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Saturday, September 17, 2016

Burger Boss

Mr. Mochi loves a good burger. He loves everything from cheap fast food burgers to Umami burgers, and everything that lies in between. We have had serious debates and conversations about the various burgers we've had together, tackling tough topics like "which is better: In-N-Out or Five Guys?" Our answer: they exist on two different price points both monetarily and calorically and therefore cannot truly be compared besides personal preference, however I like In-N-Out better and he like Five Guys better.

Burgers are honestly one of his favorite foods, so when we got invited to try Burger Boss of Lake Forest's menu in advance of their grand opening, I knew we had to take a break from blogging about my travels through Japan and go check them out.

Monday, September 12, 2016

Adventures in Japan: Beppu and Yufuin!

Beppu and Yufuin are both resort towns in the Oita prefecture in Kyushu. We stopped at both along our way back from Yawatahama back to Fukuoka.

Beppu and Yufuin are both famous for their onsens, but the Eight Hells of Beppu (別府の地獄), where you can see plumes of steam rising was quite the impressive sight! Even when driving around we could see plumes of steam rising around the city. It was very eerie as it looked like the whole place was about to go up in a volcano.

Check out the steam plumes!
After leaving Yawatahama (I fell asleep on the ferry back, it was a very long day), we arrived in Beppu to spend the night at the Umine hotel in Beppu. Our relatives wanted us to try the onsen hot springs that Beppu is famous for, but worried that we would balk about getting naked in a public onsen. So instead, this hotel had a private onsen bath with an ocean view in our hotel room! The hot spring water is piped into an outdoor patio for private enjoyment without having to even leave your room.

Sunday, September 11, 2016

Tenjosajiki Cafe (天井桟敷)

After leaving Beppu, we drove up and down mountains to reach Yufuin. We stopped by Yufuin on our way back to Yawatahama for a quick visit so our relatives could show us more of Kyushu.

While in Yufuin, we stopped by Kamenoi Bessou (亀の井別荘) a ryokan (inn) that included hot springs, a wonderful souvenir shop, and a restaurant space upstairs that was a cafe during the day and a bar after 7pm, called Tenjosajiki Cafe and transforming into Yamaneko (山猫) at night.

The ume pound cake
We picked up some citrus jam from the ryokan shop and ate it with toast all throughout our trip. It was less like a kitschy American souvenir shop and more like a luxury specialty shop that focused exclusively on regional and seasonal items. I loved browsing through there!

And stepping outside to take in the greenery surrounding this ryokan was magical: the mists swirled around lush greenery, cherry blossoms, and leafy trees. For a Southern California resident used to nothing but drought, it was truly like being transported to a magical forest.

Wednesday, September 7, 2016

Onsen Tamago (温泉卵)

In Beppu, there is a whole cuisine of cooking using the hot steam that erupts from the earth. Called jigokumushi (地獄蒸し), it literally means "hell steaming" which is perhaps my favorite name for a style of cooking, ever. Baskets of food are lowered into the surprisingly powerful steam of the hot springs and a short time later you have fresh produce, thin cuts of meat, and eggs cooked in the steam. There is even a jigokumushi pudding, where a flan is steamed in the mineral-rich steam that jets out of the earth.

I obviously couldn't share a recipe with you on jigokumushi as I don't know about you, but I don't have any hot spring jet steam handy and I think my steamer at home wouldn't be a good substitute. So I am sharing something just as traditional to both Yufuin and Beppu: Onsen Tamago (温泉卵).

Onsen Tamago literally means "hot spring eggs," and as you might have guessed, is named because the eggs are traditionally cooked in hot springs and served at ryokans (inns). Rather than the steam jets of jigokumushi, the eggs still in their shells would be lowered in baskets or nets directly into the hot springs themselves.