Tag Archive | Tokyo

Tokyo brunch venue: Cicada

Finally got to check out Cicada (a mediterranean cuisine restaurant) for brunch, which is more like a lunch menu rather than traditional brunch items. They are part of the same food group that runs other great dining establishments like Ty Harbour, Ivy, and Beacon (which also does a great brunch).

Cicada was pretty packed on the day we went which happened to also be Mother’s Day. You generally need reservations to get a table. The front part of the restaurant is a bakery cafe BreadWorks under the same company umbrella, so you’ll need to proceed to the back where there is also an outdoor terrace dining area. The food was delicious and beautifully presented. Our group of 6 shared quite a few dishes so we got to sample a bit of everything.

I can’t resist scallops:

There’s something so meaty and satisfying about good chunky scallops:

And beetroot salad was not quite what I was expecting, but still tasty nevertheless – thin slices of beetroot with ricotta cheese in the middle.

And for mains, I went with the lamb which didn’t disappoint.

It was a lovely Sunday feast.

More like a lunch than a brunch.

We didn’t try the dessert menu but we did end up going to Blue Bottle coffee instead afterwards for coffee and beignets.

Advertisements

Bluebottle coffee and Beignets in Tokyo

If you haven’t had beignets, you haven’t lived.

IMG_8876

Soft, light deep friend pastry goodness dusted in powdered sugar. The only beignets that matter are those from Cafe du monde (and yes, I’ve had them in both Tokyo and New Orleans).

But Bluebottle Coffee (now in Tokyo), do their own take on beignets. They were more doughnutty, than actual beignets. But they were incredibly light. Like eating air despite their calorie density. And they were come with butterscotch sauce instead of the coating of powdered sugar. Much prefer the powdered sugar.

IMG_8856

IMG_8859

IMG_8878

IMG_8879

And recently, I’ve taken to liking coffee. I don’t mind the odd cappuccino or cafe latte – ie lots of milk and coffee to mask the actual taste of coffee. Will never be able to do straight black coffee.

IMG_8875

They take their coffee very seriously at Bluebottle coffee.

IMG_8847

IMG_8849

Their two new joints in Tokyo are always crowded having only recently opened in Tokyo.

IMG_8848

IMG_8877

Bluebottle coffee: Minami aoyama branch:

IMG_8869

IMG_8868

Mercer brunch in Tokyo

I’ve written about Mercer Cafe before having been there for dinner.
The food is really good there and the stylish cafe is sophisticated and cozy. Who doesn’t love a big open hearthen fire inside the cafe.

The place is famous for its french toast so I had to go back and try their brunch menu.
The brunch plate menu comes with a serving of french toast. I went the salmon and scrambled eggs option.

The food is well presented and it was lovely enough. Not sure that it was french toast to die for, but yes, it made for a nice brunch and I am slowly running out of new places to visit for brunch in Tokyo. The scrambled eggs though were divine. Very creamy.

From Mercer brunch
From Mercer brunch
From Mercer brunch
From Mercer brunch
From Mercer brunch
From Mercer brunch
From Mercer brunch
From Mercer brunch
From Mercer brunch

Yummy eats from Mercer Cafe

Mercer Cafe is known for their brunch pancakes. Am still yet to try them.
I did however go there for dinner at the end of last year. Super cozy place with delicious comforting food.

They had a fire hearth in the middle which was perfect for a winter’s night.

From Mercer Cafe
From Mercer Cafe

Surprisingly wasn’t so busy on the night we went – I think a Tuesday or Thursday night.

The scallops were delicious. It’s hard to resist scallops when I see them on the menu:

From Mercer Cafe

I don’t normally drink coffee or cappuccinos but over the last 6 months or so, I’ve been finding I drink a lot more of it. I usually opt for cafe lattes or cappuccinos and I have to have a fair bit of sugar. Basically I like it milky and sweet, coz I am generally not a fan of coffee.

From Mercer Cafe

The dessert was pretty good. I can’t go past a tiramisu:

From Mercer Cafe
From Mercer Cafe
From Mercer Cafe
From Mercer Cafe

The apple crumble was good too. Love the hot / cold contrast:

From Mercer Cafe
From Mercer Cafe
From Mercer Cafe

And creme brulee:

From Mercer Cafe

Great place for dessert and coffee. Did eat mains as well, but ate before I took photos. I must have been hungry.
And no, I didn’t eat all those desserts on my own! They were shared amongst three.

