Foodie Friday: Omakase

Omakase: chef’s choice in Japanese cuisine         I had my first ever omakase experience. Sushi chefs will pick the freshest variety of seafood and present them to you using different methods of cooking. My favorites had to be a tuna sashimi drizzled with homemade ponzu sauce. And although I don’t really like red snapper, the cut I ate was extremely fresh and tender. Buyer beware: you need to tell them to stop serving or else the dishes will keep on coming, each more exotic (and … [Read more...]

Foodie Friday: Obanyaki

Obanyaki: mini stuffed pancakes These puffed-up Japanese pancakes open up to reveal delicious interiors. Custard or red bean paste is often used as a filling inside the round treats. They're quite similar to taiyaki, except without the stylized fish shape. Though they're often eaten for dessert, tweaked recipes make them more savory by inserting meat, vegetables, or curry. Want to see how they're cooked? Fun fact: They're named after the Oban coin. … [Read more...]

Foodie Friday: Japanese Cheesecake

Japanese cheesecake: light, airy cake with a hint of sweetness I heard the hype surrounding Japanese cheesecake, so I dropped by a branch of Uncle Tetsu's (est. 1985) to try a slice. I must admit, it's an adorable cake (I mean, look at the cute chef stamped on it!). The cheesecake tastes more like a fluffy sponge cake, with intense cheese flavor that overpowers the slight sugar in the recipe. Sorry, Uncle Tetsu, but I just didn't enjoy it. Maybe because I was expecting the typical … [Read more...]

Wordless Wednesday: Ikenobo

[Read more...]

Foodie Friday: Mentai Squid Udon

Remember when I explored downtown Los Angeles and visited Little Tokyo? Well, I ate handmade udon noodles during that time. Mentai Squid Udon: thick noodles with squid and roe Fresh-made udon is an indulgence of mine. I love how the thick wheat noodles taste, with an exciting amount of chewy tenderness. Although I prefer udon hot, I have tried the noodles cold, which taste refreshing in warm weather. I usually stick to simpler meats with udon, but this time I tried mentai squid. The … [Read more...]

Foodie Friday: Chestnut Cake

It's been a while since I've had roasted chestnuts. They make me think of winter and Christmas songs. But I did go for some chestnut cake recently. Chestnut cake: soft pastry with chestnut paste It's a sweet offering that uses chestnut paste in the middle of soft doughy layers. The Japanese chestnuts used on the inside are a bit like sweet potato in taste and density. Thumbs-up! Fun fact: Besides being eaten by themselves, chestnuts can be incorporated in a Japanese rice dish … [Read more...]

Foodie Friday: Katsu Burger

My first... Katsu burger: breaded burger, Japanese-style A revitalized burger with Asian flair! Katsu is equated with crispy panko-coated foods (think: tonkatsu). Although katsu can be translated to "cutlet" (the English word was first transformed to "katsules," and then shortened), it's associated with breaded goodness. Akin to a deep-fried treat at the county fair, the katsu burger is an innovative take, an actual beef patty cooked with crispiness and sprinkled with condiments like … [Read more...]

Foodie Friday First: Uni Don

My first... Uni don: sea urchin rice bowl Okay, I admit it. I had no idea going into the restaurant what uni actually was. The dish rated highly on the Yelp reviews, though, so I thought I'd give it a try. Imagine my surprise when I found out that it was actually sea urchin, those prickly creatures I've touched in the local tidepools. Despite its needle-y appearance, the inside of a sea urchin is soft and delicate. The strands of uni have almost a slimy consistency. It's also got a … [Read more...]

Foodie Friday Firsts: Okonomiyaki

I ate my first... Okonomiyaki: Japanese savory pancakes, often filled with seafood The name comes from blending together the words, okonomi ("favorite") and yaki ("grilled"). These savory pancakes are often known as "Japanese pizza." At restaurants, you can grill one yourself or have the chef make it in the kitchen: The batter ingredients are simple: flour, dashi stock (or water), and egg.  (I've heard you can even buy boxes of the batter at Japanese markets.) Then you add in whatever … [Read more...]

Foodie Friday: Fish-Shaped Pancakes

Fish-shaped pancakes: traditionally known as taiyaki, and filled with sweet red bean paste I remember visiting night markets in Taiwan and getting these amazing pancakes. They come in all sorts of shapes, but different types of animals were the most popular ones. (In fact, I enjoyed the experience so much that I referenced it in my novel.) In the United States, you can buy your own waffle maker--or pancake maker (see a Hello Kitty machine here). The fish-shaped pans can be bought at … [Read more...]