Posts Tagged 'Photography'

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.

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Photobook Diner Megutama: Feast for the Stomach, Feast for the Eyes

I used to get mad if I didn’t keep up with my posts every week, but now it’s come to the point where I feel like I deserve a medal if I remember to update before the month is over…okay, no. I’ll try harder.

Recently I haven’t been going to a lot of places, but yesterday I went to a new cafe for the first time and I liked it so much I’m posting about it right away.

写真集食堂—Photobook Diner Megutama, a small cafe in Ebisu, Tokyo that’s essentially a cafe and a library all in one. It’s not just any kinds of books either but specifically photo books by hundreds of photographers from the famous to the obscure. I could spend hours looking through photo books so that’s what I did here. The next best part is the food, all simple homemade stuff made right there in the kitchen in front of you by the sweetest ladies. It’s like coming home to three moms.

I ended up coming here that day because plans got cancelled and I suddenly had nothing to do and no one to meet, so I made the trek all the way to Ebisu and walked a good distance before I found their sign off the main road.

Here the walls are covered with books and more books carefully lined up by chronology of publication, so you know exactly which decade you’re heading for. That day I picked out more than ten books from the contemporary end and sat for ages looking at everything.

I found my favourite photographers and photographers I’d never heard of before. It was all very worth it, because I paid only about ¥1000 for a whole meal and (since it wasn’t crowded at all) they let me take all the time I wanted after that just reading while popping back on occasion to give me more hot tea. I would honestly just move right in

Teatime with Peter Rabbit in Tokyo

More like lunch at 2pm because it took forever and three train lines to get to Jiyugaoka, but all that wouldn’t fit in the title. Anyhoo, I went to the Peter Rabbit Garden Cafe in one of the fancier ends of Tokyo.

Here you can find the storybook characters sitting around at blue gingham tables and looking very much at home surrounded by waitresses in that same blue gingham. It was all very Beatrix Potter and very English. I didn’t read a lot of Peter Rabbit growing up—I was more of an Arthur & Friends kid—but it was one of the better done themed cafes I’ve been to so far.

Themed cafes that commit through and through are the best ones to go to. They had a pretty extensive menu with things like Peter Rabbit’s House (a burrow of rice and salad leaves for trees) and Mr. McGregor’s Winter Menu. Plus the quintessential afternoon tea

They called this a Sleepy Salad Plate; I came for the omurice and stayed for the bread. That might have been the best bread I’ve ever had on the side. So fluffy! So buttery! I probably could’ve ordered five of those instead of a main meal.

The Healthier Choice™ i.e. Peter Rabbit’s House and Mr. McGregor’s Vegetable Curry (Peter Rabbit included). There was a little light inside the burrow and it all looked very homely until it was eaten up.

The dessert was a lot bigger than I expected. I’d been in the mood for something light and cheesy, and the Caramel Cheese Parfait turned out to be something of a monster with whole chunks of cheese tarts stuck on top. But delicious! Just do not attempt to finish alone.

Meanwhile the tart was a lot lighter even with ice cream on the side

I had about three seconds to take this picture before Peter Rabbit started sinking into the froth. On the menu it says cappuccino, but if you’re an ambivalent caffeine drinker like me you can ask for hot cocoa instead. Life hacks at the Peter Rabbit cafe.

You don’t really have to be a Peter Rabbit fan to enjoy this place—it’s a pretty special cafe that somehow manages to feel cute and cultured at the same time, which is exactly the kind I like.

Hokkaido in Winter 2018

Right before finals season I escaped to Hokkaido for three days because freezing in the northernmost part of the country sounded better than studying.

And it was beautiful! I admit I’d voted against Hokkaido at first because I didn’t feel like braving the harsh natural elements, but once I saw all that snow any reluctance I had went out the window. You can actually enjoy the cold, once you’re numb enough.

It helped that we didn’t take a plane there—we went by shinkansen and just zoomed straight to Hokkaido. By zoom I mean it took us 4 hours from Tokyo, but that’s still unprecedentedly fast.

Got my ekiben for the journeyNothing puts me in the mood for a long train ride better than a bento box. I used to bring the boxes back home, so I have an unnecessarily large collection of old bento boxes piled up over the years.

The shinkansen from Tokyo only takes you up to Hakodate (the bottom tip of Hokkaido or what they call the genkan), so that’s where we stayed for three days. I’ve never been in this part but I loved it. It was all brick and snow and the occasional flock of birds.

