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Posts posted by kinkistyle

  1. I don't get perverse thrills out of restaurant closings like Eater.com does (and indeed their thrills are about to skyrocket tenfold with the economy sufficiently fux0red), but when I got home last night I found that I had proclaimed death to a few of you last night, meanwhile it was happening for real...

    "A year and a half after its initial debut, the deathwatched (and almost shitshow) Wakiya, sweet, sweet, Wakiya, is closing its doors. According to a release today, Ian Schrager and chef Yuji Wakiya's failed project will close on December 21 due to Chef Wakiya's 'longstanding commitments in Japan.'"

    That means the only wafu-chuuka deal in town is Saburi - who are friends of mine, and just renewed their lease for another 2 years - I have advised them (and they're listening) to go RAMEN and GYOZA - these are chinese imports after all.. and offer an evening IZAKAYA menu...  is there anything else any of you would really like to see on their menu?

    Saburi's been on the shopping block for like a year and a half now. Recently saw another ad for it in a real estate site. I like the folks who run the place, but the location is kind of rough. Its on the cusp of Midtown, and if they were maybe 2 blocks further uptown, they'd probably be getting better business.

    That being said: Japanese-style Chinese is just not a winning proposition IMHO. Japanese-Italian -- yes, Japanese-French -- works, Japanese-Curry -- gangbusters.

    You are right in advising them to go Ramen/Gyoza. Go with what works in Japan.

  2. Is it true that all Asian baked goods are made with Sake Lees as leavening?

    I just gluttonly ate two Anpans (one regular and one with an inner mochi layer w/ almond slices on top) and I cant detect a regular yeasty bread smell. And anpans are sooo soft...Softer then even American Wonderbread

    Most of the times, the yeast used in Japan (at least the ones being sold in the supermarkets) is Active-Rise Dry Yeast, which is a quick-rising yeast that doesn't require proofing -- you just dump it on top of the flour -- and with only one rise necessary. But there is not much yeast flavor. Which is actually OK, because Anpan is so sweet and the Azuki-an is really heavy that the outer bread is more like a dinner roll than an artisanal baguette.

  3. This thread reminds me of something I saw on TV a year ago.

    Apparently, in "geek-capital", Akihabara, they have vending machines that sell hot oden in cans and is apparently rather tasty:



    It comes with the toothpick stuck in the konnyaku because konnyaku is hard and slippery and difficult to poke otherwise, hehe. :smile:

  4. I'm sorry but how come, when i make Tofu it dosent skin at all?

    Making tofu is different from making yuba.

    Yuba is made simply by bringing soy milk to close to boiling but not boiling or else it will curdle and seperate, (using a double-boiler or bain marie). This will form a film on the surface of the soy milk in a process called the "Ramsden Effect". The same thing happens with regular cow's milk when you heat it as well. Basically what happens is the proteins in the milk will denature and congeal when heated and rise to the top where it dries out and hardens.

    So essentially you can make "yuba" with cow's milk too. Cool eh? :raz:

    You then use a chopstick to scoop off the membrane and that is nama yuba.

  5. I bought some banana vinegar the other day that was on sale. Japan seems to be having a vinegar boom at the moment with lots of vinegar products appearing recently. I bought it just to see what it tasted like and now I have a whole mini carton of it. Any ideas for using banana vinegar?

    I was watching Tamori's "Waratte Ii-tomo" the other day and they had on a "Vinegar Sommelier" or "Su-mmelier" (har har :rolleyes: ) who did some interesting things with different "dessert vinegars".

    Some people mix it with drinkabe yogurt as a topping, or even with milk(!) :wacko: Supposedly it tastes like a lassi.

    But I think you could probably use it like balsamic vinegar and mix it with a little oil and use it to dip bread into. Or maybe perhaps sprinkle it on strawberries? How about banana-sushi rice?

    I think the most obvious cuisine that springs to mind for me is the Chinese dish "su-buta" or Sweet and Sour pork.

  6. Since limes are rare and/or expensive in Japan, I will usually mix lemon and sudachi juice to replace limes in a recipe.

    In other words, you can use it as a reasonable alternative in a recipe calling for limes and label it "Japanese-style" :wink:

  7. Oh would you really say 90% of Japanese food uses Dashi?? I can name a lot of foods it hides out in, like okonomiyaki, but if the dish itself is vegetarian, it's much less likely to be in there...

