Wednesday, January 30, 2008

japanese noodle dipping sauce

I've told people that my favorite way (or one of the easiest way) to eat mochi is to heat the mochi, wrap it up in nori (seaweed), and dip it in bonito soy sauce. The "bonito soy sauce" was not its official name, but what I call it. It's like soy sauce with bonito in it, and is usually marketed as a Japanese noodle dipping sauce.

I usually buy a basic version of the sauce, and most of the time I use Kikkoman's Memmi.

The Memmi sauce is concentrated and needs to be diluted with water when you use it. On the packaging label the ratio of the sauce and water for making different bases/sauces such as udon soup base, somen/soba or tempura dipping sauce, and many other uses. When I use it as a mochi dipping sauce, I don't dilute it at all. It's yummy.

Gotta have a bottle in my fridge at all times!

japanese somen
I found this somen (Japanese thin and white noodles) the other day.

japanese somen
The somen noodles cook in 3 minutes! After the noodles are cooked, run them under cold water and strain completely before serving. A lot of times people would put a small bamboo mat underneath the strained noodles to make sure no water "stays" with the water. Use the Memmi (1:4 ratio) as a dipping sauce. Some people like to add grated ginger or chopped green onions to it.

Monday, January 28, 2008

new golden dragon

John and I went to the New Golden Dragon for dim sum yesterday. It was not our first time there, but we did try some things that we had been waiting for to try in the past.

dim sum
I love dim sum in all its forms!

BBQ pork
Broiled BBQ pork. I first tried this when Jenny took me there. These are of limited quantities each day, so you've got to get to the restaurant early enough (before 1:30pm) to try it. It's really good!

fried fish with roe
Fried fish filled with fish roe. OK it tastes way better than it sounds. It's yummy!

fried fish with roe
The fish was FILLED with roe!

hot pepper
Watch out for the really spicy hot peppers!

sticky rice wrapped in lotus leaves
Sticky rice wrapped in lotus leaves... I have to post this one, because I had actually seen someone eat it with the lotus leaves still wrapped around it. You eat the yummy rice inside WITHOUT the leaves.

piles of buns
The family sitting next to us had piles of buns on their table... Someone REALLY likes those buns!

"chicken tail" buns
These were the buns the family next to us really liked. They're called "chicken tail" buns because they are shaped like a chicken tail. There was sweet coconut filling inside.

We had a couple more dishes that I didn't take pictures of. I was just enjoying my food too much at the time.

If you like dim sum, you'd love New Golden Dragon!

New Golden Dragon
1518 South Main Street
Salt Lake City, Utah
(801) 487-9888

Saturday, January 26, 2008

blackberry cheesecake

My friend Joanne brought me a couple slices of the blackberry cheesecake she made. This cheesecake is in between the Japanese (lighter) style cheesecake and the traditional (heavier) style cheesecake. Its texture is amazingly wonderful, and the slightly shiny glaze (melted sugar and gelatin mixture) on the top and the blackberry (jam?) with whole blackverries were awesome!

blackberry cheesecake

Thanks Joanne!

Friday, January 25, 2008

naicha is thinking about something...

Sometimes Naicha likes to sit in the front room and look outside the window. I was making lunch yesterday, and noticed that Naicha had not made any noise for a while (she walks loud, plays loud, and breathe loud sometimes) so I went to find her in the house.

She was sitting by the front room window and looking at something. I didn't see birds or people or other dogs, but she was just sitting there and staring out of the window... for a while. She looked really relaxed and calm (which doesn't happen often with her), and as if she was thinking about something.


Then she saw me and wagged her tail, stood up, and walked toward me. It was just cute.

Thursday, January 24, 2008


I'm feeling happy and accomplished today, because I've finally figured out how to group my blogs together on blogger.

I lost my "identity" when blogger started to require all users to have a google account. This blog became one of the caffe d'bolla team member and I could not leave comments on people's blogs as myself easily.

Anyhow, this Blogger help hint was really helpful and I finally got my identity back after all the switching and tweaking. Yay!

I even found a fun photo from our recent Japan trip as my profile pic!

Wednesday, January 23, 2008

cute garbage cans

We've got quite some snow this season, and there was a bit more yesterday. When I was pulling into our driveway I saw our two garbage cans standing in front of the garage door with snow on the tops and icicles on the rims. For some odd reason I thought they were really cute... and looked like they were 'just hanging out' in the snow.

garbage cans
The black one is for regular garbage, and the green one is for recyclables.

Tuesday, January 22, 2008

waitress the movie and the pie song

I know I'm behind on this, but we just watched Waitress this past weekend. I've long heard people talk about how wonderful and fun the movie was, but never got a chance to see it quite yet until a couple days ago.

The movie premiered at Sundance last January (2007) and in limited theaters in May. You can read more about it here.

