Easter 2015

Late Late Late

Better Late than Never. I love Easter!



Easter is one of my favorite holidays, especially since we have little ones to have fun with now. This year, I took the day off and cooked for the whole family. We had a delicious dinner together with tons of fun and laughter. Maleeya and Amaya were dressed in their beautiful Easter dresses and everyone had a great time. Easter and spring are the perfect time for togetherness, reflection and starting over. As we move into the summer months in California, it’s nice to take a break and enjoy a wonderful spring day with family. I hope you’ll enjoy every moment of spring till it’s last.




Tri Tip

Roasted Baby Bella Mushrooms

Arugula Salad with Kalamata Olives, Prosciutto, Feta Cheese, Basil, Roasted Cherry Tomatoes and Roasted Zucchini with Balsamic Vinaigrette

Roasted Mini Kale and Brussel Sprouts

Roasted Broccolini

Sweet Potatoes and Purple Potatoes

Au Gratin Potatoes

Glazed Ham

Corn and Green Bean Casserole

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A Birthday Celebration to Remember… the perfect way to start my 29th year!

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It’s been a whirlwind of a summer, and though, by kids’ yoga standards, we are referring to the season as fall already, it won’t be fall until 9/22, so I’m sticking with summer for the moment. I had to write about my beautiful birthday celebration on August 20th with my family, because it was truly one of the most special and meaningful birthdays of my life. I am moving through a lot of transition and the stability I have from my family and friends really allows me to be fully present, vulnerable and honest about what I desire in my life. I wouldn’t be where I am without the amazing support of so many individuals and for my birthday, I felt as if I was celebrating everyone who cares about me and supports me. I taught 3 kids’ yoga classes on my birthday and they really sealed the deal with me about knowing that this is what I’ve been put on the earth to do. I absolutely love kids’ yoga and my ability to share this practice with others is truly something that has transformed my life.
My kids’ yoga company, Little Heroes Yoga, is coming alive and I’m working hard to stay accountable and honest about my intentions for serving the community I grew up in and the families throughout the San Fernando Valley.  This month I launched my first set of Little Heroes Yoga Kids’ Yoga Classes at Two Hearts Yoga. It’s a huge accomplishment and dream of mine and I hope to continue to expand and grow its offerings to further serve children of all ages. Nourishing our minds, bodies, and spirits has so much to do with what we do with our bodies as well as what we put into our bodies. Unrivaledkitch will always be an amazing place for me to share my culinary adventures and I’m so glad I’ve been able to write in this blog and learn from these experiences. I’ll always be a chef, but teaching yoga is a very loud calling for me and I’m listening.

So, for my birthday, Brandon cooked an amazing feast for me and my family. Having a chef boyfriend has a thousand and one benefits, even when you are a chef too, and we celebrated after I taught my classes, which was just perfect. He made all my favorite things and my family’s favorites too. My sister made me a birthday hat and my nieces decorated the house. It was so special and I’m so glad we could all be together.

Grilled Spicy Lobster
Fillet Mignon with Veal Demi
Chicken Katsu
Parmesan Grilled Asparagus
Creamed Spinach
Purple Basil and Heirloom Tomato Burrata Caprese with Fig Vin Cotto
Au Gratin Potatoes
Sauteed Green Beans with Soy Sauce

Andy’s Going Away Party

Taco Bar Spread

A couple of weeks ago, Brandon and I cooked for his dad’s going away party. He’ll be out of state for work for some time so we decided it would be nice to get his friends together and enjoy company while he was still in town. Being in the military is a difficult profession and I can’t imagine what our country would be without the help of so many men and women all over the world who sacrifice so much for our safety.

So for this event we had two chefs and one kitchen. Brandon and I have worked together in some kitchen during various times for the last 7 years professionally, at home, or at someone else’s home/event. You can currently visit Brandon at Blush Restaurant and/or Blind Tiger in Santa Barbara, where he is the Executive Chef.

Though most of my time is spent cooking for my family and teaching yoga, it’s nice to prepare a large meal for wonderful people. We decided to have a massive taco fiesta. Our first go with the barbeque ended up not too successful because the grill wasn’t in working order, so we went for the simple charcoal grill that I’m used to and I grilled the food while Brandon cooked inside. I think overall it was a great team effort. Safe travels, Andy!


