just a quick word on the new year's nosh. last year was all about osechi, but i couldn't work up the energy for it, and as kirk noted, the shops seemed to have a pitiful pre-made selection this time around. so i picked up some particularly interesting looking kamaboko, a japanese processed fish cake, mainly because they looked so festive. when i was growing up, the most interesting kamaboko was white with a pink border, but as you can see from the photo above, they've gotten more creative: the pink bordered one has a flying bird depicted on it, the white one has a terrapin and some seaweed, i think. not only are the designs all fancy, but the flavours have changed, too: the yellow spiral one is an interesting cross of kamaboko and tamago baked egg cake, and the rectangular one has stripes of salmon flake and a basil infused filling.
i also couldn't resist the selection of sashimi which was particularly fresh. the hamachi was exceptional, as were the super-sweet scallops.
it wasn't all japanese food, but it was almost exclusively seafood--baked salmon with a homemade mayonnaise, grilled sea bugs, a random tuna sandwich (don't ask)--and this simple but decadent prawn cocktail of a sort: four kilos of the super-large variety of tiger prawns steamed and shelled, and served with a salad of tomato, cilantro, onion, and cucumber. sweet, only slightly acidic, herby, and cool, all at once. not a bad way to start the new year, really.