Friday was a rainy day. It brought back memories of a rainy trip to Tokyo 2 years ago. There were many places that I wanted to check out while Satoshi was visiting his university's new baseball field.
My first stop was Daimaru in Marunouchi. They have the only Boissier in Japan, I went to the counter and was a bit shocked at the prices. I wanted to buy their caramel tea, but didn't want to pay $40 for a tin. I wanted to buy their petal chocolates, but didn't want to pay $30 for a tiny package. So I settled for their chocolate pearls for 1980 yen (about US$20), I hope they are good. (UPDATE: delicious, high quality)
I got back onto the train and went to Ginza to check out their Laduree. It is the only one in Japan and I think the only one outside of France. The shop and cafe are quite small but very elegant. It was lunch time but I didn't want to pay $42 for their lunch, so I had 4 macaron (1200 yen about US$12) and coffee (1000 yen about $10) instead for "lunch". The macaron flavors I chose were cedrat (citron), fleur d' oranger (orange flower), petale de rose (rose petal) and fruits rouges (red fruits). Each was flavored nicely, delicately. It was a nice way to get out of the rain.
After "lunch", I went back into the rain and jumped onto the train and headed for Roppongi to check out Tokyo Midtown. This is a new office complex with lots of eateries and cafes. I wanted to see Belberry, a Belgian confiture (jams & jelly) maker. I was about to buy some marmalade when this caught my eye...purple fig chocolate...I immediately picked this up. Can't wait to try it on baguette and ice cream. (UPDATE: sweet but delicious on toasted baguette)
The rain was still coming down but I still had a few more places on my list and I still had a couple of hours before I had to meet Satoshi. I jumped on the train to Jiyugaoka. When I first got on, I thought I made a mistake but didn't (whew!). The train/subway system in Tokyo is massive, you can easily jump or transfer onto the wrong train. Signage is really bad too.
My first stop in Jiyugaoka was Le Palais du The. I first knew of them when I visited a cafe in Biei, Hokkaido. The owner was serving their tea and I was immediately hooked on the sweet aroma. When we returned to Osaka, I looked on the internet to find that the only store in Japan is in Jiyugaoka.
When I checked their site before this trip, it just so happened that they were having a sale. I noted down the teas that were on sale that I was interested in. It is a good thing that I did this too as when I got to the store, you have to tell them what teas you want and then they weigh everything out for you.
I bought several Earl Grey varieties (Earl Grey Fleurs Bleu, Earl Grey Imperial, The de Lords). The thing that was good about this sale was that you could purchase small amounts starting from 20 grams for a really low price. (When I try something new, I've come to like buying small amounts...just in case I don't like it.) I bought about 7 different teas at 20 grams each. I can't wait to try them. (UPDATE: all are great, my favorites are The de Lords & Earl Grey Fleurs Bleu)
On the other side of the Jiyugaoka station, is a spice shop called L'epice et Epice. They have so many different spices that it was hard to decide what to get. I ended up purchasing a little flask of masala chai for 525 yen (about US$5.25)...mmm chai season is here!!
Since I didn't have a real lunch (again!), I stopped into Paul Bassett for something to eat. I got their quiche plate, but was very disappointed. It was really watery and the crust was burnt, definitely not like the quiche I had in Kyoto. I guess the highlight of the meal was the latte art.
After re-fueling, I went to meet Satoshi at Shinjuku Isetan. I wanted to pick up some things from their gourmet shop. I picked up this French salted caramel chocolate sauce, Italian chestnuts in syrup & some rose petal jam by Christine Ferber. (UPDATE: this rose petal jam is really delicious, a light rose aroma, very nice, texture similar to honey)
It was a long day with lots of walking, but I was happy that I was able to check out everything that I had on my list.
Saturday started out early...we went to check out Tsukiji Fish market. This place is crazy. People rushing around trying to get their fresh fish out as fast as possible. I couldn't help but feel like I was in the way.
After walking around the market, we had sushi for breakfast at Yamazaki. Luckily, we didn't have to wait in a long line. (hint: don't try the place in your guide book--you'll just have to stand in a long line, anywhere that is serving sushi at Tsukiji is worth it!) I had the 7 piece (2100 yen about US$21) and Satoshi had the 8 piece (3150 yen about $31.50)....delicious.
After breakfast, we caught the subway to Tsukishima, Satoshi was interested in seeing this man-made island from a recent television drama. The Tokyo area is known for monja, similar to okonomiyaki but very wet and mushy. Satoshi doesn't care for monja, so we didn't try it.
From Tsukishima we went to Jingu Stadium to check out his university team. The Tokyo Big 6 is similar to America's Ivy League. Satoshi's university, Meiji, is part of the Big 6. The oendan (cheering team) for both sides cheer all through the game. Talk about noisy! Though Satoshi's team lost, it was an interesting experience.
From Jingu Stadium, we went to check out Tokyo Tower. The last time I visited Tokyo Tower, the tour only took us to the bottom area, unfortunately the lines were so long that we didn't get to check out the observatory deck.
Again, I didn't get to eat "lunch", but saw a crepe stand...Marion crepes. I remembered Lori's post. And got the chocolate banana crepe (300 yen (about US$3)....ooey gooey chocolate and banana with a slightly crisp edged crepe....delicious.
From Tokyo Tower, we went to see Satoshi's friend in Asagaya. This area has a huge shopping arcade. They were having a jazz festival and it was quite lively.
On Sunday, our last day in Tokyo, we went to check out Shibamata. This area was a location for many "Otoko wa Tsurai" movies. The shopping arcade is quite tiny, but there are many retro looking shops. I am not too familiar with the movies but since Satoshi wanted to see this area, I went along to check it out.
There is a very old temple called Taishakuten, for 400 yen (about US$4) you can see the intricate carvings on the sides of the building as well as the beautiful Japanese gardens.
There is a Tora-san (the main character in the "Otoko wa Tsurai" movies) museum as well as many Japanese sweet shops.
One interesting sweet shop, Ishii, was selling shio dorayaki (salt dorayaki). They filled the inside of the dorayaki with buttercream and sweet bean paste....addicting.
Our schedule in Tokyo was packed, we didn't get to visit many friends (sorry!) but we did get to see a lot! I'll post more photos on Flickr.
Hope you have a great week.
Ginza Mitsukoshi 2F
Tokyo Mid-town B1
Roppongi UPDATE: as of 9/2010 seems to have closed
Le Palais du The
L'epice et Epice
Isetan Shinjuku Gourmet Shop B1
Asagaya Shopping Arcade