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February 2016

January 2016

Mori Soba 「もり蕎麦」

 Recipe 

Mori Soba is a type of cold soba served on a bamboo mat on a plate. It is eaten with Mentsuyu with green onion and some wasabi paste. For me, I tried it with some Daikon paste.

If you aren't living in Japan and your area has Daiso, you may want to get it from them. When I'm living overseas, I usually get my soba from them. You can also get them from any supermarket that sell Japanese food stuffs.

Continue reading "Mori Soba 「もり蕎麦」" »


Home made Gyoza Miso Ramen

Since tomorrow will be New Year eve, we will push out our recipe a day earlier.

Sometime when we have the craving for ramen, we will usually go to a ramen stall. It is easy to find an authentic ramen stall in Tokyo. Within walking distance from a train station, you will be spoilt for choices. Even so, ramen can be made at home. 

Gyoza Miso Ramen - The home made version

The origin of ramen has several variation. Some said it was from China, while other feels that it is invented in Japan. For me, I feel the 2nd variation is more appropriate.  

There are different types of ramen, usually they defer from location. Sapporo is famous for its Miso ramen topped with  sweetcorn, butter, bean sprouts, finely chopped pork, garlic and some local seafood. In Kyushu, tonkotsu ramen is popular. In all ramen, the soup is important. The broth is usually boiled with either pork, chicken or beef bone with konbu and other ingredient such as miso. 

Our home made ramen is the mixture of Sapporo and Kyushu favourite. The soup base is a mixture of tonkotsu and miso. 

For recipe, please read on.

Continue reading "Home made Gyoza Miso Ramen" »


Kumamoto Electric Railway 5000 Series - Retiring on Valentine day

Kumamoto Electric Railway or Kumaden is a railway company in Kumamoto, the capital city of Kumamoto prefecture. Does Kumamoto ring any bell when you read it? Or maybe I should ridge it to its mascot - Kumamon? If so, maybe I will write more about the area next time.

5000 Series History

Kumaden 5000 Series Image from Wikipedia (Photographer: Sui-setz)

Kumaden 5000 Series Image from Wikipedia (Photographer: Sui-setz)

The 5000 series used on Kumamoto Electric Railway is not a brand new train when it arrived at Kumaden in 1980s. These train sets are Tokyu Corporation's first generation 5000 series used previously in Tokyo. Built in 1950s, which mean they are about  56 years old.

When they arrived at Kumaden, additional features were added such as LCD display and IC-card readers, but due to the light frame, no air-conditional system is added.

In 2004 ATS system was added to 2 sets of rolling stock:

  • 5101A (formally 5101)
  • 5102A (formlly 5102)

 

5000 Series Special Livery

Sgt. Frog (ケロロ軍曹)Livery. Image from Wikipedia (Photographer: Sui-setz)

Sgt. Frog (ケロロ軍曹)Livery Image from Wikipedia (Photographer: Rsa)

This special livery train run for a year, from 13 Oct 2012 to 12 Oct 2014. 

Other than the livery, the announcement used in the train was by Kumiko Watanabe「渡辺久美子」, the voice actor of Sgt. Frog. 

 

5000 Series Interior

5102A Interior. Image from Wikipedia (Photographer: MK Products)

5102A Interior. Image from Wikipedia (Photographer: MK Products)

The interior didn't change much since the day it was produced, except the additional of LCD screen and IC card reader.

Service Route

Currently this train is serving the Kamikumamoto Line 「上熊本線」between Kitakumamoto 「北熊本」 and Kamikumamoto「上熊本」. They are only run on Sunday.

Last day of Service

The last day of service will be on 14 Feb 2016. After which, it will be preserved. 

Any rail fans who is going to Kyushu, you may want to try to catch a ride before they are retired on Valentine Day 2016. If you love one is a rail fan, maybe you could bring him or her on a ride on this retiring 5101A and keep it as a lasting memory?


Hours after the Tokyo Snow warning...

Yesterday late evening, the Japan Meteorological Agency issued a heavy snow warning in several prefecture and Tokyo is one of them. For many visitors and friend aboard who may not have seen snowing, may think that the scene will be nice and beautiful. It is beautiful indeed, but it did also bring about inconveniences. 

