Sunday, May 25, 2014

Panaderia La Moreliana

Panaderia La Moreliana visit during one of our CV crawls with Canine Cologne and Cathy September last year.

Panaderia La Moreliana, 275 Quintard St, Chula Vista, CA 91911

Saturday, May 24, 2014

Deep Kamata Part-Two: Tawaraya, Bourbon Road And Izakaya Nonta

A quick and final Part-Two of my Deep Kamata experience with fellow Tokyo food blogger friends Ginger-san of, EatNapo-san of Naporitan X Naporitan, Kimimatsu-san and Okayo-san.
After our great time at Katagiri, while Ginger-san and Kimimatsu-san would hunt down a new parking spot for the car, Napo-san, Okayo-san and I were off by foot to the next destination. But the two having heard that I hadn't had a true tachinomi experience (立ち飲み, literal translation - "stand drinking"), they were nice enough to make a quick detour and introduce me to their familiar place - Tawaraya. :)

Standing-room only and without much time to spare Okayo-san ordered her favorite app which was misozuke takuan. Takuan pickles made marinated in miso. Yum.

The takuan proved a perfect otsumami snack for our Nth chaser round of Oolong-Hai, and yes, all while leaning up against a tall round bar table. :) Napo-san keen on finding opportunities for blog content ordered the appetizer sized Naporitan (~$3.50). This was great with a tad more buttery flavor which included the classic Napo triage of onions, piiman green bell peppers and sliced weiners. Napo-san's post of the meal on his blog here, and Okayo-san's also here.

Regrouped we all had a slow stroll through an alley nestled by the Kamata station tracks called Bourbon Road (バーボンロード). Totally dug the super Showa retro vibe...

Its name not to disappoint, a subtle but noticeable scent of liqueur in the air with sounds of karaoke muffled through weathered pub doors. More than a few divey restaurants too. いいかんじ。:)

The nice walk also allowed our bellies to digest some but also helped kill a little time before our final stop. The wonderful dreamy world of Izakaya Nonta (のん太). The shutters only part raised at 10PM, we all help the owner setup the noren banner and drag the lighted sign to the sidewalk corner. You can find Kimimatsu-san's post on our outing here.

As first-comers we have the whole, albeit extremely cozy place to ourselves. The owner that goes by Alice? Kyasarin (Katherine) a total character. Witty, wise and complete joy to interact with. Photos of longtime regulars plaster the walls (I made the cut! But only with rabbit ear kaburimono on, ha...),  and the landscape of stacked caps on kept bottles (all decorated by Kyasarin-san) provides an easy and entertaining visual of their loyal patronage.

Kinmiya Shochu was the choice here. We started with a light chu-toro sashimi plate...

And later in the night ordered this beauty of a stuffed omelet unique to Nonta. What's inside?

Wait for it Ikari Shinji...

Korokke Omuretsu! Potato croquettes and oozey melty cheese. Wow, and totally delicious, especially with a considerable amount of booze left in your belly. ;)

Thanks again to everyone, especially Ginger-san who let me later crash at his home with family. I also received an actual Hoppy apron from Kimimatsu-san as a gift! (I'm holding my Hoppy glass acquired back in 2006 next to it.)

Supposedly the last unfinished bottle is waiting for me at Nonta with our names, in all its decorated glory. I really look forward in being able to add a few cap heights to it with friends, hopefully not too far in the future. Cheers.

Sunday, May 18, 2014

Yoshoku Bliss: Yokohama Yoshoku Kimura, And Quick Mug Update

With the mug update first...

My denial of actually being a "coffee mug collector" is challenged again with these three new additions.

To the back left is the updated Japan MOS Burger (official website) Mug complete with matching saucer and spoon. (My older classic MOS mug unfortunately is still M.I.A.) Back right is a mug recently purchased at the unique Palo Alto Apple Campus Store. Pretty stoked about it but the coup de grace of 2013/14 would be up front which is an official remake of one that appeared in Studio Ghibli's animated film Majyo no Takkyuubin (Kiki's Delivery Service). Visiting the Ghibli Museum eluded me yet again the trip due to scheduling (#%!) and so this was instead purchased at one of the Village Vanguard outlets.

Food sharing today a very nice Yoshoku meal had at Yoshoku Kimura in Yokohama. I was bummed to find out that the original (honten) which had been in business since 1934 had finally closed up shop some years ago and so this Noge location is currently the oldest. There is also one now conveniently located at Shin-Yokohama Cubic Plaza.

