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LIFESTYLE Moodboard

Mood Board | White Wood

One of the best ways to lighten up a room and embrace summer home decor trends is to switch out your dark wood furniture for fresh white options. If it’s time to replace your furniture, go for white painted wood instead so your home feels lighter and brighter. But if you want to make use of your current furniture, then it’s time to get out the paintbrushes and start some easy DIY updates.

If all else fails, invest in some white throws to drape over dark wood sofas and chairs, to give your room a brightness boost. This way, any room in your home will also appear larger.

xoxo, Joe

Credit | All shots used on the mood board via our Pinterest boards.

RECIPES Weekend Brunch

Orange Blossom Beef Steak Salad

This recipe was inspired by my love of sour flavors and light, nutritious entrees. The pretty salad has an appealing variety of textures. We make it year-round because it’s fast and easy to prepare after a long day at work.

Although you can use any leafy green in this spicy main-course salad, we suggest rockets because it adds another subtle, peppery layer of heat to the dish.

Ingredients |

  • 1 tablespoon whole black peppercorns
  • 1 1/2 pounds New York strip steaks, cut 1 inch thick
  • 2 cups olive oil
  • Salt
  • 8 small oranges
  • 1/4 cup fresh small orange juice
  • Freshly ground pepper
  • One 6-ounce bunch of mix greens, thick stems discarded

Method |

Marinate the steak with black pepper and salt, seat for 10 minutes. Grill the steaks over a medium-hot fire with garlic, olive oil and butter, turning occasionally, about 10 minutes for medium-rare meat. Transfer the steaks to a cutting board and let rest for 15 minutes.

In a large bowl, combine the fresh orange juice, lime juice, and rice vinegar. Add the oranges and greens. Season the salad with salt and pepper and toss well. Transfer the salad to large plates. Slice the steak across the grain and arrange on the salads.

xoxo, Joe

Taiwan TRAVEL

Totoro Bus Stop | Taichung

We knew that Taiwan culture is deeply inspired by Japan. However little we know that it’s that much of it! However, this Taiwan trip we rediscover how much the Taiwanese are in love Japan’s culture deeply. Apart from their living lifestyle and food, one of them is the recreation of famous scenes in animation.

Many fans of Miyazaki’s My Neighbour Totoro would remember when Satsuki waited at the bus stop for her dad in the rain and Totoro gave her shelter. When both Joe and I was planning to visit the one in Japan. And we discover that Taichung’s very own Totoro Bus Stop! It’s not an actual bus stop, but based on our research it has been sticking around long enough.

Totoro Bus Stop (大里龍貓公車站)
Address:
 No. 133, Qiao Cheng Road, Dali District, Taichung City, Taiwan

Will you want to add this into your travel itinerary? It’s okay that you don’t stay tuned for more of our travel post coming up soon!

xoxo, Angela

LIFESTYLE Moodboard

Mood Board | Summer Vibes #02

Getting out and having fun in the sun is something those of us stuck in seasonal climates have been looking forward to all year, and now that summer is here, it’s officially the season of glorious pool trips and sunbathing galore. If you want to do your lounging by a natural, un-chlorinated body of water, then I’d imagine a beach trip is in the works for you. And if you want to do that beach lounging as millennial-style as possible, then I’d imagine finding the prettiest millennial pink beach accessories is exactly where your head’s at.

You don’t need a holiday to celebrate millennial pink, though. All you need is a desire to go do something fun, and there you have it. Read on to find out some millennial pink options for your next beach trip.

xoxo, Joe

Credit | All shots used on the mood board via our Pinterest boards.

DESIGN The Moon's Insight

The Moon’s Insight | The Red House

Built-in 1908 by the Japanese, this Western-style building and its surrounding square located at Ximending is home to Taipei’s creative and culture industry, hosting exhibitions and performances daily.

Originally, the complex with built to serve as the first government-operated public-run market, and now is classed and preserved as a municipal heritage site. The building features an octagonal entrance and cross-shaped floor plan where merchants could showcase their goods. Today the market has modernised to become a space for the creative and art industry, including an outdoor Market for Artists and Designers located within the North Square.

A small concert hall is located within the complex, and frequently hosts cultural events such as concerts and exhibitions. Head down and have a look!

xoxo, Joe

Our Table Stories RECIPES

Melon Prosciutto and Mozzarella Skewers

If you asked me to wrap up all my favorite flavors – sweet, salty, creamy, tangy – on a cocktail skewer, I’d pile it with fresh melon, paper-thin proscuitto and soft mozzarella! There’s just no appetizer as easy, elegant and essentially “summer” tasting as the combination of all three. With a drizzle of balsamic reduction, each bite is a little bit of bliss!

I may have been a naughty preggo with the prosciutto indulgence, but hey. This baby gotta learn to love Italian! Capiche?

Once the weather warms, the color in my kitchen is instantly amped up by a bit more green, white and red, after all! Handfuls of plump basil and juicy, garden-fresh tomatoes are always in stock. Red bell peppers and hot jalapeños hang out in a basket on my counter, inspiring me to cook something delicious and zesty! And of course, fresh mozzarella joins the mix and adds pure white creaminess to all the vibrant color. We can’t get enough of the stuff – from caprese salads to pizzas and sandwiches, it adds amazing melt-in-your-mouth richness to our savory favorites.

It’s simple skewers like these that make me love mozzarella best, though… and make me want to put on a spring dinner for friends, al fresco style!

For warm weather entertaining, you’ll love these salty, creamy proscuitto bites with mozzarella and cubed cantaloupe! Feel free to substitute thinly sliced ham for the proscuitto, since the good stuff can be pricey (but worth every penny). You’ll get lots of bang for your buck out of just 1/4 pound! Not much is needed for this recipe.

Ingredients |

  • 1 medium cantaloupe, cut into 1-inch cubes
  • 1/4 lb. thinly sliced prosciutto
  • 20 small mozzarella balls
  • Chopped fresh mint
  • Balsamic Vinegar

Method |
Onto small cocktail skewers, thread prosciutto, mozzarella, and melon cubes. Place on a serving platter. Sprinkle with parsley, if desired. Serve immediately after drizzling with balsamic reduction, if using.

Enjoy your summer weekend, foodie friends. I have lots more deliciousness I can’t wait to share with you next week!

Craving more? Keep in touch on Pinterest and Instagram for new post updates and more.

xoxo, Joe

Hong Kong TRAVEL

Treasure Hunt | Hong Kong

There is one certain thing that I love about Hong Kong is the streets and alley that partially resemble Melbourne city – my favourite city of all time.

The freedom of expression arts in the city has become a culture for their society. A neighbourhood as steeped in history as it is brimming with style, Sheung Wan is the perfect place to seek out a unique experience of the local lifestyle.

Whether you want to visit a local bar, comb through the longest escalator or look your best at one of the many fashionable concept shops, this happening area boasts no shortage of gems waiting for treasure hunters to discover.

For those who are planning a trip to Hong Kong, you might want to check out our previous post of A Weekend in Hong Kong. Happy Friday!

Xoxo, Angela

LIFESTYLE Moodboard

Mood Board | Plywood

There are many types of plywood, but you should only go for high-density plywood, which is made out of a hardwood.

High-density plywood is very strong and usually can bear greater loads than solid or MDF. They are commonly used for the internals of chairs and sofas where it is out of sight. It is also easily shaped without losing structural strength. Hence it is commonly used for curved structures in furniture.

Using them at home is very versatile at the same time much affordable than the rest of the woods.

xoxo, Joe

DESIGN The Moon's Insight

The Moon’s Insight | Totoro Bustop

I am surprised that I could find lots of Japan elements in Taiwan. Or I can say all the elements inspire to Japan. Fans of Miyazaki’s My Neighbour Totoro like me would remember when Satsuki waited at the bus stop for her dad in the rain and Totoro gave her shelter.

Thus we channel our inner anime character and recreate that iconic scene at Taichung’s very own Totoro Bus Stop! It’s not an actual bus stop, but stick around long enough and who knows, you might just encounter the Catbus *wink*

Right next to this adorable fixture is Home Doctor, an interior design and housing repair company. The owner built the entire setup himself, with the giant grey creature crafted out of scrap wood. Chibi and Chu Totoro are present too, and the wall behind is dotted with Soot Balls. There was even the soundtrack from the movie playing when we visited – how’s that for attention to detail!

xoxo, Joe

Our Table Stories RECIPES

Refreshing Seadog for the Summer

The sea dog (a fried fish sandwich) is not really a thing but should definitely be a thing because it’s that good. The batter alone should become your go-to whenever you fry fish.

We’ve put our own spin on this classic sandwich and we’re pretty pleased with the results. No matter which team you’re rooting for, if you love avocados as much as we do, this recipe will be a touchdown.

Not only are these crispy fish po’ boys topped with slices of fresh lemon, we also included homemade tar tar sauce. We opted for a tar tar sauce instead of a traditional remoulade sauce and we think it works beautifully with the Creole seasoned beer battered fish.

Because spice is a theme throughout this sandwich, the tar tar sauce has a little kick to it as well. Spice is nice.

Ingredients |

  • 1 pound skinless, boneless cod fillet, cut crosswise into 8 strips
  • Kosher salt, freshly ground black pepper
  • 1 cup all-purpose flour and cornstarch each
  • 1 tablespoon Old Bay seasoning
  • 2 teaspoons baking powder
  • 1 teaspoon sweet paprika
  • ½ teaspoon garlic powder
  • ½ teaspoon onion powder
  • ¼ teaspoon baking soda
  • ¼ teaspoon cayenne pepper
  • 12 ounces pale ale
  • 3 tablespoons malt or cider vinegar
  • Vegetable oil (for frying; about 3 quarts)
  • 8 New England–style split-top hot dog buns
  • 4 tablespoons unsalted butter, room temperature
  • Tartar Sauce, shredded lettuce, and lemon wedges (for serving)

Method |

Lightly season cod with salt and black pepper. Transfer to a wire rack set inside a rimmed baking sheet. Chill, uncovered, at least 1 hour or up to overnight (this air-dries the surface so the batter will adhere better to the fish).

Whisk flour, cornstarch, Old Bay, baking powder, paprika, garlic powder, onion powder, baking soda, cayenne, 2½ tsp. salt, and ½ tsp. black pepper in a medium bowl. Add beer and vinegar and whisk just until combined and no lumps remain.

Fit a large heavy pot with thermometer; pour in oil to a depth of 3″. Heat over medium-high until thermometer registers 375°. Working in batches, dip fish into batter, allowing excess batter to drip back into bowl. Lower carefully into oil and fry until light golden brown and just cooked through, 3–4 minutes. Transfer to paper towels to drain.

Heat a large skillet over medium. Spread bottom and sides of each bun with butter. Toast buns, pressing down lightly, until golden, about 2 minutes per side.

Generously spread some tartar sauce in each bun; top with lettuce and a fried fish fillet. Serve with lemon wedges and additional tartar sauce alongside.

xoxo, Joe

Hong Kong TRAVEL

A weekend in Hong Kong

Last March weekend I travelled to Hong Kong, to visit friends, and to just get out of the humid city for a while. I spent my short stay with Shan whom I hadn’t spent quality time for almost a year since she relocated. It did not feel like any time had passed, nor that we were reuniting on the other side of the world. It was a busy weekend for her but I appreciate that she gave me all the time she got. She brought me from cafe to street shopping also local food-hopping since it was my first time. I also spent a day each with Sophia and Daisy and leaving the city after these 4 days wasn’t easy at all. It definitely changes my perceptive of Hong Kong within 84 hours.

Day 2 - Morning
Day 2 - Afternoon

It was still cold and gloomy in late March but for those who know it, I’m definitely the person who enjoyed the cooling weather. I hate hot and humid therefore I have been thinking to relocate from Singapore. Thanks to the cooling weather I got this lovely coral jacket from Mongkok during the post-winter hunt shopping with Shan. It definitely was the best buy I ever got.

Day 3 - Morning

It is definitely a long post to share which I had summarised it. I decided to do a visual journal this time. for those who are interested in knowing more, I hope I could share more in details maybe during my second trip to Hong Kong! Anything please ask ahead, I’m happy to answer them!


xoxo, Angela

LIFESTYLE Moodboard

Mood Board | Rattan Cabinet

My absolute favorite is the cabinet made of rattan, it can perfectly match it with a rattan bench . Closely followed by the super soft looking blue velvet sofa. I really think I need to make space for at least the cabinet and the small bench. Let’s be frank, I won’t fit in the sofa unfortunately. But how cool are the rattan pieces? Also the home textiles look divine. I love the natural materials and tactile surfaces.

The rattan cabinets seems to be all about a tactile experience at home. It makes you want to touch and feel every piece consciously. Thus, I don’t mind putting my fingers on the new pieces and I am pretty sure a few of those pieces will find their way into my home.

xoxo, Joe

Credit | All shots used on the mood board via our Pinterest boards.

DESIGN Moodboard The Moon's Insight

The Moon’s Insight | National Chiang Kai-shek Memorial Hall

Whenever we travel the country, other than heading to scenery places. I always love to add in some tourist and historic places to my itinerary. Taiwan is a place full of history and it is also still a place that will still create history for the future.

Although we didn’t get to visit one this time, we did 6 years ago. The octagon-shaped white building and is covered with blue tiles and red accents. The eight sides represent the Chinese cultural symbolism of the number eight which is traditionally associated with fortune and wealth.

It does remain me of Osaka Castle, the white body with bits of blue.

xoxo, Joe

Our Table Stories RECIPES

Green Goddess Hummus

This Green Goddess Hummus recipe is the smoothest and creamiest hummus recipe we’ve ever made! And the flavor unbelievably delicious! Perfect for pita chips and veggies, or use it as a spread on your favorite deli-style turkey or veggie sandwich.

We definitely questioned my green goddess concept while we were tossing expensive packets of fresh tarragon and chives into my cart at the grocery store, but this hummus proved its worth. That said, feel free to hold off on this hummus until your herb garden is in full swing, or change up the herbs to cut costs.

This Green Goddess Hummus dip is the perfect snack any day at any time! Who could resist?

Here’s how we want to get part of my veggie intake for the day! My whole family loved this hummus recipe and that’s saying something, I hated hummus when I was a kid.

This homemade hummus can be made in under 10 minutes and it makes for the perfect midday snack. If you make it take to a party, you likely will be coming home without a drop left.

Customize your Hummus

If you’d like the flavor of the herbs to shine through more in this hummus recipe you can reduce the tahini slightly, but if you want it to have more of a traditional hummus flavor leave it as it is.

We did add the cilantro to ours!

Ingredients |

  • 1 (15 oz) can chickpeas, well drained
  • ½ cup roughly chopped, loosely packed fresh parsley
  • ¼ cup roughly chopped, loosely packed fresh tarragon or basil
  • 2 to 3 tablespoons roughly chopped fresh chives or green onion
  • 3 Tbsp olive oil, plus more for serving if desired
  • 1 1/2 Tbsp tahini
  • 3 Tbsp fresh lime juice
  • 1 clove garlic, peeled
  • Salt and freshly ground black pepper
  • 1/8 tsp cumin
  • 1 – 2 Tbsp finely chopped cilantro leaves, for topping
  • Red pepper flakes, for topping

Method |
Pulse chick peas, olive oil, tahini, lime juice, and garlic in a food processor until smooth, about 2 minutes. Season with salt and pepper to taste (I did a scant 1/2 tsp salt and about 1/8 tsp pepper), add cumin and avocados and pulse mixture until smooth and creamy, about 1 – 2 minutes longer.

Serve topped with more olive oil if desired and sprinkle with cilantro and red pepper flakes. Serve with pita chips or tortilla chips.

This is the best hummus! It’s rich and creamy and packed with that irresistible avocado flavor. Think hummus meets guacamole, I mean what more could you want? The perfect dip for veggies or pita chips or as a spread for your favorite sandwiches. You could also try Roasted Pepper Hummus, Basic Hummus, Carrot Hummus, and Pumpkin Hummus.

xoxo, Joe

LIFESTYLE Moodboard

Mood Board | Mi Casa

Todays mood board was inspired by this beautiful mum – Poppy Lane. She is one of those women who leaves you feeling both warm and inspired through her work.

I love the colour she uses in here work, it is all so natural and calming. The cozy lounge chair is one of my favourite. Instantly cozify your space with this overstuffed lounge chair upholstered in fluffy faux sheepskin. In a soft, frame-less shape you can always depend on for flopping onto at the end of each day.

xoxo, Joe

Credit | All shots used on the mood board via our Pinterest boards.

DESIGN The Moon's Insight

The Moon’s Insight | Jiu Fen

The 100-year old A-Mei Tea House in Jiufen inspired the Japanese anime Spirited Away. The movie has won the Academy Award for Best Animated Feature at the 75th Academy Awards in 2003. It is one of the greatest animated films that I like.

The first 2 times I visited Jiu Fen I experience the tiredness of travel for 1-hour train ride. However, this time we get to enjoy a car ride making the experience more fun and easy.

Jiufen is now my favorite place in Taiwan and I can’t wait to go back…

xoxo, Joe

Our Table Stories RECIPES

Roasted Pepper Hummus

We fell in love with hummus the first time Angela tried it a few years ago, but we’ve always made the traditional version until I try a store-bought roasted red pepper hummus and it tastes even better! Unfortunately, the store-bought hummus had white sugar, refined sunflower oil and other nasty ingredients, so I prefer to make this homemade hummus and it tastes even better.

We eat hummus as an appetizer with some crudités (we love carrots!) or with homemade tortilla chips, salad dressing or as a side dish, but my favourite way to enjoy this delicious dish is spreading the hummus over a baked pizza crust and I also add chopped tomatoes, sweet paprika, extra virgin olive oil and some olives, it tastes really awesome!

Tip for you to make it simpler;

  • Feel free to use store-bought roasted red peppers if you’re too busy.
  • Roasted tahini also works and it tastes better, but raw tahini is more nutritious.
  • You can see the roasted red peppers and the hummus texture in the food processor in the picture below.

Ingredients |

  • 1 julienned red bell pepper
  • 2 1/2 cups cooked or canned chickpeas (400g)
  • 1 clove of garlic (remove the germ to improve your digestion)
  • The juice of 2 lemons
  • 1 tbsp raw tahini
  • 3 tbsp extra virgin olive oil
  • 1 tsp sea salt
  • 1 tsp ground cumin
  • 1 tsp sweet paprika

Method |

Preheat the oven to 350ºF or 180ºC. Roast the red pepper on a baking tray for 10 or 15 minutes. Let it cool. Combine all the ingredients in a food processor or a blender until smooth.

xoxo, Joe

Penang TRAVEL

The First-Timer’s Travel Guide to Penang 3.0 | Malaysia

Many people headed down Penang for the mural arts. Well, the arts do impress us but just not as much as the streets of Penang. While it is a must to visit iconic places but there is the time it is too touristy.

Both of us loves walking down the streets and experience the culture in the country. And by chance, you are able to find out places that you can’t see online or even on the map.

