Monthly Archives: December 2012

Osaka, A Foodie’s Heaven

Our foodie adventures in Tokyo and Kyoto were thus far fruitful and fulfilling. Osaka was our next and final stop. For me, the main highlight of our trip in Osaka is the vast varieties of restaurants and food stalls in Dotonbori. You’ll be spoiled for choice as everything looks so tempting and yummy.

DotonboriGastronomic adventure @ Dotonbori, Namba Osaka.

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Here are some of the food that we managed to try:

@ Yodobashi-Umeda (Add: 530-0011 1-1 Ofukacho Kita-ku Osaka, Japan)

Yodobashi in Umeda, Osaka is enormously big. It is a shopping mall that sells electrical products (cameras, laptops, and house applicanses), toys (figurines, video games, and gundams) and fashion items (clothes and jeweleries). After browsing and shopping around the mall, you can satisfy your tummy on the 8th floor whereby the whole floor is occupied by a variety of restaurants.

Tempura setTonkatsu lunch set meal.

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Foodie Hunt Continues in Kyoto, Japan

We left Tokyo with satisfying tummies and a big smile on our faces. Our next stop is the ever picturesque Kyoto. Unlike the hustle and bustle of Tokyo, Kyoto is calmer, quieter and has a higher number of elderly people. With its laid-back and romantic atmosphere, its rich heritage and together with its picture perfect scenery, Kyoto city is absolutely stunning and enchanting. The gardens and temples around Kyoto are just so mesmerizing and words can’t accurately describe how beautiful they are. If you’re in Kyoto, I strongly advise you to spend at least a day in Arashiyama. This place is just out of this world and its surrounding temples and shrines are definitely worth exploring. With all these magnificent architectures scattered around Kyoto, it is no surprise that Kyoto city has 17 sites listed under the UNESCO World Heritage Sites.

Here are some snapshots of this charming and beautiful city.

Sagano Bamboo ForestSagano bamboo forest @ Arashiyama.

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Foodie Hunt in Tokyo, Japan

Mr. D & I went to Japan last May and instantly fell head over heels for its people, culture, breathtaking scenery, and of course its FOOD. We visited Tokyo, Kyoto, Kobe and Osaka and by the end of our trip we were deflated but it was all worth it. Everything in Japan is just sooo awesome, well-organized, clean, and a well-thought out country. Japan’s public transportation system is excellent, very efficient, and they are super duper punctual. You can actually set your watch time according to the trains’ arrival time.

As for its people, Japanese are so courteous, considerate and whatever they do, they do it diligently. Janitors in Japan are so meticulous in their job and I was awed by watching them cleaning the stairs, wiping them so carefully making sure every nook and cranny is being paid attention to, and picking up tiny bits and pieces of paper which most of us couldn’t spot. Salute!~ Both of us can’t really speak Japanese but that didn’t pose much problems. It was just a little more inconvenient in Kyoto especially when we were trying to use their luggage delivery service to deliver our bags from Kyoto to Osaka. (Yes, they have a luggage delivery service whereby you just drop your luggage at a convenience store and the luggage will  find their way to the destination punctually. Save you the hassle of carrying them up and down the train/bus). But other than that, we managed to communicate pretty well with the locals with a combination of hand gestures and body language, English, and our limited Japanese vocabulary. 😛

IMG_2115The Rainbow Bridge that connects Tokyo and Odaiba. It looks amazing at night. Odaiba is a man-made island and housed a lot of attractions. If you’re a Gundam fan, you are no stranger to this place.

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Mac & Cheese

For me, it’s important to obtain good quality cheese and pasta when cooking Mac & Cheese because these two are the heroes of the dish. I enjoy Barilla’s pasta more than San Remo’s as Barilla’s pasta has nice bitey texture and shorter cooking time. As for the cheese, I used Bega’s vintage cheddar and Mainland’s Gruyere. This recipe by Neil Perry calls for the addition of smoked paprika and Dijon mustard into the cream mixture. The flavor is rather interesting and all of them goes hand in hand together. I usually give it a generous sprinkle of breadcrumbs over the top and slowly grill it for better crunch and fragrance. I can assure you that you’ll be sticking to this recipe after you try it as it’s so easy, quick, and most importantly, DELICIOUS. I was pleasantly surprised at how light this dish is despite the amount of cream and cheese used in this recipe. This recipe is definitely a keeper!

IMG_6418These are what you need. Missing breadcrumbs as I forgot to take it out from the cabinet.

