The FooDorama Challenge: I watch it, I try it!

ゃぁ♪|/// |ヽ(^∀^)ノ| ///|(自動ドア)

Jdorama Inspiration: Hana Kimi

Hana Kimi (short for Hanazakari no Kimitachi e) is a comedy that was shown in the summer season of 2007 on FujiTV (and in 2008 on our own Kapuso network).  It had 12 episodes plus one SP in 2008.  It is about Ashiya Mizuki (Horikita Maki) who disguised herself as a young boy so she could enroll in an all-boys school.  She stays in a dormitory and immediately gets into sorts of crazy trouble and gain friends at the same time while helping her roommate and classmate, Sano Izumi (Oguri Shun) get back into the sports of high jumping.

Hana Kimi is such a fun and hilarious comedy, it’s hard not to like it.  The character of Nakatsu Shuichi (played by Ikuta Toma) was THE life of the show – hands down!  I wouldn’t mind watching this drama over and over again just to see his crazy, show-stopping thought-monologues that only he can deliver.

I Heart Nakatsu!!!: Ikuta Toma was so perfect as the lovable, funnyman Nakatsu-chan (above left), it is hard to imagine anyone else playing the role.  Above right shows Shun and Toma all dressed up for the Maid Cafe scene in Episode 12; these two characters go so well together they should have gotten their own drama spin-off.

Jdorama Food: Okonomiyaki

Okonomiyaki is an easy Japanese recipe and fun to make.  It has been described as similar to pancake or pizza but for me I think it is more like an omelette where you just mix together your choice of ingredients and then fry it but using pancake batter.

The FooDorama Connection: Okonomiyaki was shown pretty much all through-out the whole drama since Nakatsu would often take Mizuki on a “date” in an okonomiyaki restaurant. Above pic is from the SP episode in what was supposedly a ‘flashback’ scene.

Nakatsu-san drizzling mayonnaise on his okonomiyaki.

My other favorite jdoramas that feature okonomiyaki are:

At Home Dad: In episode 10, the neighborhood moms (and one dad) were having an okonomiyaki party during their weekly get-together while they let their kids play.

Hana Yori Dango: In episode 8, the favorite food of the young Tsukasa Domyoji (above left) was okonomiyaki but his ‘rich-boy’ pride disallows him to buy one from the street vendors since he considers it ‘peasant food,’ so his older sister learned to make it for him at home.

And lastly in  Kekkon Dekinai Otoko: Eccentric architect, Shinsuke Kuwano (Hiroshi Abe) teaches Dr. Hayasaka Natsumi (Natsukawa Yui) the ‘art’ of making okonomiyaki; he unnecessarily makes a simple dish sound complicated, making his date feel a bit intimidated. Here is that preciously funny scene (sorry! it’s subbed only in French… but you’ll get the idea):

The FooDorama Challenge: Okonomiyaki Party at Home

Before I had the okonomiyaki party, I practiced first on my own, using left-over ingredients from the ref. The ingredients for okonomiyaki may be fresh according to recipe instructions but I prefer them to be pre-cooked so I won’t have to worry about over-cooking the batter or salmonella infection. Okonomiyaki is best cooked on a flat-surfaced pan but I only have a grooved type of griddle, nevertheless, it was ok.

So by the time I hosted an okonomiyaki party for Sis and family one Sunday afternoon, I was already somewhat of an ‘expert.’

In a bowl, I placed the basic ingredients of shredded cabbage and garlic chives. You can add any ingredient you want. I used pre-cooked pieces of pork and squid, crab sticks, cucumber, carrots, onions, and mixed them all up with one egg, 1/4 cup flour,  several teaspoons of water with a pinch of salt and pepper.  This makes one pancake (But if you prefer to make a big batch, you can use the ordinary pancake mix which I will do next time). Then I poured the batter on my hot electric griddle and let it cook on both sides.  It was that simple.

But what made it really fun and truly Japanese was the topped garnishing: aonori (seaweed flakes), Japanese mayo, and bonito flakes (which are fish shavings that move in the hot steam from the food). Okonomiyaki sauce is also used but I don’t have one so I used tonkatsu sauce instead. You can buy all these in a Japanese grocery store like Yamazaki in Little Tokyo, Makati.

Oki-Doki done! My Okonomiyaki for FDC#4.

