Tag Archives: Japanese

Yume-ya Japanese Izakaya

2 Aug

I thought I knew Japanese food. I love Japanese food and eat at Japanese restaurants quite often. Turns out I’ve never eaten izakaya style food. Izakaya is like a Japanese bar that serves small plates of food (like tapas in Spain). Yume-ya in Sunnyvale, CA is a cross between an izakaya and a sushi joint. We went with a friend who regularly goes and can order in Japanese so I got to try several new dishes. Don’t be scared of this next picture.

First, we got raw squid that had been marinated (fermented?) in its own gut juice (ika no shiokara). The dish looked pretty disgusting. It was very salty with a hint of lemon and the texture was slippery and soft. I couldn’t chew what I assume was the skin layer. I probably won’t order this again.

Next we got garlic shoots with fatty pork belly. This dish was shining with oil but tasted good. The greens were crisp and had excellent onion flavor. The pork was melt in your mouth (because it was mainly fat). I only wish it could be made with less oil.

We also had beef tongue and takoyaki. The beef tongue was grilled nicely and was tender. The sweet vinegar dipping sauce paired nicely with the salty meat. The takoyaki was fresh and hot with the octopus inside not being overcooked. Nice presentation but could have had more bonito flakes, I didn’t taste them at all.

Two orders of uni nigiri and a giant seaweed onigiri came next. Uni is sea urchin and I love it. These tasted great and were creamy. Yum! The rice in the onigiri was cooked perfectly but I didn’t love the spicy filling.

We also got sweet shrimp nigiri, which is raw shrimp. This was my favorite new thing to try. I’ve never had raw shrimp before and it was so creamy and delicate. The wasabi in between the shrimp and rice was great burst of flavor combining with the shrimp and roe in your mouth. This is a must try.

Lastly, we shared a bowl of chazuke, which is rice and fish roe in hot tea. I would have preferred salmon to the roe because I don’t like cooked fish eggs, but it was a comforting finish to the meal.

There were two dishes that we tried but I didn’t get a picture of before they got eaten (I’ve linked to pictures I found on google). One was mackerel, or saba, sashimi. This fish had a nice salty and fatty flavor. The other was fried shrimp heads, which was creepy to me at first due to the large eyes staring at me. I was converted once I bit into the crunchiness. It was a tasty bite.

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Backlog of food photos + Bento 39

28 Jun

I haven’t been motivated to write up a post for you all even though I have been taking pictures and all. Now that the weekend is over, I have no excuse to clear out the pictures that have been queuing up on my desktop.

Let’s start off with a bento I made last week. I only have access to two bento boxes (this one and a lock n lock) so they are a little bland in color. I’ll have to try to make more color foods.

bento 39

This bento has cut up homemade peanut zong zi, pork gyoza, and homemade pickled carrots from a previous CSA share. Our newest CSA share didn’t have carrots but had lots of other yummy stuff.

CSA share 5, click for notes

Week 5’s box had (going clockwise from left):
purple cocktail onions – fancy
green butter lettuce
huge bunch of Italian basil – eeks! no food processor/blender to make pesto!
mei quin choi – yay! Chinese veggies! so fresh and good.
gem lettuce (i think..or romaine)
strawberries
romanesco broccoli – tasted like cauliflower!
red norland potatoes
green beans

We ate out a few times even though we had so much food at home. I was really tired of cooking and all the leftovers were getting old so we ignored them and ended up throwing out a bunch of stuff last night. =( I hate wasting food.I need to learn to not buy so much and not cook so much because we only have two people to eat it all (versus 4-5 in my family).

On Friday night we went to Hotaru in downtown San Mateo. The Wine Walk event was occurring where streets were closed off for wine tasting booths on the street and in the stores downtown. It was lively with people enjoying live music, hor douvrs, and local wine. We walked around that for a bit before having dinner.

udon combo 1

Brian got the udon combo with grilled mackerel and California roll. I tried chirashi for the first time. I loved it! The fish here is really fresh and had a lot of flavor. There was also shrimp, octopus, squid, and sweetened egg along with tuna, salmon, and two types of white fish I couldn’t identify.

chirashi regular

For Sunday lunch we went to Saigon City in San Mateo. It was one of the hottest weekends of the summer though it was nothing compared to how hot and humid New York gets. We wanted non-hot food so we ordered banh mi. I got the ham and he got pork. They were really good. The bread was soft yet still had a nice chew unlike most Vietnamese sandwiches that are really chewy. My ham sandwich had two types of ham and pate. The pork was tender, flavorful and grilled nicely (not burnt). Both sandwiches were great with hot sauce.

ham banh mi

pork banh mi

Check out my next post for what we did on Saturday, there will be lots of pictures!

Day 1 in California

25 May

We landed in SFO yesterday. The international airport there is much nicer than JFK. We always fly Virgin America which lands in the international section of the airport. I highly recommend Virgin America, the planes interiors are much nicer than other comparative low-priced airlines. I sat in the middle seat this time which wasn’t as bad as I thought it would be. If I had a choice, I always pick an aisle seat. I’m mildly claustrophobic and also hate disturbing strangers if I need to use the restroom.

