Sunday, February 28, 2010

I Miss Trader Joe's

 The I Love Trader Joe's Cookbook: 150 Delicious Recipes Using Only Foods from the World's Greatest Grocery Store

I looooove bookstore browsing. Always have and always will. Tokyo book browsing is a little frustrating. There are so many cool Japanese magazines, books and manga that I can't read and very few English books that I feel are worth reading. I have found a few bookstores with large foreign book sections and I visit them every weekend. It brings me back to the days of sitting on the ground of the 3rd floor Barnes and Noble in Union Square flipping through fashion mags and cookbooks.

Getting to the point of this post...I found this Trader Joe's Cookbook last weekend which is funny because there are no Trader Joe's in Japan and I have never seen this book in America. All the recipes are made with products you can find in TJ's. I would totally buy this book if I lived in America. You can buy it here on Amazon.

I really really love Trader Joe's. It is affordable and relatively healthy. Their frozen food section is a life saver for college students too lazy to cook and busy people. I'm normally opposed to microwaving food or frozen stuff, bit TJ's has it going on. I was lucky enough to live near one in San Francisco, Seattle an New York but I'm really hurtin' for:

  • sweet and salty trail mix
  • frozen turkey meatballs
  • stacey's sea salt pita chips (and cinnamon sugar pita chips)
  • salsa verde chicken burritos
  • $1.00 bottles of sparkling water
  •  mozzarella and tomato sauce gnochi
World's greatest grocery store indeed.

Saturday, February 27, 2010

Cooking With Dog :: Learn How to Cook Japanese Food

Awhile back, I decided to learn how to make gyoza, Chinese fried dumplings that are very popular in Japan. My freezer has never been without a bag of frozen Trader Joe's (err..Trader Ming's) gyoza since they're quick to reheat and make for a satisfying snack or meal.

Making gyoza is really easy, up until the part where you have to fold the dumplings shut. This takes practice. That's all I can really say. I owe YouTube channel Cooking With Dog a big thank you for teaching me how to fold a proper gyoza. I've never subscribed to a YouTube channel before...I didn't even know there were YouTube Channels, but Cooking With Dog and its host Francis is great. Each video is about 4 minutes long and shows you all the steps in making traditional Japanese dishes such as gyoza, sushi, mochi, dorayaki and tonkatsu...which is neat, because you rarely get to see how these things are made. It is set to lovely classical music and is narrated in English by Francis. 

Francis by the way is a dog. His English is pretty good for both a dog and a Japanese person. Watching Cooking with Dog makes me miss my dogs back home (shout out to Bronco and Chase...RIP FOXBOT) So much so that yesterday, I went to the bookstore and looked at Corgi magazines for an hour then stopped by pet shop called Wan's Style in Roppongi to stalk the sedated puppies. "Wan" by the way is the noise Japanese people hear when dogs bark - it is their "woof woof". I have a dream of one day owning a dog and naming him Wan. I hope this dream comes true one day...but somebody is standing in my way. 

Wednesday, February 24, 2010

My Lunch :: February 24th :: Meal Muji

Another yummy lunch at meal Muji. Karage (fried chicken), mashed
kabocha, daikon kinpera salad, bread and a chocolate donut. The donut
was especially interesting due to the fried cornflakes covering the
outside. I like the crunch!

Monday, February 22, 2010

¡Muy Caliente!

Maybe a little too caliente -- I made the spicy pork with rice cakes
recipe from the Momofuku cookbook again. A few flubs on my part:
  •  I accidentally bought beef instead of pork. For future reference 牛 means beef and 豚 means pork. Geez, I really need to ramp up my Japanese studying...
  •  I suggest not following thr book's measurements exactly -- I like spicy but not so spicy that you can't even taste anything. I suggest maybe 1 to 1.5 TB of spicy bean paste (book calls for 2) and half the amount of dried peppers. The book calls for 2 cups which is kind of incredible now having eaten it twice with half that amount.

Thursday, February 18, 2010

51 Characters in Japan

 A cute iPhone App/Project describing the 51 characters in Japanese society. I'm sure there are more than 51 kinds of people here, but this does kind of cover the spectrum in an adorable way.

