning, I do like healthy options to begin with. I wouldn’t say every meal everyday, but I can easily see myself adopting more of macrobiotic methods into my daily diet. To me it was a rather realisation of what’s lacking from my daily intake.

salad_2
My favourite carrot salad – the first attempt to adapt marcrobiotic diet.

salad_3
Salt & black sesame tofu.

Now the great part of the macrobiotic diet I most certainly appreciate is, unlike other strict diets out there, it doesn’t force you to follow a philosophy you don’t necessarily believe or to eat things you’re not happy with. It’s more of an idea/suggestion to step forward and be “better” from just “fine”. Eating is one of the essential human instincts. Starving yourself or living on something you hate couldn’t be any better for yourself. Although it does have more strict ways to follow, such as for the purpose of diabetic treatment, macrobiotic diet for ordinary people living in this stressful world is supposed to be a little help to live better by eating well. And this class was definitely well-worth attending for me to have another opportunity to lead myself to the better living. And of course more eating.

—————————————————–
Then the day after. Btw.
I’ve been known as ‘constipation-less’, whatever I take in comes out no problem.
But even for me, all the fibres and grains I had from the food at the class worked super magically to my stomach.
How magical?

It only took 3 seconds.

Soramame
(currently their group classes are held in Japanese.)
For more information, contact Keiko directly.

Quick visit to Neo Tokyo.

IMG_0434

Oh hai, how are you? I am very much exhausted. My blog didn’t have any post in the past two weeks, and here’s why.

I don’t think I remember much about last Friday as I was frantically trying to do everything I needed to do before flying out of Sydney. Those who don’t know, I flew down to Tokyo and stayed there only for 3 days. When my trip begins hectic and crazily like this I always forget something really important – and this time, my DSLR. Fail.

It’s been 15 years since the last time I actually lived there and my last visit to Tokyo was 6 years ago right before relocating myself in Sydney. Things have changed quite alot, and I’ve got to say I was a bit lost in the time in between..

What didn’t change much was of course food. I mean, how generally good it is and how late you can eat out. Day before my flight back to Sydney, I met up with my old friends from Boston – the first reunion after 8 years! These guys are ones that shared our greatest and worst time together in Boston – even after 8 years none of them changed and we just rolled down on our memory lane all the way. It was already 4:30am when we finally left the place.

I truly loved that there’re many places we could head to eat. We ended up hitting Kabuki-cho for late night Ramen fix at Kamukura. At 5:30am. Win. (Oh btw, Kamukura’s ramen soup was SO awesome!)

Me and my friend also went down to Tatsukichi in Shinjuku for Kushiage. This place has 40 something kinds of kushiage (all 170 Yen/each), and the Kushiage chef keeps frying until you say stop. When we asked him how many kushiage most people eat, and he told us that’s about 20-25. And how many I ate?

IMG_0432

48.
“that’s the highest number of the day.” - the chef told us as he fried our dessert kushiage (Deep fried Chocolate gateau!) And my friend says “Yeah most people don’t need a second skewer holder.” REALLY? When I reached 20 something, my stomach was still in after-entree state. No wonder I felt like I was the fattest person in Tokyo. They have a ranking board on the wall, and 10th being 68, and 1st 127. Considering that I had my pre-dinner meal, I thought I could be on on it next time.

What else I had during my short stay? Katsu at Wakoh (twice) and Maisen, Ramen, Soba, hainan chicken (sadly, fail), various convenience store bento, Japanese snacks, 12 out of million kinds of different coffee-in-a-can etc.

IMG_0435
Freshly deep fried Katsu Bento from Wakoh just around the corner. 720Yen! Dangerous.

IMG_0438
28cm whole cake. Two of us eat half each. yup.

pasmo
And my very first pasmo. Yay, it makes me feel more Japanese! Super convenient that you can even use it for shopping pretty much EVERYWHERE.

After 15 years, I finally started missing Tokyo.

Shinjuku Tatsukichi
Shinjuku 3-chome 34-16
Ikeda Plaza Building
03-3341-9322


View Larger Map

DoutonBori Kamukura (Kabukicho store)
Chinjuku Kabukicho 1-chome 14-1
03-3209-3790


View Larger Map

Kitkat madness returns

As you might have read in the past posts, I often check and see if there’s any interesting (or you can say “crazy”) food product floating around in Japan. And KitKat is definitely one of my obsessions – they never fail to amuse me! (Previous posts on KitKat, and soy sauce one.)

