Coffee in Tokyo: Streamer Coffee Company, Shibuya


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”

Bacon Fat Sizzle Time: Making Brunch in Tokyo – UK-Style!

BRUNCH. And wooden crocodile.
BRUNCH. And wooden crocodile.

There comes a point where a Japanese breakfast doesn’t quite cut it. Grabbing a rice ball from the convenience store. Or raw egg and fermented soy beans on rice. Or that dubious pastry from a dubiously named ‘German’ bakery stocked with even more dubious ‘French items’,  such as Croque Monsieurs.

Or maybe, it’s just the point where you want sausages. Proper, meaty sausages. Or you’re craving bacon so badly that you’d happily wear its scent as perfume.

Despite the rarity of these items, a lack of affordable quality bread, and even more ridiculously priced butter, my friend Luke and I set out to make the ultimate brunch. Watch and salivate.

It’s bacon fat sizzle time!

Review: Biscuit Ceramic Café, Greenwich


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.

Where: 3 – 4 Nelson Road, Greenwich, SE10 9JB
When: Mon – Fri 10am – 5.30pm; Sat & Sun 10am – 6pm

Review: The Pavilion Café, Victoria Park

Breakfast with a view
Breakfast with a view

What is better than a hearty, good quality brunch?

One with gorgeous view and a whole host of wildlife.

And when I say wildlife, I mean all the animals from moorhens and Canadian geese to the denim-fur clad hipsters and their prized petits pooches. This is Victoria Park; this is the epitome of gentrification. 

The Pavilion Café on the edge of the lake has nestled right in on the edge of the lake. And it’s perfect for a glorious weekend brunch.

Admire the hipsters whilst sipping a very fresh apple and beetroot juice.

Apple and beetroot juice, modelled by two geese
Apple and beetroot juice, modelled by two geese

Reminisce over last night’s party with Monmouth coffee cappuccino.

Monmouth coffee
Pretty cappuccino

And let’s not forget the  sausage and bacon sourced from the outstanding Ginger Pig butchers. In fact, I could never forget Ginger Pig bacon. I think I would go crazy become even crazier if I were told I could never eat it again (vegetarians: beware – it will turn you).

The Full English - isn't it beautiful?
The Full English – isn’t it beautiful?

The Full English (~£9?) is great. Everything is cooked to perfection. The sourdough toast is moreish and not too dry. The only slightly strange item is the home-made beans, which contain fennel and are just plain peculiar.  

Veggies – there are terats for you too. The veggie breakfast comes with spinach and halloumi as well as all the usual items.

The veggie breakfast
The Veggie Breakfast

 The Pavilion Café 4/5 – Breakfast, brunch, lunch? It doesn’t matter. Get your Full English here and enjoy the view.

Where: Victoria Park, Crown Gate West, E9 7DE.
When: Summer – Mon 8am – 4pm, Tues – Sun 8am – 8pm; Winter – daily 8am-4pm

Coincidence and Cake

Hot Chocolate/ Chocolate Brownie

Sometimes life throws people together in unexpected ways. Or maybe the world’s just too small. Whatever your perspective, I recently stumbled into the path of someone I hadn’t seen in ten years.

At school, I was a language fanatic, if a poorly-skilled one. I studied French, German, Spanish and Latin in my lunchtimes for good measure (or good geekery). I did a French and German exchange. My French penfriend and I kept in touch. Last year, I went to her wedding.

My German penfriend and I got on very well. But I did a useless job at staying in touch, something which I always regretted but made no move to rectify.

Imagine my surprise when I found a Facebook request from her on a Sunday morning. Scanning her profile, I noticed the same university as mine listed. Then I found her message, which went along the lines of “OMG It’s been years! I found you through our accommodation Facebook page – we’re living in the same building!”

If not for my post on Facebook about wanting to dress up for the James Bond movie, we might have passed the whole year never having met (over 350 live in our accommodation block). As it happened, we met that same day in the stairwell.

Time for a catch-up. Time for cake. Time for hot chocolate.

I am on a quest to find the best hot chocolate in London. First stop…

 Shoreditch Grind

It opened in 2011 and has built itself a reputation as a trendy place to get coffee. It was certainly packed out on a Saturday afternoon and could really benefit from a larger seating area. The chairs aren’t comfy, but the bustling atmosphere meant we could happily sit there for 4.5 hours of updating each other on 10 years of life.

Organisationally, the café loses a few marks. When we ordered our cakes, we were told, “All the plates are dirty, so would you mind having a take-away box?” Coordinating the washing up is not rocket science and should be second nature if you work in a café!  Plus at 2pm on a Saturday  there was no sign of the extensive pastry and sandwich menu splashed tastily across their website, but rather there were a few sad-looking beef bagels. And nothing else savoury. As a result, my friend and I had cake for lunch.

