Saturday morning we met up with some friends and went on an adventure. I mean, when isn’t IKEA an adventure? After IKEA, we headed to a Japanese Restaurant followed by a Japanese Market and other stores. This is a trip we’ve been talking about for a while now. Past plans were always interrupted, so I was surprised when it was brought up, planned, and executed all in the same week.
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Am I the only one who feels like going to IKEA is an adventure? Maybe that’s because I’ve only been there twice. Yes. I am serious. My first trip was earlier this year. We didn’t even get through the whole store last time. Actually, I think we skipped some things this time, too. IKEA is huge.
This time we went to look at ideas for our entertainment room. Personally, I was looking for ideas for my desk top and organization. I was actually disappointed. The last time there was at least one setup that I really enjoyed, but I couldn’t quite remember exactly how it was placed. This time, the only thing I saw was a desk mat, but I already have one of those. At least we found some desk drawer organizers.
Though we didn’t find a lot of ideas for our desks (which are also from IKEA) we did find ideas for other areas of our house. Like the entry way. We found a cool shoe storage unit that had four different compartments, perfect for our family of four. We could place our seasonal shoes in them and not have to shuffle through a dark closet looking for the right ones. The top of the unit would be useful for storing our keys and wallets, too.
I found a closet organizer I really liked. Let’s be honest. My closet is a mess. Hubby’s side is used for storage and mine is full of dance stuff, bags, sewing supplies, and other junk. I organize it about once a year because that’s all I have the energy for it. Even so, it often gets on my nerves. I think the the pull-out baskets in the organizer I found would help keep it all contained. Really, I need to do a deep clean out of my closet and just be honest about what I should keep and what I should not. But that’s for another day.
I’m on a slow mission to clean out and reorganize my kitchen. Which makes the silverware organizers from IKEA a good idea. We currently have a wire one that sort of holds our silverware and leaves everything else a mess. I end up having to battle straws and kid’s silverware a lot more often than I want to. The dividers from IKEA are solid all the way around and they have different set ups, so I could essentially mix and match for what I need. Just one more project to accomplish.
It wasn’t long before the kids started complaining about being hungry. They’d been running all around IKEA, so it wasn’t that surprising. And it was lunch time. Thus began our adventure in Japanese food.
Okay, so this isn’t the first time I’ve had Japanese food. When I was younger, I often went to a Japanese restaurant with my dad’s family and a friend of mine. Yes, she’s the same friend who got me into manga and anime. I always loved the experience and the food was good, too. But it’s been years since then.
We ended up at a restaurant not far from IKEA called Gyu-Kaku. According to their website, their restaurant is an authentic Japanese yakiniku, or grilled barbecue, dining experience where customers share premium cooked meats over a flaming charcoal grill. If I remember correctly, their restaurant originated in Japan in the 1990s.
You can either order a meal for multiple people, or you can order individual items off the menu. They even have a kids menu with a couple of options. In the center of the table is a circular grill where customers grill their own food. If you’ve never grilled before, don’t worry, they have instructions on how to do it on their chopsticks wrapper. I’ll admit, I did not do any grilling, but it was fun to watch the others do it. When the grill became too messy from the food, one of the waiters came over and replaced it with a clean one. It was such a simple thing but kind of cool to watch. All part of the experience, I guess.
I started off with some Miso soup, of course, and Hubby started off with a spicy Ramen bowl. We ordered the kids each a chicken plate, which came with rice, soybeans, corn, and a wonton. Not surprisingly, only Ade ate the food. Unfortunately, Isbe is really picky. We’re trying to force her into trying more foods, but it is definitely a slow-going battle. Sometimes as a parent you have to pick your battles and in the middle of a Japanese restaurant is not one of those places. It worked out in the end because Ade ate her chicken and I took the rest home to eat later with my katsu chicken!
I’ll be honest, strolling through the Japanese shops was what I was looking forward to the most. Yeah I wanted to find ideas at IKEA, but this part was the highlight for me.
99 Ranch Market
The first place we hit up after eating at Gyu-Kaku was 99 Ranch Market. Let me tell you, I was not ready for the experience. I was excited but completely lost in this new world.
