Tuesday, April 27, 2010

My Lunch :: April 27th

My favorite thing about making bentos is the jealous looks from my
coworkers. Yeah, you should be jealous.

Friday, April 23, 2010

Twea Time

This is my tea cup. I enjoy trying out new kinds with it. My roommate
hates this cup and I made him promise not to break it. I think it has
been hard on him.

By the way, the writing on the side says "My rabbit Pipi and my bear
Popo are my very own special treasures. Sleep, teatine, we do
everything together!"


Thursday, April 22, 2010

Morning Boss Coffee

I have an iPhone which I could not live without. It helps me stay in touch with friends and family back home by doing dumb stuff like making videos of me buying coffee from a vending machine. Lately, I've been making mini-docudramas on my daily life in Japan and sending them to my friend Dolly*. I'm officially obsessed with sending her mundane clips of me shakily walking across the street. I promise to make them more interesting, but this first one gives you a glimpse of how my morning starts. Don't mind my weird narration voice. For some reason, when you make iPhone videos, you talk in a sing songy baby voice.

*Not her real name, though she wishes it was.

Wednesday, April 21, 2010

Cat Cafes :: Meow!

During my friend Kathy's visit, I finally made it to a cat cafe. Tokyo has a lot of themed restaurants and cafes. I'm sure you've heard of maid cafes and the ninja restaurant. Cat Cafes are only kind of popular here and after visiting one, I think I know why they haven't gotten popular. BECAUSE THEY ARE WEIRD AND BORING!!!

I should mention that I am not a cat person. I've grown up with dogs my whole life so cats just don't appeal to me. People like to say that cats are great because they are independent and don't need you. That does not sound interesting to me. If I wanted that, I'd go get a career oriented girlfriend.  

The cafe we went to is called Nekorobi in Ikebukuro. There are a lot of cat cafes in Ikebukuro, so people often call it Nekobukuro. (Neko means cat in Japanese.) You pay 1,000 yen an hour for all you can drink vending machine drinks and candy. They also give you a small bag of cat food to feed the cats. That is basically the only way you can get the cats to play with you. Once you run out of food, you're boned. Check out the action:
Cats just sleep! That's it. I mean...this guy up here who is looking perky, I was only able to get this picture by bribing him with the last of my food. He quickly scampered off to some other lonely woman in the corner once he realized I was of no use to him. Even the cafe owners know how boring it can be! They have a Wii that you can play during your hour...in case you get bored...which you will.

It was pretty silly and Kathy and I got lots of giggles in, but it's also a pretty sad place. It's more like a kitty nap room than a cafe and it was sad to watch all the excited kids be disappointed by the lame cats. It is even more sad to see the middle-aged women trying to coax the uninterested felines.

No thank you cat cafes. I will stick to reading Corgi Style magazine at the bookstore and drooling over the sedated puppies at the pet stores like a creepy dogophile.

*** I wanted to link "sedated puppies" to a pet store called Wan's Style in Roppongi. When I went to Google it, the first post came up with my own blog. Apparently, I have already talked about my disgusting pet store visits.

Monday, April 19, 2010

Ms. Ha's Kimchi Yakiudon

When I lived in New York, my friend Kathy and I used to cook each other dinner all the time. It was fun, we both like to cook and it saved us a little money. Win - win - win. No one cooks for me in Japan. That's not a complaint, just a fact.  Kathy made kimchi yakiudon over the weekend in NY, so I asked her for the recipe. I cooked it up tonight and it was exactly what I needed on a hectic Monday night. Gooey, kimchi-y and filling.

I prefer yakiudon to yakisoba because I like the texture of udon noodles more than the noodles they use in yakisoba. Considering the name, you'd think they'd be buckwheat soba noodles, but you'd be wrong! Yakisoba is actually made with egg noodles similar to the ones you find in ramen. Please feel free to use this tidbit to start a conversation with a good looking stranger.

Kathy is a really good cook by the way. I'm more of a baker - I use measurements and am sometimes overly anal about cooking. She's a free spirit and her recipe instructions are fun because they force me to experiment and go with the flow. In the spirit of Ms. Ha, here is the basic recipe:

1. Heat up some oil in a hot wok or skillet. Add chopped garlic and ginger.
2. Add onions (greed, white, yellow - whatever). Add pork belly slices (beef if you prefer). Salt and pepper. Cook awhile until pork is cooked.
3. At this point, you can add any other veggies you like - mushrooms, carrots, bean sprouts, bell peppers. The sky's the limit!
4. Add kimchi and mix well.
5. Add boiled udon or egg noodles. Add about 1 TB of soy sauce, 1 TB mirin and some sesame seed oil.
6. Add chopped cabbage at the end and mix well.


Tuesday, April 13, 2010

Monday, April 12, 2010

Hanami Party!

April means Hanami mania in Japan and I have been taking every opportunity to enjoy the pretty pink petals floating around Tokyo. Cherry Blossoms are called sakura in Japan and they're a national treasure. Come early April, the newspapers, local parks and nightly news gives full updates on the various cherry blossom viewing spots around town. Once the flowers have bloomed to around 60%, hordes of people head to the parks and picnic under the trees to view the flowers (hence, hanami, which means "flower viewing"). If that sounds a little dull to you, let me add that part of the ritual is to bring massive amounts of yummy food like fried chicken and rice balls and wash it all down with massive amounts of alcohol. Hilarity and silliness ensues of course. Here are some pictures from my hanami adventures around Japan:
My friend Natsuko and I in Shinjuku Gyoen on a rather cold Sunday afternoon
Our Hanami Spread: potato salad, egg omelet, inari, green beans wrapped in pork, fried chicken, rice crackers, mochi and red wine with orange juice. 

It was a busy day at the park, here are our neighbors who got pretty rowdy on champagne. 
Kyoto Style Hanami - more food vendors and little benches and tables.
Another popular hanami spot in Tokyo is Nakameguro. There are lots of cute restaurants and bars that sell drinks to-go so you can stroll down the river and enjoy the flowers. 
View from above. Kiyomizu Temple in Kyoto. 
Happy Cherry Blossom viewing!