You know it’s the new year in Australia when the skies are blue and the sun’s unforgiving. It’s summer here in Australia. While some parts of the world are buried under warm duvets, Australia’s baking me alive. It’s been obscenely hot where days can get as hot as 40 degrees centigrade and it’s not letting up. As a girl from tropics, I’m generally used to this heat, but the heat’s been killing me that I thought I needed something cool to eat. Thank god I remembered this cool dish from last year’s summer anime, Kumamiko — Girl meets Bear! Machi’s Mizukake Gohan is a welcome relief during this horrible summer.
For all the glorious things that happened in my life, this blog, Punked Noodle, random as it is, has changed my life in both crazy and amazing ways. I remember buying this domain 13 years ago thinking that it’ll be a site to experiment with graphic design. It was the big thing back then, before everybody transformed their sites to blogs and portfolios. I realised that I enjoyed blogging about food a lot hence, ten years ago, this site changed and became my little online journal about my gourmand life. Since then, I’ve met friends, gone to places, cooked and ate the most amazing food I have ever imagined. I never expected to hold on to this for ten years. Slow and steady as it is, I’m happy that I still have this space to share my love for food and travelling to people!
In celebration, I decided to share a cake! A sushi cake!
My love for cooking manga has reached its peak in the last few months as I have found that my best stress relief from this hectic period in my life is cooking. I’ve done a couple of recipes from food manga before and for a while I entertained having a separate blog just for recipes I tried from manga. And then I realised I’m much too old to handle all the blogs. As it is, I’m struggling to keep two, let alone keep up with tumblr like I used to! Hence, I’ve decided to put them all here in my personal food/travel blog of sorts. It’s under a new section I’ve boringly called Manga Cooking!
Obviously, Manga Cooking’s about recipes I’ve seen and read from various manga I’ve been reading over the last whatever. It may be recipes featured in food manga or just some meal related to manga. As usual, I’m not sure how often I’ll be doing this. I’ve actually made an effort for a while to try one manga dish from a manga I’ve been reading per month and hopefully I have the energy to actually write entries for it.
It took a while for me to write this review because it was quite hard to assess my emotions with this restaurant. When it comes to talking about restaurants, I always have two reactions. First, the restaurant is great and this reaction is always something that’s clear to me after the first bite. Second, it’s horrible and it’s possibly something I’ll never recommend to friends or even spend some time writing about. Again, that’s a reaction garnered from the first bite.
Somewhere in the middle was this restaurant which everyone who had gone with me, and everyone who has blogged about it were singing praises for and for me… I just couldn’t seem to sing the same praises.
I’m not saying Ramen Bar is bad but if it claims to be an authentic Japanese ramen and put it against the best ramen in Japan, it’s not good enough to cause a Ramen boom.
I first met Mr. Sugawara when he invited me to join them for a family dinner at Kikufuji. His daughter and I had been good friends by then and while our brand of fun seemed to have finished early (and they had room for one more) I would assume that he thought it was possibly nice to join them for dinner. What happened afterwards was a mouth-opening experience as he showed me a whole new flavor palette for Japanese food. Fresh fish, a great balance of rice, wasabi and vinegar makes amazing sushi. Of course, there was also balance in terms of textures, colors, and flavors that by the end of the evening, I could never imagine myself eating at any other Japanese joint.
Out of all the holidays, I’ve grown to love the New Year.
It must be the hope that comes with the unknown. The fact that it’s new, the year’s bound to have something good to offer. Old troubles from the previous year disappears and everything is a clean slate again.
I’ve had the luck of spending my New Year differently for the past three years. And it’s interesting how each New Year brings a new experience for me. This year was rather laidback compared the previous year. Perhaps I’m starting this year with clearer head and a calm compared to last year.
Last year was filled with excitement as it was my first New Year to spend with a Japanese family. A close friend of mine, the Sugawaras, decided to share this holiday for me and spend that time, Japanese style.
Now I’m not saying that this is what Japanese people usually do. It’s best to say that this is what Japanese people spend the New Year’s when they’re far away from home. While they may not go to temples, play badminton, and all that jazz, some New Year traditions never change. The joy of having to eat an osechi and ozoni is still a staple in this Japanese home away from home.
It has been months since I’ve been in Osaka but I am still basking in the high of having gone to Japan and returning in one piece. One of the masterpieces that I tasted there was not a native Osaka dish but still one of the best in Japan.
Hakata ramen claimed its fame in the late 80s as it was a fresh vibrant flavor for Japanese ramen. One of pillars of Hakata ramen is a shop called Ippudo who greeted me with a sign that eagerly awaited the happiness I’ll feel when I eat their ramen.