chahan champloo

Atsushi suddenly had the inspiration to cook chahan (fried rice) for us. He claimed it will be the best chahan in the world. True enough, it rivaled with my favorite chahan in Osho, a famous Chinese restaurant near Sakuragicho Station.

First attempt. Atsushi called it the “Rice of Chaos” because even he himself couldn’t understand its appearance. It may not look much but it sure is really good.

Yes, it-is-sticky. He added mochi kibi (glutinous rice additive) while boiling the rice hence when it cooked it was pretty sticky. We use brown rice at home by the way as (Atsushi says) it is healthier it being unrefined – philosophy is same as brown sugar being healthier than white, refined sugar.

First attempt was for dinner last night. Atsushi made his second attempt for lunch.

Love the taste. If I weren’t worried about my stomach getting bigger by the day (and no i’m not yet pregnant), I would have requested A to make another batch.

What made his fried rice better than the ones I did (and a rival or even better than Osho’s) is that he added this special soy sauce enriched with kombu (sea tangle) dashi which brought out the umami taste – salty and a teeny-weeny  bit sweet and sour. Truly delicious.

More chahan please!

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Supplier Review: Vatel Manila

As Dylan Yap-Gozum really was excellent with his services, this post is actually not a “review” but more like sharing the beautiful bouquets that Dylan of Vatel Manila did for us.

As i’ve shared in my previous post, I ran the risk of limiting Dylan’s creativity because of my being a stickler with regards to flower meanings. True, I also ran the risk of not having the most beautiful of flowers for our wedding. But the symbolism is really important for me and since there really are lots of other beautiful (and affordable) flowers that have beautiful symbolisms, I stuck on with my requirement. Besides, I was also pretty confident that Dylan can deliver and can still be creative despite my imposed limitations.

And of course, Dylan didn’t fail me.

The moment I saw my bouquet during the wedding day, the two words that I can describe it with are abundance and profusion. It was a rich ball of flowers. “Rich” not just in terms of quantity of flowers but literally rich because my bouquet was composed of only tulips and orchids which really are quite expensive.

Orchids for love, luxury, beauty and strength. Tulips in general symbolize perfect love, grace and elegance with orange tulips signifying energy, enthusiasm, desire, and passion. Again, somebody sometime ago may just have made this all up. But then again, it’s all in the mindset. If you think you’re surrounded with all these positivity, and even holding one that symbolizes such positivity, I believe it’ll surely influence how you think and how you act.

Our wedding was at 6pm in Tagaytay. Since our coordinator Erika (of Detalye Weddings and Events) picked it up in the morning (Dylan makes his deliveries really early in the morning), the tulips run the risk of opening fully even before the wedding. Hence, I was really glad of Dylan’s thoughtfulness – see the plastic ring round the tulip? 😀

Love this brooch.

My ball of orange flowers went perfectly against my green preps dress, completing our wedding colors.

And of course, it was perfect against the whiteness of our wedding garb.

Our pretty ladies had their share of the beautiful flowers as well.

The day before our wedding was the wedding of Prince William and Kate Middleton. Dylan got inspired with the British Royal Couple’s bouquet and included Sweet William – dark pink (?) ones – into the bouquets of our entourage. He was confident the flower’s symbolism would pass my strict requirements. And sure enough, it did, with much giggling besides. The symbolism? The flower symbolizes “gallantry, finesse and perfection”. Love it.

Beautiful isn’t it? The rose cactus is really so pretty.

The carnation pomanders were just perfect for the little girls.

Symbolizing fidelity, optimism, joy and long life, the chrysanthemums (or “mums”) were just apt pillow for our rings and arrhae.

I had a fortune bouquet for the bouquet toss tradition. I myself also wanted to pick a fortune. haha.

To top it all off, Dylan gave us a lovely suprise – a bridal car bouquet as freebie. And it’s nowhere small at that!

Thank you much Dylan!! 🙂

Oh, one thing more. Not only were his flowers beautiful and joyful-giving, Dylan himself is one positive person that a bride should hang around with. True, I’ve only had contact with Dylan through emails but all his emails were like a breath of fresh air. Keep it up Dylan!! 🙂

Supplier: Dylan Yap-Gozum of Vatel Manila

Ratings: 5/5

Contact details: vatelmanila@gmail.com, www.vatelmanila.com

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All photos above, save for the one entitled “entourage flowers” (taken by my bridesmaid-friend Cindy), were courtesy of Dino Lara Photography.

oden!!!

It was unu~~~~sually cold today because of typhoon Ma On. Felt like early autumn or late spring. The weather was just perfect for – what else??!! – oden!!

I just love oden when it’s cold weather.

