Friday, July 31, 2009
Just as Ikea symbolises Sweden, Muji symbolises Japan and the fundamental of Japanese design is really about the balance of minimal, natural and construction.
The new Muji store has just opened at the ION Singapore and as I was still very much inspired by the simplicity of Japanese design, I decided to check it out.
They had quite an extensive range though there were quite a number of items in the Japanese outlet not carried in Singapore. The range of clothing seems different too.
But there was a lovely Muji exibition just outside the ION outlet to celebrate its opening.
I didn't come across as much kawaii culture as I would like to have while in Japan. Perhaps it was the area I was staying at. Roponggi, Tokyo was a place more famous for its museums, high end shopping and night life.
However, I came across this Kimono doll at Narita airport which tickled me pink. I loved her expression and she even came with bowing movements. Apparently, she represented the icon of a snack company that was famous for its green tea as well as its chocolate and stawberry yatsuhaishi.
My friends and I stumbled upon a quaint little Japanese eatery in Roponggi, Tokyo and had a simple but fabulous lunch. It was rice with mixed seafood consisting of tuna, yellow swordtail with toppings of fish eggs. It was truly delicious !
Incidentally, the guy who prepared it was wearing a T-shirt with the word PRIDE across it. Perhaps it was the pride he put into preparing it.
Behind him were little blocks of wood with the signatures of happy customers (presumably as they were all in Japanese). It gave the little eatery a very nice and personal touch.
I will always remember this place in Tokyo as the food was good and I couldn't ask for better lunch companions.
From Japan, where the traditional co-exists comfortably with the edgy comes the art of being Zakka.
According to Wikipedia, Zakka is "the art of seeing the savvy in the ordinary and mundane." This fashion and design phenomenon refers to everything and anything that improves your home, life and outlook and touches issues of self-expression and individuality.
While in Japan recently, I spent an enjoyable afternoon in a bookstore just browsing through some Zakka books. There was a whole range of quaint little books featuring apartments of stylists, photographers, illustrators and artists from Stockholm, Paris and London.
Even though they were all in Japanese, I couldn't resist buying them after browsing. I love Zakka.
Friday, July 17, 2009
Dean and Deluca is an iconic gourmet store in New York with its signature range of spices, cheese, balsamic vinegar, chocolates, coffee and even kitchenware. Their trademark little aluminium tins with see through tops make very good collectibles. Heard that they have opened quite a number of stores in the Middle East such as Dubai, Kuwait and Qatar.
In my recent visit to Tokyo, I was pleasantly surprised to see a Dean and Deluca in Roponggi.
Though considerably smaller than the one in New York, the layout of the Tokyo store retains the chic, industrial style of the New york branch with its white washed brick wall, low hanging lights and chalkboard menu.
Tried the Suree pad thai sauce and the dish turned out quite nice. Here's the receipe
5 prawns shelled and deveined ( can substitue with chicken )
2 tablespoons of Suree Pad Thai sauce
300g of Thai rice stick
1 piece of soya cake curd cut into dice
500g bean sprout
50g carrots thinly sliced
10g dried shrimps
3 red/green chillies finely sliced
Half cup of ground roasted peanuts
1 tablespoons of ground dried chillies (optional )
Half cup of vegetable oil
1 tablespoon chopped garlic
1. Soak rice sticks into a bowl of water for 5 minutes to soften it
2. Soak dried shrimp in a bowl of warm water to soften it
3. Heat 3 tablespoons of oil to fry the prawns (or chicken) and diced soya beans. Remove from pan
4. Put 3 tablespoons of oil in pan and fry the garlic. Then add rice stick, Suree pad Thai sauce. Mix together and remove from pan.
5. Heat 2 tablespoons of oil, break eggs into pan and scramble, spreading egg in a thin layer over pan.
6. When eggs are cooked, return rice sticks and mix fried prawns. Add half of bean sprouts, dried shrimps and turn to mix together.
7. Spoon onto plates and sprinkle with grounded peanuts. Garnish with chillies (finely sliced)
From the world of kimchi and bulgogi comes Magic Soup. No, it is not a food but a cute stationery range of starry eyed little girls with whimsical faces. It never fails to put a little twinkle in my eye and my favourite is this little groovy red hair girl with oversized glasses and a cheeky smile. Bought this notebook from a shop in Square 2 Singapore which had a little Korea section. I also found a Korean webite which features the Magic Soup range.
I love Thai food. There is something very satisfying to the taste buds when it comes to balancing sweet, sour and salty flavours. So I went to a Thai supermarket at the top floor of Golden Mile Complex (Singapore) to get authentic sauces that will make Thai cooking easier at home.
I started out thinking of the dishes that characterise Thai cooking and what came to my mind were papaya salad (Som Tham), pad thai, green curry and tom yam. A basic selection that will narrow down the things I need to buy. In my fridge, there are already some all time favourites such as Thai fish sauce, fresh lemon grass, kaffar lime leaves and Thai sweet chilli. So what else is there ?
Was feeling a bit bewildered till I met a very friendly Malay couple putting sauces into their basket without much hesistation. They seemed more experienced and naturally I asked. She was kind enough to recommend a good sauce for frying pad thai, an established green Thai curry that has been around for many years, the best Tom Yam mix etc. Stay tuned for part 2 of this blog entry to see if these sauces live up, assuming there's nothing wrong with my cooking :)
On a side note, I've noticed that many Thai food brands feature a woman, some matriach as their logo while the Chinese love the use of pandas, eagles, pagodas and sometimes a severe looking man who is probably the brand owner. A tale of cultural preferences I suppose.
Thursday, July 16, 2009
Thursday, July 9, 2009
I have a number of handmade ginger bread men all around my house. Handmade little toys make me happy with their mischievous smile and their colourful buttons. It also adds a personal touch to my place. Another favourite of mine is my pistachio coloured KitchenAid cake mixer which sits very proudly in my kitchen. It is indeed great to own one as it helps in all my bakery pursuits.
Sunday, July 5, 2009
MOMA - the Museum of Modern Art in New York had a pretty interesting exhibit while I was there. It wasn't quite ready when I saw it but nevertheless, it featured a massive display of "junk" or "treasures" depending on how you see it. These were grouped into different categories and from the top floor, it seemed like a pretty fine mess.
Indeed it was a MOMA - a Monument of Massive Artifacts.