Archive for the ‘Food’ Category

Just came back!

December 7, 2007

from b-e-a-u-tiful places!

Bremen, Germany

Cologne, Germany

Paris, France

Le Mont Saint Michel, France


Amsterdam, Holland.

Enjoyed efficient, fast, and fun public transportation.

From 1.8 euro tram  to high-speed, it was set 278Km on mine, train

Thalys , or ICE .  And cheap but well-established bus lines   and Metro  in Paris.

Enjoyed food from market places

from local restaurants

even the complimentary light meal on Thalys.

It’s always pleasure to visit Europe. Definitely it was too short!


Kimchi Jjigae Index

October 5, 2007

As usual, the daily flames of debates, criticisms, rants keep alive in the Marmot’s hole on Korea / Korean matter.  Surprisingly it was Tteokbokki(떡볶이) that flamed the comment session today.  Yes, Tteokbokki, Tteok(,Rice cake) with hot spicy paste Gochujang (고추장), one of the most popular Korean snack dish(먹거리). The linked article was about the spicy “Tteokbokki” gaining its popularity among New Yorkers followed by other spicy Korean dishes. The thread also kindly compared how much need to be paid for a plate of Tteokbokki. That   

“In Korea, a serving of tteokbokki will cost between 1,000-2,000 won (about $2), but in New York, you’re looking at $6-19.95.”

 This line reminded me an interesting article from local Korean newspaper in recycled box.  A week old article wrote, original articles copied from overseas Korean newspaper(The Dongpo News,재외동포신문), about the interesting results from the price of a Kimchi Jjigae in different parts of the world.


Not the Big Mac Index but the Kimchi Jjigae Index(김치찌개지수).   

The Dongpo News started its research on the price of Kimchi Jjigae around the world back in 2004. This year’s result, the Kimchi Jjigae Index, concluded from the pricing comparison in 62 cities around the world.  The standard price of Kimchi Jjigae was set at 5000 won (approx. $5.50) as indexed as 100.  


So, You need to pay as high as $32 in Zurich, Switzerland or you could enjoy Kimchi Jjigae as low as $2 US in Kunming (昆明), China. Zurich got 620 index points and Kunming got 40 points. If you go to Berlin, it costs 12 Euro ($17) and 15Euro ($22) in Paris or in Amsterdam.

KJI, of course the Kimchi Jjigae Index not the dear Leader KJI, ranged from 350 to 620 in Europe.

You could enjoy Kimchi Jjigae less than $4 in anywhere China where Miyazaki (宮崎市), Japan scored parity with Seoul. In Moscow, you need to pay $12 (220 KJI) and it cost $3.50 in Bangkok with 64 KJI.  In this part of the world, Kimchi Jjigae priced at $13 in Washington DC, $10 in New York, $9 in Miami, $6.99 in L.A., and $7~$8 here in Vancouver. North American KJI ranges from 150 to 220. 

Kimchi Jjigae priced less than $11 in 45 cities out of 64 cities. It priced at $7.50 ~ $8.50 in average in the globe. The article points that the price dropped by 30% in Japan and North American cities caused by growing Korean population and the Korean wave (한류). It also claims that the Kimchi Jjigae Index, KJI, shows similar pattern as the Big Mac Index.


The Article also briefly states about the Soju index, indeed.


SOJU! You need to save some bucks in Frankfurt to drink a bottle of Soju; it’s a shocking $27. It’s $3.47 in Kunming.  I’m Kunming!!!. Soju costs $11 in global average.  So, you could drink a bottle of Soju with Kimchi Jjigae around $20. Of course taste will vary in different cities.

For your tip, here is one of the best Kimchi Jjigae restaurants in Seoul that I recommend to anyone who ask for the best Kimchi Jjigae. It is located near by Sejong Center, GwangHwaMoon.

In fact, it’s called, GwangHwaMoon House (광화문집).  


The restaurant serves the finest taste of Kimchi Jjigae if you don’t mind pieces of chunky pork belly. A plate of rolled egg fries (Gaeran Mari(계란말이)makes good combination of menu. But a bowl of rice does not come with Kimchi Jjigae. That’s right, you need to pay extra for it!

 Oh! This week’s TGIF song, I picked Koong Pak Life(쿵팍 Life) By JK Kim Dong Uk ft Leo Kekoa – TGIF!!


March 30, 2007

The Bluebird by Bobby Kim

And what’s for this TGIF’s dinner, I am already set my menu with Jokbal, It is Korean word for pig’s feet What is it? And how to eat? Susan with Seoul Glow explains all.

