Thursday, January 29, 2015

Food for Thought, Entry 1: Sanki

After reading my friend Michelle's mouthwatering blog entries on her food adventures in Austria at American in Vienna, I decided I wanted to share some of my favorite places to enjoy the cuisine of Japan. There is such a delicious variety of food in this country, but tonight I will focus on one of my absolute favorite dishes: Ramen!

Before moving to Japan, my only experience with ramen was the disgusting instant-noodle fare of my college days. However, Fukuoka is famous for its delicious pork broth ramen. I'm fortunate to live near Sanki, a truly scrumptious ramen restaurant where the staff are extremely welcoming and prompt, each bite of the tender yet chewy noodles explodes your taste buds, and every table has its own ice water jug with lemon slices to wash down the spicy flavor of the broth.

The bowl of ramen below features garlic pork broth with two thin, melt-in-your-mouth slices of pork (and I don't even like pork), strips of seaweed, a heap of fresh green onions, pickled ginger, and a liberal dash of gomashio (a seasoning of toasted ground sesame seeds and salt). The pickled eggs on the side are wondrously creamy, and once I dunk them in the broth for a minute they become even more succulent.

Also, Sanki serves delicious gyoza as a side.

But spicy pickles are my absolute favorite side dish (you can find them in heavy clay jars on the side of the table). I can barely tolerate anything spicy, but these moderately spicy pickles are so addictive I usually eat two helpings!

 Of course, this means I need to down lots of refreshing, lemon-flavored water as I am a spice wimp!

Ordering the ramen is fun, too. You order outside the restaurant from a little vending machine that spits out tickets that you then give to the waiter.

To sum up, if you ever get the chance, visit Sanki for some scrumptious ramen! In February, I will do a Food for Thought entry on my favorite curry restaurant, Doma Doma.

Tuesday, January 20, 2015

A review of Natalie Whipple's House of Ivy and Sorrow

Too often, I think YA books settle for the tired formula of magical teen romance, which is why I found Natalie Whipple's book House of Ivy and Sorrow so very refreshing. Granted, the main character Josephine has her heart tugged by two very different young men; the wholesome farmer's boy Winn and the enigmatic, dangerous Levi. But this story is so much more than kiss-and-spell. Jo Hemlock comes from a family of witches that is dying out from a mysterious Curse. When the Curse finally snakes its way to Jo's doorstep, she must uncover how its origin is tangled with her family history before its lethal darkness corrupts her. But every use of magic comes with a viscerally painful price, from a toe nail to something more precious even than flesh and blood. Jo must find the courage to pay it. I think what I loved most about this story is that the author doesn't keep a narrow focus on just the love interests; every character matters, from Jo's feisty grandma Nana, to her high school friends Gwen and Kat. Everyone has a part to play, a bond with the other. I think it is the strength of these bonds that ultimately reminds Jo of her own power and worth.

An excellent read! Get it on amazon.