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July, 2012

  1. SF Chronicles: Fisherman’s Wharf

    July 28, 2012 by yuming

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    The one benefit of jet lag is that you wake up very early (3am, anyone?) so by the time life is stirring in whatever city you are in, you are raring to go. That was me in SF three weeks ago. I took my bright-eyed bushy tailed self down to Fisherman’s Wharf at 630am. It was very chilly which encouraged me to run even harder.

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    There were other peeps just like me — jogging in the slight drizzle and wind and feeling quite happy doing so.

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    At the same time, I was absolutely starving so I was on the lookout for some breakfast. I passed by these goofy lobster-shaped bread at a bakery…

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    Then I spotted….an organic cafe open at 730am!!!

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    I sucked on this green juice in three seconds flat. I had already been in the US for a few days now and was just dining out in cafes and restaurants with not a lot of green type food.

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    And then I proceeded to inhale this delicious breakfast burrito. The Mexicans got it just right with their scrambled egg wraps with spicy salsa — I always find bread a bit too heavy for me so wraps are a lighter alternative.

    Though you wouldn’t catch me doing this in Europe — the time difference is the other way around. You wake up late and before you know it, the day has whooshed past and everyone has gone to sleep while you are wide awake and gagging for something interesting to do.


  2. Sambal soba

    July 27, 2012 by yuming

    Hi my dears, I’m sorry I’ve been missing from this beloved space. I would say I genuinely felt overwhelmed and it has been crazy busy since my arrival in the US. This article which a friend posted on Facebook made me re-think what it means to be “crazy busy”.

    This morning, as I was re-tracing my steps for the past three weeks, I don’t have overly much to show for it. I’ve attended all my classes every Saturday and tried to keep up with my other blog. I think I’ve spent a lot of time on planes and socializing. However, that doesn’t reflect it was a meaningless waste of time. I like my friends and spending time with them is a luxury because they don’t live in Tokyo.

    I have loads of photos and precious moments to share so hang tight, will ya?

    This would be my last post about the Japan side of my life for a little while…

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    As an expat in the kitchen, I borrow my favourite bits from various cuisines and mash them together. Sometimes they turn out alright but sometimes a real flop. Today’s picture exudes a bit of nostalgia for me because I used up the last of my mum’s homemade sambal chilli paste which amazingly lasted a little over two months. I only had a small tub of it and I always make sure I use it for time when I crave a spicy kick. I think I could only get another batch early next year on my way back to Tokyo from Sydney. I would be in Singapore in Sept for a few days but it would be on my way to Europe so I can’t possibly lug around sambal chilli in my luggage. But it’s best to keep this a rare condiment because this is what makes it so special too…

    It was a busy day (I need to do something about this!) but I wanted something a bit more hefty than a salad so I whipped up my very own mutt-like stir-fried noodles. I boiled up some pure buckwheat soba noodles (none of that mixed stuff in my pantry!) and tossed it together with garlic, napa cabbage, bean sprouts, shiitake mushrooms, onion, tomato, egg, and a big dollop of sambal chilli — a touch of Chinese, Japanese, and Singaporean. Oh my, it was so tasty and savoury…

    Do you cook like that as well — making it up as you go?


  3. Picture on the wall

    July 20, 2012 by yuming

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    Our home is feeling more like home as we slowly decorate it with our own personal touch. We had this huge double happiness sign (a symbol of marital bliss for those who don’t know Chinese culture) at my parents’ house during the tea ceremony. The kangaroo hunted this down in Chinatown and was very proud to have found this majestic looking version. You can see that it had the opening spot in our wedding video.

    The kangaroo brought it back from Singapore recently and framed it up. Now it’s on the wall overlooking the dining area.

    The colour scheme of our last apartment was red and white which naturally transferred to our new home, so this double happiness picture fits right in. It looks quite small here without the context of the room but it’s quite big and quite the statement piece.


  4. What I would tell my younger self

    July 19, 2012 by yuming

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    Eat salads. I used to avoid salads and anything crunchy or raw would send shivers down my Chinese spine. I think Asians in general like soft food and that means lots of carbs and such. Seriously, I am as mystified as any other non-Asian who wonders how Asians remain so tiny and petite but yet can eat large quantities of carbs a few times a day.

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    So when I feel a little heavy (i.e. when my jeans feel uncomfortably tight), I eat a salad for lunch almost daily and I try to work out every other day. If I could go back in time and speak to my 20-something self, I would say, “Hold the Hokkien mee, laksa, and eat salads. Your metabolism would thank you for this habit in the later years of your life. You will not remain skinny like your other thin Asian sisters.”


  5. Pretty food

    July 18, 2012 by yuming

    We had a friend stay with us in June and we didn’t know where would be a good place to have some food on a Friday night. Many places are booked out in Nakameguro so we decided to just walk around and see what we find.

    As we walked along the Meguro river, I spotted a quiet alcove that had a long wooden wall leading to what seems like a hidden entrance. The menu was all in Japanese and looked like it had some grilled meat and fish — fail-proof and it was Japanese. Honestly, we don’t choose Japanese food unless we have visitors. The kangaroo and I naturally gravitate to dim sum, steak, tapas, Italian, Thai, Mexican etc. when it’s just two of us. But that would be very boring for our visitors…

    Luckily, this evening at An-non, a sophisticated Okinawan restaurant, delivered excellent Japanese food and we came away pretty satisfied.