So Jokbal anyone? TGIF!

Sushi Police

March 21, 2007

As I claimed before, I love sushi and I think it’s one of the most delightful dishes. I am sure there’s millions of Sushi lover all over the globe.  And thousands of thousands veteran or well-trained sushi chef amusing and serving every kinds of Sushi to the Sushi lovers in countless restaurants. 

According to Kyodo News via Japan Today  , The Japanese agriculture ministry has stirred unease among restaurateurs in Los Angeles with its plan to send food experts to judge the authenticity of Japanese eateries, an idea that has been dubbed “the sushi police.”  Here’s full article for your perspective,  

Officials of the Japanese Ministry of Agriculture, Forestry and Fisheries, claiming that some of the food served in Japanese restaurants abroad is not recognizable as Japanese, announced late last year that they planned to create a panel of food experts to travel abroad and inspect restaurants for authenticity.The panel has met twice so far, and according to ministry officials, will convene for a final meeting prior to the end of March before presenting a recommendation to the ministry for dispatching the “sushi police” between April 1 this year and March 31 next year. To allay fears the “police” nickname may arouse, ministry officials have said the panel will only check places that volunteer for certification.Jake S Oota, the owner of R23 in downtown Los Angeles, said he has no worries about his highly regarded sushi restaurant meeting the panel’s standards for certification. “We are one of the most authentic Japanese restaurants in Los Angeles. They are welcome to come here and check us out.”Ministry officials say that one of the aims of the program is to help the world better appreciate Japan’s culinary arts by correcting misunderstandings about what has come to pass as “real” Japanese fare. Oota agrees that “fusion-style” cuisine sold as “Japanese” has had an impact on many Americans’ understanding, or rather, misunderstanding, of what is authentic Japanese. Oota recalled that an angry customer once berated him for not serving a “crunch roll” (a roll made with deep-fried ingredients or deep-fried itself) at R23. While unconcerned about the status of his own restaurant, Oota, an American of Japanese and Korean descent, says he worries for the fate of less-traditional restaurants owned by non-Japanese. ‘More than half of the Japanese restaurants here are run by Koreans,” he said. “People are hysterical.”Some critics have suggested that xenophobia is one of the motives behind the program, while others fear that the panel will discriminate against non-Japanese restaurant owners, despite ministry officials’ assurances that this will not be the case.Asked to comment about the “sushi police,” sushi chef Jerry Kim laughs, “Ooh, sounds scary!” Kim, who learned how to make sushi in Chicago and now works at Ginza Sushi in Koreatown, an area in Los Angeles, where most Japanese restaurants are owned by Koreans and Korean-Americans, said, “I’m not worried because I’m proud of the way we make sushi and sashimi. Besides, I make Korean-style sushi and sashimi, so what can the Japanese government even say?”Kim said the Japanese do not have much right to claim sushi as a product of their food culture. ‘Sushi and sashimi are originally from China and Korea,” he insists. “The Japanese have only started eating sushi since World War II. Koreans and Chinese have been making sushi and sashimi for thousands of years.”

Tom Cardenas is one of the partnership that owns six ultra-trendy Japanese-fusion restaurants in the Los Angeles area that attract hip, young crowds and celebrities. He said in an interview at Sushi Roku, his West Hollywood venture, “We know we are pretty authentic so we have all the confidence in the world that we would pass.” Cardenas calls Sushi Roku’s food “modern Asian cuisine.” “The chefs at Sushi Roku take traditional Japanese preparation to another level by adding things like jalapenos, olive oil, and caviar.” Despite Cardenas’ confidence, such unorthodox combinations might disqualify his restaurant for certification by the “sushi police,” who will base part of their rating on the use of “authentic” ingredients. Japanese ministry officials have said that new standards for Japanese food may help increase exports by encouraging restaurants abroad to use as many Japanese ingredients as possible. But Cardenas is skeptical. “Ninety percent or more of our ingredients come from Japan, but restaurant owners are not going to change the way they buy their products based on this certification.”

