04 Nov

Monday Moment: Carnival Street, Rio de Janeiro

Carnival Street, Rio de Janeiro

Ever been to Carnival in Rio de Janeiro? Yeah, me either, but check out these wild costumes we were able to try on while touring around Rio. Then we had our very own private parade on Carnival Street!

I’m sure it would have been so much better to actually be there during Carnival but this certainly gave us a taste of the pomp, circumstance, and hilarity that must go on during the actual parades.

28 Oct

Monday Moment: Japanese Manhole Covers

Japanese Manhole Covers

It is the attention to detail, in so many ways, that I love about Japan. Even wandering down the most mundane of streets I was amazed at the beauty that I found underfoot.

As with many things, the Japanese take manhole covers to a whole new level. Even the simplest among them had beautiful cast designs; the more ornate ones were storyboards of the places in which they were found. Flowers, deer, paper cranes, and sake breweries; all represented in a most unusual way.

14 Oct

The Trigger Is Pulled

“Yes! They said YES!”, I whispered as I read the email that we had been obsessively checking the inbox for. I looked up at Jason and saw mirrored in his eyes the same mixture of abject fear and excitement that was in mine.

And so our plan is coming together. In so much as we have a plan – what we really have is a pulled trigger and a panicked look on our faces.

“To achieve great things, two things are needed; a plan, and not quite enough time.” – Leonard Bernstein

We’ll leave Calgary by the end of November. 46 days from now. Not quite enough time, but we’ll get it done; we have to.

We’ve been Kijiji-ing like mad; trying to sell as much as we can as early as we can. Slowly reducing our living space to less than we lived with during college, trying hard to determine what we can keep (next to nothing) and what must go (everything), while still wagering on what we can leave to the last minute (the sofa and the bed perhaps?).

We’re working on our resignation letters and plotting the perfect time to unleash our plans on our unsuspecting co-workers. We work for the same company, on the same team, so coordination is key. **waves to unsuspecting coworkers who are no longer unsuspecting**

And we’re trying, trying, to come up with a plan.

Our totally-soft, not-worked-out, throw-it-against-the-wall-to-see-if-it-sticks, plan is to start with some good old fashioned couch-surfing with family and friends through December and into January.

Jason’s job search has now taken on an air of urgency that it needed in order to really get going. Time really is the enemy but not in the usual way; too much time usually means that nothing gets done in anticipation of tomorrow. Removing the tomorrow changes everything. We will go wherever the work takes us.

Of course there is a Plan B. It involves hot sun, crystal clear water, the softest sand I’ve ever felt, and as much paad thai as I ever wanted. But it’s not time for Plan B…yet.

Yes, we’re batshit scared. We’ve talked about this for a long time and now, all of a sudden, we’ve pushed ourselves deep into the middle of it. On purpose. We may be filled with nervous anxiousness much of the time, but there is also a quiet confidence that it is all going to work out. We are determined that fear will not be the winner.

10 Oct

The Time Has Come

I’ve long known that, in order to make a dream come true, you have to take small, continuous steps toward the goal. But it’s not until you have to take the OneGiantStep that is undoable that makes it really real.

Things just got really real around here.

I think we knew within a few days of being in Japan. We just slipped right into traveling mode; feeling comfortable even though we knew where nothing was and could hardly communicate with a single soul around us. Being away just felt right. 

Within just a few days our earlier conversations about moving abroad ‘within the next 6 months’ turned into ‘by early next year’. By the time we were on the plane home we were committing to leaving ‘by the end of the year’ and were making lists of what needed to be done when we got home.

The weekend passed in a haze of jetlag, laundry, and the first post-vacation run. Mondays return to work loomed on the horizon but we avoided any talk of it as we stretched our holiday time out as long as humanly possible.

Nothing can stop the march of time though and Monday dawned just as it always does. If my heart wasn’t in it before we left for Japan, it was not even near the front door upon return. Clearly I had left my heart on the road, and it showed.

I lasted two days before I blurted out to Jason that I thought we should leave by the end of November and listed all the reasons why waiting one more month would be not only unbearable but also would do nothing to move us toward our goal.

Yes, we could save a bit more money if we stayed another month but we could say that about every upcoming month. Yes, eight weeks is a rather short time frame to avail ourselves of all our possessions, clear up our work commitments, and make travel plans but I think it’s doable if we really focus. Yes, our apartment lease runs until the end of March which is 4 months after I propose we leave but maybe we can sublet or break the lease somehow.