Now, I must confess I’m not a big coffee drinker and I was on my hot chocolate mission. But my friend thoroughly enjoyed her cappuccino, which came complete with heart decoration and her mystery berry cake was pretty scrummy too (“It tastes better than it looks!”)

Berry cake and coffee

The brownie was not as gooey as I normally like, but it was extremely dense and chocolate-y, so it got a stamp of approval. According to their website, it’s not just any brownie, it’s a Valrhona chocolate brownie. But as I’ve never had Valrhona chocolate, I can’t really validate these claims. (Anyone know anything about Valrhona chocolate?!)

As for the hot chocolate, it was weak, insipid and more milky than chocolatey. It wasn’t too sweet but it wasn’t memorable. And £2.50 for a small cup of poor quality contents?

Shoreditch Grind Hot Chocolate – 4/10.

From Mediocrity to Motown, pt. 2

THE FOOD: Home-made ice-cream and cakes, plus good coffee

After a very mediocre meal, my parents needed coffee. I needed pudding. Just look at this:

That is a dessert called “The Temptations”, described as “a quintet of chocolate”. (This is a reference to THE BAND, go sort your musical education out if you’re confused!)

This is a dessert with soft, gooey home-made chocolate brownie and soft home-made ice-cream. Believe it or not, it is not overpoweringly sweet, although it’s heavy, so I recommend sharing. My parents are coffee snobs (Starbucks is the scourge of the earth) and they rated the coffee here as excellent.

The decor in this place was fab and their menu is worth reading for all the puns and Motown references:

It’s run by Asian guys and they’re super-friendly and obliging. And even turned the Motown lights on my photo 🙂

They do 10% off for students.  I’ll be heading back as soon as I can.

Overall 5/5 – Funky, fun, friendly and yum! 

Find Motown here.

The Uji Saga Part 3: Stoner Café

The Uji Saga Part 3: Stoner Café
(Or the Curse of the Uji Tea Spirit continued…)

Every so often you get a feeling that you’ve interrupted something – that you’re in the wrong place at the wrong time, blindly committing a faux pas that you had no chance of foreseeing. Maybe you’ve just walked in on an intensely private conversation, maybe the shop was just about to close but they’re too polite to ask you to leave, or maybe you’ve just discovered a secret community of elderly stoners.

The Uji Spirit, revolting against our choice for coffee (or rather, my choice for cocoa) over the Ujilicious green tea, struck again.

Calle and I were meeting our friend James for a quick catch-up. We were limited on time so we didn’t stray too far from the station before selecting our café. It was small, apparently without a name sign and no visible menu. The important thing was this sign:

We walked into the café, a single room with counter. Everyone stopped and stared at us. A masked lady hurriedly encouraged us to sit down in the only table free. People were still staring. I could almost hear the whispers and the unspoken words. The atmosphere was thick enough to be sliced up and served.

We exchanged glances which told us that we were all thinking the same thing: “Are we not supposed to here?”

The masked lady returned and asked for our order. But there wasn’t a menu on our table, nor was there one in sight.

We don’t have a menu, she told us. You can have coffee, tea or hot chocolate.

We nervously gave our orders, praying it wasn’t 1000円 a cup. I had my back to the room but my neck prickled. James, in front of me, kept glancing uncomfortably over my shoulders at whatever the room’s inhabitants were doing next.

Calle later told me that a couple of old ladies started eating pasta, which we definitely weren’t offered. Others kept changing seats, wandering up the counter, then back to their table. It wasn’t like a café – it was more like we’d walked into a family’s front room – a family that were so stoned they were unable to communicate or engage with the world around them.

The counter was also strange. The floor behind it was set down, so it was hard to see the serving ladies over it. The design perplexed it and every time, I risked turning my head, I couldn’t quite work out what was so puzzling about it or whether there was a purpose in building it that way.

Our drinks arrived in old-fashioned chinaware and, to our relief, were quite good. They did actually know how to make drinks even if there’s no menu. Next thing I knew, a courtesy Ipad was placed on our table, with the instructions to play with it.

A bit later, one of the men sauntered out the café. 15 minutes later he returned.

“Here. Japanese orange,” he said, putting it on top of the Ipad. Then he sat back down at one of the tables. He didn’t work at the café but seemed to wander in and out as he felt like it.

Drinks finished, orange eaten and a couple of Ipad games later, it was time to go and we stood up to pay. It came to 1100円. We were left to guess the individual costs.

We stepped outside, glad to shake off the atmosphere. Our friend James, not prone to remark on trivialities, shook his head in disbelief. “That was very, very strange.”

Reflecting on it later, Calle told me, “It’s weird. I thought I smelt marijuana when we first went in there. I didn’t smell it again though.”

Marijuana. That would explain a lot. Especially a counter you can’t see behind. We should have been a bit more creative when ordering from the invisible menu.