Carne Asada

Grilled Chicken

Chopped Seasoned Pork

Grilled Portobello Mushrooms and Zucchini

Spanish Bay Shrimp

Mixed Vegetable Sofritas

Chorizo Bean Dip


Salsa with Green Chiles and Garlic

Tortillas and Toppings


Coconut Cream Pie with Bananas and Fresh Peaches

Coconut Cream Pie with Bananas and Fresh Peaches

Grilled Cinnamon Peaches and Pineapple

Grilled Cinnamon Peaches and Pineapple

Rocky Road Pudding Pie

Rocky Road Pudding Pie

Rocky Road Pudding Pie Recipe

Layered dark chocolate and white chocolate pudding in Oreo crust with marshmallows and chocolate dusted roasted almonds

1 Oreo Crust

½ cup cocoa dusted roasted almonds

1 cup miniature marshmallows

1 cup heavy whipping cream

Place cold heavy whipping cream in a small bowl. Whip with a hand mixer till thick whipped cream forms, no powdered sugar necessary. About 3-5 minutes on medium speed.

1 small box Hersheys white chocolate pudding

1 ¾ cup whole milk

Make pudding according to the box directions for pie.

1 small box Hersheys dark chocolate pudding

1 ¾ cup whole milk

Make pudding according to the box directions for pie.

Pour 1/2 of the white chocolate pudding into the bottom of the Oreo crust. Top with ½ cup of marshmallows and pour ½ the dark chocolate pudding on top. Mix the remaining pudding together and fold in the whipped cream till smooth. Top pie with the mixture and smooth into a mound. Top with the remaining marshmallows and cocoa dusted almonds. Refrigerate for one hour or more.




Veggies, salsa and Guacamole Mexican Inspired Catering Taco Bar Ingredients Chicken, Sofritas and Shrimp for Tacos Carne Asada and Grilled Chopped Pork

New Year’s Traditions Oshogatsu and Osechi-Ryori 2014


Happy New Year, everyone! I hope you enjoyed some time for reflection, tradition, family and friends during the holidays and carry that hopeful good cheer throughout the year. The first of the year is a special time for my family. We share in the traditions of Japanese New Year or Oshogatsu and since I’ve been little, we’ve had a family gathering eating traditional and some non-traditional foods together as we celebrate the New Year, over food, fun and togetherness.

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These traditions are very important to me. They remind me of my childhood, especially of the times when I used to stay with my Bachan from Christmas until New Year’s. Bachan would spend days preparing different dishes, allowing things to simmer and pickle, while cutting vegetables into different shapes and making food I’d only see on New Year’s Day. Though some of the dishes on the table today are not the same as the ones we had when I was little, I try to incorporate some of those traditional dishes into the Jūbako Japanese stackable decorative dishes and we have a large spread of food and invite friends and family over.


Here are my last three years of Osechi-Ryori: 2011, 2012, 2013, and my 2014 addition.




Beef and Chicken Teriyaki with homemade teriyaki sauce

Chicken Yakitori with peanut sauce

Char Siu-Style Sliced Pork

Sweet Asian Fried Chicken Wings (mom’s contribution)

Pork & Shrimp Wontons (mom & dad’s contribution)

Bachan Jello (mom’s contribution)


Grilled Salmon

Grilled Sake and Mirin Shrimp

Kinpira (sato shoyu gobo and carrots)

Tazukri (candied, dried sardines)

Kamaboko (pink and white Japanese pressed fish cake)

Namasu (pickled carrots and daikon)

5-Sided Carrot, 5-Sided Daikon, Kombu (rolled seaweed), Shiitake Mushrooms, Satoimo(taro root), Renkon (lotus root), Takenoko (bamboo shoots)

Ozoni (New Year Japanese soup) (Konbu, Carrot, Kamaboko, Shiitake Mushroom, Imo [taro root], Renkon [lotus root], and Mochi in Seasoned Homemade Dashi)

Twice cooked Artichokes with soysauce mayo


I hope each of you had a blessed and beautiful holiday season and have a peaceful, joyful and thankful new year!



Turning 30 a month later, Brandon’s Birthday!

This blog was to memorable not to post but it is a month late. Oh well better late than never!

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We’ve celebrated birthdays all month long and just about everywhere this summer, which always keeps me busy and on my toes thinking of new ideas and different dishes to make. Having my dad’s birthday at the end of August and Brandon’s birthday on September 7, I’ve been keeping pretty busy in the kitchen. I’m so grateful that my yoga practice and teaching have been taking a great amount of my time and with the start of the new school year (I teach primarily children’s yoga with some senior and adult classes as well), it’s been a really great transition period for my life. I’m glad I can still find time for fantastic meals with my loved ones, because it’s just so important to me to always keep us all at the table together, enjoying delicious and freshly prepared meals.

Brandon’s birthday fell on a Saturday this year, which, for a chef, is the busiest day of the week, but when he could finally muster up a day off, we got together with my family for a Japanese-style sushi and rice bowl dinner. I thought of this awesome little party idea because I wanted everyone to be a little interactive with their food. I didn’t want Brandon to have to cook at all since he cooks practically every day, but I wanted him to be able to put together some sushi, have a beef bowl, and enjoy and relax with a fun dinner. So I drew up this idea at the Japanese market, Mitsuwa, in Venice. There are some really amazing things at that store; all the Japanese ingredients I need to pull off a perfect meal, which is sometimes difficult to find in the valley.

