Sunday, November 30, 2014

Shinjuku Illuminations 2014

Japan doesn't celebrate Christmas like they do in Western countries. Sad but true and it has taken my many years to get used to the fact that Christmas Day is just a normal working day for most folks here.

Now, I just roll with it and enjoy what the city does offer such as the spectacular illuminations that are on display all across the city. In fact, I think Japan goes all out on holiday decorations even more so than Hawaii, where I grew up. Interesting no?

Since Shinjuku is just a few train stops away for me, this place is hard for me to ignore. But who would want to when it's just so beautiful. As the weather gets colder and the leaves fall off the trees, the lights add some much-needed color and cheer to the rather dreary winters.

Check out my video of the Illuminations in Shinjuku by clicking on this link. 

I hope you enjoyed this tour of the Shinjuku Winter Illuminations. If you did, let me know in the comments below. Next time, I'll be showing you more beautiful holiday illuminations throughout the city of Tokyo...well as much as I can go to anyway. 

Cheers everyone and hope you're all having a wonderful day. 

Wednesday, November 26, 2014

Japanese Chicken Rice-Easy Comfort Food

When I was a kid, my mother used to cook a lot more than she does these days and Chicken Rice was one of them. She used to make them all the time because it was a favorite of ours. We could pretty much eat it all week!

The Japanese version of Chicken Rice is one of the easiest dishes to make but don't let the simplicity fool you. It really is one of the most delicious things you'll ever put into your mouth. This is a great way to use up your leftover rice. If you're a vegetarian, simply omit the chicken.

Here are some tips for getting the best results. If you can, I suggest using Japanese rice for the best results. Cut up your ingredients to the same size for quick and even cooking and have them ready to go before starting to cook.

Japanese Chicken Rice

Serves 4


  • 4 cups cooked rice
  • 1/4 onion diced
  • 1 skinless chicken breast chopped
  • 1/2 cup frozen peas (cooked and thawed)
  • 4 tablespoon ketchup
  • 2/3 teaspoon salt
  • pepper to taste
  • cooking oil


  1. Add 1 1/2 tablespoons of oil to a frying pan and saute the chicken and onions for 3-5 minutes.
  2. Add ketchup, peas, salt and pepper to the mixture. Stir to combine the ingredients well.
  3. Add the cooked rice and mix thoroughly. Heat for another 2 minutes or so.
  4. Divide the rice into four plates and serve warm.
I also made a video for you to show you just how easy this is to make. 

Watch the Chicken Rice Video HERE!

I hope you try this recipe out as it's one of my go-to comfort foods. Let me know what you think in the comments below and if you haven't done so, subscribe to my blog for updates. 

Hope you're all having a great day!

Friday, November 21, 2014

Gluten-Free Pumpkin Tart-The Perfect Sweet Ending to Any Meal

There are so many things I love about autumn. The cooler air pushes out the heavy clouds, making room for clear blue skies. The air becomes nippy and cold,  making a mug of hot chocolate or apple cider my drinks of choice. 

However what I like most is the abundance of fall produce that's available at this time of the year. Sweet potatoes, chestnuts and pumpkins. Sure they're available year around, but this is when they taste their absolute best. And don't get me started on the sweet persimmons, pears and apples that dominate the produce section. I can hardly stand it!One drawback to all of this good food is that it's way too easy to put on those extra pounds. 

So what does a foodie like me do? Should I forsake partaking in all the fall bounty in exchange for a svelte physique? Or should I ditch the diet and eat as much sweet potatoes and pumpkins as I can manage to stuff into my mouth while it lasts? 

I've done it before, yes I have. A few years ago, I actually avoided food that were high in carbs. This included sweet potatoes, pumpkins, and all the fruits that I love. I stayed slim and trim and I was happy to a certain point. But who am I kidding? I missed those damn persimmons. I pretended to hate my chestnut rice that I'd been eating for years. 

