Sunflour, Shanghai

 

Knowing what a big bread lover I am, my friend decided to bring me to this place that is located in Puxi, at An-fu Road (徐汇区安福路322号, 近武康路). We took a cab there from Pudong, and it wasn’t a short ride but definitely below 30 minutes. From what I heard my friend telling the cab-driver it is near the Drama Building. As its name already suggests, this is the place to go if you are into flour like I am. Check out the abundance of flour in and all over the display racks! 20130328-084558.jpg

Besides bread, they do sell and serve other things too; there is another huge display case containing very delectable-looking cakes and pastries, so if you have a sweeter tooth and crave cakes or macarons, there is also something available for you. It being a weekend when we visited, the cafe was packed and abuzz with the brunch crowd. We were eyeing what other people were having, and all this while our tummies were growling with hunger, which we satiated with the samplers of walnut bread and brownies near the entrance. How thoughtful! In my mind, I was raging a war what to order because if I could, I would just order all the bread rolls and loaves that I possibly could, but of course that isn’t possible because they were huge! How could I finish them and it isn’t like I needed to get breakfast which is already provided at the hotel.

It was a pretty long wait for a free table, even though the cafe is not small; seating was a little cramped so it was a little like elbow-to-elbow kind of proximity that we share with the other patrons. When we finally got seated and made our orders, it didn’t take too long for everything to be served. Or at least not that I was aware of. The coffee came first, and check out this wonderful art I got on the froth!  20130328-084613.jpg

We ordered their recommended brunch item to share, which was a couple of poached eggs with parma ham on their signature French walnut bread. I love the bread, it almost compares to the Pain aux Noix from Maison Kayser that I am totally addicted to currently. A pity though, that I didn’t know how to properly eat the poached egg and ended up soaking the entire slice of bread with the yolk, thereby making it a little soggy but nevertheless still very yummy and chewy. 20130328-084623.jpg

On top of that, we ordered another roast chicken sandwich on baguette that comes with a variant of potato salad (sin alert!) drenched in some creamy sauce. Of course this is my plate with my share of the egg and bread without the parma ham, the sandwich and the potatoes. We got a fairly generous serving of parma ham, and I don’t know if they had started to run out of it subsequently because the table next to us had a significantly smaller piece of ham when their order arrived much later.20130328-084632.jpg

The poached egg and bread is a winner for me, with the complementary taste of the nicely-done egg (flowy golden yellow yolk oozing out is the best!) on the crisp yet moist bread with added texture from the walnut pieces within. The baguette is a bit iffy for me though, because I was already a little full at that point; it is still not too bad but the bread already turned a bit tough by the time I got to eating it so it got a bit difficult for me to eat.

We saw many people in the shop ordering their croissants, the table next to us even ordering a second helping, and thought it must be really good. Based on the online reviews I have read, the croissants are much raved about. Unfortunately I let my calorie-conscious mind take over and decided to skip it so it was a pity. Don’t know how it would compare to say… TBB’s almond croissant, which I thought was extremely good but another friend felt was overrated and overhyped.

Here is the review by TimeOut Shanghai, but as with good, there are also bad things. Some people commented about the poor and tardy service of the place, but with high crowd numbers, it is almost expected that service standards tend to slip anyhow. Perhaps the next time I visit Shanghai, I will return and try the croissant, or their other bread types. I have never been to Shanghai for vacation before, so probably that is something that I can consider, though everyone I know who lives and works there tells me there is nothing in the city. But there are plenty of such nice, little F&B outlets around, how can there be nothing? Till the next time maybe.

cafe-hopping in Tokyo

When I travel, expect to see photos of cafe food. I get chastised often by friends and family for not trying local food when I travel, but there is only so much capacity in me for food, and since my interests lie in cafes with their coffees and pastries, it is only natural that I spend more time checking them out when I can.

My first stop in Tokyo was Tully’s coffee at the Cocoon Tower in Shinjuku, because when I headed out from the hotel after arriving, it was extremely windy with a light drizzle falling. The air was unbearably cold, which led me to duck into the warmth of the cafe, also for some food. I seem to have acquired a taste for sweet pastries these days, which may be a good diversion from just eating muffins all the time and thereby gaining what some would call a muffin top. We have a few Tully’s cafes in Singapore, the ones I have been to are at Orchard Central and Square 2 in Novena, but the former is almost always packed with students hogging the seats that are shared with Quiznos, so these days I hardly ever visit that outlet anymore.

