Tuesday, August 24, 2010

Komeda Coffee

I like this funny chain of coffee shops called Komeda Coffee. It's like an old-fashioned kissaten.
They have "Vienna coffee", which in kissa-speak means coffee with whipped cream on it. They have old fashioned booths and every drink before 11 a.m. comes with toast and an egg.
The shop is originally from Nagoya.
I can't resist this kitschy diner/coffee shop/kissaten hybrid throwback. It gives me a little whiff of road trips and truck stops.

Saturday, August 21, 2010

veggie japan hacks #1: hummus

Living here, I don't have access to some of those ready-made vegetarian products that I'm so spoiled by back home. There are no faux deli slices, tofurkeys, or other processed veggie standins.  (Even things that are veg and easier to find in Japan, like natto, sometimes have hidden fish stock in them.) I've resigned myself to that, and it's probably better in the long run, because it's forced me to cook from scratch things I used to be able to pick up for a song at the supermarket. 

One staple food that is ubiquitous on the west coast of old Rice Country is hummus, almost impossible to find here on the island. Most of the ingredients of this simple dip are relatively easy to suss out (I've found garbanzo beans at Seijo Ishii, Kaldi Coffee, and Don Quixote), but one thing, tahini, is a bit more difficult, unless you drag yourself over to Shamiam in Ekoda, western Tokyo.

There are a couple of ways I've gotten around this. One is to just pulverize sesame seeds in a food processor, maybe with some added sesame or olive oil to get it smooth. I haven't managed to get it as smooth as tahini, but it works.

Something that works much better is Japan's answer to tahini, nerigoma. It's just sesame paste, sold in little jars, usually near the other sesame products. The only ingredient is sesame seeds, and it comes in white or black.
I used black the last time I made hummus, because it was what I had on hand. The result looked like wet concrete, but the taste was the same, and really easy.

Sunday, August 15, 2010


At a vegan bar in Portland:
"Hey, you remind me of that girl from the Addams Family!"

Friday, August 13, 2010

thumbs up

I went to see my friends Bruce Hughes and Scrappy Jud Newcomb last month at Thumbs Up in Yokohama.
The club specializes in rootsy, bluesy, folky music.
They have a lot of Americana and Mexican decor.
There is an actual veggie burger on the menu. Excitement!

Wednesday, August 11, 2010

I could see how this might be disconcerting.

Honolulu airport has no shops outside the secure area, nowhere to break a twenty. I need to break a twenty because I know that buses in the U.S. don't make change, and though the fare's $2.50, if 20's all you have, $20 is what you pay. I find there is a lone starfucks at in this terminal. I have a longstanding boycott of the place because, well, they have enough money and they don't need mine. But it's suck it up and break my twenty or give the whole thing to Honolulu's Transit Authority.

The cookies were good.

As I'm getting on the bus with my handful of change, a pair of German backpackers "sell" a ticket (actually a bus transfer, but the driver lets them get away with it) to the girl in front of me because, they say, they paid $10 and didn't get change. Mm-hm. I sit down and the guy behind me leans forward and asks if I'm local. I smile that I'm not.
Next, a young guy with no shirt gets on and sits next to me. He's blond, mildly buff, heavily tattooed, but he still carries a whiff of eau-de-dork, like he's trying to emulate Marky Mark circa the Funky Bunch.
He glances over at me a few times then plugs into his portable music device and starts softly rapping to himself.
A tall tree of a man gets on. He's carrying a tent, a rolling suitcase, and a K-mart bag. He reeks to high heaven of b.o. He sits next to me on the other side. At the next stop, a woman wants to get on. She has a walker, and the bus is a kneeling bus. The driver tells her she'll have to fold it up once she gets on, and she boards. Once on, she refuses to fold it, snapping that she can't. The driver stops the bus and after a short argument, rearranges all the passengers, flips up a bench seat, and straps down her walker. Tree has been made to move across the aisle, but leaves his baggage next to the walker. The driver tells him he has to hang on to it so it doesn't fly all over the bus, and Tree mutters that he'll keep an eye on it, but then Ms. Walker grabs the stuff and holds it steady, making aren't-we-beleaguered eye contact with Tree. She makes the sign of the cross at him and he reciprocates the gesture.
Ticket buying girl has started conversing with a strapping family of regular tourists, who help her find her bearings. As we approach Waikiki, I spot a post office and push the button for my stop. Marky Mark gets off at the same stop as me and goes rapping into the distance. He has put on his shirt.

Welcome to America.