Purple Perilla

A Poisonous Weed for Fairy Gardens?
Or an Edible Dyestuff?

Purple Perilla Plant

Purple Perilla is the purple-leafed variety of the more familiar Green Perilla.  People often call Perilla by its Japanese name Shiso. 紫蘇   It’s also called Beefsteak Plant, and the green variety has a lot of uses, especially in Continue reading



Elegant Replacement for Fingers
The Most Refined Eating Utensils

What They Are: Chopsticks are the principal eating tools of a large part of East Asia, centering on what Toynbee calls the Sinic culture sphere.

They are about 10 to 12 inches long, with longer ones used for cooking and serving. Children’s chopsticks are about 5 inches long. In Japan, chopsticks for use by women tend run smaller than men’s chopsticks.

Chinese chopsticks tend to be longer than Japanese, and have more rounded ends, while Japanese ones tend to have pointed ends. Continue reading

Jean-Georges Vongerichten


The Most Famous Fusion Chef
Hooked on Kimchi

“No single chef has made more influence on the way…other chefs cook and other restaurants look.” — New York Magazine



You have probably noticed an explosion of Thai-inspired restaurants run by Westerner chefs. You will find them in many places, even in Bangkok.

Jean-Georges Vongerichten, the Alsatian-born French chef, may be the single person most responsible for this phenomenon. Continue reading

Rice Dispensers

An Answer to the Storage Problem
From Zojirushi to Tupperware

Rice dispenser kitchen appliance for rice storage

Rice Dispenser

Buying Rice in bulk saves time and money. But how do you store it at home? And it can be a hassle to wrestle open the big rice sack just to get a cup of rice. And there’s mold, mice, dust, and the list goes on.

Rice Dispensers are a form of kitchen equipment that’s getting more popular.  They are used to store rice after you have bought it and brought it home. Continue reading

Clay Pots / Chậu đất sét

Clay Pots and Cooking
Flavors Captured in a Pot

Cooking Vietnamese, Southeast Asian dishes in clay pots

Clay Pots

You’ll see them in Asian markets, in a variety of sizes, often with metallic rings holding them together. Are these any good for cooking? [1]

Some people think so. As Charles Phan, owner of the Slanted Door restaurant in San Francisco, says Continue reading

Chopstick Rests

Chopstick Pillows for the Table

Chopstick Rests

Chopstick Rests,
a Weight Management Tool

Chopstick rests are a form of tableware.  They have two purposes:

  • to keep the chopsticks from being contaminated by the table surface before they are used, and
  • to keep the chopsticks, once they have been used, from soiling the table surface.

Chopstick rests are used in China and Japan.  They are known as —

Richie Nakano


The Best Ramen in San Francisco

“Tanpopo is awesome.  I like that movie a lot.” — Richie Nakano

Using miso to prepare Asian dishes


Richie Nakano serves the best ramen in San Francisco.  At least that’s the reputation he has earned with his small Hapa Ramen stall on the city’s Embarcadero.

For five years he has been serving the Japanese-style noodles to huge numbers of hungry San Franciscans and his reputation has grown. [1]

Ritchie is also known for his unusual fondness for spoons. [2] Continue reading

Charles Phan


Vietnam on the Embarcadero
Bill Clinton’s Favorite

Cooking with clay plots

Clay Pots

Even presidents head for Charles Phan’s Slanted Door Restaurant on San Francisco’s Embarcadero.  Or anyway President Bill Clinton had the Vietnamese restaurant on his to-do Continue reading

Bear’s Paws 熊掌


A Great Chinese Delicacy
Mencius’ Favorite

“If I cannot have both Bear’s Paws and Fish, then I would prefer Bear’s Paws.” –Mencius

Imperial Chinese Jade Censer Collected  by Berthold Laufer

Imperial Chinese Jade Censer
Collected by Berthold Laufer

Bear’s paws  熊掌 have always been considered a rare delicacy in China. This is still true today.

Even in ancient times, when there were more bears roaming the wilds in China, bear’s paws were a food for the elite, not the common diner.

The Chinese philosopher Mencius said, “If I cannot have bear’s paws and fish, then I would prefer bear’s paws,” and from this we know that fish Continue reading

Shichimi Togarashi

Shichimi Togarashi
A Unique Japanese Spice Blend

Using shichimi togarashi in cooking fusion cuisine

Shichimi Togarashi, used by Bruioza in
Prize-Winning Pork Recipe

You see it on the table in Japanese restaurants and on the shelves in Asian markets.  The spice Shichimi Togarashi  七味唐辛子,  is usually packed in a distinctive little round red tin.

There may even be some in your Continue reading