If you've watched the movie you'd know of the cute little pie song, and if you haven't seen the movie you should just run out and rent/buy the DVD and watch it. The thing is that the pie song is now stuck in my head... The full version of the song is called "Baby Don't You Cry" by Quincy Coleman. Love it!

Baby Don't You Cry (The Pie Song) - Quincy Coleman

When the world is gray and bleak
Baby don't you cry
I will give you every bit of love that is in my heart
I will bake it up into a simple little pie

Baby don't you cry gonna make a pie
Gonna make a pie with a heart in the middle
Baby don’t be blue
Gonna make for you
Gonna make a pie with a heart in the middle
Gonna be a pie from the heaven above
Gonna be filled with strawberry love

Baby don’t you cry
Gonna make a pie
Hold you forever in the middle of my heart.

Baby here's the sun
Baby here's the sky
Baby I’m the light and I’m your shelter
Baby you are mine
I could freeze the time
Keep you in my kitchen with me forever

Gonna be a pie from the heaven above
Gonna be filled with strawberry love

Baby don’t you cry
Gonna make a pie
Hold you forever in the middle of my heart.

Gonna bake a pie from the heaven above
Gonna be filled with butterscotch love

Gonna be a pie from the heaven above
Gonna be filled with banana cream love

Baby don’t you cry
Gonna make a pie
Hold you forever x 2
Hold you forever in the middle of my heart

Monday, January 21, 2008

doors and windows

Our new roasting room at the caffe is pretty much all done! The big glass door was installed right after we got back from Japan, and the two large glass windows were put in a couple days ago.

The room is looking good, the new roaster is working great, and we're loving it!



Sunday, January 20, 2008

IKEA dubbla chokladflarn

I bought these Dubbla Chokladflarn cookies last time I went to IKEA. I don't know Swedish, but I figured "Dubbla Chokladflarn" should be, or close to "Double Chocolate," and double chocolate is always good.

IKEA dubbla chokladflarn
The pink box is an added bonus.

nuki and a cookie
They are two thin and crispy oatmeal cookies dipped in dark chocolate and stuck together (almost like a sandwich cookie, but not quite). The cookie's texture and taste remind me of chocolate-covered corn flakes. Nuki is really interested in the noise caused by the their crispiness.

IKEA either wants you to share all the cookies with others, finish them very quickly, or find your own container for the cookies, because the box is wide open after you ripped open the outside plastic wrapper.

vintage cookie jar
I'm glad I found this vintage Rubbermaid because it's perfect for cookies!

Thursday, January 17, 2008


The annual Sundance Film Festival started yesterday, and a lot of people and stars are in town and in Park City. It's always busy up in Park City around this time, so we usually try to avoid the crowd, because you can see the films later on anyhow... but apparently Colin Farrell is in Park City for In Bruges, and Colin Farrel always makes me say, "uhm!" so I was tempted to go up there and check things out. Maybe, just maybe, I'll get to see him in person! *shifty eyes*

Colin Farrell, UHM!

TAKARAZUKA: Kiyoshikojin Temple

Our friend Nobu came to the caffe to see me today, and told me that when he told his mom we went to Koyoshikojin Temple in Takarazuka. I guess it was not a very high-profile temple.

takarazuka station
John and I arrived at the JR Takarazuka Station, which is right across from the Hankyu Takarazuka Station.

Since we were not familiar with the city and we couldn't find any maps around the station, we decide to just walk around and follow a group of people that we saw walking out of the station.

round trees
We were walking toward the mountains and saw cool trees and houses.

kiyoshikojin temple
We eventually realized where we were going, and we saw a lot of people there, too. It was the New Year's and people went up to the temple to pray for a happy new year.

kiyoshikojin temple
A buddha looking out from the temple.

kiyoshikojin temple
Many families went to the temple together.

Right outside the temple area there was a festival filled with food and goodie stands.

We got yakisoba. Hmmm... yakisoba.

special fried chicken
Japanese fried chicken on a stick.

big hot dog
BIG hot dog. We've been seeing quite a few stands that sell these HUGE hot dogs, and people like them. They were yummy.

Taiyaki. These were tradtionl treats with fillings. We got a milk flavor one and a azuki (red bean) one. John says they are "crunchy pancakes."

We really enjoyed our trip to the Kiyoshikojin Temple. The temple was beautfil and the people were happy and festive... and the festival outside was a total bonus!

Tuesday, January 15, 2008


After making the mochi, I placed the rolled-out piece on a tray and in the fridge to cool before I cut it into pieces.

It looked like this after it's cooled and hardened.

I might have left it in the fridge for too long, because it was a bit too hard for me to cut it into pieces easily. I think a couple hours should be enough next time. Oh, and the katakuriko was a big help... nothing was sticking on anything! :)

Apparently I didn't roll the mochi "dough" out evenly... some pieces were slightly thicker than the others... but they should be equally yummy. :)

After wrapping them in plastic wraps, you can then store them in zip-lock bags, or in a container, or stack them up!