So this year, I decided to do something unbelievable. I decided to let myself eat all this wonderful food like any other sane person would. I indulged in baked sweet potatoes and pumpkin soup. I ate the sweetest persimmons that have ever passed my lips. And guess what? I managed not to gain any weight. As long as I was sensible, I could pretty much eat anything I wanted. Haha!

 Now I've said it before and I'll say it again. I love dessert. In fact, that's probably the understatement of the year! I can just see all my friends knowingly nod in agreement and I don't blame them. All year, I whip up batches of cupcakes, buckets of ice cream and cakes.

Come autumn time, my mood changes and I start to crave something just a little bit heartier and this usually means pumpkin pie. Apple pie is good too but for me, pumpkin pie is what epitomizes the entire fall season.

This year was no different but instead of making a pie, I decided to go with a tart instead. The photos on this post clearly show that I've created a beautiful tart. Now I sort of knew that there was a difference between the two, but while eating a slice of pumpkin tart, I got to wondering. What exactly are the differences between a pie and a tart? After some research, this is what I learned.

A pie is a dish with a crust and a filling, baked in a pan with sides that are sloped. The goal is a crisp and flaky crust and pies are usually served straight from the dish in which they were baked.

Tarts are baked in a pan with shallow sides. The crust should be firm and crumbly. Tarts are usually baked in a pan with a removable bottom, so that it can be unmolded before serving.

If you think about it, pies and tarts are very similar in that it wouldn't be too strange to see them in the same category. In fact, on my Pinterest Board, I group pies and tarts into one board because I just don't see the point in separating the two.

Now the reason for all the unnecessary babbling is because of the fact that while I assumed I was making a pie, in reality, I was actually making a tart. And a gluten-free one at that!

OK, I sincerely apologize for the long story. I'll get straight to the point.

This gluten-free pumpkin tart uses almond flour instead of the usual wheat flour. This helps me to not gain unnecessary weight ( believe me it works ) while letting me indulge in a delicious pumpkin dessert and let me tell you, this one is really good! The whipped topping really makes this tart special and elevates it to a whole new level.



1 1/2 cups almond flour
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/4 teaspoon baking soda
1/4 cup grapeseed oil
2 tablespoons honey
1 teaspoon vanilla extract

Pumpkin Filling

2 cups pureed pumpkin
3/4  cup honey
1 large egg
3 tablespoons milk
1 teaspoon cinnamon or pumpkin spice


Preheat oven to 350F or 180C. In large bowl, combine almond flour, salt and baking soda. Add grapeseed oil, honey and vanilla extract. Mix until well combined. Press the mixture into a 9 1/2 inch tart pan. Bake for 10-15 minutes until golden brown. Take out from oven and cool completely before filling. 

To make the filling, add pureed pumpkin, honey, milk and cinnamon or pumpkin spice in a large bowl. Mix well until the filling is smooth. Pour into tart crust. Bake in preheated oven at 325 F or 170C for 30-45 minutes. Check the tart at 30 minutes. Insert a toothpick in the center. If it comes out clean it is done. If not, continue cooking for another 10-15 minutes. Cook the tart for 30 minutes before serving. 

Let me know how you liked this recipe in the comments below. Also check out my how-to video to see just how easy it is to make. 


I hope you enjoyed this dish. Let me know what you think in the comments below. I'd love to know what you've thought. 

As always thanks so much for reading. Subscribe to this blog, visit my YouTube channel and connect with me on social media by clicking on the social media icons on the sidebar. Thanks and hope you're all having a wonderful day!

Monday, November 17, 2014

Tofu Loaf-An Alternative to Turkey

I've always been a fan of the traditional Thanksgiving dinner and although I no longer live in America, I still like to enjoy something that reminds me of a traditional Thanksgiving feast. I don't make turkey and stuffing simply because they aren't readily available here in Japan. It's also not an easy task to get things such as canned pumpkin and cranberry sauce. Of course if I make the hour trek to one of the few grocery stores that cater to Americans, I could but I unless I'm in the neighborhood, I simply cannot be bothered. I mean, we're busy as is already right? 
So instead of going through all that trouble, I prefer to make this tasty tofu loaf that I first made a couple of years ago. I like to serve it with a side of sweet potatoes and some green vegetables such as green beans or broccoli. All you need is some pumpkin pie for dessert and you're all set!