And here’s their current new range & regional/seasonal limited editions.

kitkat

Nestle Japan seems to be doing alot of collaboration works with other companies and organizations like ITOEN (Beverage company) and JFA (Japan Football Association), and we can see how those turned out in their new KitKat range. Substantial Vegetables and Sports Drink (!) flavours. The largest Japanese social network recipe site “CookPad” is currently doing a collaborative campaign with KitKat and thousands of users are submitting their recipes with KitKat products. Interesting!

What I like about KitKat Japan is that they had NEVER repeated same flavour again. I mean, yes, there’re ones that can fall into a same category, but always something sightly different – like, Orange, Orange & Mandarin, KISHU Mandarin, Bloody Orange, Sour Orange, Orange & Lime, Orange Soda. (And many of them are limited editions. Oh yeah, great marketing strategy. I want to try them all!) I wonder what would be the next flavour they could be working on right now… Natto KitKat? ;p

Stopping by a convenience store to find new kitkat is definitely a new must-do thing if you are visiting Japan!

Japanese KitKat can be found at major Asian supermarkets around the city. (Miracle, Tokyo Mart, etc.)

Crispy Chicken fillet with ass crumbled chips.

Ugh!! Why did you have to leave a bag of Chicken & Honey Soy chips on the sofa!! *yelling at my imaginary flatmate*

CB687404

I was going all crazy – waiting for my cancer screening result. I was irritable, stressed, nervous, cranky, upset – and now my chips had gotten all crumbled?!

What would make me less upset? You got that right. Food.

Chicken fillets were tossed into a ziplock bag with soy sauce, chopped spring onions, ginger, garlic, sesame oil, caramelized balsamic vinegar and honey. Then furiously massaged to marinate. Take that!! Then dipped quickly into egg york, toss into a bag of crumbled chips.

Voila!

chicken_chips

Ohhh yes. I can feel the cholesterol coursing through my vain….

Do you have any recipes that are substituted with unusual ingredients? (I’ve got a few – like how to make yummy custard cream from vanilla icecream and pancake mix.)

Let the game begin

Pretty much everything I do seems to be very impulsive to others. I guess it’s because I’m a type of person who needs to take an action straight away once I made a decision. Though the decision making process is usually the long part for me.

So. Now. I did it. Bikram Yoga a.k.a. Hot Yoga. That’s right. Not only yoga itself, I for some reason agreed to do that in hot temperature. What the hell was I thinking.

The Yoga studio is located in Bondi Junction. Oh the location. I mean, what kind of people would you see in Bondi area? Sporty, healthy, health conscious, good looking, 6 packs, fit and tight muscled bodies, surfers, etc. You get the idea, right? In other words, “people not like myself”

yoga1

During the session, most of the people in the class looked like yoga masters to me. Changing one pose to another with no difficulty. Guys with toned muscular 6 pack bodies, women with flat stomachs and tight buns.

Our perky instructor gives us the direction in her calming soft yet demanding voice.

Breath through the nose – inhale.

Feel all the bad pushed out from the body – exhale.

Slowly, stretch out your body as much as you can, go further, try your best you can…

Let everything go – try to imagine and get to the calming, peaceful place within…

















yoga-me
I’M F***ING DYING HERE.

If the instructor was trying to help me find my inner self, don’t worry about it, I know him already and he’s telling me to GET THE HELL OUT OF HERE.

After the session that seemed to be forever, my friend said “Hey you did actually better than I thought”

“Don’t. talk. to me. now.” was all I could respond.
I treated myself with yummy Kimchi hotpot with lots of pork slices. Don’t argue with me. But I must admit, it actually feels great afterwards. Yes, very tired, but all the stress seems to have melted away with my sweat. I’ll definitely go back – just very hard to find the time to attend though…

And also, I went back to my gym for the first time in like 7 months ;p Nothing too hard, just a treadmill run for about half hour – and little bit of crunch. I’m just trying to increase the amount of exercise to speed up my recovery process from my recent injury. (from amount of exercise being NONE. of course ;p)

And I’ve got to admit, again, being a regular smoker is undoubtedly what’s making these activities harder for sure. And then I reconfirmed just like I have so many times in the past that smoking contributes to nothing better. You waste your money on it, it makes harder to get rid of tiredness, the craving that you just have to satisfy every time. It’s just simply ridiculous.