We discussed all of this over an evening of cocktails and decided to let it sit over the weekend before making a decision.We, of course, lasted until the following evening when we drafted up a letter to our landlord explaining our plan and asking what could be done about the time remaining on our lease.

Pressing ‘send’ was the OneGiantUndoableStep. 

Waiting for their reply was tortuous.

07 Oct

Living Like A Local In Tokyo

“Can’t you just imagine living here?”

On this trip, more than any other, this thought kept creeping into our minds and conversations. Not only because we are looking for a new home but also because we used apartments for this trip and so really could feel as though we had moved in.

We were especially connected to our Tokyo apartment. We stayed in it for three days when we first arrived and then returned for the last 6 days of our trip. As we had already settled into the space and explored the neighbourhood a bit it really felt like we were returning ‘home’.

Want to see what it looked like? Check out this virtual tour I hosted:

It’s more than a cute, little kitchen and a comfy bed though, it’s our place in a real neighbourhood.

Downstairs, the narrow streets buzz with activity coinciding with the time of day; early morning sees bleary-eyed salary men making their way to the nearby train station before the uniformed school boys and girls giggle and gossip along the route to school and then there is the mid-day pilgrimage to the markets and shops by moms and wives as they plan and prepare dinner for their families.

We spend our days out exploring the sights of the city but return late every afternoon to relax and enjoy a cocktail at home. We have not eaten dinner outside of the four square blocks surrounding us. There is no need to; every evening we stroll down a different street and discover ever more cute, interesting, little places calling our name. Izakayas, yakitori stands, ramen shops, sushi bars, and tempura joints abound – we could try a different one every night for a month and still not get to them all. I love the abundance.

Kaiten Sushi, TokyoWe start to recognize people…and be recognized. The clerk at the grocery store knows that we remember to bring our own bags. The young man making custard fish sees me coming and wraps my daily addiction up for me. The call of “Irasshai” from the sushi chefs feels warmer as we walk in for the third time this week.

We are starting to fit in with the ebb and flow of what happens in real life in this real life Tokyo neighbourhood. This is what I’m looking for; this sense of home and yet not quite knowing how it all works. I love to travel, but I also love routine. It is during this trip, during this time spent in apartments so far from home and yet feeling so much like home, that cements the whole wanna-be expat idea.

In fact, during our last few days here in Tokyo we set about re-imagining ‘our’ apartment as a more permanent home; we could put a linen closet in the toilet room, a few posters on the wall, a tiny couch and table in with the bed in the other room, perhaps a small rolling kitchen island would increase the kitchen counter space. We had it all figured out.

30 Sep

Sake Tasting In Takayama

Takayama, JapanSunny afternoon to fill? Check.

Quaint, riverside, neighbourhood filled with sake breweries? Consider it filled.

Tucked amongst the craft makers, souvenir shops, and tea houses in Takayama are numerous sake breweries. In winter, when sake brewing is underway, it is possible to tour the breweries and learn some of the secrets to this ancient craft. Being as it was summer when we visited we had to make do with tasting the fruits of last years labour. Oh, the hardship.

Seeking out the hanging cedar balls indicating sake availability, we wandered the towns streets looking for tastings. Some breweries offer free tastings; good for the wallet but not as relaxed as when we paid a small fee to enjoy the small glasses in the tasting room where we could take our time and not feel pressured to purchase.

Takayama, JapanSake is all about the water (pure, fresh, and directly from the mountains here), the rice (polished down to its starchy essence), and the koji (the mold that converts the starch to sugar so the yeast can convert it to alcohol).

There are various grades and styles of sake but, quite frankly, I found them all to be quite similar. When tasting side by side I could taste subtle differences in sweetness, dryness, and fruitiness but, when simply enjoying a glass with a meal, each one tasted pretty much like the last. I enjoyed them all, don’t get me wrong, but I think I was expecting the range of flavours found in wine and beer.

Some of the places we visited were more than 300 years old. In Canada we’re lucky to find a place that’s been around 50 years!

Takayama, JapanThere were large, formal, tasting rooms in the bigger breweries.

Takayama, JapanOthers were small, family run places where we could hear the kids playing in the back room.

Takayama, Japan

Takayama, JapanThis one had a beautiful courtyard great for people watching.

Takayama, Japan

All were worth the time spent on a sunny, relaxed, afternoon.

 

24 Sep

Ten Types Of Ramen To Try On Your Next Japan Visit

When visiting a place I never try to find the ‘best of’ food.

