Father's Day is June 16

Remember when Umami Mart used to be really raunchy and we used to talk about all our 20-something woes? It was so fun. We would bitch and moan about what we felt were Very Important Topics. Well, we're 30-somethings now and while life is not more exciting, things have certainly changed. We're grown-ups! Which doesn't mean that we shouldn't be as inappropriate or personal as we used to be. Right?

I've gotten some feedback that there should be more reviews on kitchenware, tools and gadgets on Umami Mart, so where better than to do this in my own kitchen? I hope to make my kitchen a place for exploration in all things kitchen-worthy -- cooking, tools and tips. Let's do it!

But first, I'd like to introduce you to my kitchen. Remember Fridgin' Out? Those were silly times. Well, in the spirit of those times, I want to talk to you from my kitchen on a regular basis.

I live in studio in Oakland, CA. Though small, I am grateful for my kitchen which is separated from the main living area, unlike my apartment in Brooklyn (where everything was one big room). Although I take it for granted now, the counter space in my kitchen is a DREAM compared to my BK kitchen.

I spend a lot of time here. I love waking up in the morning, filling up my kettle and turning on the gas stove while still half-asleep. Equally, I love eating breakfast, late lunch or dinner in here, standing up. I think it's a single-girl thing.

Where should I start? My liquor corner!

Front and center, my most important spirits at the moment are shochu and gin. I love shochu on ice on certain nights, and more recently, I often crave a great gin + tonic (Plymouth gin is nice, dry and cheap). Other spirits here are rye, bourbon, Campari, grappa, mezcal, dark rum and tequila. And all sorts of bitters. And my gold shaker.

Johnny tries very hard to get rid of the more gross liqueres of this collection, like Bols creme de cassis or ginger pear vodka by Absolut. I know, gross. But what if I want to make a Kir Royale sometime?!?!?

Here's one of my most beloved items in the kitchen:

A very light, handsome kettle by Sori Yanagi. It boils water in minutes thanks to the wide base. Get it here.

In Brooklyn, I did not have enough counter space for all of these gadgets:

A microwave AND toaster AND rice cooker???!?!?! Does anyone remember when I used to put my rice cooker on top of my refrigerator?? I actually think the toaster oven is a great invention. You can toast bagels, roast fish and make mini-pizzas in here! None of which I actually do... but what a great idea!

My dishes and glasses:

This cupboard would be quite personal in any household. I've collected each of these pieces over many years -- from antique shops, my mom's cupboard, gifts from friends and my own blowout clearance purchases.

Here is the crux of the kitchen, the gadgets:

You'll get to know the contents of these drawerers really well in this column. I'm especially excited to share with you my various peelers, strainers, and airline silverware collection.

Here's my dry-goods cupboard:

This is where I keep all the different kinds of salt, konbu, flour, sugar, bread crumbs, panko, togarashi, peppers, etc.

My corner cupboard is a bit of a 'Deep Spot for me. In Japan, the 'Deep Spot' is a space of denial. Think Hoarders. It's an area that you don't even see, let alone clean -- a place where you just shove things into, and you'll "deal with it later."

You know exactly what I'm talking about. This is where I put coffee, instant ramen, pasta, noodles, canned tuna, and all sorts of other nonsense that I dare not seek. I put things in Ziploc bags after they are opened once, then shove it into the back where it is never seen again. Eeek!

Here's my freezer.

I need to ask my landlord for racks in here. It's just a pile of leftover curry, bread, soups and ice cream!!!

And in the spirit of Fridgin' Out, here's my fridge!!!

This is quite the happy fridge. I try to keep it clean, and will clear it out regularly.

Here, you'll always find eggs, kimchi, yogurt, natto, tonic and green onions. Other items at the moment are beer, a pot of oden, nibandashi (second-steeping of dashi) and some wine.

The fridge box:

Shiitake mushrooms are a staple in my fridge these days, since they are so cheap. There's also a bag here of bargain organic tomatoes. I am a total bargain-hunter and love to buy produce from the bargain rack. It's usually fine, just aesthetically displeasing. Fuck that! I'm an equal opportunity veg-lover.

A full fridge is a happy home.

Note to self: March is long gone.
Column: Kayo's Kitchen


  • Deeep hole!!!! Hahaha.
    I really enjoyed visiting your kitchen as well. I thought I knew it well but I was mistaken. I enjoyed being a voyeur very much.

    yoko on

  • Great post!! I love visiting other people’s homes with an eye on function and customs. Looking forward to more posts reporting from your Deep Hole…

    Anders on

  • Ahhh, Fridgin’ Out! Good times. Love that your liquor takes up about as much counter space as three appliances. :)

    Kiwa on

  • Hah, love this post! Good to see that my tiny Oakland kitchen is in about the same shape as yours.

    Jessica on

  • Love this post! And very impressed by the booze collection. I think i need to drink more.

    saaara on

  • Did anyone else notice the Bigfoot? That’s seasonal, ya know!

    johnny on

  • WOW, you are so brave to be so transparent by doing a show & tell of your kitchen! If we did mine, there would definitely be things I’d have to hide…and I’d have to take the rice cooker down from on top of the fridge :-)

    chungy on

  • I just love this post.

    So what if we’re getting older? We’re also getting funnier, richer AND smarter.

    In whatever order you prefer…

    Anders on

  • @Anders: Glad you are enjoying the column. You’ll get the most of my hole, I promise.

    @Yoko: Looking forward to getting to know the new Hopkins Buffet! It’s a fresh new start!

    @Jessica, I hope you are using your kitchen to the fullest. Trust me, the kitchens in Oakland are a dream compared to the tiny kitchens in Tokyo or NYC

    @Kiwa: You should write a Fridgin’ Out about your new London fridge!!!

    @Sara: Cocktails soon please.

    @Chungy: I’d love to get a look inside your kitchen. Let’s make it happen.

    @Johnny: Bigfoot is so bitter! How do you drink more than one in a sitting?

    @Anders: I may not be richer, and definitely flaunting bottom of the barrel fashion. But happier than ever, that’s for sure.

    Kayoko on

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