When life gives you bitter gourd

Today is the danna’s birthday, we decided to go for something simple, so we went to his favorite Okinawan restaurant.

It’s an old, narrow little izakaya in Shibuya.

And here’s what we had:


Okinawa Shikuwasa juice. No, the owner isn’t that stingy lol. I almost finished drinking it before i realized i haven’t had a picture of this yummy fruit juice.


Salted cucumber.


Stir fried Goya Champuru (bitter gourd) with tofu and egg.


Stir fried stomach with leek and mushroom


Stir fried konbu with konnyaku


Stir fried somen with lettuce and cabbage.



Fried rice


Tororo Konbu (a melty seaweed) tofu soup.


What do you think of the food?

Did you go yucks at some point?


If i only looked at the pictures, i’d probably not think that it’s anything special or super yummy. It’s just stir-fry Chinese home style kind of yummy at best lol.


What do i think of the food?


I almost teared. Again. Wtf.


I dunno what’s wrong with me, it’s a little hard to explain. As pretentious as it sounds, this meal gave me some insights into life. Some perspective of how i see things differently.

After having had so many different meals in Japan, i realized one thing in particular.

I began to accept, even developed a liking for many foods that i used to hate. A few examples:


1. Tomato. I hate raw tomatoes. Cooked ones are okay, but i have to take out every single piece of sliced tomatoes in my sandwich. But in Japan i will order tomato salad.

2.Okra. No. Just no. I hate biting into the bitter seeds and i hate the gooey feeling of it. But here i will order grilled okra in Yakitori shops.

3. Donuts. Who, except Simpsons, eats this oily hole thing that has zero nutrients?! But here i will go to Mister Donuts.

4. Cucumber and Lettuce. To me cucumber is a stupid, wasteful deco for chicken rice of which if you decide to give it a bite out of sympathy, it will ALWAYS be bitter. IT’S NOT WORTH THE RISK. And lettuce to me means that inedible brown rusty thing they use to put beneath the food so that you can pretend your food is somewhat healthy. But i love Japanese cucumber and lettuce.

5. Basically just vegetables in general. Here i would chomp on veggies happily.


So when i had the first mouthful of (no. 3) goya champuru (stir fried bitter gourd with tofu and egg), my mind was full of ?!??!?!?!?. I was all how can bitter gourd taste so good?!??!

My brain was confused with this whole new discovery. I was so shocked that i had this feeling that my entire life has been a lie.

Since young, my mom has always been lecturing me to eat more vegetables because they are good for you. I was brought up to think that the sole reason why humans should eat vegetables is because vegetables are healthy and make you have less cancers, or at least better cancers, whatever. So yea, we make effort to have at least some greens to balance our diet.

I do eat bittergourd at home. My mom always tells me 吃得苦中苦,方为人上人。(Can tahan bitterness to become superior human or whatever wtf.) So all these while i eat it and feel proud because i quite 吃得苦 (can eat bitter) lah。

It never occurred to me even once that i should eat veggies because they are yummy.

This Goya Champuru was my Bodhi Tree wtf.

In Malaysia, there are, of course, food so yummy it makes you cry. But for me there has always been this equation:

Yummy = Super Unhealthy (lots of lard, oil, scorched bits from the wok wtf)

Healthy = Yucky food (i dunno… salad in general? Maybe except Hakka Lui Cha. I like Hakka Lui Cha.)

So all my life i had to struggle between the dilemma of getting a Char Kuey Teow foodgasm or stop clogging my arteries.

But today.

I was enlightened and have thrown away this inccorect perception that has haunted all my life.


Lesson of the day: 原来Food can be yummy AND healthy at the same time. (At least in Japan.)

Thank you, bitter gourd.


And then i had the (4)stomach with leek, it was super yummy!!! And then i had the (5) konbu and konnyaku, i couldn’t believe something that is tasteless and zero calorie can be cooked soooo flavorful! And then i had the (6) fried somen with lettuce and cabbage, THE CABBAGE WAS SO CRUNCHY AND SWEET, and i cannot believe the best fried noodle i had was so simple one.

All the while i was murmuring to the danna how yummy the food was, then the fried rice comes. He was like, “I wonder how the fried rice taste? Could it be super yummy too? But it’s just fried rice… how special can it be.”