Tuesday, February 16, 2010

The Perfect Naka-Meguro Date :: Seirinkan Pizza and CremAmore Ice Cream


Pizza is one of those rare dishes in Japan that does not taste good after being adapted to Japanese tastes. I like hambaagus, love Japanese curry and they're the experts on ramen...but pizza? Please put down the mayonnaise and cod roe and step away from the kitchen. There are of course exceptions and Seirinkan in Naka-Meguro is one of them.  There are only two kinds of pizzas, so if you're looking for variety and toppings, this is not your place, but the two are authentic and more importantly, delicious. I prefer the Margherita to the Marinara, but they are simple and done to perfection. 
It would be wrong of me to not mention the decor. For whatever reason, the restaurant is made up like a Soviet bunker down to the giant camouflage net covering the entrance. Pizza? Communist propaganda? What could be missing?   
Dessert! I don't even know if Seirinkan has dessert but I would suggest skipping it if they do because there is a gem of a gelato shop right down the street that I always end my pizza meal with. CremAmore is a tiny shop/bar. You can buy a scoop from the window and take it to go, or join the locals inside for a drink and gelato. (Last time I was here, a woman went to sleep on the floor and the owner went upstairs and got her a blanket.) The shop owner is charming and sweet and will give samples of every flavor he has that day before he even asks for you order. The gelatos and sorbets and house made. My favorite is the strawberry gelato, which actually tastes like strawberries. 

Perfectly executed pizza and gelato -- it is one of the most perfect meals in Tokyo. 

Kami-Meguro 2-6-4. Open 11:30am-2, 6-9:30pm (LO) daily. 

Not sure the exact address, but if you come out of Seirinkan, go right and the shop will be right in front of you. 
Nakameguro Station (Hibiya and Tokyo Toyoku) 

Wednesday, February 10, 2010

Ogo's in Akasaka:: Award Winning Poké

This is the award winning Teriyaki Ahi Poké from Ogo's in Akasaka. It is definitely worth a visit. You should really go there and try it. They also have a super yum macaroni salad and their kahlua pig plate is addicting. I haven't had a ton of Hawaiian in my life, but being in Japan gives me an opportunity to try some great American food.

As with most Hawaiians, they're HUGE U of H football fans, so don't go in talkin' trash.

Ogo Ona Loa
5-1-4 Akasaka, Minato-ku, 5F
Near Chiyoda Line Akasaka Station and Ginza/Marunouchi Akasaka-Mitsuke Station
Behind Akasaka Sacas - look for the confederate flag from an inappropriate western bar nearby.

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Tuesday, February 9, 2010

Momofuku Love in Japan

I'm not sure if you know about my obsession with David Change and his Momofuku empire...if not, refer back to here, here, here and here. My sister gave me the BEST (and only by the way...that's right, I received ONE Christmas present this year...and it was in I sound bitter?!) Christmas gift a girl (like me) could ask for - an autographed copy of the Momofuku cookbook. Voila!
Full disclosure, I knew this gift was coming and I asked her before she went to his book signing, to ask him to write down some food recommendations in Tokyo, since, like a stalker, I knew that he had lived here once. David Chang's advice?

"Get lost in Nakano + Ogikubo  best spots for eats."

Ok! So we did get lost in Ogikubo a few weekends ago and we did stumble upon some great finds. I had a soy bean donut (sounds gross, but it was very tasty) and yummy keiten sushi. I hear Nakano is supposed to be pretty cool, so we'll be heading there sometime soon.

The cookbook itself is pretty bitchin'. I mean, it has all the staple Momofuku recipes in it, but to be honest, I'm probably not going to ever make my own ramen and I definitely will never have a need to recreate the Ko Caviar egg. What is cool about the book is the story he tells about his journey to where he is now. He talks a lot about living in Japan and his obsession with noodles and ramen. Since I live here, that part is particularly interesting. I guess maybe if you don't know about the Momfuku hype, the book is kind of whatevs, but I love it. I tried one of the more accesible recipes, the spicy pork and rice cakes, a few weeks ago and it was BLOWWWINYOFACEZOMGSOOOOOGOOOD. No seriously. Licked the pot clean in under an hour. If you have the book, I recommend trying this one out first since it will stock your kitchen with the ingredients you need for all the other stuff.

PS - I just read that Christina Tosi, the pastry chef for Ko and Momofuku Milk Bar is working on a Milk Bar cookbook. Courtney, if you're reading this, that's what I want for Christmas next year.