Yoshikazu Maeda, head chef of the Thousand Cranes restaurant in the Los Angeles New Otani Hotel, said while preparing fish “flown first-class from Japan” for the evening meal, “It is impossible for us to use only Japanese products. Even Japanese restaurants in Japan probably don’t use 100 percent Japanese products. Kikkoman (soy sauce), for example, is produced in the U.S.”  The veteran sushi chef is not bothered so much by what ingredients he is being asked to use, but by why the Japanese government has suddenly taken such interest in the food industry. “My biggest concern is the purpose,” Maeda said. “For instance, the French government spends a lot of money and time maintaining the standards for French food because they believe that food is culturally very important. I don’t know why all of a sudden the Japanese government has begun to think about it.”  “In the end, it’s the customer who decides,” Maeda says. “If the government wants to spend Japanese taxpayers’ money, they can go ahead, but our customers have already ranked us. What matters most is the response we get from our customers after every meal.”

Not all restaurateurs in Los Angeles, home to more than 500 restaurants that claim to be Japanese, feel the same way about the ministry’s plans. Yuki Kadota, the manager of Izayoi, an “izakaya” — a drinking place with food — in Little Tokyo, says she believes the government is doing what is necessary to protect Japanese food culture. “They want to make sure people from other countries learn what proper Japanese food is. In America, people think the ‘California roll’ and ‘teriyaki’ are authentic, but, really, American teriyaki is completely different from authentic Japanese teriyaki,” Kadota said. “People will get the wrong knowledge of Japanese food if it goes unchecked.” Kadota also said she believes being checked for authenticity will, in the end, help her restaurant more than hurt it. “If the government sends a special person to check how authentic our food is, it will be good for us,” she said. “We have to be corrected and made to do things properly. We can’t be lazy.” Kadota’s enthusiasm for authenticity does not seem to take into account the fact that one of her chefs specializes in Japanese-French or Japanese-Italian fusion food, garnishing the restaurant’s menu with traditional foods infused with ingredients such as prosciutto, olive oil, and balsamic sauces.

In the end, many wonder whether or not restaurants will really respond to the threat of Japan’s “sushi police” the way the government hopes.

Even Kadota, who says she supports the Japanese ministry’s actions, said that regardless of how the panel rates her restaurant, it probably will not make much of a difference.  “If they say that our restaurant is not authentic, I don’t think we will change our menu. Not all our customers are Japanese, so we need a few non-Japanese items. And, sometimes it is our Japanese customers who want to try something other than traditional Japanese food.”

I do think it could be a good idea to let the sushi Lovers in L.A. enjoy real (traditional) Japanse sushi and pay 100 bucks more for real authentic dishes.  Many savvies will enjoy the real authentic Japanese dishes.  But, I wonder if many Japanese are happy to see their tax money being used this way. Are owners of these 500 restaurants no longer serve “California Roll” if their restaurants to be certified as Authentic Japanse Sushi Restaurant?  Personally, I do not care if they use 100% pure Japanese ingredients or fishes directly imported from nor care the nationality of sushi chefs as long as they serve me good sushi.  People will still eat what they like.


July 12, 2006

I love Sushi, in fact who wouldn’t fall in love with the taste of Sushi? I was told by a Japanese friend that it may take several years to enjoy the true taste of sushi and appreciation of taste is also taken very seriously in Japan. And also it would be a life time adventures to quests all different kinds of sushi in different regions of Japan. I was lucky to learn the basic mechanics of eating sushi in easy way while I stayed in Japan.

So do not intimidate. These are the basic of basics.

First of all, Sushi is categorized by how it is prepared. And basically there is two type of Sushi.

Maki sushi: rolls of raw fish or vegetable and rice wrapped in seaweed and cut into bite-sized rounds.

Nigiri sushi: sliced raw fish (or cooked shrimp, crab, or egg) that is pressed over a pad of rice.

The sushi will be served garnished with slices of pickled ginger and wasabi, a spicy, green condiment and pickled ginger.

The ginger is intended to refresh the palate to better appreciate the delicate flavors of the fresh, raw fish.
1. Pour a small amount of soy sauce in the small dish that should be provided.
2. Mix in a small amount of wasabi in the soy sauce, if you wish. Some Japanese would consider this bad form as some sushi already has wasabi in it between the fish and the rice. Outside of Japan, however, this is a common practice, I think.
3. Hold sushi with either chopsticks or your fingers.
4. Dip sushi into the soy sauce.
5. Nigiri sushi should be dipped into the soy sauce fish side down.
6. Maki sushi should be dipped seaweed side down. This keeps the rice from getting too wet and falling apart. Depending on the size of the piece it can be eaten one to three bites.That’s all about Sushi that I know from my little knowledge.

Japundit also has posted very good and detailed pieces for starters on Noriko Takiguchi’s How to eat Sushi properly and Sushi do, sushi don’t . As always Wikipedia has detailed infor. of A to Z about Sushi.

Sushi Anyone?