IMG_6449Yum yum…

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Super Creamy Dark Chocolate Ice-Cream With Roasted Slivered Almonds

I have been dying to try my ice-cream bowl which I got it free when I purchased the Breville stand mixer. Before that, I need to decide on the type; ice-cream, gelato, sorbet or granita. According to Breville’s booklet,  ice-cream has the highest percentage of  fat among them. It consists of a combination of milk, cream, sugar and eggs. There are also ice-cream recipes that do not require any eggs. Gelato is a milk based ice that is lower in fat compared to French and American-style ice-cream and are usually flavored with fresh fruits, syrups or coffee. Sorbet is a frozen dessert typically flavored with fruit while granita is an ice-based dessert. It took me forever to decide on both the type and flavor because being an ice-cream freak, I love almost every flavor that are out there. After a long long thought, I finally settled on dark chocolate ice-cream, a classic flavor.

I was busy with my work yesterday and I have to use up my opened bottle of cream ASAP. Mr. D kindly offered to help me to prepare the ice-cream mixture. Making your own ice-cream is not difficult at all especially when you have an ice-cream maker. It’s superbly fun and rewarding (in terms of taste). I am extremely delighted with the end result. Our homemade ice-cream is super creamy and I love the crunchy bits of roasted almonds in the ice-cream. The dark chocolate flavor is so intense that it feels like chocolate fireworks explosions in your mouth. This easily beats any ice-cream sold in the supermarkets.

IMG_6342Chopped dark chocolate

IMG_6368Roasted almonds

17Such great fun churning your own ice-cream!

IMG_6454Tadaa…Yippie!  \(^ ^)/

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Claypot-less Chicken Rice

Are you a fan of claypot chicken rice? I know I AM! For those of you who have no idea what it is, allow me to enlighten you. 🙂 Basically, it is a combination of marinated chicken pieces, shitake mushrooms, and rice cooked in a claypot over high flames and right before it is served, an egg is cracked over the rice and sprinkled with salted fish. I’m feeling hungry already by just describing it. Haha, greedy me! 😛

Claypot chicken rice is easily obtainable anywhere in Penang, Malaysia. Unfortunately, this is not the case in Australia especially in Geelong. But that won’t stop me from enjoying my favorite food. If I crave it, cook it I shall!

Cooking the dish in a claypot will produce a layer of crispy bits at the bottom of the pan and this gives the dish a great charred flavor. This charred flavor together with the egg and fragrant salted fish are just amazing! (Mmm!~~ ) Sadly, I do not have a claypot so I’ll just have to make do with what I’ve got, a microwavable pot or a rice cooker. Although cooking it this way does not give you the amazing crispy charred bits, it still taste delicious especially when serving with good quality salted fish. This dish is a great one pot dish for those lazy days as it is very simple to cook. It is important to get the right balance of saltiness in this dish. After some trial and error, this is the final recipe that I’m happy with.

15Salted fish brought in from Penang by Mr. D’s mom. Salted fish sold in asian groceries stores in Melbourne is super expensive and not as fresh looking as the ones back home. 

IMG_6315Soaked shitake musrooms. Do not throw away the soaking liquid as it is used to enhance the rice flavor.

IMG_6335Golden brown salted fish.

IMG_6334Make sure to stir fry the rice and all of the ingredients evenly in the wok before transferring to the rice cooker or microwavable pot.

IMG_6339Itadakimasu! 🙂

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Creamy Mushroom Soup & Pan-Fried Chicken

Last week, Coles had specials on mushrooms. The timing was perfect as I had plan to cook my own creamy mushroom soup. However, I didn’t have the chance to cook it until tonight as it was pretty hot for the past whole week. There’s no air-conditioner in our house and we only have a tower fan to keep ourselves cool. Drinking hot soup on a hot day in our hot house is definitely a big NO NO. Tonight is good as the temperature is slowly going down.

Actually, I tried making my own mushroom soup once, last year, but didn’t like the consistency of the soup because I didn’t blend them at the end. I did not have a stick blender or a food processor at that time. We bought a stick blender at the beginning of this year so time to re-visit my creamy mushroom soup. This time, I added dried porcini mushrooms to give the soup a stronger earthy flavor and it really worked wonders. The aroma was absolutely fantastic. Dried porcini mushrooms are not cheap though, $5.89 for 20g but you only need a small amount for the soup. Having soup alone could not satisfy our large capacity tummies so I did a quick pan-fried chicken to go with the soup.

IMG_6305Wonderful stuff.

IMG_6306I need to improve on my food presentation skills.

IMG_6308Pan fried chicken inspired by Jamie Oliver.

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