I don’t need to find the best sushi in all of Tokyo; it’s likely that any sushi I have here will be better than any I have ever tasted. No need to battle the crowds, pay the ‘best of’ prices, or spend tons of time searching out the teeny, tiny, joint; I can just go downstairs from our apartment and walk into any place to get the best Japanese food I know.

What I do like to do is find a representative food and try it over and over and over again. Is it the same everywhere or are there regional differences in flavouring, spicing, and technique? Does it make a difference if I have it as ‘street food’ or in a restaurant? How does it differ from the version I can find at home?

[adsenseyu1]

In Greece we sampled calamari across the many different islands we visited. In Germany of course it was the beer and pretzels. Nepalese eat dal baat every day; it may be the same basic ingredients every day but there were small differences in flavour from region to region. Kebap in Turkey seemed to be the same everywhere, and ceviche in Peru depended on what seafood was available.

Here in Japan we knew it would be ramen; we even practiced our slurping at home to get ready!  Simple ingredients (broth, noodles, pork, bean sprouts, corn, bamboo shoots, green onions and sometimes egg) are combined in a variety of ways that keep us coming back for more. We’ve found at least 10 types!

  1. Simple Pork Ramen. This was the very first bowl of ramen on our very first day in Japan. We stopped in a small, family run, shop while meandering through a neighbourhood in Tokyo. The pork broth was nice and light, the chashu (roasted pork) wasn’t too fatty, and the noodles were nicely cooked. We were hooked! Ramen
  2. Wonton Ramen. I didn’t know that wontons could be part of ramen but I guess seeing as the whole dish is from China originally I shouldn’t have been surprised. This was one of our favorites – the broth was light and a touch salty and the chashu was the best we’ve had; it was like the rich end of  a pork roast.Ramen
  3. Rich Pork Ramen. I separate this one out because it was completely different than the earlier pork versions we’d had. Mike, who pointed us to this joint, described the broth as being made from a whole pig being cooked for hours and hours. It was rich beyond belief – thick and fatty and porky. So good that I forgot to take a picture before it was gone.Ramen
  4. Fast Food Ramen. This was the most disappointing of them all. There must have been 10 ramen places on this department store floor; all of the type where you choose and pay through a vending machine before heading inside. We thought that ‘King of Ramen’ must be the best so we fumbled through the vending machine process and went inside. The place was okay but the ramen sucked. The ‘broth’ was more like a gravy and was too salty for me – I don’t even remember the chashu – just that I couldn’t drink enough beer to finish the bowl. Our only ramen fail.Ramen
  5. Miso Ramen. I really like this one – it is, as the name suggests, made with a miso broth rather than pork broth. This in no way means it is vegetarian though as I’m pretty sure it’s a pork based broth with miso in it for flavouring – plus there was still some healthy chunks of chashu in there. It was slightly salty and had great unami, or mouth feel.Ramen
  6. Fish Broth Ramen. Another one I was not expecting and had never heard of. This small shop in Hiroshima served only fish based broth, either with soy added or not. Everything else about it was familiar; noodles, chashu, bamboo shoots, nori. The plain fish broth one was a little too ‘fishy’ but when combined with light soy sauce it was an interesting twist.
    Ramen
  7. White Leek Ramen. A pared down, lighter,  version with shaved white leek on top. The leeks add a great onion flavour to the broth and help to cut the richness of the chashu. One of my favorites.Ramen
  8. Garlic Ramen. At this small shop in Takayama there was a bowl of peeled garlic on the table along with a grater; a do-it-yourself seasoning kit.Ramen
  9. Ham and Egg Ramen? Perhaps our lack of language means that we actually ordered this version, or maybe this is just how this railway station makes their ramen, but ham (although a laudable pork product) is no substitute for chashu in ramen. It was not a memorable version other than for this oversight.Ramen
  10. Shio Ramen. I wasn’t sure we were going to see this version and then today, on almost our last day, it appeared on the English menu we were given. Shio means salt; it was a very lightly salted broth with a pork back flavor – the shio broth completely enhanced the flavours of everything else in the soup and ended up being Jason’s favorite ramen.Ramen

Who knew there could be so many different varieties of a basic noodle soup? I think this is one dish that I would never get tired of.

What about you? Do you try the same food over and over again to see how it changes?

17 Sep

Peace, Quiet, and Contemplation in Koya-san

Bidding the city goodbye at the Hashimoto train station we head into the hills toward Koya-san.