I took a spoonful and there was tears in my eye wtf.

(Our fav Okinawa restaurant. It’s called む鉄砲 Muttepou. You are welcome.)


So then i thanked the danna, teary eyes, for introducing to me this life changing Okinawan restaurant. And he was just like, as predicted, “Well, if only you could replicate the same taste at home…”

And i protested at once “but it’s impossible!!! Material quality here is completely different! You can’t possibly expect me to come up with the same taste when the bitter gourd here is so fresh and unbitter, that’s so unfair.”

And then he said, the food material quality has nothing to do with it. It’s what you make do with it.

His father makes Japanese bento for a living for over 40 years, and he knows what he does to make his food taste good. If the vegetables and fruits are less juicy this batch, he takes them out for some sunlight and make sure they mature, before cooking them. Of course it is not just his father. All good chef has to know.

It’s called effort.

Now i don’t think i am crazy when i say that i can taste the chef’s feeling and love in this slice of beef/piece of pea. Because there is.


It’s a whole new definition to the saying When Life Gives You Lemons.

Except when life gives you bitter gourd, make them not bitter WTF. 

原来人no need to 吃苦。只需要把苦变不苦。OK THIS SHOULD BE MY NEW LIFE MOTTO. Forget about Hakuna Macaron.


I was so happy.

We finished the dinner, i paid the bill, i told the old owner/chef that the meal was very good, and he gave me an appreciative bow.


And that’s why you have to come to Japan.

(This will be the ending note of all my blog posts from now on.)


60 responses to “When life gives you bitter gourd”

  1. Fionism says:

    i really am in awe with the inspiring 道理 that u could came up with from a simple dinner! <3 <3 you are so appreciative towards everything and that makes me very very very proud to be one of ur biggest fans ^^ <3 <3 xoxo

  2. Jasmine says:

    the simplest food are the tastiest food 🙂 oh crap im hungreyyy

  3. Candy Wu says:

    in the past i used to think the same concept as you. now i love vegetables like anything in the world! food in singapore and malaysia really can;t be compared to the food in japan and taiwan. they changed my life view completely too! they used their heart and soul in even growing the veggies so they are nice even raw!

  4. Swee San says:

    they say, the best meal is often the simplest while enjoying it with your loved ones. and how ironic, your shirt says ‘what do u believe in’ ? maybe when we all believe bitter gourd is not bitter, it will not be bitter 😛

  5. hitomineko says:

    dunno how u manage to make japan sound so amazing. haha. but makes me really wanna eat all the food you ate. I think ur life is so fun. thanks for sharing it with us =) nnxo nnwww.hitomiblog.com

  6. lee says:

    I had the same type of moment years ago on my first trip for work to Japan when the Japanese client served us moon cake by cutting out the individual boxes (the moon cake was a gift from a Taiwanese colleague who was also visiting Tokyo) instead of plopping the whole thing down on the table. The difference between how a Japanese and Chinese would serve moon cake really struck me. And how the client also folded a report I needed before presenting it to me. And how at Nakamise Dori, when I bought a cheap packet of rice crackers, the grandma bowed before taking my money as if I was buying a Rolex watch. I became a fan of Japan at that moment. Most Chinese in Malaysia could not understand what I was talking about until they went to Japan themselves. But the thing I notice is that Japanese outside of Japan do not act so … how should I put it.. Japanese? Strange.

  7. lee says:

    Also based on my research, Japanese do things based on feeling. Their concept of aesthetics is how it makes you feel – apparently when articulating an aesthetic experience, the most common usage in Japanese is through “omoi,” or a feeling. So I suspect it is the same with food – that before they cook, they try to think about how the food will make you feel when its eaten – maybe that’s why the tears 😉

  8. Anonymous says:

    Hi Cheesie, I have been an avid reader for as long as I remember and have always loved your posts about Japan and would love to visit some day. I am a current medical student studying at a UK university and in one of the modules I took about Cancer, I found out that the people in Japan have the highest risk of developing stomach cancer ( most probably due to the type of food consumed), Here is one of the research article http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC1860129/ This is by no means to offend you because I really do love your blog and thought it would be good to share (if you didnt already know about it).

  9. Cheesie says:

    Yea. And they also live the longest. So all bets are off lol.

