Cooking, Food, Japanese, JLPT N2, Miscellaneous

twenty.

Edit198

I remember not long after starting this blog that I wrote a post celebrating my 18th birthday…how time flies! I had just gotten my exam results and I was celebrating about how my marks would get me into a good course of my choice. And now here I am, going into my third year of university next year! Why did I ever grow up T_T

We don’t really do much by way of celebrating birthdays in my family (although they really should, why would you not want to celebrate me guys pls) so I baked my own birthday cake. But I sort of wish I didn’t because I only had one cake tin and thus the three layers and frosting etc. took me the entire day >_< It tastes delicious though! It’s a matcha cake with white chocolate whipped cream frosting and I made a separate green tea ganache to go on top. The flowers I picked from the garden ^_^

I recently returned from a week-long family holiday so it’s been a lazy couple of days. I did do the N2 exam before I left though and it was a pretty…yolo experience. As in I didn’t work very hard for it and I’m pretty sure the results will reflect that. So I don’t really know where that leaves me now. I’m pretty sure that the listening was a disaster. But the vocabulary and grammar section, which I struggled with during N3 , didn’t feel as bad. So maybe with some work I can slay next time 😀 But I’ll keep working and studying my languages while I have free time these holidays.

Do any of you guys bake? If you do, please share cake recipes with me! Because birthday cake duty usually falls to me in this house 😀 And did any of you take the N2 as well? How did you find it?

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Food, Miscellaneous

panic.

Edit183

Hi guys! Just a quick post because my exams (doomsday) start very soon and I should be studying. I can’t wait to be free from November 17th! Then I can have more time to cram for the JLPT and get stuck into some good old-fashioned language learning, solo trips to the aquarium, ramen (or maybe tsukemen? given the Sydney summer heat) slurping etc. In the meantime, here’s a calming picture of my university, which does not reflect my state of mind at the moment.

Edit185

Can’t leave you guys without some gratuitous food photos though right? Unfortunately, I did not eat these three wonderful bowls by myself – I took my parents on a ramen date! 😀 This was at Chase Kojima’s Sokyo Ramen pop-up at The Star Casino. I’m not sure if it’s still running (if it is, it won’t be for much longer!) but if the queues are anything to judge by I reckon he’s onto something good and if he’s smart he’ll find a way to make this permanent (and in a more central location than Darling Harbour). I also made a new video for my student videojournalism team USYD Update about the Sydney Night Noodle Markets here. But SBS Food has not given me my own food show yet 😦

On a finishing note, and if you’re into this sort of thing, happy Halloween! I have some special Halloween nail art 🙂

Edit184

I hope you guys have been doing well – I love hearing what you are all up to ^^ See you on the other side ~

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Food, Italian, Japanese, Miscellaneous

diversify.

Edit177

Black garlic tonkotsu ramen at Yasaka Ramen

It could perhaps be ironic that I begin this post about diversification with yet another photo of ramen but I see no other way to keep any readers I may have interested in my sporadic posts! 😀 If I really have to comment on this ramen, it was expensive and the soup unfortunately lacked flavour 😦

Anyway, I’ve been going to my Italian night classes every Monday. I’m really enjoying it. It’s really jogging my memory and my teacher is very kind and knowledgeable. She speaks almost exclusively in Italian and encourages us to speak in the target language. I don’t know if I would bother paying for such classes if I didn’t have my voucher but they have been worthwhile so far. Speaking of, I need to do the homework soon in time for the coming Monday!

Japanese at uni isn’t bad. I have a kanji and grammar test in about…2 weeks? A week and a half? I have been revising my kanji regularly but the grammar…I don’t know…I find it very hard for grammar to stay in my head? Especially since some Japanese grammar points have very similar structures and/or nuances. I know that the best way to remember is to probably see the grammar in context but having time to read is another matter entirely….But I will figure it out because my marks are good so far and I would like for it to stay that way! The JLPT registration deadline is also in about a week? But I’m not sure if I should do it – I haven’t had time to study for it basically all year. Either that, or I haven’t made time for it (I don’t want to deny responsibility in my own shortfalls haha).

