Oz life, 2 weeks down

Hello good people over the interwebs! I have been in the lovely lovely city of melbourne (sorry for the low case, but this keyboard seriously is making my life difficult) for exactly 2 weeks now. Impatient (and a tad perfectionist) as I am, I’ve had my moments of doubt and darkness; but very brief moments, since the shining new gym, sauna, jacuzzi and steam room in the apartment building I’m currently staying help with dealing with life crisis. So far I have walked across and around and up and down the streets of this beautiful city that has 4 seasons within one day. So far it has been rather pleasant even during the worst days, mind you.

Yarra river view.
Yarra river view.

After Asia times, coming to this Western environment has been such a shock that I have been eating sushi (hand rolls) every single day except for maybe 1 day. They’re everywhere! You can have them with brown rice, sometimes even black…and I can’t get enough. Specially when at the end of the day there’s discounts! I was not supposed to talk about sushi here…besides sushi, there’s a fair amount of other Asian heritage (and food), so one can easily feel homey, if the H&m and Ikea aren’t quite it. Food-wise, I also love the farmer’s markets. It is surprising how much cheaper food there actually is. And you get to have the conversations with the sellers, assuming they’re not too busy. And deals here and there as well, i.e a whole box of peaches for 2 dollars. From experience I can say that it is not easy carrying a box of peaches around town for a day.

You find this kind of stuff all over the place.
You find this kind of stuff all over the place.

I have kept myself pretty occupied with wandering and wondering about the future: I did agree to start writing blog posts for workingholidayjobs.com.au, which might mean more rambling on this turf, but who knows. I also got the opportunity to re-create the smoothie and juice menu for this one super cool and mouth-wateringly delicious semi-hipster restaurant-cum-coffee shop St.Ali, which I am pretty stoked about. Whee!
I do have a day job hopefully scored, but that remains to be seen, and today I finally managed to fix my missing apartment issue. Up until now I have had the luxury of staying at a friend’s well-set apartment in the CBD (Central Business District). I have truly enjoyed the brand new gym facilities and the rest, so we’ll see how I’ll settle to the “normal” life. It is about time I get a “normal” life, right?

I don't run here but I do see why some people do.
I don’t run here but I do see why some people do.

Yess, life. It is happening all the time but so far trying to arrange life has been a bit of a hassle. Like with the sim card that didn’t work after a week of trying, 6 online chats, 2 attempted phone calls from concierge’s phone, 2 promised calls to be made to my friends’ phone that never happened, and 2 days of waiting for a new sim card that never arrived. Amaysim, you did not deserve all that attention, attempt, and aggression I had for you. I hope no one will have to go through the same, when all the apartment ads and bureaucracies are asking for your phone number and you don’t have one.

Attitude.
Attitude.

There’s nothing wrong with hand rolls.

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How I Roll

Sushi, probably the best-known definition of Japan and the Japanese cuisine, is definitely one of my favorite things to eat and make myself. Rather than the conventional white rice rolls and balls topped with all sorts of sea creatures, I prefer to jazz things up a bit. By “a bit” I mean skipping the rice, which technically makes these rolls not sushi, since sushi is based on su-meshi rice. Sushi or not, these rolls are as modifiable as far as your imagination goes, and my results have always been rather pleasing.

Here’s few ideas on What and How to Roll.
If you want your rolls raw, opt for ingredients that require no cooking (duh). If heating is not a problem, then you have more options to choose from. Since there is no need for washing, soaking, boiling and waiting for the rice to cool, the rolls are ready to be devoured quite quickly. Fast food at its’ best, specially if you don’t cut them!

Step 1: “Rice”
First of all, the base of the roll doesn’t need to be rice-like. You can opt for quinoa in stead of rice, or puree or chop some cauliflower into tiny bits to make it resemble rice (add some cashews for extra creaminess). Sprouts, salad or chopped cabbage work as well – the result just won’t be so conventional sushi-like. If you use cabbage, sprinkle it with some salt and squeeze excess liquid out. Mixing some chia seeds in gives more texture, but also helps to bind the moisture. If the base is too moist, it might be hard to roll and the nori might break.

Chopped veggies for filling
Chopped veggies for filling

Step 2. Veggies
Go crazy. Anything works – the more color, the prettier! Avocado gives creaminess, carrots and bell peppers are nice and crunchy, mushrooms are always good…try your favorites, but don’t over-stuff the roll – you’re supposed to be able to actually roll it (or then just eat it like a temaki handroll, but still it shouldn’t be too fat). If you wish, season the fillings with wasabi, pepper or which ever spices you wish.

Few favorite combos:
Sprouts, avocado, fresh mint and mango
Cauliflower “rice”, avocado, cucumber, red bell pepper
Salad, strawberries, cucumber, fresh basil

Cabbage-chia (mushroom powder) base with veggies, ready to be rolled
Cabbage-chia (and mushroom powder) base with veggies, ready to be rolled

Step 3: Ready to Roll
Place a nori sheet on a dry cutting board (or use sushi bamboo rolling mat). Spread your “rice” evenly, leave about 1/3 of the top of the nori without filling. Top the “rice” evenly with veggies, and hope for the best. Moisten the top edge with water, fold the front edge over the fillings. Keep rolling until the end, making a firm tube. Place the seam on the cutting board, and use your best knife to cut even pieces.

Quality nori and knife are essential in cutting the rolls
Quality nori and sharp knife are essential in cutting the rolls!

 

The rolls are best served with tamari/shoyu soy sauce, with gari (pickled ginger). And what’s sushi without misoshiru (soup)? Oh, and edamame (soy beans) would make a perfect appetizer to this. All to be enjoyed with a nice pot of sake and a cup of green tea, of course.