Monday, January 14, 2008

mochi maker

When John and I travel we usually only have our carry-ons with us, but this time when we were coming back from Japan, we had a "luggage" we needed to check in... because we finally got a mochi maker!

mochi maker

I've always loved mochi. You can't find good and fresh ones here in Salt Lake, so I'm really glad I get to make my own mochi now.

Being the first-time mochi making person, I decided to use the least amount of mochi rice to make a smaller batch.

mochi rice
I used 1.4kg of mochi rice as recommended by the instruction book.

mochi rice
After washing the rice, you have to let it soak in water for 6 hours, and then strained for 15 minutes.

Then you place it in the cooker and add water to a little box that's next to the cooking hopper... and then the rice is steamed, and pounded, and the mochi is about ready. (approx. 20-25 minutes)

When the mochi is being pounded in the machine, I got the trays ready by sprinkling some takakuriko (potato starch) on it.

mochi machine accessories
When the mochi is finally done I "poured" (and "dug") the mochi onto the cooling tray, flatten it with the rolling pin, and placed it in the fridge to cool. After it's cooked you can cut it into pieces for easy storage.

I didn't get to take more pictures after the mochi was out of the machine. It was just a bit too messy at the time with the sticky mochi, but I did get to taste some of the mochi and it was so delicious! John and I usually wrap the mochi pieces with grilled nori (seaweed) and dip them in Japanese soy sauce, but I've been reading about some exciting new ways of preparing mochi so I will try them out soon.

Hmm... mochi.

Friday, January 11, 2008

boiled shrimp dumplings

My friend Yachi from the radio show made shrimp dumplings and gave me some to try. They were really pretty and very delicious!

uncooked dumplings
These reminds me of the big gyoza we had in the ramen shops in Japan. They are full and rounded, with flat bottoms.)

boiled dumplings
Yachi said she added some shrimp to these. Hmmm... yummy!

Ahh. I totally crave some shrimp dumplings right now!

Thursday, January 10, 2008

Kansai, Japan 07/08 - SMAP: 世界に一つだけの花 (Sekai ni Hitotsu Dake no Hana)

On new year's eve we stayed up in our hotel room in Osaka, and watched the annual Japanese "Red and White Competition" show on TV.

And this song came on... I liked it so much I had to buy the original CD so I could get the original version of the song. The CD came out in 2003 by SMAP,a very popular J-Pop band. I was never a SMAP fan, but I really enjoyed this song, and the whole CD is great!

I know the video is slightly cheesy... but the song is cool. Really.

世界に一つだけの花(Sekai ni Hitotsu Dake no Hana )- SMAP



そうさ 僕らは



そうさ 僕らも

もともと特別なOnly one

Tuesday, January 08, 2008

KOBE: at kobe port

John and I went down to the Kobe port this time, and saw the memorial park that's built after the big earthquake in 95.

earthquake memorial park
The light poles were the original poles that were shaken during the earthquake. The Japanese officials secured these and maintained their positions to remind themselves of the horrific earthquake and also the steps they needed to take to prevent future destructions.

earthquake memorial park
At the time of the earthquake, a large section of the highway bridge collapsed as well.

The port was quite while we were there... just an occassional fish boat coming in. John and I were wondering why not a lot of people come to this part of the port... do people feel sad when they come to this area? Or do they fear what may happen here when an earthquake strikes again?

It was really quiet for a while, and then we heard a dog barking! We then saw an old man walking his dog on the newly built path by the water, and then saw a few business men brought their box lunches to enjoy some quiet lunch time by the water.

All of a sudden I felt the port is tranquil and peaceful, and yet very much hopeful and lively!

kobe port
See the happy dog?

Monday, January 07, 2008

KOBE: streets in kobe

John and I first started including Kobe in our Kansai trip last year, where we visited the busy Sannomiya and Hommachi areas, the "foreign" areas and the shops, as well as the UCC Coffee Museum and Nanjin machi. (Nanjingding, the "China Town" in Kobe.)

And this year we planned to visit the Kobe port and the areas near the waters. When we arrived at the Sannomiya staion via JR from Osaka, we were greeted by an old gentleman who spoke very good English and instructed us to go down a route to the port. The route down to the port was beautiful.

flower clock
The "Flower Clock" was decorated to welcome the "Year of the Rat".

and shops and signs from different countries.

seaweed shop
as well as traditional shops (this one is a nori/seaweed shop).

This historial shrine is located in the busy streets, among the tall buildings.

nanjin ding

We passed the Nanjin machi (China Town) and had to grab some snacks!

first american consulate kobe
first american consulate kobe
Before we arrived by the port, we came across the first American Consulate in Kobe, built in 1868.

We then saw the water... it was beautiful!