Comfort Food

Five minutes to November! It’s getting colder and I’m craving hot food. Or actually just food in general, because it’s been so busy ever since senior year started. Everything’s on my plate except good things to eat

I promise I’ll post something proper again soon! Summer was great and I have tons of places I want to show, so I’m going to jump back into the swing of things here real soon. That’s an onigiri lunch I had at a cafe in Omotesando a month or two ago, and I remembered how great it was just sitting in a cosy cafe eating a homemade meal.

It doesn’t always have to be whole meals either—sometimes it’s the tiny things like this ice cream I found in my supermarket that makes my day a little better.

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Kanazawa in Summer

There’s a typhoon going on outside my window as I write this right now.

I went to Kanazawa in August, right in the middle of the summer when the heat wave was going strong in Japan. I remember wondering when this scorching torture would ever end, but I guess we’ve segued right into another kind of extreme weather. Anyway, Kanazawa was incredible all the same

It was my first time in Kanazawa, and my first time taking the night bus too. The bullet train was three times more expensive so we took the overnight bus, which only cost us ¥3000 and our backs and shoulders. Kanazawa’s a seven-hour trip from Tokyo, and we arrived at dawn when no one was around.

Actually no one’s really around Kanazawa in general. We decided to come here only because we figured Kyoto would be too crowded with tourists and so went with our second choice. Sorry Kanazawa, you come first in our hearts now

Our first stop was Higashi Chaya District, which is one of the better known places in this city. You’d think a famous spot like this would be packed, but not a single person was there! So we took our time taking pictures (and it was 7am, so we had lots of time).

It was great that the town was super empty and all, but the only thing was that all the stores were closed. We went around and around looking for breakfast and finally found this one cafe where we got ourselves a pile of fat fluffy pancakes.

One sweet thing led to another, and I got the famous gold leaf ice creamJust going to go ahead and add more sparkles in there. It was dazzling.

Quite possibly my favourite view—this one random hill in the middle of Kanazawa filled with old Japanese houses. I just really, really liked looking from the top of the slope at the landscape below.

Except it had a seriously steep climb.

Cooling down with some icy ramune soda

We also managed to get into the 21st Century Museum, which was so packed that we couldn’t even get in the first day we went. It took us the second try and a good half-hour head start before the place actually opened. But we made it in and got the money shot! Which in this case translates to the one shot that everyone is paying to enter and take in their famous swimming pool exhibit.

It was actually pretty cool.

And this was our guesthouseIt’s now up there in my favourite places to have ever stayed at. It’s owned by this nice old man who’s kept the traditional house for decades, and as soon as he arrived he sat us down in his garden for popsicles and rice crackers.

It really was a beautiful garden.

There are just lots of traditional places and streets all over Kanazawa like the Nishi Chaya District, which is like the east one but a lot narrower and hushed. This one had lots of turns and tiny corners and felt kind of secretive in nature.

But we managed to find this small cafe hidden behind some trees where they served us cucumber-flavoured ice cream and gold flakes. They may look old but Kanazawa is truly ahead of its time with all this avant-garde food.

I’ll be back someday in what is now my favourite city outside Tokyo

Kissa Housekibako: Back to the Girly Showa Era

I’ve gotten bad at posting every week, but really good at saving my streak at the last minute. And making excuses.

Recently I’ve been into kissaten—those old school Japanese coffee shops that were popular during the Showa era. 50s pop, idol posters, ice cream floats…everything’s stuffed into this small space like a little time machine back to the past. A time machine that serves good food.

Hosekibako’s made a name for themselves, but it’s hidden enough that there’re never too many customers crowding it on any given day (they can’t anyway, considering they have barely ten seats in there). It’s along a quiet street in Chitose-karasuyama, and took me a while to hunt around the neighbourhood for it. But once you get there it’s so pink and distinct you can’t miss it.

And inside is basically the Showa era. It’s like a museum of the past when huge perms and bell-bottoms were popular.

The stripy Meiji Ice Cream sign was cute; I wish I knew where I could get my own so I could bring it back to decorate my own place.

There’s even a bunch of old manga for customers to read while they’re eating. All nostalgic shoujo series, filled with the OG big-eyed heroines of those years.

And of course foodThey had the standard kissaten menu with all the typical things like toast and pasta and pilaf rice—and this extra fancy cinnamon banana toast that I ended up ordering.

The jewel in the crown here though, is their cream sodas—or ice cream floats, whatever you call them—that come with a big scoop of ice cream and the classic cherry. They had a lot of flavours in different colours and I would’ve tried them all if I could (even if I suspect they taste the same). This one was Pink Opal i.e. strawberry calpis soda with the sweetest shade of baby pink.

They did a great homage to the old Showa coffee shops; anyone would feel nostalgic even if they don’t actually have anything to be nostalgic for. It’s a great place to feel like a young girl enjoying the colours and music of that timeI sound like a grandma, but I hope you can tell how much I liked it.

The Little Bakery Tokyo

Ok! Let’s see if I can get this post up before the month changes to August. Or I’m going to have to change the timezone.

There’s a cafe in Jingumae that I’ve been to twice now, and it’s this small and cute bakery that’s sandwiched between a bunch of cafes and hair salons. As expected of Cat Street.

They had some sort of retro American theme going on, with smiley donuts and antique(-looking) ornaments and vintage floral prints everywhere. And lots of English. It was all very pretty and I can tell they’re working that aesthetic to their advantage. Not a single spot of this tiny bakery went unsnapped.

A truly magnificent bread display. They even came with golden tongs and candy-coloured trays for you to pick your bread with, so that’s really going the extra mile. If my hands weren’t full and the shopkeeper wasn’t right in front of me I would’ve taken a picture right there.