For non-vegetarians too!

Although I'm far from becoming a vegetarian, I do enjoy vegetarian dishes on a regular basis. For the past few years, I've been serving a delicious tofu loaf that's easy to make, delicous and healthy. Although it contains absolutely no meat, it's a hearty dish and should satisfy any meat lover. It's basically a tofu loaf that's filled with the stuffing of your choice and with your favorite gravy, it makes a perfect alternative to the traditional turkey.
Today I decided to stuff my loaf with a simple mixture of rice and vegetables.  I simply combine these ingredients ( 2 cups cooked rice, 1/2 cup minced vegetables, 1 teaspoon salt, 1 teaspoon pepper, 1/2 teaspoon soy sauce, 2 teaspoon cornstarch, fine bread crumbs ) in a large bowl until they are well combined. 
The vegetables add some much-needed texture and vitamins to the loaf while the ginger gives it a nice kick. I usually like to serve it with a Japanese sauce made of equal parts soy sauce and lemon over a mound of grated daikon radish. However for a more traditional holiday taste, serve with your favorite homemade or store-bought gravy.

Serves 4


  • 2 blocks firm tofu
  • 2 medium onions finely chopped
  • 1 medium carrot finely chopped
  • 2/3 cups panko(fine bread crumbs)
  • 1 teaspoon grated ginger
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • 1 teaspoon pepper
  • 2 tablespoons arrowroot powder or cornstarch
  • 2 cups of your favorite stuffing ( or use my rice stuffing )


  1. Preheat oven to 350F. Oil and flour loaf pan.
  2. Place tofu in a bowl lined with a couple of paper towels and microwave for 5 minutes.
  3. Take the tofu out and drain excess water. 
  4. Saute onions and carrots for 5 minutes or until onions are translucent.
  5. Put tofu, vegetables and the remaining ingredients into bowl and mix with hands until well combined.
  6. Spread a layer of tofu mixture on all sides of the pan setting aside 1 cup for the top.
  7. Gently add stuffing inside the loaf. Cover with remaining tofu mixture.
  8. Bake in the oven for about 50 minutes. If the top browns too quickly, place aluminum foil over the top and continue to bake until done. Test doneness by inserting a knife into the loaf. It should come out clean. 
  9. Remove from oven and let it cool for 10 minutes before unmolding.
  10. Slice and serve with your favorite sauce or gravy.
To make it even easier, I made a video so you can see just how easy this is to make. 

Step-by-Step Video Instructions for the Tofu Loaf

I hope you enjoyed this dish. Let me know what you think in the comments below. I'd love to hear from you. What are you planning to make this Thanksgiving? Do you think you would enjoy this dish?

As always thanks so much for reading. Subscribe to this blog, visit my YouTube channel and connect with me on social media by clicking on the social media icons on the sidebar. Thanks and hope you're all having a wonderful day!

Saturday, November 15, 2014

A Visit to Yokohama's Chinatown, Kawagoe and Eating Awesome Curry Buns

As the temperature drops in Tokyo, I find myself more in the mood for soups and stews as I steer away from anything that helps lower body temperature. Salads, raw vegetables and plain old fruit goes out the window. My body doesn't handle the cold too well and I will do anything to raise my core temperature to help myself survive the long winter. 

Every year come autumn, I will make use of this time to venture out to explore the world around me. It's really one of the best times to get out and about to discover new sights, sounds and of course food! So it's not surprising that I've created three new videos during the week. 

And although the videos are mostly about traveling, this blog isn't called TabiEats for nothing. There is always food and lots of it as you'll see. 

 Yokohama Chinatown

Chinatown in Yokohama has always been one of my favorite places to visit when I'm in the mood for something exotic. In fact, one of my Chinese friends proclaimed this place even more Chinese than Hong Kong. Not sure what that means, but I take it as a good thing because whenever I visit, I feel transported to a different country.

