Monday, May 31, 2010

Important Message: Squidward is My Roommate

I just wanted to update everyone that in all posts moving forward, I will be changing my roommate's code name to Squidward. (See photo above) The reason? It's a much more accurate code name than "roommate" and it is easier to write. If you don't know anything about Squidward, here is an excerpt from his Wikipedia page:

He works as a cashier at the Krusty Krab, a job he hates. SpongeBob and Patrick consider Squidward their friend, but the feeling is not mutual.
In addition to his malcontent attitude, Squidward is depicted as a narcissist, displaying an unjustified air of superiority. As a result, he has a large collection of self portraits and is delusional about his talents, such as playing the clarinet and dancing, though nobody around him considers him to be very good at these talents.
Also worth mentioning: Squidward's nemesis is named Squilliam Fancyson III 

I love you Squidward. 

International House of Bentos

Just because bentos are a Japanese thing doesn't mean your bento has to include Japanese food. I've given Harumi a little break and for awhile, was really into pasta so I think I had spagetti for 4 days in a row. Then I got back into Vietnamese food, which explains the photo above.
A lot of times, my bentos rely on whatever is in the fridge and they don't always go together. In the box above, I had spaghetti bolognese, a carrot and cauliflower salad and edamame. I don't have a picture of it, but a few weeks ago my bento consisted of some soy sauce and butter potatoes, strawberries with nutella and half a PBJ sandwich. I don't actually mind the eclectic nature of these meals, but I do get some funny looks from some of the more traditional bento makers in the office.

Friday, May 28, 2010

Sandwich Party!

I really like options. Buffets, toppings and self-assembly parties are all the rage in my book. I didn't have a lot of birthday parties when I was younger (wah wah) but if I could go back and do it, I would do a blow out Sweet 16 with a make your own Sundae bar. Take that Heiress from Paris! Last night I was inspired by my roommate's recent trip to NY and was painfully jealous of all his yummy sandwich pictures. Tortas! Banh Mi! Pastrama on Rye oh my! It was painful. To remedy, I decided to buy a butt-load (that's a lot, btw) of sandwich ingredients and had sandwich party of my own.

I'm no sandwich rookie mind you. I became with subs while living in Seattle. (I love you Firecracker!) When I briefly lived in San Francisco, my sister and I got really serious about panini's thanks to my suggestion that my mom get a fancy panini press for her/us. I learned a lot in that brief year in SF Paniniland.

1. If you make a panini on a crunchy baguette, turn it upside down when you eat to avoid shredding up the inside of your mouth.

2. Spinach or arugula dressed in olive oil, salt and pepper make the best greens option.

3. You gotta have thinly sliced red onions.

4. Pesto spread makes everything better.


Sandwich party was a success even though bread in Japan is depressing. It is so humid here that if you pick up a baguette, even if it is from a nice bakery, it looks like a flacid penis. Once you heat it up, it dried up and somewhat resembles real bread, but it's still a far cry from anything you could get in your regular grocery store in America.

Oh yeah, I also made smashed potatoes as a side from my new cookbook from COOK COOP. They were also tastey - a nice alternative to most potato chips. (But not these kind of potato chips...)

Tuesday, May 25, 2010

My Dream :: Cook COOP Shibuya

I'm going to let you in on a little secret - I would love nothing more than to quit my job and open up a cafe/cookbook shop. I don't care where it is, I just want to do it. It would combine two of my favorite things and I think I'd be pretty happy doing it. My roommate stumbled upon my dream in Shibuya a few weeks ago and I had to check it out.

COOK COOP is a tiny cookbook shop in Shibuya just off of Meiji-dori. They're part of a bookstore/cafe chain in Tokyo called the Shibuya Universal Society. Unfortunately for me, most of the books are in Japanese but they do carry a few English language cookbooks. The staple Phaidon series line the windows, but I was way more interested in all the British books they carried. Crumpets! Puddings! Banofee Pie! I was put on a very strict cookbook diet after going a little nuts on Harumi, but wanted to support this tiny shop. I came away with a UK published book called Easy Comfort Food. One of the perks of buying a non-American book is that the ingredients are listed in grams. That's how things are packaged in Japan and it makes things A ZILLION times easier for me to shop and measure. No more conversion apps for me! I just cannot afford to drop my iPhone in another bowl of meat or flour.

Saturday, May 22, 2010

Are you ready?

I don't work for the leader anymore and I pretty much don't follow sports anymore however, I'm super pumped for The World Cup. June 11th couldn't come sooner!!! Now living in Japan, I feel compelled to root for them which would bring my loyalties up to 3. If you're wondering, they are, in order of importance, - Germany, USA and Japan.

Since the Winter Olympics pretty much bored me to death, I could use a little boost in my sports step. I may not know who won the Super Bowl this year or care about Kobe doin' work, but I know and care about the important things - Chad Ochocinco was unjustly voted off Dancing with the Stars and will Cheryl Cole be cheering on her cheating husband in the WAGS section this year?!

