Category Archives: FOOD

“Japanese Artist Has Drawn Every Meal He’s Eaten for 32 Years: Behold the Delicious Illustrations of Itsuo Kobayashi”

Image and text from Open Culture, 3/24/2020.

Since the 1980s, Itsuo Kobayashi has drawn a picture of every single meal he eats. However notable we find this practice now, it would surely have struck us as downright eccentric back then. Kobayashi began drawing his food before the arrival of inexpensive digital cameras and cellphones, and well before the smartphone combined the two into the single package we now keep close at hand. We all know people who take camera-phone pictures of their meals, some of them with the regularity and solemnity of prayer, but how many of them could produce lifelike renderings of the food placed before them with only pen and paper?

“The Japanese outsider artist and professional cook, born in 1962, first began keeping food diaries as a teenager,” Artnet’s Sarah Cascone writes of Kobayashi. “In his 20s, he began adding illustrations of the dishes he made at work, and those he ate while dining out.” When, at the age of 46, a “debilitating neurological disorder made it difficult for him to walk, leaving him largely confined to his home,” Kobayashi began to focus on his food diaries even more intensely.

His subjects are now mostly “food deliveries — sometimes from restaurants, sometimes from his mother. And though his day-to-day existence rarely varies, he’s been pushing his practice in a new direction, creating a new series of pop-up paintings.”

After 32 years of making increasingly detailed and realistic overhead drawings of his every meal — including such information as names, prices, flavor notes, and faithfully replicated restaurant logos — Kobayashi’s work has caught the attention of the American art world. The Fukuyama-based gallery Kushino Terrace “gave Kobayashi his US debut in January, at New York’s Outsider Art Fair,” Cascone writes. “His works sell for between $500 …continue reading


Take-out Diary – Suage: Marunouchi


In the hyper-competitive world of soup-curry shops, one thing that sets Suage apart is the high quality of their ingredients. For example, their succulent stewed-pork kakuni is made with “Lavender Pork,” an heirloom breed of pig from Furano, Hokkaido, prized for its somewhat sweet, intense flavor. Other curries feature grilled Hokkaido-raised lamb and heirloom-breed Shiretoko chickens from Shiretoko Peninsula in eastern Hokkaido.

Another distinguishing feature is Suage’s very flavorful soup. Incorporating a complex blend of spices, it has a distinctive oniony sweetness that helps bring out the fresh tastes of the vegetables and meat ingredients. Kakuni and other curry variations are served in a densely filled bowl that’s swimming with huge carrot chunks, plump baby corn, potatoes, kabocha slices and other vegetables.

After you’ve picked your main ingredients, choose either regular or shrimp-based soup, your preferred spiciness level (on a scale of one to ten), and rice size (small, medium or large). This branch, in the basement of the Marunouchi Brick Square complex, is a modern-looking shop with a spacious counter and several tables for pairs and groups. Soup curry averages around Y1400 for a meaty, well-filled bowl. …continue reading


Cooking Up A Storm With Junior Chef Kiara

Meet Cooking With Kiara

Kiara, the youngest of three siblings, lives in Yamanashi prefecture with her Japanese father, New Zealand mother and brother Kyle—the biggest brother Asahi is currently away at university in New Zealand. She attends the local Japanese school and switches back and forth between Japanese and English with ease.

Kiara cooks dinner for her family on a regular basis, but the first dish she made all by herself was a loaf of bread at the age of five. At the stage when most kids are still rolling out playdough, Kiara had already moved on to the real thing. “I liked to knead the dough,” she says matter-of-factly.

Meeting her mum Chriss, an English teacher, it is easy to see that the apple doesn’t fall too far from the tree. The bubbly Kiwi has always done her best to encourage and facilitate her children’s interests, and she recalls how Kiara’s fascination with food manifested itself early.

“As a little baby, she wanted to crawl into the kitchen and be part of the action. I’d lift her up, pop her in the sink and let her wash carrots,” Chriss says. “A messy kid is a happy kid!”

Getting Started As A YouTuber

The inspiration to start Cooking With Kiara originally began with a gift. “My mum’s friend gave me a nice apron to I use when I cooked, and then she suggested I could show it off,” says Kiara.

Around the same time, brother Kyle went over to New Zealand on a homestay for several months. “Kiara is really close to her brother and she was missing him,” explains Chriss. “So launching Cooking With Kiara was a joint project for her and me, and a great way to bond.”

[…] the first dish she made all by herself was a loaf of bread at the …continue reading


Famous Ramen in Oimachi: Eiraku, Since 1956

Ramen in Oimachi - Eiraku

When it comes to ramen in Oimachi, Eiraku (永楽) is most famous. They’ve been serving loyal patrons filling shoyu ramen since 1956.

Eiraku’s Ramen

At first glance, Eiraku’s shoyu ramen looks a lot like Kiraku’s in Shibuya. This is because both ramen shops closely studied Tokyo Chinese restaurant Kiraku Daihanten and the Taiwanese chef’s noodle dishes there.

Wontonmen: ¥800

Like at Kiraku, Eiraku is all about classic shoyu ramen. There’s a hard-boiled egg and tougher cuts of chashu pork. Also like at Kiraku, bits of fried negi add sweetness and smokiness to the broth.

The wontonmen comes with a hill of bean sprouts and tasty dumplings below them. Where Eiraku’s ramen is different is its stronger shoyu flavor. In addition, the noodles are flatter and absorb more of the broth.

Ramen in Oimachi - Eiraku Noodles

Transported Back in Time

At Eiraku, you’ll feel like you’ve been transported to a much older version of Tokyo. Unfortunately, they don’t allow photos inside. But you can get a sense of what the shop looks like from the outside.

For filling …continue reading


First Ever Soft-Boiled Ramen Egg – Chibakiya

Ramen Egg at Chibakiya - Egg Closeup

The ramen egg topping is beloved around the world. It’s Tokyo ramen shop Chibakiya that we have to thank for starting the whole soft-boiled egg trend.

Ramen Egg – First Ever Soft-Boiled

Chibakiya (ちばき屋) deserves a chapter in the book of ramen history. Their soft-boiled egg topping is now the global standard. Before this, it was mostly hard-boiled eggs, or even raw eggs (like in Tokushima).

Chibakiya’s soft-boiled egg topping is as you’d expect – delicate and brilliantly gooey. They go easy on the seasoning.

Ramen Egg at Chibakiya
Shina Soba Nitamago Nose: ¥900

In their go-to “shina soba” ramen”, the shoyu broth is refreshing and light. It’s old-school Tokyo style ramen. The trimmings includes sweet floating negi bits, chewy bamboo shoots, and kaiware sprouts for a leafy vitality.

Ramen Egg at Chibakiya - Closeup

Old-School Spirit

Chibakiya retains a classic feel with its light brown, wooden interior.

Ramen Egg at Chibakiya - Inside

Its frequented by everyone from construction workers to salarymen. It can get busy during lunch. If you want visit a historic …continue reading