Archive for April, 2012

Bread Baking Tools

The last time my parents came to visit, they brought some gifts to help me with my bread baking. This loaf pan is specifically shaped for bread rather than the more shallow pans for pound cakes. This means our bread is now finally shaped like bread, and it fits in the toaster!

Another must-have tool for bread baking, a quality serrated bread knife. No more trying to cut bread with a regular knife – hooray! Today’s bread: I tried 33% whole wheat, but whole wheat doesn’t rise as well. I’m still experimenting with different combinations.

 

 

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Flight to Honolulu

Because this is a red eye, probably the smart thing to do would be to skip the meal service and get as much sleep as you can on the six and a half hour flight. That way, you could beat the jet lag and get back to a full day of activity when you land in Hawaii. Yes, that would have been the smart thing, but my 食い意地 (obsession with food?) got the best of me…

Business class light meal service after take off: somen with ginger and sauce, yakitori with pineapple. Coconut ice cream.

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Breakfast before landing: French toast with blueberry sauce, fresh fruit, kalua pig omelet. Yum!

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This concludes my Babymoon Tokyo 2012 Report. Thanks for bearing with me! I just wanted to record everything so it helps me remember what I did and how I felt on the trip. Hubby and I had a wonderful time and are so glad we had this time together.

Last Dinner in Tokyo

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Hawaiian Airlines departs from Haneda Airport around midnight, giving Japan goers time for a full day of sight seeing before heading back to Hawaii. We had our last meal in Tokyo at the airport before boarding our flight.

Haneda Airport’s international terminal is brand new and sparkling clean. They have a beautiful Edo period themed shopping and restaurant promenade on the fourth floor. We chose Hyakuzen, a traditional Japanese restaurant for our last supper.

Bakudan Kakiage Teishoku (¥1890).

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Otsukuri (sashimi) Teishoku (¥2500). The side dishes were presented so beautifully.

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Good bye Tokyo! We will miss you…

Haykuzen
Haneda Airport International Terminal

Dirt Cheap Eats: Sukiya!

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Strapped for cash? Head to Sukiya, where ¥200 will get you breakfast and ¥400 will get you a satisfying lunch. On day 3 for lunch, we found ourselves in Sukiya at Shibuya for lunch. Sukiya is a major national fast food chain specializing in gyu-don (beef bowls). Sukiya and Yoshinoya are kind of like the McDonalds and Burger King of Japan. You can build your own meal by first selecting the desired size of gyu-don, ranging from mini to mega size, and adding on toppings, miso soup, raw egg, and side dishes to your liking. In addition to gyu-don, they also have curry rice, hamburger steak and other entrees.

Hubby got the medium-large sized beef bowl with takana and mentaiko mayo topping (¥480) and a side of macaroni salad (¥40).

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I got the mini gyu-don (¥230) and made it a set by adding on tonjiru and raw egg (¥130) and salad (¥100) for a total of ¥460 only!

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What a deal!

Breakfast Day 3

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Headed out to a morning of sight seeing, we stopped by a nearby cafe for breakfast. Hubby’s cheese dog and caramel latte set (¥620).

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My ham, egg and pesto sandwich set (¥430).

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Japan’s cafe selections are now largely espresso based, allowing for customization of flavors and soy milk, etc., but the one thing I still find hard to find here is a caffeine free alternative. Decaf is still hard to come by, so I carried my own rooibos tea bags around. But even that level of customization can face some bumps in a culture where efficiency and convenience trump individualization and special dietary requests. I had to laugh when reenacting my ordering scene to hubby who was saving a table for us:

Me (in Japanese): “I’d like the morning set A please”
Cashier: “What drink would you like with your set?”
Me: “May I have a cup of hot water?”
…long pause…
Cashier: “Um, the set only comes with your choice of these drinks (pointing to menu): coffee hot or iced, tea hot or iced, cappuccino, cafe latte”
Me: “So… would I be able to select the hot tea, just without the tea bag?”
….confused silence…
Hoping to buy some sympathy, I volunteer, “I’m pregnant and am trying to limit my caffeine intake”.
Cashier: “Oh, OK…”, looking really unsure

Success!
But listening to the cashier converse with the barista was another funny episode.

Cashier: “One cup of hot water please”
Barista: “What?”
Cashier: “So like a hot tea, but with no tea bag”
Barista: “So should I make tea and remove the tea bag?”
Cashier: Whispering now and glancing towards me “No, she wants just hot water, in a cup…”
Barista: “Oh, all right…”, peering over the counter to catch a glimpse of the weirdo who ordered the hot tea without tea.

With so many millions of people living in this metropolis and navigating such a complex city, I think a certain level of rigidity, conforming to the options provided to you, and following the norms is necessary. It’s what makes the city function so smoothly. Hubby and I enjoyed re/discovering these and other cultural nuances on our trip, and we tried very hard to be good visitors by walking on the “right” side of the subway station, standing on the “left” side of the escalators, and to otherwise not disrupt the pulse of this awesome city. At the same time, we had to laugh at instances like the hot tea, or when I got scoldings from an employee at the art exhibit for stepping 1 step out of the white taped square we were supposed to stand within while waiting for the elevator.

Anyway, after enjoying my delicious breakfast and rooibos tea, we headed to Asakusa to visit the famous temple where once again, we were treated to a view of beautiful cherry blossoms.

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A Depa-chika Take-out Dinner

After 2 buffets in one day, I was a bit tired and not too hungry for dinner, so we decided to stay in.

Many Japanese department stores and shopping buildings dedicate the basement level entirely to food. Known as depa-chika (depa for department and chika for the word basement), these bustling marketplaces offer gourmet groceries, an extensive selection of deli and takeout shops, bakeries, patisseries, and famous high end sweets and omiyage brands all crammed in side by side. We walked over to the depa-chika across the street from the hotel to pick out a few things to eat.

In random order: brown rice musubi with salmon and shiso(¥158), Natto roll (¥126), Okowa (seasoned sticky rice, ¥420), marinated mixed mushrooms (¥436), assorted yakitori skewers (¥430), salad (¥402), chicken karaage (¥215), ume shiso chicken katsu (¥189). Mixed vegetable juice (¥108) and strawberry milk (¥120).

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A relaxing dinner, a nice hot bath and a comfy bed. What more could I want?

Lunch at Roppongi Hills

After visiting an exhibit at Roppongi Hills in the morning, we met up with Hubby’s cousins for lunch. We had a chance to stroll the Mohri Japanese garden, a beautiful oasis in the middle of the urban architecture. Lucky for us, the cherry blossoms were in full bloom!

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Then they took us to a popular Italian restaurant at Roppongi Hills called Mohri Salvatore Cuomo. Delicious salads, pasta, pizza buffet with a drink for only ¥1380 on weekdays! It used to be that everything was more expensive in Japan, but with the high cost of living in Hawaii these days, I think many things are actually a better value in Japan. Tokyo’s dining out scene is so great – reasonably priced, high quality, and with an endless number of options.

Salads…

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Spaghetti with bacon and vegetables, penne with tomato sauce, pizza margherita, potato wedges.

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Chocolate cake and cassis blueberry jello for dessert.

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It was such a lovely day, reconnecting with faraway family. Next month we’ll get to see them in Hawaii again.

Mohri Salvatore Cuomo
Roppongi Hills


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