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

Review: Village Vanguard Diner, Shimokitazawa; ヴィレッジ ヴァンガード ダイナー 下北沢

Oh how promising it looked...
Oh how promising it looked…

Village Vanguard… that name might seem familiar. But you may have noticed the strategically placed word ‘diner’. This is apparently the foodie offshoot of the legendary variety goods store, Village Vanguard – we’ll return to that in a bit.

I could sit and type out my woes at lengths about Village Vanguard Diner, but I’ll be brief. It’s the kind of place that tries to rock that shabby surfer scene look, culminating in a rather dingy, depressing and gauche interior with jumbled American artifacts. Potentially, someone just has a great sense of humour and foresaw photos like this: Continue reading “Review: Village Vanguard Diner, Shimokitazawa; ヴィレッジ ヴァンガード ダイナー 下北沢”

Review: Baiso, Shimokitazawa, Tokyo; 梅窓、下北沢、東京

Niku udon
Niku udon

Of the variety of noodles that constitute Japanese cuisine, the humble udon is less well known in the West, which is a tragedy. These white, egg flour noodles are fat enough to have a slight and wonderful dough-like texture when consumed. They’re served in a light broth, comprising dashi (Japanese fish stock made from bonito flakes), mirin (cooking rice wine), soy sauce and sugar. This is served with ginger and spring onions, and a variety of toppings. There is niku udon (beef), kitsune udon (sweetened deep-fried tofu pouch, and even kare udon (curry udon). One of the most popular versions is tempura udon, which I utterly fail to understand because why would you want that nice crispy batter to get all sodden and disintegrate into the broth?!  Continue reading “Review: Baiso, Shimokitazawa, Tokyo; 梅窓、下北沢、東京”

Review: Daikonman, Shimokitazawa / だいこんまん、下北沢

Okonomiyaki being fried on the griddle along the counter
Okonomiyaki being fried on the griddle along the counter

You may have noticed that I am no longer in London. Yet, location aside, my mission remains the same: find the best eateries around! And so…

Konnichiwa, Tokyo! Here I come!

I’ve been manically busy the past week in my quest to find an apartment. Many Daiwa Scholars (the scholarship programme I’m on) recommended Shimokitazawa as an area. It’s a bit like a mini-Harajuku to the west of Tokyo, popular with young people, full of trendy stores and restaurants, and with a vibrant nightlife scene. Given that I’m not much of a party person, I was definitely looking to live a little further away but within reasonable access – how can I resist the allure of an area of bounteous restaurants?

After a long day of viewing flats, I was very hungry and so was my poor Japanese ‘buddy’, who’d very kindly volunteered to assist me. We walked a few paces and she pointed at Daikonman. “Do you like okonomiyaki?” Continue reading “Review: Daikonman, Shimokitazawa / だいこんまん、下北沢”