Yoshoku Kimura had inspired me to do my Versatile Japanese Hamburg Pate post and I'm glad I finally had the chance to visit. The establishment is one of very many old school Yoshoku spots that's been on my ever growing list to checkout. The delicate hamburg can be described more as Fluffy with an emphasis on intricate aromatics. But the definite true highlight here is the these-days-hard-to-find-made-from-total-scratch Demi Glace Sauce which had a hard to describe honest deep depth of flavor with subtle liqueur after-note. Bubbling with in the heated iron platter, the rare egg is then folded at the consumer's pace which helps round things out.

Be prepared, prices are much higher than typical Japanese Yoshoku restaurants, but I would love to be back. I did purchase the restaurant's iconic Scallop Seashell cast iron plate shown so I hope to do a tribute post of some sort from me kitchen in the near future.

[Yokohama Specie Bank]

Saturday, May 10, 2014

Happy 2014! Friday Foto Buffet

Hello there! And Happy 2014!

An extremely belated one to say the least. It's hard for me to believe that we're already in the month of May, and even weirder to think that my last 'real' post was back in August of last year. My attempt here at a catch up, all from the 4-week break I had in Japan last Winter (2-weeks in Tokyo and another 2 in Okinawa).

As for the reason for lack of posting, in a nutshell other projects had been taking up all my time (in a good way) but wanted to also mention here that I have no intention of stopping the ol' blog anytime soon. Expect fewer posts with the style perhaps evolving, but nothing drastic other than it.

Jumping towards the end of the break but shown below is a plate of cooked pork liver and tripe alongside a mound of moist Okinawan sea salt. There's always been a tradition of eating this (nibbling for me?) at my Grandparents on New Years Day.

I never had bothered to ask the reason behind, but was finally explained to me by an aunt. The word Chi phonetically can mean both "blood" or "soil." The consumption of pork liver along with the salt which both represents spirits from the earth is said to cleans and uplift one's soul in preparation of the coming year. Gotta get me some of that action, so I have a piece.

Memories rush back that it's unapologetically bitter, dry and bland, but obviously this isn't about having any gourmet epiphanies. As I swallow the last piece, it gave me a sense of comfort and even pride for being a part of this culture, then a final lingering sense of nostalgia. Visiting grandparents' on New Years Day used to be an annual ritual right up around Junior High but I couldn't remember when I had the last.

So as I mentioned earlier, the first two weeks of my break started in Tokyo and now that I look back the theme of energizing through these more personal food encounters seem to have been an unconscious thread. Seeking out the latest and greatest was less of a priority over using meals to connect back and strengthen ties with friends and family.

I had to also balance this with a fair amount of "me time" which always seem to be a challenge with these vacations. So I had also spent a good deal getting off random train stations and walking the backstreets towards a loosely determined destination. I would spend a day purposely trying to get lost and enjoying all the serendipitous discoveries. There always seems to be something interesting to see just around another corner.

This day getting close to noon and in unfamiliar territory again, I decided to follow a trail of foodie salarymen. These brisk striding guys were intensely engaged in a conversation about past and future lunch spots the entire way. I felt I wouldn't be disappointed where they'd lead me to so I kept pace at distance and followed.

Restaurant Izumi. Looked like a classic popular-to-locals' Yoshoku spot. Seeming a bit worn from the exterior but I would never have any apprehensions with these and so I'm totally game. :)

Inside what I immediately noticed was that I had inadvertently stumbled on a Kitanachelin spot.(!) Now referred to as Kitanataurant but a segment on a Japanese television show that highlights (in a comedic tone but with honest good intentions) humble and rather rundown food establishment that serves a surprising good meal.

So anyway, inside was a wonderful seventies patina with an older wife and husband duo, a literal mom-n-pop team. The older husband chef would greet customers and call out orders in a crackling almost grandfatherly voice which for me was very heartfelt. You can tell they both enjoyed what they did.
The dish the show covered (aired back in March of 2010) was an original pork and cheese grill. However I went for the B-Lunch Set (800-Yen, ~$8) which was also popular the day. Two of them ready to be served below and the charming older chef behind.

A little bit of everything. Resting on a double pillow of fresh leafy salad and finely shredded cabbage are various fish fries and croquettes, a mini hamburg is underneath the sunny-side egg as well as the ubiquitous small twirl of spaghetti Naporitan tucked in the corner. Also comes with a small bowl of miso soup and my side of rice had a free ladle of Japanese curry that was a special the day. A great value, the individual components of the meal nothing out of the ordinary but the experience as whole with all the intangibles for me something pretty special. These places are pure magical to me.  Looking forward in eventually sharing the detail pics.