Syarikat Boon Wan Building

Along the street of Jalan Pintal Tali we spotted this bright green and purple building from afar. The building seems like an abandon company as it doesn’t seem to be in maintain. However, we knew that we have to grab a shot of it. It will be a perfect spot for the #ootd lovers.

Penang Peranakan Mansion

Well, we do have a great time at the Penang Peranakan Mansion as it has great air condition and a good guide helping us to learn more throughout the tour. Well, we have been to the Peranakan museum in Singapore for a few times and it is quite a different experience from here.

The museum itself is housed within a distinctive green-hued mansion at Church Street, George Town, which once served as the residence and office of a 19th-century Chinese tycoon, Chung Keng Quee. While we could learn more about the Peranakan but at the same time the history of this historical person.

Admission Hours: 9 am to 5 pm
Fee: RM 20

Hin Bus Depot

An abandoned bus depot in the past, Hin Bus Depot has now evolved ( or rather is progressing) to become a more inclusive, full-fledged art space with a cafe concept coming up. Some of the permanent art pieces include Lithuanian artist Ernest Zacharevic’s first wall murals in Penang.

For now, if you are strapped for time, there are no compelling reasons to make a special trip down. The whole place took us at most 30 mins to explore and photo-taking before leaving. Was sort of startled by the emptiness of the whole art centre upon entering. However, there are workers around and I believe they will be building up to something soon.

Previously we have also shared about heading up the hill of Penang and A day eating at Penang.

xoxo, Joe

LIFESTYLE Moodboard

Mood Board | Bamboo Texture

With Elvarli – wardrobe and Ikornnes – mirror under our radar we decided to use bamboo texture on our accessories and furniture. To match the beautiful bamboo colour, earth tone best matches to our room. Bamboo and weaving basket will help to add some colours and texture to the room but yet adding functionality to it.

In the past, I always thought that having an armchair in the room is a waste of space. However, when time passes I thought of it as adding a little place for relaxation. However, since we are going to have benches at the window do you have any suggestion how can we incorporate bamboo in it?

xoxo, Joe

Credit | All shots used on the mood board via our Pinterest boards.

DESIGN The Moon's Insight

The Moon’s Insight | Taipei 101

After long to taiwan with our parents we are back with heavy loading of work pilling beside us. Anyway, this 11 days trip to Taiwan is such an experience one. It doesn’t feel much different when leaving together, it just feel the same but in a different country.As usual, there are always some arguments along the trip but we do try to solve it as soon as possible.

This is the 3rd times I am back to Taiwan, and it feels a bit familiar. I am able to walk the street without looking at the map. And at times it feels good as it feels like I am at home.

xoxo, Joe

RECIPES Weekend Brunch

Celebrating Strawberry Month

Before our trip to Taiwan, we have made a batch of homemade strawberry jam for our family and friends. There are times we are wondering on how to enjoy them than just having them on our toast? This time we decided to use them on our waffles instead.

We have brought the ready-made waffles but there are some days I would like to have a waffles machine to make some fresh one instead. Anyway, if you are not a waffles lover, you can replace them with pancakes too.

This month there are plenty of different berries in our local market, therefore, you don’t have to worry about choosing what fruits to use for this.

Some little fun facts; Apples are great, but strawberries will also keep the doctor away. They are rich in vitamin C, flavonoids, potassium, fibre, folic acid, and folate, which is quite a nutritional hodgepodge. Incorporating strawberries into a healthy diet may help:

  • Reduce the risk of stroke and cancer (antioxidants)
  • Prevent heart disease and lower inflammation (flavonoids)
  • Regulate blood pressure (potassium)
  • Stabilize blood sugar in diabetics (low glycemic index)

That’s a pretty powerful fruit! Strawberries are also cholesterol free, low in fat and sodium, and contain no artificial preservatives or colours. They are perfect for everyone, even people following gluten-free, kosher, or vegan diets.

Happy Strawberry Month!
xoxo, Joe

Penang TRAVEL

The First-Timer’s Travel Guide to Penang 2.0 | Malaysia

Penang is a town with many different delicious food. When my parents ask what is there to do in Penang? We replied “food, so please make sure you have an empty tummy at al time!” In Penang, everyone is Penang Foodie. We all know where to locate the best food in Penang.

After a little stroll to the uptown hill – Penang Hill, we when back down and tired many delicious food. Here are a list of food to try in your day in Penang.

Breakfast: Toh Soon Cafe

 “Where’s Penang best coffee again?” Our guide then dropped us by the backlane, and we realised a crowd of people in a dark alley sandwiched between two old buildings.

Toh Soon Cafe 多春茶室, so discrete you won’t have thought this was a proper coffee place. Charcoal-grilled the traditional way right in front of your eyes, by the Indian who had to bend down the whole day (we were thinking about his ergonomics), this had a crisp texture, spread with home-made kaya. Decent stuff, but not enough to warrant the wait.

Something that only the local knows, order the egg on toast but not separately. It taste really different from just dipping them.

Lunch: Kimberly Street

At the corner of Kimberly Street there is this durian store that serve delicious and cheap durian. Although I am sensitive to the smell of durian on my finger but they do provide some plastic gloves. So don’t worry just grab a seat and a durian, then enjoy your afternoon there.

No we are not just having durian for lunch. Straight down the street there are a street of delicious food like  Duck Kway Chap. The dish consists of a type of Chinese noodle strips, stewed duck meat, hard-boiled egg and various pig intestines. We guarantee that it’ll give you a new experience! This hawker stall is often crowded, so arrive early to avoid the queue!

High Tea: Cafes Hopping

When I first thought of Penang, only the transitional local food came into my mind. However there actually a list of unique and modern cafe in Penang that you must visit

Norm Cafe

If you do see some hype for this cafe is that, a cafe in the day and a bar or cocktail bar at night. At night, this bar is hit on with blue neon and pink light which marks them a total transformation of ambiance that played with lighting.

It’s serve delicious ice cream waffles and unique drinks in the afternoon.

Rabbit x Holdup

We are so lucky we got to pass by the Rabbit x Holdup at the last day of our trip. This cafe served coffee soft served ice cream.

There are still tons of delicious food in Penang we have and need to try. So stay tuned for more blog post on our trip to Penang.

xoxo, Joe

LIFESTYLE Moodboard

Mood Board | Ikornnes

It’s always tough to find nice-looking mirrors, and the Ikornnes range of mirrors ticks all our boxes. Made of ash wood, it’s beautifully simple; the standing model comes with a rail for airing clothes, while the smaller version can be placed on a dressing table or hung on the wall. 

Moreover, this mirror suits the style of our room very much, and it is simple to fix yourself.

xoxo, Joe

Credit | All shots used on the mood board via our Pinterest boards.

DESIGN The Moon's Insight

The Moon’s Insight | Asgard

Currently I am at Taiwan trip with my family, and just by luck we watch Thor: Ragnarok again on the television during our rest hours. (P.s: There may have some spoiler here) Looking at the rainbow bridge being destroyed I am so sad about it, although I have watched it many times.

Asgard is one of my favorite places in the Marvel Universal and yes the rainbow bridge is one of the places I would like to visit if it is real.

xoxo, Joe

Our Table Stories RECIPES

Easy Strawberry Jam to make at home

Each Summer, when lovely berries and stone fruit come into season, I love the tradition of making jam! Homemade jam is an incredible way to make the most of all the strawberries, blackberries, and raspberries that fill the farmer’s markets and grocery stores.

Around this time of year, there is such an abundance of excess fruit that stores often freeze these berries — making them a freezer staple in my house, and the key to making homemade Strawberry Jam all year around. While the traditional method of making jam is a fun project, it is just that — a project.

My recipe for Easy Strawberry Jam (and more flavors!) turns making jam into a crazy simple process. I make homemade jam with just berries, sugar, and lemon in no time!

What’s the difference between Jam and Jelly?

The difference between jam and jelly is really a matter of texture. Jelly has added pectin or fruit sugars which allow the mixture to set into a more gel or jell-o like texture. Additionally, jelly is strained of any seeds, skin, or fruit to form a clear fruit spread.

Jam, on the other hand (like my Strawberry Jam), is simply fruit and sugar cooked together into a thick glossy spread. Jam, unlike jelly, highlights the cooked fruit by keeping in the natural fruits seeds and chunks, which is always my favorite part!

Ingredients |

  • 2 cups (10oz/284g) strawberries *fresh or frozen
  • 1/4 cup (2oz/57g) sugar
  • juice of 1/2 lemon

Method |

Combine all ingredients in a small sauce pan. Simmer over medium-low heat for 7-10 minutes until the fruit is broken down and the mixture has thickened. 

Transfer to a jar or airtight container and refrigerate for 4-6 weeks. And be sure to sterilize your jar by washing thoroughly with soap and water and then placing in the oven at 140°C / 275°F for around 20 minutes. Make sure both the jam and jar are cooled before storing.

As May is the month of Strawberry you will be seeing us making lots of Strawberry Jam for friends and family.

xoxo, Joe

Penang TRAVEL

The First-Timer’s Travel Guide to Penang 1.0 | Malaysia

A month ago our family visits the little town of Malaysia – Penang. This is our very first family trip after two decades and we are so excited about it. As we thought that Penang is small, we decided to stay there for 4 days 3nights. (And I can tell you it is not enough)

There are so much to share, this one post is never enough. However, let’s start with the first one – Heading up the Hill!

Penang Hill

The first stop we head to Penang Hill – Penang Hill or affectingly known by locals as “Bukit Bendara”, is one of the most popular tourist attractions. Setting on a hill with an elevation of about 833 m (2723 ft), you would need to take the funicular railway. From my experience, it is better to plan your visit here by 10 am as anytime later would require you to queue up pretty long before you can hop onto the tram.

Fee: If you are an adult tourist, a 2-way ride would cost you RM30!

Heading up the hill, we walk along the streets and found this talented artist. What he painted is different from the other street artist, it is my favorite water painting. Our parents decided to get a painting from him. Although it took us a while to wait for our turn the final result is indeed worth it.

Air Itam Assam Laska

We took a cab from Penang Hill which took us 5 minutes to get to one of the best Assam Laska in Penang. This is one of the best dishes I have in Penang and I can’t stop eating it. It has been ranked by CNN as the top 7 best dishes in the world, and I have to agree on this.

You would notice this uncle (the owner) scooping up the aromatic soup in and out the bowl in quick succession, and he does this repeatedly so that the thick vermicelli gets covered thoroughly in the gravy and the dish stays hot.

He has a chain of staff helping with assembling the other key ingredients of cucumber, onions, red chilies, pineapple, lettuce, mint, and ginger.

RM4! Each bowl only cost 4 Malaysian Ringgit (SGD$1.60) which is such a steal.

Kek Lok Si Temple

The hill next to Penang Hill is the home of Kek Lok Si Temple, the biggest Buddha temple in the whole of Southeast Asia. The taxi usually drops visitors off on the entrance level higher up. But this time I find it entertaining to talk up the stone steps through the stalls of souvenir shops.

The weather is so humid and hot but to get to see the biggest Buddha for my record is a great experience.

Penang Little India

The colorful building in Little India brighten our day up and help to end the afternoon in a great way. Other than taking photos of the colorful building, our other mission is to try the famous Samosa from Penang!

If you are a big fan of Indian food like Angela, you need to try this. She loves how spices add so much depth and flavor to otherwise ordinary ingredients. Therefore we were most delighted when we stumbled upon this little stall at the junction of Market Street and Queen Street in Little India selling an array of Indian snacks.

Our trip are not ended yet, this one of the small part of the trip. Stay tuned for more of this.
xoxo, Joe

LIFESTYLE Moodboard

Mood Board | Elvarli

I think it is always the dream of a girl to have an open wardrobe of her own, the same to both of us. And finally, we are going to renovate our room we decide to give the room a new layout, not to miss out our open wardrobe.

When we search online a lot of the open wardrobe is build-in to the wall which is what we don’t like. Thus we decided to go IKEA Ilvarli series, it has a metal frame and not to mention we are able to customize the wardrobe to fit our habits. We finish up with a few bamboo tops to add a little color to the room.

One of the disappointment is that the IKEA in Singapore does not bring in the half-length frame. It will be perfect if we could have additional cardboard using this IKEA series.

xoxo, Joe

Credit | All shots used on the mood board via our Pinterest boards.

DESIGN The Moon's Insight

The Moon’s Insight | Sanctum Sanctorum

Recently the End Game vibes are still burning in me, thus I decided to paint Sanctum Sanctorum the place that protects the universe.

Life doesn’t always give us a perfect hand, in fact, it often gives us a sub-par one. However, that often provides us the opportunity and the chance to make the most of it and do something worthwhile. We’re all losers, every single one of us, that’s not an experienced individual to you – so don’t use it as an excuse to not stand up and do what’s right.

xoxo, Joe

Our Table Stories RECIPES

Steamed Scallion Bun

Steamed Chinese scallion bun is also named as Hua Juan, literally mean flower shape rolls. It is a transformation of Chinese steamed buns (mantou).
You can simply adjust the recipe by changing the stuffing, for example, you can skip scallion and use salt and pepper only or add some minced pork, shrimp, etc. As most of the Chinese steamed buns share the same dough, you can use mantou dough to begin scallion buns. However since we are making savory buns, I would suggest skipping the sugar.

Firstly roll one half of the dough into a large rectangle on a slightly floured surface. Then brush oil evenly, sprinkle salt and Chinese five spice powder and then dump the scallions across the surface. Roll it up tight and divide it into 10 equal portions.

Get two portions and overlay one piece right on the top of the other one.
Take a chopstick and press down in the middle. Remove the chopstick.
Grip the two ends in two hands and then fold the two ends together downside.

Let the steamed buns to cool down and then keep them in plastic bags. These buns can be frozen and steam to heat again before serving.

Ingredients |

  • 300 g all-purpose flour
  • 3 g salt
  • 150-170 ml water, adjust the softness
  • 1.5 tsp. instead yeast
  • 1 cup finely chopped scallion
  • oil for brushing
  • salt for sprinkling
  • Chinese five spice powder , optional

Method |
In a large bowl or in a stand-mixer bowl, add flour, instead yeast, water and salt. Grasp all the ingredients together and then knead the flour into smooth and soft dough. At the very beginning, it might be a little bit sticky. Just keep kneading and you will get cute dough (or you can simply use a stand mixer to knead the dough for 7-8 minutes with slow speed)

Cover the bowl and let the dough rest for around 1 hour (the time might be longer in winter )or until the paste ball doubles in size.

When the dough is double in size, get paste ball out and punch the air out. And then divide the dough into two equal halves.

Assembling

  1. Firstly roll one half of the dough into a large rectangle on a slightly floured surface. Then brush oil evenly, sprinkle salt and Chinese five spice powder and then dump the scallions across the surface. Roll it up tight and divide it into 10 equal portions.
  2. Get two portions and overlay one piece right on the top of the other one. Take a chopstick and press down in the middle. Remove the chopstick and grip the two ends in two hands and then fold the two ends together downside.
  3. Place them in lined steamer and set aside for 15-20 minutes. Steam over high fire for 15 minutes after the water boils, then turn off fire and rest for 5 minutes with lid on.
Moodboard

Mood Board | Cozy Window

Here comes part two of our renovation series. For part one we take about some of the inspiration for our door. This time we talk about the mini door, the window. Since young, we always dream of having seating at the window reading a book or chatting with our mom.

Topped with plump pillows, these throwback architectural features make it easy to read, nap, converse, or simply sit and gaze at the landscape and sky. We may want to have built-in cardboard below the seat to store our toy too!

xoxo, Joe

Credit | All shots used on the mood board via our Pinterest boards.

DESIGN The Moon's Insight

The Moon’s Insight | Avengers Headquarter

I have been waiting for Avengers End Game for a while and finally, it’s here. I am so excited yet afraid to watch it as like what the title stated it is the end, which is what I don’t want.

Oh yes, I have watched the end game but don’t worry there isn’t any spoiler here yet! What I can say I will really miss the Original 6 Avengers, I think I can watch it hundreds of times and not get tired to it. Since I couldn’t spoil you, I decided to paint the very first headquarter of the Avengers. Where all the things started!

xoxo, Joe

Our Table Stories RECIPES

Five Spice Roll (Ngoh Hiang)


When we were young, our mom loves to prepare lots of different kind of traditional food for us. When she older she spend lesses time on making them. We always please her to make them but she would say when there’s time. Thus we resorted to making them ourselves with her recipes (which is also from our grandmother).

Ngoh Hiang is a family staple for many households of my generation, be it the Peranakans or the Chinese. Having roots in southern Chinese cuisine, different dialect groups each have their own version. Even amongst relatives and close friends whom I have discussed this dish with, there are variations and nuances to the ingredients used, to the method of preparation.

And this is true about many other dishes, of course, each family’s recipe differing from the next. Amongst the Peranakans, Ngoh Hiang is favored by the babas and nyonyas in Singapore, more so than those slightly north in Malacca.

Our trip down to Penang I have learned that their own version is called Lok Bak where strips of pork are used instead of minced pork in the southern ngoh hiang.

Just like I’d said earlier, there are a million and one ways of preparing ngoh hiang, each family’s recipe differing from the next. Whichever recipe one uses, the freshness of the ingredients is important.

Choosing the right ingredients

Minced Pork
One of our main ingredients is the minced pork, it is important to have them in half-fat and half-meat. We always stare at the bruncher uncle and make sure we have the right potion. Under the watchful eye of our mother, we make sure that the meat was of the right consistency.

Prawn
As Angela is sensitive to prawn that is not fresh, we choose the fresher prawn we could get. We de-shell the prawn and minced them with our knife. (Don’t throw away the prawn shell as you could use them to make a prawn broth!)

Five Spice Powder
Apart from the pork and prawns, the next most important ingredient to was the five-spice powder. Though we did not grind her own powder, we would insist on opening a fresh packet of a particular brand of five spice powder which came in little paper sachets each time we prepared a new batch of these yummy meat rolls to ensure that the filling would be as aromatic as it is tasty.

Bean-curd Skin
We got our bean-curd skin in our local wet market for a big piece at a price of $1.20. This bean-curd skin has a layer of salt on them, thus to avoid eating a salty ngoh hiang we will clean it lightly with wet cloth in tap motion to remove any excess salt or debris that might be sticking on it.

After all the ingredients like water chestnuts, onions, prawns, spring onion were cut and chopped into morsels of the right size, all that is left is to give everything a good mix! In the past, we’d use our hands to get everything properly amalgamated but in retrospect, a spoon would probably perform the task just as well .


clean it lightly with wet cloth in tap motion to remove the salt on it

How to roll the Five Spice Roll?

Now traditionally ngoh hiang are made into long rolls. I’d seen my mom who made them like half a foot long which was pretty much the standard.

However you could also make them in a mini shape which is no more than 6 cm long and almost hors d’oeuvre-like, greater ease of eating and no need for cutting. This will be the perfect snack size, and the end of it is much more crispy than usual.