I’m not so fond of konnyaku (or konjac) – the black thingy in above photo. I find it weird, hard and yet slimy with undefinable taste. Hence, Hubby ate both konnyaku’s instead of us having a konnyaku each.

My favorite oden choices: tamago (egg), sausage with chikuwa ちくわ (sausage without chikuwa seems not available anymore) and tofu.

And of course, we didn’t waste the broth! I actually had a big smile on as I finished slurping the broth from the big bowl. Yum!

 

a Japanese wedding

NSO took their sweeeeet time in verifying my records when I was still applying for my spouse visa hence I wasn’t able to attend Hamakawa-san’s and Akika-san’s wedding which Hubby and I sooo wanted to go together.

Thankfully though, this time, we can go together to the wedding of hubby’s bandmate, Hosogai-san. Trust that I was a bit nervous with this social function as it’ll be the first time I’d be meeting all of Hubby’s bandmates.

To aid me for the function: Shu Eumura loose powder, hand lotion, meds for headache, L’Occitane peony perfume, my Inden-ya purse containing the essentials I should always have with me when I go out – my alien card, my train pass, my atm card.

Have to look my best, as I was with the bestlooking guy in town. 😀

Hubby’s unusual but cute necktie pin sure got a lot of attention.

And no, it doesn’t actually move, much less cut.

The wedding was also a good opportunity for us to wear the couple bracelet that our Ninang Vanz gave us for our wedding. 😀

We were a bit early (or make that almost 2 hours early) so we lounged in Hotel New Grand’s cafe. Loved this honey lemon iced tea. One of the best I’ve had so far.

This being my first to attend a Japanese wedding, I absolutely have no idea how the ceremony and reception is. Albeit this is actually not a very traditional ceremony because the formal ceremony is not held in a Shrine but in the hotel. Still though, there were quite a number of interesting customs that was kept in place.

The entourage is just composed of the “lightbearers” who carried a slim torch and lighted the two candles set up in a candelabra up in front. I was wondering why they left the middle one unlighted. A few minutes later, I knew why. The couple will use the light from the side candles to light the candles they’re holding so that together, they can light the center candle. Yep, this is the Unity Candle. Seeing this, I realized why there were some priests (ours didn’t allow us!) who doesn’t allow Unity Candle ceremony in Church weddings in the Philippines: it really isn’t Catholic tradition and was just “copied” from another culture’s wedding rites. And I wouldn’t blame couples copying the Unity Candle tradition, I would want it for ourselves as well, if only the priest allowed us. It really has such a beautiful symbolic meaning – the coming together of two families (the bride’s and the groom’s) into a single familial union. It follows then that the lightbearers in yesterday’s wedding was the sister of the groom and Hosogai-san’s brother. Too bad I wasn’t able to take a decent shot on it. My phone camera has limited powers.

The couple enter and leave the ceremony room together albeit the groom is walking a couple or so steps ahead of the bride. My interpretation on this custom is that it signifies the groom as the head of the family, leading the way, with the wife supporting and obediently following behind.

This is age old custom. But I am so thankful Atsushi and his family didn’t insist on us walking like this as I do want us to be side by side, holding hands as we leave the Church and (symbolically) face our future together.

The formal ceremony took only around 15 minutes. Before the Unity Candle lighting, the bride and groom each had a speech and had their vows. The Unity Candle lighting was followed with an exchange of rings and after which was the signing of the official marriage documents, with the lightbearers signing as well as tthe witnesses. We then proceeded outside for the pictorials, and then proceeded further to another part of the hotel for the reception.

Japanese wedding receptions are actually pretty organized as more often than not, the affair is really an intimate one with guests definitely less than a hundred. After giving our cash gifts, hubby was given the reception program booklet wherein the seating arrangement is conveniently mapped out.

The couple also had their short bio in the leaflet which I will not post here for privacy reasons.

I love what greeted me in my seat.

If I’ve come across the idea of handwritten messages for the guests before our wedding, I would have done so, especially since we only have less than a hundred guests.

What about food, eh? The vegetable-seafood cake with caviar as appetizer was interesting as well as serving the grapefruit sherbet before the beef entree. My favorite though was the seafood doria and the dessert. And the coffeeeee!!!

Halfway through the reception, the bride is escorted by her father out of the hall for her to change out of her kimono into a western bridal gown.

Sometime later, the groom is escorted by his mother out of the hall for him to change as well into western groom tux.

Group picture!

Hubby and I look very “healthy” in this picture. 😀

Now, the most touching parts of a Filipino wedding are mostly parts of the Church Ceremony, and the earlier parts of the reception. But usually when the reception is drawing to a close already, the guests are also somewhat preparing to wrap themselves up, getting ready to leave.

