Japanese cakes/Wagashi 15: Yatsuhashi/O-Tabe

Yatsuhashi (八ツ橋 or 八橋) is a Japanese confectionery sold mainly as a souvenir sweet (miyagegashi/土産菓子). It is one of the best known meibutsu/名物 (famous regional products) of Kyoto.
It is also widely known under the name of O-Tabe/お食べ (please eat).

It is made from rice flour (上新粉, jōshinko), sugar and cinnamon. Baked, it is similar to senbei, making suitable for both vegans and flour allergics!

Baked Yatsuhashi

Raw Yatsuhashi

Raw, unbaked yatsuhashi (Nama yatsuhashi/生八橋) has a soft, mochi-like texture and is often eaten wrapped around red bean paste (餡, an), and may come in a variety of different flavours.

Black Yatsuhashi

Most notable to the Kyoto area is the black version of this. The addition of black bean powder and black sesame seed powder to the wrapper and the an give a distinctive black color.

Different flavoured Yatsuhashi

Not so long ago, there were only a few flavours available.
Now, all kinds of flavours are on sale for the pleasur of all:
Cinnamon, Matcha Tea, Ume an (sweetmeats mixed with Jpanese plum), Mandarine, Strawberries, Cherry blossoms, Ramune, Chocolate-banana, Chocolate, Kyoto baked sweet potato, Chestnuts, Green apple, Blueberries, Mango, Orange, Red wine and more seasonal offerings!

Not-Just-Recipes, Bengal cuisine, Cooking Vegetarian, Frank Fariello, Gluten-free Vegan Family, Meatless Mama, Warren BobrowBreakfast, Lunch, Dinner and Punch, Kirsten’s Kitchen, Vegan Epicurean

Please check the new postings at:
sake, shochu and sushi


Wine Tasting Shizuoka 4: Alois Lageder (Italy-Sud Tirol), Pinot Griggio

Last week i had the occasion to taste a somewhat unusual Italian wine at one of my favourite Italian restaurants in Shizuoka City, namely Trattoria Il Paladino. As for the great meal we had a report is coming soon!
But first the wine!

Don’t expect to find this wine on their “official” menu!
You must ask for the owners of the place to look what they have stashed away/hidden in the cellar at the very back of the restaurant!

Name: Alois Lageder (Italian White Wine)
Place: Sud Tirol, Alto Adige
Grape: Pinot Griggio (Pinot Gris)
Bottled in 2008.

Clarity: very clear
Colour: Light golden
Aroma: Fruity amd light. Lots of muscat and green apples
Taste: Very light, almost feminine attack.
Dry and fruity with muscat and green apples faithful to its aroma.
Very pleasant and easy to drink, especially a little chilled.
Very fine bubbles disappearing quickly.
Shortish tail.
Holds its own well with food in spite of its light weight.

Overall: An unusual wine, very similar to an Alsace of the same grape.
Very pleasant and light. Woth drinking with antipasti misto and fish.
Will prove a great experience for young beginners!

Tratorria . Il Paladino
420-9839 Shizuoka City, Aoi-Ku, Takajo, 2-8-19
Tel.: 054-253-6537
Opening hours: 11:30~13:30, 17:00~22:00
Closed on Mondays
Credit cards OK (Dinner only)

The Japan Blog List

Must-see tasting websites:
-Sake: Tokyo Through The Drinking Glass, Tokyo Foodcast, Urban Sake, Sake World
-Wine: Palate To Pen, Warren Bobrow, Cellar Tours
-Beer: Good Beer & Country Boys, Another Pint, Please!
-Japanese Pottery to enjoy your favourite drinks: Yellin Yakimono Gallery
Please check the new postings at:
sake, shochu and sushi


Bryan Baird’s Newsletter (2009/12/14)

Baird Beer & Taproom Events Bulletin

Dear Taproom Friend & Baird Beer Enthusiast:

Artisan brewing is a matter of the heart and the heart, generally, is tied to place. The place tied to the heart of Baird Beer is Numazu city in Shizuoka prefecture. Sayuri and I moved to Numazu in 1997, started a family here and then launched the Baird Brewing Company in the fish market area of Numazu in 2000. Numazu very much reminds me of America’s heartland, the Midwest, the place I grew up. The people of Numazu tend to be simple, honest and industrious; they also share an easy-going attitude and big-hearted spirit. Located at the base of Mount Fuji and on the shore of the Suruga Bay, Numazu is almost idyllic in its natural beauty.

We long have wanted to dedicate a beer to this place of heart of ours and at last we have done so. Numazu Lager is debuting on Tuesday, December 15 as the ninth member of the Baird Beer year-round lineup, and the team’s first lager representative.

Numazu Lager (ABV 5.2%):

One of the strengths of brewing in Numazu is the area’s wonderful natural water supply. It is soft, clean and round, lending a lovely, albeit subtle, character to beer. This character is an important attribute of the amber-tinged golden Numazu Lager. Supremely refreshing, Numazu Lager combines malt roundness and lager-style smoothness with a snappy and brisk hop essence. And unlike industrial lagers, Numazu Lager is minimally processed (unfiltered and naturally carbonated in package) and thus enjoys great depth of flavor.

