Dinner Disasters and etc.

Failed attempt (visually) to make Omu-rice last week. Eggs got burnt, even the ❤ looked ugly =(

This post is just a photolog of some of my disastersdinners last week. Plus I said I would try out Natto Miso Risotto. So read on to find out what it tastes like.

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Bits & Pieces: White Day and Work Strike

This is my latest creation: Frozen wrinkled Daikon (white radish)

Oh, and frozen expired tofu too.

I have simply bought too much food in my previous grocery shopping spree. Since I haven’t been cooking much in the past week, most food was just lying helplessly in the fridge… forgotten and expired. Some (even the pumpkin) became frozen.. Remember the grapefruits that I bought early last month? there are still 2 left… I cut one up this morning, barely any juice left. As I’m writing this, I suddenly remember the bananas.. they must have turned into charcoals by now.

Anyway, I tried to not be もったいない (wasteful) so I dumped all the expired goodies into my miso soup for lunch today. Tasted as good as they were fresh, except for the radish…. no matter how long I cooked it, it was still crunchy like those pickled ones you find the supermarket… Is it supposed to be that way? I was dreaming of those steamed soft melt-in-your-mouth radish with soy sauce.

——

White Day in Japan was several days ago. As a tradition, guys would give gifts to ladies, as a return for the Valentine’s chocolates. It’s a custom that ladies at work would give chocolates to their male colleagues on Valentines day, to show gratitude. The Jap term for this is 義理チョコ. What I received from some colleagues… though I did not give them any chocolates :-<

Some chocolates from AB-san

Mamadors from O-san, they are just white bean cakes. They are bought from Shinjuku... Japanese really know how to do business.. with all these different "editions" of the same sweets.

Home baked cookies from Mayor-san.. he bakes way better than I can lol

Now I really wanna buy a oven, to bake things and share the edible ones with my coworkers. And I need a rice cooker too.. I am very sick of udon/spagetti now. With a rice cooker, I can finally eat Natto with rice and make congee once in a while too! Plus rice cookers save so much cooking time! A bowl of hot rice, Natto and some soy sauce can satisfy me!

Saw these on Amazon JP- I love how Amazon can deliver to convenient stores, so I can pick up after work.

炊飯器 3合 一人暮らし 1380 Yen! for a mini rice cooker

KOIZUMI ホワイト 1582 Yen! for a toaster oven

Can a 1000W toaster oven bake anything other than toasts??

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Oh and also  on White Day, our office had a worker’s strike! It was rumoured to begin on Monday, but somehow got delayed.

So what is a strike really like in Japan?

It's 5pm and office was almost empty.

WTF right? Yeah, a strike in Japan (or maybe just in my company) is basically employees have to leave work by 5pm. Which is a normal time for North Americans to leave work (assuming arrive work at 9am). Plus, many employees here arrive earlier than 9! Some didn’t even want to go, as they had unfinished work. =_=;;

The higher people settled things fast too, people were back to their “normal” work hours the next day haha

So Canadian teachers who are on strike now.. consider yourselves “lucky”, because you don’t have to work at all(besides protesting on streets)!

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Some random musings…

I am craving for steaks and pizzas recently. So one day after work, I went for a American restaurant, hoping for a steak fix. I saw they were advertising with gigantic posters of meat. I walked in and ordered the same thing.

I was stupid.. they weren't steaks at all.. they were just hamburgs (hamburger patty). Argh... and every bite was soft and oily. Portion was little too, each piece is half size of my palm! I needed something to rince the fattiness in my mouth and fill my half empty stomach... so I went for crepe afterwards -_- But yeah, Japanese love hamburgs. And I guess if I really want steaks, I'd better go to some fancy steak houses.

For my Pizza fix, I saw this All you can eat Pizza/pasta place in Yokohama the other day... They have many flavors, even sweet ones such as "chocolate banana".. can't wait to try!

Chicken-katsu set dinner at 大戸屋. Went there twice this week. Economical with good portion and I LOVE the plum sauce and sweet radish on top of the chicken. I'm usually stuffed after eating here.

When lining up to order at 大戸屋, the waiter usually ask how much rice the customer want. I didn’t know how to express different sizes in Japanese, but lucky me! The guy lining up in front of me ordered the same thing… And I copied what he said haha- “Omori 大盛り” If he was a girl, then I’d probably end up saying “Small bowl please” lol The bowl was big, but wasn’t filled… Useful meal size phrases I found on a site.

Although 並(nami), 大(dai) will works on most of the place, but others would depend on each restaurants.