Start by layering a sheet of bean-curd skin, then a generous dollop of filling is spread across the width of the beancurd skin leaving a small 1 cm perimeter near the edges. Fold the sides in, this is important to prevent the filling from leaking during the frying process.

Cooking the Five Spice Roll

Unlike others, we steam our Five Spice Roll before freezing or frying them.
Oil temperature control is important in the frying process. The oil should be sufficiently hot to prevent the meat rolls from absorbing too much oil. Yet, it cannot be too hot which would cause the skin to darken and brown too quickly before the filling is cooked through. It takes a bit of practice to get there.

Flip the meat rolls carefully to prevent the skin from tearing during the frying process. Once both sides are beautifully light golden brown, the fire is turned up slightly for just that few seconds to “purge” out any excess oil.

When the fried ngoh hiang has cooled down sufficiently, they are in fact good for eating already. But to make them even more special, sometimes she would slice the longer ones into thick pieces and pan fry them with an egg dip. I especially love the textures of the crispy egg wash against the moist and succulent filling as we sank our teeth into each morsel!

Ingredients |

  • 600g minced pork (preferably with a fair bit of fat)
  • 300g shrimp, meat only, cut into small chunks (save shells for other dishes like laksa lemak)
  • 200g onions, peeled and diced (about 2-3 large onions)
  • 200g water chestnut, peeled and diced (about 10 pieces)
  • 40g spring onion, chopped (a few sprigs)
  • 2 eggs
  • 3-4 tbsp plain flour
  • 1 1/2 tbsp five spice powder
  • 1 tsp salt
  • 2 tbsp white granulated sugar
  • 1 tsp pepper
  • 1 piece of ngoh hiang beancurd skin, cut into 10-12 cm wide strips
  • Cooking oil for frying

Method |

Mix all the filling ingredients in a large bowl until thoroughly mixed. Wipe the surface of the beancurd skin with a very slightly damp kitchen towel.
Wrap the ngoh hiang as shown in the gif tutorial above. Repeat until all the meat filling is used up.

In a heated wok, pour oil and maintain at medium-high heat. Carefully slide each roll of ngoh hiang into the wok of oil and fry one side until they are lightly brown. Turn the meat rolls gently onto the other side and fry until they are lightly brown. Turn them over once again and bring up the heat slightly and fry until they darken slightly to a light golden brown. Remove from wok, drain off excess oil in a wire sieve or rack and place them on a plate lined with a kitchen towel to absorb any remnant oil.

Serve warm with chili sauce and dark sweet sauce.

xoxo, Joe

Japan TRAVEL

Tsukiji Fish Market | Tokyo

One of our favourite activity we like to do when visiting a country is to make a trip down too their local market. We are somewhat impressed by our trip to Korea’s biggest fish market. Thus how could we miss the Japan biggest fish market – Tsukiji Fish Market?

To avoid disappointment, we tried to reach as early as we could. As we thought we are early there are already lots of people at the market.

First thing that we did is to enjoy the food as fully as we could, since we couldn’t bring them back home. Here are the top 3 food that we enjoyed;

Tsukiji Itadori Uogashi Senryo 

Our Japanese friend highly recommends me to try this. It is ranked as the best restaurant in Tsukiji Fish Market, the well-known seafood market in Tokyo is where you can enjoy the original Kaisen Hitsumabushi (don).

For a tourist like us, an English explanation is available, teaching you how to enjoy the delicious rice bowl. The first step is to take a small bowl with soy sauce and wasabi. For the second step, you can mix the sashimi and rice with sweet mushrooms, lotus roots and dried gourd shavings. For the last step, pour dashi sauce in the third bowl and eat it while it’s hot!

The original Kaisen Hitsumabushi only served during the lunchtime, so it is the best to come early!

Yamachō 

The tamagoyaki is made carefully by skilled chefs using fresh eggs delivered every morning and strong dashi. They sell easy-to-eat sized tamagoyaki omelettes on a stick. Not only can you eat them on the spot, but this old-time favourite is reasonably priced at 100 yen a piece.

The time in the queue passes pretty quickly while you watch the skilful moves of the chef. But now it’s time to have a taste of the freshly made tamagoyaki. When you take a bite, the dashi from the bonito flows out. The harmony of the delicate texture and slight sweetness creates a lovely, gentle taste.

Ps: Don’t be frightened by the boss there too, he may look fierce but actually, he is very kind.

Price – 100 JPY ($0.91)

Kaisen-don Ooedo

Surrounding the market are many shops and vendors, and small sushi restaurants. We spotted Kaisen-don Ooedo as we got hungry after all the walking. This time there is quite a wait for this store, but it is indeed worth it. They came in half and the full portion so if you want to grab a little bit of the kaisen-don you could give it a try.

Next, we when walking around the market and get some dried goods for our mom. The best ingredients to get is kombu kelp, small dried fish and bonito fish flakes. They are so fresh and cheap, we regret not getting more.

The last thing we suggest you do is to grab a bite of their fruits. Although there are better fruits in Japan for those we have a busy schedule like us the fruit in Tsukiji Fish Market is already the very best for us. This is our very first time to try the white strawberry. It tastes so sweet and juicy not to say it cost us only $12. I may cost us 5 times more is Singapore.

We really recommend you have a trip down to the Tsukiji Fish Market. It will be one of the very best experience you could ever have. Ohh yes, wear some cover shoe to here, as the floor is wet in some area.

xoxo, Angela

Moodboard

Mood Board | Arch Door

After 20 years, we will be renovating our bedroom. Therefore, for the following week, we will be sharing with you on the inspiration we have for our bedroom renovation.

First up we are going to choose a new door for our bedroom. Choosing a door that suits us is going to be a huge problem! As we don’t want to knock down the wall and we have an arch frame, the choices we have is limited and also expensive.

We wanted something simple as it makes the cleaning so much easier for my mom. A gold door lock will make our house more chic and expensive. Which one should we go for? Comment below and tell us what do you think?

xoxo, Joe

Credit | All shots used on the mood board via our Pinterest boards.

DESIGN The Moon's Insight

The Moon’s Insight | Penang Hill

It is my second time visiting Penang this year. Penang Hill is one of the most popular attractions of Penang located in Air Itam. Penang Hill is also known as Bukit Bendera in Malay. If you are looking for a breathtaking view of Penang, this is the place you should be. Trust me, the cool vibes and nature make it worthwhile.

Although it is my second time here, however, it is a totally different experience from what I have the first time I visit it. The same place with different people, you can experience the same place differently.

xoxo, Joe

Our Table Stories RECIPES

Simple Ebi Bento

Whenever it comes to a peak period, there are always plenty of datelines we have to submit. There is also the time where we have to rush out without having our meals. Thus we decided to make some simple bento that we are able to bring out when we are in rush out for the meeting.

We decided to make a Simple Ebi Bento with 3 simple ingredients; rice, eggs, and shrimp.

Sushi Rice

For this recipes, we uses our favourite sushi rice recipes. The vinegar and salt add additional flavour to the bento, without us adding more seasoning to the other ingredients.

Fried Egg + Shrimp

We use 5 fresh eggs and 200g of frozen shrimp for these recipes. Beat the eggs in a bowl and mix them well. Strain the egg with a strainer to get away the residue. Add in 1 tbsp of mayonnaise and beat well. Fried the egg in a pan with a bit of oil. We cooked the egg till half cooked and turn off the heat, as we didn’t want to overcook it. Fried the Shrimp till heat up, lastly mixed it into the egg.

Add all the ingredients together in a bowl and mix it well, when you are ready you can serve them in your cute bento box and garnish it with some seaweed.

We loves to wrap our bento box up acting as a bag for it.

Ingredients|

  • 2 cups of Sushi Rice
  • 5 eggs
  • 200g of Shrimp
  • 1 tbsp of mayonnaise
  • seaweed for garnish

Method |

We use 5 fresh eggs and 200g of frozen shrimp for these recipes. Beat the eggs in a bowl and mix them well. Strain the egg with a strainer to get away the residue. Add in 1 tbsp of mayonnaise and beat well. Fried the egg in a pan with a bit of oil. We cooked the egg till half cooked and turn off the heat, as we didn’t want to overcook it. Fried the Shrimp till heat up, lastly mixed it into the egg.

Add all the ingredients together in a bowl and mix it well, when you are ready you can serve them in your cute bento box and garnish it with some seaweed.

Do you love our simple ebi bento, if you want more of this recipes comment below.

xoxo, Joe

Japan TRAVEL

A Day at Tokyo DisneySea | Chiba

It has been a dream-come-true for us to visit a wonderland like Disneyland. It’s a must go location for us in Tokyo! We couldn’t decide which to go at first; Tokyo Disneyland or Tokyo DisneySea as both are equally good. Therefore, a mindset of having the only DisneySea in the whole wide world and highly recommended by everyone who has visited both. We decided to go to Tokyo DisneySea.

How to get to Disney Sea?

You can travel to Tokyo DisneySea by car but the best way is by train. If you ask me, nothing beats the excitement of counting down the train stops until you’re at Tokyo Disney’s stop. Your destination is the JR “Maihama” train station.

Once you arrive at Tokyo Disney Resort you need to travel to your destination, whether it is DisneySea, Disneyland or a hotel. The most fun way to do this is on the monorail. You need a paid ticket to ride Tokyo’s monorail. The cost is minimal – simply a couple of hundred yen.

There are two particular things you must do upon arrival to maximize your experience.

  • Fast Pass one ride: I recommend Journey to the Center of the Earth at Mysterious Island, a Raging Spirits roller coaster in Lost River Delta. or Toy Story Fast Pass another attraction after your allotted pass timeframe frees up if you can. Fast Passes are in Japanese so if you need to ask a Cast Member to translate it for you don’t be shy! Getting another Fast Pass as soon as its available may be the difference in being able to enjoy an additional attraction that day.
  • Inquire about tickets for the Big Band Beat show at the American Waterfront. This is the show we have missed, thus we will make sure we head for the lottery next time.

If you don’t usually walk around the park in its entirety – including corridors and walkways that perhaps only lead to more theming, challenge yourself to do so at this park. We found the area below simply walking around the Arabian Coast. There’s a lot of hidden beauty like this around the Mediterranean Harbor as well.

One of the most fun things to do your first time at Tokyo DisneySea is experiencing the unique snacks they have available. (And food too if you opt to eat at sit down restaurants.) What to Expect at Tokyo DisneySea in terms of food is some great themed stuff you won’t find at other resorts.

We simply loved seeing what each concession stand I passed had to offer or looking up food options on the park map.

What to expect your first time at Tokyo DisneySea in terms of additional fun snacks? You may have already heard but just in case you haven’t, POPCORN is a huge thing at Tokyo Disney. Both Tokyo DisneySea and Disneyland have various flavours around the park that are noted on the park maps. You can find “Salt” flavoured popcorn in Mermaid Lagoon and Curry flavoured popcorn in Arabian Coast, to name two!

If people watching could be an attraction unto itself there are some prime people watching at Tokyo DisneySea. We are surprised in the love with “Duffy” they are, Mickey Mouse’s teddy bear. We also fall in love with them and got one back home!

As we visit during the early winter, the sunset is always usually earlier. We are glad that we are able to, as there are night shows to behold and nighttime lighting that illuminates the park. It’s a really beautiful experience to see Tokyo DisneySea in the evening. Seeing the Toy Story area of the American Waterfront at night is a sight to behold; the hundreds of lights are simply mesmerizing. 20,000 Leagues Under the Sea is also very special and extra appealing after sunset.

We could never enjoy the whole Disney Sea for a day, as there are just so much to see and do. Hope that we are able to visit her real soon!

xoxo, Angela

LIFESTYLE Moodboard

Mood Board | Marigold

A richer version of yellow, Marigold adds warmth to a room without being too loud or bright. In many ways it can be treated the same as a neutral like beige or cream. Today as part of our Moodboard series, we’re sharing multiple ways to make Marigold work in your home decor.

Painting the walls is an obvious choice when it comes to selecting a feature color for a room. Make a statement by painting a living room or bathroom in one of the many stunning marigold paint options.

Don’t be afraid to incorporate marigold colored furniture into a room. A marigold couch or arm chair acts more like a neutral than say a bright magenta or ultra violet option. To keep the color palette anchored in natural hues, add sage and grass green accents. Pink is another great color to pair with mustard.

xoxo, Joe

Credit | All shots used on the mood board via our Pinterest boards.

DESIGN The Moon's Insight

The Moon’s Insight | Notre Dame

I Notre-Dame de Paris, also called Notre-Dame Cathedral, cathedral church in Paris. It is the most famous of the Gothic cathedrals of the Middle Ages and is distinguished for its size, antiquity, and architectural interest.

On 15 April 2019, a fire broke out at NotreDame de Paris. It is the most devested news for this month. As the Notre-Dame is a place full of 850 years old of history.

xoxo, Joe

Our Table Stories RECIPES

How to Make Spam Musubi

The spam is grilled until crispy, perfectly caramelized with soy sauce and sugar, and wrapped with sushi rice. Made ahead of time, these Spam musubi are perfect for your lunchbox, appetizer platter, or potluck. They are also a fantastic game-day snack.

This recipe uses just the right amount of seasoning to create a balanced flavor that’s addictively tasty. It was easy to cook.  And it still is!  It is actually one of the staple foods there still today.

This spam musubi recipe is quoted from the cookbook A Common Table –  80 Recipes and Stories from My Shared Culture, written by my friend Cynthia Chen McTernan, who is the author behind the award-winning blog Two Red Bowls.

I truly resonate with her cookbook. With recipes such as Kimchi Brined Spicy Chicken Biscuits, Bulgogi Burgers, Egg Custard Steamed Buns, and Black Sesame Twists, it reminds me of how I cook in my American family. A melting pot of traditional Chinese, with elements borrowed from various Asian cuisines, and comforting American food.

I wanted to share a recipe from her book and introduce it to you a while ago, but it took me a long time to nail down the recipe. The reason? I’d bookmarked more than 20 recipes I wanted to make, but it was nearly impossible to pick just one. Eventually I decided to share her Spam Musubi recipe – a great representation of how Asian food inspired local cuisine and became a part of its culture.

The name Spam might make you think of high-sodium military rations. But in China, it’s a popular ingredient that people use in comfort food. Spam and pepper stir fry, Spam omelette, Spam grilled skewers, Spam fried rice, or Spam sandwich. You name it.

Spam is also a popular ingredient in Chinese Hot Pot and Sichuan Mala Pot – a popular type of Chinese restaurant where you choose a spicy sauce and various ingredients that are cooked in it and then everything is served in a big pot. Every time I go to Mala Pot restaurants with friends, I remember to order a few slices of Spam and it’s always the most popular ingredient in the pot.

Spam musubi cooking notes

Cynthia did such a great job documenting the cooking process, that it was extremely easy for me to follow. Even though I’d never made spam musubi in the past. I’ve changed the wording of the recipe slightly, based on my own cooking experience and recipe style. For example, I added the metric measurements to make cooking easier for my international readers. And I didn’t include the saucier version in the footnotes, because I think the original version is perfect.

Here are a few notes worth mentioning:

1. Experiment with sushi rice

The original Hawaiian spam musubi does not use sushi rice, which has added rice vinegar and sugar. But we decided to experiment with it. We ended up liking the result so much more than the original version. The refreshing acidic note cuts the greasiness of the Spam, mellows its saltiness, and works perfectly with the sweet taste.

2. Perfectly caramelized Spam

It’s very important that you brown the spam slowly and thoroughly. It renders some fat and makes a very crispy crust. Then you will use some sugar and soy sauce mixed with water to quickly braise the Spam. You will end up with a beautifully caramelized dark brown surface that is still chewy and sticky. It’s perfect.

3. Wrapping the musubi

In Cynthia’s cookbook, she includes an assembly method using a musubi mold. It makes the process much easier and less messy. Since I don’t own a musubi mold, I only included the traditional way in the recipe, where you use your hands to press the rice.

Below are the step-by-step pictures showing how to assemble the musubi. When you press the rice by hand, it’s important to use proper strength so that that the rice is pressed together but not overly mashed. If you don’t press enough, the musubi might fall apart when you bite into it. If you press too hard, the rice texture will be too dense. It takes a bit of practice but once you make a few musubi, you’ll get the idea.

Ingridents |

  • 1 teaspoon vegetable oil
  • 1 can (12 oz. / 340 g) Spam , sliced into 8 pieces
  • 1/4 cup water
  • 2 teaspoons soy sauce
  • 2 tablespoons sugar
  • 4 cups cooked sushi rice (or regular cooked white rice)
  • 3 sheets roasted seaweed nori, cut into 8 strips about 2” (5 cm) wide and 9” (23 cm) long

Method |

Start making steamed rice (or sushi rice) if you don’t have any on hand.

Heat a 12-inch (30cm) nonstick or well-seasoned cast-iron skillet over medium heat. Add the Spam slices and cook until browned and crisp on the bottom side, 2 to 3 minutes. Flip and cook until the other side is also browned and crisp, 2 to 3 minutes.

Whisk together the water and soy sauce in a small bowl. Sprinkle the sugar evenly over the Spam slices, then add the soy sauce mixture. Swirl to evenly distribute, then let the Spam simmer until the liquid is nearly absorbed, 3 to 4 minutes. Flip once in between, so the sugar will melt completely and camalize well. Transfer the Spam slices to a plate to cool.

To make the sushi: Place one slice of Spam perpendicular to the nori strip on the bottom of the strip (forming a cross shape). Wet the palms and fingers of both hands, measure 1/2 cup of rice, and transfer the rice to your palm. Use both hands to firmly press the rice into a ball. Then hold the rice ball with your left hand, with your thumb and the other four fingers to secure both sides, use your right hand to gently press the rice ball into a rectangular shape about the size of the Spam slice. Place the rice on top of the Spam. Roll up the Spam and rice to let the nori sheet wrap around it. Seal the end with a bit of water and place the musubi seam-side-down while you work on the rest. Repeat with the remaining nori strips, Spam slices, and rice. Remember to rinse your hands every time, to minimize rice sticking to your hands.

Enjoy the spam musubi immediately at room temperature. You can store them in an airtight container or wrap them with plastic wrap and place them in the fridge. To serve refrigerated musubi, warm them in the microwave for 20 seconds or so, to get the best texture.

Take a photo of your version, send us an email, tag us on Instagram, anything. We love to see you trying out our recipe!

xoxo, Joe


Japan TRAVEL

5 Things to do on a Day Trip to Yokohama

Yokohama is the largest city in Japan, located 45mins away from Tokyo. Yokohama offers a lot of different attractions. You can pretty much find everything and do anything you want to do in Yokohama. You can never explore the whole Yokohama in a day. Therefore, we have downsize to 5 things to do in Yokohama in a day.

Sankeien Garden

The natural scenery and the formative art born from the Japanese architecture placed there. As it evokes a beauty that can only be found at this garden.

