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Best place to eat outdoors when visiting the Big Buddha with children

I am addicted to "Mook". I would stab a guess that Mook, spelt in Katakana, is derived from the English "Magazine-Book".  A concept not unique to Japan, but adapted so vehemently in Japan that they came up for a word for the reading material that is somewhere between a magazine and a book! The Mook I buy are travel mooks. And I have over one hundred at this stage; for the kanto area alone. Travel Mooks are a great source of information for planning a trip to a particular destination. My latest Mook purchase was in preparation for my trip to the Yuigahama area of Kamakura to stay in the WeBase Hostel, complements of City-Cost. When travelling with young children it is very useful to get the feel of an area from research before setting off on your travels. I had a whole itinerary planned out for our respite in Kamakura. The Yuigahama area has a huge choice of eateries of all different styles and such an amazing selection of cuisine. I took great consideration in choosing the most suitable cafes and restaurants for our combined needs. I was so looking forward to sitting at the beach front and enjoying the infamous vegan buffet at the Sairam restaurant with a reputed sea view and comfortable outdoor seating area. The back-up plan if the kids were too tired to take the walk to Sairam was to indulge in some top notch Japanese cuisine in the 70 year old Kamakura Matsubaraan, right beside the WeBase Hostel. And there was always Daisy's Café as the really safe bet, should the kids want somewhere unfussy that was within a comfortable walking distance and offered palatable rice dishes for a two and four year old. However, as you can imagine if you have kids or ever had the pleasure of travelling with some; things rarely go to plan with little ones involved - especially when they are tired, hungry, agitated or, as was the case the day we visited the Big Buddha; a combination of all! Actually it was a blessing in disguise that we deviated from our original plans, because I got to enjoy a past-time from days of yore, before I ever had kids, of just randomly choosing a place to go based on the feel of the place and to a lesser degree the menu. This was how we ended up in Family Restaurant Queen in the White Lily Mall less than a minute from Hase Station on the Enoden line. Despite lots of breaks in cafes and rest areas, the kids were exhausted from the travel, agitated by the heat and famished after our visit to the Big Buddha ten minutes walk from Hase Station. I knew they wouldn't make it to even Daisy's Cafe which is geographically the closet to the Big Buddha (of the three afore mentioned restaurants). On our way to the Big Buddha I had spotted Queen and taken a mental note, thanks to the fish flip flops on display at the entrance to the mall it is located in. It turns out the fish flip flops have been featured on the TV quite a bit lately and are the most famous offering of the White Lily Mall, which is a really quirky space; essentially a concentration of "booths" in an alleyway. Each booth offers something, some are shops but the majority of them are part of the Queen restaurant. Each booth is a small room and they are decorated differently. You can choose, according to availability, which booth you would like to dine in. They are all really fun, but we wanted to sit outside and that's what we did.There are a number of tables in the courtyard of White Lilly which are used by the Queen restaurant. You can choose smoking or non-smoking. The tables are mainly picnic table style and seat up to around eight people. The kids chose a table beside the entrance to the Shonan Aqua Safari park, a booth with small animals you can hold and pet. There were a bunch of fish aquariums around our table with hundreds of fish. The kids delighted in watching them. The food is nothing spectacular, but it is perfect for families with young children: reasonably priced with a great selection of food that will appeal to children. They also have a fantastic selection of ice-cream made from local milk. Within the mall there is a kappa shrine and lots of other fun features for kids such as life size Moncchichi teddies and other children's paraphernalia on display. The staff are very friendly, although service was a bit slow, but I didn't mind because of the laid back feel of the place. You can help yourself to water from the "Warter Jag"!! There are a lot more elegant places to eat outdoors in the Yuigahama area of Kamakura. And there are definitely a lot more appetising places. My research turned up at least twelve places with seating outside with a sea view and tempting cuisine and then of course there are all the beach huts on Yuigahama beach itself. But if you are just looking for somewhere to fill tummies with outdoor seating (sans sea view), on your way to or from the Big Buddha from Hase station, that is a bit of quirky and fun yet comfortable and alluring to children, family restaurant Queen in White Lily mall might be the place for you!DetailsWhite Lily Mall management website: https://www.white-lily.co.jp/shoplist/kamakuraLily Company on Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/lily.co.ltd/Family Restaurant Queen on Tabelog: https://tabelog.com/kanagawa/A1404/A140402/14063682/Hours: 10 am to 8 pmAccess: one minute walk from Hase Station. Parking available next to the mall.