Winding its way through the small, but steep, slopes covered with cedar, pine, and bamboo, the train slowly empties at each station until it is just us, one other tourist couple, and a few old men on their way to the temples.

Switching to a cable car we quickly realize just how steep these hillsides are as we are winched straight up the side of one to the Koya-san bus station where a final bus ride will make its way through the mountains like an amusement park ride.

I have already confessed that, although I thought I would learn a tremendous amount about Buddhism and Shintoism on this trip, I have actually found that I am, at best, an interested observer. It is perhaps surprising then that we have come here, to one of the most important Buddhist areas in the country, to stay in a temple and take part in a morning ceremony. And that I loved it.

Shojoshin-in is a beautiful temple. Wood floors polished by centuries of feet shuffling over them, paper paneled walls, and tatami mats add to the atmospheric experience. It is quiet and serene; yet my imagination gets the best of me and I can easily see ninjas running loose on the roof and through the inner garden. I take note to sleep with one eye open lest one should drop in on us in the dead of night.

Shojoshin-in Koya-san

Shojoshin-in Koya-san

Shojoshin-in Koya-san

Shojoshin-in Koya-san

The only other reason we have come here is to wander through the cemetery at the doorstep. Set amongst cedar trees hundreds and hundreds of years old are thousands of grave markers and shrines, the oldest one dating back to 997. It is a contemplative walk up to the Toro-do, or Lantern Hall. We walk, and talk of our future plans; of moving away, of being more sure now than ever, of feeling so far away from home, of liking it.

Incense and the droning melody of a chanting monk hang in the air as we climb the stairs of the main hall. We sit and watch, and listen, under the light of hundreds of lanterns before turning back through the forest as dusk sets in.

Koya-san

Koya-san

Koya-san

Koya-san

Dinner is a private affair. We are shown to our own tatami mat dining room and opt to leave the sliding screens open so we can have a view of the pond and can hear the trickling water as we eat. It is simple, and beautiful, and delicious.

Shojoshin-in, Koya-san

Bath time is a public, and naked, affair. We bathe immediately after dinner hoping that the other guests are still dining and we can bathe alone. Our plan works and we are each able to enjoy the large, wooden, tub privately. It is quiet, warm, and relaxing.

Bed time is early. My self imposed technology retreat means I can catch up on the book I’ve been reading, enjoy some green tea, and relax in the alcove of our room over looking the garden before crawling into the warm futon and duvet bed for the night.

Shojoshin-in, Koya-san

Morning is marked by the gonging of a bell at 5:45. We hurriedly dress and find our way to the main hall by following the sounds of monks chanting. We watch and listen, mesmerized by the sounds of the voices, and bells, and cymbals, until we are invited to take part by adding incense flakes to the burner at the foot of the shrine.

After breakfast we take another walk through the cemetery and find we have it almost all to ourselves. The morning sun is peaking through the trees and there is nothing but peace and quiet.

Koya-san

Koya-san

Perfect.

________________

I’m posting pictures of our Japan trip everyday to the OneGiantStep Facebook page. Come on over, give us a Like, and have a look at what we’ve been up to every day!

13 Sep

Temple Hopping and Simple Beauty in Kyoto

We have spent a blissful week in Kyoto roaming from temple to temple, wandering the meandering back streets on our bikes, and trying as many different foods as we can.

I have learned a few things although not at all what I expected:

  • I expected to learn about Japanese history. Instead I learned that, although I appreciate the depth of history here I am not interested in studying it. At some point old is just old, and really old is really old. As a Canadian old is in the 200 year range, here we’re talking centuries and centuries – it gets a little lost on me.
  • I expected to learn about Buddhism and Shintoism and their relation to each other. Instead I learned that I truly am an atheist and I don’t understand monotheistic Christianity so how would I ever understand the non-theistic Buddhism or the animistic every-rock-tree-and-animal-is-a-spirit Shintoism?
  • I expected to try lots of different foods, to take fabulous photos of our meals, and be able to report about how fabulous it all is. We have, indeed, tried lots of different foods but I learned that I suck at food photography and lack the poetic description that would accompany the amazing photos I can’t take. This, I suppose, is why I am not a food blogger.
  • I expected to see beauty here, and there is plenty, although I have learned that most of the cities are concrete block jungles. The beauty is hidden away in the details of the old, traditional homes and buildings, in small private gardens, and behind temple walls. It’s not hard to find though.