Sankei-en has the highlight of its changing scenery through the flowers of the four seasons. For example, there are the cherry blossoms of spring, the irises of summer, the foliage of autumn, the quintessentially Japanese scene of winter, and camellia. However, for this time we got to see the beautiful orange foliage of the autumn. Thus, it is a great day to spend a morning getting a sense of the original beauty of Japan in this Japanese garden. Which has its own distinctive expressions depending on the season.

Entrance fee: 500 yen

Cup Noodle Musuem Yokohama

As we missed our chance to visit the Cup Noodle Musuem in Osaka we couldn’t miss it at Yokohama again. For those who are very curious, you can try out your own noodle making.

In addition, at the My Cup Noodles Factory, you can produce your own Cup O’ Noodles from your choice of flavors and toppings (there is a fee and prior reservations are possible). The Cup Noodles Museum is an interactive museum for people of all ages to enjoy where you can see, touch, make and eat.

Entrance Fee: 500 Yen

Yokohama Chinatown

When it time for lunchtime we decided to head down to the Chinatown Yokohama to enjoy some hot dishes. When it comes to enjoying Chinatown, it’s the sampling of the various types of Chinese dishes. It’s of course fun to enjoy a restaurant meal, but you can also enjoy eating on the run in Chinatown with foods like the popular meat buns and dumplings.

We are amazed by the taste of the dumpling at Houtenkaku after the first bite. After enjoying the food, you will want to go shopping in Chinatown. Get yourself a tray of these for 780¥ (~€6 or ~$7) for six of their classic pork-filled guys.

In Chinatown, there are 10 gates that have been built in the traditional Chinese style. We didn’t get to finish walking all the gates and streets as there are more places to visit in Yokohama.

Entrance Fee: Free

Yamashita Park

Want to see some autumn foliage in Yokohama? The Yamashita Park is indeed the best place to see them. The tree comes to lives where many of its trees are magically transformed into an array of bright and beautiful autumn colors.

Famous for its luminous yellow and deep red colored leaves, this park`s impressive autumn foliage provides one last chance to enjoy the great outdoors before the onset of winter.

Entrance Fee: Free

Cosmo Clock 21

You are able to spot the Cosmo Clock 21 after you exit the Cup Noodle Museum. The Cosmo Clock 21 is located at Yokohama Cosmo World – a mini amusement park, where there are various other games to enjoy too. The Cosmo Clock 21 is able to see the Mt Fuji from afar, however, due to the bad weather we didn’t get to see it. However, we are still able to enjoy the sunset of Yokohama which is wonderful.

Entrance Fee: 400 yen for the Cosmo Clock 21 ride only.

xoxo, Joe

LIFESTYLE Moodboard

Mood Board | Day Bed

In all seriousness, the daybed although simple in shape and form is one of the most versatile pieces of furniture. Use it in a bedroom as an oversized bench or small bed, use it in the living room as a transitional piece of seating to join two areas together, or float it just about anywhere to instantly create a stand alone seating area.

They also make great kids beds- especially those transitioning from a crib to a “big kid” bed. They work for boys, girls, old and young.  We’ve used them so much in our work and I think they are an important option to consider when decorating!

xoxo, Joe

Credit | All shots used on the mood board via our Pinterest boards.  

DESIGN The Moon's Insight

The Moon’s Insight | London Bridge

” London bridge is falling down, falling down,
London bridge is falling down, falling down,
my fair lady.”

I have been singing this nursery rhyme since young. When I grow up and have a chance to visit London, I want to grab the chance to visit the real London bridge and see why is it falling down.

xoxo, Joe

Our Table Stories RECIPES

Easy Cucumber Salad

During the spring we love to make something easy and refreshing for the calming day. The Smashed Cucumber Salad (拍黄瓜, pai huang gua) is a light and refreshing appetizer that we always have in our fridge.

The crisp cucumber is mixed with plenty of garlic, drizzled with an appetizing blend of soy sauce, vinegar and sugar, then finished with a few drops of sesame oil. Moreover, the sauce is light, yet it has a distinct sour flavor with a hint of sweetness, enhanced by the strong aroma of garlic.

This cucumber salad only takes 5 minutes to prepare. It’s low in calories, not to mention refreshing and tasty. The salad goes very well with pretty much any Chinese dish, stir-fry, braised meats, noodles, deep fried goodies, you name it. It even goes very well with some western style food, such as bread and cheese. Therefore, we consider it  one of the most convenient appetizers / salads to make for a weekday dinner.

We used Japanese cucumber in this recipe and didn’t peel it completely, in order to give the dish a nice color. The skin also adds more fiber to the meal. If the cucumber is fresh, the skin shouldn’t be too chewy or dry. You could choose to only remove the tough skin at the lower end of the cucumber. However, if you don’t like the skin, feel free to peel and discard it.

The secret to making delicious cucumber salad is to give it a nice texture. Instead of chopping the cucumber immediately, you should smash it with a cleaver first, then tilt the cleaver to cut the cucumber into diamond-shaped pieces.

This method will increase the surface area of the cucumber and create a coarse texture, allowing it to absorb more sauce. The amount of sauce created by this recipe should be just right, but feel free to adjust the seasoning by increasing or reducing the amount.

Ingredients |

  • 2 English cucumbers, tough skin removed
  • 3 cloves garlic, crushed and minced
  • 1 tbsp of Chinkiang vinegar (or rice vinegar)
  • 1 tbsp of light soy sauce
  • 1/2 tsp of salt
  • 1 tbsp of sugar
  • 1/2 tsp of sesame oil

Method |

Dry cucumber with a paper towel. Place cucumber on a large cutting board and carefully use a cleaver to crush it. Then cut it into bite size pieces and place them into a bowl. Top with garlic.

Combine vinegar, soy sauce, sugar, salt and sesame oil in a small bowl and mix well.

Right before serving, pour the sauce mixture over the cucumber and mix well. (Do not add the sauce beforehand. It will cause the cucumber to lose water, and the sauce will be diluted.

Take a photo of your version, send us an email, tag us on Instagramtweet us, anything. We love to see you trying out our recipe!

xoxo, Joe

Japan TRAVEL

Day Trip at Southern Higashiyama | Kyoto

During our visit to Japan, we have a total of 3 days 2 nights trip at Kyoto. On the 2nd day of the trip, we have to move to another accommodation. Although it is not to far away from our original places, however we still spend some time on moving. We started our day trip at Southern Higashiyama at 9:30 am walking around the Pontocho Area.


Fushima Inari Shrine

Fushimi Inari Shrine is a stunning and atmospherical shrine that consists of thousands of red torii gates lined up as a pathway 4 km up the mountain. It’s best visited in the morning when the light renders the gates at their most beautiful and the temperature is a bit cooler. Walk as far up as your energy permits, and head back down.

Along the pathway, you will also see plenty of stone foxes. The fox is considered to be the messenger of Inari – the god of rice and business. The fox is carrying a key in its mouth which is the key to the granaries.

During the fall season, we did our very best to capture the shot of the gates. However, there is really many people thus our advice is to reach earlier.

Kiyomizu-dere

We walked into Ishibei-koji street, the most beautiful street in Kyoto. Going for a stroll here feels like stepping back in time to when samurais and geishas dominated the streets of Kyoto. At the end of Sannenzaka street, take a left and continue onto Kiyomizu-michi street and follow it uphill till you reach the famous Kiyomizu-dera Temple. The hall has a huge verandah with stunning views of the hillside and Kyoto city.

You can also test your success in love by closing your eyes and walk 18 meters between two love stones. If you walk past the love stone, you will not find love. |

Believe me you would want to see the beautiful sunset here!

What to eat?

  • Nezameya; a restaurant with more than 400 years of history (it was established in 1592). The eel was smokey and delicious with the right amount of fattiness which was soaked up by the rice. Each mouthful happily melted away in my mouth. Try the Inari Sushi too, it will be a great experience.
  • Butaya Ton*ichi; Cooked fresh in front of you (if you’re sat at the bar table), extremely tasty pork at the reasonable price for the area. Although you may need to do a bit of queuing but it is worth the wait.

xoxo, Joe

LIFESTYLE Moodboard

Mood Board | Cavern Clay

This unexpected, warm terracotta is a color chameleon with endless decorating opportunities. Cavern Clay looks like it fits with the heart of Southwestern decorating (which is making a comeback this year!). Paired with muted colors like blue, tan and even pink, the hues of the Painted Desert can be realized in your home’s decor.

  • Cavern Clay is a classic front door color. This rich, warm hue is an awesome backdrop for a door wreath or porch decor.
  • If you’re not ready for Cavern Clay on every wall, your ceiling could be the perfect spot. Choose a room where a dramatic ceiling color can make a statement, like a foyer or dining room.
  • Don’t listen to the rumors that accent walls are out of style this year — they will always be in fashion, and Cavern Clay has the right amount of warmth and drama.
  • Your dining room is not the only gathering space that can handle a bold color; Sherwin-Williams Cavern Clay can bring instant warmth and comfort to your kitchen.

xoxo, Joe

Credit | All shots used on the mood board via our Pinterest boards.  

DESIGN The Moon's Insight

The Moon’s Insight | Big Ben

The world famous clock tower, I am glad that I am able to visit it before it when for a renovation. The big ben tower is so grand and beautiful.
Technically, Big Ben is the name given to the massive bell inside the clock tower, which weighs more than 13 tons (13,760 kg).  The clock tower looks spectacular at night when the four clock faces are illuminated.

Of course you will have to take a shot of photo with the iconic London telephone booth!

xoxo, Joe

Our Table Stories RECIPES

Mini Egg Benedict

What is it with bite-sized food? Little nibbles, mini mouthfuls, or amuse bouche — call them what you like; they taste twice as nice when shrunk down to adorable proportions. Take this bite-sized eggs Benedict for instance: They look super cute and taste sensational, and I defy anyone to just eat one. I was introduced to this recipe when working on a canapés cookbook several years ago and have made it many times since. It never fails to wow at a party! You can replace the ham with a little wilted spinach for a veggie version — eggs Florentine — or use smoked salmon to make eggs royale. All are equally delicious.

First off, a chicken egg isn’t going to cut it here, but it doesn’t mean you won’t need a few of them.  We used fresh quail eggs, but if you’ve ever cooked with a quail egg they are mostly yolk with little egg white.  Take the egg white of one or two regular sized eggs to supplement for this.  Also, you might need to cut open the quail egg at the top to create an opening due to the thick filmy substance surrounding the yolk inside.  Secondly, you’ll need to cut down the size of your biscuit dough (we used a cookie cutter) so that it’s slightly bigger than your sausage patties.

Ingredients |

  • 12 quail eggs
  • 2 small baguettes, cut into 12 thin slices
  • 4 slices Parma ham (or regular ham)
  • finely chopped chives to garnish
  • 4 1/2 ounces unsalted butter
  • 1 Tablespoon cold water
  • 2 egg yolks
  • 1/2 teaspoon white wine vinegar
  • salt and freshly ground pepper to season

Method |

First make the hollandaise sauce. Melt the butter over low heat, swirling the pan. Leave to cool until tepid.

Place a heatproof bowl over a pot of barely simmering water, making sure the bottom of the bowl does not come in contact with the water.

Add the egg yolks, water, and vinegar, and vigorously whisk for 3 minutes using a small balloon whisk or a hand mixer. Remove the pot from the heat.

Add 3 1/2 ounces of the melted butter in a very slow stream while whisking vigorously, until the mixture thickens and becomes creamy. Taste and season.

Preheat the oven to 300 degrees Fahrenheit. Brush a mini muffin tin with some of the remaining melted butter and carefully crack the eggs into each hole. Bake for 4-5 minutes until the whites are set but the yolks are still runny. Leave to cool in the muffin tin for 5 minutes and then carefully scoop out using a teaspoon.

Brush your bread with some of the remaining melted butter and bake until a little toasted, about 10 minutes.

Cut the Parma ham into 12 pieces and add a small piece of folded ham over each slice of bread. Spread out on a baking tray lined with grease-proof paper.

Add an egg on each slice and then about half a teaspoon of Hollandaise sauce.

Increase the oven temperature to 350 degrees Fahrenheit. Bake for 4-5 minutes.

Garnish each slice with finely chopped chives and serve immediately.

xoxo, Joe

Japan TRAVEL

Day Trip to Arashiyama | Kyoto

There’s numerous way to head to Arashiyama, the easiest being by train. With three rail stations within walking distance from Arashiyama’s main attractions, you can pick the one most convenient for you.

During autumn and spring, when autumn foliage and cherry blossom are in season, JR’s Sagano sen line is recommended as the train go past scenic areas with an excellent view.

Togetsukyo Bridge 渡月橋

The direct translation for this bridge in English is ‘Moon-walk’ – as it resembles the moon in the dark. The bridge was rebuilt in steel for cars to cross later and a popular place to see autumn colour or cherry blossoms.

Tenryu-Ji temple

Tenryu-ji temple is the largest temple complex within the five famous temples in Kyoto region. Separate tickets are needed for the main temple and the garden- if you are pressed for time I would suggest forgoing the main temple and head straight to the garden, as you can admire the architecture of the temple from the garden as well. The only thing you will miss is the Daruma portrait.

Entrance fee : 800 yen per pax

Bamboo Forest

After going around the garden, exit Tenryu-Ji complex via North Gate and you will arrive and the Bamboo Forest/Walkway. It is very peaceful but unfortunately also flooded with tourist. Unless you arrive early in the morning, it is impossible to get a photo with no one in it (so for those of you who want to enjoy the bamboo forest yourself, get there early!). However there are time I enjoy taking photos with the people around as it make the photo more alive.

Jojakko-ji temple

This temple wasn’t originally on our list and was added when it took me less time than planned to see the other attractions. Unless you are keen on Japanese temples, there’s nothing special about this temple except during autumn and spring for foliage or blossom. It is indeed not a disappointment, the autumn foliage is so beautiful and massive here. Moreover, there’s a nice view of Arashiyama from the top.

Walk back down to the Arashiyama Torokko Station. This is a nice place to have some local delicacies. Wait for the train (The Sagano Romantic Train) to get in.

Entrance fee: 400 yen per pax

The Sagano Romantic Train (Sagano Scenic Railway)

We planned to take the Sagano Romantic Train for the autumn foliage, thus the first thing we did when we reached is to head to the station for the tickets. However, we were surprised by the queue for the ticket station. Due to my lack of research, we have to travel very far away from it. However other than my lack of research the whole trip is a big time up.

Ticket fee: 620 yen per pax

Food to Try:

  • % Arabica Arashiyama (again due to our lack of research, it closes when we reach there. However, glad that we can find the same one at Higashiyama)
  • Saga Tofu Ine (we didn’t much research on food, and we are so tired on that day. We are glad that we found this restaurant, it is simple yet delightful tofu set meal dinner)

We decide to end our day after the early dinner as the whole place is so dark. We head back to Gion and have a little walk before heading back home.

xoxo, Joe

LIFESTYLE Moodboard

Mood Board | Stained Beauty

Windows can be a natural lighting source in your home. In addition to saving electricity consumption due to the reduced number of lights. The windows will increase air circulation in the house. As a result, the house will feel cooler and brighter even without using air conditioning or air conditioning, and lights.

This impeccable stained glass door design would be right at home in a modern church. However, everyone can agree that this contemporary take on a classic art form makes a stunning addition to the home.

If your home is blessed with original European-style Victorian or Edwardian windows. There is no reason to get rid of them in order to make your home more contemporary. A quality restoration job can breathe new life. For example, the most tired stained glass windows and make them look as good as new. In which traditional and modern styles can come together to create something breathtaking.

xoxo, Joe

Credit | All shots used on the mood board via our Pinterest boards.  

DESIGN The Moon's Insight

The Moon’s Insight | Queen Victoria Market

One of our favorite activity in Melbourne is to visit the market there. Among all of them, Queen Victoria Market is one of our favorites! They have lots of delight that we couldn’t get in Singapore, some of them we didn’t even see them before. The first store that I like is the cheese store and a small coffee cafe. How I which I could stay there and visit it every weekend.

The seafood in Melbourne is a must try, we ate lots of plate of oysters and sea uchin. We even sneak some freash albalone back home. The market is so big that you may take hours to finsh them.

xoxo, Joe.

Our Table Stories RECIPES

Made your own Infused Flora Honey

If you’ve ever tasted raw, local honey you’ll be amazed at the complexity of its flavour. It’s nothing like the stuff that comes out of squeezy bears and depending on what the honeybees were foraging on, the honey can taste naturally of flowers and herbs.

You can create your own even more powerful versions of ‘flower honey’ by infusing honey with your own delicious additions. However since spring is here we decided to make a Infused Flora Honey.

You can use this Infused Flora Honey on your pancakes, oatmeal, waffles or you can simply have them in your drinks.

Fresh herbs vs Dried herbs

There is some discussion over whether it’s safe to use fresh herbs when infusing honey. The short answer is that if you’re making infused honey for other people, then you need to use dried plant material. If you’re making it for yourself and planning on refrigerating it, then by all means use fresh as I’m doing.

Ingredients |

  • Light, runny honey
  • Jars & Lids — you can also re-use the jars the honey comes in
  • Herbs: Rosemary, Thyme, Peppermint, or your own choice
  • Spices: Vanilla bean, Cinnamon sticks, dried Chilis, Orange Peel or dried Garlic
  • Edible Flowers: such as Lavender, Calendula, & Rose petals
  • Kraft paper circles 5-1/2″ in diameter to decorate
  • Bakers Twine to decorate

Method |

The process for making infused honey is really very simple. Once made, it can have an indefinite shelf life as honey can last a very long time without any need of artificial preservatives. If you choose to use fresh herbs to infuse in your honey, please refrigerate it and use within a month.

You can also decorate the jars with paper wrappers and Bakers Twine for gifts. I cut out circles of brown parchment paper 5-1/2″ in diameter and tied them with string. You could also write a personal message on the top of the paper or hang a gift tag from the twine. These tags that look like little jars are so cute!

Using just a few ingredients and materials, you can make a delicious golden treat for yourself or handmade gifts for your loved ones.

Xoxo, Joe

SISTOLOGY

We’re Three!

Three years ago we hit the “publish” button and now we are here! Each year have been challenging years for us. This year we have been focussing our life with work and family. With less time on Le Plain Canvas, we try to focus more on quality rather than the number of posts. Like the past years, there are still challenges that we have been struggling.

Both of us currently working as a freelance designer, thus it’s a struggle to work our commission work and then to work on our blog. However, every week we will keep a day or two free to focus on what are the changes should we make for our website.

As we mention in our first year we have a lot of difference between us. But, we could proudly say we improved a lot, which helped us to work smoothly. We communicate as much as we could in lots of ways.

For those who have been following us from the start, you should know that we love to travel and explore. Thus this year we headed down to Singapore old district for a walk. It really brings back some childhood memories! Glad that we did it, it is indeed a memorable one.

This “little” blog has grown into so much more than we could have ever imagined over the past two year.

