I hope everyone's 2013 is off to a great start! I also hope everyone had a fun and safe New Year's Eve. We went to my friends house (she happens to live in the house next to our apartment building) and played Apples to Apples and enjoyed good company and champagne.
Speaking of good times with friends, one of my friends and coworkers at WIC left to return to the states. For her going away, all of us from WIC took her to dinner at Yoshino's Steakhouse because she had never been. I actually hadn't been either and had been dying to try it. It gets rave reviews. Plus, the owner teaches the cooking classes on base and I have had the privilege to learn from her. It is because of that experience that I knew her place could accommodate me as a vegetarian. See, this is a teppanyaki steakhouse and they cook in pork fat. Definitely not my thing. But, she told me they could cook on a separate grill and use oil and/or butter.
I seriously never would have known this place was hidden away on this little tiny road, but had I ever accidentally ended up on that street, I would have stopped to look because the outside it really fun looking. I love the lights!
Sorry, the lights were dim so the pictures didn't come out the best. We all ordered set meals (as in it comes as a set with multiple courses- very common in Japan). It came with an appetizer, but it was meat. The cook was nice enough to have something else prepared for me. I still have no idea what it was, but it was all vegetable. I know the one on the left looks like meat, but it was actually some sort of cabbage with sauces.
Next came the salad. I loved this because it came with apple and kiwi.
Here is my friends steak cooking. Most of them ordered the set with two different beefs. One was Australian beef, which was described as a leaner cut, more like a filet mignon. The other was more fatty and marbled Japanese beef. In fact, it was local Aomori beef and has apparently won some awards. In the pan is pork fat cooking, which had previously been used on the grill for the cooking fat. My dinner was cooked on the grill over to the left. I was so glad the chef had no problems accommodating me. Actually, I have always had good experiences with chefs in Japan being very happy to accommodate what I think seems like odd requests to them.
Here is the chef working on our garlic rice.
If you have never had Japanese garlic rice before, you are seriously missing out. Well, that's assuming you like garlic, which I do!
Here is my dinner. I ordered the mixed seafood and fish set. It has scallops, shrimp, salmon, spinach and in the foil is steamed mushrooms.
It's a little hard to see, but there are definitely mushrooms in there.
Here is the steak and shrimp that my friend ordered. This was the Australian beef.
Oh, let's not forget about dessert. This is their version of fried ice cream. It is an ice cream block wrapped in a wonton wrapped and then cooked on the teppanyaki grill. Loved it!
Couldn't resist getting this pic of us ladies. Great minds think alike! I nearly died from laughter when I walked in and discovered that Kathryn (far right) was wearing the exact same thing as me. Teal underneath a black shirt. It was even funnier when Tanisha (center) came in and was wearing a teal colored sweater.
Here we are with the rest of the group. Joanne (in the back behind me, next to Tanisha) is my friend that left to go back to the States.
At the same time Joanne was leaving, Kathryn was also getting ready to say goodbye to WIC. You may have noticed in the pic above that she is pregnant. Well, she was pregnant there. She has already given birth to a beautiful baby boy with an amazing head of hair. So before Joanne left, we made sure to have a going away/baby shower for Kathryn at work. Cute table cloth, right?
We had salad and pizza, plus the cake. It was a party so cake was definitely a must have.
Do you see a trend here? Super cute blanket for her little guy.
Not only have I been busy having fun with friends, but I have been enjoying my time home with Ryan too. The next pics are from going out around town with Ryan and some of our meals. First up is this fun pizza our commissary started carrying. I love a good veggie pizza and was happy to try this. It's a German product but made in the US.
We also had a spinach one to try.
One restaurant we hadn't been to in a long time was Global Kitchen. They have all kinds of foods there, but the Thai seems to be what I stick with. For some reason, on this night, I had a tofu craving. So I ordered the tofu salad. It was so good, but it was a ton of tofu. That was a good thing because it was excellent for lunch the next day.
Here is my entree. I had the shrimp coconut curry. Yum!
Next up is one of my favorite things. Okonomiyaki. That's a traditional Japanese pancake. I love it! I mean I really love it. We go to this place called Dohtonbori (it's a chain) where you order the okonomiyaki and you cook it on a griddle at your table. Yes, you do all the work. But the good news is that you don't have to clean up! Even better news is that they now offer the menu in English at the location we always go to. It made ordering so much easier.
I ordered the shrimp okonomiyaki and then added in a potato mochi (that's the big round white thing). They bring you a bowl with all the ingredients and then you mix it all up, making sure to get the egg well mixed.
Then you pour it on the grill and make it smaller and thicker rather than all spread out. It cooks like this for about 10 minutes before you flip it to cook the other side.
Here it is flipped and cooking on the other side. Then it gets flipped one more time.
After that it is ready to be eaten. Super yummy! Packed with veggies too (mostly shredded cabbage or something similar). It is very filling. I tried to eat it all, but it was impossible. I love this stuff!
On my way home, I had a craving for something chocolate. So we stopped into a bakery and I bought this. If you are new to my blog and/or not familiar with Japanese baked goods, they are not as sweet as they look. In fact, you would be shocked if you looked at this and then took a bite because it would not be what what you were expecting. I like it better that way. You really get to experience the flavors rather than get a mouth full of sugar.
Well, my stop at the bakery triggered Ryan's sweet tooth a few days later and we ended up heading back to that very same bakery (called Cake House, not kidding). Here was my chocolate and caramel cake.
Ryan had a cheesecake.
Well, that bakery trip ended up triggering a need to take one more person there. My friend and next door neighbor Jasmine had never been so I took her there for her birthday. They also serve set meals here. It comes with a salad, beverage, entree (only 3-4 to choose from) and the cake of the day (I don't know what happened to my pic of that. The dish I usually get was no longer offered so I somehow managed to get them to make me the chicken sandwich on croissants without the chicken. It was actually super yummy. Probably because the croissants were so good!
Well, that's it for me. So far 2013 is good but work has been super busy. I am enjoying my short time off from school and getting back into teaching. Starting next week I will be teaching 2 classes and then a 3rd will be added in at the end of the month. At least that class is only a 1 credit, 4 week class. I guess where it gets really busy is when I start taking my classes (I have 2) for the semester. At least by then I will have cut back my hours at WIC and will eventually be back to only 20 hours. I am looking forward to meeting the new nurse and new RD that will be starting. Well, I already know the RD, but I look forward to having her start.
QUESTIONS: When was the last time you went out for girl's night? Have you been to a baby shower recently? Have you been to a going away party recently?