Unagi Maki, Inari, and Onigiri


For this month’s Washoku Warriors, our challenge was sushi. I’ve made sushi before, but it has been a long while since I was able to successfully execute a maki roll. One assignment was a maki roll containing unagi 鰻 (broiled eel), daikon radish sprouts, and cucumber. My cucumber went bad before I got to it so I substituted the crunch with red pepper. I added a mayo/sriracha sauce  inside. I really didn’t like this sushi, but it was mainly because the eel I used was from a can and disgusting looking.

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Another challenge was inari いなり寿司 (fried tofu pocket sushi). I make inari all the time,  so it was quite easy. After making 3 inari and a maki roll, I still had leftover sushi rice so I made some onigiri mixed with furikake and bean sprouts. After making all of these, I found out the rice was too dry and had too much vinegar in it.


Inari – Nov 18th Bento; Onigiri – Nov 20th Bento

Northern Virginia Magazine, November Issue

1109coverThis month’s issue of Northern Virginia Magazine is the “50 Best Restaurants” issue.

When compiling the list of restaurants and staff reviews, Northern Virginia also pulled from user reviews and added a new feature, the “Second Opinion” section.

An excerpt of my review of Tachibana was chosen and printed with the staff-review of it. Honestly, I was surprised that my review was picked because I have only been to Tachibana once and I only ordered one dish–shabu shabu. Tachibana is known for their bento boxes and sushi, not their shabu shabu. The only reason I ordered shabu shabu there was because Tachibana is one of the only authentic Japanese restaurants in the area, and at that, one of two in the area that supposedly carried shabu shabu.

I think that there might not have been many user-submitted reviews to pick from, and maybe mine contrasted the greatest with the staff review and that was why it was chosen. I’m glad that I got printed, but it is a little bittersweet for me since some of the other “second-opinion” spots I read weren’t that well written. I didn’t read the user-reviews that weren’t selected though, so these may have been the best of the bunch. (Please don’t take this to mean that I think my writing is stellar. I write the way I speak–you won’t see anything here or on the other sites I write for that sounds unnatural, disingenuous, or contrived. I do NOT write with a dictionary or thesaurus on hand.)

Regardless, I am absolutely elated to have something I’ve written actually printed! It’s much different to have something of yours in a tangible publication you can actually hold in your hands!

I’ve uploaded three different images of my excerpt– just my “second opinon”, the whole Tachibana review, and the whole page.


Packing for Hypoglycemia/Type II Diabetes

This is a guest post that I wrote for Just Bento. It was originally published there on October 28th, 2009.


Me & My Sister

Diseases that involve blood sugar often creep up on you. It wasn’t until my mother was older and my younger sister and I were well into our teens that we were exposed to hypoglycemia and Type II Diabetes. Type II Diabetes is a growing epidemic in the world, and most people don’t know that it’s actually preventable. My mother’s poor diet habits led her hypoglycemia to develop into Type II Diabetes. My sister and I both have hypoglycemia and are in trying to keep Diabetes at bay. Unfortunately, in a culture that advertises unhealthy and fast food at the same time as a thin=attractive mentality, it is hard to win this war.

By eating a well-balanced diet and eating when your body tells you to (whether this is three, four, or five times a day), great strides can be taken to eliminate the risk of developing Diabetes. I am currently in the process of helping my sister understand not only her disease and its risks, but also valuable life skills such as cooking and budgeting. My sister is just starting college and she needs to be able to budget the adequate time and money needed to planning her meals, as well as understanding what types of food she should and shouldn’t eat. I think bento does a great job of meeting all these requirements because it’s fun, transportable, environmentally friendly, economical, and is a medium for learning.

The first step for my sister was to acknowledge that she needs to start taking better care of herself. We set in place some emergency foods that she should have on hand at all times (mini-energy bars, ginger candies, glucose tablets, etc). The amount and type of “emergency” foods will vary for everyone depending on the severity of their blood sugar issues.

The second step is to make it as easy as possible. My sister knew what bento was long before she started making it herself since made them for her and my brother during middle and high school. She was familiar with the portions and equipment, but had no idea how to plan meals. I took her to the local Asian super market and walked her through the aisles, seeing if she could pick some things out on her own. We left with some simple and filling dishes, including curry, okonomiyaki mix, noodles, and furikake.


Before teaching her how to make dishes, I opened the refrigerator and showed her how there were leftovers that could be reused into bento. It was important to let her know that bento can be comprised of leftovers from the night before or recreated as ingredients. This was key to making bento seem less over-whelming. We scrounged through the refrigerator and found vegetables for okonomiyaki and leftover chicken cutlets to dress some restaurant-bought salad. I watched as my sister made the pancakes and then quizzed her on what she thought should go into the bento to make it more balanced. So far we had some fresh light vegetables, protein, and hearty pancakes. We agreed that something to snack on that wasn’t too un-healthy was needed and decided on some fruit cereal, chocolate candies, and a ginger candy.


My sister only requires bento two to three times a week because of her current class schedule. I took this opportunity to show her that you can make bento whenever you have free time, not only the night or morning before classes. I had done most of the work in the first bento (above), but I made it my sister’s job to execute the second one as independently as possible. She decided on sesame noodles topped with some of the same chicken in the other bento and some furikake. Even though these are packaged noodles, I told my sister she could drain almost all the broth to make them healthier. After the noodles, my sister was stumped as to what to put in. I asked if she had any fruit and we cut up some oranges. While I placed the oranges into a foil cup, she remembered that some black and white animal crackers would go well with the bento—noting the color contrast. I smiled as she gently layered the crackers into another foil cup.

My sister had never had these particular noodles before, and she loved them. Bento is another way to try great foods, since half of the battle is presentation.

I periodically check up on my sister to see how things are doing in school, including how her bento-ing is going. She often asks me questions about what things go together, or how to transport a particular dish. I keep reminding myself that a few months ago my sister never packed her lunch and only knew how to make grilled cheese. She’s come a long way in such a short amount of time. I’d like to believe that bento has made her more conscious of money, time, and her health. Most importantly, she hasn’t gotten sick since school started and she’s feeling more comfortable in the kitchen.

Even though these bento might not be the most beautiful, colorful, or well put together, I try to stress a balance that is obtainable by those that are starting out in the kitchen.

Carte Postale des Etats Unis


Diana from Bento Concept and her friend KaraChiwie are still traveling around the world with bento. Last month was Japan and this month is USA! It was a little hard for me to think of truly American foods, since a lot of things I eat are Asian in nature. Everyone is welcome to join the bento-around-the-world adventure!

Contains: Mini-apple; Godiva peppermint bark; chicken pot pie; honey-thyme carrots; macaroni & cheese; blueberry Jell-o; cheesecake; pretzels

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October Bento

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Oct 5thTangy Seared Chicken Wings; rice; grapes; salad with salted plum dressing; green tea castella

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Oct 8th – Rice; leftover vegetable korma; mini leek quiche; strawberry soy drink

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Oct 13th – SweeTango apple; boston creme pie pudding; inari topped with hijiki relish; grapes; mini-quiche; sweet and sour radishes


Oct 19th – Mini quiche; inari; grapes; watermelon yogurt


Oct 29th – Breakfast Bento: toffee peanuts; cheerios; peach brandy & peanut butter half-sandwich; blackberry preserves & peanut butter half sandwich. Lunch: chili pasta with sweet basil pesto sausage; corn

I didn’t really have that much bento this month since I relied heavily on my boyfriend to make me lunch almost everyday. I was busy with other things, especially baking!