  • For Small – 小 (shou), ミニ (mini), 半分(hanbun), 少なめ (sukuname), S (エス) …
  • For Normal – 並 (nami), 普通(ふつう), 中(chuu), M (エム)…
  • For Big – 大 (dai), 大盛り (oomori), 多め (oome), L (エル)…
    • For Special Big – 1.5盛 (ittengo mori) (sukiya invented it)
  • For extra Big – 特盛 (tokumori), 特大(tokudai), …
  • For extreme Big – 鬼盛 (onimori), (超)巨大盛 (chou kyodai mori), バカ盛り (baka mori), 激盛り (geki mori), メガ盛り (Mega mori), ….

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Finally, I’m currently planning a Hanami(花見) weekend trip to Kyoto in early April. Night buses are cheap (7600 yen) round trip.. but all hostel rooms are full! !! I’ll try my luck again, if not I’d delay the trip for one or two weeks.. hopefully the cherry blossoms aren’t gone yet!

Been raining alot lately.. if weather is nice tmr, I’d probably go to Akiba and Ueno.. to check out ricecookers and cameras for my bro.

101 ways to eat Kiri-Mochi (切り餅)

I am officially sick of udon...

Seriously, I have been eating the same thing for dinner lately that I don’t even wanna post it – Udon+pumpkin+carrots+onion+egg+miso… yes, they’re all the ingredients I have ( I run out of meat), and I throw ’em all in.  Why don’t I eat something else? There’s really no room for variation when,

1. Your brain is too tired to think

2. You don’t really know how to cook

3. Your big lot of food is expiring VERY soon

4. You live alone and it’s either you who eat it or the garbage can

And I ate 3 bananas yesterday because they were turning bad. I still have 5 grapefruits left( which I thought were oranges when I bought them)….

Dear Mom: I finally understand how hard it is to cook dishes… I will try not to say “Why are we eating this again?” to you in the future.

I could buy Bento from the 24 hr supermart nearby, but- The food is costy and it tastes no better than what I cook (not trying to bloat here, it’s THAT disgusting)…

—–

So tonight, I was thinking about what to eat (since I finally… K.O. all the udon) , and I remembered them lonely in the fridge…

The junk food I bought over the weekend...Darn, I realize I am consuming way too much carbohydrates... all my snacks are made of rice or sweet potatoes =P

Mochi!!! My Iron Chef's secret ingredient for tonight!

Since I bought them from a junk food place, I attempted to eat one straight after I bought them… Little did I know they had to be cooked!! I mean, they are just plain tasteless rice cake.

This morning I asked around the office for Kirimochi recipes, most people told me to bake them in oven (don’t have) and eat with soy sauce (no either)… they also suggested putting into soup (OMFG, please no miso soup again~~~) or making dessert. M-san later sent me this link… and I brightened up when I saw this Natto Mochi dish! It said it required radish, soysauce, natto, etc. Whatever, I only had Natto at home and would try it nonetheless.

After a few minutes, mochi merged into ONE PIECE. And I randomly added 2 pieces of sausages...

It's really just sticky rice... cripsy on the outside.

Then I saw 2 bananas + 1 egg left in the fridge.... might as well cook them as well. One of the bananas fell to the ground as I was peeling it because it was too ripe. WASTED!

Here's a full shot of my semi-gross dinner... See Natto in the background!

Since the pack of mochi that I bought had no flavor to them, I had to think of plain-less ways to eat them (without soy sauce, miso soup of course).

Feel free to skip the following: VIEWER DISCRETION IS ADVISED!  But here are my 101 7 ways XD (Please try it at your own risk)…

1. American HOT DOG style~ Can anything taste bad with sausage and ketchup?

2. Banana-Mochi Maki Roll =) Despite its look, it's delicious. Trust me.

3. With Natto, need I say more?

4. Roll it into a rice ball, Onigiri style... what's inside?

Ume(sour plum)!! My favorite, found my replacement for Ume onigiri!!

5. With mustard.... Natto comes with a pack of mustard, and I usually don't add it in. Tastes like some chewy sushi with wasabi...

6. You probably can't see it, but sprinkle some salt on.

7. Eat it plain! haha.

8-101. Wrap some mochi around whatever you get your hands on =P

What about the egg? You ask. Geez, it’s sunny side up… of course you eat it with nothing else!

Dessert time ~

—————-

After I’m done playing with my food, gonna talk about random things of the day…

After lunch I went to the Tea Area for a drink… and I started talking to this colleague from another team (he was one of the guys who explained his research to me at the Forum).

He found out I used to play the classical guitar, and recommended me to listen to Kazuhito Yamashita(山下和仁), he said the guy could do tremelo with his pinky finger!! lol

He also told me to listen to Zin-Say! and told me my friends would hate me if I liked them? I have yet to find out why though haha.