Japan By The Water: family friendly Yuigahama Beach, Kamakura | KANAGAWA

Last week we had the very great pleasure, thanks to City-cost, of staying in the We-Base Hostel in the historic, tourist and coastal city of Kamakura for a couple of days. The timing was perfect as this month, today in fact, and every year on the third Monday of the month, we celebrate Umi no Hi or ""Ocean Day" in Japan.  We-Base Hostel is located just a minutes walk from Yuigahama beach and as I had my two youngest children with me, we spent a lot of time down by and in the sea. I had been to other beaches in the Shonan area of Kanagawa prefecture, but it was my first time to Yuigahama. And I was sufficiently impressed.The beach was much nicer than I had expected, although in saying that it is nothing spectacular either. It is a large beach and very well organised. It is suitable for relaxing on the beach, playing with sand, swimming, water sports and a casual stroll. Dogs are allowed. It is for the most part clean on the beach front, but we did see a surprising amount of rubbish on the boardwalk and footpaths. It is not rocky which is always a bonus! As the tide comes in quite a lot of sea debris is brought in with it, such as seaweed, twigs and sea shells. Of course, this isn't dirt per se, but you do need to take care where you walk as it washes up on shore. The beach has a reputation of being "Showa style" as there are a number of beach huts from the Showa period. I was personally glad of this retro style and the shade afforded both in and beside the various cafes and restaurants on the beach. People from all walks of life seem to diverge on this large beach and there is really relaxed, cheerful and friendly atmosphere about the place. We visited on a weekday so as you can imagine it was quieter than on the weekend. However, the locals say that even on the weekend you can enjoy the beach in relative comfort in the early morning; that the crowds only really start to descend from 11 am. The first time we visited it was mid afternoon and there were lots of people relaxing on the beach and quite a few in the water. There were a couple of surfers and lots of windsurfers at this time of day. The sand was too hot to walk on, especially for my 4 and 2 year old, unless we were in the shade. So we only visited in the morning after that.  In the morning there is a great buzz in the air with all the surfers out to catch the morning waves. And between them and all the dog walkers, the area feels quite social even in the early morning. There was literally a wall of surfers for as far as the eye could sea. The area seems to catch quite a strong breeze. In the afternoon it was hot and afforded little refreshment, but in the morning it is a lovely refreshing breeze. The sea was borderline cold at 7 am, it was heavenly for my Irish DNA, but it is lukewarm by about 9 am, which suited the kids better! We particularly enjoyed our morning visits to this beach. There aren't many facilities for families with babies, but I do think it is a nice beach for children from the age of two years up. Especially as the beach huts are very convenient and offer the chance to get out of the sun and enjoy some refreshments. You can buy swimming rings and other air floats to use in the water in nearby shops (beach and sea front). There is a great selection of cafes and restaurants on and near the beach, offering everything from Apple tart to Zucchini! There are skateboard ramps right on the beach. There is a small park beside the beach, Kamakura Seaside Park, with a few pieces of playground equipment. Finally, Yuigahama Beach is very accessible by train, taking less than two hours to get to from Shinjuku station (access details and map below). Yuigahama Beach DetailsWebsite: https://www.city.kamakura.kanagawa.jp/kamakura-kankou/0602beach.htmlSeason: July 1st to  August 31stCharge: The beach is free to use. You can hire / purchase beach paraphernalia. Lifeguards: ◎during the official season onlyFirst Aid Station: ◎in one locationLook out post: ◎ in one  locationToilets: ◎in two locations plus two more sets of portaloos. One wheelchair accessible toilet.Showers: ◎in three places. They are free.Beach houses: ◎ 17 in totalSmoking area: ◎Parking: ◎for up to 200 cars at Yuigahama Underground Parking; the entrance is beside Kamakura Seaside Park. The car park costs 520 yen per hour during beach season (July to August).  Access By train: Yuigahama beach is accessible from a few train stations. One of the closest is Yuigahama station on the very quaint Enoden line. You can get the Enoden line from the larger Kamakura station to the East or Enoshima station to the West. From Kamakura station to Yuigahama station takes only a couple of minutes and from Enoshima station it takes only 20 minutes. Hase Station on the Enoden line is also within walk-able distance; it takes about five minutes. You can even walk from Kamakura station to the beach too. It takes approximately sixteen minutes on foot. By car: 6 kilometers from the Asahina Interchange of Yokohama Yokosuka Road on route 204. 

