Happy Donabe Life

TOIRO’s Brick-and-Mortar Store 1-Year Anniversary

October 20, 2018

TOIRO’s brick and mortar store had a one-year anniversary on October 10! So, we recently had a celebration with many of our customers, friends, and family. We also launched our World of Kohchosai Kosuga collection, featuring many artisanal bamboo products from the 5th generation atelier. It was certainly a night to remember– we had wonderful food from Tsubaki and Bub & Grandma’s bread, wine, and met so many of our greatest supporters and lovers.

Busy time prepping dishes before the party.

Mrs. Donabe giving an inspiring prep talk to TOIRO staff members before we open doors to guests!

Greeting guests to our doors with warm friendly smiles and lots of love.

Guests marveling at our “World of Kohchosai Kosuga” collection. Available here.

The menu included izakaya-style small bites by Tsubaki, artisan bread by Bub & Grandma’s, matcha passionfruit and shichimi togarashi vanilla cream puffs by Yuko.

We had such an amazing night and are so grateful to have such an amazing team that made the event  possible! Go Team TOIRO!

Celebrating the end of the event with even more wine!


We had such a successful 1-Year Anniversary event filled with happy faces, satisfied stomachs, lots of wine, and most importantly, with much love. We are so grateful to have enjoyed such a positive evening with our team, friends, family, and supportive customers. This past year has been filled with so much prosperity and happiness, and we are looking forward to many more joyful years to come!

Our “World of Kohchosai Kosuga” Collection, featuring many chopsticks, bento boxes, jubako, plates, trays, baskets, cutlery, and many more. You can find our artisanal bamboo products here.

Dashi Experience at Uneno

July 25, 2018

Uneno, a traditional dashi company was established more than 120 years ago in Kyoto City. I have been using their dashi products for more than 10 years at my home and have always admire their philosophy of offering the top quality ingredients sourced from sustainable environments.

The 4th generation husband-and-wife team, Motofusa and Yoshiko generously hosted my visit at their shop and factory.

At their factory, every katsuobushi is processed with much care by hand. Before shaving katsuobushi, they are steamed in the traditional wood steamer.

Then, they are shaved one by one by their motor-operated machines which are over 100 years old. The blades are made of iron and sharpened by hand every day.

At their shop, they have a special room for cutting kombu for dashi. After kombu is dried and aged, they are cut by hand in this room. Because kombu is one of the offerings for Shinto Gods and considered sacred, you are not allowed to enter this room with shoes on. Uneno offers their kombu to historic shrines and temples in Kyoto.

Look at the Rishiri Kombu before it’s cut!

Dashi tasting session. I learned so much. Dashi made with Uneno’s ingredients are always so delicious and special.


Happy donabe life.



Vinegars by Iio Jozo

April 5, 2018

Back in March, I visited Iio Jozo, a 120+ year-old vinegar producer, located in Miyazu, Kyoto. Now the company is run by Akio Iio, the 5th generation of the family. He and his father (4th generation gave us a tour of their sake brewery and vinegar making facility.

At Iio Jozo, rice for their rice vinegar is cultivated 100% organic by the local farmers and every process of vinegar making, starting from brewing sake, is done by hand in their premises. While those conventional (inexpensive) rice vinegar by large producers are often made from cheap sake (made from lesser quality/ old/ broken rice) and takes just one day to produce, at Iio Jozo, their rice vinegar is made from their premium sake and takes about 1 year to make it.

The amount of rice used for making their Premium Rice Vinegar is 320 g/ liter. That’s 8 times as much of the rice normally used for conventional rice vinegar. So, their Premium Rice Vinegar has extra rich flavor with round umami.

Here are some of the photos from the visit.

I’ve been a big fan of Iio Jozo’s vinegars, and after learning so much more about their vinegar making process and philosophy, I love them even more. Iio Jozo’s vinegars are available at TOIRO website.


Happy donabe life.