I chose different ingredients that we could all enjoy and make into little sushi rolls with small pieces of nori and ingredients such as salmon and tuna sashimi, imitation crab, avocado, cucumber, umeboshi, ginger and wasabi. I cooked thinly sliced beef in sake, mirin and soy sauce with sliced nori, kamaboko and thinly sliced egg to create my Bachan’s signature beef bowl and made beef and pork wontons with bamboo shoots, scallions and shiitake mushrooms, as well as tonkatsu (panko breaded and fried pork cutlet) and chicken katsu to enjoy. I scooped large bowls of hot Japanese rice for everyone and we made our own concoctions and combinations to enjoy. I love interactive family style food!

I always find that making these dishes connects me with my Japanese heritage and keeps these wonderful traditions that I learned from my Bachan, in our family. Japanese food takes amazing ingredients and lets them shine all on their own with little effort, but lots of care—I love that. I’m so glad I could share these traditions that are so dear to me on such a momentous day: Brandon’s 30th birthday! I’m very grateful that I could make such a special meal for you and to cook for you because you are always so busy cooking for everyone else. Happy Birthday, Brandon, I love you!



Hook Burger Burbank, CA


In a very commercial shopping center in Burbank is this little burger joint: Hook Burger. I haven’t had a hamburger in a long time and something seemed to be calling me to have one at this particular time. Hook Burger, whether they like to admit it or not, is part of the whole gourmet burger places popping up all over the place but they say they’ve been in the burger scene for 35 years on their website, claiming to have the best burger. I don’t necessarily think they have the best burger, but it’s pretty good.


The style of service is order at the counter casual, which is nice for a quick bite to eat at lunchtime. I had a salad there before, which was pretty delicious, but I decided that today I’d have the burger and see what it was all about. I chose the hickory bacon burger, which was topped with bbq sauce, crispy fried onions and bacon on a very fluffy, yet still crusty white bun with shredded lettuce, tomato and mayo with a couple of pickles on the side. Visually, the burger was beautiful and it tasted pretty great as well. I think it had just the right sauce to bun ratio, which is something that I look for in a burger, so it’s neither too dry nor too wet. The beef patty was very juicy and cooked well, but the beef wasn’t extremely flavorful. I had a side salad to accompany my burger. It had balsamic dressing and was extremely simple with just cubed cucumbers, cherry tomatoes, and a few slices of raw red onion served over mixed greens.


The service was very friendly, both at the counter and when they bring you your food. For $6.25, the burger is a good value for the money and a deliciously heavy lunch that I’m glad I had the rest of the day to burn off.



Fogo De Chão

Early this month, I had the pleasure of eating at Fogo de Chão with Brandon for his birthday. Fogo de Chão is a Brazilian steakhouse known as churrascaria in Portuguese.  Churrasco is roughly translated into barbeque in Portuguese and comes from the South American traditions that resemble rotisserie cooking. Meat is placed on large skewers and cooked to perfection over hot flames.

Fogo de Chão has multiple locations all over the United States and in Brazil. The décor is loud and striking with purpose and refinement, but the main attraction is the servers carving large or small portion of about 15 different styles of meat from various succulent cuts of beef, lamb, chicken, pork and some sausage.  When we arrived for our 8 p.m. reservation the bustling dinner service was already in full force. The very large dining room was filled with Los Angeles’ various groups of people—from the large table of business men, to the medium table of birthday celebrators, and the small two-top enjoying a comfortable couple’s evening out. As we were greeted by our waiter, he informed us that we were to start at the buffet, which included many different side dishes, some cured meats, cheeses, vegetables, and various other items to snack on and accompany the rest of the meal. After we helped ourselves, we were then to flip a small circle of paper that had green or red on it—the green was to inform the servers that they could bring around meat at their leisure and the red would indicate that we were finished.



From the filet mignon, ribeye, fraldinha (skirt steak) and picanha (top sirloin), to the cordeiro (lamb), everything was prepared well and very delicious. The key to this type of eating is to pace yourself and eat what you really like. So I stayed more in the prime beef cuts and the lamb, rather than going to chicken and pork, which can sometimes be dry with this type of cooking style. The theatrics of the gaucho style servers is really part of the fun and charm of Fogo de Chão. The meat is delicious and the other bits and pieces make for a delicious hearty meal. Come hungry for good meat and you’ll leave very happy. I had an amazing meal with my very dearest love on his birthday, you can’t beat that.




Original Thai BBQ

One 100 degree afternoon, the three Fujitaki children decided that it’s been long overdue that we have lunch.  I’m very lucky to be close to my brother and sister— I love them very much, even if we want to kill each other sometimes. We decided to have some Thai food at Original Thai BBQ over by where we grew up. The lunch specials are very affordable and come with a good amount of food. My brother frequents another location in Studio City, which he says is better, but we found the food to be pretty good.

