Online shopping fail

The other day, I decided to get some supplies from an online Japanese supermarket.

I was wanting to buy some purple sweet potato Kit Kats. You see, I’d been craving purple yam desserts for years because England doesn’t believe in yam, and I thought this Kit Kat could be close enough to do the job.


Purple Sweet Potato Kit Kat


So, I ordered two of those, alongside £75 worth of Japanese groceries to qualify for free shipping.

I also found my favourite peanuts in the world (Kasugai cuttlefish peanuts) in the same shop so I was over the moon.

But never mind that. Here are my Kit Kats:


Very tiny mini Kit Kats!


WOAH. Could they get any bigger??

I guess I should have known better. The product does say “Mini”. And I had actually bought green tea Kit Kat Minis about five years ago.

Still, that was five years ago. I have a bad memory and all the Kit Kats I’ve eaten since have been normal people-sized ones.

Also, the price of the mini Kit Kat is more than 10 times the price of a normal Kit Kat. So you could perhaps excuse my mind for thinking I would get something a tad bigger.

Anyway, caveat emptor and all that. I’m not really complaining, just terrified that Piers will scold me now that he knows what those Kit Kats cost. :O

They were very tasty but did not satisfy my yam craving because they are kind of different.

Then, there was the matcha.


Marukyu Koyamaen Wako Premium Stone Ground Matcha Green Tea Powder


I’d never bought matcha before so I chose this one based on the fact that the packaging is very pretty and it’s the most expensive one in the shop.

(I was worried the cheaper ones would taste gross.)

(And I really do like the packaging.)

Well, here’s my pretty matcha.


Very expensive, almost invisible, matcha


:O :O :O

I had expected it to be maybe three or four times bigger??

Yes, the weight is listed on the product page but who can tell off the top of their heads how much physical space 20 grams of powder takes up?

More importantly, I tend to ignore measurements when online shopping. Who has time to scrutinise everything?

Okay, I just did a Google search and my matcha doesn’t seem very expensive anymore. From what I can tell, matcha prices range from £1 to £20 per 10 grams.

But it was still rather shocking.

Anyway, one more item.

The great Daikon radish, otherwise known as mooli in England. It’s so very tasty in stews and soups because it soaks up all the wonderful flavour and explodes-melts in your mouth (but you have to cook it long enough).


Daikon radish aka mooli


Now, I’ve never bought one in Singapore (I didn’t cook back then) and UK supermarkets generally don’t stock it. So my only experience with it has been eating the final product all diced up and cooked.

I had accidentally found it for sale in Ocado last year, but only managed to buy two before it was gone from the virtual shelves. I’m not sure if it’s because no one buys it or because it went out of season.

After it disappeared, I would check every so often while doing my weekly grocery shop, but it never came back.

(Hey, I just now did a quick check and it’s back! Ocado has mooli again! They actually just stocked it because the last time I checked was a week ago.)

So, anyway, I bought this Japanese mooli even though it cost £4.99. I thought it was really expensive, expecting it to be the size of the one from Ocado (about twice the size of an average carrot), which had cost £0.70.

I bought it anyway, visions of exquisite braised beef with Daikon radish soaking in savoury sauce filling my head.

And, of course, the Daikon radish turned out to be gigantic.


Daikon radish vs regular carrot


I photographed it with an average-sized carrot to offer some scale.

You might think the size of it is a good thing but at the very moment I was fishing it out of the delivery box, I was thinking, “Oh, my God, what have I done?”

What in the world was I going to do with a giant vegetable? Much as I love it, I didn’t really want to be eating it every day for a week.

Yes, I should probably have been clued in by the weight listed on the product page. But again, who goes around knowing what a carrot weighs?

Anyway, we managed to finish it in three weeks. It kept surprisingly well in the fridge even with bits chopped off it, so that was a good ending.

Well, as you can tell from reading this post, I haven’t got time for anything most of the time, so gotta go, no time to waste! Until next time!



Eating in England — Part 4

I was quite surprised to find Bournemouth so cosmopolitan. We have easy access any kind of cuisine we want, many within walking distance, some a short drive away.

