The F2C2 is taking its run longer than I expected! I've always used this term whenever I have the full course of flu x fever x cold x cough. Bad enough that I've become unfit since I came back, but it's ironic that I got hit by this after I attempted to get back into the groove by going for swimming.
Think I went for that swim just when I was about to recover from a mild cold, and thinking I was strong enough, didn't get enough rest to recuperate, and instead went into a rebound and ended up this bad.
So if Yuri doesn't mind, this will be a belated birthday post for her :) ごめんね、お姉ちゃん m(_ _)m
Even though her parcel came 1 month late, it was delightful to see how many butterflies she was able to pack into the little box!
Butterfly cut-out birthday card
Just below the card was some ziplock bags with Woodstock's face on it.
Snoopy looking a bit confused there, but I was more interested in the goodies inside.
No wonder she asked me not to keep the parcel unopened for too long. Knowing me, I like to keep my presents wrapped for as long as possible because I think the magic will disappear once the wrappers come undone! I think I have the delayed gratification syndrome >.<
These must be the spring flavours currently being sold in Japan. Though I thought banana was summer a few years ago. Same goes for strawberry.
This one may not look appetizing, but the name sure does - ストロベリーチーズケーキ (strawberry cheesecake)
濃きなこ - dark/thick soybean flour. A quick search showed up a gift pack for this - also Tokyo special edition.
Another result showed a Japanese blog which when scrolled down revealed even MORE special edition Kitkats! Unbelievable @.@
The name says it all - ラズベリー&パッションフルーツ. Looks too lurvey to eat! Think it was sold for Valentine's Day, because at the back of the box there's even a space for personal messages and according to Yuri, it's the best Kitkit she's ever had.
Beneath those edible gifts were butterflies hidden for me to unearth! Butterfly fridge magnets, butterfly bookmark, butterfly napkins (which I think will be too pretty to wipe the mouth with) and what seemed like batik butterfly motifs.
I was so amused when I found this butterfly umbrella at the bottom of the box! I was beginning to wish I was back in Japan again, and having access to all kinds of cute pretty stuff like these. There's just no way I'd be able to buy so many butterflies here.
And neatly tucked next to it was a pack of butterfly hooks, which I thought would go absolutely well on my pastel pink wall!
Just when I thought there was nothing else in the box, I noticed this small little pack in orange tissue in between the other gifts, which had hairclips which she had received but thought I'd appreciate it better :)
Oh before I forget, there was one more KitKat which got me so curious that I ate it before even taking a proper photograph of it - 山葵！Apparently this wasabi is from Shizuoka prefecture, the largest producer in Japan, accounting for over half of the market.
This one had the familiar tinges of pungent horseradish, but the sweetness of the confection more than masked it so it wasn't repulsive or anything!
First saw this on Adele's blog about the perspectives of time.
Being a creative person I was more intrigued by the illustration than the talk, but nevertheless found it interesting as I have to agree on the point where he mentioned that people who live nearer to the Equator have a different sense of time perspective.
I found this so true because when I was in Japan, there was always something to look forward to with each passing season. So when my mentor Bro Ong advised me to journal in quarters, it fit really well with the concept of seasons.
I themed each season according to major events that happened and how I felt during those times. In retrospect, it was good to see what I've gone through and how I've grown as a result of that.
Coming back to Malaysia, it feels as if things are the same but yet not quite. Having a perpetually hot summer weather doesn't help, especially not in measuring time and helping to plan things in quarters. Suffice to say, I miss the four seasons!
I thought I'd better finish writing this post before it officially turns summer. Not that it matters in Malaysia, but since it's about Japanese seasonal food and I did get to savour this in the beginning of spring, might as well ya.
So during the (client-side) boss' farewell, he decided to choose Iketeru for a lunch with the core team. Since I've been refraining from eating Japanese unless it comes recommended*, I thought this should be good after hearing quite a bit about it.
Naturally my colleagues were also eager to know if the food would be authentic. They were even amused when I pronounced Iketeru =.="
The lunch menu consisted of various set meals. I guess ala carte is only served during dinner. We were seated near the windows, but from where we sat I could see private tatami rooms and sunken-table style sitting which kinda look Japanese.
Deciding to be adventurous I went with the seasonal set, to which the waitress cautioned that I may not be able to stomach some of the flavours as they were made to Japanese standards. I raised an eyebrow and felt insulted that she underestimated my eating experiences immediately knew that would be the right choice.