“Take your love” to the inspirational WeBase Hostel! Redefining the hostelling experience in Japan

I have always been very impressed by the standard of guest accommodation in Japan. Between the professionalism and the perfectionism, the cleanliness and the convenience, and the little extras most accommodation like to provide, there is little to fault about the hoteliers in Japan, apart from the cost. The higher prices are justified with the level of service, facilities and supplies that come as standard in Japanese accommodation. However, I have always felt there was something missing, something I couldn’t quite put my finger on; until I stayed in the hotel-esque budget accommodation WeBase Hostel in Kamakura that is. Like the instant awakening of being doused in a cold bucket of water, it dawned on me with forceful clarity while staying in WeBase Hostel. What has been missing from my travel experiences in Japan has been social interaction. Sure staff and guests at hotels, pensions, hostels and B&Bs are friendly, but it is coated in that level of professionalism that stifles any opportunity for relaxed and genuine friendly interaction. Encounters rarely pry into the personal and skim the level of acceptable. But in WeBase, for the first time in my seventeen years in Japan, I had an experience with both staff and guests that was truly social and engaging, and added to the overall experience of an already memorable stay. The staff members, most of whom speak fluent English, are not only professional to a tee, but also helpful, friendly and personable. It is just one of the many je ne sais quoi of this gem of an accommodation in the beach resort area of Yuguihama in Kamakura, Kanagawa. In the reception area there is an expressive mural used as a photo spot for guests of the hostel. The message at the top of the mural is an evocative pun on a Beetles song The End: “And on your travels The love you take Is equal to the love you make”. I think it is very reflective of, and speaks volumes about, the philosophy of WeBase. The friendly reminder on the mural in reception reminds all travellers of the need to put in to your holiday what you want to get out of it. The mural’s message, like the staff, encourages a relaxed and open ambiance. Meanwhile, the layout of the hostel contributes to and facilitates the opportunities to interact with other guests. That and the many activities they offer such as regular yoga classes in their yoga studio Another World on site. As you would expect from a hostel, sleeping quarters are for the most part shared. As it turned out there were only three from my family in our dorm room and no-one in the fourth bunk, so we didn’t have a sleeping buddy. But thanks to the communal areas we still had plenty of encounters with our fellow hostel-mates. We met people from all over the world. It was so wonderful to hear all the different languages; at least seven different languages were spoken during my stay. I talked to people from Japan, China, the United States and Spain. I also talked to other guests from other countries around the world, we just never broached the “Where are you from?” topic. Despite visiting more than twenty of Japan’s prefectures and staying in a variety of accommodation over the years, the only other time I have encountered this level of interaction is in a Shared House in Tokyo. Shared Houses are usually for long term visitors and by and large occupied by foreigners. WeBase is suitable for a one night stay to a long term stay and has as many native Japanese people staying as it does foreigners. The visitors were such a mixed bunch. There were other families like us, who were touring all the area has to offer and enjoying the beach. There were some guests staying to enjoy some of the many activities offered by the hostel, such as the “Yoga including Female Dorm” package or rental bikes or culture classes. There was a group of mixed gender friends and a couple of pairs of friends too, some from overseas, some from Japan. And there were plenty of solo travellers of all ages, one of whom seemed to be a long term guest in the hostel using it as his base as he explored the Kanto region. On the lower floor of the architecturally stunning modern building of concrete and wood, there is a lounge area where you can relax and eat. It has a fridge, kettles, microwaves, crockery and cutlery, a sink and rubbish disposable. There is a vending machine in the area that sells instant noodles. You can use the kettles in the area to add hot water for an instant quick and light meal. There are other vending machines selling soft drinks and alcohol. There are computers here that are free to use. There is a spacious and comfortable seating area, with warm furnishings contrasting beautifully against the natural wood and concrete of the impressively designed building. It is in this area that most guests congregated in the evening during our stay and a bubble of chatter filled the airy space with personality and jovialness. Down a corridor from this shared space is the communal bath, or if you would prefer them; private shower rooms. I have lived in