It is a place best told about in pictures.

Kyoto Golden Pavilion

Kinkaku-ji (Golden Pavilion)

Kyoto Arashiyama

Arashiyama District

Ponto-cho Dori Kyoto

Ponto-cho Dori Near Gion

Kyoto Fushimi Inari Shrine

Fushimi Inari Shrine

Kyoto Koto-in Temple

Koto-in Temple

Kyoto Otagi Nenbutsu-ji Temple

Otagi Nenbutsu-ji Temple

Kyoto

I don’t remember where this was!

Kyoto Ginkakuji Temple (Silver Pavilion)

Ginkakuji Temple (Silver Pavilion)

Kyoto Arashiyama Garden

Arashiyama District Garden

Kyoto Honen-In Temple

Honen-In Temple

Kyoto Nanzenji Temple

Nanzenji Temple

Kyoto Honen-In Temple

Honen-In Temple Grounds

Kyoto Geiko (Geisha)

The ultimate in grace and beauty, we glimpse a Geiko (Geisha) in Gion.

 

10 Sep

Getting Comfortable in Kyoto

Kamo Cottage, KyotoIt’s a delicate balance when looking for a place to stay when travelling. Cost vs convenience. In the middle of the action vs out of the way and quiet. Hostel vs hotel.

For us, lately, we have been drawn to apartments.

I remember when I first realized that renting short term apartment was an option for travellers. What?! We can rent an apartment? In a regular neighbourhood? Where there are regular restaurants, grocery stores, and pubs? Where we can pretend like we live here? Sold! Ever since then, as we learn to travel slower, we look to add apartments to the mix of accommodations.

Just like when looking for any accommodation, there is a set of criteria we use to help us find an apartment:

  • We like to have a sitting area. It can be an studio apartment but should at least have a table that we can sit at.
  • We may not actually cook but we want the option to make a meal if we want to so it should have a kitchen. We usually eat breakfast ‘at home’ in the morning so like to be able to make coffee and have a fridge to keep milk and beer cold.
  • It should have shops and restaurants nearby. We don’t want to have to go into town to grab a bite – we want to eat in the neighbourhood.
  • It should be near public transportation. We like being out in regular neighbourhoods but still want to be able to get to the sights. Bus, train, or subway should be within a 15 minute walk.
  • It should have wifi internet connection.

In Kyoto we found Kamo Cottage(I will write a more detailed post later about how we find apartments and guesthouses.)

Nestled on the banks of the Kamo-gawa river this little cottage is at the back of Mike and Yuko’s family home. A small, studio space with a loft for sleeping, it has everything we need to enjoy our week in Kyoto.

There is a small kitchen area with a fridge to keep my milk and beer cold.

Kamo Cottage, Kyoto

A comfy couch and coffee table to enjoy the morning.

Kamo Cottage, KyotoAnd the loft sleeping space is plenty comfortable.

Kamo Cottage, KyotoUsing the bikes that come with the apartment was our favorite way to get around. We meandered through endless neighbourhood streets making our way to all the temples and shrines and then stopped at local izakayas for dinner on our way home. It’s true that, outside of the real tourist areas, there is not much English spoken but a smile and an adventurous spirit got us by every time.

Kamo Cottage, KyotoWe were lucky this time also as Mike is a fellow traveler who arrived in Japan many years ago and never left. He told us of his secret spots in Kyoto (the ramen shop was amazing!) and provided insight into Japanese culture and tradition.

Once again getting an apartment proved well worth it and, since we are looking for a new home, we truly did pretend like we lived here.

08 Sep

A Cooking Experience In Kyoto

It seems that, so far, our time in Japan has been spent exploring and enjoying endless temples and shrines or seeking out and eating some of the best food in the world. We exist mostly in a relaxed, zen state with full bellies. Perfection.

Food in Kyoto is an art form. Tremendous attention is paid to seasonal ingredients, preparation, and presentation. We joined Emi from Uzuki Cooking School to learn more about Japanese cuisine and to create some of the regional dishes ourselves.

The space is small, and intimate, and perfect. We have taken classes in other places and often end up in a commercial looking space with 12 or more other participants. Here it’s just us and Emi in her small, perfectly arranged kitchen.

Emi has thoughtfully constructed an Early Autumn Bento Boxed Meal menu for us that would be perfect for taking to the park for a picnic once the heat of summer finally dies down and the fall colours touch the maple trees in the area.