Brian’s apartment is in San Mateo and the complex is really nice. His windows face three gorgeous palm trees, a citrus fruit tree (not sure what type) and another unknown fruit tree that feeds birds. If you know what the fruit are, let me know if it tastes good!

There are lots of squirrels too including the aggressive black squirrels. They like to chase each other up and down the palm trees, spiraling around to avoid each other.

there are 2 squirrels here

Since Brian’s apartment is really close to downtown San Mateo, there are tons of restaurants to sample from. There’s a high concentration of Japanese restaurants in particular. I estimated around 15 Japanese restaurants the last time I was here, which is a huge number considering how small downtown actually is.

While I’m going to try to cook as much as possible to save money and eat healthier, we also like to eat out. It takes a lot of planning to cook in Brian’s kitchen since it’s not well stocked so sometimes we’re too lazy to cook, especially since there are so many affordable restaurants to pick from. So you can expect a lot of posts about restaurants!

For lunch on day 1, we ate at Old Town Sushi in downtown San Mateo. It was the cheapest Japanese restaurant I’ve been to and even though it’s run by Chinese people, the food was good.

We ordered the Shioyaki bento box and the Number One roll to share.

shioyaki with shrimp and veggie tempura

The shioyaki was done very nicely with crispy skin. The shrimp tempura wasn’t that great, the only good tempura were the sweet potato and kobucha pumpkin. It also came with salad, rice and 3 pieces of California roll (didn’t like). See here for full picture.

Number One roll

The Number One roll was really tasty for a super-sized American style sushi roll. The roll consisted of shrimp, avocado, crab salad inside with half salmon and half tuna on top and covered in more crab salad, scallions, black sesame and a mild hot sauce. While it was good, we ended up not eating most of the crab salad on top. I think it’s the same crab they use in the California rolls, which I didn’t like. They also gave us a free bowl of edamame once we sat down along with rice green tea.

miso soup came with the bento box

Brian went back to work and I did some shopping. I went to the thrift store and got hangers and a small ironing board for $5 total. After work, we went grocery shopping at an awesome Asian supermarket called Ranch 99. $30 worth of groceries earned us $3 for their hot deli section so we got the most delicious loaf red bean swirl Taiwanese bread. Yum, the perfect breakfast.

For dinner we ate in Mountain View because Brian is cat-sitting three adorable cats for a friend. We also got a hot roasted oolong milk bubble tea at Tea Era. I have lots of pics but don’t want to bombard this post so I’ll try to post more later if we go back. Dinner was at Pho Garden, home of the pho challenge.

There were so many people attempting the pho challenge, which was to finish 2 lbs of noodles and 2 lbs of beef in one hour (don’t need to finish soup). If they win, they get to keep the giant bowl and a t-shirt, if they lose, they get the t-shirt. You could also order that dish for multiple people to share but you don’t win anything if you finish. I totally think my brother would try this if he were here. I sneaked a picture of these guys who were just starting. Look here for a picture of them signing the contract (several pages long).

pho challenge

I had the Garlic Noodles with Five Spice Chicken. The chicken was great! The noodles were coated in garlic powder.. I was not expecting that. I would have preferred real garlic or some kind of garlic sauce.

5 spice chicken garlic noodles

Brian got the Beef Pho. It’s very important that the soup broth is tasty and this one was. I saved the leftover sprouts and Thai basil to make some summer rolls later. My excuse: the basil and sprouts were sold in huge packs at the supermarket! ^_^

beef pho

We’re having leftovers for lunch and going to Amanda’s home for a family dinner today. I made sai mai lo so I’ll post that tomorrow if I remember to take pictures. Thanks for reading!

Yaki Soba

7 Apr

Yaki soba, aka Japanese stir-fried noodles, is a yummy dish that’s quick and filling. You can grab a whatever veggies you have in the fridge, chop them into pieces and use them in this dish. I think cabbage is typical. This time I used cabbage, baby carrots, baby sweet peppers and scallion. I like it with onions and regular carrots too. If you want some protein, fry an egg or cook some chopped meat marinated in a bit of soy sauce. Anything goes. Keep reading for a pseudo recipe.

My kind of fast food.

For the noodle, you can buy fresh yaki soba but I don’t always have that on hand so I use dry packaged ramen noodles. This time I used a Korean brand udon style noodle. Boil the noodles for 1 or 2 minutes, drain and place onto a large hot pan. Sesame oil works well here. Let it sit until the bottom side turns slightly brown, flip over and move it over to side of the pan. Add more sesame oil and chopped veggies/protein to the pan.

Meanwhile, make sauce: 1 Tbsp oyster sauce, 1 tsp soy sauce, 1 tsp sake (or water). When veggies are slightly tender, mix with noodles and add sauce. Stir until well mixed and hot. Serve immediately. Makes 1 serving.