  10. CL says:

    You REALLLLLY had to post this delicious food when I had beans on toast for dinner… *__* dammit.

  11. Cheesie says:

    thank you fion <3

  12. Cheesie says:

    eggs are the hardest to draw for art students! lol

  13. Cheesie says:

    Gooooood. Eat more veggies!

  14. Cheesie says:

    My shirt believes in Best Burgers lolol. You also very philosophical ah today

  15. Cheesie says:


  16. Cheesie says:

    Yeah i have the exact thoughts, there are many different types of them. Like you say the ones live overseas sometimes make me feel feel a little confused because i expected the same kind of manners from them but they behave differently. Especially Japanese people who have studied overseas, they probably did so because they admire the kind of freedom and “me”ness about western culture, which doesn’t exist in Japan. I understand that, but it’s just confusing. I have Japanese friends who give hugs and kisses as greeting. That’s just too strange to me lol.

  17. Cheesie says:

    And also “omoiyari” which is “thinking for other people”. In their culture, the priority in life is how everything they do make other people feel. It’s hardly ever about “self”. My danna is exactly the same. Every single thing he does he thinks about how it will affect other people.

  18. Cheesie says:


  19. Cheesie says:

    you have to always remember that i am extremely biased so it’s best you take everything i say with a whole bottle of salt lolol. That or i just am very easily impressed by food. That or the vegetables quality i used to have is really different sob…n

  20. Lady Indo says:

    Wow, you’re right the food doesn’t look good. But I know so many food that tastes so much better than they look so I’ll take your word for it. Will put this place in the ‘must have’ list for when I go to Japan, whenever that is 😉

  21. CL says:

    I did read the previous post and it only made things worse wtf Cheesie why do you do this to mennn/sob ;-(

  22. Wendy says:

    I guess Japanese outside of japan don’t act like how they are in their country is because they’ve adapted the culture from where they live now. When u did something that nobody around u will do, u will feel weird and slowly adapt to the surrounding culture. Maybe this is the so called 入鄉隨俗 haha ~

  23. Hanny says:

    needed to say thanks for the past 2 posts! Will be in tokyo for a short trip nxt wk & your blog has been my yellow pages about tokyo! I’ll be trying all your recommended restaurants! Arigatou!

  24. Smeech says:

    Thank you. :’)

  25. Lee says:

    I see.. I didn’t know about omoiyari but now that you have explained it, it makes total sense to me especially as someone who felt very much at home in Japan where how the people behave – so quietly accomodative, thoughtful and gracious – seemed very natural to me. Whereas how people in Malaysia behave – their loudness and self-centredness – often makes me feel out of place, especially when they don’t realize they are being so loud and self-centred. I wish I could create a country with the best parts of US, Japan, Malaysia, France, UK and Switzerland and none of their bad parts – all rolled into one!

  26. ani says:

    I want to go to japan! I almost did last year but then I couldn’t cuz I was scared cuz I was going alone and being alone (uh.. being a girl AND alone) is scary O.O every time I read a blog post about japan here though I feel like jumping on a plane and heading there lol

  27. Ny says:

    May i have the address of the restaurant? Thanks cheesie!! 🙂

  28. Anonymous says:

    Just move to Japan for good, dun ever come back. Malaysia will be grateful.

  29. Cheesie says:


  30. WP says:

    Well, my mother tells me that if I want bitter gourd not to taste bitter, I have to slice them, wash them and then squeeze all the water out, so that it squeezes the bitter juice out too. And it makes the bitter gourd crunchier too! (then you stir fry with egg) But I still don’t like it much 😛

  31. Heaventears says:

    Every time, after reading your blog post about Japan, I can always understand how you feel although I have not been to Japan myself yet. I was suppose to go Tokyo for further study 2 years back but 311 earthquake shatter my dream comes true back than. But the urge to go Japan has never gone weaker but instead, it burns stronger and stronger each day. Your Japan post has always been the plum for my thirst.nnI will one day place myself at the land of love. and I know, the moment I lay my feet on its ground at the airport, I will tear like I am finally home.

  32. Cheesie says:

    Hahaha heaven tears!!!!