The reason why I am writing about branching out is that my life has gotten busier and there are new things that I am exploring. I study Law and Media & Communications at university, so I have two different jobs in those respective fields. I have learnt a lot and spending time on these things has meant less time for my original hobby of language learning. In some ways, that makes me feel sad but not as sad as it might have once done (if that makes sense?). Sometimes I feel very stretched thin between all my commitments but it’s been worthwhile and I’m enjoying myself – it’s an exciting time for me right now because I feel as if things are making sense and I could be forming some sort of an idea of where I want my life to take me. Ideally, I would learn to balance all these happenings and incorporate language learning flawlessly into my  life as I polyglot my way to world domination but that is obviously still a work in progress. But in the meantime, it doesn’t trouble me as much.

Anyway, I have recently joined a new student videojournalism group here at my university at USYD Update. We do stories on life, culture and news and I am a presenter/reporter with the Life section. I would like to share my first completed video with you guys: it’s about sleep! All too fitting 😀

So I’ll leave you guys here for the next month or so. I hope that you are all well and that you’re killing your language studies! (unlike me OTL) 頑張って!

PS I can’t believe that I used to be so dedicated and wrote my posts in my target languages =_= I should probably start that again right? 😛

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Food, Miscellaneous

apologies…?

Edit164

                                                                           Miso ramen at O-San

As it turns out, I couldn’t even keep my promise to post at least once a month! Ah well.

I must confess that in the last month and a half (?) I haven’t really been able to find the time to do any language study in particular. I am taking a French class at uni so I am at least obliged to prepare for that, but otherwise… I’ve squeezed in a bit of grammar here and there but :/. Language learning is still a hobby and my formal studies must come first unfortunately.

Having said all that, when this semester’s exams finish on 27 June, I plan to get right back into the swing of things. I still think I would like to try the N2 exam in December, so I will continue on with my grammar and vocabulary and start some reading practice. I think I would also like to take the plunge and try Italki. Has anybody used it before? If you have, please let me know how you found it ^^

And yes, as you can see, in a typical me apology I have inserted a healthy dose of food porn in this post. Ramen is definitely…one of my favourite foods I can safely say. It’s too rich to eat regularly, but when I do save my appetite and take that first mouthful…it’s magic and reminds me all over again why I love it so much. Ramen is a culinary hug in a bowl, a hug for the stomach and soul *w* Sometimes I wonder if I should just give up on language blogging and make this a ramen blog xD What do you guys think? 😛 I’ve been going to Ramen O-San quite a bit recently, but only because it’s so reasonable and the eggs are always so. damn. on. point. I hope that you can understand me.

Edit165

I might leave you guys here for today. I’m looking forward to blogging more during my holidays, but in the mean time, please let me know what you’ve been up to!! ^_^

PS So Benny Lewis commented on my blog ?!?

Comment

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Food, Italian, Japanese, Miscellaneous

sign here please.

Edit161

Hello everybody! As I had predicted, this blog isn’t being updated as regularly now that university has started up again 😦 But I think I will try my best to update it at least once a month (instead of the posts once a week).

So I went to Benny Lewis’ free talk and book signing at Kinokuniya here in Sydney on Thursday! To say I was excited is probably an understatement. It was just weird to see somebody that I admired so much in real life I guess. He’s a great speaker and I could see that a lot of the casual passers-by were totally feeling pumped to amp up their language learning game 😀 He did a summary of his book (so there wasn’t anything new there) and then he answered questions. Then we got our books signed! The Kinokuniya lady was very impressed that I had already made the effort to write a sticky note with my name on it before coming. I felt very organised in that respect! I was really nervous waiting my turn (I don’t know why though? There was literally no reason to be lol) and when I got to the front of the line I thanked him for finally making his way down under. He asked me what languages I was learning, so I told him the ones I know and he said he’d sign my book in French and Italian because they were his strongest languages out of the ones that we had in common. I thanked him in French and Italian and he said I have a beautiful Italian accent (“che bel accento!”) and I nearly died on the spot, I was so happy!! He said I’d be a polyglot of the future so I told him to keep a look out, and he said I should make my way to polyglot meeting someday 😀 I debated whether to ask him to drop by my blog sometime but I was too shy to do so in the end. But he’s a very friendly person and seemed genuinely happy to meet all his readers.