My travel video of Yokohama's Chinatown includes a visit to an order-as-much-as-you-like-until-you-can't-move restaurant, where you'll see my friend and I eat until our belt buckles pop! Oh, don't worry. We also show you some culture as well including a Chinese temple and a look at Yokohama's Harbor.


After a trip to Chinatown, why not head on over to Kawagoe, to remind yourself that you're still in the land of the rising sun. Kawagoe is located less than 40 minutes by train from where I live so I tend to visit this place often, not only for its amazingly well-preserved old Edo buildings, but also for the local food they are famous for. 

This trip to Kawagoe features my favorite bean shop, where I never fail to visit on any trip there. From sweet beans to savory ones ( black pepper and mayonnaise beans anyone? ) , this bean shop is a must-visit. 


Last but not least, I stopped by Angelica, a bakery famous for their curry buns and miso breads. Now, I have no idea why I haven't been there in years, but I'm glad I remembered about this place because their bread rocks! Especially their curry buns.

I really think they have the best curry buns ever. Their miso bread is unique and something I've never seen elsewhere. These are quite addicting so those on low-carb diets, you've been warned!

Here are the links to my videos.

Please press the LIKE button while you're over there and let me know what you thought in the comments below each videos. And if you haven't done so already don't forget to subscribe to my YouTube Channel. We release 3 new videos every single week so you really don't want to miss out on any of them.

As always thank you for visiting TabiEats today. Please let me know what you think below and subscribe to this blog to stay updated with my latest recipes, travel stories and more. I hope you are all having a wonderful week. Cheers!

Thursday, November 13, 2014

Marmalade-Stuffed French Toast Starts My Day Off Right!

This morning I woke up to an incredibly beautiful day. The sky was blue and the birds were happily chirping away and I was instantly put in a good mood. That's exactly the way I like to start my day and what better way to celebrate the beautiful day than with a good breakfast!

Today I'm going to share with you one of my favorite ways to make french toast. One word of warning though. It's incredibly easy to make yet tastes amazing! I'm serious! If you are a fan of orange marmalade, you'll love this. Of course if you prefer jam, I don't see why you couldn't make it with that instead. In fact, I think that's what I'll do tomorrow.

So here are the simple instructions for making my favorite Marmalade-Stuffed French Toast.

This recipe serves 2. Here are the ingredients.

  • Four slices of bread
  • Orange marmalade
  • 2 eggs
  • 2/3 cup milk
  • 1/4 cup sugar
  • a pinch of salt
  • vanilla extract
  • 2 tablespoons butter
  • powdered sugar ( optional )

  1. Spread some orange marmalade onto two slices of bread.
  2. Put the other two slices of bread on top of them.
  3. Mix together 2 eggs, milk, sugar, salt and vanilla extract in a bowl. Whisk until combined. 
  4. Soak the bread in egg mixture ( 1 minute on each side ) until well absorbed on both sides. 
  5. Melt some butter in a frying pan. Cook the french toast until golden brown and slightly crispy on both sides. Cook on medium heat to make sure the bread is cooked all the way through. 
  6. Sprinkle some powdered sugar on top and serve with extra marmalade. 
This beautiful french toast is perfect with coffee or tea. A side of fresh fruits would complete this gorgeous breakfast and will put a smile on anyone's face.


Are you a fan of french toast? Marmalade? Or do you prefer pancakes? Let me know in the comments below. Also check out this recipe on my YouTube channel. Once you see how easy it is to make, you'll pinch yourself for not trying this out sooner.

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Thanks so much and I hope you're having a great week!

Saturday, November 8, 2014

The Easiest and Tastiest Furikake-Crusted Tuna Steaks

Being Japanese, many people assume that I love raw fish. Now I do eat sashimi and I do like it if it's really fresh. However I probably wouldn't say that I love it.

