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Tag Archives: japanese


Takoyaki, katsudon, and…curry?

I need to hit up the market today if I’m gonna have anything to make for dinner tonight.

Such was the case last night too. What started as just a quick swing up to Sushi Avenue to fill our growling tummies turned into a rather eye-opening experience. We had been meaning to go there and order hot dishes rather than sushi for a while now. Last night was the night.

Started off innocently enough with the standard miso soup and gingery salad.

Miso soup and ginger salad

Next, takoyaki time! I love the takoyaki at Sushi Avenue. The pieces are huge and cooked through a bit more than other places, so it doesn’t turn into goo as soon as you pick it up. They use really cheap bonito flake though, it’s pretty flavorless and looks more like that stuff you find in the bottom of an Easter basket than shaved dried fish flakes. No prob, just swirl it around in the delicious sauce and squiggles of Kewpie mayo, all that floss will melt right in.

Takoyaki at Sushi Avenue

This is supposedly just a wintertime special though, so I’m not sure if I’ll be able to have it again any time I’m craving it. :( Jeff thinks it might be time for us to buy a takoyaki griddle for the house. I don’t know about that. Takoyaki is an unhealthy treat food, I don’t know if I want instant access to it and all it’s delicious sauces.

It might be fun to experiment with using the takoyaki griddle to make something different though. Maybe I could make some kind of little vegetable puffs or even a sweet donut-hole type thing.

Ok, moving beyond takoyaki. Jeff ordered the katsudon, which is a bowl of rice topped with a breaded and fried pork cutlet with caramelized onions and egg.

Jeff's katsudon

You think Japanese food is all sushi and clean healthy veggie fare? No way man, dishes like the one above are pretty standard, however, the portion of the one above is somewhat larger than average.

I used to make katsu at home pretty often, maybe it’s time to bring it back.

I got another Japanese staple dish that many people aren’t aware of. Curry. Yep, the Japanese eat curry too. Theirs is a very rich, stew-like curry with subtle but not overpowering Indian spice flavors. It’s pretty common to crack a raw room-temperature egg over this and mix it in to make a super-creamy sauce.

Japanese beef curry at Sushi Avenue

The curry roux for this is often sold in solid bars perforated into little squares, much like a chocolate bar. You just mix the roux with liquid, add steamed vegetables and the thinly sliced meat of your choice and serve over rice. It’s a pretty common meal to have at home because it’s so easy to prepare and so comforting.

This one was served with an assortment of pickles. Pickles are another very common Japanese staple. They are so much more than just salty brined cucumbers though. These pickles are an art form.

Japanese pickles

The yellow ones in the front are sweet pickled daikon slices, it’s pretty common to add sugar or mirin to pickling liquids to make a very sweet flavor. The purple, I’m pretty sure they were cucumbers and that they were pickled in ume plum juice and/or ume vinegar. The little green ones are very much like cornichons, they are small, crunchy, and very salty.

I miss all the colorful and various-flavored pickles we had on top of rice in Japan. I think I’m going to start learning how to make some myself at home.

I’m so glad we opted out of ordering sushi last night. With the girly J-pop music playing over the speakers, lemony smell of raw fish in the air, and two hot bowls of Japanese classics in front of us, it really felt for a moment like we were back on Dotonbori street in Osaka cramming our faces full of one amazing dish after another.


Sushi time at Hashiguchi Jr.

The 6 of us, Jeff and I with our friends John, Emily, Marshall, and Kelly, arrived at Hashiguchi Jr. last night for a sushi explosion.

Jeff and I had a moment of pause when we, arriving at the restaurant first, noticed a sign on the door saying that they were unable to sell alcohol at that moment.

Hashiguchi Jr. menu

No sake! No shochu! No beer! No matter, we just gulped down like 5 or so cups of this great green tea each. It was nice and grassy and full of swirling matcha particles. Maybe that sounds gross, but that’s exactly how it should be and exactly how I like to drink it. Success!