But the most emotional part for me during the wedding was actually the last part wherein the bride and groom ceremoniously goes to their parents to give them flowers and gifts. This has got me crying big fat tears alright. Thankfully, lights were turned off and the spotlight was focused on the family.

Another detail I loved in this wedding was the message slideshow that the couple prepared. Yes, they had the growing old slideshow as well but they prepared another slideshow which they showed at the end of the reception. Aside from the personalized message they put on each guest’s seat, they also had personalized slideshow message. It was just one liner for each guest, yes. But there’s something good about waiting for your name to flash on the screen; the anticipation of knowing what the message for you will be impressed in me a very good feeling. If we can do our wedding again, I’d definitely have this as well.

And, as it goes, it all comes in threes. A third detail that I would have wanted to have had incorporated in our wedding was for me and Atsushi with both our parents line up near Ville Sommet’s door to personally see off each and everyone of our guests. The chat may not be long and it may be more formal, but at least you get to see off all of your guests.

They were giving out a small neatly packaged souvenir at this time. This is on top of that paperbag in the picture which is the takeaway loot each guest are which contains a bom cake and the formal giveaway expensive glass set.

I was delighted though when I opened the small package they were handing out at this time.

They had it personalized at decocho.com. Love how they chose the pictures for the chocolate giveaways: a photo each for when they were kids, a photo together, a photo of the reception venue’s grand staircase and a photo of the university where they went to together (Waseda University). I love it how the packaging is so like the usual Japanese food packaging. It has information on the flavor as well as the calories! This particular one has 55 kcal for each square chocolate. Again, pardon for the blurriness, I’m just using my phone camera.

I may not understand the language used but still, the wedding has touched me. And had me commeding the bride on the detail she did for their wedding.

Congratulations and Best wishes Mariko-san and Takashi-san!!!

chimes

The Yuasas and Pepitos had some sightseeing for two days after the wedding. Dropped by People’s Palace in the Sky (the name of this place is too long for me I always seem to call it as “People in the Sky” LOL). The Yuasas and Hamakawa and Akiko-san all bought windchimes to bring back to Japan.

And finally, I was able to hang ours this afternoon. Perfect timing for hanging it what with the summer breeze playing with it, hence creating beautiful chime that makes our home more….homey.

Summer so far has been really breezy. Deep blue skies it looked like a tropical country sky, blue skies that’s reminiscent of autumn or winter. Balmy and cool evenings. And the wind! And brilliant sunsets that looked almost like sunsets during autumn and spring. Hubby and I both agree it is a beautiful summer, sooo different from the previous ones. Wonder why so? We hope though this keeps up till end of August.

teeth check!

I know I had a number of posts already on how expensive it is here in Japan. Trust that there’d be more every now and then.

So yep, it’s about teeth this time. Dental services has got to be among the most expensive here in Japan. I had my wisdom tooth extracted late last year and it just cost 500pesos in the Philippines. Okay it was discounted as it was done by my ortho and yes it was braces related. But still, I think the most you’d pay for teeth extraction (save for root canal; and well, that’s not really extraction per se) in the Philippines is 1000pesos. But. I had my other wisdom tooth extracted here in Japan back in 2007 and it cost me 10,000yen (roughly 5,000pesos). Needless to say, having your teeth corrected by braces and retainers here would cost you millions of yen.

Given that, dental services is honestly one of my worries whenever I’m here in Japan. Thankfully, dental services are included in our company health insurance and up to 70% of what we pay, including medicines, is covered by insurance.

What’s even better is that the company holds periodical health and dental checks in the office for their employees; probably because they know how their employees are such workaholics that they might not have time to have their regular checkups. Hence the health and dental check venue.

Had my first dental check earlier in the office. Yey! Teeth were declared all healthy and well taken cared for. We were also given a loot for takeaway.

And look how fast time flies! It’s been exactly one month since I joined the workforce again! Thankful for the blessing.

breakfast

I just love breakfast. It’s the best meal of the day for me. One probable reason why I love it is because of its novelty, ergo rarity of having it; especially ever since I lived apart from my parents.

Back at the time when I was just daydreaming for my perfect man, I dreamed of him cooking breakfast for the two of us. It doesn’t have to be fancy. Just a few bacon and sausages and sunny side up would be splendid for me already.

And today, I woke up to having that dream come true. I woke up to the smell of my favorite sausages and bacon; woke up to the sound of them hissing on the pan. We ran out of eggs already though but it’s ok. It was still a dream come true.

It felt all the more better because I didn’t ask him to. He did it out of his own volition.

Thanks A for making my wishes come true.

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