Japan long enough that I embrace the public bath, but I was impressed by the number of short term overseas visitors that were keen to enjoy this quintessential Japanese experience. There are instructions written in English of how to use the bath. In fact, the hostel has instructions on how to use everything in the hostel in at least English (and Japanese) and often Chinese and Korean also. There are other facilities on this floor including the very popular yoga studio Another World. As much as WeBase pumps conviviality there is plenty of space for solitude and tranquillity, such as their Meiso Garden or the decking in the breakfast room / restaurant. WeBase is as much for introverts as extroverts… or anyone in between. You can even book a private (double) room, if you would prefer your own privacy. Each dorm bed comes with its own curtain for privacy, but you still have a personal light to use in your space. The dorm beds reminded me quite a bit of a capsule hotel bed, only more comfortable and spacious. Another of the many appeals of WeBase Hostel is that it takes the sting out of the cost, which I mentioned above as being the only thing I can normally fault about Japanese accommodation. Although it is a hostel, the term does not do it any justice as that conjures up an image of a basic no frills accommodation. This couldn’t be further from the truth. WeBase has many of the trimmings of a hotel, but at an affordable and appealing cost. Unlike a lot of hostels, the beds are actually made up for you. The rooms and the hostel in general is pristine despite being right by the sea. The hostel provides towels for you to use during your stay. They even give you a free pair of (disposable) slippers! And while you don’t have a personal toilet if staying in the tatami and dorm rooms, they have plenty of toilets and vanity sinks per dorm units and tatami rooms. Apart from the hospitality of the staff, the friendliness of the guests, the attractiveness of the facilities, amenities and services, the striking architecture, the affordability, comfort and accessibility of the hostel there are lots of little extras that add to the enjoyment of staying in WeBase Hostel in Kamakura. It is very unusual to find a hostel that mimics the comfort and convenience of a hotel, but with add-ons that are lacking in their more expensive counterparts. And given WeBase’s prime location just a minute walk from the beautiful Yuigahama beach, it is even more unusual for a bed to cost so little. But more than all of this is the little touches you find throughout the hostel, such as the large painted wall map with Polaroids of the attractions added to it. Or the beach access entrance where you can take a shower to rid yourself of sand before you enter the hostel. They have locker rooms beside the shower which I found very convenient; enjoy a swim at the beach, come back have a quick shower and put on a fresh pair of clothes sans sand before entering the hostel. The locker rooms here and in the communal bath have pin code locks meaning they are free and convenient to use; no need for money or a key. Generally, I got the overwhelming impression that a lot of thought and consideration was put into the design of the whole building, which is as artistic as it is practical. First impressions, last: as I first walked into WeBase Hostel it was hard to believe that it was a hostel and not a trendy modern hotel. After exploring it further inside and indeed taking stock of its grandiose design both inside and out, my lasting impression is that a new term needs to be coined for this type of sojourn. All things considered, hostel doesn’t quite fit the bill for this unique and attractive temporary lodging. If glamping is glamorous camping, WeBase may very well redefine the experience of hostelling … glamorous backpacking “glampacking” to the max!   THANK YOU WEBASE AND CITY-COST FOR A MEMORABLE GLAMPACKING EXPERIENCE! Details Name: WeBase Hostel Address: 4 Chome, Yuigahama, Kamakura, Kanagawa Prefecture Budget: Approximately ¥3,800 per person, light breakfast included in the Gent Brasserie restaurantWebsite: http://we-base.jp/kamakura/ Social Media Accounts: Facebook https://www.facebook.com/webasekamakura/ Instagram https://www.instagram.com/webasehostel/ Staff Blog http://we-base.jp/kamakura/blog/ Access By train: WeBase Hostel is an approximate three minute walk, toward the beach, from the Yuigahama station on the very quaint Enoden line. You can get the Enoden line from the larger Kamakura station to the East or Enoshima station to the West. From Kamakura station to Yuigahama station takes only a couple of minutes and from Enoshima station it takes only 20 minutes. You can actually walk from Kamakura station to the hostel too. It takes approximately twenty minutes on foot. By car: there is no parking for guest’s use, but there is a large car park a few minutes away that you can use at your own cost. Yuigahama Underground Parking is beside Kamakura Seaside Park. This post is a special report for which City-Cost gives bloggers in Japan the chance to engage in new experiences in Japan to create posts about.

