Exploring Tokyo – Tenso Suwa Shrine
It can be easy to get into a routine and move through the city in the same pattern throughout the weeks. I find that I normally plan to go to a place to eat – head straight there, and then leave.
This means that I don’t explore as much as I should, take the time to wander the streets and see what I find. It also means that every time I meet someone it tends to be for eating. Although I naturally love this, sometimes I feel like I should include a few more activities in my life…. Continue reading
Sanpotei Tokyo Lab / 三宝亭東京ラボ
Japanese food has boomed in the West over the past few years. Not just ramen, but all kinds of stylish “Japanese” places are popping up, with polished wooden surfaces and all fanfare of fusion dishes.
Although I’m all for experimentation, I’m naturally a little sceptical when self-professed Japanese food lovers claim that going to one of these trendy joints is evidence!
“Places like this don’t actually exist in Japan,” I say, trying my hardest to tiptoe round being overtly sanctimonious. “And, no, Hirata buns, are a Western take on Taiwanese street food, and no, they have nothing to do with Japan.”
But having visited Sanpotei Tokyo Lab, I can now offer up a different response. There is at least one trendy place doing experimental food in Japan. And, naturally, it does it better! Continue reading
This weekend was what is known as a “sanrenkyu” in Japan, or in other words, a three-day holiday. Although the Japanese have by law 10 days paid holiday per year for just 6 months of service, increasing thereafter to 20 days, due to the extreme work culture – which, incidentally is one of the least efficient worldwide – long-suffering workers only take an average of 9 days a year.
This gives national holidays a particular significance as everyone can legitimately take a bit of break. Which means that every hotel in a popular can area will be literally fully booked.
Which means it is normally a terrible idea to try and book last minute.
Which is something I always seem to end up doing. Continue reading
Cōng yóubǐng / spring onion oil pancake
Would I write a blog post dedicated to an oil pancake, a simple street food snack? Why yes, yes I would. To me, this is what is being a foodie is all about.
There’s been a backlash against the term “foodie”. The argument is that it has lost it’s meaning … and in a way, it has. That’s because it’s drowning in meanings. It can be someone who knows a lot about food, someone who enjoys their food, or someone who really appreciates high quality food and is probably/possibly slightly snobbish.
I would class myself as planting both feet and an elbow(?) in all three categories. Junk food is definitely out, but I’m flexible when it comes to the health benefits (or not) of different food.
So, no, my street food does not have to cost £9.50 and be soaked in truffle oil (London, I’m looking at you!). Continue reading
Yong He Dou Jiang Da Wang / Yong He Soy Milk King / 永和豆浆大王
I know I may have written that I want to be Italian, but there is one other country I would happily claim some culture from – and that’s Taiwan. It all began with a fantastically fun trip to Taipei back in 2012, which was then followed by encountering someone who would become one my closest friends – and even get me into trouble for laughing too loudly. And that someone happens to be Taiwanese. We would joke that we were twins separated at birth. Except when I fervently photographed my food – at those times, she would sigh and say, “Why are you more Asian than me?!”
But if there were another a reason that I should be Taiwanese, it’s the fact that they take breakfast very seriously. There is a culture of crowding round street vendors or restaurants with street seating, buying all kinds of freshly fried and steamed treats. The news that I can stuff my face for under 80元 (~260 yen) whilst sitting on the street surrounded by all the sights and smells of breakfasting was a clear signal that Taiwan is a place where my stomach belongs. At least, in the mornings. Continue reading
Before I left for Tokyo, brunching was a big thing in London. The most popular places would book out in advance – a personal favourite was the Turkish Eggs from Kopapa at Seven Dials, although they now seem to have sadly closed! Or sometimes I would sit outside the Pavillion Cafe enjoying a Full English whilst admiring the lake.
I’m pretty sure that brunching will still continue to be a big thing in London and that the UK hasn’t completely screwed itself over, despite making possibly one of the biggest cock-ups in modern political history AKA Brexit (although do see here for concerns over food security and what the decision will mean for modern diet and health).
But through all the drama – including some epic political maneuvering and backstabbing – there is one thing that us Brits do retain: an eccentric sense of humour.
So when faced with the imminent destruction of the political, economic and social order of our country, we can still have a good laugh.
Firstly, we can view it all as one big farce and read this excellent Buzzfeed summary of events so far (as of Monday, July 4).
Secondly, we can opt for the “oh f*ck that” attitude.
So I did.
“Oh f*ck that, Brexit shit, darling! I am going to brunch on a balcony in Tokyo like I’m absolutely fabulous. Darling.”
Right, I’m going through a lot of old photos that I need to put up on my blog… And here is an oldie from Streamer Coffee Company from over a year ago! You’ll hear a lot about them if you Google “best coffee in Tokyo” or something similar.
That, unfortunately, is a bit of a stretch. They’re famous because the coffee is pretty. Served in giant bowl-like mug that would be quire inviting for a quick dip if diving right in wouldn’t destroy the beautiful feathered milk patterns on top. Continue reading