Teahouse Sekison on Mt Oyama

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Have you been to Mt Oyama?

Did you just say Mt… Where?!

An easy day trip from Tokyo, Mt Oyama should be top of your list if you’re looking to escape the city or just experience a different side of Japanese life. Known as the rainy mountain, it boasts traditional crafts and great hiking as well as being a popular pilgrimage site. For more on its history, read this excellent piece by Alice Gordenker.

Grab yourself a Tanzawa-Oyama Free Pass (2520 yen) at Shinjuku that lets you ride the train, bus and cable car for free for 2 days. Then, hope on the Odakyu line to Isehara. A short bus journey up into the hills and you are there.

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It is a little bit of a climb up some steps to the cable car but you will be following a shopping street. Stop to browse different kinds of pickles and sweets, or even stop to get the excellent  pork-tofu croquettes from Oyama Tonkatsu Nakamuraya (you can eat in or take out). Stop also to admire the traditional wooden spinning tops which are a local craft in the area. Sadly, there are only three makers left.

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Once at the cable car, you get to admire the landscape as you are taken higher and higher.

At the top station, you will find yourself by the lower shrine of Oyama Afuri shrine with the main but significantly smaller shrine being at the summit. It’s a fairly steep but rewarding climb that can be completed in a 2.5 hour loop.

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Oyama Afuri Shrine
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Hi, friend!

But the great thing about Mt Oyama is the variety of paths and Mt Fuji views on a clear day. For those not wanting a strenuous hike, follow a flattish path along to Miharashidai (見晴台). Take a map of the area and see what you feel like.

Now, while I love spending time in nature – I take myself for walks and even went hiking in Yakushima and Ogasawara alone – I also enjoy working up an appetite. (….Who am I kidding? I always have an appetite!)

After admiring the breathtaking views and enjoying the fresh mountain air on Mt Oyama, it is clearly time to treat yourself to more of the same BUT with delicious things included!

 

 

Teahouse Sekison is located in Oyama Afuri Shrine and it simply stunning – from the setting and design to its very fashionable menu.

Of course, you will find excellent tea and coffee – the “spicy latte” with cinnamon is quite a treat – but you can enjoy a light meal. Their galettes look particularly tempting.

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Mizu shingen mochi and spicy latte
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Oh what a thing of beauty!

I was already stuffed from eating a giant guesthouse breakfast and then finishing everyone else’s breakfast (shamelessly, may I add) so I only went for sweets.

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The matcha tiramisu is apparently creamy and dreamy and an absolute must. Which is why it was sold out by the time I got there. Instead, I got a matcha affogato, which was hardly disappointing. The bitter, umami-full matcha flooded the vanilla ice-cream combining into a smooth, lightly sweet dessert, a colour as vibrant as the forested mountains before me.

Teahouse Sekison / 茶寮 石尊

 

Coffee life: Frankie Melbourne Espresso, Shimokitazawa

t’s been over a year since I last squeezed myself into this tiny place, but I really regretted not having dropped in sooner. Don’t be prepared to get a seat – with only 3 tables and a bench outside, and a well-deserved reputation, Frankie’s is a busy. Especially on a mild Sunday afternoon.

If you’re a coffee fan but – like me – really have no idea what all these newfangled drinks really are, having just about managed to work out the difference between a latte and a cappuccino, then Frankie’s has you covered. Cue: an amazing menu that explains all the differences. I ordered an ice double (432 yen with tax) which contained two espressos but less milk than a latte. Don’t ask me how it’s different from a gibraltar.

All I know that this was a standout coffee – one of the best I’ve had this year, if not the best. Rich, mellow coffee rolled smoothly over the milk, and unfortunately made me gulp it down with far too much relish, finishing the affair far too quickly.

My friend got a hot bachelor (don’t we all want one, eh?), which contains a double ristretto, which is the first 20 seconds of extraction, rather than a full 30 seconds for an espresso. This is supposed to result in a sweeter coffee flavour. It didn’t strike me as immediately sweeter but packed a powerful coffee punch, even if it did have a slight grainy finish.

This was combined with their Number One Popular homemade banana bread! It was so moist with the perfect balance of banana-sweet to bread. I don’t even like bananas but this banana bread whispered to softly in my ear. All right then. Take me.

Frankie Melbourne Espresso

Blu Jam Cafe, Daikanyama – Cali brunch dreams

Yes, this is “brunch carbonara” and, no, it does not contain pasta. I am sorry, Italians…

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Today marked my second visit to Blu Jam Cafe, having been invited to for brunch, an institution which I still feel Tokyo is lagging behind in. Blu Jam has two locations and I headed both times to the Daikanyama location.

Daikanyama is known as a trendy, slightly upscale place with its Western-style cafes, beckoning fashionable Japanese and homesick foreigners. It’s T-site is legendary – a large, beautifully designed Tsutaya bookstore, harbouring Starbucks and popular hangout of trendy kids, casual readers and the freelance, mobile working crowd.