A pleasant time in Kamakura and the WeBase Hostel

Thanks to City Cost I had the opportunity to stay one night at the WeBase hostel in Kamakura and for sure, I also used this time to do some sightseeing around the Kamakura area. I spend a great time there and want to thank everyone involved. And now, let us take a detailed look on the hostel itself!  Community Hostel WeBase Kamakura The WeBase Kamakura is a pretty modern looking hostel in the Kamakura area. It is located close to Yuigahama Beach, which makes it a perfect stop over for everyone who wants to enjoy some time at the beach in Japan’s summer. But not only this, it is also a nice starting point for your sightseeing trip around Kamaura (I will come to this later). You can reach it within a two minutes walk from the Enoden station Yuigahama, but also a 15-20 minutes’ walk from Kamakura station is possible.   When you enter the hostel, you come inside a bright corridor with big windows and a view to the courtyard where hydrangeas were blooming. There are unique drawings on the wall which makes the modern styling perfect. Also the reception looked welcoming and a really liked the wooden pattern there.   The Rooms  WeBase Kamakura is a hostel with different dorms. You can decide between mixed and female only dorms, which have 4 or 6 beds in one room. All rooms include comfortable bunk beds which you can close with a curtain. You have your own socket, usb outlet, reading light, personal slippers and for sure, also a locker. However, if you are travelling with big luggage, only your valuables might fit inside. Toilet and sink are shared with others. It is also possible to book a whole bunk bed room as private for your group of 4 to 10 people. But not only this. They even have family rooms with sofa beds for family and groups which include an en suite bath, TV, refrigerator and other things. Or you can stay a Japanese styled futon room and sleep on tatami flooring. Also couples have the opportunity to book a private room with a double bed. If you want something special, plans including a rental Kimono or a yoga class at the Another World studio are available, too. As you can see, there are many ways to stay at WeBase Kamakura. Check out all room types and night rates on their website.   The Facilities The WeBase area is pretty big and has to offer many facilities for their guests. First starting with the big lounge, which is located in the basement of the building. With a view on the courtyard you can relax, watch TV and enjoy your time with other guests. At the reception you can rent games for free. Furthermore, at the lounge you find some PCs, a small kitchen area with refrigerator, water cookers and microwaves and even a vending machine with instant food and alcoholic drinks. At the lounge I especially liked the wall decorations. One big corner is filled with a map and pictures of Kamakura, so you can get ideas for your sightseeing tours and other places you would like to visit. The other corner is free for the guests to write messages.  Also at the basement you find the shower rooms, which are clean and include soap, shampoo and conditioner free for use. A lot of mirrors, sinks and hairdryers are there, too. The shower rooms are open for 24 hours. Just at the other corner the Japanese bathtubs are located. These you can use from 7:00 am to 10:00 am and from 4:00 pm to midnight. Belonging to the building, WeBase Kamakura is connected to Brasserie Gent. This is a French inspired restaurant where you can find interesting dishes for your lunch or dinner. They even serve good wines and beer. For WeBase guests every morning a light breakfast is served for free at the restaurant ground. This includes toast, cornflakes and potato salad.   The Activities Inside the WeBase building the Another World Studio is located, which offers daily classes on yoga, meditation and more. To find out about the schedule, you can check their website. As a WeBase guest you get a discount and only need to pay 1,000 yen for a class. Other cultural experiences are also possible, as for example wagashi workshops and Japanese tea ceremonies are taking place regularly. Check out the event list on WeBase’s facebook page to be up to date with this. If you want to explore Kamakura, the staff members will give you all the information you need. They even have rental bicycles which you can get for 1,000 yen a day. If you pay a little bit more you even can use an ebike.   My Impression I stayed at the female dorm in a room with four bunk beds. It looked nice and was very clean. What I especially liked about the dorm room is that it is separated from the main corridor by an extra small hall way. So if you open the first door, you come in a smaller corridor which leads to two dorms. Inside this small area you find a sink and two toilets which only the people of these two dorm rooms are sharing. This is a great idea! In the evening I relaxed for some time in the lounge. There are several books, magazines and manga you can take a look at, however a lot is in Japanese. The hostel has free Wifi everywhere, so I also could surf in the internet while sitting on the comfortable chairs and looking outside. The bed was good as well, not too soft and not too hard, so I could sleep well. In the night it was really quite, because the hostel is situated in a calm area. The staff members all could speak English and were very friendly. When I rented my bicycle I even got some sightseeing information and they could quickly tell me how long it would take me to cycle to certain places.If I ever spend a night in Kamakura again or some of my friends will ask me for a place to stay in this area, I really can recommend WeBase. I would go there again! Places to visit around WeBase If you are staying at WeBase, the first place you should visit is the Yuigahama Beach. You can easily reach it with just walking down the street for a few minutes. The beach is really nice and you might find many surfers catching waves in the sea. I was told by a staff member about special huts opening at this area in summer, serving special food and drinks. So the beach might also be a good place to visit in the evening. The famous Great Buddha, Daibutsu (鎌倉大仏), is just around 15 minutes away by foot and if you haven’t visited there before, you should definitely go and see the around 13 meter high bronze Buddha statue. It is already situated there since 1252 and one of Kamakura’s highlights! Just close by is the Hasedera temple (長谷寺). Next to a beautiful temple garden an eleven-headed Kannon statue is there. When climbing up the hill, you also have a great view over Kamakura to the ocean. Especially when the hydrangea is blooming in June and the beginning of July, it is really beautiful there. But that is not all you can see in Kamakura. There are great hiking trails around the mountains or you can walk around – or if you want it easier take the bus and trains – to see all the historical shrines and temples. Also strolling around the shopping street at Kamakura station is nice. Through renting a bicycle at WeBase I also can say, that Kamakura is a great city to explore by bicycle, because you can go quickly to all the destinations. For example, cycling from WeBase to Hokokuji temple (報国寺) in the further Eastern part of Kamakura took me less than 30 minutes. The hostel opened on 15th September 2016, so the first anniversary is coming soon! So if you are planning a trip to Kamakura, why not stay over for a night or more at WeBase Kamakura? :D - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - This post is a special report for which City-Cost gives bloggers in Japan the chance to engage in new experiences in Japan to create posts about.