History nugget for you curious learners out there: the Kanemori Red Brick Warehouse (literally named for what it is) dates back to the beginning of the 20th century when it was a trading port. This was one of my favourite places in Hakodate and I had a lot of fun trekking through the snow between all those brick walls.

Thawing out our frozen selves with miso ramenTypically I’m more of a tonkotsu ramen person, but when in Hokkaido…anyway, it was delicious. And hot food really is a blessing in extreme arctic conditions.

As I quickly found out everything in Hakodate is photogenic(I mean…what’s frostbite if you can get nice pictures out of it?)

Wouldn’t be Hokkaido without meeting a snowman standing in the middle of nowhere.

Somewhere along the road we decided to stop and get lunch, and because of the long one-way roads there was a whole ordeal backing in and out of different driveways while we tried to find a place to park and eat at. But thanks to my brilliant intuition (and prior research on the gram), I found a chain restaurant called Lucky Pierrot by chance. And—italicising for emphasis—I want to live there.

It’s hard to describe, but it was dressed like a carnival. The funny thing about this place is that when I read about it on social media no one said anything about the decor. The talk was all on their burger which, fair enough, is what they’re famous for. Except I don’t care enough for burgers to go all the way to a place just for one. Coincidentally though I spotted the Lucky Pierrot sign (with a pierrot on it, obviously) along the road and convinced everyone to go there instead of eating ramen for the second day in a row. And what a good decision it was.

Everything was huge in this place. I didn’t do a good job of capturing it in perspective, but believe me when I say this bowl was almost twice the size of my face. It was a katsudon of Brobdingnagian porportions, and not even ¥1000.

I had the omurice, which was not as scarily big as the katsudon but still an endeavour to eat my way through. Ironically the one thing I didn’t get a picture of was the famous burger, but we did try it. We were probably just too busy feeling guilty about eating a 14-cm tall burger with chunks of fried chicken wedged inside.

We also went to visit the monkeys, who were happily soaking in the onsen while the humans shivered on the other side of the railing. I see those pictures of monkeys bathing in a hot spring on some snowy mountain all the time, but I’d always wanted to see them up close. I’ve changed my mind now—those monkeys are vicious. It’s a much better idea to watch them from a safe distance away while they shriek and run around while pushing each other off the ledge. Check out Hakodateshi Nettai Botanical Gardens to meet some cool monkeysFor just ¥100 you can even get a big pack of snacks to throw their way and watch them fight over it.

I only spent two nights in Hakodate, but everything was worth the cold and slipping around in the snow. I still want to go to Hokkaido in the summer one day, so hopefully sometime soon I’ll be back with a change of season in my pictures.

The Cutest Ice Cream Shop in Tokyo

Also Most Decorated. And Most Likely to Attract High School Girls. Or at least that was the demographic that made up most of the crowd when I was there. But look at that ice cream! It looks like a toy.

I was out on an ice cream hunt in Tokyo for research (believe me), and I found this place in an alley in Harajuku. It’s popular enough that there’re already people queueing in the morning, and I’m not surprised—the whole place is a living Instagram post. It was all pink and kitsch and very strategically decorated with photo props

Even the girl at the counter dressed for the part.

They had a whole lineup of cones covered in bright pastel chocolate and sprinkles—colours and more colours. I thought I’d get to choose my own but it turned out to be random, though it doesn’t really matter anyway because the ice cream inevitably just becomes a rainbow mess.

Thanks to their toppings, which are ridiculously adorable. You’ve got the clssic stars, hearts, alphabets, and if you’re feeling a little wild you can even throw in a chocolate flamingo on top of it. I ended up getting cookie glasses and a big pink bow because I needed my ice cream to be extra dramatic that day. For research, you know.

Their aesthetic is working. There wasn’t a single customer I saw who didn’t spend five minutes pacing around the shop taking pictures at every corner. I mean, I did tooIt’s fortunate that the weather’s become chilly, or my ¥1000 ice cream would’ve just melted right off.

So props to Eddy’s Ice Cream for dressing themselves up wellNow you can’t even just be photogenic with your products, everything else has to be picture-worthy too.

3D Latte Art in Tokyo!

HELLO! Just thought I’d shout that out and dust off this blog because I’ve been away for a while. I just moved, so the past few weeks have been a sort of chaos. I’ll probably blog properly about my new apartment in Tokyo because I like it so much, but for now let me talk about another place I like.