We can’t even begin to express the depth of gratitude we feel for each and every one of you. You have thanked us over and over again for the inspiration and motivation that we provide here. But I honestly feel that you have inspired and motivated us.

xoxo, The Sisters (Angela and Joe)

LIFESTYLE Moodboard

Mood Board | Night Bench

Having the right bench is like having a nice belt – it’s not something you want to spend money on, but you need it. Every day when you get dressed, you grab for it, feel it missing, and wish you had one. The amount of times I say “you need a bench at the end of your bed” is insane.

If you don’t have room, that’s one thing, but otherwise it’s the most perfect way to put a finish on the room, add seating, and create that ideal plop and drop spot for the 9 different outfits you try on a day before you settle on the same striped boxy sweatshirt and skinny jeans that you wear every day.

What we have found to be the biggest challenge is making sure that the scale is right. Having a dinky little short dude at the end of the bed throws the whole room off (as does a bad belt). So you need to make sure it’s in scale, mostly in length. We rounded up these benches based on size and all different prices points.  While there are many more out there, these are some pretty great options.

You officially have no excuse.

xoxo, Joe

Credit | All shots used on the mood board via our Pinterest boards. 

DESIGN The Moon's Insight

The Moon’s Insight | Brighton Bathing Box

You’ve probably seen photos of the Brighton Bathing Boxes. There are a total of 82 distinctive multi-coloured beach huts lining the foreshore of one of Melbourne’s most exclusive neighbourhoods.

While most people visit them as a colourful photo opportunity in Melbourne. The Brighton Bathing Boxes do have a lot of history behind them. In fact, they were built more than 100 years ago when Australians were a little more modest and were used by women for privacy when changing into their swimwear.

While Bayside council has periodically built and sold new boxes in recent years, it is rare for existing boxes to hit the market. They are tightly held, often passed down through generations.

xoxo, Joe

Our Table Stories RECIPES

Our Birthday Cake: Tiramisu TimTam Cake

Time passes so fast before we could realise Le Plain Canvas is already three years old. Last year to celebrate our big 2 we baked an edible Earl Grey Flower Cake! As Angela will be travelling during Le Plain Canvas birthday we decided to celebrate earlier.

After years of practise and experiment, we have finally successfully discovered the magic of making a perfect cake! Lately, early mornings and late nights have been filled with late-night planning and brainstorming to find a special cake for the special day.

Raise your hand if you have ever made Tiramisu?I’m not sure how many of you actually have your hand up but I will tell you that it’s not as easy as it may seem. 

So we created this tiramisu layer cake with whipped mascarpone frosting! It’s way simpler than classic tiramisu but you still reach all of those classic tiramisu flavours that we all love so much! The base and classic ladyfinger component of tiramisu are being swapped out for a buttery vanilla cake base that is soaked with an espresso/rum mixture that will make you literally go ‘mmmm’ after every bite.

Each layer is stacked with a whipped chocolate mascarpone filling. The secret ingredient?! Tim Tam ® Biscuits! Tim Tam ® add a rich chocolatey flavor and crunch for added texture.

After you’ve added your last mascarpone frosting layer, Tim Tam ® Biscuits and cocoa powder be sure to place your cake in the refrigerator until serving! 

Ingredients |

for cake

  • 2 Sticks of unsalted butter
  • 1 1/4 Cups of Granulated Sugar
  • 2 Teaspoons of vanilla extract
  • 3 Cups of all purpose flour
  • 1 Tablespoon of baking powder
  • 1/2 Teaspoon of salt
  • 4 Large eggs
  • 1 1/4 Cups of whole milk

for espresso soak

  • 1/2 Cup of milk
  • 2 Teaspoons of instant espresso powder
  • Splash of rum

for filling + frosting

  • 16 Oz of mascarpone cheese
  • 2 Cups of powdered sugar
  • 3/4 Cup of milk if milk as needed for consistency
  • 5-7 Chocolate Tim Tam ® Biscuits, crushed
  • Cocoa powder 

Method |

Preheat oven to 350 degrees Fahrenheit. Grease and flour three 6-inch cake tins and set aside.
In a large bowl combine flour, baking powder, baking soda, salt, for cake and whisk well.

In a separate large bowl fitted with a hand or stand mixer beat butter and sugar for 3-5 minutes or until light and fluffy. Add in eggs one at a time with your mixer on low. Add in vanilla extract until combined. In 3 separate increments add flour mixture and milk, alternating and finishing with the last flour addition. Pour batter evenly into three cake tins and bake for 30 minutes or until a toothpick comes out cleanly. Cool for thirty minutes and remove from cake tins to finish cooling on a wire baking rack. 

In a large bowl fitted with a stand or hand mixer beat mascarpone until light and fluffy, about 1-2 minutes. Add 1 Cup of powdered sugar to mascarpone mixture until fluffy. Add in a 1/4 cup of milk at a time after powdered sugar. If frosting is stiff or you live in a dry climate add in milk little by little. If you live in a humid climate, you may need less milk. Continue to add powdered sugar and milk in two separate increments and mix until light and fluffy. Reserve 1/3 of mascarpone filling for the top of cake and add in crushed Tim Tam ® Biscuits to the remaining mascarpone. 

In a small bowl whisk together milk, espresso powder and rum. Trim off dome cake tops. Assemble cake layers and brush on a thick layer of espresso milk mixture with a pastry brush. Add on one half of Tim Tam mascarpone mixture and repeat. Top the very top layer with reserved mascarpone frosting (without Tim Tam ® Biscuits) and sift a thin layer of cocoa powder over the top. 

Thank you for being with us for the past three years, you are our motivation for this journey.
xoxo, Joe

Japan TRAVEL

Kawaii Fox (Kitsune) Biscuit

Kitsune is the Japanese way of calling a fox. Foxes (kitsune), regarded as the messengers, are often found in Inari shrines. One attribute is a key (for the rice granary) in their mouths.

As a Fushimi Inari souvenir, the one that is above the rest has to be the Inari cookies in the shape of a fox’s face. These Inari cookies are also known as fox’s face cookies, for obvious reasons. Even to this day, they bake every cookie by hand, and on busy days they have to bake one thousand cookies. The perfectly baked fox cookies smell delicious, and many people are lured in by them.

You won’t want to miss it!

xoxo, Joe

LIFESTYLE Moodboard

Mood Board | Dreamy Bath

You don’t have to go to an expensive spa to relax and achieve momentary bliss. You can have the same luxurious bath experience in your own home, and on your own terms, without spending a fortune or going somewhere public to get it.

  1. Before You Begin: Clean Your Tub
  2. Make a DIY Bathtub Candle for Keeping Your Relaxation Tools Nearby
  3. Set the Mood With Lighting and Music
  4. Dial In the Perfect Bathwater Temperature
  5. Keep Your Toasty Warm Bathwater From Cooling Too Quickly
  6. Soak In Soothing DIY Bath Bombs, Bath Salts, and Other Luxurious Elixirs

xoxo, Joe

Credit | All shots used on the mood board via our Pinterest boards. 

DESIGN The Moon's Insight

The Moon’s Insight | 12 Apostles

We witness the rugged splendour of the famous 12 Apostles, magnificent rock stacks that rise up majestically from the Southern Ocean on Victoria’s dramatic coastline.

Getting on a tour bus was the best experience I ever have. First you can meet new people and nex you don’t have to worry about getting lost.

xoxo, Joe

Our Table Stories RECIPES

Pumpkin Hummus

If you have pumpkin puree on hand, whip up a batch of this savory pumpkin hummus. Pair it with pita bread, crackers, or veggie sticks and you have a delicious snack or appetizer ready in no time.

There is always some leftover of our homemade pumpkin puree in our fridge, and the best thing to do with it is to make some pumpkin hummus. Classic hummus is made with chickpeas, tahini, olive oil, lemon juice, garlic, cumin, and salt. But did you know that you can add different ingredients and have a new flavor every time? After making roasted carrot hummus and hummus with peri peri sauce, we wanted to give a fall twist to the classic dip.

Pumpkin hummus is healthy, creamy, smooth, and tasty. Paprika, cinnamon, and pumpkin puree add lots of flavor. The recipe is super easy. It comes together in less than 5 minutes with 10 basic ingredients. You literally just add all the ingredients to your food processor, pulse and … done! Be sure to scrape down the sides a few times.

Tahini is a sesame paste and you can usually find it in the ethnic section of your supermarket. Make sure that you use pumpkin puree, not pumpkin pie filling (if you are getting those ready made one).

We like to serve this savory pumpkin hummus topped with sesame seeds, chopped parsley and  a drizzle of olive oil along with some homemade toasted pitas for dipping. 

INgridents |

  • 1 can chickpeas drained and rinsed
  • ⅔ cup (150 grams) pumpkin puree
  • 2 tablespoons tahini
  • 2 cloves garlic
  • 1 lemon juiced (2 tablespoons)
  • 1 ½ tablespoon extra virgin olive oil
  • ½ teaspoon cumin, salt and paprika
  • ¼ teaspoon ground cinnamon
  • water if needed

Method |
Place all the ingredients into a food processor and blend until smooth and creamy, scraping down the sides as needed. Add more olive oil or water if it’s too thick. Taste and adjust seasonings.

Place the savory pumpkin hummus in a shallow bowl, drizzle with extra virgin olive oil, garnish with sesame seeds, chopped parsley and paprika. Serve immediately or cover and refrigerate for up to 4 days.

xoxo, Joe

Japan TRAVEL

Omiyage to get in Kyoto

Omiyage means gift or souvenir you give to friends, co-workers, and family after returning home from a trip. You can find at least an Omiyage store at any train station in Japan. There are so many to get and you wonder what is best. Kyoto is a beautiful city with delicious products and goods.

Apart from the common souvenir you can find anywhere, we are here to recommend these top 3 favourites from us.

Ochanokosaisai

A shop for spice lovers! Known as one of the best Japanese spice stores! The one we visit its head office located in Sannaizaka near Kiyomizu Temple. In the “Maiko Han – Hii ~” series, which is their flagship product, they use “Habanero”, a chilli pepper said to be ten times as hot as the ones on the marker. By further blending with other kinds of red pepper, the overwhelming delicious and extremely spicy taste will spread in your mouth. In addition to Ichimi and Shichimi, there are also chilli oil and curry sauce. My favourite include their curry biscuits

Tsubaki Hair Oil

Kyoto is known for their beautiful geisha, and the first thing that we notice is their beautiful hair. And their secret is by using camellia oil. They can moisture skin and hair, and thus has long been a favorite of Japanese women. You can use a few drop to message your face too.

Yojiya Kyoto

Everyone does know about Yojiya Kyoto – a specialist for natural face product in Kyoto. Among items, oil blotting facial paper is the most loved for a long time. So many tourists buy it as a souvenir in Kyoto. A picture of a woman is really popular even in the world.

Leave a comment below and tell us what will you get on your trip to kyoto!
xoxo, Angela

LIFESTYLE Moodboard

Mood Board | Home Studio

It has always been the practice that creatives should have their own studios? Moreover, most artists think that it could be expensive if they have to have rent one outside their homes. The best thing to do would be to look for a place large and affordable enough where one or two of the bigger rooms can be easily converted into a studio. It is not very hard to do once careful thought and considerations are taken objectively.

First of all, what type of artists’ studio is it going to be? This makes a lot of difference as having easels and paints do not take up much space as compared to sculpting using blocks of marble or tons of scrap material. Knowing what kind of studio is needed will put a firm hand on the budget that would have to well thought out.

xoxo, Joe

Credit | All shots used on the mood board via our Pinterest boards.   e

DESIGN The Moon's Insight

The Moon’s Insight | Flinder Railway Station

It has been a year or more since we are back from Melbourne. Melbourne is a piece of land full of unique culture and building. One of the building that we want to visit was Flinder Railway Station. It is the main station from Melbourne and one of the railway station that you will be passing through once you landed Melbourne.

However, when we reached the building was on renovation. Thus we are unable to see the beautiful grand building. Thus we make a promise to go back again to have a look at it.

xoxo, Joe

Our Table Stories RECIPES

Truffle Mushroom Pumpkin Ravolli

Hey everyone and happy Friday!!!! Pumpkinned out yet?  It’s that wonderful time of year when pumpkin abounds in baked goods and desserts to soups and lattes in kitchens everywhere.

With all this pumpkin creativity going on, we always made dozens jar of Homemade Pumpkin Puree and store in it the freeze! But if you need and extra help you can get a can of store but pumpkin puree instead. As the recipe you’re making calls for only 8 ounces (or 1 cup) which recently happened to me.

Canned pumpkin puree is a terrific convenience product.  The label on the can I recently purchased states the contents to be pumpkin only with no added ingredients—not even salt.  Canned pumpkin puree is different from canned pumpkin pie filling; pumpkin pie filling has spices added.  Be sure to use plain, canned pumpkin for this dish or use your own homemade pumpkin puree.

Previously we have a step by step instruction on how to make the ravioli, click on the link if you have missed it. You can premake the dough and the pumpkin puree ahead. After all that everything else is a piece of cake.

Now it is time to cook them up! We choose to have them with mushroom and truffle oil. This is the best decision we ever made as the combination tasted awesome.

And that filling! Whoa. It’s roasted pumpkin with some cheese and cream. Don’t tell us parents that this has any cheese. They hates the stuff and yet, he ate all this ravioli and loved it! ? So, if you can keep that secret safe for me that would be awesome!

Ingredients |

  • 1 can of Homemade Pumpkin Puree
  • 500g of pasta dough
  • 200g of cream cheese
  • 2 tablespoons olive oil
  • Salt and black pepper
  • 1 egg
  • 2 tablespoons of truffle oil
  • ½ teaspoon freshly grated nutmeg, plus more for sauce
  • 8 tablespoons unsalted butter
  • 200g of mushroom, finely chopped

Method |

Dust a work surface with semolina flour. Lay out a sheet of pasta, then place 2 teaspoons of filling (1 teaspoons of pumpkin puree and cream cheese each) every few inches. Brush around the filling with water, then place a second pasta sheet over the top. Press the top sheet of pasta down around the mounds of filling. Cut 2 ½-inch square ravioli with a large ravioli stamp or sharp knife, trimming as needed, and crimp around the edges with a fork to seal individual ravioli.

Bring a large pot of water to boil and season generously with salt. Drop in ravioli a few at a time and cook for 5 to 7 minutes, until soft but still al dente. Set aside ¼ cup pasta cooking water, then use a large slotted spoon to remove the cooked ravioli to a plate.

Make the sauce: Heat the butter, mushroom, and garlic in a medium skillet over medium-high heat, stirring occasionally, until the butter browns, about 5 minutes. Add a few grinds of nutmeg and a pinch of salt. Stir to combine and sizzling, then add 2 tablespoons reserved pasta cooking water, stirring until sauce is glossy and smooth; thin with additional pasta water if desired.

xoxo, Joe

TRAVEL

Minimalism Exhibition Visual Journal

We love spending time in the museum and gallery, it is the most beautiful places that have built. During school days, as a New Media student, other than school I spent most of my time at museums. I enjoyed the peacefulness with the arts every moment I got. However back in the old days, there were less interactive arts, end up we made it in school instead.

While these days interactive arts are getting more demanding than it uses to be. Arts involved with space, light and physical interaction.

It is definitely a playground for us to escape.

Minimalism: Space. Light. Object
16 Nov 2018–14 Apr 2019 
Location: National Gallery Singapore
Singtel Special Exhibition Gallery | City Hall Wing, Level 3
Open daily

xoxo, Angela.

Moodboard

Mood Board | Painted Floor

Next to appliances and window treatments, flooring might be the least exciting element in a home. Little did we know that the most underrated place to make a statement is underneath your feet.

Upgrade tired hardwood floors with a subtle wash of mint green. A pared-down scheme of all-white walls and mid-century furnishings elevate the happy hue.

The best way to emphasize an intricate pattern? A captivating hue set beneath a glossy finish to inspire a vision of elegance. Elevate the concept with a chic color-block for a scene-stealing effect.

Forget fussy prints and printed pillows on the bed: Relegate your wildest pattern dreams to the ground by copying this muted illusion of soft blues and blush pinks on the floor.

xoxo, Joe

Credit | All shots used on the mood board via our Pinterest boards.  

DESIGN The Moon's Insight

The Moon’s Insight | Chew Jetty

Previously, I have mention that the first day of the Penang trip I headed down the the Jetties of Penang. Among all Chew Jetty is one of the one I like the most, same to the rest of the tourist. The Jetty have a row of houses and most of they sell food and clothing for a living.

One of them next to this beautiful view is a spicy noodle. It not just simple noodle but one that uses a very big bowl. The bowl is 5 times bigger than the usual bowl. It taste really good!

xoxo, Joe

RECIPES Weekend Brunch

Creamy Bacon and Dutch Cabbage Spaghetti

I fell in love with Dutch Cabbage (aka Holland Cabbage) the moment I saw the beautiful texture on it leaves. It is unique as compared to the usual cabbage I got, I hardly see it in the market. I believed that it came in seasonal – after researching it a good one in Spring or Autumn. It is an excellent source of vitamin C. One of the best cabbage varieties for storage as well.

The Dutch cabbage has a rougher and thicker texture compared to the usual ones. That why we decide to use it for the pasta. We want the sweet flavor from the cabbage to blend in the pasta and the crunchy afterward taste.

This is a very simple recipe that you could make for any occasion, the only condition is to get the seasonal ingredient at the right time.

Ingredients|

  • 300g of Dutch Cabbage
  • 2 serving of Choice of Pasta ( we used spaghetti)
  • 5 slices of steaky bacon (chopped into strips, preferred thick-cut bacon)
  • Salt and pepper
  • Parmesan cheese
  • Fresh parsley for garnishing

Method|

Cook the pasta of your choice in the boiled water for 10 minutes and season it with salt and olive oil. Drain the cooked pasta, and rise it with cold water.

In a pan, add in the bacon and fry it till golden brown. Take out the bacon and leave it for later use. With the bacon, oil adds in 2 tablespoons of olive oil and heat up. Then add in the Dutch Cabbage stir fry it for 3 minutes. Now add in the pasta and the cooked bacon. Then add in 2 tablespoons of water, cover with the lids and steam it for 5 minutes.

Season it with salt and pepper. Then serve it in a plate. Garnish it with parmesan cheese and chopped parsley.

So as easy as 1, 2, 3 correct? You make it without making your kitchen a mess, just prep your ingredient in advance, you can make your pasta anytime! Even you might end work late on a weekday evening, you could get your dining table warm with food!

Happy dining, Angela.

Japan TRAVEL

Kawaii Cup Noodle

Did you know that Cup Noodles was invented in 1958 and Momofuku Ando is the inventor of instant noodles, instant ramen, and Cup Noodles? We headed down to the Cup Noodles Museum at Yokohama and found out more of it!

Cup Noodles is always one of my favorite food that I love to try in the world. There are thousand for me to choose and most importantly easy to cook want I am hungry. Although my mom always tell me it is unhealthy to eat too much since young, but I will still sneak around and get some.