Recently 7 people around me have successfully quit smoking with a little help from this prescription drug called Champix. Hearing about the drug from them, I decided to give it a go myself.

champix

Ironically I have worked on several anti-smoking campaigns in the past. During the process I’ve learnt so many facts and diseases caused by cigarette ingredients. And I wonder why it never really motivated me to stop. I guess, they usually talk about all the bad things about smoking – I’ve never really seen any campaigns focusing on what benefits you are entitled to by quitting. That’s more motivating to me, like, food tastes better, feel more energetic, skin glows better etc.

So I’ll be on Champix for the next 3 months to finally (hopefully) break my smoking habit, starting from Monday. And I’d probably go back to the Bikrum yoga soon, just to see if I could glimpse of indication that I’m getting healthier. ;p

I guess it wouldn’t hurt to celebrate all these new starts with pizzas, beer and the rest of 4 cigarettes before Monday, right?

pizza

Arthur’s Pizza
260 Oxford Street
Paddington, NSW
http://www.arthurspizza.com.au/

Bikram Hot Yoga
183 Oxford street
Bondi Junction, NSW 2022
http://www.bikrambondijunction.com.au/

Oh yes day off rocks!

Tired, frustration, late nights, bad luck – these were my keywords for the past weeks. But finally I’ve got my day off this Friday, and pushed everything aside and enjoyed my day off!

I had my early start with Physiotherapy. Fortunately my back pain from the recent injury has gotten pretty well, phew. But I developed a numbness in my left thigh which is apparently related to the back injury. More physio visits in place. *sigh*

Then I headed to Billy’s exhibition – The Red Balloon – again for lunch and met up with Billy (A Table For Two), Richard (Here Comes The Food) and Simon (The ♥ of food).

Our initial plan was to grab the Wagyu beef burger from Plan B by Becasse then eat at the gallery.

“I don’t mind any food. Burger, Katsusando or whatever” Billy replied to us on Twitter.

When did we mention the Katsu Sandwich? LOL So we picked up his *hinting* and I ordered 4 Katsu Sandwiches from Atomic Espresso cafe in Neutral bay. (thanks to Richard for picking them up on his way.) And damn my Nigella Lawson moment with the sandwiches, I forgot to take pictures!

dsc_0115
(Photo by Richard)

I also brought the best beverage to go with the Katsu Sando – Coca Cola of course. (No diet coke nor Coke Zero!) and Funwari Meijin that by the way I’m surprised myself that I managed to keep my hands off till then. Richard also brought his loquat jelly from Japan. Woohoo.

boys

Yeah, that’s right, lick it. I said LICK IT BIYAAAATCH!
Check out Richard’s post from the day @ Here comes the food and Simon’s @ the ♥ of food

Then I was off to my Ganbanyoku wrap and massage! My friend Junko runs Beauty lounge – a cosy spa salon on Harris street in Ultimo, co-operated with Cut lounge. Oh my god, this wrap has pretty much the same effect as real one, and I was sweating like hell!

ganbanyoku

Dudes and boys, you might think “man, spa & facial?” but try once and I’m sure you’d hook on it. After turning 30, washing face in the shower isn’t enough, seriously. Hmmm rejuvenation. The spa always have special of the month – ask her for the special offers of the month.

Billy’s exhibition
The Red Balloon
The Depot Gallery II, 2 Danks Street, Waterloo
16 – 27 June 11AM – 6PM
http://www.seetheredballoon.com/

Beauty Lounge
602 Harris Street, Ultimo
02 8013 6778
http://www.beauty-lounge.com.au/

Relationship between Japanese and Katsu are deep and real, yo!

I was a bit disappointed and frustrated last Friday. My way-too-long postponed birthday dinner had to be cancelled due to the urgent work that must have been done. (well actually the dinner was still on – just went on without myself.) It has gotten to the point that my friends become annoyed and probably rolling their eyes by now as it’s been rescheduled 4 times already. Now for the last time, it’s been set on the next Thursday – just crossing my fingers so this can finally happen. So to redeem my friends trust and make it up for my neglected social life, my long week end is filled up with whole bunch of coffee/lunch/dinner catch ups. Hooorrraaay.

I’ve got to admit that I must have lost my authenticity and credibility as a true Japanese over the years living outside of the country, but my likings and tendency in food preferences and choices are still in my blood.