I’m glad my guests like the okonomiyaki.  They found it deliciously different and so new that they don’t have anything to compare it with. But instead of a ‘make-your-own-okonomiyaki’ party that I had in mind, I ended up cooking the pancakes alone for all of them. Ewan ko nga ba... hmp! Mga tamad! haha! Anyway, I would go on making this recipe especially if I want to put some pizazz to unappetizing leftovers in the fridge, thereby my Okonomiyaki challenge deserves two thumbs up for FDC#4…

b (^-^) d ~ayuzz~

UPDATE:  I continued making okonomiyaki. Above was my Seafood Okonomiyaki experiment for Holy Week 2010.

Next on The FooDorama Challenge:
FDC#5: Natto (Jdorama Inspiration: Yamato Nadeshiko Shichi Henge)
Previous FooDorama Challenges:
FDC #3: Shiruko (Jdorama Inspiration: Saigo no Yakosoku)
FDC #2: Takoyaki (Jdorama Inspiration: Gokusen)
FDC #1: Yakiniku (Jdorama Inspiration: Kekkon Dekinai Otoko)
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Okonomiyaki info source: wikipedia
Jdorama info source: dramawiki
Recipe source: beyondboulder

Welcome to my first ever FooDorama Challenge!

Jdorama Inspiration: Kekkon Dekinai Otoko

Kekkon Dekinai Otoko (The Man Who Can’t Get Married) is a 12 episode jdorama shown from July to September 2006 (btw, this should not be confused with the Korean version; Kekkon is the original one – and still the best!).  It stars Hiroshi Abe as Shinsuke Kuwano, an eccentric, talented architect.  As the title suggests, he can’t get married because he prefers to live an uncomplicated and quiet life, free from the trappings of social, marital, and familial obligations.  However, as the story unfolds, he realizes that shielding himself away from matters of the heart may be as equally complicated and troubling as well…

This dorama has a story I fell in love with since it was intelligently written and had a perfect ending which I think is the best among all the jdoramas I have seen so far. The main character reminds me bits of my own weird personality. The funny episode titles alone had made me smile since I, too, have asked the same questions (…well, sometimes): “So What If I like Being Alone?!” (Episode 1); So What If I Eat the Food I like to Eat?! (Episode 2); and “So What if I Don’t Like to Mix With the Relatives?!” (Episode 7). Hee-hee!

Jdorama Food: Yakiniku

For this challenge, I chose to prepare yakiniku.  Yakiniku is a Japanese-style grilling of bite-sized pieces of food particularly meats. The Japanese (who only began to eat beef in the late 19th century) is said to have adapted this style from Mongolian and Korean style of grilling meats. That is why a typical yakiniku meal also consists of Korean dishes such as kimchi and bibimpap.

The FooDorama Connection: In Episode 2, Kuwano-san stubbornly eats yakiniku in a theme restaurant even after he had been warned by his doctor (played by Natsukawa Yui) to watch his diet . He eats all alone since his work-mates declined to accompany him for reasons such as having a previous engagement or a downright refusal to deal with his acerbic wit and personality.

Kuwano-san’s yakiniku in the Episode 2 scene, sizzling on a gridiron over sumibi (dry distillation).

The Foodorama Challenge: Cooking Yakiniku at home

I have ordered yakiniku one time in a restaurant with my friends before but I have never tried to prepare it at home.

Since yakiniku is a “social food” (best served and eaten when you’re with friends and family), I deemed it best to have it when Sis and family arrived on this day for Sunday Lunch Project #2. Besides, Pchie, fresh from her flight from Japan, came with her pasalubong – a bottle of tare, a yakiniku sauce that can also be bought from any Japanese grocery store. If you prefer to make your own yakiniku sauce, the web is filled with many different recipes you can choose from.

Having a yakiniku party at home was an absolute fun! The food is cooked right on your table so you get to eat it while it’s hot. It would be best if you have a table-top electric griddle (at right) so you can fully enjoy this right at your own dining table.

There were no authentic slices of yakiniku beef in the supermarket so we settled for sukiyaki.  Since it needs to be cooked for a short amount of time, any thinly-sliced cuts of beef, preferably with some fat is suitable.

