Archive Page 3

Pretty in Purple: Wisteria Festival at the Shrine

Now that the cherry blossoms are long gone, it’s time to give these unsung heroes some attention.

These big, bright purple boas draping down from trees—wisteriaThey bloom later in spring, which is just as good because you get to enjoy it right after all the sakura disappears. They’re not poofy like a sakura tree, but hang downwards from their branches. Kind of like the threes are growing violet hair.

There was a festival going on at the Kameidoten Shrine near Asakusa, while all the wisteria flowers were in bloom. Lots of trees, lots of peopleOn occasions like this I don’t mind the crowd so much—if anything it makes the event livelier and even better.

Japan seriously has nice nature all year round. In Singapore everything’s just green all the time, so seeing all this pink and purple everywhere gets me real excited. And what a shade of purple it is! (My favourite colour, by the way.)

Iconic red bridge for that postcard look (except of course once you’re actually on that bridge it’s just kind of overstuffed with people crossing). The touches of red in the shrine made the purple wisteria look extra vibrant.

It was a weekend, so there were lots of families around! At the risk of sounding like an grandma, seeing all the little kids having fun really brightens the place up.

Not to mention the food stallsThe last time I went to a big festival was in the summer, so it was great seeing all the different stalls. Lots of frying and grilling around, and the clunk of the shaved ice machine. Festive! I got a fried meat bun.

There were a bunch of Japanese sweetfish being cooked around a fire; it’s too bad I didn’t get one, but next time I definitely want to. I’ve had these fish on sticks a couple of times before and they’re actually really tasty (plus, fun to eat).

The sun was in a great mood that day

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The Farm in the City: Mr.FARMER Cafe

I get frequent assumptions that I live on a diet of pancakes and cafe sweets in Japan, but (once in a while) I actually go out of my way to have salad for lunch. Welcome to Mr.FARMER, a cafe in Tokyo that has successfully gotten lots of people to eat their veggies.

Healthy food, stylish ambience, and full of appropriately sophisticated customers—it’s a trendy place to be even for a neighbourhood like Omotesando. Plus you know a place is really putting itself out there when they serve water infused in three different combinations of fruits and vegetables.

(The only reason why I can’t come to places like this more often is because one salad could buy me a week of meals from the convenience store)

So while I’m here I need to get the best out of it. I had the Cobb salad plate, packed with ingredients and with a fancy arrangement of bread and baked potatoes on the side. My rule of thumb when it comes to salad: the more colours there are, the more likely I am to eat it. It was like eating a collage

And then because I am who I am, I couldn’t stop there and went on to get dessert. Their sweets are a lot more dinky than their massive salad bowls, but I very much enjoyed that stick of tiramisu

It was sunny, so lots of people were taking advantage of the weather and having their lunch out on the terrace.

Since it’s so popular, there was a queue all afternoon.

Health is wealth, which might explain the pricey meals at this cafe. But then everything was delicious, and the atmosphere had a way of making you feel like you belonged in that charming, airy aesthetic. I’d definitely want to go again the next time I want a nutrition splurge

A Real Cafe from a Ghibli Movie

Today I went to a special place, possibly one of my favourite places in Tokyo I’ve been to in the time I’ve stayed here. But first let me tell you about one of my favourite films of all time (yes, it’s relevant)!

The Cat ReturnsOr Neko no Ongaeshi in Japanese. It’s an old Studio Ghibli film, and it came out more than a decade ago when I was 7 or 8. I couldn’t get enough of all those cats—even the human protagonist turns into one—and years later it’s still one of the few shows I always go back to.

Anyway, these fish cookies are a recurring motif in The Cat Returns and a symbol of friendship between cat and girl. And they’re the same ones in the first picture on top. They’re real!

Everyone knows the beauty that is Ghibli art; this scene of a cake shop was just one of many gorgeous shots in The Cat Returns. What’s less known is probably the real shop that it was modelled after. The director of the film based it on an actual cafe in Koenji, Tokyo, and I never knew until I stumbled across it online. So of course I went to look for it

It was just right there around the corner of the street! So modest, so unadorned, but so surreal to see come straight out of the Ghibli film I love so much. It’s in a quiet neighbourhood and not a lot of people pass by. There aren’t often fans or people who watched the movie coming for a pilgrimage either, probably because The Cat Returns isn’t as known as some of Ghibli’s bigger hits.