Really must also go there for brunch!

Tokyo brunch: Ruby Jacks

Great brunch to be had at Ruby Jacks. It will set you back some money but well worth it if you’re in the mood to splurge.

On weekends, they offer a brunch course menu, but with drinks ended up quite pricey.
The brunch course came with starter options, a main dish and tea/coffee. I added on a bottle of wine to share and an extra cocktail. And dessert. So yeah, I guess that adds up.
It’s a fancy venue though. Service was exceptional.
Although pricey, would totally go back. Great service and the food was top notch.

Had the fried prawns as a starter:

From Ruby Jacks brunch
From Ruby Jacks brunch

And I went the steak sandwich for mains. They do have more breakfasty options, but this place is a grill bar, so supposedly do good meat – steaks and the like. The lamb looked really good.

From Ruby Jacks brunch
From Ruby Jacks brunch
From Ruby Jacks brunch

The dessert was amazing. Carrot cake – my absolute favourite. Served with peanut butter ice cream, which was genius, not to mention delicious.

From Ruby Jacks brunch
From Ruby Jacks brunch
From Ruby Jacks brunch
From Ruby Jacks brunch
From Ruby Jacks brunch
From Ruby Jacks brunch

Andaz afternoon tea, Tokyo

It’s been ages since I last partook in afternoon tea in Tokyo.
On Sunday, I did a final one for the year – in Tokyo that is.
Although I’ve got a few international high teas on the itinerary.

I got around to checking out the newly-opened Andaz Hotel (part of the Hyatt group of hotels). The hotel is within the new Toranomon Hills building that only opened in June this year.

From Andaz afternoon tea

Andaz Hotel surpasses the Ritz Carlton Tokyo as the highest venue in Tokyo (and Japan for that matter) for high tea.
The Andaz Lounge is on level 51. It was a little tricky to get up there but finally did.

From Andaz afternoon tea
From Andaz afternoon tea

Once your eventually find the elevators for the hotel, the express lifts go from level 1 directly to level 51.

Window seats command excellent views over northern Tokyo including the Tokyo Skytree. Although I had requested window seats upon booking, priority is given to large groups (minimum of 4 people, although 6 is ideal). As a party of two, we were bumped out and seated at a regular table. The place was pretty busy with lots of afternoon tea-goers so reservations are recommended.

Afternoon tea is available at the Andaz Tavern from 2-6pm

From Andaz afternoon tea

The afternoon tea includes unlimited tea, although their range isn’t that big.

From Andaz afternoon tea
From Andaz afternoon tea

You can get through quite a few teas, because a lot of teas are actually served by the cup and not by the pot.

From Andaz afternoon tea
From Andaz afternoon tea

Everything is very new and the decor quite nice – but typical of a skyrise hotel lobby lounge.

From Andaz afternoon tea
From Andaz afternoon tea

First tea I had was puerh tea and my favourite of the day. Ended up ordering this about 3 times.

From Andaz afternoon tea

Tea is served by the cup and not by the pot.

From Andaz afternoon tea
From Andaz afternoon tea

Here are the afternoon tea stands:

From Andaz afternoon tea

Presentation was nice. But only two tiers, you say.
Fear not, the scones were served on a separate plate.

From Andaz afternoon tea

I like to go overboard on the photos. This will be no exception:

From Andaz afternoon tea
From Andaz afternoon tea
From Andaz afternoon tea
From Andaz afternoon tea

Yummy deletable goodness:

From Andaz afternoon tea
From Andaz afternoon tea
From Andaz afternoon tea
From Andaz afternoon tea
From Andaz afternoon tea
From Andaz afternoon tea
From Andaz afternoon tea
From Andaz afternoon tea
From Andaz afternoon tea
From Andaz afternoon tea
From Andaz afternoon tea
From Andaz afternoon tea
From Andaz afternoon tea
From Andaz afternoon tea
From Andaz afternoon tea

The savoury goods are always my favourite.
And I’m always a sucker for quiche.

From Andaz afternoon tea

I do think the menu is a little bit lazy.
Using the same pastry pieces for the savoury and the sweet, granted that the dessert version has custard and creme inside them, but still. They just made lots of those eclair pastries – which weren’t even that great.