Shin-Yokohama Ramen Museum

If you are keen on or have a chance to drop in Yokohama, you may want to give this place a go. However, for those who are not so interest in ramen or Japanese cuisines, this place will disappoint you a little bit. I think most of you guys have heard about the Ramen Museum in Yokohama at least once and those who fell in love with Japanese culture, must have looked up for information about this place. Nevertheless, photos on Internet may deceive you. I was also lured in because of the photos on the official page which show that the place is spacious and full of surprise to explore but in fact, it is kind of small and the tour around the museum in just 20 minutes. Despite of its size, the location is not bad at all. The museum comprises of three floors. The entrance is located on the top floor. Going through the entrance, you will find an exhibition area explaining about the origin, development and diversity between regions of ramen. Of course, English version is available and the explanation is significantly detailed which I think will attract ramen-lovers. Different types of stocks and noodles are also paraphrased. Next to this is the souvenir shop selling ramen-inspired merchandises. Instant ramen and instant stock can also be found here. Downstairs is the where the ramen restaurants located. The overall area was decorated to replicate the streets of Japan in 1958 when ramen was first invented. The founders of the museum must have gone into great length to recapture this nostalgic atmosphere. No detail is neglected and the chosen music really makes you feel like wondering in a 1950s town. I didn't dine in any of these restaurants but I saw there were dozens of Japanese having meals here so the quality of food is okie. Then, if you are fond of ramen or Japanese noodles in general, just drop in the place. Here is the official website of Shin-Yokohama Ramen Museum: http://www.raumen.co.jp/english/You can find the location and ways to access on the page.

