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

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the sin of gluttony

More photos to break the monotony of words.

It is no news that Orchard Central is sort of a failure where shopping malls are concerned. Honestly, it is the place I would go to simply because is usually not crowded there. As it is within close proximity to the office, I go there for lunch occasionally. On one of such days, I went to the Crystal Jade Hong Kong cafe for lunch, and as expected it was fairly empty. I guess the crowds typically pour in on weekends or during dinner times, which I cannot verify because I am seldom there at such timings. But I went to a Japanese place for dinner once, and we had to wait ages. The food at the HKG cafe is pretty decent, but what impressed me was how they served the iced yuan yang that my friend ordered. Don’t you think this is really cool? The “shot glass” contraption that you see next to the flask is tilted at an angle perhaps to make it easier to drink out of it, and both of them together remind me of Chemistry lessons in school.

Thai food is yummy but we usually make do with the pricier and not-so-nice versions that we find in Singapore. I am not particularly fussy and picky with the food that I eat, so Thai Express’ paad thai does it for me mostly. I only don’t like it if the noodles is overcooked and becomes a tad too wet. Anyway, I tried Siam Kitchen at Suntec since I was in the area and couldn’t decide on what to have for dinner. Their paad thai is different from the one that I was used to from Thai Express, mainly due to the type of noodles used, but I prefer Thai Express’ version, although the crispy crackers served as an appetizer were really nice. If only they had spicy belachan paste to go along with it.

I know this is a very poorly-taken photo but I kind of like how it turned out, blurry lines and images, possibly reflecting my constant state of mood these days. Please pardon the low quality of the phone camera and my futile attempt in trying to keep my hands stable as I was making this shot.

Check out the ultra large cup of latte that Tully’s serve! The cup next to it is the usual one they use for espresso, so you can just about imagine how bloated I was after the grande-sized latte. Value for money, if you ask me. And Bakerzin impressed me with the coffee art on my coffee! I think I should forget about cutting down on coffee and tea because I will just end up breaking one more resolution.

homebound…

Did a final breakfast at Tully’s coffee on the 26th, the day we were due to fly back home. Somehow, even with Tully’s opening here, I think the experience will just be different. Gosh, I’m experiencing withdrawal symptoms already! I need to start planning for my next holiday really soon!

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Before we left the apartment, we managed to capture some day shots of the surroundings as it was a really bright and clear day. I still think that I don’t really get to see such nice blue skies in SG. Perhaps it is only in winter time, and when the atmosphere is particularly dry, that the sun’s rays feel more scotching and burning, and the way the rays slant onto the earth is different, and also the sky just takes on a different hue of blue from the refraction of the light. Whatever.

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On the last 2 days, it was extremely windy. So much so that at night, I was kept awake by the howling wind against the glass panels of the sliding doors of the balcony, and the mesh frame hitting against the panel frame. I wondered when I actually fell asleep, but definitely I awoke on Friday feeling tired, partly also because I have no desire to descend back to reality.

So… a last look before we leave. I wonder when will be the next trip back here again.

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DisneySea

It was a cold Monday morning as we prepared to head to the Disney resort, but first up, we stopped by Tully’s coffee for breakfast. By far, I think their matcha latte (according to my friend, and I’ve tried it on several occasions as well) is one of the better ones offered by the various coffee chains in Japan. And the great news is that Tully’s has opened a branch in SG! The first outlet opened not too long ago at West Coast Road in Ginza Plaza I think (goodness, how long ago was it that I actually popped into that place), and the next one to open in about 2 weeks’ time, based on an article in MyPaper, in Far East Plaza (not too sure if it’s Plaza or Square, because it was in chinese, “yuan dong guang chang”). But I’ve read some reviews at yum.sg that it’s a disappointment though. Anyhow, I’m waiting for the FEP (I hope) outlet to open!

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From Shinjuku, we took the JR Yamanote line to Tokyo station, then changed to the Keiyo line to Maihama (舞浜) station. I think there is a shorter way if you take the Chuo Rapid from Shinjuku to Tokyo, but we weren’t too sure so we opted for the safer albeit slower Yamanote instead.

Check out the cute Mickey mouse train!

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Our tickets. It costs 5,800 per person for either TDS or TDL resort, which I thought was quite pricey for me, because I’m not a big fan of rides, and I didn’t exactly spend a whole day in it to make our money’s worth. Perhaps this wasn’t a good season to visit, so I’ll take note to go to TDL in a hopefully better season next time!

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I look like I don’t have a neck do I? Haha.

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I love how this silver key looks. If only my house key could look like this, but not the size though. I wonder how I could even lug that thing around. :p

25th

Following are some random shots of TDS. My photos just do not do the place justice; it truly does make one experience a sense of surrealism and there’s this whimsical air about the whole place somewhat. Although I only saw Pinocchio and another character, without Mickey and Minnie and the whole lot of other Disney characters, I still feel the Disney magic somehow. And oh, I bought myself a pair of Minnie ear muffs, which I suspect will never get to see the light of day again. Haha, it’s quite subtle, black muffs with the red Minnie ribbon on either side, but still I think it’s too cute for me. Besides, I think it isn’t really made to keep my ears nicely warm like what ear muffs are supposed to. At 1,300 JPY for that, I really cannot complain too much!

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The Mermaid Lagoon

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For the first time in my life, I actually sat on what could be considered a thrill ride, aka mini roller coaster. It was over in a few minutes, without the typical roller coaster waiting-to-descend-into-hell kinda plunge, but there were a couple of quick sharp corners that made me feel as though I was about to fly out of the seat. Thankfully, as we were both bundled in thick coats and squeezed into the tiny seat, I guess we couldn’t have just flown out could we?

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Arabian Palace

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Where we sat on a boat ride that took us through Sinbad’s voyage, narrated in Japanese. Haha. That was an eye-opener – Sinbad can speak Japanese! Woohoo!

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There was a scary ride there which throngs of people were queueing up for. But I’m the scardey cat who shuns from scary rides. Hee.

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This reminds me more of The Mummy rather than Indiana Jones, because I wasn’t ever really into that, cos I was still young then?

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This next place as we moved along, reminded me of London somewhat.

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Do all ships look the same, or does this scream Titanic? (Just change the letters reading ‘Columbia’ to ‘Titanic’)

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Right smack in the centre of this picture is the Tower of Terror, which is the famed scariest ride in TDS, which of course we passed over, but it had the longest queue I think!

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Venice revisited?

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Night fell early, and it was absolutely freezing already at this point. I had my gloves on but my fingers were already numb. Overall, I think it was quite an enjoyable visit to DisneySea Resort but I wished the weather was better, and if there was more sunshine perhaps I could have turned in better photos, and maybe my mood wouldn’t be so PMSsy. Sorry for being such a bitch but bad weather somehow always swings my mood the wrong way.

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It’s always a chore and a challenge for me to think of places to eat at. So after a lot of pacing about various places, we finally settled for tendon at the same place we met Jade for lunch 2 days ago. Nothing beats a warm meal at the end of a cold day!

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