It was after my first visit to Blu Jam in which I called into Tsutaya to browse some of the magazines. There, staring me in the face, was a Dancyu – popular food magazine, with a serious of great recipe books. Within the first few pages, it promised to reveal true Italian food, and led with a paragraph about the true nature of carbonara. Continue reading “Blu Jam Cafe, Daikanyama – Cali brunch dreams”

COFFEE: Bondi Coffee Sandwiches, Komababa

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I’ve cycled past this place probably at least once a week for nearly 3 years. And I hardly ever make enough time to stop – which is a shame because it’s worth it.

Bondi Coffee Sandwiches is one of five stores in Tokyo, offering a similar menu focussed around coffee, smoothies and light meals. Continue reading “COFFEE: Bondi Coffee Sandwiches, Komababa”

Coffee in Tokyo: Streamer Coffee Company, Shibuya

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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 “Coffee in Tokyo: Streamer Coffee Company, Shibuya”

Dubai: Things to Eat

Oh hey everyone, apparently I wrote this a year ago and never published it! ENJOY!

This is the Pheebz Unofficial List of Things to Eat in Dubai. Go forth and eat! (Don’t disappoint me!)

1) Frying Pan Food Adventures

Emirati feast

So I may have already listed this as top of my Things to Do recommendations. That’s because eating and doing are very much interlinked for me; in fact, they’re pretty much like. Everything I do involves eating or is planned around what/when/where I can next eat. Stay tuned for the full review of Frying Pan Food Adventures because no foodie will ever want to miss a four four food marathon of amazing Middle Eastern food, would you now? Continue reading “Dubai: Things to Eat”

Licking Pikachu – the Pokemon Pop-up Cafe

Pikachu, I'mma lick-you!
Pikachu, I’mma lick-you!

In case you missed my wonderful piece on Akihabara News, I’ve recreated it for you below:

To Lick a Pikachu

If you have ever wanted to a lick a Pikachu, I can confirm that he/she/[insert your preferred gender here] tastes of mango. Yes, that’s right. If your childhood dreams of catching them all actually involved eating them all, you now can. Except, by all Pokémon, I actually mean mainly Pikachu.

Pokémon, which still retains huge popularity in Japan, has currently invaded The Guest Cafe and Diner on the seventh floor of Parco department store, Shibuya, Tokyo. Continue reading “Licking Pikachu – the Pokemon Pop-up Cafe”

Choccywoccydoodah, off Carnaby Street

BrownieHow many of you will be giving or given chocolate this Valentine’s Day? It’s a pretty standard gift that ensures that February 14th is sickly sweet in more ways than one. Not that there’s anything wrong with chocolate, of course. Just why not give your special someone a little bit more of an imaginative, full-on chocolate experience? You know, a bit of a cocoa thingamabob? Or a sugary whatsit?  Or maybe, some… Choccywoccydoodah?

Yes, Choccywoccydoodah does exist and it will excite even the most chocolate-apathetic among us. Hailing from Brighton, they have now set up a shop and café just off London’s Carnaby Street.

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Imagine what would happen if Willy Wonka’s chocolate factory got it on with a fine lady’s boudoir. You get extravagance, flamboyance, weirdness and wackiness all rolled into one. In fact, entering Choccywoccydoodah for the first time will visually overwhelm you. There is too much to take in – it’s an Aladdin’s Cave of all things yummy.

Cartoonish models of bunny girls are interspersed with giant marshmallow lollies, strawberry chocolates, hearts and flowers. It’s so over-the-top and playful that I defy you not to grin and squeal, and start examining all the treasures.

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Up the stairs, you will find a small café split on two levels. The centrepiece is a table covered with cakes that are just as extravagant as the décor. At Choccywoccydoodah, the request of ‘just a small slice, please’ is seriously frowned upon. At Choccywoccydoodah, size is everything.

Now that you’ve impressed your loved one with such opulent and ogle-worthy offerings, take a table and order the hot chocolate (£3.50). This is one of London’s best – you can choose from milk, dark or white and it comes with marshmallows, plenty of cream and a chocolate straw. Also on the menu are milkshakes, chocolate fondue and the dangerously sumptuous Choccywoccydoodah sundae.

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There is enough here for your love affair to weather several repeat visit – and it may also be a teeny-weeny bit addictive. A word of caution: the café does get busy so allow yourself plenty of time as you may have to queue. Just remember that all good and pleasurable things are worth waiting for.

So if you really want to impress your loved one for Valentine’s Day, off you trot to Carnaby Street. Choccywoccydoodah will give you all the choccy woccy you need… please save the doodah for later 😉

Website: https://www.choccywoccydoodah.com/
Where: 30-32 Fouberts Place, off Carnaby St, London,W1F 7PS
When: Monday – Saturday 10am – 6pm; Sunday 12pm – 5pm

Article originally published on Tryum.com, which you check out for loads more London food news.

 

Review: Hurwundeki, Korean café, Bethnal Green

Chandeliers and railway arches
Chandeliers and railway arches

This is the era of postmodernism. Gone are the days of restrictive categories and set definitions. Why should a café just serve food? And why shouldn’t a hair salon serve a decent lunch?