Inside the cafe hangs a framed message from Morita Hiroyuki, the man who directed The Cat Returns, and it’s the most adorable autograph I’ve seen.

“Thank you for not only appearing in our The Cat Returns, but for even making these cookies in real life!” The famous fish-shaped cookies initially appeared only on the film and weren’t sold in original cake shop, but it seems that once they found out they were in a Ghibli movie they decided to make them for real as thanks to the director. And I’m so glad they did

They keep lots of film memorabilia inside, and a guest book for people to write in. It’s not a big cake shop, but there are a bunch of stools lined up along the wall and the counter for people to sit in and have tea. When I dropped by there were two grannies talking away with the shopkeeper while eating cake, so it seems like a good place to come to when you want some peace and dessert.

I only got the cookies and had to dash, but I enjoyed my 5 minutes inside lots. And the other 10 spent taking photos outside.

Tokyo never stops surprising me; I didn’t think I’d come across a place so familiar yet what was always just a fictional part of my childhood. Coming here made me feel like watching The Cat Returns all over again. And if you haven’t seen it before, you should too! It’s highly underrated and I need to share this imaginative gem of a Ghibli film with everyone. And maybe cookies, if there’re some left.

Tokyo Food Diary

Sakura trees are losing the pink and sprouting the green—the season’s crossed over the threshold of spring and said goodbye to those photogenic flowers for another year.

Here’re the last of my sakura food snaps—if I wasn’t taking pictures of the flowers I was walking around Tokyo looking for everything pink and limited edition, like this cupcake I found in a bakery cafe at Nishi-Ogikubo. It’s amazing how much difference one sakura leaf makes to a plain cupcake. Really though, it was salty and sweet and an unforgettable ten minutes spent on a dessert.

Something homemade for a change! Except the pasta. When you walk into a store and see a packet of pastel pink sakura-shaped pasta, there’s no question about it—it sails straight into your basket and then you litter it all over your bento later because it’s just so cute.

A rare choice of drink: Pricey, hyped and taking over my Instagram explore feed, but if there’s anything that can make me go to Starbucks it’s a domed pie crust over a frappe. Creativity right there! The American Cherry Pie Frappuccino came out last week in Japan, and it’s already become a star. I liked the drink okay enough, but the real satisfaction for me was in breaking up that crust and scooping up with the drink.

On to a tale of more humble beverage. I went to the supermarket and saw all these boxes of soy milk, so I swiped them off the shelf and finished them in two days. It’s easy to become a serial soy milk drinker when they come in packaging and flavours as fabulous as the Kikkoman range. I mean…mango soy milk? It was calling my name!

Getting some egg action with the most beautifully constructed quiche. I don’t actually love egg’s benedict—I’m not usually a fan of gooey food that runs all over the plate and leaves a mess, until it comes protected in a buttery quiche crust. This was at Quiche Yorozuika in Omotesando! They just don’t do anything but make really good quiche.

All filled up and ready for the new week!

Sakura in Tokyo 2017

The cherry blossoms are out to play again! Unlike me, because it’s the start of the new school semester. But I’m still seeing sakura everywhere in the streets and loving it.

Last year I saw them for the first time and went all out going for hanami seven days a week, but this year there’s less time to be crazy so I’ve been content with just walking under all those pink trees. And maybe a picnic or two.

Of course my camera is still being stuffed with a massive load of sakura pictures. Everything in the memory card’s been pink for the past few days.

I went to Ueno Park again and had my fill at the food stalls. Everything was up and festive and I got a stick of dango just like last year. Except this time it was pink! Sakura dango, a stick of the softest mochi I’ve ever had.

It got paraded around for a bit too, while I was trying to get the best photo position with the sakura trees in the background.

It’s so fun seeing everyone out in the streets looking excited about seeing the flowers. There’re so many people walking around appreciating the sakura that it just makes you feel better about starting the new school year.

And if you see a bunch of old grandpas with their heavy duty tripods and full-frame DSLRs lined up, you know it’s a good photo spot.

Sakura at sunset is also beautiful and unexpectedly photogenic, as I found out at Rikugien the other day.

Cafe itonowa

Cafe itonowa! It’s been making its rounds on Instagram and their seasonal strawberry cakes are something of a poster child so I went to try it for myself. Twice, in fact.

