Food

Good Eats! The Return 3-6


Episodes 3 & 4 are much more of a return to the classic “crunchy” Good Eats sort of show than 1 & 2. I get the feeling that Alton’s been getting twitchy from not having a venue to ramble on about food geekery like xanthan gum and immersion circulators, which he’d have covered years ago if he’d had his own show.

Episode 5 is about a dish so trendy that I’ve never heard of it. Did I miss a meme somewhere, or is “shakshuka” just a food-show thing?

Episode 6 could have been titled “J’s childhood birthday cake”, something I haven’t made for myself in 20 years or so. Tempting…

F’real shakes


During the long drive back from Mt. Hood, I stopped for gas somewhere, and found something I hadn’t seen before: a self-serve milkshake machine from F’real. You select your flavor from the freezer, load it into the machine, select your preferred thickness, and wait for it to spin up and aerate your shake. Not bad at all, but I can’t say I’d go out of my way for one. I mean, their web site says there’s one at an ExtraMile just off the highway in Gilroy, but the map shows that it’s right next door to a Sonic

Downside: it’s too slow to deliver any non-trivial volume of shakes. If there had been even one person in front of me, I might not have hung around waiting, and if there had been more, forget about it. Given that it takes up a fair amount of counter space, I suspect it’s going to be a hard sell for many gas stations and truck stops, and will quickly be replaced with something less tasty but much faster.

Good Eats! The Return 1&2


It’s back, it’s back, it’s back-to-back, it’s… chicken parmesan and hipster grains? Eh, whatever, it’s Alton doin’ his thing, so it’s worth watching. Just don’t expect me to start calling chia and quinoa “Good Eats”….

Note that when introducing his “favorite quinoa recipe”, he apologizes for the half-stick of butter, 3 cups of half-and-half, and half-cup of mayo, but not for the 12oz of broccoli, which I find far more disturbing.

(file under peculiar that the ads DirecTV forces you to watch with Good Eats on their app are all aimed squarely at housewives; pity that I had to use the app to watch at my office, instead of on my DVR, where I never see any ads at all)

Now I’m free to catch up on Cop Craft! Hmmm, and there’s a new episode of Sounan Desu Ka?, but I’m guessing that the focus on Homare’s dad will not produce the quantity of fan-service that last episode did.

Hanaroku teppanyaki restaurant


Apple Maps is still pretty awful in Japan, so we never used it, but Google Maps had a habit of losing track of our position and facing just often enough to repeatedly send us a few blocks out of our way. It was also pretty terrible at recommending nearby restaurants. But it got it right once, and that’s what matters.

In Kyoto, in the basement of the Hotel Kanra, lies the home of what may be the finest meal we’ve ever eaten, Hanaroku. The menu is short, with only three courses and a handful of a la carte options, plus a separate daily special. The drinks menu is more elaborate, but both are seasonal, with the saké flights paired to the food. Preparation and presentation are exquisite, and the staff is quite friendly.

Not only will we go again, we did. We couldn’t stop thinking about the wagyu, so we went back another night and just ordered it a la carte with a full bottle of Kagura.

The best gyoza…


…is found in little side alleys. We already suspected this, but recent events have confirmed it.

Tenka Gyoza is dead; long live Tenpei Gyoza

It took us most of a week to get down to Osaka, only to discover that our favorite little third-floor hole-in-the-wall gyoza joint closed less than two weeks ago. We had gotten to Dotonbori around 1pm and checked to make sure her sign was still there, but since she didn’t open until 5, we didn’t go up until after we’d done our sightseeing and shopping.

Fortunately, there were two guys inside renovating for the new owner (sounds like it will just be a bar), and one of them knew that she’d retired and sold the place, and recommended we head back up toward Umeda station and try Tenpei.

We each devoured 50 hitokuchi (one-bite) gyoza too quickly to get a picture of them, but here’s their little English sign with a history of the place and the correct proportions for mixing up your own gyoza sauce:

I’d prefer to believe that the lady at the other place invented hitokuchi gyoza, but I’d need to spend a lot more time in Osaka researching the history of this most delicious incarnation of pan-fried dumplings. Tasty, tasty research.

If you want a higher filling-to-wrapper ratio, our other new find is a block up from Shijō off Karasuma in Kyoto, Tiger Gyoza Hall. They have a full menu for some reason, but if you just walk in and say “pukkuri gyoza, hakko”, you’ll be very happy. We’ve been there three times now, and I’m pretty sure there will be another visit before we leave town.

The unbelievably awesome teppanyaki restaurant Hanaroku deserves a post of its own…

Unrelated pro tip: if you use the new SmartEX app to purchase shinkansen tickets, guard that credit card with your life. If you somehow manage to lose the card (first time in my life…), you cannot pick up your tickets. At all.

The workaround is to use the app to cancel and resubmit your reservation with a different card, but this is not a practical solution when it’s the Friday afternoon where the entire country is going on vacation. The girl at the JR counter was politely apologetic, but didn’t think of what seemed obvious to me: have her place the order as soon as I hit the “cancel” button. Once we were synced up, we turned our keys and rebooked the same seats. Crisis averted, and there’s no sign that my card was used by anyone before I reported it lost.

Dieting tip…


After carefully determining that your pizza recipe is compatible with your new diet if you only eat half of it split across two meals, it’s important to put the other half away as soon as possible. Out of sight. Uncut. In someone else’s fridge.

I’m not worried about gaining weight while we’re in Japan, because last time it was just my sister and me, we averaged about 18 miles of walking per day, and Japan is not flat. A lot of my diet/workout plan right now is focused on my knees so I’m up to the challenge.

Sadly, my lasagna recipe isn’t compatible with any diet. Especially if I’m alone in the house with it. 😁

I’m a sucker for retro…


…not that I was buying canned food back when this was their current design…

Dry Curry is…


Japanese Sloppy Joes. And not in a bad way.