I’m so happy that Piers lives here because it is a very nice place to live in, being a beach resort town as well as a regional business centre. In a survey done in 2007, Bournemouth residents were found to be the happiest people in Britain.

Before coming here, I had thought I would be eating English food maybe 80% of the time. It turns out that we’re eating English food less than 10% of the time, mainly because English food is served in pubs and Piers doesn’t like going to pubs much because they can get pretty noisy.

And also because there’s so many other kinds of food to choose. Here’s a look at some of the “foreign” foods we’ve eaten recently.




Nippon Inn

Nippon Inn
124 Charminster Road, Bournemouth, Dorset BH8 8UT


The food in Nippon Inn is decent. I’m not blown away but I might go there again if taken by a Japanese food craving. The service is really pleasant; we had two friendly and cute Japanese girls serving us.

Piers’ ramen was tasty but it was mostly chicken stock and soy sauce. The tofu salad was really nice but that was largely to do with the sesame dressing which I think you can buy at the supermarket.

My sushi just passed the mark of edible because the tobiko sushi tasted a bit funny, like, I can’t describe it, it was all at once sweet, sour and salty.

I think, mostly, I was impressed by the cute origami that came with our bill.


Nippon Inn








Tapas Plus

Tapas Plus
53 Bourne Avenue, Bournemouth, Dorset BH2 6DW


Tapas is a special cuisine of appetisers originating in Spain. It’s like a culture, spending hours in a restaurant, chatting with your friends, drinking wine and munching away on assorted appetisers until you’re full or tired. You don’t order any main courses.

I like this kind of meal, almost like going to a buffet where you get to eat many kinds of food in one sitting.

I like Tapas Plus mainly because of the garlic prawns. Not only is the marinade tasty (although too oily), some of the prawns are stuffed full of ebiko (prawn roe). Piers will not touch the roe, which is lucky for me cos I get them all! Bwahahaha. Tastiest prawns I ever had, although a bit small.

Other than that, I find the other tapas dishes just okay. Some are downright bland and boring while others are tasty enough but not anything I would crave.

Still, I quite enjoy going there for a meal with Piers. We’ve gone there twice, both times when we had two hours to kill before a movie.


Prawn roe


Tapas Plus





Romanzo Greek Taverna
87 Poole Road, Bournemouth BH4 9BB


This little Greek restaurant has a very homely feel with friendly service but I didn’t enjoy the main courses so much. The appetisers were great, though, so I would recommend ordering a selection of starters and skipping the mains, tapas style.

We had garlic prawns and garlic mushrooms for starters. They were excellent, tasting exactly the way garlic prawns and garlic mushrooms should taste.

For my main, I had a leg of lamb and Piers had some sort of stewed pork with rice. They looked pretty good but were quite bland in taste, with the meat being overcooked and dry.


Garlic prawns


Garlic mushrooms


Pork thingy with rice


Leg of lamb





58 Westover Road, Bournemouth, Dorset, BH1 2BZ


Prezzo is a huge chain of Italian restaurants in the UK and the price is quite cheap for the standard of food (and the decor and ambience), with the main courses averaging £10 each.

Piers really enjoyed his spicy beef pizza. One of the most enjoyable pizzas he’s had, apparently. I found it a bit bland but then I only had a very small sampling. He said there were bits that were really tasty, and every bite was kind of different.

I was in a healthy mood that night, so ordered a pollo al funghi (chargrilled chicken breast with field mushrooms and baby spinach in a marsala wine sauce). The wine sauce was really tasty so that even though my chicken breast was overcooked and dry, I enjoyed my meal very much and would order the meal again.


Spicy beef pizza


Pollo al funghi


Green salad


Okay, that’s quite enough food for today.

More cuisines coming up soon!

Amused by Japanese manga teacher

So, I recently attended a class where the teacher was unable to communicate with the students.

*cue baffled look*

But I enjoyed the class, even if it didn’t seem like a class so much as it appeared to be a babysitting service.

*cue bewildered look*

In class

It was my first manga class at Inoue School of Language and Arts. It was a very small class, just me and three friends. I think the manga classes aren’t as popular as the language classes.

