Monthly Archives: July 2011

Partyland (Yogurtland), Osaka

There’s a significant gap in my Osaka restaurant knowledge because I tend to eat in Kyoto, Takarazuka, or with my former host family, who make excellent Osakan okonomiyaki, whenever I’m in Kansai. On my last trip to Osaka, however, my husband and I were exploring Namba when he mentioned that he had discovered a pay-by-weight tart frozen yogurt shop near the covered mall, and would I like to go there for lunch?

During the store's days as "Yogurtland" (hence the cup): Lemon-Lime with a bit of Pomegranate-Raspberry Tart, blueberries, and cranberries.

I might have jumped for joy.
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Kaga Yasai: Aka-Kabocha with Sesame Sauce

This article will be featured in J. Festa August 2011 edition: “Food in Japan,” hosted at japingu.

ほっこりしている (hokkori shiteiru): to be warm and fluffy

Traveling around Japan has really widened my understanding of Japan’s local foods. For instance, because dried apricots are nearly impossible to find in my bayside town, I assumed that there were no apricots to be had in all of Japan. Then I went to Nagano, where basically everything delicious is, and, lo and behold, there were apricots everywhere!

Every time I go on a trip, I’m surrounded by these famous local specialties: Iwakuni renkon, Hiroshima citrus, Nagano everything! Meanwhile, I’m living in Hokuriku, and while there ARE local specialties, they apparently aren’t famous instead to warrant attention from KitKat. Or it could be that no one wants to eat Noshû (能州) yellowtail (buri, 鰤) KitKats or Kashû Koshihikari (コシヒカリ, a type of rice) Kitkats. (Actually, I would eat a rice kitkat.)

It’s even certified!

Now, if KitKat wanted to roll out some Hokuriku Pride kitkats, it ought to start with the Aka Kabocha (赤南瓜, red kabocha squash), a.k.a. the Utsugi Akagawa Amaguri Kabocha (打木赤皮甘栗かぼちゃ, Utsugi [Town] Red-Skinned Sweet-Chestnut Kabocha).

This squash is one of the 15 Kaga Vegetables (kaga yasai, 加賀野菜), vegetables cultivated in the old province of Kaga, southern Ishikawa. Unlike a regular kabocha, which resembles a pie pumpkin more than a jack-o-lantern–sweet orange flesh, edible green skin–the red kabocha has orange skin. In fact, according to the Kakiichi Web Shop, a website about the seasonal vegetables of Hokuriku, which has the page “Mini Lessons and Recipes” for aka-kabocha, this squash is related to the Western buttercup squash. Available from June to September, the aka-kabocha is cultivated in Utsugi-machi, Kanazawa.

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Yamada-ya Momiji Manjû, Miyajima

In addition to Iwakuni and Hiroshima proper, I also went to Miyajima on Golden Week, where I decided to try as many flavors of momiji manjû (紅葉饅頭) as I could carry home. Hiroshima area is famous for its beautiful fall foliage, specifically the maple trees; these famous manjû are shaped like momiji, maple leaves.

Miyajima: Land of Manjû

I patronized two shops in the main shopping area of Miyajima: Yamada-ya and Miyatoyo.

Yamada-ya was established in 1932, and the main store is still in the original building nestled in Miyajima’s quaint-but-touristy food district. From Yamada-ya (やまだ屋), I picked out three flavors: beni-imo (purple sweet potato), aka-tôgarashi (chili pepper), and lemon.

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How to Make Good Brown Rice

I live in company housing at my current job, and the rice cooker (suihanki, 炊飯器)belongs to my employer. It was waiting for me when I moved in, and it will remain after my contract ends. It’s a humble 3-cup cooker with only a few settings: white rice (hakumai, 白米); quick-cook (haya-taki, 早炊); cake (kéki, ケーキ), which, as far as I know, just sets the cooker for 40 minutes; and clean (sôji, 掃除). The inside bowl has water marks for white rice and okayu (おかゆ), rice porridge.  People with newer rice-cookers might have a separate brown-rice function (genmai, 玄米), but the truth is that you don’t really need a fancy rice cooker to enjoy your brown rice.

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