TOIRO Spring Festival 2018

March 11, 2018

Since we opened our brick-and-mortar shop last October, we hosted our first big festival on March 4 (Sun). We called it TOIRO Spring Festival. We offered spring theme menu to sample and celebrated the new season with people who attended. At the event, we had special guests from Japan, people behind Stork Rice, from Toyooka, Hyogo Prefecture. Their rice is very special and we were so excited to feature Stork Rice at the event.

It was a day after Hina Matsuri (Girls Day in Japan), so we also had a traditional display of Hina Matsuri. It was a special kind Saori has taken over from her mother.

We are a team of 6 girls…Yuko, Hiroko, Fumi, Saori, Miki, and I. We prepared everything from scratch in our tiny kitchen. With 3 units of Kamado-san, we cooked so many batches of rice all day to make so many onigiri (rice balls)!

Hundreds of people showed up to the event to celebrate with us, learn and support the wonderful Japanese food culture. The shop was so packed the whole time and people kept coming in!!

Luckily, we had a handful of volunteers, including Miki’s sweet husband and daughter, Aria!

We were so happy to see everybody’s smile and also so touched by all the support we received by them. What a happy donabe event it was! We made almost 500 onigiri, and all were gone by the end!

I was having so much fun!!

TOIRO Spring Festival
Sunday, March 4
1 pm – 4 pm


Onigiri with Natural Stork Rice & Mochi Mugi Barley

Onigiri with Natural Stork Rice (Brown Rice)

-Tajima Beef & Dried Baby Sardine Condiment (Soy Flavor)
-Tajima Beef Furikake
-Walnut Miso
-Slow-Roasted Tomato & Smoked Soy Sauce
-Plum Salt & Salt-Marinated Cherry Blossom

Smoked Tasmanian Ocean Trout with Sansho & Daidai Citrus Vinaigrette

Steamed Vegetables with Shichimi-Flavored Black Sesame & Mayo Dip

Cream Cheese Canapé with Crystalized Shoyu & Katsuobushi

Matcha & Cherry Blossom Cookies


Organic Mecha (Young Shoot) Grean Tea by Jugetsudo
Matcha Latte with Almond Milk and Matcha by Jugetsudo
Kimino Yuzu Sparkling Yuzu Juice

After the event, we had a small wrap party with wine and donabe dishes at the shop in the evening.

More donabe cooking!

I feel so lucky to be in the same team with such amazing ladies and share the mission of bringing the wonderful Japanese food culture to people in America. The real girl power!

Happy donabe life.


Happy Donabe New Year 2018!

January 14, 2018

I spent my New Year with my husband at home in LA. As I do every year, I prepared Osechi Ryori (Japanese traditional New Year meal).

It’s a lot of work to prepare Osechi Ryori, even for just two people, as the meal involves many different small dishes. I spent all day just for this, but it’s always worth it. It’s not only ceremonial, but it’s also such a joy to share a special meal and appreciate the fact we can welcome a new year together.

In 3 tears of traditional lacquer Ju-Bako (multi-tiered box), I made traditional dishes including Kuromame-ni (braised black beans…I used special Tanba black beans from Kyoto), Kuri Kinton (chestnuts and sweet potato paste), Tazukuri (dried baby sardines in sweet soy flavored sauce), Date-maki (rolled egg and fish cake omelet), etc.

O-zoni (New Year soup)…clear dashi broth with mochi and vegetables were made in soup & stew donabe, Miso-shiru Nabe.

Chikuzen-ni (Root Vegetable Stew) was made in my classic Kyoto-style shallow donabe, Kyoto Ame-Yu. I normally add chicken in this dish, but because there was already so much food for two people (!), I made it without chicken. So, it’s completely vegan-style. The chicken version recipe is found here in our website, so if you want to try it vegan version, you can just omit the chicken and increase the amount of other ingredients a little more.


I feel all the good luck and health for 2018 after the meal.

Happy New Year to everyone!


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