Our teacher is a Japanese manga artist. We don’t even know his name. He can say about five words of English, none of which gives him the ability to introduce himself.

Logically, I should be peeved that I paid good money ($289 for 8 sessions + $20 registration fee) for a teacher who can’t instruct us effectively. But I appreciate the chance to practise my Japanese, even if my Japanese is only slightly better than his English.

But what really sold me was the fact that our teacher is rather adorable.

I mean, he’s not good-looking in the eye-candy sort of way. He’s like one of those funny Japanese stereotypes you see in Japanese shows. Excessively polite, nervous, bumbling, executing little Japanese half-bows at the slightest provocation.

In class

I find the little quirks of the Japanese quite endearing and delightful, so I felt entertained in class.

The first order of the day was equipment distribution.

Teacher started digging out used pencils from various containers. He then sharpened them one by one. Next, he dug around for used erasers. We each received a sharpened pencil and a cheap battered eraser that must have seen better days.

Next order of business:

We received this sheet of paper with blank little rectangles in which we were supposed to draw.

Manga class

(The second and third rows were originally empty.)

Using a few words of English and many gestures of sign language, our teacher indicated to us that we should populate all the blank spaces by copying the first row.

He then tried to give us some complicated instruction about doing something differently for the third row but we didn’t understand his sign language.

So I said to him in Japanese: “Speak Japanese!” hoping I would be able to understand his Japanese better than his English.

He looked at me in surpise and said, “Ah! Good!”

He continued trying to speak in English.

In retrospect, I realise what I might have unintentionally said to him was, “I am speaking Japanese,” rather than the imperative “Speak Japanese.”

I should have phrased it differently. But I know what to say the next time!

In class

Anyway, it took us about an hour to complete our assignment. I had the chance to practise more Japanese by asking the teacher a question in Japanese, to which he replied in mostly sign language and some kooky English.

For most of the two hours of class, he mainly sat in the front anxiously flipping through the pages of a large dictionary.

Twenty minutes into the class, he presented to us the fruits of his labour.

He had written these four English words on a piece of paper, which he showed to us:

“Go hear difficult me.”

It was very illuminating, indeed. We immediately felt wiser by his instruction.

In class

After a doubtful conference amongst ourselves, Minou finally said to him, “Do you mean that if we have any difficulty, we should come to you?”

Our teacher looked at her with a polite smile and bow-nodded, but his eyes were stressed and worried. We couldn’t tell whether we had interpreted his words correctly.

Well, we completed our first assignment anyway. He collected our work and gave us another task. This time, we had to draw a giant face. This is A3 size:

Manga class

(Circles and guidelines were provided in the bottom space. The rest are drawn in by me. Just noticed I forgot to shade in below the chin.)

“Copy,” he said, bowing nervously as he did.

As for our first submissions, he looked at them very briefly and placed them reverently on the tables in front of us.

No, I didn’t misuse the word “reverently”. He really did that. Everything he did was polite and respectful to a fault.

When we finished the second assignment (he didn’t collect those) we received a third one.

Manga class

I only managed to draw the eyebrows and two circles for the eyes before our two hours were up. (My friends managed to finish theirs, though.)

Our shy teacher then showed me a piece of paper on which he had scribbled several English words and phrases. He pointed to the one that said “Next week”, then pointed at my unfinished drawing.

Then he handed us back our first assignment, saying, “Present for you.”

With that, class ended.

So, in our first lesson, we basically learnt how to copy faces.

There are seven more sessions to go. What will transpire? Will our teacher be able to say more English words? Will there be actual instructions or will we be doodling on worksheet after worksheet for the rest of the course?

Stay tuned for more updates!

Manga class
Can’t make my guy look the same every time!!

Wii English translation for Japanese systems

We have a Japanese Wii. We can read some Japanese but it’s annoying to navigate through all the menu items with our lousy Japanese.

So, the Goonfather got fed up and started taking screenshots of all the menus and went searching through the Nintendo manual for the English versions to compare with. And the result of his labour is this 28-page pdf document with translations and a guide on customising all sorts of settings!

Download the Wii English-to-Japanese translation now.

And if it helps you, thank the Goonfather!