From Andaz afternoon tea
From Andaz afternoon tea
From Andaz afternoon tea

I also ordered houji cha and that came served in a pot.

From Andaz afternoon tea
From Andaz afternoon tea
From Andaz afternoon tea
From Andaz afternoon tea

And also ordered English breakfast tea which was rather disappointing – not served in a pot. Was brewed on the weaker side. Milk was served warm which was nice.

As for the scones – typical Japanese/American scones. More like dry biscuits. Oh how I miss Aussie scones.

From Andaz afternoon tea

Notice anything remiss about the scones?….

From Andaz afternoon tea
From Andaz afternoon tea

A distinct lack of strawberry jam is what is missing.
Blasphemous.

I had to ask for jam – specifcally, strawberry jam.
And they came back saying that they had no strawberry jam.
A hotel that does not stock jam is not a hotel in my book.

Instead they gave as an assortment of jams – none of which included strawberry. We got honey, orange jam, cherry jam and raspberry jam.

A little disappointing to say the least.

From Andaz afternoon tea
From Andaz afternoon tea
From Andaz afternoon tea

Here is my scone with not strawberry jam:

From Andaz afternoon tea
From Andaz afternoon tea

Here is also a glimpse of the view not from our window seat:

From Andaz afternoon tea

The tavern/lounge by night, which by the way would make a very nice venue for cocktails.

From Andaz afternoon tea

A little on the pricer side at just under 5000yen (by the time you include the tax and service charge).
Wouldn’t say it was a value for money.
Pros – unlimited tea. Con – limited range of tea.
Great views, but only if you’re lucky to get a window seat (only bigger groups allowed window seats).
Food was ok. The menu was uninspired and no strawberry jam.
Still an overall pleasant experience, but money better spent elsewhere.
It’s a recommended venue if you want to say you’ve been the highest high tea in Japan.

The outside sculpture:

From Andaz afternoon tea

Lunar eclipse: October 2014

Here are some of my photos of the lunar eclipse “blood moon” that occurred on 8 October.

From Lunar eclipse
From Lunar eclipse
From Lunar eclipse
From Lunar eclipse
From Lunar eclipse
From Lunar eclipse
From Lunar eclipse
From Lunar eclipse
From Lunar eclipse
From Lunar eclipse
From Lunar eclipse
From Lunar eclipse
From Lunar eclipse
From Lunar eclipse
From Lunar eclipse
From Lunar eclipse

Ogasawara Islands: Day 1

Ticked off another destination on my bucketlist – the Bonin Islands, otherwise known as Ogasawara Islands – truly paradise.

It’s about 1000km away from Japan yet is still part of Tokyo. It is Japan’s southermost spot.

The Bonin Islands mean “uninhabited islands” and are an archipelago. Two of the islands however are habited – Chichijima (father islands) and Hahajima (mother island).
They were designated as World Natural Heritage sites a couple of years ago.

The ONLY access to the islands are by a 25-hour boat ride from Tokyo. There is no airport on the island. Boats only depart once a week so the basic itinerary is 5 nights. 2 of which are spent on the boat and 3 nights on the island. If you miss the boat or want to stay longer, you have to wait for the next week’s boat departure. Life on the island, as I discovered, revolved around the boat’s island arrival and departure.

I was lucky to go there during August – summer holiday and the end of Obon. Managed to get a spot on the boat, but even harder was finding accommodation. Given that accommodation is limited and it was peak season, a lot of places were filled up. And I had left it last minute. I only decided to this trip 1-2 weeks prior. I did end up finding a small minshuku to stay at.

The only departure to Ogawasara Islands is on a Saturday so I left on Saturday morning and would not arrive on Chichijima until Sunday lunchtime.
Tickets are not cheap. About 30,000yen one way and that was for the cheapest class which was basically a mat in an open-floor room. If you want beds in upper classes except to pay a lot more. And even more for the suites. I ended up getting a spot in the Ladies-only room which suited me fine. The general sleeping floor area fit about 100 plus people in the lower decks. They had a couple of ladies-only room which were smaller closed rooms that fit about 30 ladies. Considering I was traveling on my room, the ladies room was a better option. Got to avoid sleeping next time to snoring men and loud groups of people.

The boat was more like a cruise ship – restaurant/cafeteria, shower facilities etc. I normally quite like boat rides, but there wasn’t a lot of space on this boat – not a lot of free seating area. A bit tight in rooms filled with lots of people and not a lot of personal space.