Friday, May 21, 2010

My Lunch :: May 21st

It is ALMOST like I'm in New York. I made a batch of the spicy pork sausage ragout on Wednesday and my roomie brought back from NY my favorite Momofuku Milk Bar Cookie - cornflake-chocolate chip-marshmallow. Now all I need is some Apple Kimchi...

I have to say, this ragout is pretty much my all time favorite thing to make. The entire recipe calls for rice cakes, bok choy and tofu but lately I've just been making the pork sauce (it does look a lot like a bolognese...hence my ragout reference) and putting it on other stuff because unless you eat it right away, rice cakes get dry and it's just not too appetizing. You could also just eat the sauce by itself -that's how tasty it is, but since I eat at my desk in front of my coworkers, I thought it best not to eat ground pork sauce by the spoonful at work. Yesterday I mixed the sauce with some udon noodles - a natural pair since udon noodles are kind of similar to rice cakes. (Asian Spaghetti anyone?) Today I kind of made the original recipe by topping it with some boiled bok choy and a block of silken tofu. Also delicious but note to self: silken tofu is mad watery so you shouldn't pack it overnight in your bento. I didn't let all the drained water get me down though - it turned my lunch into a spicy tofu soup...kind of like soon du bu. Have I stumbled upon something great?! Me thinks so.

Monday, May 17, 2010

Frugal in the City

Sorry for the sort of Sex and the City title - I swear I'm not schilling for the new SATC2. Oh don't worry, I will be doing my womanly duty of seeing it because sadly, it is one of the better American releases coming to Japan. (Although, I just rented An Education on iTunes and loved it so much that I'm going to see it again in the theaters when my roommate comes back. How cute is Carrie Mulligan?!)

Ok, so wait...I was writing about something...oh yeah! Discounted food! It is my new obsession. Grocery stores in Japan keep their prepared foods pretty fresh. They're really good about knowing how many units to put out so that they don't sell out but also don't have a ton leftover. If you're lucky or really anal about saving a couple hundred yen (err sorry American friends...a couple bucks...or a quid for you Britons *yeah right Kim, no one in the UK reads your blog*) you can score some heavily discounted goods around 6pm. It's pretty good stuff too! The grocery store is really busy around this time and usually filled with sharp elbowed older women who take the discounted potato salad, edamame, sushi rolls and leftover lunch bentos etc. very seriously. I usually don't even bother with it in fear that I'll be run over by an oba-chan ("grandma" in Japanese).

So lately I've been getting into the game but instead of trolling my local grocery store, I set my eyes on the prize - Dean & Deluca. D&D is about an 8 minute walk from my work so this past week, I've been heading over to scout the goods. I've been pretty lucky! I haven't been in a mood to cook of late since the roomie is gone this week, so these 1-person meals have been a nice respite from my kitchen stress adventures. They're usually pretty healthy, a little fancy and also cheap. Win-win-win! Tonight, I got a grilled mediterranean salad for dinner plus cous cous salad and a brie and prosciutto sandwich for lunch tomorrow.

* Remember how cool Felicty and Ben Covington were for making friends with their adult boss Javier? Sorry, this was just a lame excuse to post a picture of Scott Speedman but unfortunately, he has his back turned here.

How's this?

Thursday, May 13, 2010

Playing Chicken with Kayak...And Losing...Badly

I have to go home in June for wedding, so I've been tracking fares on It's been all fun and games...up $11...down $6...up...down. Just tiny, kind of insignificant amounts that make it feel like Monopoly money. But then, shit gets real. Nothing feels worse than when you open up your daily alert (which you've been looking forward to these past few weeks) and you see that the ticket you've been waiting for just went up $200! Like an idiot, you freak out, switch the dates to get a lower fare and buy the ticket immediately. Phew. Right?

Wrong. Of course, the next day, you will no doubt get another alert letting you know that, "Hey! Had you been more of a risk taker, you could have saved $107 AND flown out on the date you really wanted to fly thus giving you a whole extra weekend to spend with your family who you haven't seen in almost a year! Oh yeah,'re totally going to miss Father's Day at home too."

Lesson learned. I will not be going to Vegas on my trip home.

Tokyo (NRT) to San Francisco (SFO), round trip
Friday, Jun 18 to Monday, Jun 28
$942$107 since yesterday
per person, economy, nonstop

Today's best fares - cheapest 4 of 7 airlines (May 13, 2:13a EDT)

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Fly when fares are low
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Tuesday, May 11, 2010

My Lunch :: May 12th

Today's lunch is this well balanced bento of Spagetti Bolognese, Cauliflower and Carrot salad (tossed in white truffle oil - swanky!) and a handful of edamame. It was, as usual, very delicious.

Many people assume that when you live in Japan, you will automatically lose a ton of weight because you're eating tons of fresh fish and veggies. Well, that may be true if you're living far far away from the big city but in Tokyo, temptation awaits you around every corner. McDonald's, fried chicken, pastries and ice cream -- they're everywhere and they're delicious. Packing a bento for myself has helped me cut these temptations Monday through Friday but lunch is still pretty exciting. Bento boxes are pretty small, so it helps with portion control. Many boxes come with dividers and small cups to promote diversity in your meal. A little bit of this, a little bit of that - it keeps things fun.