Archive for the ‘Japan’ tag
I am in love with Royce’s 生チョコレート(Nama Chocolate), but this time I tried a box of their Fruit Bar Chocolate just to see what it’s like.
The packaging is beautiful and thoughtful, very Japanese.
So what is it? White chocolate flavored with strawberry powder, then made crispy and chewy with almond puffs, dried mango and cranberry bits, then infused with a hint of banana.
For me, Royce Fruit Bar Chocolate looked better than it tasted – but that might be because I’m not a fan of white chocolate. For those interested, the price is 10 bars for ¥693 or 18 bars for ¥1,155. Click here to see their full product selection.
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This popular Japanese chick-shaped snack, originally invented in Kyushu, has been around since 1912. What it is – a thin, soft pastry shell wrapping sweet lima bean paste with a consistency similar to egg yolks. This treat is simple and delicious, perfect with a cup of hot tea!
Unwrapping the packaging reveals the chick-shaped cake. Cute? Cute!
A thin, soft pastry wrapping sweet lima bean paste. When accompanied by a cup of hot tea, this makes the perfect afternoon snack.
For more information on store locations etc., please refer to the official Hiyoko website.
ABC Cooking Studio
Address: Joy City 4F, 166 Xizangbei Lu 西藏北路166号大悦城4楼
Price: First-time trial 30 RMB/class, regular price 100~200 RMB/class (membership-based)
ABC Cooking Studio, a wildly popular women-only cooking school in Japan, opened its first Shanghai branch in Joy City. I originally came across the studio when I was window shopping in Tokyo Midtown at Roppongi, and remember well the brightly-lit, colorful interior filled with well-groomed, apron-clad Japanese ladies looking like busy bees. When I saw that the Shanghai branch is offering a trial class for only 50 RMB, I immediately called to schedule an appointment.
ABC Cooking Studio
We arrived 10 minutes before our 3:00pm class, changed into indoor slippers, put on the aprons, and were ready to go.
Students at work
Mon Chou Chou
Address: B104, B1 Shanghai World Financial Center, 100 Century Avenue
Tel: 3872 1163
Price: 15~33 RMB/dessert
A sharp contrast from Chez Shibata‘s extravagant creations, the treats at Mon Chou Chou are simple pleasures. Originally from Osaka, Mon Chou Chou makes a signature Dojima Roll consisting of a special blend of Hokkaido cream rolled with a fluffy sponge cake. This simple but divine treat is wildly popular in Japan – the only time that there’s no queue in front of the store is when the Dojima Roll is sold out. Fortunately for us Shanghai folks, Mon Chou Chou recently opened two branches in town, and as of now, there’s no queue at either location.
Mon Chou Chou SWFC Store
Grand Gold Award from Monde Selection
There are no seats at either location. After I made my selections, the cakes were placed in the box along with an ice bag to keep the temperature low. The sticker on the box says to refrigerate the cakes and finish them on the day of purchase, but I had some leftovers the next day and they were still fresh and delicious.
Take out box
The simplicity of the Dojima Roll (堂島卷) showcases the quality of ingredients. The filling, a blend of selected cream from Hokkaido, was delightfully light and perfectly sweet. Snuggly hugging the cream is a soft, fluffy, and deliciously eggy sponge cake. The combination is so simple, so divine.
Dojima Roll, 32 RMB
Pictures that can’t be categorized with any of the other posts on Tokyo.
Near Tokyo Station
Near Tokyo Station
Exhibition on the top floor of Ginza Mitsukoshi
Random shot in Shirokanedai
Cupid at Ginza
Dior & Armani at Ginza
Mikimoto window display
Fukusaya 福砂屋 is a historical cake shop famous for its Castella (カステラ Kasutera), a simple Japanese sponge cake made with sugar, flour, eggs, and syrup. Though it is now a specialty of Nagasaki, Castella originally came from Castile of Portugal, and was brought to Japan in the 16th century. Fukusaya has been baking divinely fluffy and moist Castella since 1624, and their website quite clearly explains how the cakes are baked. As impressive as the taste, on the other hand, is the packaging. Let’s go layer by layer…
First, a yellow wrapping paper that depicts the founding date of Fukusaya, the shop’s various locations, and its signature bat-shaped logo. In Chinese (which the Japanese also use in the form of Kanji), “bat (蝠)” has the same pronunciation as “happiness/luck (福)” , which is why Fukusaya chose the bat as its store logo.