At Hachioji Station

At Hachioji Station image from twitter (@fumi_Y37)

This morning, due to the heavy snow, classes were cancelled and many were late for work due to the train delay. There are reports of passengers waiting outside the station up to an hour, this was due to the stations restricting the number of passengers entering into the station.

Yokohama Yokohama

Yokohama image from twitter (@eiskaffee700)

When the snow melt and the temperature remain low, ice will form due to refreezing of water. The melting of snow is rather messy and we have to clear them away from our doors and walkway. 

For tourists from the tropic, please enjoy the snows if you are in snowing area, it is rather rare for Tokyo to have heavy snow, the number of snowing day is definitely lower that the North-East and western regions. Please also take care, it is very slippery. I myself did slipped and fall in snowing day before.


Truffles Flavoured Spaghetti

There are many different type of pasta dishes that use truffles and natural truffle is a highly prized ingredient. In this weekly post, we are going to make truffles flavoured spaghetti. Usually truffle flavouring come in bottle of oil which can be purchased off the shelf in the supermarket.


Truffles Flavoured Spaghetti

In this post, we are trying something different, we get the truffles flavouring from seasoning powder. A little history about this seasoning powder, in December while in Singapore, we had a fast food dinner with friends. The restaurant was filled with pungent smell, a little like those cooking gas, the reason was the truffles flavouring that was given to all large fries that went with a extra value meal.

Ingredients

Now I found a new use for that small package of seasoning. 

Ingredients List (Serving Size 1)

  • Spaghetti
  • Margarine
  • Cooking sake
  • Olive oil
  • Truffle flavouring
  • Nori

Truffle infused oil

  1. Heat the pan to melt and Margarine, add in a little olive oil.
  2. Remove the pan from heat (this is important)
  3. Sprinkle in the seasoning, do not let it crumps up

Preparing the pasta

  1. Bring a pot of water to boil
  2. Add in a teaspoon of salt
  3. Boil the pasta until cooked

After the pasta is done, just mix the pasta into the pan with the truffle infused oil, top with nori and it is ready to serve.


JR Hokkaido-Tokyo Cassiopeia - Moving into history soon

There are several Tokyo-Hokkaido night train services that provide overnight ride from Ueno, Tokyo to Sapporo, Hokkaido. The overnight service for this route was started with Hokutosei 「北斗星」in 1989 followed by Cassiopeia 「カシオペア」in 1999. Hokutosei had retire from this route since August 2015. This left Cassiopeia serving this route.

Cassiopeia travelling between Akabane and Urawa Station. Image by toshinori baba from wikipedia
Cassiopeia travelling between Akabane and Urawa Station Image by toshinori baba from wikipedia

With the news of Cassiopeia service going to be discontinued in March 2016, when the new JR Hokkaidao Shinkansen  Service starts to serve between Tokyo and Hakodate, this would be the end of Tokyo Hokkaido overnight sleeper train service.

image from upload.wikimedia.org

ED79 Locomotive pulling Cassiopeia from Aomori to Hakodate through Seikan Tunnel Image by ウラ人 from wikipedia

Currently the Cassiopeia is pulled by different locomotive along different sections of the journey, with the shared line track between the new Hokkaido Shinkansen and conventional rail in the Seikan tunnel may be the ultimate factor that end this overnight sleeper service. 

Sections

  • Ueno to Aomori: JR East EF510-500
  • Aomori to Hakodate: JR Hokkaido EF79
  • Hakodate to Sapporo: 2 x JR Hokkaido DD51 diesel locomotives 

With the increase in voltage to support the JR Hokkaido Shinkansen service, the electric supply will be increased to 25kV from the current 20Kv. This means that the current EF79 cannot travel on the share track in the Seikan tunnel. The freight locomotive has been replace by EF800

Furthermore shinkansen track and overhead line check and maintenance is done at night with the run of Doctor Yellow ( the Shinkansen Maintenance train). This may interrupted by the slower sleeper train through the tunnel. 

Another factors may be the decrease in demand for such service. The price tag range between ¥35,230 to ¥66,540 a person.

Cassiopeia Suit

image from homepage3.nifty.com image from homepage3.nifty.com

Cassiopeia Suit
http://homepage3.nifty.com/ohanefu/ (image 1), http://tetsutabi.seesaa.net/ (Image 2)

Cassiopeia Suit is available on Car number 1 &  2. The picture above was taken in Car number 1. This is the 2nd most expensive room on Cassiopeia at ¥47,720.