When I asked him about places to visit in Japan, he told me to go to this museum about Parasites in Meguro! OK, as much as I hate worms and stuff, I think I’ll brave myself into this. I’d love to visit weird places in Japan (did I mention I wanted to go inside the Cup Noodle Museum in Yokohama? Too bad it was very crowded that day)… Dammit, if I go out to Tokyo every weekend, I’m gonna be broke.

Foreigner’s Life in Japan- Part II: Hajimemashite 初めまして!

Just got back from work, am having dinner now as I type up this post…

Look at my awesome dinner that I got from LIVIN for tonight!!!!

Nah, I’m just kidding. I can’t eat that much in one meal. But I love shopping at LIVIN (a huge 24 hr supermarket 8 mins away), there’s a MUJI and Daiso right across too! It’s just really convenient, one day I will definitely write another post on my neighbourhood. I bought so many onigiri because they are 1. super easy breakfast 2. they are 50% off (33 yen)!! And I finally see my all time fav flavor- Umeboshi (梅干)! So yeah, I also bought a pack of eggs (not shown in picture) since I was craving for sunny side ups… I just realize though, I have no cooking oil at home!!! OK, too bad.. these eggs will either be boiled or cooked together with my instant noodles.

DUN DUN DUN! My actual dinner for tonight is——

OK, the bento really doesn't taste good.. should've gotten another Gyuu Don (牛丼) instead.

So obviously, I did NOT make that bowl of soup… N-san made it, it’s miso soup with pumpkin and onion… tastes wayyyy better than my bento T_T

Now I get why N-san and everybody else here in Japan are sooo skinny, all she eats is a bowl of soup+ a few spoons of rice. Compare that with what I am consuming ATM… I have been eating a lot of rice in every meal, I seriously hope I don’t turn into an onigiri when I return… Veggies and fruits in Japan are crazily expensive (a melon costs 2500 yen), so I only get to eat veggies during lunch now.

————

Now, time to talk about my first few days of work.

On Feb 1st at 8:40 am, I met N-san outside our dorm rooms. We walked together to the bus station, it was a direct bus straight to our office on the hill… and it costs less than taking train+bus transfer. However, I take train every morning now… since there are only 3 of those buses in the morning starting from 8:22am. And I always (for the last few days at least) arrive work at around 7:40!!

The bus was packed and the entire ride+walk took around 40 minutes. As the bus drove up the hill, which was like a research park, I saw companies such as NEC, Fujitsu, KIDDI, NTT Docomo… NTT (where I work) was at the last stop, top of the hill XD The exterior of the gigantic building was black with rusting metal, too bad I didn’t think of shooting a pic. I will do so in spring when there’s cherry blossoms =)

N-san helped me get a temporary card to enter the gate. My team’s office was on 3rd floor… As I walked into the room, there were some of my colleagues circling around my new seat.

The teddy is not mine haha. I still have the welcome sign as I am not using the big monitor at the moment...

So after greeting my team members and saying よろしくお願いしますlike 50 times, I started to learn their names… They prepared me a seat location with names, but some were tough to pronounce. One guy is named Koke, but I ended up calling him “Coke” or “Cookie”. They become his nicknames now. My neighbour is M-san, she is a very very nice lady… The guy behind her is Oji-san (with accent on the “O”, not his real name btw), they say Oji means “Please”… I guess he is just a really nice guy/Yes man. I made a mistake by accenting on the “Ji” though, which has a different meaning XD

After introduction, I could finally unpack the Macbook that’s sitting on my table… Took around 1 hour to set up/install applications… after sending out an intro email, it was time for lunch already =)

To my surprise, Japanese people eat lunch as a team EVERY DAY… this is very different from North America, where we eat lunch with our buddies. For example, a few colleagues went for a meeting today… the rest of us waited for us before heading for lunch. Anyway, so we went to the restaurant for the first day (restaurant generally costs more than canteen). I ordered a healthy bento and was forced to sit at the middle of the table, where my colleagues were trying to get to know me. Sometimes they would speak and laugh in Japanese, but there’s always someone to translate for me (still, I wish I knew more Japanese). A-san paid for my lunch again (I kinda felt bad about it)!

Going back up to the office, A-san and I dealt with some logistic matters (ie. paying 500 yen for unlimited tea monthly), then we moved on to discussing my theme in this internship. To my horror, my chair somehow tripped the power cable of my Mac and the laptop completely fell off the desk! Thank god it’s a mac, so nothing seemed to break. A-san simply laughed it off, but I was sure he was sweating too. After calming down, we went up to the room where they did most of the discussion and brainstorming sessions. It was basically a room with a gigantic wall full of post-its. We chatted a bit about the process used by my team and he just told me to research more about it and come up with some ideas on how to improve it using software solutions.