Bento Challenge update:

Not such a good day challenge wise because I ate strangely today. I blame it on stressing out about the exam I had tonight (it went fine).  Breakfast was a slice of apple pie! Lunch was yaki soba. Small iced coffee during the exam. Dinner was shrimp and veggie tempura donburi and 2 donut holes. It wasn’t too much food but not too healthy. Broke some challenge goals: bought junk food (a big bag of donut holes.. they weren’t that good either) and didn’t pack a bento when I could have. Granted, I spent that time studying and making lunch.. excuses. Didn’t eat after 9pm though so that’s good. Let’s see how I do tomorrow.

Hiyashi Chuka – Japanese Noodle Salad

11 Mar

Spring is coming! The weather in NY has been warming up and sunny days are a motivation to eat healthier and exercising outdoors. I went for a jog today.. I am so out of shape I barely got anywhere. So I went home and made lunch. haha.

Hiyashi chuka is a cold dish served in the summer. It’s normally made with chukamen which is raw ramen noodles (not the instant kind) but I didn’t have that on hand so I used rice stick noodles. I topped it with lots of fresh veggies, some protein and finished it off with flavor boosts from scallion and sesame seeds.

Hiyashi chuka close up

Toppings: English cucumber, corn, baby carrots, shredded chicken, egg strips, red pepper, shredded nori, scallion, sesame seeds.

Dressing: 1/3 cup water / 3 Tbsp rice vinegar / 2 Tbsp soy sauce / 3 Tbsp sugar / 1 tsp sesame oil (serves 4).

Hiyashi chuka

Delicious and good for you! Eating a variety of colors in vegetable form gives you lots of nutrients. Cooking with Dog has a video on how to make another version of this dish. Watch it to learn how to make the egg strips.

Taiyaki <fish waffles)<

4 Mar

taiyaki waffle
Taiyaki made with waffle batter.

My taiyaki pan finally arrived!! It took a week to get to me. Shipping was a ridiculous flat $10 for such a small pan. I got it off ebay from California. If someone knows where to find one in NYC please let me know for future reference. I searched all over Chinatown with no luck. I DID find a takoyaki pan for $12 at a restaurant supply on Bowery St. which is a lot cheaper than Kam Man on Canal St. Takoyaki =/= taiyaki. Too bad.

taiyaki in pan
The pan looks big but it’s actually not that big.

I tried two recipes. The first recipe was from Cooking with Dog on Youtube. I love those videos! I’ve never had real taiyaki except for the chibi-taiyaki from Sweet Breams in San Mateo, CA so I’m not sure what to look for. The batter from Cooking with Dog’s recipe is not that sweet which compliments the sweet store bought red bean paste inside. I actually messed up and did 100g of water instead of 100ml. The second batter was a simple waffle batter that had milk, oil, all purpose flour, a lot more baking powder and required whipping egg whites to fold into the batter. More work, more fat and actually didn’t taste as good as the Japanese recipe. I did half nutella and half red bean paste in this batch. If you can find red bean paste that’s in the pouch, I recommend that over the can. It tastes sweeter and is mashed not pureed so it’s more authentic. Or you can make your own.

taiyaki cropped
From the Japanese recipe.

I still have to work on cooking it properly to get it to crisp up without burning. Next experiment will be the recipe below with all purpose flour instead of cake flour and the correct amount of water.

taiyaki nutella
Waffle batter with nutella.

Taiyaki Batter

by Cooking with Dog

Ingredients:
100g Cake Flour (3.53 oz)
2/3 tsp Baking Soda
2 tbsp Sugar
1/2 Egg (30g/1.06 oz)
100ml Water (3.38 fl oz)

Directions:
1. Sift together flour, baking soda and sugar in a large bowl.
2. Whisk together egg and water.
3. Make a well in the flour and slowly pour in egg and water while whisking outwards to incorporate all the flour. This will prevent lumps.

Japanese + Korean + Cupcakes

28 Feb

I ate really well yesterday. Good thing I stopped counting calories because I probably ate enough for a couple of days.

Breakfast: bowl of whole grain cheerios with 2% milk.

Lunch: Udon with homemade dashi stock (bonito flakes, dried fish, dashi granules, soy sauce, mirin, sugar), char siu (roast pork), poached egg, cabbage, naruto, nori, scallions, and ichimi togarashi (pepper flakes).
udon bowl top
Close up of raw egg goodness and cute naruto swirls:
udon bowl
During a 5 hour karaoke marathon at Duet 48: a large Calpico soju (yum!), a big bite of everything in the box of Buttercup Bake Shop goodies Wendy brought, a cookie (the momofuku ones I made). Click on photo to see what each cupcake is.
buttercup cupcakes
Dinner: Pocha 32 in Korea town: along with pictures below, jap chae, seafood pajun (that they hid tons of jalapenos in.. not good, way too spicy), and a sweet/savory rice cake stir fry.

Whole squid stuffed with spicy pork:
pork stuffed squid
The stew we always get with ramen, rice cakes, spam, sausage, tofu, veggies, cheese..
korean stew pocha
Garlic breaded chicken:
garlic breaded chicken

My poor, happy belly. =D

Edit: Totally forgot about the watermelon soju!
watermelon soju