• In Paris, Tokyo Lamen (40, rue Ste Anne, near Opera) looks and tastes considerably more like the real thing than the somewhat overrated Higuma (a block up in the same street).
  • Ramen and gyozas get two thumbs up, yakisoba wasn’t that convincing… but then again: who orders yakisoba in a ramen-ya? (an idiot, that’s who).
  • When experimenting with a new ramen place, always order the miso ramen: less chances for anything to go wrong than shoyu or other more delicate ramens (says Saeko).

Will you help a homesick gaijin cum starving Parisian student get back with the food, drinks and music he loves?

Any assistance on where to find the items below, subject to reward in the form of a free homemade dinner (sexual favours to be considered on a case-by-case basis only).

Bonus points for stores conveniently located close to 6th arrondissement (yea, yea: anything will do, but just in case).

  • Rice cooker: will soon die of starvation if I don’t get one. Was told to check out Chinese grocery stores… Haven’t seen any at Tang Frères… Specifics, anybody?
  • Fresh shiitake mushrooms: Japanese grocery store rue St Anne only carries the dried kind… Also sure the Chinese have that: how the hell do you say “shiitake” in Chinese?
  • Fresh kinugoshi tofu: Same as above (only have very bland vacuum-sealed stuff). Tell me somebody in France is making fresh tofu out of all these GM soybeans.
  • Yellow curry paste: address of a cheap Thai grocery store anybody? (Please don’t reply “somewhere in the 13th arrondissement”: have you seen the 13th arrondissement on a map lately? it’s big).
  • Cranberry juice: WhoWhat does a girl need to do, in order to get a proper Cosmo around here?
  • Glock 10 mm. or S&W .44 in working order: to be used as teaching material in my upcoming class: Neighbouring Relations 101 – “How Much Noise is Too Much Noise at 3 in the Morning?”.
  • Used audio amp & speakers: cheapness is of the essence here, seeing how I recently unloaded 30k yens of audio material on miscellaneous friends and not about to do the same here in six months.

Sorry for the sparse blogging as of late (I know: piccies don’t count). I’ll just leave it up to you to pull the appropriate form RFC-3563 (a.k.a. “I’m sorry I did’t blog for so long. Here are the reasons why…”) and fill it with whatever you fancy.

In order to break the silence, I am not gonna rant about spitefully incompetent French university personnel, nor am I gonna express any sort of opinion about the current bouts of suburban pyromania taking place one hour north of the city I’m moving to next month (oh no, we aren’t talking about that. keep walking. keep walking. just a bit more… yep, good).

Instead, I’m gonna give you the detailed recipe for the most amazing Japanese dish you’ve ever had. And not only is it yumtastic, but it’s also dirt-easy to make and vegetarian. If you’ve lived in Japan any, you probably know about the difficulties of following a vegetarian diet in this beautiful country. In fact, if you meet somebody here who tells you he is a die-hard vegetarian, he is most likely either a liar, an imbecile or eating the vast majority of his meals at home (I know a couple of the latter). Oddly enough for a somewhat buddhist country, the concept of vegetarianism is about as foreign to Japan as it is to your average midwest eatery (where asking for a vegetarian meal means you want a side order of fries with your 3-pound rib-eye steak). No matter how hard you try, and even after you’d eventually manage to convey the idea that neither chicken skin nor seafood could reasonably be considered “vegetables”, the ubiquitous fish-sauce that’s added to about any edible dish in Japan will get you in the end.

Luckily, I was never the religious veggie type: I did not eat meat or fish during my last few years living in SF, but it was mostly by choice of a health-conscious diet, not the deep-seated conviction that I would be snacking on the reincarnation of my grandpa. While not a deciding factor, the fact that my dearly beloved was a veggie herself helped a lot… Not that she would impose it on me or anything, but it just makes things infinitely easier when you don’t have to cook two of each meals you take together…
And overall, SF might be one of, if not the, most herbivore friendly cities in the world, where opening a restaurant without at least a few decent vegetarian dishes on the menu is akin to commercial suicide.

Yet, I was never hardcore and had no qualms about ever so occasionally partaking in some delicious late-night cheeseburger goodness. What can I say: In-N-Out burgers are like the choir boys of vegetarian priesthood… It’s just impossible to resist.

So upon moving to Tokyo, I quickly decided to spare many an awkward encounters with flustered Japanese restaurant employees by accommodating whatever was on the menu and keeping my vegetarian tendencies for home-cooking. Though even this isn’t quite as easy here as in sunny California, considering the substantial difference in availability and pricing for fresh groceries that do not contain tentacles or miscellaneous animal parts.

A man needs his calories, especially in Japan, and there are only so many ways you can cook tofu before getting seriously tired of it. Let’s face it, tofu is quite bland, edible at best (granted there is a world of difference between what you’ll get in a supermarket and what I can buy at the Tofu-ya just down the road), hardly anywhere as exciting as, say, a crispy strip of bacon. Unless… Unless

Unless you make:

Agedashi Tofu (揚げ出し豆腐)

This amazing recipe will single-handedly revert any misguided aversion you may have toward eating coagulated rotten soy beans, or as we like to call it around here: tofu. It draws its powers from an ancient and revered cooking technique, one that holds the magical property of turning any semi-edible piece of junk into sin-inducing candy goodness: deep frying.

Some of our readers are no doubt familiar with this staple of fair food in the UK: deep-fried Snickers chocolate bars (or its Kentucky’s US equivalent: deep-fried squirrel balls) and its much improved yummy-factor as a result. Well, tofu works the same: the technique will turn an overall unappetizing lump of healthy proteins into a much-less-healthy, but infinitely more sexy, golden tofu beignet, whose creamy inside will melt on your tongue. Add to it our patented Magical All-purpose Japanese Sauce™ (sold separately, see details on top), and you have yourself a strong contender for best Japanese food, on a tight spot with Shoyū Ramen.