I was warned that my set would come in 2 trays. The first was supposed to be the appetizers in 4 dishes. I was very delighted that they took the trouble to cut this chilled sesame beancurd in the shape of a cherry blossom, but I wondered if the flower was also of the same sort.
As I scanned each dish with its exquisite shape and texture, I was beginning to relish the experience already. The colleagues next to me didn't appreciate the care and detail that goes into each dish, in pairing with the right bowl of the right shape and colour, thus thought me mad to even marvel at my food.
Another Japanese fried favourite - the croquette. Made up of mashed potatoes and and minced meat, it looked like takoyaki from the outside. I can still remember the warm crunchiness which went really with the Japanese mayo.
Sashimi is a must, they even laid it with the standard shiso leaf which is said to preserve and sterilise food. Must say the tuna wasn't as fresh as I hoped - but then again, I have yet to eat really fresh ones here!
Boiled seasonal vege with bonito flakes. Tasted as healthy as it looked.
The 2nd tray came with more dishes, which I presumed to be the main dishes. In this little white bowl were bamboo shoots (takenoko) with celery stalks. This could be the one the waitress thought locals may not take an instant liking to. Also very healthy.
Their chawanmushi was very smooth and really well done! Just enough with the right amount of seafood.
Actually, the main meal should be the chirashi sushi which is rice with lots of diced up sashimi and topped with preserved ginger. Plenty of salmon, tuna, bits of vege, bamboo shoots; very colourful. In fact can be a meal on its own. I used to order this at a little restaurant near our church in Tokyo, but of course in a bigger serving.
To be honest I was really stuffed by now, and thought I'd be done by the 2nd tray, and of course that's what the menu said. To my absolute surprise, there was even a 3rd tray! It was the grilled salmon which was splendidly done with the right amount of gravy and garnish. The salmon skin is a must - crunchy goodness.
I was really quite embarrased by the 2nd tray already because everyone had promptly finished their food and they had to wait for me. So when the 4th (yes FOURTH!) tray came with dessert, I had to quickly gobble as much as i could. The boss was nice enough to say he would play with the jigsaw game he got as a farewell gift while waiting for me to finish!
Think this set could have been better enjoyed if it was for dinner instead >.<
Food : 8/10
Service : 7/10
Ambience : 6/10
* There is an exception, and I'm ashamed to say I've failed my own principles when I willingly obliged to go for Sushi King because I'm tired of having to explain why I have to preserve the memory of good Japanese food. And also because there's lack of choices around the office.
In conjunction with the FIFA World Cup 2010 which is going to be officiated anytime soon now in South Africa, sponsor Castrol has kicked off the games with “Castrol Clash of the Continents” held early last month. Since the client owns Castrol, we were given a taste of the greatest game on earth in the office.
Those of us who were keen to join in the fun were divided into countries from the South America and Europe regions. They had organised the Castrol Footie Gladiator Facebook Game and Foosball challenge. The pantry was transformed into a mini stadium with supporters from various teams cheering their friends. Each team was given a goodie bag of sports jersey, cap and key-chain and it was quite exciting changing into our attire and getting into the mood.
Personally I have never been into football and don't ever recall having a go at foosball, but since my team mates were so kiasu, I had no choice but to give my best too. In fact most of us had never done foosball before, so we were actually prepared to lose!
Give our best we did, and surprisingly we advanced through the rounds and were even declared the winner for the group. So Team Uruguay went on to represent South America in the final round. Team Portugal from Europe was just too good; I had seen them practice the day before and I knew how well they played.
I must say we fared much better in the Facebook game, though in the end the title went to them. But still, we never ever expected to even reach this stage, much less to be declared runners-up! So we went home with another goodie bag - this time filled with World Cup jacket, T-shirt and guess what?
2 bottles of Lubes! (Imagine us commuting on the train with these...)
Which came in really handy because the next day my car was due for its 10km service, so I managed to save a bit on the engine oil :)
My baby has reached the 10k milestone! Maybe I should start christening it...
My first ever in Japan was called Stitch because it was blue and spunky despite its 660cc. Gosh I even once drove 120km/h on the Japan expressway while having a full load of belongings shifting from Niigata city to Urasa.