  33. Heaventears says:

    Really cheesie! I’m so grateful that I came across your blog! I’m so grateful that I actually met you in person at JRunway opening in Singapore! I’m just so grateful! So much love for ya! Cheesie banzai~ Japan banzai!! Lol! I know im acting too over! Lol

  34. E says:

    must be a combination of personal preference + love for japan la i think :p last time i always had similar experiences every time i went overseas, OMG WHY JAPANESE PASTRY SO NICE, OMG WHY AMERICAN DONUT SO NICE, OMG why this why that… then weirdly after i got over the exciting novelty of eating “foreign” foods i actually started to realise i didn’t like it as much as i made it sound. not to say not nice la but more like it’s really just “nice” and not “orgasmic” lolol. i.e. i think japanese pastries “taste” nicer because they make them look SO pretttyyyyy but i still prefer cheap bun from chinese bakery >_>nnand no leh doesn’t have to be unhealthy what! yong tau fu quite healthy :3

  35. Cheesie says:

    eh young tau fu is super duper mega ultra oily leh lol

  36. Shaz says:

    Wow your food posts always make me miss Japan and its amazing food :’) I’ll go back some day though and hopefully I can go explore all of the places you mentioned in your posts and tear up over the food too 😀 Very intrigued as to how that bitter gourd would taste to me though since I’ve hated it with a passion forever. Congrats to your danna! Hope he thoroughly enjoyed his birthday 🙂 funny how its the same date as mine too haha 😛

  37. Cheesie says:

    Thanks for the tips! 😀

  38. Cheesie says:

    Nope. I’m coming back to annoy you 🙂

  39. Nanda says:

    This post makes me wanna try harder in cooking dinner for my husband. Sometimes I feel like I don’t put enough effort 🙁 EVERYONE deserves a delicious and nutritious meal.

  40. Cheesie says:

    Bravo lol

  41. Cassandra says:

    Hi Cheesie! Is this the address? 東京都渋谷区道玄坂2-28-1 椎津ビル B1FnNow I have to add this into the list of places to go, on top of Hikane Shibuya 6F (forgot where’s that post already T_T)!!!

  42. Cheesie says:

    I think that’s a diff one :XnnIsn’t that Yakiniku shop?nnI see you like Okinawan food! 😀

  43. Cheesie says:

    Wow really? Happy belated bday to you too!

  44. Cheesie says:

    i dont have it right now so sorry

  45. Cheesie says:


  46. Cheesie says:

    Yea the first thing i was taught to learn in Japanese culture is reigi (manners), which is part of omoiyari haha

  47. Cheesie says:

    have fun!!!

  48. Cheesie says:

    ya i think so too! like how they have to get used to not cleaning up your own tray in fast food chain here!

  49. Cheesie says:


  50. Cheesie says:

    do itttttttt

  51. Anonymous says:

    there is this skill to choose the right Bittergourd. My mom teaches me, to look for the bittergourd with ‘larger flowers’.. LOL… basically, it means, those bittergourd with further lines away from each other, instead of those with closer lines/textures. Those having larger lines/textures would taste better and less bitter. * v *

  52. Cheesie says:

    thank youuuuuu i shall try!

  53. Momo says:

    My aunt taught me that to make bittergourd not bitter, just salt it quite generously and let it sit aside to let the “bitter water” come out. Just like how you’d prepare brinjal/eggplant. Then you’ll have a bittergourd that’s not bitter, and you don’t have to struggle when life gives you bittergourd :p

  54. Cheesie says:

    haha ok!! But i also got rub salt on my bittergourd. Still bitter D: T___T

  55. sgrmse. says:

    your husband is such a wise lovely man (((‘:nnboth of you deserve each other <3

  56. elle says:

    malaysia’s 玻璃生菜 and broccoli in brown oyster sauce is good too~

  57. cam says:

    hi cheesie you probably won’t see this cos its like 3 years later since this post, but i went to tokyo last year and search high and low for this restaurant because i remembered this post. you were right, the food was glorious. the simple but so satisfying somen and cabbage. the kombu that was SO flavourful. (how?!??!) thank you a million times for recommending this place. my partner will be going to japan for the first time in spring and i am bringing him here, i can’t wait!!!! <3

    • cheesie says:

      I got this!!! I am so glad you made it!!! I am also very glad the shop is still around 😀
      Kombu is super rich in umami which is why it is one of the most flavorful food ^^

      Hope your partner enjoys too!

  58. ShunRhu says:


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