Also in Tokyo I was able to connect with a few food bloggers, some I've met and some new. It was an amazing experience and I don't think I felt more at ease with them. Felt they were my long lost kin, haha. The night out was with old friend Ginger-san of, his partner in crime EatNapo-san of the fame Naporitan X Naporitan blog who've I've been looking forward in meeting for a while, an equal super Tokyo blogger Kimimatsu-san who was also a total joy to finally meet and also Okayo-san of another great dining out blog. We met at Kamata Station and drove to our first destination. Kimimatsu-san's recollection post of the evening here (pt.2 here) and Okayo-san's here.

We ended up at a place called Katagiri which was part meat shop by day and a super locals drinking hole by night.

The local/neighborhood atmosphere was awesome. Starter was Renkon lotus root simmered kinpira style which I thought was seasoned perfectly.

The Gyu-motsunikomi (beef tripe simmer) was outstanding, grilled meats and Yakitori also quite tops. The grilled beef was from a portion called the 'Sankaku' (triangle), a desirable portion of rib meat. My mouth is watering...

Below is Napo-san pouring me my first Oolong-Hai (iced oolong tea with shochu). Wow, what a cool night!

And so as usual he had asked for a Naporitan despite it off the menu. (Link to the post on his blog here.) This "winged" version thanks to the kind peeps at Katagiri we all shared. For one being made with at-hand ingredients was pretty good!!

Thank you Ginger-san, EatNapo-san, Kimimatsu-san and Okayo-san, I had an amazing time. Happy 2014. To reconnecting with old friends and making new ones, Kanpai/Cheers! I'll be back with you all to help finish that bottle, haha. :)

Will be a part-two of the Deep Kamata series coming as there were more spots we visited the night and I would enjoy sharing.

On this same theme of connecting with old food blogger friends I was also finally able to meet with Kat of the blog Our Adventures in Japan in Osaka! You can read Kat's more timely recollection of our foodie crawl here.

It was a quick one-day trip but it helped me make use of my Japan Rail Pass. A cloudy day with sporadic rain but it didn't phase us any. We trooped along to our first stop (per my selfish love of B-Kyu Gurume request) was to the friend-of-working-class Nanba Jiyuken who's been in business since 1910 to try their famous "Meibutsu" Curry.

It's an odd style (Japanese) Curry that isn't found much elsewhere. Each plate is made to order where the roue is stirred into the rice and tossed in a heated pan. Plated, a divot is formed in the center where a raw egg is dropped on top. As Kat mentions in her post, Usutaa Sauce (Japanese Worcestershire) is recommended halfway through the meal to change up flavors while the egg mixed in mellows it. The curry had some unique spices and was on the spicy side. I can honestly say I did enjoy it (though not sure how much Kat liked it, haha). Anyway, another one off my ever growing checklist and I thank Kat for that.

We also shared an Ebi Cream Korokke (shrimp cream croquette) and this was quite wonderful, angry crispy on the outside, a bechamel based molten creamy in with a lot of shrimp flavor. Came dressed with a nice light tomato sauce.

A few more casual quick meals elsewhere but before ending we decided to check out the Doguyasuji which is like an indoor Kappabashi of Osaka. Since I didn't have time during the break to visit Kappabashi, I went ahead and did all my kitchen gadget shopping there.

Bought a classic Noda Horo enamel coffee pot, as well as a Misono chef/meat knife ($$), Tampopo style thin frying pan (I'm loving it) and few other random things. I thought the wrapping paper of this particular shop was so neat. A lot of additional photos coming up soon for this series as well.

The day in Osaka was just too quick but again thanks to Kat was an afternoon with a lot of visits. Thanks again for making time and the super fun day!!

And before I forget, below is one of the two retort pack curries I received as a gift from Kat since she knew I enjoyed trying them so much. Below is the Hanshin Tigers Beef Curry, so cool and thoughtful! I've already tried and was really great but again, saving details for later.
In the background by the way is my stash of curries I had brought back. There is like 30+ (what the heck was I thinking!! Haha). There are a few instant ramen as well, so I can't say I won't be short on content this year.

Finishing off the post with a few more pics. Not surprising I had some really good ramen as well. Since I'm a fan of general B-kyu Gurume it's a bummer that I can't focus on them like some ramen specific blogs since the meal is definitely up there as one of my favorites.

Have you noticed that none are Tonkotsu? All Shoyu except for one tsukemen I had (not pictured) at Rokurinsha.

Some quick teasers from Okinawa as well... Couple Okinawa Sobas (one with Yushi Tofu), a Taco Rice from the original shop in Kin City (Parlor Senri), Goya Champuru, a Nuuyaru Burger from local chain JEF, and a local fruity yogurt drink Morinaga Yo-go.

Can't wait in getting to share them all. The Foto Buffet style seems to be an efficient format for me but I've been intrigued at the concept of posting more of shorter posts, almost Tumblr style. I'll just have to see what works. Anyway, thanks again for visiting!