Itadakimasu!
Itadakimasu!

Have you tried making sushi yourself? What is your favorite kind of sushi – conventional, fusion or other?

Luxe life

The reason for not posting for a while is not that I did not have anything to write about; quite the contrary. Last week’s Friday I got to see my mother for the first since leaving to Japan! The last week I left Paul Yee Mansion and moved to The Luxe Manor in Tsim Sha Tsui, Kowloon island.

Beautiful decor in Luxe Manor
Beautiful interior in Luxe Manor

 

Even the toilet in the hotel room was bigger than the room I live in! Besides the luxurious room, there was a rather satisfying gym, and very fulfilling breakfast with a lot of things I didn’t expect! And since my mother came from Finland, I got some souvenirs…

Finnish twist to Hong Kong breakfast
Finnish twist to Hong Kong breakfast

I didn’t think I missed something from Finland, but oh man, the rye bread was something divine! And let’s just say that the souvenir salmiakki I brought to work didn’t last more than 15 mins. I was not the only one enjoying it, though.

 

Dada bar with dada drinks and decor
Dada bar with dada drinks and decor

 

This week I did, saw, experienced and ate a lot of things I haven’t done, seen or tried before. Just to mention a few:

Hong Kong from the Peak
Hong Kong from the Peak

 

Viru beer in a triangle bottle in the highest bar in Asia: Ozone, 118th floor
Viru beer in a triangle bottle in the highest bar in Asia: Ozone, 118th floor of Ritz Carlton

 

 

Lamma Island, almost deserted with beautiful nature
Lamma Island, almost deserted with beautiful nature

 

 

Horse races. To be honest: horses were not the main point in Happy Valley that night
Horse races. To be honest: horses were not the main point in Happy Valley that night

 

 

Tai O: fishermen's village with a lot of character (and gooey, smelly, purple shrimp paste)
Tai O: fishermen’s village with a lot of character (and gooey, smelly, purple shrimp paste)

 

 

Vegetarian sushi. I know
Vegetarian sushi. I know

 

 

Oh yes, these past 10 days have been exquisite – I even got to be a pincushion, aka try Traditional Chinese Medicine and acupuncture. I will not do that 3 times a week as advised. This evening mom left back home to freezing Finland, I came back to my home to sweating hot Wan Chai, and started munching on the salmiakki I hid for this kind of situations. Homesickness? Nah. But there is quite nothing like being with family. And we were home, or at least I was. I think mom was happy to go back to the peace and quiet.

 

Oh, I will miss these pillows and everything that came with them
Oh, I will miss these pillows and everything that came with them

Monthiversary

It’s been a month and a day since I came to Hong Kong. Time flies, though on one hand it seems like much more than just a month that I’ve been here. Besides work, lately my life has been filled with the following.

Nice views from the tram
Nice views from the tram

I took my first tram ride as well as the ferry to Kowloon last week!

Notorious sushi buffet (yes that is ice cream, one third of our order) after paying the rent
Notorious sushi buffet (yes that is ice cream, one third of our order)

Gluttony in sushi buffet after paying the rent. You never know if you’ll order will come or not – they might bring 6 oysters even if you didn’t order anything after the 12 ice creams they brought…

Red wine chocolate macaroons and wine in East Island Markets
Divine red wine chocolate macaroons and wine in East Island Markets

I can never get enough of the New York vibe in East Island Markets and it’s small, often local producers.

Michelin-worthy dining
Michelin-worthy dining

Hanging out with friends; we went to a Michelin renowned dumpling place, where we got to sit in the back room next to bags of who-knows-what. Not bad for 2€ meal, but definitely not worth the Michelin.

Canapés at Libertine
Canapés at Libertine

Foodie club’s event as well as a gallery opening for Adidas – more of that lovely New York atmosphere for me!

People who have eaten or have diarrhea should not go swimming
People who have eaten or have diarrhoea should not go swimming

Yeah, I have done other things than just eat! I went to test the swimming hall, and it surely was an experience! if Chinese people are on your way when walking, they tend to have the same chaos in the water, too. And even at 8 am, the pool has more people than a Finnish pool has in a whole day!

And the happiness continues tomorrow, when I get to see my mom for the first time in over half a year! And I get to spend over a week on the other side in Kowloon, in a hotel! And I don’t have to cook! And I get to go to the gym! And I can finally do all the tourist stuff there is! So much exclamation points that I’ll start getting embarrassed!

Round and round nom

Maybe one day I will be able to read the name of the restaurant

What is Japan without sushi or (in the case of me, a poor student) kaiten or conveyor belt sushi, where you pick your favorite portions as they come from the kitchen. In case you are lucky enough to be dining with a Japanese-savvy person, you can also order items from the menu, and they will be delivered to your table. Even though your nihongo is not that strong, pointing at the sushi plate pictures is efficient way to get your favorites, too.

In Beppu I have found 2 kaiten sushi places so far, one in You Me town and the other one is where the pictures are from. Unfortunately I have no clue what the name is, but it is located near Beacon Plaza (also known as the diving tower).

Lots of information, lots of variety

Reasons why I like kaiten-sushi:

It is cheaper than going to a sushi restaurant (in Beppu, two pieces of ebi, salmon, unagi and other more common nigiri cost 105y, as well as most of the gunkan-maki and 4 pcs of maki. More expensive sushi are approx. 300y, which is around 3€)

It is fun to watch the conveyor belt and different kinds of sushi

You can eat various kinds of sushi, as much as you want (which can lead to an unpleasant surprise as the plates keep on piling up)

Unlimited green tea, gari (pickled ginger) and wasabi

Relaxed atmosphere

Happy and fully satisfied, Japanese style

Nom.