I’ll also drop this photo of ramen here. It’s Ramen O-San’s black garlic tonkotsu ramen with shallots and tamago. I really like shallots? Plus in a ramen context, shallots and black garlic help smooth out the richness of the tonkotsu. I had to drink a lot of water afterwards though because I was concerned that Benny might catch my garlic/shallot breath T.T Oh dear. So another ramen recommendation from me! It’s in Dixon House Food Court in Chinatown – if you’re a foodie, white food court lighting makes for excellent photos, so all the more incentive to get yourself over there.

Edit160

On the learning front, I’ve been working through Kanzen Master’s N2 Grammar. I’m on Chapter 4 now. I have resorted to studying on the train because I don’t really have much time otherwise to dedicate to it, but I feel very proud of my commitment so far. Here’s hoping I can keep it up! I think I’ll make a start on the Kanzen reading book around June/July, during the mid-year break.

That’s about it from me! Did anybody else go to the book sign? Is your language learning going okay? I’d love to know how you guys are doing ^^

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Cooking, Food

Take the biscuit: Monte Carlos

Edit139

It’s been a (loooong) while since I’ve posted a recipe, so I thought I might do one this week! Uni hasn’t started yet, so I decided to bake some Monte Carlo biscuits on the weekend!

Monte Carlos are a popular classic here in Australia and are manufactured by household-name brand Arnotts. I don’t know if they are eaten elsewhere in the world, so if you’ve eaten them before, do let me know! Named after the city of the same name, Monte Carlos are honey biscuits with raspberry jam and vanilla cream sandwiched inside. This recipe makes quite large biscuits (and the biscuits are indeed the heaviest in the Arnotts cream biscuit range!) so one already makes a more than substantial afternoon tea! Experiment with different honeys if you so wish for different tastes – I used leatherwood, which made the biscuits wonderfully fragrant ^^

Monte Carlo Biscuits (adapted from SMH Good Food)

Ingredients 

3/4 cup brown sugar

125g softened butter

1 egg

2 tbsp honey

salt

2 cups self-raising flour

Ingredients for filling

1/3 cup raspberry jam

1-1.5 cups icing sugar

15g butter

1 tsp vanilla essence

2-3 tbsp milk

Method 

1. Preheat oven to 180C.

2. Line a biscuit tray with baking paper.

3. Cream brown sugar and 125g butter until well blended. Add egg, honey and a pinch of salt.

4. Fold through sifted flour. Roll mixture into a log about 20cm long. Cover with plastic and allow to rest in the fridge for about 20 minutes.

5. Uncover and slice into 1-cm-thick slices OR roll out until 1cm thick and cut out your desired shape. Place on tray and bake for 15 minutes or until golden.

6. While still warm, brush half the biscuits with the jam. Set aside to cool.

7. Sift icing sugar into a bowl. Add remaining 15g butter and vanilla essence. Mix in enough milk to form a thick icing. Spread other half of the biscuits with the icing and sandwich together.

Recipe notes:

-the 15 minute bake time is for large biscuits. If you wish to make smaller biscuits, you will have to experiment and reduce baking time accordingly!

-the original recipe makes a looot of vanilla cream I found so I’ve already halved the quantities written in the original recipe for this adaptation

Edit140

…and get eating! The filling sets quite well so it won’t ooze, making it an ideal snack if you wish to transport it to work, school etc. Enjoy your Monte Carlos, and I’ll see you next week! (it’ll be language-learning related, I promise!) ^^

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Food, Miscellaneous

blank.

Edit133

I actually have nothing to blog about in particular so I’m just going to leave this food porn here hohoho >:D It’s the special rice from Gumshara here in Sydney’s Chinatown. They make fantastic ramen (which I have previously mentioned) but if you don’t feel like being weighed down by a bowl of noodles, I highly recommend that you allow yourself to be weighed down by this bowl of rice instead! It comes with all your typical ramen toppings + spicy pickled mustard greens on rice. The rice also has yummy things like more egg and cha shu chopped through it. They give you a small bowl of their extra-thick tonkotsu broth too (you can just make it out in the background), so what I like to do is wet the rice with the broth and eat it in large, ungraceful, foodgasmic mouthfuls. Did I also mention that all of this heart-stopping glory can be yours for $9? You’re welcome.