When I say “Japanese food” I often refer to “every day Japanese food” that Japanese people would eat for lunch or dinner daily basis – definitely not Sushi for sure. And Katsu (Deep fried Pork with Panko) must be one of many Japanese homely dishes.

カツサンド (Katsu Sando: Deep fried Pork cutlet sandwich) is definitely a well-known popular lunch dish in Japan, and I had been dying to eat this for quite some time. Check out these images on Google, many restaurants and cafes in Japan have their signature Katsu Sandwiches.

AND. Now. Oh My God. My prayer has been answered.

Katsu Sandwich is available in Sydney – Neutral Bay to be exact. Atomic Expresso – a sister cafe of Japaz owned by my chef friend Hiro – offers Japanese Katsu sandwich for eat-in and takeaway!! You know I just had to drive up North and grab one for myself (well, 3 to be exact.)

katsu_sandwich

Generous sized thick Katsu with Tonkatsu sauce and mustard. Hmmmmmmmmmm! And yup, the bread is Japanese style as well – so soft and thick! (unfortunately the bread went a bit soggy in a takeaway container by the time I finished all my errands. I’d recommend to do eat-in.) It’s cripsy on the outside with panko and tender and juicy on the inside, and it goes really well with the sauce just as it should!

This Japanese Katsu Sandwich is only available from Thursday to Saturday, and you have to call ahead and reserve yours – only 20 servings available a day for eat-in and takeaway.

I totally forgot how much it was… (see, this is another reason why I can’t be a food blogger…) Me and my friends had a lunch and my bill was $52 for 3 takeaway katsu sandwiches + salmon cream pasta + latte. I’ll confirm on the price later on, but I guess it’s something around $12..?
(updated: it’s $15. Might sounds expensive, but the size is generous and would fill you up good!)

I highly recommend this Katsu Sandwich to satisfy your hungry stomach at lunch :)

Atomic Espresso
148 Wycombe Road
Neutral Bay NSW 2089
(02) 9953 0666
(Don’t forget to call ahead for the Katsu Sandwich!)


View Larger Map

New sensational flavors and they are not kidding.

I had to tilt my neck to the side and go “really?”

flavours

Pepsi and Coca Cola Japan are scheduled to release their new interesting flavors.
Pepsi Shiso (!) and Coca Cola Green Tea with Catechin

Hmm, came to think of it, Shiso is actually used to make a syrup. (Granma’s recipe!) I can sort of guess what it’d taste like.

Just like I did for Kitkat previously, I googled and searched for the history of Fanta. It’s quite fun discovering and remembering these flavours from the past! Here’s the current Japanese Fanta. What the hell is FuruFuru Shaker & Frozen Fanta?!

fanta

Fanta seems to have the widest range of flavours all over the world – each country has its own range of flavors. I remember that Billy had made me try some weird tasting one from Australia…. I can’t remember what it was… Orange Chocolate cream soda… or something?

We had some other interesting flavored sodas in the past like Coca Cola Blak (Coffee), Coca Cola Lemon, Pepsi Blue, Pepsi Cucumber, etc. Have you had other interesting flavours??

B.O.Y. (Bank of Yas) Annual financial report. pt. 3

Well actually, this is supposed to be part 4 as I have done another one like 6 months ago. Completely forgotten to blog about that. (*giggle* like someone cares.)

It has surely been my daily routine to come home and empty my pocket and wallet, getting rid of all the coins that I accumulated that day. It’s not that I’m trying to save money for something, but I just REALLY REALLY hate carrying coins – I even want to live in a country where all the denominations are paper bills.

As you might have seen in part 1 or part 2, I’m pretty good at saving fairly good amount of money. It’s just pain in the ass that I have to visit my bank just to get some coin bags and go back again to deposit though.

Well, would you want to guess how much I have accumulated over 6 months?

coins

$50 x 11 ($2 coins) = $550
$20 x 8 ($1 coins) = $160
$10 x 8 (50c coins) = $80
$10 x 4 (20c coins) = $40
————————-
Total $830
(plus all other coins that didn’t make it into the coin bags. roughly $180)

Not bad, hey? It’s like a self-stimulus package. (I know, it just sounds wrong.)
Hmmm how should I indulge myself with this… Yummy food and spa massage? I don’t see why not.