First of all, I only eat certain kinds of fish and seafood raw. For example, I love tuna and all kinds of fish raw. I also like ikura ( salmon eggs ) . But that's pretty much it. Raw clams? Don't really like them. What about sea urchin? Raw shrimp? Raw oysters? No, no and definitely no!

Whenever I go to a sushi bar, I usually start out with tuna and then go on to whatever I like. But I love cucumber, ume ( sour plum ) and inari ( tofu pouches ) and pretty much anything that's fully cooked. The good thing about this is that I'm a cheap date, especially when taking me to sushi bars!

Today I'm going to share with you one of my favorite ways to eat sashimi. It's mostly very rare and some would say raw, because it's just lightly seared on the outside. Coating the sashimi-grade tuna not only adds flavor, but gives it an enjoyable crunch. Serve it with some rice and macaroni salad for a true Hawaiian-style dish.

Serves 2

1 block fresh tuna (sashimi grade)
3 tablespoons soy sauce
1 tablespoon mirin
1 teaspoon yellow mustard
1 teaspoon grated ginger
4 tablespoons furikake

3 tablespoons Mayonnaise
1 teaspoon Yellow Mustard
1 teaspoon Soy Sauce

Cut the tuna into two blocks. In a ziploc bag, put all ingredients in. Marinate the tuna for 30 minutes in the refrigerator. While it's marinating, make the sauce by combining mayonnaise, soy sauce and mustard. Set aside.

Pour furikake into a shallow pan. Coat the tuna blocks on all sides well with the furikake. In a frying pan, heat some oil. Sear the tuna on all sides for 10-15 seconds per side. Once on a cutting board, slice the tuna and serve with steamed rice and macaroni salad for an authentic Hawaiian-style dish.

We now have a video for this wonderful recipe, cooked by my friend Satoshi, who manages TabiEats Japanese blog.


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Please let me know in the comments if you enjoyed this recipe. Also let me know what else you'd like to see me make. If you haven't already, please subscribe to this blog for regular updates and pick up your free copy of my 10 favorite recipes delivered right away.

Thanks for reading and hope you're all having a great week!

Monday, November 3, 2014

Coming Up With 5 Tomato-Based Dishes to Enter a Contest

Last month, an online Japanese magazine was running a small competition involving stewed tomatoes. More precisely, participants were required to create 5 dishes that included stewed tomatoes as a topping. It was understandable as the contest was run by the famous Kagome brand, a company known for their tomato products. 

As the winning entries would receive a mention on their website as well as a big package of tomato products, there was no doubt about whether we would enter or not. Sure there were just 5 days left before the deadline, but how hard could it be? 

It's interesting how easy it is to come up with recipes when you are bound by certain rules and in this case, each dish needed to have stewed tomatoes in them. They also made it quite clear that they would favor those that poured the tomatoes on top rather than hidden within other ingredients. In other words, the tomatoes had to be visible. 

So these are the five dishes we came up with and we think they came out great. All has been taste-tested in our kitchen and they are fairly easy to make. Let me tell you from the get-go that they are all quite delicious and we even managed to surprise ourselves with how good stewed tomatoes could be.

Which one looks the most delicious to you? Let me know in the comments below. 

Baked Pumpkin Stuffed with Bacon, Onions and Tomatoes

Basil-Fried Chicken with Spicy Stewed Tomato Sauce

Pan-Fried Fish with Garlic-Infused Tomatoes and Olives

Potato and Cheese Hash Brown with Stewed Tomatoes

Deep-Fried Tofu Pouches Stuffed with Ground Pork and Onions in a Stewed Tomato Broth Sprinkled with Shiso Leaves

Please do let me know which one you liked best and I'll make sure to put up the recipe for you in my next post. Thanks for your support! :)

Don't forget to subscribe to this blog. Not only do you get regular updates, you'll also receive a free copy of my 10 Favorite Recipes From My Kitchen. How good is that? Just to remind you, we now have a Youtube Channel with recipes, travel videos and more. You can check it out right here. Of you like what you see, please consider subscribing to the channel. 

Check out my latest video here!

Hope you're all having a great week and thanks for reading!