Other ingredients you may need aside from tare sauce: mushrooms, kimchi (left pic), bite-sized pieces of vegetables like bell pepper and cucumber.  It would also be best if served with real Japanese rice and miso soup. Rice bowls and chopsticks added more authenticity to this enjoyable Japanese-inspired lunch.

How to serve it: you will need to bring out your serving plates since the fresh ingredients and the sauce are served and spread out on the table so your family or guests can easily reach for them using thongs or chopsticks. They can dip the ingredients in the sauce before cooking it on the griddle topped with butter. When cooked, they can get it from the griddle and mix it with kimchi and rice on their plates or bowls (At right).

The only drawback from this was that it could turn out to be messy and painful from all that hot oil splatter. Be sure NOT to wear your favorite white shirt when having this kind of cook-it-yourself meal.

So. Was my Yakiniku Challenge a hit or a miss?

Answer: A Hit! Yay! Kuwano-san would have been proud of me… 🙂  My lunch guests were obviously satiated and happy. We’re definitely going to try this again soon. Only if Pchie can give me more of that tare, then we’ll set another yakiniku date, for sure!

My Next FooDorama Challenge:
Takoyaki! (Jdorama Inspiration: Gokusen & At Home Dad)
My Sunday Lunch Project links:
Previous post: Lemon-Thyme Roasted Chicken (SLP#1)
Next post: My Dad’s Karimbuaya Chicken (SLP#2)
Yakiniki info source: wikipedia.com
Jdorama info source: wiki.d-addicts.com

The first time I saw model turned actor, Hiroshi Abe was in that butt-kickin’ Thai martial arts movie, Chocolate (released in Japan as “Chocolate Fighter”) playing a role of Yakuza leader, Masashi. Then I saw him again in the Japanese movie, Aoi Tori as the mild-mannered teacher, Murauchi.  But I didn’t realize it then that they were the same actor until I researched about it.

That’s how Hiroshi Abe is.  Despite his tall frame and dark looks, he has a subtle, almost relaxing aura of gentleness about him. You fail to notice him at first but eventually that understated and elegant charm would quietly sneak up on you and before you know it you have become a fan for life.

I’ve seen him perform all kinds of roles – he can be dark and dangerous in one show and outright silly in another. Even in dramas where he has a minor role, his presence alone can make the shows worthwhile to watch. He does have a few shows with him as the major star (he needs more!), I’ve noticed that he chooses his projects well and that they haven’t disappointed me so far.

Among my favorites are: Kekkon Dekinai Otoko, At Home Dad, My Little Chef, Shiroi Haru, Change, Dragon Zakura, Tenchijin, and movies like Glorious Team Batista.

Here is my screen shot collection of Abe-chan’s roles, proving his versatility as an actor (the reason why he is such a dream catch for any casting director in Japan) and just like fine wine, he gets to look better and better every year:

In his most popular role as the paranormal skeptic, Jiro Ueda in the “Trick” TV and movie series (2000 – still ongoing).

As the gourmet restaurant owner with impeccable taste, Kensaku Tachibana (My Little Chef, 2002)

As advertising director, Kazuyuki Yamamura, forced to swallow his manly pride to take on the domestic role of an At Home Dad (2005).

Abe-chan as the eccentric, introverted architect, Shinsuke Kuwano in Kekkon Dekinai Otoko (2006).

The serious lawyer Kenji Sakuragi on a mission in Dragon Zakura (2006). Take note of the Boracay poster at the back.

With actress, Yuko Takeuchi, he plays Keisuke Shiratori in the medical drama/whodunnnit movie, Team Batista No Eiko (The Glorious Team Batista, 2008).

As the down-on-his-luck, former conman, Haruo Sakura in Shiroi Haru (2009), he is forced to take on odd jobs such as a traffic aide.

As Uesugi Kenshin, the powerful daimyo of 16th century Japan (Tenchijin, 2009-ongoing)

In the Thai action flick and international hit, Chocolate (2009) as a Yakuza gang boss, Masashi

This is his latest role as Akiyama Yoshifuru in the period drama, Saka no Ue no Kumo (Cloud on a Hill, 2009-ongoing) with “Departures” actor, Motoki Masahiro.

And finally, for his fans, feast your eyes on Abe Hiroshi as his glorious, 6’2″ self, clad from head to foot in Dolce & Gabbana on the March 2010 cover of Uomo (Japanese edition):

私は、阿部寛愛しています! Sigh! V (^_^=)