At the Cup Noodle museum not only we got some of the limited edition items, but we get to make our own Cup Noodle too. I mean who hasn’t had instant ramen in their lifetime? Mr. Ando basically created every college kid’s staple meal! We can’t count how many Cup Noodles and instant ramen we have had over the years and being able to create our very own custom cup sounded like so much fun.  It is indeed a dream comes true for me.

There are several steps involved in creating your custom cup. First, you buy the cup, which cost ¥300 (~$3 ). Next, you have to sanitize your hands and then a staff member directs you to a table with markers to start designing your cup. 

After you complete your masterpiece, you take it over to the processing factory where you get to pick your soup flavor and ingredients. Angela chose the classic chicken flavor and I picked the chili tomato flavor. We both added similar ingredients like the cheese, egg, Hiyoko-chan chick, and corn.

xoxo, Joe

Moodboard

Mood Board | Awkward Corner

When it comes to decorating your space, every inch counts – even your room’s sharp corners and oddly-shaped alcoves. These rooms prove all it takes is a little ingenuity to turn an unused spot into an eye-catching vignette.

We love to every cover every inch of our room to make it cozier ( but we prefer a more empty space in the common area). A little music station at the corner, or a comfy armchair for reading it’s always a good and useable idea.

xoxo, Joe

Credit | All shots used on the mood board via our Pinterest boards.  

Our Table Stories RECIPES

How to make English Muffin?

There is really no better vehicle for melted butter than the craggy dips and toasted peaks of an English muffin. I think we can all agree on this. Have you ever tried making them yourself? They’re surprisingly straightforward! And since the dough is best when made ahead and refrigerated overnight, they’ve become one of my favorite treats to make over long, lazy weekends.

Here’s a step-by-step recipe for making a batch of English muffins for you and anyone lucky enough to be invited to your table.

A Slow Rise Makes Better English Muffins

I’ve done a lot of experimenting with my beloved English muffins over the years, and I’ve found that the best flavor and most craggy interior texture comes from a long, slow rise. First, I make what’s called a “starter,” which is really just a mini batter of flour, water, and yeast. Let this bubble for anywhere from an hour to 12 hours, and then mix up the dough. If you have some active sourdough starter, use that instead of yeast for a nice, sour tang to the muffins.

Second, I recommend mixing up the dough and letting it slowly rise in the fridge overnight. In fact, you can make the dough and keep it in the fridge for up to four days — the flavor just gets better and takes on a bit of lovely sourness, even if no sourdough was actually used.

You can also make these English muffins straight through if you like — let the starter get bubbly, then mix it with the dough. Let the dough rise until doubled in bulk, and then you’re good to go. Muffins made all in one go like this will have a very mild flavor and a softer texture.

Do You Need English Muffin Rings?

We use round measuring cup for the muffin, however you can get a muffin ring for the standard size too.

“Bake” Muffins on the Stovetop

English muffins are stovetop affairs — no need to turn on the oven! Cook them in a large skillet (cast iron, stainless steel, or nonstick are all fine) with just a bit of butter to keep them from sticking.

They get their distinctive puck-like appearance because you cook them part of the way on one side, then flip them over and cook them on the other side. The only tricky part here is getting the pan temperature right — you want it hot enough that the muffins get toasty and brown, but not so hot that the outside browns before the middle is cooked through. About six minutes per side is ideal — adjust your heat as needed.

Fresh English muffins just off the griddle are a real treat, but the leftovers keep quite well for up to a week, and they are fantastic toasted and spread with butter. Some people I’ve met even prefer English muffins that are a few days old and have had a chance to dry out a bit.

Happily, this recipe makes enough that you can try them both ways and decide for yourself.

Split the English muffins with a fork, spread with butter or jam (or both!), and eat. English muffins will keep for several days in an airtight container on the counter and are fantastic warmed in the toaster oven. Fresh English muffins can also be wrapped tightly in plastic wrap or aluminum foil, and kept frozen for up to 3 months.

Ingridents |

  • 1 cup whole milk
  • 1 teaspoon active dry or instant yeast
  • 2 tablespoons sugar
  • 2 tablespoons unsalted butter, melted
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • 3 to 3 1/4 cups (13 1/2 to 14 1/2 ounces) all-purpose flour or bread flour
  • Cornmeal for dusting
  • Butter for the skillet

Method |
In the bowl of a stand mixer or large mixing bowl, combine the milk and yeast for the dough. Scrape the starter into the bowl and use a whisk to break it up and dissolve it into the milk. It should become quite frothy.

Add the sugar, butter, and salt to the bowl and whisk to combine. Add 3 cups of the flour and stir with a stiff spatula until you form a shaggy, floury dough.

Knead by hand against the counter, tills the dough come together. If the dough is very sticky like bubble gum, add extra flour as needed. The dough is ready when it forms into a smooth ball and springs back when poked; it will feel slightly tacky to the touch, but shouldn’t stick to the bowl or your hands.

Transfer the dough to a large bowl lightly filmed with oil. You can also let the dough rise at room temperature until doubled in bulk, 1 1/2 to 2 hours, and then make the muffins immediately.

Turn the risen dough out onto a lightly floured work surface. Use a pastry scraper to divide the dough into 12 equal pieces. Roll each piece gently against the counter to shape into smooth, round balls.

Scatter cornmeal generously over a baking sheet and arrange the balls on top, spaced a little apart. If you have muffin rings, place them around the balls at this point. Sprinkle the tops of the balls with more cornmeal.

For room temperature dough, this will take about 1 hour. Depending on the size of your muffin rings, the muffins may not totally fill the rings — that’s okay.

When ready to cook the muffins, warm a large skillet over medium heat. Melt a small pat of butter — enough to just coat the bottom of the pan and prevent sticking.

Cook the muffins 5 to 6 minutes on one side: Working in batches, transfer a few of the muffins to the skillet — allow an inch or so of space between muffins and do not crowd the pan. If using rings, transfer the muffins with their rings to the pan. Cook until the bottoms of the muffins are golden brown, 5 to 6 minutes. 

Transfer cooked muffins to a cooling rack. Continue working in batches until all the muffins have been cooked. Add a small pat of butter to the pan between batches to prevent sticking.

Split and serve! 

I hope you enjoy these English muffins as much as we do! Share your muffin with us by taking a photo of your version, send us an email, tag us on Instagramtweet us or leave us a comment! We love to see you trying out our recipe!  Share the love lots! 

xoxo, Joe

Japan TRAVEL

Tokyo Banana in Japan

You can’t miss bringing back Tokyo Banana from Tokyo! Tokyo Banana has taken the world sometimes so far! Everyone, I meant many countries trying to replica what it already got. However, what is always cool about the Japanese’s nibbles is you will never only get the one option! They improvise and bring new things on the table almost every other day with limited edition and make you fell in love all over again!

Here are the free cute little ones we got back from our trip. The classic original Tokyo Banana, Tokyo Banana Coffee Milk with a cute racoon design and not to forget the Tokyo Banana Caramel Disney Edition that you only could get it in Tokyo Disneyland and DisneySea! They are cute, isn’t it?

You could get the Tokyo Banana almost any and everywhere but some flavours you only could get it at a designated location or seasonal. Like we mentioned in the previous post that Japan is a delicate country and they produce good seasonal foods.

We mentioned selected designated location; such as Tokyo Yogurt Banana Panda you might only get it at Ueno Station. Tokyo Banana The Lemon Cake you could only found in Ginza. The brand also does a different collaboration with brands like KitKat as well, so if you are a chocolate lover, you surely preferred Tokyo Banana X KitKat.

Do not forget to get your Tokyo Banana when you spotted it! You might be surprised how good it tastes with the different option out there! And only Tokyo Banana taste that good!

We are just sharing an opinion here so we hope that you will like it.

Cheers, Angela.

Moodboard

Mood Board | Back to 70s

These years we listen to music by downloading them online to the phone. However, in the past, we have to buy the album in order to hear them. In the 70s they only have record tape, and you have to listen to them on the record player. I have once heard them in a music store and I can tell you the sound quality is so different.

In the recent years, they still have the record player, most of them are a portable vintage-inspired turntable, totally exclusive to UO, housed in a faux leather briefcase. It is still cute having them in the house. Nevertheless, it is never enough to have just a player, but also a corner for the music lover.

xoxo, Joe

Credit | All shots used on the mood board via our Pinterest boards. 

DESIGN The Moon's Insight

The Moon’s Insight | Kek Lor Si

Standing on a hilltop at Air Itam, near Penang Hill, Kek Lok Si is the largest Buddhist temple in Malaysia. The complex is divided into three zones while the temple grounds comprise the hill entrance, souvenir, food and drinks stalls and the turtle liberation pond.

The temple is so huge that we couldn’t finish every part of it. The architecture at Kek Lor Si is colorful and very detailed. There is so much to see, however, this piece of wall caught my eyes.

xoxo, Joe

Our Table Stories RECIPES

How to prepare a Cheese Fondue for Friendship Brunch!

Happy Valentine’s (aka Frientine’s) Day, Folks! 14th February, should not be limited to romantic partners or girls. We don’t have enough honest conversations with friends about how much we appreciate them. Why not take this occasion to spread some love with your friends!

On the other hand, for those who like to avoid the sugar rash; instead of chocolate fondue brunch, you probably would love to have a cheese fondue party with your girls/guys!

This is how to prepare a Cheese Fondue for Friendship Brunch! What’s essential for a Cheese Fondue Brunch is putting all your favourites ingredients on the table. To simplify it, we did a mini version to share with you! Honestly, the Chinese New Year food has been territories our stomachs. Let’s start now!

Plan your date ahead! Decide a date whenever you can! It can be on the actual day or one of the days this week! Send your friend a lovely note via the traditional way by cards or green by a e-mesage.

For a Cheese Fondue brunch party, the spotlight is always and always will be the cheese fondue. You could always buy a cheese fondue starter at any supermarket or you could make your own! Here are some of the recipes we love online, do check out which is your favorite!

Ingredients wise, you can bring any food on the table, we meant literally any and every. It could be a group effort as well, yourself or your friends can all bring what they wish to eat on the table. Otherwise here is a list of food we suggest that you could get to fill the table!

For the Meat Lover

  • Potatoes (Baby potato is highly recommended)
  • Bread (French Bread, Waffle, Sourdough, Baguette or Focaccia)
  • Grilled Chicken (sliced or cubed)
  • Roasted Beef (sliced or cubed)
  • Sausages (cocktail or grommet)
  • Fresh Hams
  • Cured meat
  • Don’t eat all just meats, get some veggie that we listed below to matches your party plate!

For the Vegan Lover

  • Bread (French Bread, Waffle, Sourdough, Baguette or Focaccia)
  • Potatoes (Baby potato is highly recommended)
  • Boiled Broccoli (cut into bite sizes)
  • Boiled Pumpkins (sliced)
  • Fresh Tomatoes
  • Baby Carrots
  • Boiled French Beans

An additional item for all is cheese!
We love to dip cheese in the cheese fondue, it is the best taste ever. It is really delicious when, different cheese that melts in your mouth.

Lastly not to forget about importantness of decoration. Grab a beautiful table cloth and dining wares that matches your brunch party theme. It could be pinky and dreamy like teen girls and unicorns style. It could be black and stylish, classic and a gossipy girl gathering. Or could be like us, a vintage 60s with polka dots dresses that match your table cloth!

Enjoy the brunch party with your friends, you can fix this quickly despite the last minute rush! Your friend will love your gathering for sure! Make it exciting with your friends and celebrate your friendship with your loved ones. Happy Frientine’s Day! Enjoy!

Therefore, we appreciate all feedback and your kind comment on improving this space we love so much!

Cheers, Angela!

Craft LIFESTYLE

DIY Fortune Cookies

There were variations of a version where fortune cookie originates from. Some said the Chinese, some said the American while it is invented in Japan. Shock! Hence, apparently it wasn’t well spread in Japan locally, therefore, it has been a pop culture in both America and Asia.

While you find it troublesome to make fortune cookies at home, grab some papers and you could easily bring some love and fortune around! It definitely a very easy craft to do it yourself or even the younger audience.

Whether you’re a long-time lover, a secret admirer or celebrating the day with your friends, Valentine’s Day (aka Frientine’s Day!) is for sweet nothings and love (friendship) notes. If you’ve got a case of besottedness, it’s time to embrace the mushy, and show your sweetheart/best friends how you feel!

These little paper fortune cookies are the perfect bearers of your soppiest messages – and they’re a cinch to make. It could be also an interesting party popper for you to have in any parties. Well, instead of cracking them, pull it and find what is the wisdom message beneath it.

Materials |

  • Paper (roughly 4 inches for ours)
  • Compass (or circle cutter)
  • Pencil
  • Super Glue
  • Scissors (optional when you have a circle cutter)
  • Printed/handwritten fortune phase

Method |
Use a compass to draw a perfect circle; cut out with scissors. Photocopy or hand write a fortune on a slip of paper and place fortune onto the circle paper. Fold paper in half loosely to form a semi-circle. With overlapping edge facing up, bend tube ends down until they meet. Affix with super glue or double-sided tape.

Share your luck with us by taking a photo of your version, send us an email, tag us on Instagramtweet us or leave us a comment! We love to see you trying out our recipe!  Share the love lots!

xoxo, Joe

Moodboard

Mood Board | Folding Screen

There are plenty of ways to divide and conquer without completely separating the interior of a modern living room. A great solution is folding room dividers. That is, when you realize that the large airy loft and wide open interior spaces are not quite the ideal space to live in, you don’t necessarily need walls to do this, you can choose screen dividers.

The folding screen is also the best place to add some definition to your study room. You can substitute it as a fake wall, putting it as an inspiration board. It is also the best place to hand your stuff when you are in rush.

Modern, elegant and unique, this timeless geometric. BRABBU gave you a few tips about how to use your folding screen in indoor projects. Have you made up your mind yet?

xoxo, Joe

Credit | All shots used on the mood board via our Pinterest boards.

DESIGN The Moon's Insight

The Moon’s Insight | Tan Jetty

Before Chinese New Year I took a 4 days 3 nights break to Penang. A holiday in Penang is not for the faint-hearted. The island will not coddle you with tourist maps or street signs. There are no sightseeing trails to follow, no town square with all the sights in one place. If you want to experience Penang, you have to work for it. 

To make my time worth, right after checked into the Airbnb, we when straight down to the Jetty and have a look at the Sunset. As it is a busy weekend, it is crowded with lots of tourist. Thus the best way for me to enjoy the beautiful jetty is by capturing with my eyes and paint them down.

There are a total of 12 Jetty, we when to visit the Chew and Tan Jetty. And the Tan Jetty have caught my heart, with the experience of walking the shaky thin road. I am glad to see the bright red house in the middle of the water.

xoxo, Joe

RECIPES Weekend Brunch

Goldfish Tofu Dumpling with Curry Broth

I think making dumplings is so therapeutic. Here’s a simple recipe for tofu dumpling with a savory yellow curry broth. It’s one of my favorite dumpling and broth combinations!

Back in the days, during the Chinese New Year, our mom will always wrap some dumpling for us when they are busy at work. Like most Asian mothers, Mama Lin worried that we wouldn’t be able to cook for ourselves when they are busy.

Making these tofu wontons reminded me of those days. But instead of simply cooking the dumplings in boiling water, we made the dish more sophisticated by serving the wontons with a yellow curry broth. We should always aim higher when we get older, right?

Cooking Notes for Dumpling

  • Folding dumplings: This time we decided to do something special to celebrate the festive season by making them into goldfish dumpling shape compared to the usual shape you see in Sichuan Red Oil Dumpling.
  • Cooking the dumplings and broth separately: The reason why we cook these separately is because there’s usually a lot of starch sprinkled over the wrappers. If you boil the entire batch of dumplings inside the broth, the starch will release into the broth and can affect the texture of the broth.
  • Freezing the dumpling: You can make these dumplings ahead of time. Place the dumplings over a plate and cover with plastic wrap. Make sure that you don’t cluster the dumplings too close together or they might get stuck.
  • After a few hours, transfer the dumplings to a freezer bag. When you are ready to eat the dumplings, just drop the frozen dumplings straight into the boiling water. It may take an extra minute or two for the dumplings to cook.

Yellow Curry Broth

We like preparing the curry broth before making the dumplings because this allows more time for the flavours of the broth to develop.

Ingredients |

  • 1 tablespoon vegetable or olive oil
  • 1 tablespoon minced ginger (about a 1-inch piece of ginger)
  • 4 garlic cloves, minced
  • 2 teaspoons yellow curry powder (mild spice)
  • 6 cups chicken broth
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt, add more if necessary
  • 3/4 cup (175ml)  full-fat coconut milk (can sub with low-fat coconut milk)

Method |

Heat the 1 tablespoon of oil in a pot. Add the minced ginger and garlic and cook for 1 minute, stirring constantly. And followed by the curry powder and stir to coat the spices.

Add the vegetable broth and 1/2 teaspoon salt, cover the pot, and bring the broth to boil. Reduce the heat to a simmer and swirl in the coconut milk. Let the broth simmer for about 10 minutes, covered. Turn off the heat and let the broth sit on the stove, covered, as you make the dumplings.

Tofu Dumpling

  • about 45 to 50 square dumpling wrappers
  • 1 package of firm tofu (I used a 14-ounce package)
  • 1 1/2 tablespoons vegetable or olive oil
  • 2 tablespoons minced ginger
  • 1 tablespoon minced garlic
  • 3 cups shredded green cabbage (ensure they are no longer than 1-inch pieces)
  • 1 large carrot, grated (about 1 1/4 cups)
  • pinch of salt
  • 4 scallions, sliced

Method |

Drain the tofu and wrap the tofu around a layer of paper towels. Press the tofu by placing the tofu block on a plate and weighing it down with a stack of plates. Let it sit for 15 to 20 minutes. Remove the towels and cut the tofu into small 1/4-inch cubes.

Heat 1 1/2 tablespoons of oil in a large pan. Add the minced ginger and garlic and cook for 1 minute. Add the cabbage, carrots, and a pinch of salt to the pan and cook for 3 to 4 minutes. Meanwhile, transfer the tofu and scallions to the pan and add another pinch of salt. Cook for another 2 to 3 minutes. Taste the filling. If you want the filling to be a smidgen saltier than you would normally prefer. The wonton wrappers will mellow out the saltiness of the filling.

Get your dumpling-making station set up. Transfer the filling into a large bowl. Take the wrappers out of the packaging. Have a small bowl filled with water, a large baking sheet, and 2 kitchen or linen towels ready. The wrappers and the dumplings dry out pretty quickly. Use one towel to cover the wrappers and another large towel to cover the finished dumplings.

Dip a finger into the bowl of water and wet 2 adjacent sides of the dumpling wrappers. Spoon about 2 teaspoons to 1 tablespoon of filling into the centre of the wrapper. If you can fit more filling into the dumpling, great! Carry on by sealing the wrapper on the diagonal (dry sides over the wet sides) so that you end up with a triangle shape. Press down on the sides to make sure that you have the dumpling properly sealed. You don’t want the filling to release while they’re cooking.

