Happy New Year!!! Good Eats Galore!


I’m a bit late in sending out this greeting, but better now than never! Wow, I can’t believe it’s 2012 already! 2011 seemed to have just flown by and with barely enough time for me to catch my breath.

Pepper also says Happy New Year too! Though, she says it with a sleepy face and looks like she’s going back to sleep. How did you spend New Year’s Eve and New Year’s Day? I devoured a ton of food in celebration of the new year and I did it with Japanese flair. Here’s some photos of what I ate.

BE and I snuck off to Mitsuwa to chow down on some serious food. There wasn’t much sushi left as we had arrived late in the day, we snagged some tuna rolls, salmon rolls and some marinated mackerel. I really love mackerel; it’s an underrated fish and tastes GREAT grilled, as a nigiri and sashimi styled. It has a wonderful fatty and meaty flavor that comes out as you chew it in nigiri and sashimi presentations while grilled has a lovely smokey and meaty flavor.

I was looking forward to eating some decent ramen from Santouka since 2011 was a dismal year in my ramen travels. Toki Underground was incredibly sub-par and you’ll definitely see a blog post on that catastrophe. Santouka had sold out of ramen broth so we had to eat at Kayaba instead. And if you enjoy looking at people and their eating habits, most/all Japanese people and/or non-Japanese people interested in Japanese food were going to Kayaba vs. the Chinese booth, the Korean booth and even, Gabutto burger. It’s a little sad that out of all the Mitsuwas in the U.S., there’s almost as many non-Japanese places to eat as there are Japanese spots. I got nothing against Chinese and Korean food as they’re awesome, but it’s a bummer seeing people visit Mitsuwa and order a (fake) bubble tea with their meal, but I seriously digress…

Kayaba chopsticks!

BE ordered the tempura udon and was very satisfied with his bowl.

I went big and got the tonkatsu (fried pork cutlet) meal set. It comes with a bowl of miso soup, bowl of rice, pickled cucumbers, tonkatsu sauce, and a mini potato salad. It was tasty as usual and ate every single thing on my platter. Just something I’ve noticed over the years is that people don’t eat the shredded cabbage and the mini potato salad that’s served with their tonkatsu. The karashi (yellow mustard) served next to the tonkatsu is often times ignored as well. I mean, if you paid for a meal, wouldn’t you eat all of it? This boggles my mind and it has gotten me to thinking, perhaps people don’t know how to eat these things or they hated the food. More likely the former.

For those wondering, I’ll share how I was instructed to eat a tonkatsu meal. Take a piece of katsu, smear a bit of the karashi onto it, and dip into the tonkatsu sauce. The mustard gives the katsu a bit of kick and makes the meal more interesting to eat. You don’t have to dip it into karashi, but it tastes great and mixes the meal up. As for the cabbage, you take a chopstick (or fork) ful of cabbage, dip it into the tonkatsu sauce and eat it over the rice. I like to eat the cabbage and then eat some rice to balance out the flavors in my mouth. As for the potato salad, well, there’s nothing special aside from just eating it. It’s not a pile of shredded daikon and it’s not ice cream gone wrong. And pouring a little bit of tonkatsu sauce over it makes it taste interesting too.

After our meal, we had some awesome desserts from a nearby Japanese bakery, Mont Blanc! Here’s a pear cake slice. Pear is such an underrated dessert item so I was so glad to have gotten this. SO GOOD!

Raspberry mousse cake slice. Very jelly on the very top. Had a great smooth taste with raspberry notes.

I totally forgot what this cake was called, something bar? The chocolate top was really good, not gummy at all. The cake itself was chocolatey, but not overwhelmingly so.

Lastly, we had a slice called deliciouso or something of that sort. This was more chocolately than my square slice so I’ll probably not order this the next time I head to Mont Blanc. After eating dessert, I snagged a bunch of pre-prepared osechi to eat for the new year! Before the new year rang in, we ate toshikoshi soba to slurp away 2011! If you want to learn more about toshikoshi soba and its relevance, I recommend reading this article from one of my favorite bloggers.

So what is osechi? It’s basically Japanese new year’s food. You’ll typically see gorgeous looking bento boxes filled with lots of specially made food for the new year. I didn’t have a pretty lacquer bento box so we used the lovely Japanese dishes I snagged at a rummage sale to serve the osechi! The top left bowl has naruto (sliced fish cake) with a sakura design, the bottom left has sweet black beans, the top right has preserved (candied) fish and the bottom right has a combo of sweet beans, a type of naruto and preserved oysters.

In this lovely large bowl we placed some prepared mackerel with fish eggs in it. If you want to learn more about eating osechi and what it means, I recommend reading this for more information. Eating osechi at the beginning of the year is a time where one relaxes, spends time with friends and family, and does NOT cook. You celebrate the beginning of the new year and for a more subtle and cultural bit of info, it’s also when the wife of the household gets a break from food preparation. I’m guessing that would be me since I cook all the time, but only because I love cooking, not because I’m forced to.

The yellow spiral thing on the top left is a log of tamago (egg) shaped in a spiral log, the bottom left contains a bowl of sweetened preserved sardines, the top middle bowl contains pink colored pickled lotus root and the little plastic container on the right with four lumps is sweetened chestnut.

Here’s a better shot of the preserved fish and oysters. I really loved oysters and sweet beans. BE tells me that if I really like osechi, I like food that’s been prepared hundreds of years back in ancient Japan. I must say, the people of ancient Japan really knew how to make some awesome preserved foodstuffs! One day, I’d like to make osechi myself, but it’ll take awhile as it’s time consuming.

Lastly, we ate udon with baked puffed up mochi. I love using the toaster oven and puffing up mochi in it. It makes a great addition to udon and soaks up the udon broth flavor really well. We threw in a hard boiled egg, sakura naruto (no manga pun intended) and some nori to round it out. I ate a ton of food stuffs from NYE and after the new years. I wanted to share as I’ve been pretty bad about my food blogging and wanted to make up for it. Also, this blog’s first anniversary is coming up very quickly so I have to think of something to celebrate! Thanks for reading and hope we have a wonderful new year!

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