best steak knives

Occasionally Wirecutter has good recommendations but most times they're not so good e.g. The 3 Best Steak Knife Set. If you want to do "best" try these ones.

Start with Roland Lannier steak knives. You've already used one if you eat at really cool restaurants.

I'd also go with a classic Laguiole steak knife set. I like the olivewood ones a lot and will use this set for special occasions.

And finally, the Tojiro steak knife is really nice and I would (did) buy that set for every day use.

jeans and a t-shirt

Roy denim

Post covid, I've simplified my wardrobe to I guess the American basics of a t-shirt and jeans and sneakers (but really Birkenstocks). But my t-shirts are plain white or Navy from Whitesville, my jeans are dead-stock Roy denim, and my sneakers are Kobe 8 Protro Halo or Cleverley's Jack trainers.

I'll layer the top with some Visvim or an Iron Heart flannel. For work and on special occasions, I'll swap out the top with a polo shirt or a button down Oxford. Instead of jeans, I may wear khaki or dark green chinos. And that's it.

It's a far cry from being an Anglophile and bespoke tailoring and shoes and fancy knitwear. Sadly, there are not enough occasions where I have to dress up any more and even still, no one is dressing up. And there's no one to impress.

Bonus: Everyday carry are keys, simple card wallet, and an iPhone — often times my Ray Bans and sometimes a pocket knife, a watch, and a pen.

holy grail white t-shirt from Whitesville

The talked about "The Bear" white t-shirts are the Merz B. Schwanen 215 and the Whitesville t-shirt from Toyo Enterprise. I got the Whitesville t-shirts from Rodeo Japan Pine Avenue at a good price of $62 which includes FedEx shipping (and no taxes). Not a bad deal at $31 a shirt. I'm more of a navy blue or black t-shirt person so I picked up the shirts in navy blue too. For sizing, I'm a XXL in Japan, XL in Europe, and M/L in the United States.

What makes a white t-shirt great is the feel of the cotton, fit, construction (no seams down the side), and a collar that lasts and doesn't get stretched out too badly. This Whitesville t-shirt is it then because it does feel great, construction is in fact Quali-T, and the collar looks pretty solid.

A few more notes:

rice and pasta

A friend of mine was researching what rice to buy and I told her I like Tamaki haiga a short grain rice with the germ still attached. It tastes like white rice but it's supposed to be more nutritious. Anyway, it tastes good and we use the gaba brown, quick, or white rice regular setting on the Zojirushi so can't really screw that up. Tamaki haiga is better than your usual bowl of rice and it's good for rice bowls, stir fried rice, etc. Some more rice thoughts from somebody else. Also, there's no "best" rice. Buy what you like.

Other rice: Anson Mill's Carolina Gold Rice is good especially for red beans and rice but it's a bit too expensive for the trouble. Carnaroli for risotto, bomba for paella, and Kodafarms has good sweet (sticky) rice, rice flour, and Kokuho rose. I've made but I don't really fool around too much with jasmine, basmati, or long grain rice. And I don't like brown rice.

For pasta we go with Rustichella D'Abruzzo for spaghetti, bucatini, mezze maniche, farfalloni, and orecchiette. There's a couple bulk sales a year at Market Hall for this pasta and I grab some when it happens. Otherwise, Barilla is fine and fresh, home made pasta is easy enough.

Bonus: For rice "seasoning", get shichimi togarashi, Queen's gochujang, and Huy Fong chili garlic sauce. For tomato stuff Rao's marinara and vodka sauce are really good. Bianco DiNapoli canned tomatoes are good and this tomato paste from Mutti.

2024 restaurants to try list

French onion soup from Monsieur Benjamin's insta
Sushi Salon

Bonus (likely known/maybe under the radar?) Bay Area food recs:

soap

I'm still buying and using this soap/savon de Marseille. I just cut off a piece, however much when I need it, and haven't had to think about a body soap for over a decade now. It lathers well enough as a sometimes shampoo too. I bought three bars that should last me the next three years. I wanted something simple, basic, and genuinely good quality. Weird to be posting about soap I know, but might be helpful for someone. Also this is a bit of a maximizer/satisficer exercise, I searched for and got the "best" soap, no need to revisit that decision. Kind of a bifl (buy it for life) decision as well.

Other soaps:

  • Claus Porto from Portugal for their hand soaps pretty nice (bathroom)
    • Portugal makes some high quality and relatively inexpensive home goods too e.g. La Graccioza for towels and linens (but already settled with linens)
  • Le Labo hand soap and lotion, Hinoki (bathroom). Pretentious but nice.
  • Aesop for hand soap and lotion, Resurrection and Reverence (kitchen and bathroom). Also pretentious but nice.

Previously tried:

  • Caswell-Massey (almond, jockey club, number six, and verbena scents) bar soap and almond hand soap and lotion. These were fine. Packaging and scents from above Claus Porto, Le Labo, and Aesop are better.
  • Kiehl's bar soap this one is nice, but it's a little pricey
  • L'Occitane verbena – hand soap was just ok
  • And if all this seems silly, Dove soap or Irish Spring are just fine

more "uncrate" stuff

More list of things I don't need "uncrate" style.

Fujimarca MC-711 Manual Shave Ice Machine / $450 I may open a shaved ice stand (pop-up?) one of these days.

Wells WB1E-120V waffle maker / $1409 This is what they use at Ole's Waffle Shop and I think the Waffle House too.

Balmuda Pro / ¥37,400 Not available in the United States yet.

"uncrate" style of a few things I don't need

A running list of things I don't need "uncrate" style.

Faemina is overly expensive but it sure is nice looking and will make some really good coffee drinks. $5760

BlueStar induction range is good looking too. $6995 is pricey.

Eiderdown comforter is the opposite of a weighted blanket, the premium is with the high warmth to low weight ratio. The down is collected from nests and is about as environmentally friendly and responsible as can be. $4800