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December, 2010

  1. What my Xmas 2010 looked like

    December 27, 2010 by yuming

    Photobucket Pictures, Images and Photos

    I had two Xmas lunches to be accurate. If you follow me on Beauty Box, you might have noticed that I said I had a family lunch on Sydney harbour but that was actually incorrect because the kangaroo wasn’t sure where we were going and just told me we were heading to a restaurant by the harbour.

    But our restaurant, Ripples, on Chowder Bay in North Sydney (pictured above) did indeed overlook a pier of some sort and it was a lovely sunny day to have a family get-together. Why two? Well, we had Xmas Eve lunch with his dad and then Xmas Day lunch with his mum.


  2. Gift-wrapping with a Japanese twist

    December 23, 2010 by yuming

    Like I mentioned, I love promoting my friends’ projects and today I’d like to introduce you to Hello Sandwich’s Gift Wrapping Zine. It’s chock full of fun, kawaii ideas on how to take gift-wrapping to another level.


    You could totally jazz up a plain-looking pressie with these simple tips and tricks that are very affordable and easy-to-follow. One of my faves is the Lawson onigiri card and confetti bow (she has a Craft TV episode on this) – choooooo kawaii! If you love design with a Japanese ethos, you’ll love this handbook. Click here for more details on how to buy this wonderful little zine.

    For those who are not familiar with Hello Sandwich, here’s the who and what: it’s a Japanesey design blog run by Ebony Bizys, a sweet Aussie gal, who just moved to Tokyo. Though she’s only been living here for six months, her love affair with all things Japanese and design has been around the interwebs for several years already. By the way, she’s also my running buddy and we just signed up for a half-marathon next Feb — exciting! Early 2011 is all about marathons for me…

    Back to Hello Sandwich: Ebony’s also got a Tokyo Guide Zine that takes you to off-the-beaten-path neighbourhoods with a nose for cute design in nooks and crannies. She also does personalized tours for those who don’t want to visit tourist traps in Tokyo. Rumour has it there might be a second Tokyo Guide Zine in the making – I can’t wait!

  3. Grilled sweet potato truck

    December 20, 2010 by yuming

    One of the charming things about Tokyo is that you always see the traditional right next to the ultra-modern and urbane.

    A few nights ago, I was strolling back from the metro station to my apartment when I heard the sing-song voice of a yaki-imo (grilled sweet potato) seller hawking his wares. All he crooned was, “Yaki-imooooooooo…..yaki-imoooooooo….”, while crawling along in his grilled sweet potato truck that looks like this…


    Two giggly young OLs (office ladies) waved him down and he jumped out of his truck to serve them two steaming baked potatoes wrapped in paper.


    That evening was very chilly and I thought I could also tuck into some, but I didn’t because I had dinner waiting at home. Though I also wanted to snap a photo of this adorable scene that was happening on the ever-busy Aoyama-dori, that moment was over before my icy fingers fumbled out my digital camera.

    I used to dislike root vegetables like pumpkin, potato, and sweet potato, but since I moved to such a temperate clime, my taste buds have changed their tropical tune. For as long as I can remember, I always viewed such food as stodgy and pasty, almost dry and chalky, but now I love me a pumpkin soup or grilled sweet potatoes when the weather cools.

    In fact, I just had a large spinach salad with some grilled sweet potato on the side for lunch on this cold wintry afternoon.


    I thought I would toss in a photo of sweet-potato-flavoured Kit Kat. Did you know that Japanese Kit Kats have every flavour imaginable? Even miso and shoyu. Weird, eh?

    Photo credit: here, here & here

  4. Cucina Hirata: Hearty, elegant Italian in Azabu Juban

    December 15, 2010 by yuming

    Hisashiburi (it’s been a long time)….since I wrote a proper food review, haven’t I?

    I make it a habit to snap photos of my food when I visit restaurants that I haven’t been to before but none of them really quite captured my taste buds the way this one-star Michelin restaurant did just yesterday…

    Cucina Hirata is tucked away in the labyrinth of cafes, shops, and restaurants in Azabu Juban, a neighbourhood a hop and a skip away from gaijin central, Roppongi.

    The restaurant’s signage can be easily missed so keep your eyes peeled for a low stand that says Hirata and you’ll need to take the lift to the third floor.

    I chose Set A (1,800JPY), which was a salad and pasta set, that also came with dessert and coffee/tea. I knew the restaurant had one Michelin star so I was very curious…


    The salad looked vibrant with shaved red-tinged radish (I think?) and a bright, citrus dressing with olive oil. For a “set” salad, it was quite big. Me likey.


    Like all good Italian restaurants, the bread was excellent. I loved the poppy seed flecked ones the best…soft and yummy with fragrant olive oil.


    My friend recommended the vegetable lasagna and it was definitely a show-stopper. I was a little apprehensive when the dish was presented to me — it looked like a mess of gravy, cheese, and veggies. “Where’s the lasagna?!” I thought to myself. It was under all the gravy and it was moist, gooey, savoury, and very hearty for a veggie-only dish. I mopped up the extra gravy with bread and it was sooooooooo good.


    Our meal was rounded off with a super-light no-bake cheesecake with ground pistachios sprinkled on top. The ice-cream was earl grey flavoured and lent an elegant touch to an otherwise pleasant but standard cheesecake.


    I asked for herbal tea and they served the whole table fresh lemongrass and mint tea.

    Gosh, I know I’m gushing but I’ve never felt so taken care of during a lunch. I have been to really lovely lunch places in Tokyo but I don’t think I had both culinary greatness and warm service at the same time.

    Highly recommended and I would definitely come again.

    Endo Bldg., 3F 2-13-10 Azabu-Juban
    Tel: 03-3457-0094

  5. Moka Trésors Final Clearance Sale

    December 9, 2010 by yuming


    Remember my lovely friend, Sylvia?

    She’s leaving Tokyo and moving to France very soon (boohoo – one less Singaporean in Japan) so she’s holding her Final Clearance Sale at her store, Moka Trésors. Nab cute Japanese and Korean tops and dresses for as low as $3.90 to $12.90, plus if you are a reader of my blog, you can get a further 30% discount by using the code YUMING30 when you make your purchase. For more details on shipping, click here.

    For her upcoming adventures in the land of croissants and French kissing, tune into her personal blog, morningmoka. I can’t wait to read all about it…

  6. Back from the blogging dead

    December 7, 2010 by yuming


    So where have I been? Four letters: J-L-P-T. It was the longest time I’ve ever stopped blogging since my granny passed away last year. Nothing tragic happened (well, not yet anyway…I get my yucky results in Feb next year).

    I guess life just got in the way. I couldn’t run a business, study Japanese, train for a marathon, hoop it up at FAB, see my friends, without abandoning something. Oh, I also took part in Vegan Mofo, a month-long blogging event in November to celebrate vegan food, so I blogged 5-7 times a week over at my raw blog, Raw Bento. I’m not that sado-masochistic, I just wrote several posts in one sitting and published them daily.

    For my past two JLPT experiences, you can read them here and here. I also blogged about this year’s bento here.

    Onto my JLPT story…