Hot green tea

First we ordered two plates of takoyaki for the table, fried balls of batter with a hidden piece of octopus lurking inside and covered with nori powder, sweet sauce, and bonito flake. Bonito is so weird-looking, it’s paper-thin so the steam from the takoyaki was causing it to curl and flail about like a living thing!

Takoyaki and kewpie mayo

Then we had beef tataki. This had been slightly seared on the outside before slicing, so it had a nice contrast of cooked and raw textures.

Seared beef tataki with scallions

Each couple ordered a bowl of noodle soup, ours being a ramen with pork and egg. The broth was very unusual in that it tasted heavily of sesame, it was almost like peanut butter in flavor!

Pork ramen in sesame broth

And then the first round of sushi: In the very back is fatty tuna, followed by ikura (salmon eggs,) then 6 pieces of hamachi (yellowtail,) and tamago aka sweet egg omelet.

Hamachi, ikura, tamago, toro

Samurai roll…

Samurai roll with eel sauce, mayo, and sriracha

Samurai roll with eel sauce, mayo, and sriracha

Various maki rolls…

Various maki at Hachiguchi Jr.

Maki of tuna, spicy tuna, yellowtail, and dragon roll with avocado

And a plate of freshwater eel nigiri in  a lot of eel sauce…

Freshwater eel nigiri with eel sauce

We started the next round off with a grilled dish…

Miso-glazed salmon cheek off the grill

Miso-glazed salmon cheek off the grill

And then ordered two special appetizers of ankimo, which is monkfish liver.  It tastes kind of nutty reminding me of a really bland peanut butter with a slightly salty oceanic flavor. Sounds weird, but it’s actually pretty good.

Ankimo aka monkfish liver, in ponzu sauce

Even more sushi!

Round two of nigiri at Hashiguchi Jr.

Uni, toro, salmon, octopus, salmon maki, salmon skin roll

I was so full by the end of all this, we always seem to order too much at sushi restaurants. I still managed to have dessert at home which was a box of strawberry Pocky.

Strawberry pocky for dessert

Ahhh… a nice night of cracking jokes and stuffing our faces full of raw fish. That’s what I call a good time!


Egg and rice breakfast

Yesterday, I learned how to use the timer function on my rice cooker. Exciting, I know.

What this means is that now I can wake up to either hot creamy steel-cut oatmeal in the mornings, or as in todays’ case, fluffy brown rice.

Egg and rice breakfast

This dish pictured below has been haunting the mind of my husband since last May when we honeymooned in Japan. Of all the delicious things we ate while there, he was struck most by a bowl of hot rice with a raw egg cracked into it, with various pickled and salted accompaniments.

Raw egg and rice in Kyoto ramen bar

It was just such a simple thing. It was so obvious that we could make that dish at home and have it whenever we wanted. I think that’s why he loved it so much, because he knew that that was a taste of Japan that he could take home.

8am the rice cooker beeps out it’s electronic rooster wake-up call. Fresh and bouncy brown sushi rice is steaming hot and ready to be fluffed.

In lieu of a completely raw egg, we went with a sunny side up. I don’t quite trust that the eggs we purchase in the supermarkets are fit for eating raw. If I could get my hands on some farm-fresh ones, then maybe.

Sunny side up egg

Jeff got busy making tea while I dressed up our breakfasts with nori-tamago furikake and dots of sriracha.

Egg and rice with tea

Mmmm….there’s still enough liquid in the yolk to mix into the rice.

Runny egg over rice

The yolk doesn’t exactly cook on the hot rice but it definitely firms a bit and becomes a creamy binder, making a texture almost like oatmeal.

We were both “mmm-ing” til we finished our bowls. I think I’d like to eat this with a little bit of chopped kim chee to remind me of the pickles that came with the original dish.

This was an easy breakfast that I know I’ll be making again and again. It’d be great for dinner with a bowl of miso soup too.