Any cafe that uses striped paper straws in their beverages gets an extra point.

They also have sandwiches, and I think these were grilled cheese and turkey avocado. They make them fresh for you so you can just sit around and watch them work that grill.

If you want other options all you have to do is look at the menu

Oof is all I can say when I see all that melted cheese oozing out. And look! Even their wet napkins are inspirational. Telling me that I look good (right until I consume a big carby feast).

And when you’re done you can have something sweet. Isn’t that strawberry bun adorable? It’s like a princess in bread form.

Baking in progress! The whole time I was just waiting for the staff to open the door so I could get a nice good smell of all that hot, sweet smell of bread blowing out.

Strawberry Sweets Buffet in Tokyo

Look at me saving my streak by the skin of my teeth. How was your June?

So way, way, way back in April I went for a strawberry buffet and consumed about ten years’ worth of strawberries in one lunch. Every year a lot of the hotels do seasonal buffets and each one goes all out to splash the whole restaurant in themed sweets and decorations. You’ve never seen a pinker setup than the dessert tables at The Strings

And of course you can’t begin the buffet till every guest has circled the dessert table at least once and gotten their money’s worth of pictures. It definitely took more than five minutes till someone was brave enough to be the first one to actually take a cupcake off the tray.

Starting with the macarons because these were by far my favourite and I had about twenty of them. If a single macaron costs ¥300 outside then you bet I’m going to eat them all when I see them at a buffet. Plus they’re strawberry-shaped.

My other favourite was the tart because I’m a tart person in general. If you ask me to choose between tarts or cakes my pick would probably be the latter because it’s all about the crunch for me. Just give me all the crusts

Of course the classic strawberry shortcake has to make an appearance.

There was a very pretty strawberry mousse that I fortunately got to get a picture of when it was still whole. Mousses are delicious, but also flabby cakes and there was no way to take a slice without it smooshing around everywhere.

Just look at how bouncy that is! All soft and wobbly like a good cheesecake should be.

They lined up the cupcakes to look like the shape of a dress, and added a tiara and pink gloves just in case we didn’t get it. I also realise now that I cut it out of the picture, but there’s a pink glass slipper on the side—Cinderella?

And obviously they had the actual strawberries for us to eat too.

A chocolate fountain, but better because it’s pastel pink.

My dessert after dessert was ice cream with strawberries and silver balls that I sprinkled in myself. They had so many toppings for you to customise with I felt like I was doing some sort of expensive arts and crafts. I was going to have another but then the time ran out and we were very politely chased out so the next group of people could come in.

Also all these pictures are of sweets but we did have our fill of savoury things before all that sugar. Almost too much, actually—we spent so long talking while eating our meats and salad that we completely forgot the time and ended up with only twenty minutes to get the desserts (that we came for in the first place). But look at how much we stuffed into that twenty minutes! You really can do anything when you put your mind to it.

Sakura Sweets 2018

Indeed it’s the end of May…but I’d really rather not wait till the next spring to come around again before posting all these things I ate.

Since it’s been a while and all how’s everyone doing? Before moving to Japan I always thought the May sickness was a total myth but it’s turned out to be pretty real, I kid you not. I can’t even remember what I did in April because all sense of time disappeared along with the sakura. But jpegs are forever, so I’m still left with all these pictures of sweets I ate (and maybe that weight I gained from them).

It was all just very pink. So much pink.

Once upon a time this year I actually had time to go to festivals and chow down endless sticks of mochi. They’re still my favourite, because they roasted right there in front of you and they’re all soft and chewy with the occasional roasted crisp.

This ice cream shop in Hiroo had a secret spring menu, so here’s a visually pleasing soft serve with the daintiest sprinkling of sakura powder and flowers.

The star of the season was definitely this one donut from Siretoco. Some sweets are just born for Instagram greatness

More pink mochi! I got this from 7-11, who persevered till the very end and kept these on the shelves well after cherry blossom season was over.

And this was my piteous attempt to be decorative. I tried hard to be creative and make a sort of hanami scenery on my toast, but the sakura marshmallows turned out a lot fatter than I’d thought (definitely not like the picture on the package) and it all just became a little blobby. But effort should not be wasted, so here it is

See you next week (maybe?!)

Sakura in Tokyo, 2018

It’s that time of the year again…or should I say it WAS that time of the year again. The sakura bloomed for all of five minutes and then were all blown away before I fully realised they were all there.

But this is my third spring in Japan and my reflexes are now trained precisely for this, so in one weekend I managed to get some shots of the sakura and go around a festival or two

This was taken on film at Koganei where family after family came to have picnics under the cherry blossoms. Some brought their kids, some brought their pooches, some just brought themselves to enjoy the early bloom.

The parks this time of the year are perfect for people-watching. It gets pretty wild in certain spots (usually wherever the alcohol is) but plenty of people are also just sitting around in the middle of the hubbub doing their own thing. I’m usually just slinking in and out trying to take pictures.

I will never stop being fascinated by sakura, but at some point I did realise I’m probably just taking the same pictures year after year. This year I tried to get more shots of people under the trees, and that was a fun diversion of attention.

Babies! Lots of cute babies!

And toddlers out on their field tripI especially liked this group of kids because there was this one boy that just kept escaping the group to climb over the railing. He had absolutely no patience for sakura appreciation and I loved it.

I also came across this very appropriately pink post box outside Komagome Station and fell in love for the five minutes I spent taking pictures of it.


▷ . Cheryl

A university student in Tokyo who takes pictures and puts them on the Internet

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