My best friend was in town from Italy, and we went for lunch in one of my favorite venues in my neighborhood in Tokyo.
Sasha Kanetanaka 茶酒 金田中.
They are operated by the renowned, time-honoured Japanese dining establishment called Kanetanaka. Sasha offers Kanetanaka’s quality dishes in affordable pricing, in a sophisticated contemporary cafe-style space designed by photographer/architect, Hiroshi Sugimoto. Their use of refined materials is evident as soon as you walk in, greeted by Japanese style rock & moss garden with streamlined table setting. Whenever I go there, it makes me feel as if I am dreaming of walking into a serene temple in Kyoto, gently covered by the morning sun.
They offer seasonal Lunch course, always with this breathtaking, inspirational presentation.
It is the space I come to appreciate my Tokyo life, with their considered tableware, attention to detail, use of natural materials, focus on fresh ingredients, everything handled with great care.
For those who visit Tokyo anytime soon, here is the link to this sublime restaurant. Stop by, even for a brief tea break for an excellent, worthwhile dining experience.
Last Saturday, our daughter’s primary school held “Undōkai” at their school ground, which is an annual Sports event organized by the school and students. The entire school (1st to 6th graders) are divided into two teams, White and Red, and compete. It is quite serious and formal – in a way it looks like a mini Olympic, with a proper opening ceremony with speeches & singing of the national anthem, followed by numerous games including cute dance performances and the exciting relay race, and completed with an impressive award ceremony.
It was the first time for our little girl as well as for her Dutch father to participate in the Japanese Undōkai. She just took it as it was, but my husband seemed to have gotten a little taken aback, describing it as a “military inspired parade”. I think he was exaggerating a bit, but maybe it could be a bit overwhelming if you’d never seen it before as an adult.
Anyway, at Undokai, traditionally everyone eats (usually homemade) bento for lunch on a picnic mat. I didn’t make anything special for the occasion but simple onigiri and some leftover side dishes. Still, we all enjoyed it together with all our friends.
To our surprise, our daughter ended up last in her group for the 40m dash. We always thought she was very athletic, but this proved us to be super biased about our own child. Instead, she performed superbly for the dance performances, showing us all the sweetest dance moves. Perhaps she could be a future performing artist…? … I know, I know, I shouldn’t pressure her into anything…
Win or lose, it was a great, memorable Undōkai, and we are very proud of her.
Tricolor Donburi (“soboro” chicken crumble/scrambled egg/green beans)
Miso soup (with cabbage, carrot, spring onion & potato)
Pumpkin in dashi broth
Okra/cucumber/Wakame seaweed in vinegar sauce
Click here for chicken soboro recipe
Gulp! Someone is missing out something delicious tonight.
This is it.
My daughter’s last kindergarten bento.
It sort of crossed my mind to make it somewhat special, but no, no, it went just like another normal day. We barely made it on time to school on her last day, which is, in a way, endearing and memorable in many forms, as if these past three years got encapsulated in one morning.
I will miss it, this whole bento making routine, school runs in haste, and a bit stressful PTA’s with other fellow mums & dads. But I’m also sure that I’m ready to move on, to witness my darling girl to step into the next phase of her life, to the bigger world out there.
Well done honey, I’m so proud of you.
Tomorrow is her graduation.
This word is very hard to spell in alphabets! Ka Ra A Ghe – you pronounce all the vowels individually, just like in Italian if that makes sense. The last one, Ghe, is pronounced as in spaGHEtti. Basically, it is bite-sized deep fried chicken, usually made with boneless chicken thigh (shown above in brown – cut into smaller pieces for bento for easier packing and eating).
My family usually never ask me what dish to cook (unless I ask). They are very easy, and happily eat whatever I put on the table without any complaints. But yesterday at the grocery store, my daughter asked me, out of the blue, that she wants to eat Ka-Ra-A-Ghe. Ok then, so be it.
Marinate bite-sized chicken thigh in the marinade (proportion I use is 1 soy sauce, 1 mirin, 1 Japanese sake, with 1/3 ground garlic, 1/3 ground ginger & some edges of spring onion for flavour). I only left them for half an hour or so, but maybe even better if you leave it longer, 2-3 hours.
Right before you deep fry them, take the chicken out of the marinade, toss them into Katakuriko 片栗粉 (potato starch).
Deep fry them in regular canola oil until golden brown.
School run is a big deal. This morning, I was getting things done from one thing to another, packing my daughter’s bento, doing dishes, putting my makeup on while drinking cappuccino in the bathroom, putting breakfast on the table for my daughter, eating my breakfast standing up, and so on and on, so that we can go out the door in order to make it to her school on time.
Her bento had already been prepared on the kitchen counter, but I just didn’t have time to take a picture of it. My iPhone was within my daughter’s reach, so I asked her to take a picture of her bento for me. She is well aware of my routine to keep the record of her daily bento, so she was very cooperative. She grabbed my iPhone and placed it in front of my face to unlock it, and took this beautiful image.
I always take her bento photos from straight above and never thought of changing the angle. I didn’t look at the photo right away, but when I did, it took me by surprise as the image gave me a totally different impression, with somehow different lighting and ambience from mine. It perhaps looked more… sophisticated. For the past three years, I’ve made her bento so many times and took a few photos each time. But I have never taken anything like what my daughter took today. Maybe it’s because I was more focused on being consistent each day, and unfortunately failed to see things from various perspectives.
With my daughter’s graduation approaching in four days, I won’t have so much chance to practice my photography skills on her kindergarten bento. Still, it feels as if my daughter has taught me an important life lesson, right before her three year kindergarten life is about to complete.