This maiden batch of Numazu Lager has been bottled in seasonal-style 633 ml bottles. It will be available in our normal 360 ml bottles beginning with batch #2. You will be able to enjoy it on draught at all of our Taproom pubs as well as at other Baird Beer retailing pubs and restaurants in Japan.

The artwork for Numazu Lager has been done, as always, by our talented designer and friend, Ms. Eiko Nishida. The label depicts a view of the Numazu fish market area with our Fishmarket Taproom in the upper left background. You can check out the new label on our website: http://bairdbeer.com/en/bairdbeer/year-round-beers.


Bryan Baird
Baird Brewing Company
Numazu, Japan

The Japan Blog List

Must-see tasting websites:
-Sake: Tokyo Through The Drinking Glass, Tokyo Foodcast, Urban Sake, Sake World
-Wine: Palate To Pen, Warren Bobrow, Cellar Tours
-Beer: Good Beer & Country Boys, Another Pint, Please!
-Japanese Pottery to enjoy your favourite drinks: Yellin Yakimono Gallery
Please check the new postings at:
sake, shochu and sushi


Robert Yellin’s Newsletter: Japanese Pottery by Koinuma Michio

Greetings from Mishima,

As the year 2009 slowly winds down we close our exhibition schedule with a look at 20 of Koinuma Michio’s empowered kabuto–Samurai helmets.

Kabuto are objects with a significant history here in Japan, worn by the warrior class Samurai for protection in battle, they also were symbols of power and clan affiliations; many were also beautifully constructed to resemble works of art.

Nowadays families display model ones during Boy’s Day in the spring in hopes of a strong and healthy future. Each of Koinuma’s helmets has an ancient aura surrounding the darkened patina of each work, as if they were excavated from a lord’s tomb.

The symbolism is strong in each representing character, boldness, humility, honor and courage. Fired in a small wood-burning kiln, each is given a unique firing scheme that can never be duplicated.

Koinuma(b.1936) imparts to all his unique ceramic creations a deep spirituality combined with a pure Japanese aesthetic; he’s been doing this for decades and as such is respected as one of Japan’s most important veteran ceramic artists.

Sizes range from 13 to 23cm.tall and prices are between 100,000-160,000 yen with signed boxes. Each is hollow yet very solid with a good weight and balance; additional photos of any gladly sent upon request. Koinuma’s kabuto are on the web gallery now for viewing and in time for the holidays.

Next year look for a new look to our online gallery; we’ve been working with a great team of web designers and look forward to the debut in early January. Also on tap for 2010 are exhibitions by Nagaoka Masami, jars by Koinuma, colorful Shimura Noriyuki and a rare look at veteran Hirashimizu potter Niwa Ryochi; other exhibitions to be announced.

With any orders through the end of the year we’ll be including a traditional hand cloth called a tenugui that was designed by Ajiki Hiro as a year-end gift.

With much thanks for all your interest and support this year.
Wishing all a very pleasant, enjoyable and healthy holiday season.

Warm regards,

Robert Yellin

Warren Bobrow
5 Star Foodie
Think Twice
Frank Fariello

Please check the new postings at:
sake, shochu and sushi


Sushi Restaurant: Sushi Ko (’09/12/10)

When I go for sushi with the Missus, we invariably visit Sushi Ko in Sushi Ko.
I just can’t enumerate all the good reasons for visiting this sushi restaurant.
It is the best deal in town when it comes to quality, freshness, prices and service. Full stop.

We were served ankimo/アンキモ or monkfish liver (I call it Japanese foir gras!) with the first drink.
That helped us consider which sashimi to start with.
Here is what we ordered on that particular day (the fish served is only seasonal at Sushi Ko, so choosing sashimiis a great venture!):

-Bottom left: “honmaguro/本鮪”, blue fin tuna from Oma (Aomori Prefecture), chu-toro/semi-fat part.
-Top left: O-toro/belly fat part of same fish
-Bottom centre: “Aori Ika/あおり烏賊, Great Fin Reef Squid from Suruga Bay in Shizuoka Prefecture.
-Bottom right: Akami/lean part rom same tuna.

Notice the “shiso/紫蘇”, perilla flowers, grated “wasabi/山葵” from Shizuoka and “wakame/若布” seaweed at the back!

“Kinmeidai/金目鯛”, gold eye seabream from Izu penisula in Shizuoka Prefecture resting on a shiso/perilla leaf.

As we were not ready yet for the sushi (rice) we ordered one more sashimi: “aji tataki/鯵たたき”, or saurel/mackerel pike tartare Caught off Shizuoka shores).
Very fresh and enjoyable as you little bits at a time.

Just to prove how fresh the fish was (it was caught live from the tank), we were served its head and bones dep-fried. This is actually the traditional Japanese way to get their calcium for their bodies!

Sushi is not only superlative at sashimi and sushi, but they also provide a great array of excellent cooked dishes.
The Missus being ravenous, she couldn’t help asking for the “hotate gratin/帆立グラタン, scallops gratin! French cuisine at a sushi restaurant! Why not!