It’s one of those small, Instagrammy cafes where everything is in shades of white and tan and customers walk in with little else but a camera. It was near Asakusa and a bit far out from the city centre, but at opening time there was already a queue. It’s popular!

Their menu is pretty uncluttered, with just a few main items and drinks. And lunch sets, to coax customers into getting a dessert along with their food.

I had the toast set which came with cream of spinach soup, so that was healthy.

On my next visit I tried the curry rice, and that was satisfying too. Brown rice doused in grainy curry with a half-boiled egg cracked on top. And a broccoli for some greens, yum.

If you search itonowa up on Instagram, this is the one that’ll probably show up the most. I’d gone all the way there with the intention of getting their famous strawberry roll cake, so I had it with a cup of hot houjicha milk (hooray for lunch sets). Expectations met

These cafes really make you work; travelling there and looking for them in the maze of streets they tend to hide in takes effort, but so far they’ve been worth the trip. I even went to itonowa a second time! It’s a special kind of joy going to a cafe alone and seeing you’re not the only one alone (ha, the irony).

Hong Kong Food Diary

I went to Hong Kong for the first time! And ate approximately six trips’ worth of food, clearly. You’d think we planned our entire itinerary around meals and snack times.

But food in Hong Kong is just that good and accessible—everywhere we went there was something that looked delicious and didn’t make a dent in our wallets.

I think breakfast is such a great way of seeing the every day life of people in the country you’re visiting. The things they eat, the way they order food like they’re talking to a friend, the time they take to sit there and eat. Some of them opened up their newspapers, some of them took a bite and were on their way out.

(We spent a good hour taking pictures while eating like the tourists we are.)

The old-fashioned places were my favourite. This one was called Mido Cafe and straight out of the 60s, timeless in its subdued green hues and patterned tiles.

When we weren’t sitting at cafe or cha chaan teng (Hong Kong-style restaurant) eating we were roaming around and hitting all the food stalls on the street. Egg tarts for HK$45! I almost want to write a currency table so you could see how cheap it is in different currencies.

And they were freshly baked.

There was a famous stall called Hop Yik Tai in Sham Shui Po selling cheong fun—they ladled out mini rice rolls onto a plate, splashed it with sauces and gave it to you to eat in the alley next door. No-frills but delicious.

Another famous Hong Kong snack! Egg waffles that looked puffy but were actually crispy and airy inside.

And of course we had dim sum. Because that’s what you do when you go to Hong Kong—eat dim sum every day. It’s hard not to when it’s just! So! Cheap! And my stomach has a huge capacity for steamed buns.

We had the famous BBQ pork bun from Tim Ho Wan and it was a game-changer. No other pork bun comes this close for me. The chain’s got a lot of pressure with its one Michelin star and critics saying it’s overrated, but as far as I’m concerned it was the best I’ve had. I could dream about that crispy crust.

Dim sum was cheap on the whole, but it could get expensive in the swankier areas. I specifically wanted these piggy buns from Yum Cha, which was a proper restaurant in the city with waiters that actually paid attention to you (in fact ours was hovering right in front of us and refused to leave the entire time, but that’s another matter). Anyway, I got the buns and they were the cutest thing on the island I ate.

And if this isn’t the prettiest har gow I’ve ever seen! Certainly the best dressed shrimp dumpling you’ll find.

These were pineapple puffs! If I’m going to pay double the price for dim sum, they’d better come in a silver cage shaped as baby birds.

That was just a fraction of the food pictures I had from the entire trip, but we did actually do things other than eating! Like observing the billions of cats that seem to populate the streets of Hong Kong.

We also found ourselves crawling through a pirate’s cave on Cheung Chau island.

The travel bug is real. I finally got to check Hong Kong off my list of places to go! It was a gritty city cramped with old buildings and movement, but being in the middle of all that meant I got to see all the colours and neon lights and the towering double decker buses up close.


Welcome ♡

▷ . Cheryl

I'm a university student in Tokyo blogging every weekend about cute food and cute places in Japan٩( ᐛ )و

Read my About Me ☆ to know more.

はじめまして!
大学一年生のシェリルです
毎週日本の可愛い食べ物や場所についてブログ更新していますヽ(´_`) /♪

よろしくお願いします

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