Tag: Japanese food

Times Square & A Hidden Sake Bar

Thank you to my folks for sending us to New York City to celebrate my birthday!

There is a place in Times Square where you can forget that you’re in Times Square.

Times Square is out of control.

The buildings are adorned with towering, skyscraper-tall screens flashing advertisements. The sidewalks and plazas are packed shoulder-to-shoulder with people. Know that you can’t get anywhere quickly.

Even though I was a tourist, I could not wait to get away from the tourists. There is no rhyme or reason to the way people walk down the sidewalks. Hugging the right does not exist. Groups of tourists move through Times Square in big, slow blobs that take-up the entire sidewalk width and abruptly stop.

The air smells like a million different things: Trash. Urine. Bodies. Car exhaust. Cigarettes. Cinnamon roasted candied nuts, falafel, and griddled meats and onions.

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Everything I Eat In The Minneapolis Skyway: A Running List

In a recent post I wrote about one of my latest Minneapolis skyway food adventures. I still haven’t branched out as much as I had intended, but have had opportunities to try a few more restaurants.

The skyway is a fascinating microcosm you might not know exists unless you work downtown. Many of the restaurants and cafes are only open Monday-Friday during daytime hours. This post serves as a running list of all of the foods I’ve tried from the Minneapolis skyway system.

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Exploring the Minneapolis Skyways: My New Favorite Lunch

I’m really picky about my favorite places.

And by favorite places, I mean the places I return to time and again. The same goes for my favorite people, including hair stylists, butchers, car shops, tax preparers, and veterinarians.  I’ve had to find my new favorite places and people more often than most. Each time we’ve moved I had to start the process from scratch. Sometimes I find my favorite person or place right away and sometimes it takes a while. But when I find it, I just know.

A lot has to fall in place for a place to become my favorite place. The actual product, noise level, availability of snacks, music choices, smell, location, customer service, parking, table spacing, outlets (in the case of coffee shops), temperature, and price.

When I first started a position in downtown Minneapolis, I set a goal to try a new restaurant once per week. And I have failed miserably because I’ve found a favorite place. 

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Product Review: Kracie Popin’ Cookin’ Happy Sushi House DIY Japanese Candy Kit

I first learned about DIY Japanese candy kits reading Liz’s reviews of Japan Crate on her website My Subscription Addiction.

I don’t even subscribe to any subscription boxes, but love following her reviews and the latest subscription box drama. It’s like my soap opera. Anyway, after seeing some of the cool candy and cookie kits she was receiving in her Japan Crates, I decided to order some to try home.

Since we’re Amazon Prime members, I ordered two kits from their selection on April 6th. Unfortunately, I clicked the wrong shipping preferences, opting for free shipping instead of Amazon Prime shipping. One kit arrived two and a half weeks later while the second from seller JAPAN-SUBCULTURE arrived today, so I can only assume it arrived from Japan by pony express.

The good things about these candy kits is that they’re relatively inexpensive and are designed in fun themes such as sushi and pizza. I bought the Kracie’s Popin’ Cookin’ Happy Sushi House and Happy Kitchen Pizza kits for about $5 each. The Happy Kitchen Pizza kit creates a savory instead of sweet product. You can find more brands of kits on Blippo, but they charge $9 for the same Happy Sushi Kit.

United Noodles, my favorite Asian grocery store in Minneapolis told me that Kracie’s Happy Sushi House and Happy Kitchen Cake kits arrived this morning but are hard to keep on the shelves due to their loyal following. United Noodles added that they do carry sushi, ice cream and cake kits. Here’s a Youtube video example of someone preparing the Happy Kitchen Cake. I love how all of these kits are so happy 🙂

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I took one glance at the instructions and decided I needed some help. After a reader suggested I search for Youtube videos, I found a short & long tutorial that easily walked me through the process.

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Once you cut off the top and bottom ends of the kit’s plastic wrapper, it forms a sushi place mat on which you can place the candy.

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The kit contains everything you need, except for water.

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Since this kit is more complicated than the ones Liz has found in her Japan Crate boxes, I’m not sure I could have figured this out on my own. But, with the video tutorials, using the kit really was easy. My only goof was making four rice balls instead of six.

Each packet corresponds with one of the container’s sections. You simply fill the proper compartment with water up to the indicated line and mix in the corresponding packet with the little shovel. The red and yellow strips solidified and formed the fish and tamago (Japanese omelet).

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The most fun part was making the little fish eggs with the dropper. Once the thick orange solution hit the blue liquid, candy orbs formed. Prepare for some molecular gastronomy!

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The most difficult part was making the seaweed wrapper from a green cube of candy that had the texture of bubblegum. I broke the cube two and tried to press the halves into long, thin strips. The kit’s wrapper includes a life-size illustration of the correct size. One must work quickly because the substance becomes sticky and fragile as it warms in your hands.

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To finish the sushi, I scooped the fish eggs from the solution and placed them on the rice balls wrapped with seaweed. They stuck to the candy surprisingly well. Then, I used the little scooper to gently lift the yellow and red strips of candy from the mold. I cut each in two, and placed half on the last two rice balls. If I had six rice balls total, I would have been able to use the rest of the tamago and fish strips.

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I was happy with how my final candy sushi. The bubbles, tamago, and fish tasted inoffensively tutti frutti. However, when I took a bite of a whole piece of candy, I wasn’t fond of the rice ball flavor or texture. The bubbles and colorful gels tasted more like fruit, but the rest of the candy reminded me of dry bubblegum. More fun to make than to eat, for me at least.

In summary, I had a lot of fun making this kit and can see how they have a cult following. It’s amazing how the kits provide everything you need to easily make the cutest, almost lifelike versions of candy sushi. Depending on where you order these kits from, they’re relatively inexpensive. I can see these being a fun activity to make with kids. As a kid, I would have gone crazy over these kits. I was always on the hunt for unique and unusual candies and loved when my dad brought back candy from his international work trips.

As minuses, the kits may be difficult to prepare if you can’t read Japanese and don’t watch an instructional video. Depending on your tastes, you may also enjoy making the candy more than eating the candy.

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