Thinking of Stitch makes me miss having a car in Japan - it only cost me JPY0 to own it! (though I had to pay JPY60k for road tax, insurance and car inspection)
This one here is 1000cc higher and cost me my lifetime savings @.@
After the very porky dinner, we adjourned to catch my first musical since I came back. It has been, what, 5 years since I caught one in Malaysia. I did think of watching one of the many they have in Japan but they were in Japanese and I figured it would be weird to hear beloved musical songs being sung in a language other than English.
However, I did treat myself to My Fair Lady while holidaying in Brisbane 2 years ago. Surprisingly, there weren't that many people then. Maybe because it was a matinee on a weekday afternoon.
So anyways, it was nice to be at Istana Budaya again. I still remember the last time when I went there with the 7D4 grrls and I was doing an Amazing Race stunt leaving a company training in PD halfway just to attend the musical Fame. It was supposed to be just a bus ride, but as with my many adventures something had to come in the way like a traffic jam or delayed schedule and I ended up having to rush a cab all the way back to KL with 5 minutes left to the show.
This time we had plenty of time, in fact much more than expected since we skipped dessert thanks to the scrumptious meaty dinner. So we took lots of pictures outside the hall. (Yes I'm kinda proud of the bag they gave coz we purchased some goodies)
To be honest, one of the reasons I was very hesitant in going for West Side Story was because it was too darn expensive. The price for the highest ticket is more than double for what it was for Cats. When Cats was staged in 2002, the most expensive was RM250, whereas it seems like people have no qualms paying RM590 for a show now.
I don't get it, salary has not increased and yet cost of living has more than doubled since I left. So yes, maybe price of a lot of things including musicals have gone up the roof, but yet people can still afford to splurge - where do they get the money from?!
See why I took ages to write this, I wasn't very happy with many things and my mind derailed for a moment there!
Thanks to KP for his generosity (I owe you one!) I managed to indulge a little, though I must say the show could have been better. We got the highest tier seats, though not the cheapest ones. Still YL and I couldn't help but lean forward at times to properly catch the expressions of the actors on the stage.
My favourite parts were the dances especially since the story does revolve around migrant Puerto Ricans who are first-generation Americans having to make a living in 1950's America. They are taunted by working-class white group who consider themselves true Americans. In a modern version of Romeo and Juliet, it tells of two very different groups who must go through a tragic love story before they can be reconciled.
This is one of the parts which YL and I really liked though we couldn't catch much of the words except for the word "America!"
I'm not sure if it's because of where we were seated but sadly many times we couldn't catch the conversation as if the actors were just mumbling along eating their words. It was a good thing I bought the programme book so we managed to read the synopsis beforehand.
YL decided to get the CD, which was also a good thing because on the way back we were able to listen again to the songs with much clarity.
The diagonal shadows which make up the West Side Story poster is also the fire escape stairs where most of the action is centred around on stage. Simple as they were, these made up the set when rotated in as and when the situation called for it. I only managed to sneak in a couple of oddly taken shots. Think you can get better ones on YL's blog!
Without having to further dampen the evening which ended in a pour, all I wanna say is for the amount of money that people pay for this sort of show, I expected more elaborate stage props, better pronunciation more so when they're not dancing, and at least some sort of interaction with the audience (well, I got the cheapest ticket for Cats and yet was tickled when the furry creatures came up to play with us!).
Thankfully, YL and KP were such sports and it was a good evening of catching up nevertheless :)
Before I retire to bed, I have a million thoughts running through my mind. In the morning when I wake up, I recall some of those thoughts. Then I remember that during the Komuter ride to work the other day, I also had a million thoughts. Some of which I was constructing sentences for so that I could blog about them.
Then when I reach the office, I get down to work and forget about the nightmare of yeasty body odour and balancing act that I had to do while stuck in a sandwich-packed train, no thanks to cancelled trains and unscheduled delays.
The experience was so vivid I was sure I wouldn't forget about it. In fact, I had planned for it to go into my queue of drafts together with the other thoughts of the day, new restaurant finds, reunion with friends, interesting quips and grouses of a deteriorating nation.
Coz I know once I get home the last thing I wanna do is to switch on the PC, spoil my eyes and spend hours away at some social media site. Besides, I have too many unread books to catch up with, letters to write, gifts to send, movies to enjoy and a million other things I should be doing but have not.
Then I tell myself, I'm sure I will have some spare time in between work that I can quickly type something out. Maybe on notepad just to be less obvious. And that's exactly what I'm doing now, after many days of fleeting million thoughts and nothing jotted down!