Welcome to Hurwundeki – a place that can take care of both your hunger and your haircut needs. Located in the railway bridge arches next to Cambridge Heath station, you might be forgiven for thinking they sold tyres rather than Korean cuisine. Even more baffling, despite the industrial store front – blue corrugated metal – the yard is filled with ancient play park toys and eclectic chairs.

Hurwundeki
Hurwundeki

The inside, however, exudes a kind of shabby cuteness. Chandeliers dangle from the brick arches above tightly packed tables. There’s a simple open kitchen, which allows you to spy on large tubs of kimchi and other dishes being freshly prepared.

Under the arches...
Under the arches…
Peeking into the open kitchen...
Peeking into the open kitchen…

A cursory glance at the menu will tell you that there’s more than classic Korean fare on offer – udon noodles make an appearance and bulgogi beef is to be found holidaying on top of bread! Hurwundeki are proud to have just launched a fusion lunch menu, which includes Korean salads and Koran curries on sourdough bread (a new kind of open sandwich perhaps?). There are both traditional and modern Korean dishes with some surprises thrown into the mix.

Bibimbap
Bibimbap

I went straight for the classic – the beef bibimbap (£6.50) served with an egg yolk on top. I love this dish in that it is fresh and filling. Hurwundeki’s version did not disappoint and, mixed with the chilli sauce, it was the perfect pick-me-up weekend lunch that I was hoping for.

My lunch partner took a chicken stir-fry on rice – simple but tasty – and we shared some chicken dumplings or mandu (£4.50) on the side.

Chicken with rice
Chicken with rice
Chicken dumplings
Chicken dumplings

We were both feeling a little sleepy on a Saturday afternoon but again Hurwundeki had us covered: we happily caffeinated ourselves with a latte and a mocha. For those fancying something a little stronger, you can bring your own wine (or maybe even some soju if you want to keep things Korean).

Pretty latte
Pretty latte
Pretty mocha
Pretty mocha

Finally, if you feel you ought to smarten yourself up, step through the arch and get yourself a haircut in a room decorated with eclectic old objects, looking more like a period set piece than a hair salon.

In the salon
In the salon
In the salon
In the salon

Hurwundeki – Reasonably priced traditional and fusion Korean dishes with a whole load of quirky charm thrown in.

Website: www.facebook.com/Hurwundeki
Where: 98-299 Railway Arches, Cambridge Heath Road, London, E2 9HA
When: Mon – Fri 8am – 10pm, Sat 9am – 10pm, closed on Sundays.

Review: Biscuit Ceramic Café, Greenwich

CAKE TIME
CAKE TIME

I love Greenwich market. It is crammed full of beautiful jewellery, clothing, leather bags, art and other crafts, and upmarket food produce. It basically screams “Hello, I’m a middle-class shopping haven” and I absolutely, unabashedly love it.

I am, of coruse, blaming it for making me buy loads of stuff for me instead of presents for others. In fact, it was so tempting that my sister and I had to drag ourselves away from it fairly sharpish. We settled into the adjacent  Biscuit Ceramic Café for a (not so) well-deserved hot drink and cake.

Biscuit has a great vibe – always bustling and with friendly staff, it normally has a fair amount of kids covered in paint as they decorate various ceramic shapes, although there are always a fair amount of ‘grown-ups’ having a go. There are shelves lined with white ceramic items begging for colour.

Disco santa
Disco santa
Paint me!
Paint me!

My sister Macadie and I managed to quell our inner children and resist painting a whole army of Santas (although she spotted a kid with a Dalek and was looking a little too eagerly for some more). Instead we took advantage of their wonderfully reasonable offer of £4.25 for any hot drink and homemade cake.

Chocolate torte
Chocolate torte

Mac tucked into a generous slice of chocolate torte, which was very dense but a little dry. I got myself a mocha – slightly too sweet for my liking – with a toffee pecan cheesecake. Oh, this was a very good cheesecake. Not too sickly. Base perfectly biscuity. I had to pace myself.

Toffee pecan cheesecake
Toffee pecan cheesecake

The only slight mishap was my nut-allergic sister thinking she could get away with trying a bit of my cheesecake minus any pecan chunks. Well, as it turns out, she is slightly more allergic than she thought and sent one dedicated Phoebe running to Boots for antihistamines as her lips swelled up. Who needs implants eh?

My superhero mission did, however, earn me forgiveness from the fashion police as I was wearing eye-watering triple-patterning, topped off with a purple sparkly scarf.

Fashion baby
Fashion baby

We spent over two hours sitting at the back of Biscuit, sipping our drinks, munching cakes and generally have a sisterly catch-up. I have a feeling we’ve found a new favourite haunt.

Biscuit 3.5/5 – Perfect for relaxing as well as indulging any creative urges. Take advantage of their great value hot drink and cake deal for £4.25.

Website: http://www.biscuit-biscuit.com/
Where: 3 – 4 Nelson Road, Greenwich, SE10 9JB
When: Mon – Fri 10am – 5.30pm; Sat & Sun 10am – 6pm