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One afternoon while shopping, or trying to do some shopping in the Harajuku/Omotesando area, I was getting tired from all the walking and decided to take a coffee break. I wasn’t hungry at all but needed a rest somewhere, so I popped into Starbucks, which thankfully wasn’t packed at that time. I tried the gingerbread latte, which wasn’t really nice; it just felt like a normal latte with a weird taste, so fortunately for me, the size I chose was the “short”. The granola and yogurt was good though, since I am such a yogurt fan and it comes with a pack of dried cranberries too!20121228-103140.jpg

I found out that there is a Maison Kayser bakery at Mid Town in Roppongi, but as part of the mall, it only opens at 11am and I was there pretty early one morning for breakfast, so instead of going back to Dean & Deluca that had a standalone shop (of sorts), I decided to have a bagel instead at Junoesque Bagel. It is pretty heavy and dense, and afterward I was stuffed, but this was of some pistachio flavour that I thought was interesting, besides I added the option of blueberry cream cheese spread (not pictured here) that was so heavenly! Sinful but good.20121228-103234.jpg

It is always difficult to decide on what to have together with coffee when I am in cafes because of my limited eating capacity and because cafe food generally appeals to me a lot. A lot is a gross understatement, but yet there are times when I can’t find anything that would already be jumping out at me to order them. I enjoy breads but in these cafes, sandwiches are typically not in my list of things to order. So when I was at Excelsior Caffe, I thought I would give the millefeuille a try. I am not a big cake fan, but occasionally I do have a craving for it.20121228-103318.jpg

As I ate it, I sort of regretted my choice; it was a little too sweet for my liking, even though I am not too averse to sweet stuff since there are some pastries I like which are of the sweet variety, but maybe the Christmas coffee drink I had together with the cake, which I can’t remember now but probably was some toffee drink or similar, made the whole sweetness level too much to bear. This cake was considerably light even though it contains cream, maybe due to the fact that it is layered and not entirely made out of cream.20121228-103338.jpg

After the whole overly-sweet experience at Excelsior Caffe, a few hours later I decided to have some real coffee at Lavazza. I don’t know why I bothered with the Christmas drinks at all because they are always too sweet, such as the Toffee Nut Latte from Starbucks, which is extremely sweet but somehow it just feels right to have something like that at Christmas time, don’t you think so? The Lavazza cafe that is located along Omotesando is also a pretty good location to just sit and watch busy shoppers filing past. It isn’t the best spot of course, since there isn’t a view of any crossing or the likes, but Tokyo is seldom really devoid of human traffic so having a place to sit to rest your tired shopping feet out of the way of other shoppers is indeed a wonderful enjoyment, especially when coupled with a hot coffee on those cold days!20121228-103407.jpg

Another cafe that I checked out was the Illy cafe in Roppongi Hills. It used to be located on the second level but has since shifted up to level 5 (if I recall correctly). I much preferred its old location because this seemed smaller in comparison, or maybe because it shares space with some other free seating area that kind of gives it a less intimate experience, whatever that is supposed to mean haha. When I am enjoying my coffees in these buildings, I will always wish that my work place is located in an area that is served by cafes with great coffee. Unfortunately, now all I can get is coffee from a vending machine. 20121228-103429.jpg

And then it’s back to Starbucks to round up the hopping! Cranberry bliss bar, isn’t the name so blissful-sounding? Lol. The taste was normal, it’s like some bread with icing on top that isn’t cream cheese but I don’t think it’s icing sugar either because icing sugar would have been really sweet right? Just thought I would order this because it’s a Christmas item, and I was feeling a little sad that morning as that was the day I was due to leave Tokyo to head home where a business trip awaits.20121228-103457.jpg

While we are still in the last days of 2012 and everyone is probably still in the festive mood despite Christmas already being over, hope you all enjoy the rest of 2012 and Happy Holidays!20121228-103526.jpg