Bento BoxWe start with a glass of ruby coloured shiso juice and get a sense of how the evening will unfold as Emi explains about its ingredients and preparation; red shiso leaves are boiled with sugar and rice wine vinegar to produce the syrup which is then combined with ice and water for serving. It is light, slightly sweet, and a perfect beginning to our lesson.

Arranged on the table, and around the kitchen, are the vegetables, utensils and implements we will use to create our bento boxes. Eggplant, shitake mushrooms, green beans, wasabi and figs share space with soy sauce, mirin, rice wine vinegar, and ‘cooking’ sake. The fish and beef are being kept cool in the refrigerator.

Uzuki Cooking SchoolThere are the bento boxes we will place our finished dishes (a beautiful, red, lacquered version and a more rustic bamboo version), chopsticks, various small plates and dishes, and a selection of graters and rasps.

Uzuki Cooking SchoolWe quickly get started and move as gracefully as possible under Emi’s careful direction. There are marinades to be made, mushrooms to be stuffed, beef to be rolled, salads to be prepared, and eggs to be transformed into fluffy, rolled omelettes.

Emi works to make sure that we each have something to do and that everything that needs to be done is attended to. She stops regularly to explain about an ingredient, or a preparation, or the history of a dish often referring to a glossary of terms she has provided us or to a Japanese food dictionary to ensure that we understand.

Uzuki Cooking SchoolIt’s a fabulous evening of learning, conversation, and food that results in a great bento box meal shared with Emi’s home made ume-shu, a Japanese apricot/plum wine that she tells us many Japanese wives prepare, each thinking theirs to be the best. Emi’s was delicious; light and fruity without being too sweet. The perfect ending to a great evening.

Uzuki Cooking SchoolHere are the dishes that we prepared:

Grilled Fish With Sansho

We used buri; a firm fish with a fabulous pinky, red flesh. Sansho berries are look like green peppercorns but have an earthy, citrusy flavour and a numbing, tingly, effect on the tongue. Marinated in soy, mirin, sake and sugar and then grilled, the fish ends up caramelized and tasty.

Uzuki Cooking SchoolBeef Roll With Gobo, Green Beans, and Carrots

Despite all the press that Kobe beef gets, Japanese don’t normally sit down to a steak dinner. These beef rolls are a perfect way to enjoy steak without having to haul out the barbeque. Blanched carrots, green beans and gobo (burdock root) are rolled in super-thin sheets of beef and then quickly pan seared with a sauce of soy, mirin and sugar. Cut into pieces they resemble beef sushi rolls.

Fried Eggplant With Shiromiso and Akamiso Sauce

Deep fried eggplant is the perfect delivery system for the quiet flavours of miso. Shiro, or white, miso is a specialty of the Kyoto region; it has a delicate, smooth, flavor. Aka, or dark, miso has a stronger, saltier flavour with malty undertones.

Dashimaki

Dashimaki is the special Kyoto version of tamagoyaki, the eggroll we’ve all seen in sushi places. Eggs are combined with dashi stock, mirin and light soy sauce and then cooked into a rolled omelette. This was my favorite part; using a special pan we simultaneously created and rolled the omelette. It ends up fluffy and almost smoky flavoured from the dashi.

Uzuki Cooking School

Deep Fried Stuffed Shitake Mushrooms

Stuffed with a mixture of finely chopped prawns and ginger, the shitake mushrooms are then deep fried. The resulting sweet, gingery bites are squeezed with yuzu (similar to a small lime) before serving.

Simmered Yuba

When I was a kid my mum would make rice pudding in the oven; we would all fight over the chewy, sweet, milky skin that would form on top. Yuba is the skin that is formed on the top of simmering soymilk. I don’t know if Japanese kids fight over it like we did – I doubt it as yuba seems to be a much more refined part of Japanese cuisine. Here it is rolled up and simmered in a dashi broth.

Autumn Salad With Creamy Sesame Sauce

Fresh figs and mitsuba (almost like flat leaf parsley) are served with a dressing made of sesame paste, dashi broth, mirin and soy. A light, refreshing, salad to accompany the bento.

If you are in the Kyoto area, and are at all interested in the local cuisine, you should definitely connect up with Emi. She can work with you to fit any dietary restrictions or preferences and will give you a window into the amazing world of Japanese food. You can reach her at KyotoUzuki.com

Thank you Emi for such a wonderful evening; it was a pleasure to be a guest in your home.

Uzuki Cooking School