Lightly wet one of the base corners of the folded triangle, and fold the dumpling in half so that the other base corner overlaps the wet corner. Repeat until you have all the dumplings filled.

Always check if the curry broth and see whether it’s still warm enough for your liking. If not, heat it up over medium-low heat and keep it simmering on low as you cook the dumplings.

Bring a big pot of water to boil. Add about half of the dumplings into the boiling water and cook for 3 to 4 minutes. All the dumplings should float to the top. Transfer the cooked dumplings to a bowl and add the remaining dumplings into the hot water.

Ladle some of the curry broth into a bowl and serve with the dumplings. Top with chili oil and black sesame seeds, if you like.

Take a photo of your version, send us an email, tag us on Instagramtweet us, anything. We love to see you trying out our recipe!

xoxo, Joe

Japan TRAVEL

Day Trip at Nara | Japan

Personally speaking, we hate changing accommodations too often when on a sightseeing trip. Packing, unpacking, check-in, and check-out eats away a lot of time. So, a day trip from Kyoto to Nara Park might actually be the best option to see its beautiful temples and shrines.

How to get to Nara from Kyoto?

From Kyoto station to Nara station it only takes about 35 minutes by high-speed train (Shinkansen bullet train).

However, if you are holding a JR Pass like us, then this is the option you want to take. The Miyakoji Kaisoku Express will get you from Kyoto to Nara in 45 minutes. These trains leave every 30 minutes from Kyoto Station and JR Nara Station.

A very dense network of bus lines operates within Nara. So, you might want to consider buying the Nara Bus Pass, which will grant you unlimited Kotsu buses around Nara. It costs 500 Yen.

With the day pass, we start our day by heading to the Todaiji. We knew we are getting closer, as on the way there we are able to see the deer walking on the street and the road. When we alighted in front of the Nara park, we can’t wait to play with them however we decided to head to Todaiji first.

Todai-ji Temple

We reached Todai-Ji Temple at around 9.30pm. Todai-Ji (Great Eastern Temple) is one of Japan’s most famous and historically significant temples and a landmark of Nara.

It is indeed a world heritage site, my mouth was width open when we see the main temple. The temple is so grand and big that it took us two hour to tour finish the place. However, I was so clumsy that I lost my tripod and I only found out after the walk in the temple. Lucky it has been picked up by the wonderful kind staffs at the museum beside the temple entrance.

Entry Fee: 600 Yen

Lunch and Kotonoha by Syoka

There are lots of delicious food around the temple. However, as it is a tourist site, the queue for popular tend to be longer. We are so hungry and exhausted thus we decided to sit down at a cafe which doesn’t require any waiting. After lunch, we enjoy a cup of ice cream at an outdoor cafe called Kotonoha by Syoka. You could check out the other post we shared.

Nara Park

The park is home to hundreds of freely roaming deer. Considered in Shinto to be messengers of the gods, Nara’s nearly 1200 deer have become a symbol of the city and have even been designated as a natural treasure.

Nara’s deer are surprisingly tame, although they can be aggressive if they think you will feed them. Deer crackers are for sale around the park, and some deer have learned to bow to visitors to ask to be fed.

Nara Machi

We ended up spending most of our day at Nara Park. As we have a long journey to Tokyo, we decided to end our day at the Nara Machi.

In Naramachi you will experience the atmosphere of old times created by old “Machiya” (historic merchant townhouses) and small alleys full of interesting sights. You can see some cute shops and shopping. We spend some time at a traditional wagashi tea shop before ending our Nara Trip. Angela mentioned that Nara Machi was one of her favourite spotlights during the trip, of course apart from the adorable Deer. We definitely will return again, maybe not a Monday where most of the stores where closed.

I would say we really did a bad planning this time. You need to buff sometime from Nara to Kyoto and to Tokyo as there is no direct train from Nara to Tokyo.

We were almost late for our check-in timing in Tokyo again (like in Osaka). Thus, we encourage you to leave earlier if you are having a day trip from Tokyo to Nara. Highly recommend you to grab a bento at the train station and take a nap during the journey as it will be at least a 3 hours 50 minutes rides

xoxo, Joe

Moodboard

Mood Board | Pampas Grass

Are you a serial plant killer who can’t even keep a cactus alive, no matter how hard you try? There’s hope for you yet. According to a recent Pinterest home trends report, searches for artificial fronds and dried-out flora are seeing a huge boost in traffic numbers.

Always on the hunt for au courant houseplants or creative ways to display our air-purifying friends, we’ve turned to Pinterest to find out more about the botanical trends starting to take root.

At first glance, you may mistake pampas grass for an arrangement of ostrich plumes. The ornamental grass has a feathery feel and comes in creamy white and pastel pink varieties.

Already a fixture of Pinterest wedding boards, dried pampas grass is now seeping into home design. Make it the focal point of your tablescape in a vintage glass jug or display it outdoors in tall galvanized buckets for a rustic look.

xoxo, Joe

Credit | All shots used on the mood board via our Pinterest boards.

DESIGN The Moon's Insight

The Moon’s Insight | Fushimi Inari Taisha

Fushimi Inari Shrine (伏見稲荷大社, Fushimi Inari Taisha) is an important Shinto shrine in southern Kyoto. It is famous for its thousands of vermilion torii gates, which straddle a network of trails behind its main buildings. The trails lead into the wooded forest of the sacred Mount Inari, which stands at 233 meters and belongs to the shrine grounds.

Fushimi Inari is the most important of several thousands of shrines dedicated to Inari, the Shinto god of rice. Foxes are thought to be Inari’s messengers, resulting in many fox statues across the shrine grounds.

xoxo, Joe

RECIPES Weekend Brunch

Dan Dan Noodles

Dan dan Noodles (担担面, dan dan mian) is one of the most famous of Sichuan street foods. The freshly boiled egg noodles are served in a savory, spicy broth topped with crispy pork and peanut flakes. Simply stir everything together with a pair of chopsticks to coat the noodles with a bit of everything and slurp! The numbing, smoky, spicy sauce will shock your taste buds, leaving you craving for more.

When you go into different restaurants, you’ll find each chef has their own interpretation on Dan Dan noodles.

In Sichuan restaurants in China, the Dan Dan noodle dish is more of a snack than a main and is usually served in a small bowl. The noodles are soupier — mostly immersed in a thick red broth made with chili oil, with a small amount of pork on top. The broth can sometimes be too spicy to handle for most people, but it depends on the chef. Sometimes the chef will mix Chinese sesame paste into the chili oil to make the sauce creamier and mellow out the spiciness.

If this is your first time cooking with Chinese sesame paste, you will find it is quite solid and very difficult to dissolve into the sauce.

The best way to mix the sauce is by adding the sesame paste first, then mixing in the liquid ingredients little by little. Whisk the mixture with a pair of chopsticks (or a spoon) until the solid paste is fully blended with the liquid. Then add more liquid and repeat.

The ingredient list might look overwhelming, but the dish can be practical to cook even on a weekday evening if you’re organized enough.

The best workflow is:

  • Chop and prep all the vegetables
  • Mix the sauce (make chili oil if needed)
  • Start boiling water for the noodles
  • Use the noodle-boiling water to quickly blanch the vegetables
  • Heat up chicken stock in microwave
  • Serve everything family-style, so everyone can assemble their noodles to their preference

If you’re preparing this dish for a party, I highly recommend you prepare the sauce and the pork ahead of time, and they will stay good in the fridge for a couple days. Simple boil the noodles and heat up the pork and broth in the microwave right before serving.

Ingridents |

  • 4 tablespoons Chinese sesame paste (or unsweetened original peanut butter)
  • 4 tablespoons light soy sauce (or soy sauce)
  • 4 tablespoons Chinkiang vinegar
  • 4 cloves garlic, finely minced
  • 2 stalks green onion, finely minced
  • 2 tablespoons honey (or agave syrup)
  • 2/3 to 1 cup homemade chili oil with flakes (or to taste)
  • 1/2 to 1 teaspoon toasted and ground Sichuan peppercorns
  • 2 cups chicken stock, heated
  • 10 ounces (300 grams) dried egg noodles (or 1 pound /450 grams fresh noodles)

Method |

Whisk sesame paste and light soy sauce until fully incorporated. Add Chinkiang vinegar. Keep stirring until mixed. Then mix in garlic, green onion, and honey. Add homemade chili oil, 1/3 cup at a time, mix and taste the sauce. Add more chili oil if you want more spiciness. Add toasted and ground Sichuan peppercorns, 1/2 teaspoon at a time. Taste while you mix, until you can taste the numbing-ness but can still handle it. The more chili oil you add, the more Sichuan peppercorns you need.

Cook noodles according to instructions. Bring the chicken stock to a boil. For each noodle bowl, ladle 1/4 cup heated chicken stock into the bowl. Add 1/4 cup noodle sauce and mix with the stock. Add noodles, top with a few spoonfuls of the cooked pork and some of the spinach. Garnish chopped coriander.

xoxo, Joe

Japan TRAVEL

Kotonoha by Syoka | Nara

Before heading to Tokyo we when for a day trip to Nara. Apart from the deer from the park, there are lots of interesting restaurant, cafes, and shops around the area. And one of the place we got to try was Kotonoha by Syoka.

It is an outdoor cafe that sells ice cream, coffee, and also Japanese tea. When we pass by the cafe we are saying the people are crazy as they are eating ice cream during the cold weather. However, we ended up getting ourselves one too.

What caught our eyes other than the peaceful outdoor garden it is the deer biscuit on the ice cream. How could we miss the chances to try them? This place is indeed an Instagram-able location.

After ordering a Matcha Parfait Soft-cream at the counter we are given a number for wait. We when to got a seat at the garden. I believe the garden will be a beautiful place during the spring as they have a Sakura tree at the middle of the garden.

Worth to try this cafe when you are at Nara, never disappoints you.
xoxo, Angela

LIFESTYLE Moodboard

Mood Board | Gallery of Hats

Have you ever own so many sun hats—well, three—and wear them so often that you want to display them instead of leaving them in the closet? My hats are currently in a teetering pile in the closet, but perhaps one of these tutorials will finally inspire me to display them properly.

I love the idea of displaying the hat like a string of college. However, every time you want to wear one of them there is a moment of holding your breath as you pull it down. One of these days the whole thing is going to come down and you will have to start again. You can display it above your bed, wall or even staircase as a centerpiece.

One of the idea that I also prefer is having the hat stacking on a mannequin. It is like stepping into an art gallery looking at an art piece. Moreover, it is easy to take the hat that you want to wear without worrying about it to fall.

xoxo, Joe

Credit | All shots used on the mood board via our Pinterest boards.

DESIGN The Moon's Insight

The Moon’s Insight | Tokyo Tower

During our visit to Roppongi, as we take in the panoramic view of Tokyo one of the structure that stood out the most was Tokyo Tower. Since young, I always wanted to visit the Tokyo Tower and Eiffel Tower. Now I have accomplished one of it.

The Tokyo Tower can already be spotted when I am far. The bright red color is so magical. When I move closes to it the bright red is so unique, as a color lover I fall in love with it right away.

We are so lucky that during that night of our visit, the tower has a special light display writing ” I love Tokyo” on the tower. All the freezes and leg aching is all wroth it.

xoxo, Joe

Our Table Stories RECIPES

How to make Oden at Home

If you are familiar with Japanese drama or cartoon, you have probably seen a scene of salarymen eating Oden and drinking sake at a food stand at night with their coworkers.  It has been known as a food stall dish during the night time for relaxing after a day of work.  Fortunately, this dish can also be enjoyed at home and we can even take out from Don Don Donki. When I was in Taiwan years ago, I saw the 7-Elevens sell Oden as 關東煮.

I am not sure what’s the right translation for this recipe but Oden is a one-pot dish, which is a little bit different from stew or hot pot.  It’s more like simmered dish: assorted fish balls, fish cakes, atsuage (deep fried tofu), hard-boiled eggs and some vegetables are simmered in soy sauce based broth. 

I usually make Oden a day before so that all the ingredients will absorb good Oden broth and it tastes much better the following day.  In my house, I usually serve with Rice. The color seems boring because of mainly brown color, but the flavor is amazing and exquisite.  Maybe that’s why it’s a lot of people’s winter / new year comfort dish.

Oden Stock/ Soup Base Recipe
There is various type of stock base, and we ended up decided using a combination of kombu and Iriko Dashi.

Ingredients |

  • 2 pieces of kombu kelp
  • 20g of dried baby anchovies
  • 2 tablespoons mirin
  • salt, to taste, if needed
  • 6 cups of water

Method |
Start by cleaning the kombu kelp with a wet cloth. Then soak the kombu kelp and dried baby anchovies in 6 cups of water overnight. The next day brings the soaked water to boil. When boiling, skim and reduce heat to low and cook for 30 minutes. Season it with mirin and salt to taste.

Ingredients in Oden

  • Daikon (White Radish) – peel and cut into 1-2 inch rounds. I like to cook this before popping it into the Oden stock by placing it in a small pot covered with dashi. Bring it up to a simmer on medium heat and cook, until tender (you should be able to easily slide a butter knife into the center).
  • Atsuage – basically deep-fried tofu, this is one of my favorite things in Oden. The outsides are deep-fried to a golden brown, while the insides are the same pale white tofu that you know and love. Cut into cubes or in half into triangles.
  • Chikuwa – fish cake in a tube shape. Cut them into bite-size pieces and skewer them, or place them in as is.
  • Satsuma-age – fried fish cake and probably one of my favorite things in Oden!
  • Mushrooms – add an extra bit of umami to your Oden. Slice and pop in or quarter and skewer.
  • Whole boiled egg – we all need some proteins and eggs is the best choice!
  • Vegetables – definitely not traditional and not meant to be simmered in the stock, we added some carrots for the sweetness and color.

It’s homey, warming, filling, and one of our favorite things to eat when it’s cold outside. All it takes is a quick trip to the grocery store to buy the ingredients and you’re good to go. One of the best things about Oden is that everything in it is pretty much store bought: fish cakes, fish balls, tofu. But, if you’re feeling like a bit of prep work, you can also pop in mushrooms, chicken, quail eggs, potatoes. Basically the sky’s the limit!

Ingredients |

  • 8 inch daikon radish
  • 5 large eggs
  • Nishime Kombu (dried seaweed)
  • 2 pkg Oden set (Japanese fish cakes and fish balls)
  • 1 Aburaage (deep fried tofu pouch)
  • 1-inch carrot (cut into Flower Petals)

Method |
After preparing all the ingredients, we place them in an Earthenware Pot. Having the radish at the base, we slowly lay the ingridents nicely.

Then pour your stock in just enough to cover the ingridents ( do not over fill it as after the radish will release liquid). Boiled it for 30 minutes and you are ready to enjoy the dish.

Take a photo of your version, send us an email, tag us on Instagramtweet us, anything. We love to see you trying out our recipe!

xoxo, Joe

Japan TRAVEL

36 Hours in Osaka | Japan

Before I get into all the details about where I stayed, where I shopped and where I filled my belly I thought I should do a little debrief. So we went to Japan for 2 weeks in total (Nov 21 – Dec 4 for those reading this in the future). It took us long enough to look through the photographs we took during our trip. Honestly, we were shocked by the amount we have used for this trip. There were at least 24000 shots and videos have been taken. Therefore pardon us, we will be still taking some time to organize and share with you our Japan trip!

To think back that we almost do not have a place to stay on our first night. It’s pretty scary. I wasn’t in the best state and flare up quite a few time, which I believed that it wasn’t for my sister, Joe. I could have been worst.

Before the Trip

Where to Stay?
In my opinion, staying around Namba is like having the whole Osaka at your doorstep. I highly recommend that area, but unfortunately, not my Guesthouse. However, we totally fall in love with our the place we stay Guesthouse Oshiteruya that we booked through booking.com.

Simple and minimalistic, yet excellent! We chose Modern Style Private Room and loved the minimalism and cleanliness. Even though we are late for our check-in, the host was welcoming, firm in explaining rules and friendly.

Osaka Amazing Pass
We bought our Osaka Amazing Pass on Klook website and pick them up at
Osaka City Air Terminal at Namba Station. I am sure you’ve heard some great things about the pass but in case you haven’t, here are all the reasons why you should invest in an Osaka Amazing Pass during your trip. We have then save up to 60% for the trip using the pass in Osaka!

Osaka was the first stop of our two week trip to Japan, and we had originally planned to spend two full days there. However, due to our lack of planning, we ended up arriving in Osaka late at night. That only gave us 36 hours to explore the city. Of course, one day in a metropolis as big as Osaka is nowhere near enough, especially since Osaka has so much to offer. But it was enough for us to get a small taste of this amazing city.

Osaka Castle

Start your morning by heading to Osaka’s iconic castle. The castle opens it’s doors at 9 am and the park surrounding the park is open all to the public at all times.

We really enjoyed the views from the park and spent most of our time here getting photographs and enjoying the scenery. To go inside the castle it will cost you 600 Yen, however with the Osaka Amazing Pass you are able to enter it for free. The inside has been transformed into a multilevel museum that can get quite crowded in the afternoon.

The highlight of going inside the castle includes the view of Osaka from the top floor. If you are short on time, skip going inside the castle. We ended up climbing up the stair than waiting for the life as it was really crowded.

Nearest Subway Station: Tanimachi 4-chrome Station
Entry Fee: 600 Yen (free for OAP uses)

Shinsekai

Shinsekai is an infamous neighborhood regarded as the seediest place in Japan. To break this stigma, we decided to visit the area first and set the record straight.

Shinsekai can be directly translated into “new world”. However, the district is far from being new. Developed before the war, Shinsekai has been around for decades, except that it was much neglected before recent years.

Back in 1912, the neighborhood was constructed with New York and Paris as the model. The symbol of Shinsekai, the Tsutenkaku Tower that stands 103 meters high in the center of town, was an attempt to recreate the Paris Eiffel Tower before it eventually developed its unique identity.

With an Osaka Amazing Pass, you’ll be granted free entry into the main observatory at a height of 91 meters. You can also get 300 yen off if you are visiting the newly (2015) open-air deck (Viewing Paradise).

What to eat? Have some Kushikatsu!
Before you go, do your growling stomach a favor by having brunch in a Kushikatsu restaurant. Most of these restaurants are open 24 hours, so there is really no such thing as being too early or too late! Kushikatsu is one of Osaka specialties: a variety of meat, seafood, vegetables or even fruits battered, deep fried and served on skewers.

Nearest Subway Station: Ebisucho Station
Tsutenkaku’s observation deck is open 9 am- 9 pm, the admission fee is 600 yen (300yen for OAP uses)

Umeda Sky Building

As we headed Osaka during the early autumn season, it has a short day time. Which means the sunset ended early here! We planned to watch the sunset at the tallest building of every city and we did it! If you think the Umeda Sky Building is just a stone throw away, if not just next to the Umeda station itself, you got it all wrong. I was fooled as well. Luckily we get to figure up the map in a little while.