My sister ordered the Yellow Curry lunch special, my brother ordered the Pad Thai, and I ordered Pad See Ew, and we shared an order of Drunken Rice. We enjoyed our food and chatted about a bunch of things that we needed to catch up on and Maleeya ate some Thai food and rice with us too. I enjoyed the rice a lot. It had very good flavor from the garlic and bell peppers. My Pad See Ew had good flavor, but it needed those Thai chiles, the ones that you have to ask for on the side, to perfect it.

Overall, I think we had an enjoyable outing with a little brother and sister time, which is always fun.



Golden China

My boyfriend lives in Ventura pretty close to the beach, which is about 50 miles from where I live; it’s far, but not too far and I don’t mind the drive at all. It’s a nice escape from the triple digit heat and it’s further away from full-on city life with the abundance of what seems like never-ending traffic, smoggy air and all the other things that come with living in the San Fernando Valley.  At Brandon’s exit, there’s this huge restaurant and I always look over and see bright blue screens with words streaming across them and imagine some pretty intense karaoke going on over there. The restaurant is named Golden China. Well, I’ve been passing this place for God knows how long and Brandon’s always said that the owner’s a pretty nice guy, he’s been there forever, and they have a pretty awesome Sunday brunch, but for some reason we never seem to go out to eat Chinese food.


So the other day, while we were continuing our hiatus from cooking, which occasionally happens when your boyfriend is a sous chef and works between 60- 80 hours a week in a double restaurant/ hotel (slave drivers I tell you), I asked him, “Why don’t we try that Chinese place by the freeway?” There was hardly a protest, so I ran out to the car, because I’m inevitably always cold by the beach since when I’m home I’m always in what feels like sweltering heat, and we drive to get some Chinese food. As we walk into the restaurant, there really isn’t anyone there. It’s about 9:30 p.m. so we figured that things could be closing down, but to our surprise, Golden China serves food till 1:30 a.m. every day. Holy cow, these guys are beasts! That’s a lot of work. So we look over the menu and I’m sure, like most people who eat Chinese food, you already have a good idea of what you like—I normally like something spicy, some type of vegetable dish, maybe some shrimp and a moderately greasy sauce chicken dish.

We ordered crispy chicken in orange peel sauce, broccoli in hot garlic sauce, shrimp with lobster sauce and Kung Pao Beef. The food was packed and ready relatively quickly and we decided to take it home and eat, because it’s always nice to eat in the comfort of your home and not have to worry about dishes. Our food came with two sides of white rice and was all piping hot and deliciously fresh. The orange peel chicken had a really interesting spicy sauce to it, the chicken itself was hardly succulent; they really did mean crispy. I liked the Kung Pao Beef; it was better with the broccoli because it made it more like a spicy beef and broccoli, which I like. The shrimp with lobster sauce was delicious and overall, everything was really good. I’d say for a late night meal, it’s a perfect choice and since there are hardly many places for a late night meal in Ventura, Chinese food (with leftovers for lunch the next day) was a great option.



Japanese-Style Short Ribs

While in Mammoth, I always like to cook dinner for my family at least a couple of nights. Though we’re used to the food up there, it’s not the most amazing cuisine, but it’s pleasant because some of the places we go to, including Giovanni’s, Roberto’s, and Shogun, are places we’ve been going to for years and years.  This year I marinated Japanese-style short ribs and grilled them for the family, made a simple salad of shaved cabbage with a sesame, ketchup and mayo based dressing, along with vegetable rice and roasted zucchini and carrot hash; a hearty and delicious meal for anyone to enjoy. Think about using this marinade for your Labor Day BBQ it can be used for meat, chicken or even tofu if you like.

Japanese-Style Short Ribs

2 ½ lbs thin cut cross section short ribs with bone

1 cup soy sauce

2 tablespoons grated ginger

½ cup mirin

¼ cup brown sugar

½ cup pineapple juice

3 cloves garlic, minced

1 tablespoon sesame oil



Take short ribs out of the package and place on paper towel to take off excess blood, sprinkle with a little salt and pepper on both sides.

In a large zipper storage bag, place all ingredients (except short ribs) into the bag, seal the bag, and shake till all ingredients are incorporated.

Place meat into zipper storage bag and shake till the marinade is well dispersed.  Place the bag in a large glass tray to prevent spilling.

Refrigerate at least over night for the best flavor.

On a preheated charcoal grill, place the short ribs down and cook for about 4 minutes on each side, depending on how thick your short ribs are.

Be careful of flare-ups if your grill is very hot because of the sugar content in the meat and do not overcrowd the short ribs. Depending on your grill size, you may have to cook them in batches.

Serve with your favorite sides.