    Just tell them you are Hindu and cannot eat meat, poultry, egg, and fish products (including DASHI) I bet they can accommodate...

    Hmm.. perhaps 90% might be an overstatement, but an overwhelming number of dishes contain fish broth as an ingredient.

    Well, lets see... how about a hypothetical typical 8-course kaiseki menu:

    • Saki-zuke (appetizers): Sesame-Tofu and hourensou-goma-ae Spinachi with Sesame Dressing - Dressings for both usually contains dashi broth.
    • Sui-mono (clear broth): Suimono broth is almost always fish dashi.
    • O-tsukuri (raw fish): Err... enough said. :wink:
    • Ni-mono (stewed course): Age-dashi nasu braised eggplant - 9 times out of 10, a nimono or stewed course, no matter if it be fish, meat or vegetable, will be stewed or braised in fish dashi.
    • Abura-mono (Fried course): Tempura mori-awase Assorted Tempura - Tempura batter contains egg yolks. The ten-tsuyu dipping sauce is made by a process called oi-gatsuo where sauce is heated and katsuo-bushi bonito fish flakes are tossed in, briefly heated then strained.
    • Yaki-mono (Broiled course): This is almost always a broiled fish or meat product. Sometimes you do get Eggplant or Tofu Miso dengaku, but since fish dashi is considered the "universal thinner" in Japanese cuisine, chances are the miso dressing will contain it. To make things worse, egg yolks are also often added to the miso to create the base ingredient: neri-miso. In the fall, you can often get a shichi-rin little personal hibachi and grill matsutake mushrooms at the table. But again, I'd be wary of the dipping sauce.
    • Mushi-mono (Broiled course): Kabura-mushi Steamed Turnip - Steaming liquid contains -- you guessed it -- fish dashi.
    • Shokuji (Starch/Main course): Matsutake-takikomi-gohan Matsutake mushroom Steamed Rice, Tofu Miso Soup, O-tsukemono Pickles - Takikomi steamed rice dishes are usually use fish dashi as the steaming liquid. In the summer, you often get chirashi-zushi sushi rice, then you are OK, except that chirashi-zushi typically has a layer of shredded egg on top. Miso soup is miso mixed into fish dashi. Pickles are FISH and MEAT-FREE! w00t! :biggrin:
    • Amami (Dessert): I'd be confident in saying that this course will most likely be fish and meat-free, especially if its Japanese wagashi. But of course, if you already didn't know: Traditional home-made ice cream is essentially a frozen creme anglais which is made with egg yolks. So be careful of that green tea or azuki ice cream.

    Of course it is ridiculously simple to turn all of this into a purely vegetarian meal by leaving out the eggs and using shiitake mushroom and/or konbu kelp broth instead, but since fish dashi is considered such an integral ingredient one needs to specifically request it during ordering.

  8. Kinkistyle,

    I always ask if a restaurant uses stock / broth and am not of the "don't ask-don't tell/ ignorance is bliss" camp ao thanks for the warning. I know Thia cooking is mostly fish based so I tennd to avoid that but chinese here in Ireland don't tend to use too much fish / broth from what I know. One question though, Soy sauce contains fish???? That is something I DIDN'T know! The bottle of Soy sauce I have here at home doesn't mention fish in it's contents!

    If this is true then chinese may me off the list too :(

    I should clarify, soy sauce itself does not contain fish products, but when used as a dressing for tofu, salads, or as a dip for sushi/sashimi, soba noodles, restaurants will often thin out the sauce with fish broth. Same goes for the soup when you eat tofu and seaweed miso soup, clear broth or ramen.

    Its literally as prevalent as salt in terms of basic ingredients.

    I should also point out that some Japanese foods, like Western cuisine (e.g. mayonnaise, salad dressings) will contain eggs without being mentioned. Many Japanese miso dressings will have egg yolk in it -- the miso topping on miso-dengaku almost definitely contains egg yolk. Japanese dumplings almost always contain egg as a stabilizer.

    I know its tough, eh? I am a health nut so I also am constantly curious about what kinds of ingredients are in my food -- I think thats why I became a cook actually.

