poor scientist. will blog 4 food.

the culinary adventures of a self-described foodie


Weekend in Baltimore

Back in March, I headed to Maryland for two very important occasions: EF’s bachelorette party and SM’s wedding. For EF’s bachelorette party, the bridesmaids tried to take care of everything but EF insisted on contributing too. To this end, she made delicious scones and a huge sandwich for our outing to a winery. Sidenote: I know what you’re thinking. “A winery in Maryland, what the heck?!” Yeah, I was skeptical too. It wasn’t that bad actually… but of course, no comparison to Napa or Sonoma.

Homemade scones. Yum.*

Oh, did I mention that she baked the bread for the sandwich herself? If you’re impressed with this, wait until you see the things EF pulled together for her wedding. She’s an amazingly talented lady, and an even more amazing friend. Dinner was at Chiu’s Sushi, a low-key, above average sushi joint downstairs from our hotel.

We had a great time celebrating with her! Woot!

That sandwich is bigger than her head!

Awesome homemade sandwich with tapenade, prosciutto, and roasted red peppers.

Sushi for dinner. No, EF didn't make this.

*This is the first photo taken with a bounce flash that I got from EF for Christmas. It is awesome, so I’m sure you’ll be seeing many more photos taken with it in the future. I should also mention that I have a new Photos FAQ page. Check it out!

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Department Store Delights

I’ve written before about how department stores in Taiwan often have hidden food treasures, such as food courts, gourmet food stalls, and nice restaurants. It’s a very similar situation in Japan, as I happily discovered.

Hungry for lunch after a long morning of temple touring, I wandered into the basement of the Takashimaya Department Store (at Shijō Kawaramachi) hoping to find something to eat. Luckily, I found lots of food vendors selling Japanese specialties such as bento boxes, sushi, and mochi. I gawked at the beautiful but pricey bento boxes, some costing up to $20 each. I opted for a more economical sushi sampler at about $9. I also bought a red bean “cake,” hot off the griddle. (It’s more like a thick egg-y waffle than a cake.) Unfortunately, I ate it before I remembered to take a photo. Sorry!

Sushi to go! Super yummy and fresh.

On another day, I made my way to the Ramen Hakubutsukan (“ramen alley”) on the 10th floor of the Isetan Department Store in the Kyoto Train Station. It was a great insider tip from my colleague HC, who had lived in Kyoto, because I would’ve never found this place! Once there, I was overwhelmed by the number of ramen places. There were about 10 different ramen restaurants, all specializing in different varieties of ramen. You can only imagine the kind of ramen sensory overload I was experiencing! I had no idea which one to choose, so I opted for one of the places closer to the entrance, where the line was shorter. Their specialty was prize-winning black sesame ramen, which was good but the bitterness of the sesame became a little overwhelming after a while. I wish I had more time to try all of them!

Soon I would join them in the ramen slurping...

Black sesame ramen with egg, pork, scallions, and seaweed.

Noodles: up close and personal. In your face!

p.s. Happy New Year!! Hope 2010 is full of everything sweet and delicious!


Ganko Sushi

If you’ve been paying attention, you might notice that I haven’t posted very many photos of sushi from Japan. That’s because I purposely wanted to try lots of non-sushi foods, since the Japanese food we get in the States is so sushi-centric. I planned one sushi dinner in Kyoto and since EO had recommended Ganko Sushi, I headed to the 4 floor mega-restaurant. Only the ground floor serves sushi; the other floors specialize in other Japanese specialities.

At the counter, with a beautiful display of fresh fish and my own personal sushi chef (because I got there so early).

I sat down at the sushi counter and ordered a large beer. The sushi chef was super friendly and helpful. They had a huge menu, including many specials which I could only partially decipher. Luckily, there were the typical fake food displays out front, as well as picture menus to aid in my decision making. I took the easy way out and went with the sushi sampler, which came with 3 pieces of tuna maki, and one piece each of tamago (egg), ebi (sweet shrimp), sake (salmon), maguro (tuna), white tuna, squid, and white mackerel(?) nigiri. I also ordered a special miso soup that came with a ton of fish (my memory fails me re: what kind of fish it was. Something flaky… that’s all I can recall. Sorry!)

A great start to the meal: a warm hand towel and a cold tasty beverage.

One of the biggest and most flavorful bowls of miso soup ever.

Sushi sampler, yum yum!

It was all really fresh, delicious, and economical! I think I spent about $20 for the whole meal. Thanks to EO for the great recommendation!