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    The starter seemed a bit ominous, though it came in a pretty ensemble…

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    I love fermented food so I had to try the fermented tofu but they presented this tiny cube and I cracked up. I’ve seen tiny food in Japan but this was ridiculous. But it turned out that I was wrong and not them. Fermented tofu, Okinawan style, is a solid mass that is very stinky and pungent. You can only really eat a small shaving at a time. I couldn’t stomach the rotten cheese taste but my companions thought it went well with their sake.

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    Speaking of which, this sake glass was so beautiful. I love the modern twist on sake cups in Japan…

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    Another standout that evening was the matcha pudding which was lightly laced with matcha flavour in a gelatinous sphere. I forgot to take photos of the rest of our meal but it was very good. The portions looked tiny but a few bites of each dish added up and I suddenly found myself full. Try the grilled cod fish, the house salad, and the steak (the boys raved over this one), and the stewed pork. And the Okinawan soba noodles were to-die-for — spicy and hearty and the noodles were just the right amount of slip and chewiness.


  6. Japanese pickles

    July 17, 2012 by yuming

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    I’ve grown very fond of Japanese pickles and enjoy them with a warm bowl of sticky rice. Simple but absolutely delicious.

    At our local sushi bar, we were given these unassuming slices of wasabi-infused yam pickles as an accompaniment to sake. They were salty and the wasabi really hits you like a slap in the face — it was sooooooo good. I like my wasabi strong and fierce.

    Do you like Japanese pickles?


  7. Kirara

    July 16, 2012 by yuming

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    I met a gf for lunch at Kirara, a macrobiotic cafe, in Nakameguro. It’s a bit tucked away but worth looking for as it’s truly a gem if you are into Japanese set lunches, i.e. multi-dish ensembles with colourful multi-grain rice. It is a quiet getaway from the hustle and bustle of the lunch peak hour and it’s quite telling that the place is run by women and patronized by women. Macrobiotic or eating healthy is a very big deal to Japanese women and it’s as close to homecooked fare as you get.

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    I relished my delicious set of Japanese delicacies. You can choose the different components from a selection of dishes displayed at the counter. Definitely an excellent lunch spot for a chat and a bite.


  8. Crazy dog pillows

    July 13, 2012 by yuming

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    I couldn’t resist taking a photo of these daggy pillows (that was not a typo; “daggy” means uncool and unfashionable) with dogs on them. They made me laugh out loud. They looked so garish but I can tell you that if there was a pug one, I really might have bought one to ship it home to my folks.

    My mum used to buy T-shirts with pugs on them (we are a pug family) and I think only dog people would understand such an obsession. Okay, maybe only pug people. And one of my secret pleasures daily is to look at pictures of pugs from all over the world on Instagram (my handle is luiyuming if you want to follow me).

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    I mean, look at her…our Cookie monster in Singapore is so cute… How could you not be an ardent fan? My sister took this photo while she was happily panting away. She looks like she’s laughing as well.

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    The kangaroo gave her a couple of toy bones to chew and play with when he visited Singapore some time ago.

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    My younger sister took this photo of Cookie when we first got her. She was barely five months old.

    Man, I wish I could get a pug but dogs with short noses are not a good idea for us because we would not live in Japan for that long, I mean as long as a dog’s life, and they don’t travel in planes well (they can’t breathe properly). We decided if we get a dog, we would get a chiba-inu but I still don’t feel the same about them like pugs. It’ll probably take a while, methinks…


  9. Oasis in my hood

    July 12, 2012 by yuming

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    The kangaroo and I were furniture shopping one Saturday afternoon in June. It was warm but it felt like late spring when the sunset brings a slight chill in the air. We were on our way home and instead of taking the train, we decided to walk all the way home…And stumbled upon a majestic temple just 10 minutes from our house.

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    We were the only ones there poking around and it was so serene and peaceful. I can tell you that I take Tokyo’s “greatness” for granted and I stopped noticing all that is uniquely Japanese since I come face to face with it daily. But once in awhile, I get impressed and I was quite pleased we found this traditional nook…

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    On a completely separate note, please forgive my recent absence as I’m on the road again with the kangaroo. I’m in Montreal right now and before that San Francisco. I have a backlog of photos and stories to share so stayed tuned…


  10. Dewy morning

    July 6, 2012 by yuming

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    I tend to lull about my futon in the morning — I’ve never been one of those jack-in-the-box, spring-outta-the-toaster type of person. It was going to be a very busy morning because we had two house guests and lots of errands to run before I head off to New York. Yes, I’ll be accompanying the kangaroo on his travels again.

    Anyway, I thought it was a rare moment when the early morning pitter-patter on the tree outside our bedroom looked particularly picturesque in its natural lushness.

    I snapped a photo of this and hauled my ass outta bed to make omelettes, smoothies, and coffees for three grown men and myself to start the day on the right foot.