Blue skies and blossom

Spring is here and Oxford is in full bloom. We’ve had ridiculously blue skies for the past few days. I thought I’d post some shots which I took around the city, and in particular, of Magdalen College when I went there last weekend.

St Michaels 1

It’s the Easter holidays and revision for Finals is underway. Studying is definitely easier when every street is beautifully washed with golden sunshine and blossom in bloom. The pastel colours and sandstone of the buildings are glowing in the sun. This photo was captured along St Michael’s Street. Continue reading “Blue skies and blossom”

Lunch at Koto

 Taro reviews the “little corner of Japan in North Parade”

A few weeks ago, I had a really lovely meal at Koto with the fairly lovely Naomi. It was so lovely in fact that I wanted to share it with you all.

Koto 3

Naomi kindly treated me to the meal which made it taste all the better, particularly because the cost of the dishes averaged above £9. And that was not including white rice for those dishes which are usually accompanied by it. It is (sadly), however, a truth universally acknowledged that a man in possession of a desire for Japanese cuisine of reasonable quality in the UK, must be prepared to pay out into the double figures. Koto’s quite high prices then, while they should not be a source of pride for the restaurant, should not be a source of prejudice for us either. (Two points to you if you got the reference.)

The particular dish we had was the Koto’s lunch time speciality – ramen!!!! (Regrettably, every mention of ‘ramen’!!!! must be followed by four exclamation marks. It’s annoying I know, but I don’t make the rules.)

Continue reading “Lunch at Koto”

Winter Warmth at Wasabi, Oxford

It feels like they were refurbishing this spot for years in preparation for Oxford’s newest Japanese restaurant, but last term, Wasabi finally opened. The prospect of there being a Pret-equivalent where I could dash in for a bowl of yakisoba kept me in high spirits through the Autumn. Therefore, (I admit unashamedly) I was there, of course, on the day of its opening to see if it lived up to my expectations. Wasabi is a chain of restaurants with places all over England, and I was familiar with Wasabi in London. I was looking forward to tasting Oxford’s flavours and seeing if it would take over Itsu as my favourite take-out spot in town. Continue reading “Winter Warmth at Wasabi, Oxford”

An Autumnal Casserole

chicken-casserole

Before Autumn is officially over, I thought that I had better post this! A couple of weeks ago, I made a casserole for me and my friends which turned out to be delicious. It really warmed us up on a chilly evening. It was very simple and included potatoes, carrots, onion, and chicken breasts. I wanted the natural juices of the veggies and chicken to flavour the casserole really, so I only added vegetable stock and ‘mixed herbs’. I sweated the onions slightly so that they were a little caramelised, which added a subtle, sweet flavour to the dish. I could have thickened the soupy sauce with some cornflower, but instead I decided that a richer, thinner juice was more appropriate for an autumn evening.

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Not the Katsu I Know! Giraffe, Oxford

If there’s one dish which I crave when in the UK, it’s katsu. It’s beginning to feel very much like the winter now in Oxford, and there’s nothing more delicious than a nice, warming dish like katsu. So when I was visiting Giraffe (George St., Oxford), my heart skipped a beat when I spotted that it was on the menu. Under the heading of ‘Bowls for the Soul’ was ‘Katsu Chicken’:

Breaded chicken and noodles in a mild peanut & coconut sauce, with bok choy, tenderstem broccoli and wok-fried vegetables

Katsu chicken and noodles? A peanut & coconut sauce? A stir-fry? This pan-Asian mixture intrigued me: at first I laughed out loud because it sounded so funny. But I accepted that it was British-Japanese food with an intriguing twist, and after I ordered the dish I was thrown back to memories of a delicious meal of tonkatsu which I had in Ikebukuro last summer. Continue reading “Not the Katsu I Know! Giraffe, Oxford”

From Osaka to Oxford: Okonomiyaki

Last summer Taro and I were travelling with another friend around Japan with a JR Rail Pass. We were staying in Hiroshima and were heading East to Tokyo, moving North up Honshu. On the way, however, we decided that we needed to visit Osaka. Unfortunately this was two hours in the opposite direction to the one which we were heading. With limited time on our hands (but an unlimited travel pass which we wanted to make the most of), we caught a ride on the shinkansen down to Osaka for lunch. Specifically, for okonomiyaki. Absurd? Yes. Worth it? Oh boy, yes and yes again.

Osaka 2

Continue reading “From Osaka to Oxford: Okonomiyaki”

Taro’s Nostalgic Walk – The Walk to the Station

In truth my relationship with Japan, above all else, is defined by nostalgia. However stimulated I may be by ponderings on the psychological and philosophical connotations of our British-Japanese biculturalism – as Naomi and I like to explore on Thinking Japlish – my emotional interaction with Japan is nostalgic; it is why I love it, it is why it’s the only place I ever really want to go.

Nostalgia, though it is perhaps the most enigmatic emotion of all, is also one of the most distinctive and compelling. Whilst it can never be consciously summoned and only an external trigger can bring it out from your subconscious, no one could mistake that cocktail of joy, yearning and regret it evokes. It is a particularly apt emotion to explore in the context of Japan when so much of Japanese art is pre-occupied with it – just think of any Hayao Miyazaki film; and consider how much more common a word ‘natsukashii’ is than ‘nostalgic’.

Continue reading “Taro’s Nostalgic Walk – The Walk to the Station”

Halfie Hour: Alexandra Luo

Konnichiwa, Thinking Japlish readers. Today I have an exciting gem of a blog post: an interview with another fellow Eurasian and dear friend of mine who is half Chinese, half British. I hope that you enjoy the interview below, when we asked our guest all about her experiences of biculturalism.

Alexandra Luo Continue reading “Halfie Hour: Alexandra Luo”

Free Apps for Learning Nihongo

Welcome to my friend Rosa who is helping me to review these fun and useful iPhone apps which are great for learning Japanese. Rosa is also from Oxford, but she’s currently on her year abroad studying Japanese and Literature at Kobe University. She has plenty of experience of studying Japanese, so it’s super to have her to help! Continue reading “Free Apps for Learning Nihongo”