    Chinese cooking is the same. Lets face it: using water in a sauce tastes insipid. Why use that when you can use chicken stock instead, right? :wink:

  9. Are you averse to broths and soups made from animal products as well? Unless you go to a specifically vegetarian restaurant like a Chinese buddhist place or an Indian Hindu place, chances are good that even the "vegetable" dishes will include something like chicken broth.

    I'd say that 90% of Japanese cooking uses a fish broth as one of its primary ingredients, even in that soy sauce that you might be pouring over your delicious vegetarian tofu dish that dressing in that spinach salad. Chinese cooking is also replete with dishes using chicken broth and chicken oil drizzled in secret.

    Of course if you are of the "don't ask-don't tell/ignorance is bliss" camp, then you probably won't even notice, but just a little warning. :wink:

  10. Ai-no-Apuron, or "Love Apron" is still on I think. I like that show in that even though the celebrities on often suck at cooking, they do show the proper way to prepare the dishes that are featured. Although I must admit, it looks like it might be running out of ideas, so it might go the way of "Docchi" as well.

    I like to watch "Oshaberi-Cooking" hosted by local Kansai yenta Kaminuma Emi-chan. The dishes are quite creative and simple to prepare. Plus, the chefs who are regulars on the show are my ex-professors who I got along quite well with during my culinary school days, so its a little plug for my alma-mater.

  11. I went on a low-carb diet here in Japan during the height of the Atkins and South Beach Diet craze and it was easy.

    I also found konnyaku and konnyaku-based food like shirataki to be a reasonable substitute for noodles. In fact, I recently noticed konnyaku "ramen" and "spaghetti" being sold that supposedly tastes authentic. Harusame glass noodles made from mung beans are also relatively low in carbs.

    Why is it bad to eat soybeans? Japanese people have been eating soybean and soybean-based foods for centuries and they have some of the longest lifespans. I would buy tons of frozen edamame, boiled soybeans, natto, tofu, okara (soybean shells and scraps -- very high in fiber). Other beans like azuki, red and white kidney beans, and broad beans are also cheap and abundant. White kidney beans also supposedly inhibits the body's intake of carbohydrates as well.

    If you buy vegetables in season, they are not expensive at all. In fact, they can be ridiculously cheap. I would go down to the local cheap gekiyasu-supermarket and buy lots of mushrooms, sato-imo roots, potatoes and pumpkins in the fall and winter... whatever was in season and cheap. I would also buy lots of frozen mixed veggies (green giant is my favorite brand) -- they cost about as much as in New York. Although my skin turned yellow from eating too much corn and carrots, hehehe :rolleyes:

    Being Japan and all, fresh fish can be bought for remarkably cheap prices. Again, depending on the season. Tai in the spring. Eels, octopus and squid in the summer. Salmon and sanma in the fall. Tuna and yellowtail in the winter. Cheap shrimp all year round. Its a seafood-lovers paradise.

    Eggs are also dirt cheap. Used to eat like a dozen eggs a day during my hardcore weightlifting days. Supplemented by bargain-basement canned tuna and miso mackerel.

    Recently I joined the CostCo Wholesale store in Amagasaki and every now and then, buy like tremendous bags of bulk frozen chicken breasts.

    Costco rules. :wub:

  12. Here in Kansai, "sauce" (and I guess, mayonnaise) are also rather popular seasonings. Folks like their sauce sweet or amakuchi. I can't stand salty, or karakuchi sauce. Its hideous :wacko: I think my favorite is probably Otafuku or Oliver sauce.

    Also is it just me or does anyone else here like good old American mayonnaise -- like Hellmans -- better than Kewpie? American mayo has a lighter, fluffier, and less intrusive taste, like Kewpie tastes eggy and oily.

    Black sugar has the same slight sharpness and bitterness, Cheeko. I use it in simmered dishes, and also to fry or grill things fake-kabayaki style. Goes wonderfully with strong flavors like fresh sardine!

    Sweeteners - if I could afford it, I'd probably use mirin instead of sugar even more often than I do now. I find it much lighter and less obtrusive for sweetening delicate flavors.

    Mirin is also good in that it contains amino-carbonyls that produce umami savoriness that enhances the foods more than regular sugar. The alcohol content in mirin will pull out the flavors of many foods and mirin is awesome for creating teri or shininess.

