Celebrating 10 years with Sushi Cake from Sweetness and Lightning

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!

Sushi Cake from Sweetness and Lightning

In celebration, I decided to share a cake! A sushi cake!

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Mushroom Namul

Mushroom Namul

So when I moved to Australia, I made a commitment to eat healthier and live a little healthier than I used to. It helps that fast food in Australia is a bit different as there are healthier options conveniently available compared to Manila where vegetables with your burger goes as far as fries. A salad in a fastfood joint is a dream but not here in Australia. Still, eating out is a lot more expensive than cooking in which is ALWAYS much healthier and cheaper by my book.

Anyway, back to veggies. I’m the kind of person who enjoy the little veggie servings that come in a dish. In Japan, they have a wide array of tsukemono (pickles) or okazu (side dishes) that whet my appetite. I realise that in Korean cuisine this is the same. Outside of kimchi there’s one Korean side dish that excites me — namul. I first fell in love with mungbean sprout namul called sukjunamul or moyashi namul in Japanese. After having learned how to make this, I realise that I can literally turn any vegetable I want into a namul. Thus, I was inspired by a post from one of my Korean friends who shared a photo of their dinner which had some kind of mushroom stirfry. I thought, why not? Mushroom namul sounded like a great idea.

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The Chinese Marinade To Win Your Mother-In-Law’s Heart

That Perfect Chicken Roast

I feel silly giving this post this title but this was how my friend, Anne from Chic-pixel, sold me on this recipe.

I can’t remember exactly how and where we were discussing this but what I do remember was that I heard her talking about roasting chicken that weekend and when I was giving her praises on how amazing she was in making chicken roast, she told me how her recipe was not difficult at all. It was in fact easy-peasy and was good enough for her husband to enjoy (and request perpetually) and one that has even passed her mother-in-law’s tastes. Caveat: Anne’s family-in-law are Chinese Malaysians so when she told me about this I was all ears. Not that other roast chicken recipes don’t matter but I trust the flavor profile of Malaysians. This roast chicken recipe must be bloody good.  And it truly is. 

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Third time lucky with Ramen Bar

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.

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Thank you, Mr. Sugawara.

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.

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Akemashite Omedetou!

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.

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Noodle #2: Lucky Me! Native Chicken Instant Mami!

Yosh! See! I’m really doing my best to make this a weekly thing, okay! It’s just my Sundays have been really precious. I really should consider writing these things a little earlier. I’ve also been irritated by these dots on my laptop. I couldn’t take them out.

Noodle for this week: Lucky Me! Native Chicken Instant Mami!

When I was a kid and chickens were still bought in the markets rather than the supermarkets, my mother would occasionally get some native chickens for us to eat. I honestly don’t know what entails a native chicken. I think any chicken that’s home raised and free range counts as a native chicken. Either way, the only difference that native chicken has over regular supermarket chicken is a very deep chicken flavor without having to use those Knorr bouillons and the likes. It may take forever to cook but once it’s done broiling in the broth it has one of the freshest chicken flavors ever. Nowadays, it’s hard to get native chicken without having to think of bird flu and the likes. So one day at the supermarket, I thought of giving this Instant Mami a chance. Since then, I haven’t bought any other chicken instant mami.

Where to buy

It’s pretty much everywhere. I’ve seen it in all the groceries. It’s a Lucky Me! product after all. It costs around 5 pesos to 6 per pack. Maybe cheaper in Shoemart’s Hypermart since you buy it in those tipid 5pc. packages.


I think you guys might see that I went the distance in this noodle and placed some corn. But you guys don’t have to do that. Cooking our local noodles should be easy that even if you tend to overboil the noodles to 4 minutes, it’s still got  a bite. Past five minutes might be stretching the noodle so follow the instructions and it shouldn’t be any problem at all.

This noodle came with one packet for the seasoning and yet I’m a little surprised that it has those nice chicken oily bubbles on top. Where that came from, I don’t know. It does taste awesome though.


Suffice to say that this was one noodle that didn’t disappoint. We’ve had our fair share of salty MSG-ridden noodles before, but for the Native Chicken Mami, it truly has the fresh flavors of a native chicken broth. It was clean, fresh, with the right amount of saltiness and that deep chicken flavor that warms the heart. The flavor is like a really good tinola on a really good day. And yet it ain’t exactly like tinola since it doesn’t have that ginger taste. It has that really good chicken taste.

I’m trying to describe how chicken tastes like but if everything is supposed to taste like chicken, then perhaps this one is closest to the real thing. At most, I can say it ain’t one of those salty type of chicken noodles. For me, it’s a very flavorful chicken noodle that really takes me back to my childhood and those days brewing free range chicken in the province. The broth is light and heart warming and perhaps like me, you’d be sighing with satisfaction after having finished a bowl.

It’s truly a chicken soup for the soul and I cannot count how many times this noodle has made me smile. Even when the noodles got soggy, since they have this really good taste of the broth, I won’t complain at all.