It is extreme difficult to get hold of the ticket now, with the news of it operation ending soon, all the date available till  3rd Feb are fully book. You may want to check JR website (http://www.jreast.co.jp/cassiopeia/reserve/) for the reservation detail. Website is in Japanese.

It looks like we can only wait till the service ended and the car transferred to sightseeing cars before we are able to know its new route and be able to book. Even so, we hope to see that it will run special service from Tokyo to Hokkaido when the schedule permit. The locomotive through the Seikan tunnel should pose much issue as it is very likely to be able to pull by the New EF800. 


A station remains in service for just 1 student. (Special Report )

Editor Note: Usually our rail article is on Tuesday when our railfan writer could prepare an article for us. This is a special report which all of us think is worthy to publish as a special report.

JR Hokkaido made a decision to maintain one of its stopping at Kami-Shirataki Station along the Sekihoku Main Line in Hokkaido until 26 March 2016. Currently only 2 trains stop here each day, one for each direction, for just for 1 passenger - A high school student for need this service to go to and from school. 

Kamishirataki station Station No:A44. Image by @Amaris_417 from twitter

Kamishirataki station Station No:A44. Image by @Amaris_417 from twitter

 

This station was opened in 1932 but over the years with the aging population and decreasing usage, this old station cannot escape the fate of been removed from service.  The track is still in use by other train services which do not stop at this station.

Kamishirataki station Timetable. Image by @Amaris_417 from twitter

Kamishirataki station Timetable Image by @Amaris_417 from twitter

When the high school student graduated this coming march, the station will walk into history.

When a corporate takes such measure, it show a lot about the company  corporate-social responsibility. Not many corporate around the world may want to run a non profitable service for the benefit of just 1 person. 

There are some places around the world where bus routes were merge or even cancelled when the usage drop beyond acceptable revenue level. For this, we really have to take our hat off and praise JR Hokkaido. 

 


Obento - A great way to clear festival food.

This Tuesday was the first day of work (aka hatsus-shigoto 初仕事), furthermore after new year there are always left over ingredients. This is a good time to make bento to bring to work. 


Obento with Hakusai, Enoki, Pork in Tare sauce

This bento is not difficult to make, it was just some egg with Pork and Vegetable. Maybe next time we will have the recipe for each of the items in the bento.

A bento is easy to bring to work or school, it don't need a lot of them to make also.  Making a good bento will ensure a balance diet and hopefully the person who you made the bento for will appreciate your effort.

I know overseas where I used to base don't have the habit. There are just simply too many food centre and food courts where large variety of food will be served. Even in school, every school has a school canteen. 


Ozoni 「お雑煮」- The first dish on New Year Day

Ozoni is the first dish we have for breakfast during the New year. It is consider to be a lucky food to have because mochi stretch therefore it represents long lifespan. Ozoni cooking style vary with region. When I'm young, my mother who is from Tokyo taught me to cook the Kanto style Ozoni. Over the years, I modify the recipe, but it is still based on the Kanto style Ozoni.


Ozoni

Ingredient (Serving Size: 2):

  • Mochi, 2 pieces
  • Dashi, 800ml 
  • Kamaboko, 2 slices
  • Carrot, 1 inches
  • Daikon, 1½ inches
  • Slice pork
  • Leafy Vegetable
  • Miso, 2 tablespoon 

Cooking method:

  1. Cut the Daikon and Carrot into smaller pieces
  2. Heat up the Dashi and cook the daikon and carrot until soft.
  3. Cook the leafy vegetable. Remove once it's cooked.
  4. Add in Miso into the Dashi.
  5. Add in pork to cook. Skim the soup so that it will remain clear.
  6. Heat up the Mochi in an oven or grill it over flame.
  7. Add in Kamaboku and ready to be served.

You may want to add in Shitake Mushroom into the Ozoni before serving. The dashi can be homemade or nowadays ready made dashi can be bought of the shelf in powder form. If you wish to know how to make dashi, please see my earlier post.

In Kansai, the cooking style may include saikyo Miso which taste a little like amazaki ( a type of sweet sake). Maybe next year new year, you could give Ozoni?