  13. The current shochu boom, which started around 2003, is slowly dying down.  In this boom, what has become popular is not kou-rui shochu but more expensive otsu-rui shochu such as imo-jochu and mugi-jochu.

    In the previous shochu boom in the 1980s, kou-rui shochu became popular for use in making chu-hai.

    I don't go to izakaya these days, but I think beer is still the drink of choice for most Japanese when they go to izakaya and other restaurants serving alchool beverages.  Have you ever heard Japanese say "Toriaezu beeru!" (hard to translate, "Beer first anyway" or something like that) when asked what to drink?.  After they drink one or two glasses of beer, some will stick to beer, while others will switch to their favoriates.

    Probably completely off-topic, speaking of Chu-hai -- which I find pretty gross for the most part -- the best Chu-hai I have ever had is at a Hanshin Tigers game at Koshien Park. That stuff is too good. The ice cubes they put in it is made from frozen Chu-hai too, so its like a double punch.

    Man, I got so drunk. :raz:

  14. I normally avoid purchasing food at the .99 stores here in the States.  I have noticed that some of the cookies, snacks and sauces have way passed the expiration date.  Is that also the case in Japan?  Or there is a higher quality control standard?

    Pretty fresh. The portions are small, like single onions, knobs of ginger or two heads of garlic, or 200g of steamed rice, etc... Just enough for people like me who live alone and don't really need to buy lots of groceries. The tofu is the cheap kind, but you get a nice heavy chunk. The frozen stuff is well... frozen.

    The standards for quality are much much higher here in Japan, and the stores are very busy with good chains of distribution so stock is consistently being replenished.

  15. Isn't the shochu the trend for the past few years in Japan?

    Yes, sake is all booze perhaps with the exception of biiru (beer).  In Kagoshima the land of shochu, the waitstaffs will automatically bring you shochu if you asked for sake.  The same in Okinawa; awamori will be brought to when asked for sake.

    The Shochu boom looks to be petering out in Japan. It was "IN" in 2004, but took a nosedive the following year. Flash-in-the-pan it seems.

    Wine is still popular. Actually, there seems to be a VINEGAR boom going on. Supposedly its healthy, but the idea of drinking vinegar grosses me out. :wacko:

  16. There is a chain of 24-hour 99yen shops called "Shop 99" here in Osaka that sells lots of groceries and produce in small portions for 100 yen. I will often buy single onions, cups of scallions, tofu, natto (yeah I like natto alot), cheap frozen veggies and whatnot. I also buy spices, curry powder, nori seaweed and stationary and plastic boxes and tupperware when necessary.

    I will also often go to small, specialty 100 yen shops that specialize in interior decorations and various "zakka" for when I want to spruce up the home or when a houseplant dies and I need a replacement.

    For what its worth, 100 yen shops often will sell these little cast-iron skillets, and there is a whole site dedicated to recipes using these 100 yen skillets. Its located here:


    Unfortunately its entirely in Japanese, but lots of cool ideas.

  17. You should have no trouble at all finding kondu and Bonito flake. Try Asian Market on Mulberry. They have just about everything, and will deliver small quantities same day.

    Great! I was somewhat concerned about katsuo-bushi. But I was considering substituting yam-powder something along those line for the yams. Hopefully Asian Market will have them on the cheap.

    Thanks for the info folks! I can't wait to head back to NYC and start looking for locations then I can start drawing up floorplans and applying for permits. Woopee :biggrin:

  18. Hi there. I am going back to NYC soon after a 6 year stint in Osaka, Japan including 2 years of culinary school here.

    I am planning on opening my open restaurant in the city and am kind of hard-up for ingredients that are common-place standards here in Japan including: Dashi Konbu Seaweed, Katsuo-bushi (Bonito flakes).

    I am especially interested in buying Japanese mountain yams (Yama-imo, Naga-imo, Tsukune-imo) since it is a main ingredient in so many different kinds of dumplings and mousses, and is fresh produce.

    I realize Chinatown is a literal treasure trove of asian groceries but I don't ever remember seeing Yama-imo or Naga-imo. I remember seeing one article where Wylie Dufresne bought some at the Union Sq. Greenmarket, but I need these puppies in relative bulk -- not the occasional quirky special. :rolleyes:

    Anybody ever see them for sale at relatively low-prices in bulk?

    Thanks for the help!

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