Convinced now?

On to cooking then:

Chalk it up to a simple equation involving roughly 2 weeks of time, 50 pages of yet-unwritten report and 500+ pages of reading material… Blogging just hasn’t been a priority round here lately.

What has been a priority, though, was the quest for any combination of chemical aides, likely to make the required 250 hours of studies in 10 days, a technical, if not quite reasonable health-wise, possibility.

Thus, in the spirit of killing two heart-attacks with one stone, and without further ado, the first episode of:

Dr Dave’s Guide to Chemically-Enhanced Studying in Japan

I did promise you we would resume our Recipe Monday series, didn’t I?

I know. I am one week late. Some people have written to complain that my instruction to stash in advance on the main ingredient had caused a few problems with their spouse and neighbours. some petty matter of smell or something.

In order to make up for that, it is not one, but TWO recipes, that I shall bestow on my eagerly awaiting cooking public this time.

Tonight, we will be making a complete luxury meal, starting simply with a Pork Chops in Mango Chutney & Ginger Sauce, merely there to lay the groundwork for a scrumptious Squirrel Melba in Champagne Sauce.

No recipe here tonight. But Neuro has decided to join the, ahem, Recipe Mondays posse, and has posted a delicious recipe for a dish we could translate as Duck au pineapple, or something like that…

It’s in both French and English, go check it out if you don’t know what to cook tonight and have a few extra ducks running around your garden.
BTW, Neuro is adamant: crows do not make a suitable substitute for daffy duckies…

Another great source for your gastronomic needs is Kristen, at Mediatinker, who has been blatantly infringing on our Monday Recipes™ trademark for many years now: she calls it Thursday Recipes, but I think we all know who was first on that breakthrough concept. Ha. To add assault to the injury, she even stole the recipe I was gonna do last week: Pasta Carbonara… a Dr Dave’s School of Cooking staple, if there ever was one!

But this sneaky attempt at driving the competition out will not be tolerated!

Keep your utensils ready. For next week will be a very special edition of Recipe Mondays with Dr Dave. Expect heights in culinary refinement!

Also, if you can, try to catch and peel a couple medium-sized squirrels during the week: they need to be prepared at least 24 hours in advance, and you do not want to be caught unprepared come Monday.

Today: Yellow Coconut Curry!

To my surprise, last week’s first edition of Recipe Mondays was met with unmitigated success among the blogging crowds. And because we thrive to please our public, here at Dr Dave Logs Inc., I shall do my best at keeping up with the now firmly established tradition of Recipe Mondays!

What? It’s not Monday anymore? Well, I’m sure it’s Monday somewhere else in the world right this moment. Internet time, all that…

By the by, talking about Monday…

Part 1: The Rant

I guess saying I despise Valentine’s Day and its commercial faux-fluffiness would make me sound like some kind of bitter dateless hater, or at the very least like an unromantic grinch who can’t enjoy an honest-to-goodness holiday when he’s handed one on a heart-shaped silver platter.

First let me clear that out: if I didn’t thoroughly enjoy being single on Valentine’s Day, then why on Earth would I manage to break up every single year without fail just a few days before it. Surely there must be some sort of subconscious fear that, come that fateful day, any lingering relationship, would require me to attend some kind of official Valentine’s celebration, likely out of common decency and possibly at gunpoint.

In fact, I don’t really hate Valentine’s that much. I am not this person who spend their day hissing at whatever looks like a mating attempt between two humans… It’s just that I don’t get it. I don’t get what’s so “romantic” about buying cheap industrial crap and/or overpriced luxury items as the yearly token of your undying love. If anything, it just goes to show that gender equality hasn’t made much of a significant progress ever since the dark ages, except you no longer pay your bride’s father with a herd of goats, but give the payment to your loved one directly, and preferably in expensive shiny stones.

But truth be told, I don’t really care, one way or the other, about the materialism of it all (hey, after all, ’tis Japan: over here, I am the one who receives chocolates for Valentine’s). I could live with it, if not for that freaking herd mentality.

Hear me now: I haven’t completely lost touch, I am well aware that any celebration is all about herd mentality.

But take, for example, that exercise in futility that is Superbowl Sunday: We all know Superbowl Sunday has little to do with watching the terminally boring encounter of two dozen gorillas on a green field… it’s all a very blatant excuse to get absolutely shitfaced with your friends on a Sunday afternoon and pass out in bed at 7:30pm. For you and me, it might not sound so exciting, especially seeing how that’s what we do every Sunday to begin with (well, I know that’s what I do anyway), but for some married folks, it does make a difference.

Problem is: while it might add to the fun to wedge yourself between 50 of your fellow beer-swilling football fans at your local watering hole, it adds very little to the romantic frame to be competing against every other couple in the city for mediocre seating at some not-so-great restaurant on Valentine’s Day. You might enjoy a communal atmosphere on your intimate dates, I don’t.

What? A recipe? oh yea… the recipe…

Part 2: The Recipe

What better way to celebrate the Day of Love than by cooking a delicious Yellow Coconut Curry to share with your roommate and your very-much-ex special someone (yea, no hard feeling, at least as long as I cook).

Yellow Coconut Curry is so laughably easy to make that even I hesitated to use it for this week’s recipe. But then I remembered that if you are the kind of person who gets his cooking advice from a website that usually draws people searching for “japanese upskirt pictures” (according to Google), you are not looking into becoming the chef at Pierre Gagnaire’s (well, might have to get rid of Mr. Pierre Gagnaire, to begin with). Talk about the paraplegic leading the blinds…

Okay, ready?