Ishikawacho Steet

It was a busiest sunday for me. Despite of busy schedule, I managed to capture few shots while walking at Ishikawacho street, japan.Visit my website

Easy Yaki Onigiri Recipe { 焼きおにぎり }

焼きおにぎりYaki onigiri are something I always order at Japanese pubs! Grilled coated in soy sauce, served hot with a dab of melting butter, yaki onigiri are crispy on the outside, soft on the inside and a pleasure to eat. So overpriced in pubs, but nothing compares to the smoky flavours the onigiri picks up from meat or fish previously cooked on the same grill. Mmm…Recently I received glorious news from a teacher at work – you can freeze yaki onigiri! Say whaaaat??? Not that I ever have leftovers on the rare occasion I make yaki onigiri, but today the craving struck me and I headed straight home after work to make a double batch!In case you are wondering, onigiri are those little triangle shaped rice balls, a super popular lunch and convenience food in Japan. ‘Yaki’ means ‘grilled’. So yaki onigiri translates as ‘grilled rice balls’. In my opinion, all the best foods in Japan have the word ‘yaki’ in them; yakitori, okonomiyaki, takoyaki, teriyaki, teppanyaki, sukiyaki, yakiniku…Yaki onigiri are super simple, once your rice is cooked, you can whip up some yaki onigiri in ten minutes! Below I’ve shared a recipe for making basic yaki onigiri, and instructions for freezing and reheating your yaki onigiri. Go on, give it a go.YAKI ONIGIRIEasy Yaki OnigiriINGREDIENTS* Cooked sushi rice or short grain rice* Soy sauceOptional:* Oil or butter for grilling* Butter for serving* Salt for plain onigiriMETHODCook your rice as per instructions.Shape into onigiri triangles. It is optional whether you salt your hands or not as you will be putting soy sauce on your onigiri later.Heat the grill to medium temperature, lightly grease with butter or oil if you like, and place your onigiri on top. Let them grill for several minutes on one side. Don’t move them. If you’re worried about the heat grill them on low for longer.Turn your onigiri over and grill the other side for several minutes. Again, let them rest, don’t check constantly and move them.Baste one side of your onigiri with soy sauce. Don’t drown them!Grill the onigiri again, basted side down. Repeat steps 5 and 7 with the other side of the onigiri. If you prefer a strong soy flavour to your onigiri, continue to baste and grill each side until it is as you like it.Serve your yaki onigiri hot off the grill with a dab of butter.TIPSGrilling your onigiri after you cook meat or fish in a pan adds an absolutely amazing flavour! If you think of it, next time you cook meat freeze some drippings and use it to grease the grill when you make your onigiri. You can use other sauces instead of soy sauce. Soy sauce is most common, but yaki onigiri would be delicious made with any smokey, salty sauces. I’ve heard that yaki onigiri came about as a way to enliven day old rice balls that had gone slightly stale and crunchy. Don’t hesitate to grill any onigiri, regardless of the filling, and turn them into yaki onigiri. No need to put a dab of butter on onigiri that you plan to freeze. You can add it when you reheat them to eat.How to freeze yaki onigiri:After cooking your yaki onigiri and while they are still warm, wrap each individual onigiri tightly in cling wrap.Place the wrapped onigiri in a zip lock bag or seal-able container. Freeze.How to reheat yaki onigiri:Reheating your onigiri is easy. Simply microwave until warmed through. Most microwaves have a warming setting. Do leave each onigiri in the plastic wrap while you reheat them otherwise they will dry out.Whatever you do, don’t leave your onigiri to thaw! Whether you plan to eat your onigiri immediately or later the same day, you need to reheat them in the microwave from frozen. Microwaving them preserves the texture of your onigiri. If you let them defrost, the outside will be crunchy, and not because you grilled them, and the inside will be mush. You can thaw your onigiri in the microwave, pop them in your lunch box and eat them later in the day for lunch at work.  I’ve always been impressed by the busy teachers who stay at work until 9pm yet still have cute and delicious looking onigiri in their lunch each day. Lies all lies! Apparently the secret is making a whole batch of onigiri on the weekend and freezing them to microwave each morning and pack in bentos for lunch. They look so moist and lovely, I’d never have guessed. The secret is out and now we can all enjoy yaki onigiri whenever the craving strikes! Cheers also to making lunch more convenient, and fooling everyone into thinking we’ve totally got our lives organised.Happy grilling!{ Ashes }P.S. Make yaki onigiri for your food cautious friends when they visit you in Japan. I've yet to have anyone decline or not finish their homemade yaki onigiri!

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