To explain a bit, I have been working on learning Japanese for the last year. I did some research and ended up purchasing a learning workbook on Amazon titled Japanese from Zero. It was written by a guy named George Trombley and his wife, Yukari Takenaka. (I think that’s his wife.) Anyway. So I bought this workbook, but what helped sell me on it is that he also has a youtube channel that goes over the lessons. I don’t mind learning things by myself, but it really helps when I have a teacher. I’m more confident in what I’m learning.
So I’ve been learning Japanese and last Christmas my mom bought me a beginner’s Japanese cookbook. You can imagine that a lot of the recipes call for ingredients that are not readily available, so I’ve only been able to try out one recipe. Luckily, we have some friends who frequently shop at 99 Ranch Market, which is an Asian grocery store. Like I said earlier, we’d made plans before to go with them but they always got disrupted. But Saturday was our day!
I went in with a small list of things I knew I needed for the cookbook. We came out with a lot more than what was on that list. The kids found these really cute plastic animal jars full of individual fruit jellos. Once the jellos are all eaten, the animals double as a bank! Hubby really enjoys pot stickers, so we bought some wrappers to make our own as well as some pre-made pork ones.
One aisle contained more pocky than I have ever seen with flavors I didn’t even know existed! Look, I love pocky, okay. I spent many nights eating pocky and reading manga after manga with my friend. It was great. So of course I was going to buy the pocky! I bought two different kinds: Salty Vanilla, and Strawberry. So far, I think I like the salty vanilla better. The strawberry is great, but after a few it gets too sweet for me.
A big issue was there was so much to choose from. Do you know how many different Miso there are? That doesn’t include sizes. Another issue was I don’t read Kanji!!!!! I’m not there yet! But you go to a market like this one and Kanji is everywhere. I felt so dumb. Like my brain had become a sieve that leaked everything I learned in the last year. For all my talk of visiting Japan, maybe I should conquer the Market first.
I have wanted to shop at Daiso ever since I first heart of it and found out there is one relatively close to me. If you don’t know what Daiso is, it’s basically a one-dollar Japanese store. Everything from sewing supplies, to cookware, to tote bags, to…who even knows what. All together in one little store. It was by far the most interesting and hilarious exploration.
When I say hilarious, I mean we found the wackiest things. The first thing we found was a wall sticker that imitated an airplane window. I guess it’s what you’d use if you were pretending to go on vacation or something? There were stick-on backsplashes. I found a whole section of notebooks. There were normal composition ones, and then there were ones that had the weirdest writings on them. However, that isn’t abnormal. The canvas tote bags were cool, until you read what they actually said. Seriously, the English sayings on Japanese products will induce major confusion.
The craziest thing we found, at least this trip, was vacuum packed corn on the cob. Yep. Just a little section of fresh sweet corn on the cob at the end of an aisle. I’m still confused and entertained by that one.
Not everything was crazy, though. Isbe found a kid’s Hello Kitty silverware set that included little pink chopsticks. They’re so cute. She also brought home a rainbow flower pinwheel and a Disney Princess bandana. I don’t know. It just happened. I ended up finding a rice washing tool and paddle set, which was actually on my list, and a little dino chopstick holder.
I have a pair of beautiful chopsticks that I use quite frequently, but my technique isn’t accurate. It gets the job done, but I want to learn how to do it correctly. That’s where my little green dino friend comes in. You place it at the end of your chopsticks and it helps keep them in place while you learn how to hold them. I used it Saturday night when I ate my leftovers. Hubby noticed and said we probably should’ve bought one for each of us. Guess we’ll have to go back to Daiso.
By the time we reached Daiso, we’d had a pretty long day and everyone was getting tired. I didn’t get to explore the entire store, unfortunately. I will definitely need to go back. There’s a few things I’m sure Daiso has that I want to buy. Who knows, maybe I’ll find something wackier than vacuum packed corn?
Have You Ever Visited a Japanese Store?
What was the craziest thing you found? Did you buy anything?
What about IKEA?