I was looking forward to the 25-hour boat ride. Plenty of time to chill out and catch up on some reading. But I ended up getting seasick and threw up 3 times within in the first 5 hours. Napped a bit and ate some cup ramen on the deck. Ended up just sleeping through the majority of the trip to ward off vomiting. I got through one movie on my laptop and was in bed by about 7:30pm. Lights were turned off at 10pm.

A pretty long and uneventful boat trip. No wifi or phone reception on the boat either. Was ready for land.
Got some fresh air on the decks, enjoyed the views until arrive on Chichijima.
The Ogasawara Islands were amazing. Well worth the 25-boat ride.
A ticket to Ogasawara:

From Ogasawara boat

Bon Voyage:

From Ogasawara boat
From Ogasawara boat
From Ogasawara boat

If you’re in second class, your beds are allocated as you bed. I got number 24.
My sleeping mat and pillow:

From Ogasawara boat

Out to sea:

From Ogasawara boat
From Ogasawara boat
From Ogasawara boat

The next day:

From Ogasawara boat
From Ogasawara boat
From Ogasawara boat
From Ogasawara boat
From Ogasawara boat

Approaching the islands:

From Ogasawara boat
From Ogasawara boat
From Ogasawara boat
From Ogasawara boat

Everyone from Ogawasawara village on Chichijima comes to greet the boat on its arrival and all the accommodation owners come to pick up their guests.

From Ogasawara boat
From Ogasawara boat

Look for your accommodation sign:

From Ogasawara boat
From Ogasawara boat

Welcome to Ogasawara:

From Ogasawara boat

Checked in my tiny room at the minshuku:

From Ogasawara boat

Ate lunch at a local cafe:

From Ogasawara boat
From Ogasawara boat
From Ogasawara boat
From Ogasawara boat

Chichijima – a small beautiful remote island located in the Philippine Sea, 1000km from Tokyo, and World Natural Heritage Site:

From Ogasawara boat
From Ogasawara boat

Next up is some dolphin spotting!

Ogasawara Islands: Snorkeling paradise

Ogasawara Islands was a snorkeler’s paradise.
On the boat trip they took us out to a special spot where all the fish are. Didn’t get as long a time that would I have liked here, but that’s only because we were lucky enough to see dolphins and spent more time dolphin watching which cut into snorkeling time. I ended up going back out this to snorkeling spot on another boat trip on my last day.

The snorkeling was amazing! So much fun.

From Ogasawara day 1 – minami jima and dolphin snorkeling
From Ogasawara day 1 – minami jima and dolphin snorkeling
From Ogasawara day 1 – minami jima and dolphin snorkeling
From Ogasawara day 1 – minami jima and dolphin snorkeling
From Ogasawara day 1 – minami jima and dolphin snorkeling
From Ogasawara day 1 – minami jima and dolphin snorkeling
From Ogasawara day 1 – minami jima and dolphin snorkeling
From Ogasawara day 1 – minami jima and dolphin snorkeling
From Ogasawara day 1 – minami jima and dolphin snorkeling
From Ogasawara day 1 – minami jima and dolphin snorkeling
From Ogasawara day 1 – minami jima and dolphin snorkeling
From Ogasawara day 1 – minami jima and dolphin snorkeling
From Ogasawara day 1 – minami jima and dolphin snorkeling
From Ogasawara day 1 – minami jima and dolphin snorkeling
From Ogasawara day 1 – minami jima and dolphin snorkeling
From Ogasawara day 1 – minami jima and dolphin snorkeling
From Ogasawara day 1 – minami jima and dolphin snorkeling
From Ogasawara day 1 – minami jima and dolphin snorkeling
From Ogasawara day 1 – minami jima and dolphin snorkeling
From Ogasawara day 1 – minami jima and dolphin snorkeling
From Ogasawara day 1 – minami jima and dolphin snorkeling
From Ogasawara day 1 – minami jima and dolphin snorkeling
From Ogasawara day 1 – minami jima and dolphin snorkeling

Snorkeling is awesome.

Some cool cloud photos:

From Ogasawara day 1 – minami jima and dolphin snorkeling
From Ogasawara day 1 – minami jima and dolphin snorkeling
From Ogasawara day 1 – minami jima and dolphin snorkeling