I suppose I should probably mention some form of language learning here though right? Well, I’m going to start Chapter 5 of Tobira today (IT’S ON JAPANESE FOOD WOOP) and I am on track to finish it before uni starts again. I also used my Japanese to communicate with fans on Twitter who are organising food support for my k-idol’s activities in Japan, and it appears that they understood me so I am proud 😀 I am also more than halfway through La Vérité sur l’affaire Harry Quebert, which I posted about about two weeks ago I think, so my French cognitive muscles aren’t totally going to waste (unlike my Italian ones woops). Turns out it’s actually 800 pages, not 600 O.O I’m really enjoying it so far!

So that’s all I can report for this week! I hope you are all well, and that your language learning is going well. You must tell me what you’ve been up to ^^

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Food

Sydney Eats: Jugemu & Shimbashi

  

Genki-dama okonomiyaki

                                                             Jugemu’s Genki-dama okonomiyaki

It’s my dad’s birthday soon, so I wanted to take him out to dinner ^^ Sydney is absolutely full of Japanese restaurants (of varying degrees of quality and authenticity) but it’s a pretty well-known fact that most of Sydney’s Japanese community is concentrated around the North Sydney area.  So if you’re looking for someplace that isn’t run by Koreans (don’t get me wrong, I have Korean-run Japanese restaurants that I love going to on a regular basis, it’s just nice to actually encounter Japanese staff sometimes!), I’d suggest you head to these kinds of suburbs.

After much deliberation and Urbanspoon trawling (does anybody else do this? ㅜㅜㅜ), we decided on Jugemu & Shimbashi in Cremorne.

Just like many establishments in Japan, Jugemu & Shimbashi prides itself on specialisation: Jugemu specialises in teppanyaki, and Shimbashi, noodles.  The restaurant is vaguely divided into two, with a teppanyaki grill on one side, and a noodle-making room in the other.  There is also a small tatami area if eating in the traditional manner (seated on the floor) takes your fancy.  Despite the “division”, you can order from both “sides”, which I highly recommend! ^^

Sashimi salad

                                                                       Sashimi salad

Edit89

I unfortunately don’t have many pictures because I mostly just simply forgot to take any because the food was so yummy and no one has time to document their meals when they are just waiting to be eaten!!!!  As well as the sashimi salad, we ordered the nasu dengaku (grilled miso-marinated eggplant) and soft shell crab tempura as entrees.  The eggplant was so soft and not too oily at all, which I find to be an issue at some other places.  I don’t eat crab, but the consensus from my family was that it was crispy and fresh, with the restaurant’s spicy mayo adding a nice touch.

Edit91

 

Now onto our mains!  I absolutely LOVE okonomiyaki: it’s comfort Japanese street food at its best, and since it’s Jugemu’s specialty, I could hardly just not order it.  The genki-dama comes with wagyu slices and garlic, but there’s many many more choices on the menu, as well as a selection of extra toppings (cheese etc.).  The staff also give you a box of condiments: bonito flakes and dried shallots.  It was so delicious: creamy, soft, tasty and indulgent but not stodgy or greasy, the mere memory of it is just…:)  I can’t wait to try their other okonomiyaki if I get a chance to go back >.<

We also ordered the wagyu steak (melted in my mouth!), special fried rice and the plain hot soba noodles.  I would’ve liked the rice to have been a little bit crispier, but it was still very good – they’d mixed in mushrooms, pork belly and noodle bits, and there was a pleasant smokiness from the teppanyaki grill.  It was only when we finished the bowl of noodles that I realised I hadn’t taken a photo (!!!!!!!) but they definitely lived up to expectations.  The noodles are made at the restaurant with new season buckwheat (they grind the flour themselves too) everyday, and you could definitely tell: the slight chewiness was spot on, and there was a slightly rough texture from the buckwheat (unlike your average, pre-packaged soba made with processed flour, which is a lot smoother/softer).  The broth was simple but flavoursome, with a lot more depth than the usual soups cheaper restaurants make with just dashi powder (not too salty either ^^).

It was quite busy, so please do book a table!  Service was a little slow, but the waitress told us that more people than usual had come at once.  If you’re sharing food, portions are a little on the small side, but it’s all very good quality.  Of course, I’d highly recommend any of their okonomiyaki and noodle dishes – if you’re based in Sydney, please share your experience with me ^^

Jugemu & Shimbashi

246 Military Rd, Cremorne

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