After 15 minutes trying to find the place, we made it at 3.30 pm, which was about 30 minutes to sunset during early autumn. When we went through the see-through escalator, we were enchanted… I never loved a city that much, the architecture in Japan was simply too mind-blowing!

Nearest Subway Station: Umeda Station
Fee: 1000 yen (free for OAP uses)

Dontonbori

We ended the first 12 hours by heading to Dontonbori. From Umeda Station, take the Midosuji Line (Red) to reach Namba Station. Dotombori is by far the most razzle-dazzle touristy neighborhood in Osaka, and there is where you can find the Glico man! But first thing first, you need to go exchange tickets for the Tombori River Cruise before anything else… and then go order your favorite takoyaki, take a selfie with Mr. Glico, shop some cosmetics,  sit around doing nothing, whatever! 

Tombori River Cruise
The boarding point is located in front of the Don Quixote discount store just by the Tazaemon Bridge. You need to be there 10 minutes before the ride. This 20-minute cruise will bring you down the Dotombori river, passing through the bustle of the Minami area and the 9 bridges over the river. It is a fun way to get to know downtown! Plus, the boat will make a quick stop in front Glico man for a photo session.

Nearest Subway Station: Namba Station
Fee for the Tombori River Cruise is 600yen (with the OAP it is free!)

Minoo Park

As the main purpose of the trip is to see the autumn leaves. If you ask a local where the best place is for autumn color in Osaka and you’re likely to hear ‘Minoo Park’.  It’s a short train ride from the city into the suburbs but well worth it for a nature escape and some of the best leaf color around.  While the area is really popular with locals it’s a little off the tourist trail so it makes a welcome respite from the busy city.

Before heading to Minoo Park, we check-out our hostel and head to Umeda Station and left our luggage at the locker there.

It is indeed a good choice that we had made, although it is crowded due to the season. However, we didn’t regret making the choice to head there. As we are heading to Kyoto next we didn’t spend much time there. However, we are glad to enjoy the view with some maple tempura!

Nearest Subway Station: Minoo station
Fee: Free of charge

What to eat?

Since Osaka is food heaven we will only list down a few of the must eat! If not I don’t know how long this post is going to be.

Onigiri-ya Hitotsubu – Onigiri (Rice Ball) at Umeda Station.
Kushikatsu – a variety of meat, seafood, vegetables or even fruits battered, deep fried and served on skewers.
551 Hori – BEST steamed bun and sui mai we ever have! They have it is most of the subway station. Best to have it with the mustard!
Tako Tako King – You can spot this Takoyaki shop right away by finding the giant octopus at Dontonbori.

There is so much that I want to share with you, but it is impossible for me to type out my whole trip here. Thus, leave us a comment below and tell ask what else do you want to know most about the trip. We hope we will answer your questions for any enquire and recommendation. Have a great week ahead!

xoxo, Angela.

LIFESTYLE Moodboard

Mood Board | Living Coral

Announced as Pantone’s Color of the Year for 2019, Living Coral established itself in both our natural and digital surroundings as an embodiment of dynamic activity in modern life. 

Our desire for social connection and authentic experiences are translated by the delicate balance between vibrancy and warmth characteristic of Pantone Living Coral. The soft golden undertones present in the energetic coral hue provides a versatile dynamic that encourages experimentation and playfulness.

Whether it be a houseplant, a landscape, or textures eliciting nature – Living Coral beautifully complements terrain elements due to its essential presence in the marine ecosystem. Inspired by the beauty of the coral reefs, Living Coral pairs elegantly with scenic and earthly elements to create a welcoming, yet familiar environment.

xoxo, Joe

Credit | All shots used on the mood board via our Pinterest boards. 

DESIGN The Moon's Insight

The Moon’s Insight | Yasaka Pagoda

Yasaka Pagoda, the last remnant of Hokanji Temple, is one of the most visible and recognizable landmarks in the Higashiyama District. Visitors may climb up the inside of the five-story pagoda, which is a rare opportunity as most pagoda can only be viewed from the outside.

We are so lucky that we are able to see the night view from the street, a dozen of the photographer is lying off the street to capture the amazing view. We did it too!

xoxo, Joe

Our Table Stories RECIPES

Si Chuan Red Oil Wanton

When it comes to Chinese New Year wonton/ dumpling is one of our favorite food. When we are young we will seat around our mother and she will teach us how to wrap them. However, we always ended up having flour all over us as we are playing instead of helping.

Moreover whenever one of our family is under the weather, or when I need to whip up something quick for dinner, Si Chuan Red Oil Wanton often comes to the rescue. This comforting bowl of classic wonton is our family all time favorites.

In the dumpling you can wrap anything that you like from minced pork, prawn, cabbage, chives, spring onion to chicken or even tofu! These time we ended up making our homemade classic recipes – a combination of everything!

Homemade wontons make all the difference because of the fresh ingredients we use in the fillings. Nothing is more satisfying when you bite into these juicy little dumplings, served in a flavorful chilli sauce using our Homemade Chilli Oil.

The wrappers used for wontons are square in shape. However, we also use the round one to make various type of shape. As are several ways to wrap wontons and everyone has their own preference.

Homemade wontons can be frozen and keep well for 1-2 months. Whenever you make wontons at home, make sure to make a bigger batch. This way you can quickly put a meal together whenever your family craves a bowl of wonton soup or when you need some tasty fried appetizer for a party. We call them the great emergency food – super convenient yet wholesome. 

Ingredients|

  • 2 green onions/scallions
  • ½ kg shrimp, shelled and deveined
  • ½ kg minced pork 
  • 1-inch ginger 
  • 1 package wonton wrappers 
  • 2 tsp soy sauce
  • 1 tsp sesame oil
  • ½ tsp sugar
  • 1 Tbsp potato/corn starch
  • ¼ tsp white pepper powder
  • Chilli Mixture (2 tbsp of Homemade Chilli Oil, 1 tbsp of vinegar and 1 tbsp of soya sauce)

Method |

To make fillings, chop 2 green onions into small rounds. Save some chopped green onion to serve with the sauce. Chop cilantro and set aside to serve with the sauce.

Cut the shrimp into smaller pieces, and then cut them into even smaller pieces (almost like a paste). In a large bowl, combine the pork, shrimp, and chopped green onion. Grate fresh ginger and add to the mixture. Add all the wonton seasoning ingredients to the mixture and mix well. We like to marinate them in the fridge for at least 2 hours.

While you wrap wontons, bring a large pot of water to boil.  Place a wonton wrapper on your hand. Place a teaspoon of the filling in the center of the wrapper. Start with a small amount so it’s easier to work with. Use your finger to moisten the edges of the wrapper with water.

When the edges have been moistened, fold the wrapper in half to create a rectangular shape, pressing any air that might be trapped around the filling. Fold the sides inward so that they overlap.

Wet the portion where the sides meet. Pinch to close and seal. Place the finished wontons on a baking sheet lined with parchment paper. Cover with plastic to keep them moist as you continue with the remaining fillings and wrappers.

After wrapping wontons, put 5 to 10 wontons in the boiling pot (depending on how big your pot is – the key is not to overcrowd the pot). Cook 5 minutes, or until wontons float on the surface of the water and are tender and translucent. I boil wontons separately from the stoup so the soup stays clear.

Transfer wontons to serving bowls. Continue with the rest of wontons. When you are done with cooking, pour some chili mixture over wontons and garnish with chopped green onions and cilantro.

Take a photo of your version, send us an email, tag us on Instagramtweet us, anything. We love to see you trying out our recipe!

xoxo, Joe

Japan TRAVEL

Tokyo Renga Pan

We got lots of nibbles back in Japan, and one of the spotlight are Tokyo Renga Pan. The Tokyo Renga Pan literally translates to “Brick Bread,” created after the iconic red bricks of the Tokyo Station building.

We purchased the most popular choice is the box of four such pieces of bread that itself comes in the brick design. The bread itself hides two layers on the inside: red bean paste and whipped cream infused with white bean paste. The gentle sweetness is addictive!

Since it is made freshly daily, we purchased them during the last day of our trip. We are so lucky that we are able get them as they are always sold out everyday.

xoxo, Angela

LIFESTYLE Moodboard

Mood Board | Back to School

Remember the good ole days of decorating your locker with neon magnets and stickers? Lockers were like our own little slice of personality-heaven in a world where we were told when to learn math, when to eat, and when to turn in our shoebox dioramas. I’m here to say those lockers days don’t have to be over just yet.

Can’t find vintage lockers in the color of your choice? Spray paint is always an option, just be sure to sand down any rust, and tape off any hardware you want to be left alone. My favorite one is the inbuild locker, it became part of your wall rather than furniture for your house.

Have you ever refurbished lockers or other vintage metal furniture? I’d love to hear your tips and tricks!

xoxo, Joe

Credit | All shots used on the mood board via our Pinterest boards.

DESIGN The Moon's Insight

The Moon’s Insight | Shinsekai

Shinsekai

Head for Shinsekai, the area with the atmosphere of the good old days with working-class shops and restaurants all lined up. There is a row of places specializing in the Osaka dish of kushikatsu and you can taste some of that Osakan down-home cooking such as takoyaki and okonomiyaki.

We then walk over to Tsutenkaku, the symbol of Shinsekai. The tower that was built by the same man behind Tokyo Tower. It cannot be said to be an ultra-high building but you can enjoy its retro appearance and its good sense of distance for Osaka. Don’t forget to greet the famous Billiken statue and stroke its feet to earn good luck.

xoxo, Joe.

Our Table Stories RECIPES

Homemade Chilli Oil

We just welcomed the new year and bid goodbye to the holiday seasons. By the first week of the new year most of the decoration have been removed. But as an asian, the holiday is far beyond over.

Usually, Chinese New Year will falls during the period of either January or February depend on the Chinese calendar. This year Chinese New Year came quickly. It falls on the 5th of February therefore, it is another busy month to go. Like Christmas, we need to get really and do spring cleaning at least a month ahead.

The kitchen would be like a battlefield as well. We will start shopping for decoration, goods and ingredients. Especially pre-making all the homemade sauces as these are the most basic and allow you to store it for a longer period of time.

Chili oil is such an important staple for Chinese families, equal to soy sauce and vinegar. For many Chinese people, chili oil is as important as ketchup is to American people. It always shows up on tables of small diners, no matter whether it’s a dumpling or noodle place. Once you’re hooked, you’ll want to pour it on everything.

Whenever I’m talking about chili oil, I always refer to homemade chili oil. It tastes ten times better than the store-bought product, lasts just as long if you store it in the fridge, and does not contain additives or MSG. There is this fresh aromatic nuttiness that bottled chili oil never delivers.

Plus, when you use chili oil like a Chinese person, you gotta mix in the chili flakes as well. The chili flakes are well toasted when you cook the chili oil, so they taste less spicy but quite smoky with a crispy texture. When mixing with noodles, these tiny umami bits coat the ingredients evenly and each bite releases waves of piquant zing to your taste buds. It’s as exciting as throwing a handful of Pop Rocks in your mouth!

The process might look intimidating at first, but you won’t believe how easy it is once you try it. There are three steps involved.

  1. Combine chili flakes with aromatics of your choice in a heatproof jar/ bowl.
  2. Heat the oil until it reaches 190 C, you don’t want to overheat it! If the oil is too hot, it will burn the pepper flakes and sesame seeds, and the resulting chili oil will be bitter in taste.
  3. Pour oil into the bowl with chili flakes. The oil will bubble fiercely at first and quickly cook the chili flakes. Simply mix everything together with a spoon and let the oil sit until cooled down.

That’s it! Now you have a jar of delicious chili oil to use to create an authentic Chinese flavor. The oil can be stored covered at room temperature for two weeks, or up to six months in the fridge in an airtight container.

Ingredients|

  • 4 tbsp crushed chili flakes
  • 2 tsp five spice powder
  • 1 tsp ground Sichuan peppercorn
  • whole star anise
  • 2 bay leaves
  • 1 cup vegetable oil 

Method |

Combine chili flakes, five spice powder, sesame seeds, star anise, Sichuan peppercorns, and bay leaves in a heatproof ceramic bowl that can hold at least 2 cups liquid. Place the bowl on a heat resistant coaster.

Heat oil in a wok (or a skillet) over medium-high heat. Add ginger. When the ginger starts to wither and turns golden brown, immediately turn off the heat. The oil should reach 370 degrees F (190 C) and no higher than 400 F (200 C) if read with an instant thermometer.

Carefully pour oil or use a ladle to transfer oil into the bowl of mixed spices. The oil will bubble for a few seconds and cook the spices. While the the oil is bubbling, use a metal spoon to stir gently to mix the spices, so they’ll cook thoroughly.

When the oil cools down a bit, scoop out and discard the star anise and bay leaf.

The oil is now ready to use! Its flavor will mature if you let it rest for a day, allowing the spices to infuse into the oil. Take a photo of your version, send us an email, tag us on Instagramtweet us, anything. We love to see you trying out our recipe!

xoxo, Angela.

Japan TRAVEL

Kit-Kat in Japan

We love Japan; from their culture, people to all the kawaii (cute) goods. Not to forget their delicious snacks and locals products you could get there. I would say they are one of the most originality countries in the world. Following weeks or months, we will occasionally introduce some of our favourites items or snacks visually via our blog. Be it, it’s from Japan, locally or worldwide.

We hope that you could get to know more with what we love and sharing some of our favourite snacks. Also what we would purchase during the travel to Japan.

We love chocolate and KitKat is one on the very top on the list. We would say that you should get while travelling in any part of Japan. You will be surprised to get to taste all kind of favours. What’s more is that what you can grab in Kyoto might not be able to find in Tokyo! In different cities, you get to try different favours of the local speciality. That’s what I love about in Japan! Everyday, everytime you get to try something new!

As designers, what we love the most about – are their packaging. The Japanese pay attention to all the little details and usually, it implements in their package designs and daily life. Many years back, KitKat pushed out writing the message on the box and it was my favourite design of all. It help me save papers and I’m able to write down any message and give it as a gift to people I love.

Over the years, KitKat also comes out with the design for New Year. Instead of just having a red package, it packed along with the classic KitKat. In Japan, their New Year is on the very first day of the year. During the New Year, gift money called “Otoshi-dama” will be given to every child by the family members and relatives. It is a very similar idea to the Chinese.

Something that we need to know is that, Japan make their Kit-kat in term of the season. I always thought that Japan is the land of green tea, however in the pass few month the shelf is always out of green tea snack, now I know why! So during Christmas it is their strawberry season, thus we able to get the Strawberry kit-kat on the shelf.

As far as we know, bananas don’t grow in Tokyo. Against all odds, Tokyo Banana’s achieved city souvenir status. Only brands with something special do KitKat collabs – they’re rare. So it’s our honors to able to get these limited edition tokyo banana kit-kat!

Please let us know if you enjoy post like this! We appreciate your feedback and comments and what more we love to exchange and communicate with all of you. Stay tuned for more new post weekly.

xoxo, Angela.

LIFESTYLE Moodboard

Mood Board | Live Young

Crate chic is anything but new. We’ve been perching on wonky old milk crates down at the hipster café since the turn of the Millennium.

But a bunch of European style-setters have taken the trend and given it a fresh new look by appropriating pastel-coloured bottled water crates for their homes.

The Insta-worthy results look straight out of a Wes Anderson set, with delicately-hued Evian crates working hard as design-led decor. Take a look at how these multi-tasking beauties have been used in some of the most stylish homes around the world.

xoxo, Joe

Credit | All shots used on the mood board via our Pinterest boards.

DESIGN The Moon's Insight

The Moon’s Insight | Osaka Castle

Osaka Castle

Osaka Castle is the very first stop that we went when we reached Japan. It’s really simple to find, and with 5 minutes walk, we can see the very beautiful white building – Osaka Castle.

I and Angela are not history fans so we planned not to visit the museum within Osaka Castle. However, with our Osaka Amazing Pass, we are able to enter free of charge. Thus we ended heading in, and I am happy that we did, as the view from above is impressive.

The park is huge so expect that the walk from Sakuramon Gate (which is South of Osaka Castle) to Yamazatomon Gate (which is North of Osaka Castle) to take approximately 15 minutes (a full walk around the entire castle grounds can take 30-45 minutes!).

Stay tuned for our blog on more about our Japan Trip!

xoxo, Joe


RECIPES Weekend Brunch

New Year Cold Soba

Slurp in the New Year with this traditional noodle dish. Made from buckwheat soba noodles in hot dashi, mirin and soy sauce soup, New Year Soba symbolises wishes for good luck in the year ahead and is eaten for dinner by the Japanese on 31st December every year.

For those who lived in a tropical country like us, we are surrounded by hot weather. Instead of eating the hot soba, we definitely prefer the cold ones. making soba at home is actually pretty easy, it’s incomparable to those we ate in Japan. But I promised that it definitely taste so much better than those you eat at some commercial restaurants out there.

When you cook at home, we always choose all the quality ingredients and make it with love.

Ingredients |

  • 14 oz dried soba noodle
  • ¼ cup sake 
  • ½ cup mirin 
  • ½ cup soy sauce 
  • 1 kombu (dried kelp)
  • 1 cup katsuobushi (dried bonito flakes) 
  • shredded nori seaweed (kizami nori), 2 green onions/scallions and Wasabi for granish

Method |

For the dipping sauce, in a medium saucepan, add ¼ cup sake and bring it to a boil over medium-high heat. Let the alcohol evaporate for a few seconds. Add ½ cup soy sauce and ½ cup + 1 Tbsp. mirin. Add 1 x 1 inch (2.5 x 2.5 cm) kombu and 1 cup dried bonito flakes (katsuobushi). Bring it to boil and cook on low heat for 5 minutes. Turn off the heat and set aside until it cools down. Strain the sauce and set aside. You can keep the sauce in an airtight container and store in the refrigerator for up to a month.

For the noodle, boil a lot of water in a large pot. Unlike pasta, you DO NOT add salt to the water. Add dried soba noodles in the boiling water in circulating motion, separating the noodles from each other. Once in a while stir the noodles so they don’t stick to each other. Check the tenderness and do not overcook.

Drain the soba noodles into the sieve and rinse the noodles to get rid of starch under running cold water. This is a very important step. Shake off the sieve to drain completely and transfer the noodles to the iced water in a large bowl. Set aside till the noodles are cool.

To serve the noodles, place a bamboo sieve or mat over a plate (to catch water from noodles). Put soba noodles and garnish shredded nori sheet on top.

Put one part of cooled dipping sauce and 2-3 parts of iced water in a serving pitcher or small individual bowls. Put chopped green onions and wasabi on a small plate and serve with the soba noodles.

Take a photo of your version, send us an email, tag us on Instagramtweet us, anything. We love to see you trying out our recipe!

xoxo, Angela