It was my first time to the city of lights, the city of love – the one and only Paris. It was the middle of winter, and it was so cold the city’s fountains were full of icicles and no matter how many layers I put on I was still freezing. I’d made plans with some new friends from the hostel I was staying at to have lunch at a nice restaurant. Continue reading “From Paris with Love: Benoit Tokyo”
Takoyaki… little balls of joy! A common sight at any matsuri (Japanese festival), takoyaki are one of the best street foods in Japan. Crispy on the outside and creamy on the inside, these octopus balls are made simply of batter, boiled octopus, green onions and tempura bits. A very delicious snack. Continue reading “Delicious Japanese Dishes: Takoyaki”
Warm and cozy. This was the first impression I had of Fuglen Tokyo, a coffee joint considered to be one of the best in the city. Even when the weather’s on the chilly side, people sit outside on a long bench that wraps around this corner shop, chatting and enjoying their cups of coffee. Inside, there are several tables, sofas and counter seats – almost always full of coffee enthusiasts. The varnished timber and soft lighting interior has created the perfect relaxing ambience, making it easy to get in the zone if you’re reading a book or doing some work. But it’s what happens behind the counter that keeps the people coming.
Fuglen, or The Bird, is an import from Norway. The original shop was established in 1963 in Oslo and in more recent years the business has started to spread its wings. The Tokyo branch, tucked away behind Yoyogi Park, was opened in 2012, and continues the unique concept of coffee shop by day, cocktail bar by night.
The first sip of a coffee is always full of anticipation; is it going to be bitter or fruity or too heavy or too hot? The first sip of my Fuglen latte revealed one of the lightest, smoothest cups I’ve ever tasted. It was very good and the delicious taste lingered long after I’d finished the cup. That first sip was all it took to hook me and I know I’m going to be recommending it to all of my coffee loving friends from now on!
Tokyo is one of those cities that you could never get sick of. It’s vast, fast-paced and exciting! There are so many ‘pockets’ that each offer something different. If you’re into fashion head to Shibuya; for museums head to Ueno; for books head to Jimbocho; for vintage shops head to Shimokitazawa, etc etc.
I love being a tourist in my own city. Whenever I have some free time, I’ll try go somewhere I haven’t been before. But sometimes I gotta make sure I’m not spending more than I’m earning! Shopping, going to museums and eating out all cost money, but Tokyo doesn’t have to be expensive. There are plenty of things to do which won’t cost you a thing. Many of my friends love to hang out at Yoyogi Park which is open to the public 24/7. In summer, there are huge fireworks shows on basically every weekend. And there are thousands of cultural street festivals that take place all year round!
When you live in your little part of the city, you get used to going to the same supermarkets, same cafes, same dry cleaners. Some of those shopkeepers know your face and may even know your name. Most weeks, there’s not much need to leave your suburb! When you head up to a 20th floor observation deck, you quickly realize that your little area is in fact just a pinhead compared to the entire city! Sure, it makes you feel a bit smaller, but I think it’s also comforting to know there are millions of people in the same position as you! I also just love reminding myself how damn massive Tokyo is!
Here are some of the top observation decks in Tokyo city you can check out for the grand price of zero yen :-)
Hikarie, Shibuya ward
Observation Deck: 11th floor (70m)
Tokyo Metropolitan Government Building, Shinjuku ward
Observation Deck: 45th floor (202m)
Bunkyo Civic Center, Bunkyo ward
Observation Deck: 25th floor (105m)
Carrot Tower, Setagaya ward
Observation Deck: 26th floor (124m)
Weekly Photo Challenge: Scale The size of one human compared to an entire city is mind boggling!
Another café hunted down. Another successful cup of coffee.
I can’t remember where I read about FabCafe in Shibuya, but it’s been on my to-do list for a while. I finally had some free time this past weekend to track down this little beauty.
It was a little bit of a hike up the hill from Shibuya Station, so I was bound to get distracted on the way! I got about half way when I noticed a deceivingly ‘hip’ looking café/restaurant, with its chill, beach style; wooden boarding; and a poster promoting all the different styles of coffee they do. I sat down in a cozy counter stool, took one sip of my cappuccino and knew I should have known better than judge a café on its looks. The coffee tasted far too bitter and burnt for my liking. It was a struggle just to finish it.
It’s amazing how a bad coffee can make you appreciate a good one so much more! After finishing up at the ‘bad’ café, I decided to keep going to the one that I had actually set out to find. And I’m so glad I did.
FabCafe is trendy. It’s cool without trying to be. Actually, it’s right next to / under a massive expressway, but that doesn’t seem stop coffee lovers from frequenting this place. Almost everyone in the café had their Apple MacBooks out – I guess that’s a good indication of the crowd. There’s even a “Fab Lab”, where there’s a laser cutter machine to make 3D artwork (like the animals in picture #3 below). In fact, the ‘fab’ in FabCafe comes from both fabrication and fabulous. The décor is raw and simplistic. The interior walls are bare cement, and the exterior ones are glass from top to bottom, with a lovely view of the bottom side of the expressway (more cement!). The warmth comes from the wood furnishings and two eye-catching feature lights at the back of the room.
But let’s not forget the most important thing, the coffee.
I took a sip of my latte, and almost let out an ‘ahhh’. It was just what I wanted. The bitter taste that had been left in my mouth from the previous coffee was replaced with deliciousness. The latte was smoooooth and creamy and light-bodied. The foam was just right. The temperature was exactly as it should be. All in all, it was just so easy to drink. There’s not much more I can say other than ‘Go try for yourself’! I also have to mention how delicious the salmon and egg bagel was. A perfect combo.
I’m definitely looking forward to going back soon to try other drinks on the menu and introduce this fab place to my fellow coffee-loving friends. I might even have a go at that laser cutter!
For more info, please visit their website >> http://tokyo.fabcafe.com/en/
Cake. Who would have thought, the simplest of ingredients would make one of the best foods ever invented! One mouthful of this dessert and your senses go on overdrive… sight, smell, taste!
I LOVE love love walking through the food section of department stores in Japan. You can buy anything from premium meats to high-end quiches to fancy pastries. Gourmet everything, basically. But I go for one thing… The perfectly crafted desserts. Detail like you wouldn’t believe and all the colours of the rainbow! Cheesecakes. Chiffon cakes. Tarts. Roll cakes. Fruitcakes. Sponge cakes. Red bean sweets.
The basement of Isetan Department Store in Shinjuku has the most impressive gourmet food hall I’ve ever seen. Tokyu Food Show under Shibuya Station is another food heaven. These places are expensive, for sure, but I can’t help but go at least once a month to indulge in one or two heavenly sweets. It’s also at places like this that you can find ridiculously expensive items like $20 bunches of grapes, $300 mushrooms, and $100 square watermelons!
Living in Japan is awesome, and these cakes shops… well, are just the icing on the cake. :-)
Foodies, sorry in advance for any drooling you might experience…