On the other I couldn’t help ogling at the “botan ebi/牡丹蝦, large prawns” from Hokkaido. I opted for them as sushi nigiri. These large prawns are very sweet and are exclusively eaten raw.

Once again, to prove their freshness, we were served the heads deep-fried!

“Maguro Zuke/鮪付け”, marinated tuna is another morsel that we must have. The tuna, akami/lean part usually is marinated for 10~20 minutes in a mixture of soy sauce, sake and mirin (and other “secret” ingredients) before being placed on the shari/rice ball. Almost makes for a dessert.

One particular creation by Sushi Ko is their Sushi Millefeuille (another French concept?)
They offer two kinds, one international style, the other Japanese style.
For once, we chose the Japanese style:
“kanpachi/間八” or greater Amberjack, “Kazu no Ko/数の子”, or herring roe and cucumber on the first tier, “Katsuo Bushi/鰹節” or dry bonito shavings and chopped thin leeks, the whole surrounded with dressing and “Tobikko/飛び子” or flying fish roe!

From then it was ordering morsels, one set of two/”nikan-二冠” at a time:
“hotate/帆立”, raw scallops muscle part.

“HIrame/平目”, or sole, served pre-seasoned with a little salt and lemon juice. Perfect as it is. No need for soy sauce!

“Me-negi/芽葱”, or leek sprouts for the vegans!

The Missus couldn’t stop and ordered Japanese-style deep-fried oysters!

And the ubiquitous “Ikura mini don/いくらミニ丼”, or mini bowl of rice topped with salmon roe and freshly grated wasabi (from Shizuoka, of course!).

As for me, I will not leave the place without the “Tamagoyaki/卵焼き” or Japanese omellette. Home-made (not all sushi restaurants go through the pain of cooking their own tamagoyaki!”) and artfully cut!

And the extravagant dessert: “Anago/穴子”, conger eel first grilled to a soft texture and topped with tare/sauce (always original at Sushi Ko!)!

We did have a lot of drink, I can assure you, but we remembered what we savoured!
Next time? Very soon, I’m sure!

Sushi Ko
shizuoka City, Aoi Ku, Ryogae-cho. 2-3-1 (Aoba Koen)
Tel.: 054-2512898
Business Hours: 17:00~25:00. 17:00~23:00 (Sundays)
Closed on Wednesdays
Reservations recommended
Credit cards OK
HOMEPAGE (Japanese)

Bread + Butter, Comestilblog, Greedy Girl, Bouchon For 2, Zoy Zhang, Hungry Neko, Mangantayon, Elinluv Tidbit Corner, Maison de Christina, Chrys Niles, Lexi, Culinary Musings, Eats and Everything, Bite Me New England, Heather Sweet, Warren Bobrow, 5 Star Foodie, Frank Fariello, Oyster Culture, Ramendo, Alchemist Chef, Ochikeron, Mrs. Lavendula, The Gipsy Chef, Spirited Miu Flavor,
-Sake: Tokyo Through The Drinking Glass, Tokyo Foodcast, Urban Sake, Sake World
-Wine: Palate To Pen
-Beer: Good Beer & Country Boys, Another Pint, Please!
-Japanese Pottery to enjoy your favourite drinks: Yellin Yakimono Gallery

Please check the new postings at:
sake, shochu and sushi


Today’s Lunch Box/Bento (’09/77)

Today’s Lunch Box/Bento wasa bit of a mistake as the Missus said she would prepare “mazegohan/混ぜご飯” or mixed steamed rice with the crab (“zuwagani/ずわ蟹 or Snow Crab) I bought yesterday. Well, I’ll have to wait for the crab until tonight. LOL

Mind you we had eaten the best part of it last niight already, so instead of including the rest in the rice, she’ll probably serve it with a salad!

So she steamed the rice with a piece of dry konbu/seaweed and finely chopped “Kyo Ninjin/京人参”, a variety of carrot, log, deep-red and sweet originally grownin the Kyoto area.
Once steamed, she mixed the rice with the carrot (which has been left cooking on top of the rice) and black sesame seeds.

As for the garnish, she sauteed very soft/tender pork fillet with mustard and “eringe/エリンゲ”, eringi mushrooms in its fat and sauce.

The straight “tamagoyaki/卵焼き”, Japanese omelette (by straight, I mean she did not include anything else) and the boiled broccli made for a nice colour variation.

As for the salad/dessert, she placed small cuts of “jiro kaki/次郎柿”, sqaut persimmon, and large pointed Shizuoka plum tomato slices over a bed of roughly chopped lettuce and greens.

As I’m presently on a diet (already lost 3 kg in a week without much strain), it does make for a healthy and colourful bento!

Warren Bobrow, Bread + Butter, Zoy Zhang, Hungry Neko, Think Twice, Frank Fariello, Mangantayon, Hapabento, Elinluv Tidbit Corner, Tokyo Terrace, Maison de Christina, Chrys Niles,Lexi, Culinary Musings

Please check the new postings at:
sake, shochu and sushi