This Mt. FUJI photo is taken from office window one day.... Mind you, we are only on 3rd floor.

I was focused on my work the entire time, until I saw Y-san took out her camera and snapped at the window…. It was the Fuji-san! She said that there were only about 20 days of clear skies in one year, so it’s rare to be able to catch a glimpse of mt. fuji. Time passed swiftly and soon it was 6pm… It was a Wednesday, so by company’s rule, people must leave by 6. This is due to the fact that Japanese people tend to work more than 10 hours a day. My supervisor for example, starts from 7am-beyond 8pm. I’m not sure how productive they are, but they all seem to be workaholics. Yay~ time for Welcome party.

A-san on the left and group leader on the right...

H-san and N-san, who was forced to finish off the huge bowl of sake...

We all bussed to the train station and walked into a Japanese bar… Once we sat down, waitresses started to bring in dishes, one at a time. It was a total feast, there were food that I had never tried before. I didn’t take photos.. but there was sashimi, side dishes (cheese, fish liver, some fancy looking fishy dumpling), hot pot, shrimp/oyster tempura, some seafood rice in a stone pot, etc. It was all you can drink too!! of course I meant alcohol, haha. We ordered beer, sake, shoju… BTW, it is japanese culture to pour drinks for each other. O-san, the colleague sitting next to me, was a fast drinker…. so I was pouring for him quite frequently XD It’s funny how he got drunk and started to get high… It was hilarious. Near the end of the meal, a server came in with a huge bowl of Sake, and told me to drink the first sip and passed it around the circle! Man, it just felt awesome to drink cold Sake after hot spicy Shoju. We sorta ranked each other by how much we could drink, turned out the best drinkers were the ladies… they owned the top three =) We stayed till around 9pm, a few stuck around for more drinks… but the rest of us took the train home. I was not drunk, but it still felt good after a shower and hopped right into my bed.

Day 4 (Feb 2nd). Second work day

Second day at work… woke up at 6 and got to work at 7:45. continued my research on the process. There were so many papers on that topic… For lunch we went to cafeteria, which was cheaper. And I like how they have a electronic system to pay for lunch. There are rechargeable lunch cards… and after finishing, we had to put our trays for a scan, the system will display the price to pay. And we simply insert our cards… I made a silly mistake again to drop my brand new lunch card onto my curry plate! Haha. Later in the day, I also met MA(another canadian student working here) for the first time.

Chuo at night.

After work, I took the train back home but couldn’t find my way so I went to Yokosuka Chuo again! It’s just right though, I asked cellular stores about sim cards and had dinner at beef bowl place for 280 yen only. I also took the opportunity to visit 100 yen store again…

Day 5 (Feb 3rd). Looking forward to weekend!

Work was pretty much the same, brainstorming ideas and trying to come up with some requirements. After work however, I met up with MA and Nasan-San (his name just makes me lol) to hang out around Chuo. They brought me to this plaza (which was 5 mins away from Chuo) which I didn’t know of, and we went to Ootoka for dinner… Damn, those guys were more than fluent in Japanese! It made me feel ashamed…. Japanese people are usually surprised hearing them speak Jap (since they are non-asians), and I bet Japanese are equally surprised when hearing me speak… they are probably thinking “is this girl retarded? She can’t even speak properly.” Anyhow, I had to leave at 9 though since A-san was going to drop off the microwave+water boiler at my dorm. That night I slept early to get ready for my adventure at Yokohama over the weekend! Stay tuned~

What I ordered.... some weird fish which I believed was Tuna.

————

Phew, Part II is complete! Off to shower and streaming a couple dramas now =)

Before I forget, here are the answers to iV’s questions in her long comment.

1. No, I’m too poor/cheap to be sitting first class (or even business class per se). Take JAL if you can, it’s good food, good service =P

2. The panda documentary caught my eye because the show talked about how they mate (I’m not a pervert, but how often do you see pandas actually MOVE?). It’s in Jap with Chinese subtitle… so at least now I know how to say panda in japanese– say “PAN-DA”.

3. The temperature here is around the same as Vancouver, with MUCH less rain =)

4. There is no train/bus from where I live to Yokosuka Chuo, because it is technically 15 mins walk away… Another thing is transit cost in Japan just burns your money away, I charged my PASMO card (similar to Octopus card in HK) with 2000 yen on saturday, and today when I got off work, it’s NEGATIVE balance… go figure!

5. LMAO the “choice” of other drink is actually what I bought at the airport the day before (costs 250 yen btw, and I bought 2 bento boxes for around the same price tonight).