There’s something coming out of my latte. And it’s adorable.

Around the start of summer I went to a cafe called Reissue in Harajuku, and they do custom latte art made to order. You just tell them what you want on top of your drink, and they whip it up for you exactly how you want it. I liked it so much I went back multiple times just so I could get different characters made.

It’s even more fun when you go with friends and see all the different characters coming out in your cup! We’ve got a lot of popular ones here—the staff know what’s in demand and they’re extremely good at what they do. Even if you don’t specially order an original latte art, sometimes they’re nice enough to give you a surprise. (Moomin up there was a surprise)

I’m pretty sure one in every three customers gets a Shiba Inu. I got one that day, and it’s probably still my favourite of all the latte arts I’ve gotten. They even got the foam eyebrows in! Shiba Inu eyebrows are everything.

Kanahei’s one of my favourite artists, so I asked for her signature rabbit on one of my recent visitsI had to show the staff a drawing of the character this time, but I’m amazed at how well they can reproduce a picture they saw for all of three seconds.

It’s not all just drinks either. They have cakes too! Very important. It felt a bit of a waste if I just went all the way there for one drink so I tried their cakes and it went perfectly well with the latte.

And it actually felt really good to just be sitting there having a break at a small cafe. It’s in the quieter streets of Harajuku too, so you get some peace and quiet in a comfy place. I was surprised they weren’t crowded at all each time I went there because you’d think a place that pumps out the cutest latte art you could find would be packed—but even on a Saturday they only had a sprinkling of visitors. All the better for you and me though

Super chill place. I haven’t been there for a while because I’ve been so busy moving (and consequently I’m now a fair bit further away) but one of these days I’ll be back

The Nicest Cat-loving Cafe Owner in Tokyo

I’m writing this in a state of denial now because summer is ending and the new semester is just around the corner. I think it’s because I had so much time to myself and went to so many places (Home! Disneyland! Bali!) and now it’s jarring to sit myself back in the classroom.

But I’m sure I’ll be over it by the end of the week, so time to get cracking.

One of the places I went to recently was Kuroneko-sha, a small cafe near Machiya station in Tokyo. And I really want to talk about it because I had such a special time in that place and the cafe owner was one of the kindest I’d ever come across. He really likes cats by the way, which is why the cafe’s name literally means Black Cat House.

It’s a cozy space and very much like a kitchen straight out of a typical home…which I guess it kind of is. It’s sandwiched in the middle of a residential area, so it’s small and along a quiet street.

When I came and sat down at the cafe myself I realised that somewhere I’d gotten a cut on my leg (that’s another story I’ll never know about lol). It was a pretty big one, so the owner noticed me cleaning it up and offered me a bandage. Which was such a nice gesture of him, but I got kind of embarrassed and just said I was fine

And then he gave me cookies to eat while waiting for my food. (MY HEART)

I got the special Neko Musubi set, which came with two huge cat-shaped rice balls, miso soup and an even huger plate of side dishes. I need the world to understand how great this is, because this massive portion cost me only ¥750 and it was everything I could want in a meal

Grilled fish, fried chicken, pork, salad…you know a cook is generous when the side dishes are heavier than the actual main. Everything was cooked on the spot, so it was all hot and juicy and completely filling. After eating this I got full even before starting on my rice balls

Even the miso soup almost stole the show. I’ve never had a bowl that had more ingredients inside than the one I had at Kuroneko-sha. It’s usually just miso soup, and maybe a few scraps of seaweed and tofu, right? But there were so many other ingredients inside it was almost like opening a gift. A gift of meat and veggies.

So that was my meal! Or so I thought, until I got a surprise at the end.

He gave me scones on the houseAnd they’re cat-shaped. Cat-shaped. This is the way to my heart right here. I was more overjoyed than full at this point so I ate it all even though I was stuffed past the point of no return. And I was amazed at how generous he was in giving so many treats. My random little injury probably had something to do with it, but I really think he’s just a kind person who wants to make his customers feel good in his cafe. He told me to come back again someday, but I didn’t need to be told because I was already planning on it

So that was my story! Of the owner of a small cafe who loves cats and made a girl’s day by giving her such a good meal and more. The place is called 黒猫舎, so check it out if you’re in town!


▷ . Cheryl

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

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