Inside the yellow wrapping paper is a thin but sturdy yellow paper box, again with the bat logo.
Opening the paper box reveals a sealed washi paper-textured spun polyester sleeve with more bat logos.
2nd layer & 3rd layer
Modern, sleek, stylish.
Here’s how I spent the day in one of my favorite neighborhoods of Tokyo:
Morning: got here before any of the stores opened, wandered around discovering street art here and there.
Delightfully sunny weather
More street art
Baller apartment where celebrities and moneyed people live
Le Chocolate de H, saving this for next time
Lunch: skipped the main meal, tried some made-to-order desserts at Toshi Yoroizuka instead.
Biscuit Coulant Chocolat Yuzu
Afternoon: saw a very inspiring exhibition by Issey Miyake at 21_21 Design Sight
An amazing space designed by Ando Tadao, unfortunately wasn’t allowed to take pictures inside
Meiji Shrine 明治神宮
Address: 1-1, Kamizono-chō, Yoyogi, Shibuya-ku, Tokyo 151-0053
Tel: (03) 3379-5511
Hours: varies throughout the year, check website for details
Meiji Jingu is an expansive Shinto shrine built in 1920 as a dedication for Emperor Meiji and his wife Empress Shoken. A must-visit for first-timers in Tokyo.
At the entrance there is, like at all other Shinto shrines, a temizuya where you are supposed to cleanse yourself before entering the sacred ground of the gos. Here’s the drill: rinse your left hand, rinse your right hand, pour water into your left hand, rinse you mouth (but don’t touch the dipper directly with your lips), rinse your left hand again, and finally, rinse the dipper before putting it back.
We happened to run into a Shinto wedding procession, which apparently happens quite often as it is a popular practice to get married in Meiji Shrine. The procession was led by two priests and two shrine maidens, followed by the couple under a red umbrella, and finally family and friends. There were plenty of spectators snapping pictures here and there, forming another line outside the procession. Quite a view.
Traditional Shinto wedding
Shinjuku Gyoen 新宿御苑
Hours: 9:00am-4:30pm (closed on Monday)
Price: ¥200/adult, ¥50/child
On a freezing but delightfully sunny day, we came to Shinjuku Gyoen (新宿御苑) for a morning walk. This expansive imperial garden, which was built in 1906 for the royal family, is now open to the public. We were lucky to catch the last of the maple leaves and even a scattering of early cherry blossoms. Shinjuku Gyoen is the perfect place for a stroll or a picnic, and I can only imagine how crowded it would be during the prime season for maple leaves and cherry blossom watching.
Address: Side Roppongi Bldg, 1st Floor, 7-17-24 Roppongi, Minato, Tokyo 106-0032
. 東京都港区六本木7-17-24 サイド六本木ビル 1F
Price: ¥23,100 ($280) +10% service charge/set, drinks extra
Ryugin is definitely on the hot list. This kaiseki restaurant has been awarded 2 Michelin stars for four years in a row, has recently been ranked 48 in S. Pellegrino’s World Top 50 Restaurants, has garnered unanimously positive reviews on Chowhound and food blogs, and was recommended to me by two very serious food fanatics. I made a reservation almost 2 months prior to my visit, knowing how difficult it is to snatch a table at this highly regarded restaurant. I couldn’t possibly be disappointed, could I?
Update: Ryugin received its 3rd Michelin star in 2011.
Chef Seiji Yamamoto puts together a seasonal menu that changes daily. As far as I could tell, most tables were served the same set, though there was one table occupied by a frequent patron that had customized dishes.
Table cloth, very nice texture
Dish #1: 100% Turnip Hot Soup with “Turnip and Fish” Ball. The soup was as clear as crystal but very expressive. The turnip and fish ball was delicate and fell apart easily at the spoon, and thin strends of yuzu peel added a refreshing touch to the dish.
Small Appetizer: 100% Turnip Hot Soup with “Turnip and Fish” Ball
Dish #2: Premium Monkfish Liver” from Hokkaido with Special Miso Sauce. This was absolutely mesmerizing. The voluptuous flavor from the monkfish liver was rich and decadent, while the accompanying vegetables dressed in apple vinegar delivered a gentle shock.