Saturday, November 08, 2008

foodie friday in kobe

As I said in my post yesterday, our building needed to have some work done so they had told us that the water would be off from 9 until 3. This was a great chance for me to go holo-holo (galavanting) in Kobe. Unfortunately, the weather was forecast for rain. Luckily when I left the house though, it was just a slight drizzle which ended up with the day being mostly cloudy.

My first stop was IKEA (the Japanese pronounce it ee-kay-ah, is this right?) Anyway it was my first time, and wow! it was furniture/interior heaven! I was surprised to see a lot of people there eating breakfast (from 9:30-11:00 they have a 99 yen breakfast! cheap!) I walked the whole store, I oohed and aahed at all the different displays, wishing I had an island in my kitchen (or that my kitchen were big enough to have one...) The one thing that was a little disappointing was that a LOT of items were made in China, that kind of turned me off, but I guess that is what keeps their prices really low...then as I was exiting the store I noticed that they had a free shuttle back to Sannomiya (I didn't know about this when I came over, I had taken the Portliner)...I jumped on and it dropped everyone off above the Sannomiya train stations...this was good because I was headed in this direction anyway.

I checked out an English tea shop, but was disappointed by their teas (I won't tell you their name), the tea's aroma just didn't jump out to me, it actually smelt a bit stale. So, I went onto the next shop on my list and walked to Caffarel, an Italian confection maker. They had many different candies made from milk chocolate, dark chocolate and giandjua (hazelnut) chocolate. They also had some baked goods as well as an eat-in area where you could have some cake. There were some other customers in the store and they were buying up a storm! Most of their candies run from 100 yen (about US$1) to 200 yen (about US$2). I bought some and then walked down Tor Road to my next stop, BAL.

On the 2nd floor of BAL is Mariage Frères, a French tea shop. I love their Marco Polo tea but was interested in picking up their chocolates and incense. They actually have several flavors of chocolates using different teas, but I really wanted to try the Earl Grey Imperial. This was actually the most expensive part of my adventure. The chocolates were 3360 yen (about US$36) for 16 pieces and the incense 1575 yen (about US$15) for 20 sticks. I didn't really want 16 pieces, I mean what if I didn't like it?? But I bought it and the "Fall in Love" incense--very flowery and a little fruity...nice.

I then headed towards the ocean to a little shop called Mont Plus. It was about noon and I was hoping to have lunch and dessert, but this shop only served sweets, so I picked up some chocolate guimauve (marshmallows) 4 for 250 yen about US$2.50 and caramels 160 yen each about US$1.60 each. I chose the salted caramel and the chocolate caramel. Then I headed to Daimaru via Chinatown. Boy, was this a mistake, there were several school groups which made the walkways crowded and noisy.
Daimaru's cafe, Caffera, was the first cafe at which I had cappuccino art. (This was actually several years ago--pre-blog.) I ordered a proscuitto sandwich (330 yen about US$3.30) and a cappuccino (600 yen about US$6). The waiter warned me that the sandwich was small....small was an understatement, it was gone in two bites, what a waste of money (but I was warned). If you go to this cafe, just go for the coffee and people watching.

I was still feeling hungry after all that walking, so I walked over past the International Hall to a little bakery and cafe, Comme Chinois. Their cafe, Honest Cafe is located at the back of the store and there aren't too many seats, so if you want to go for lunch or dessert, go early or take out. Since I'd already had a "sandwich" and cappuccino, I chose the salad and bread combination--892 yen (about US$8.92). This came with a large basket of assorted breads (about 8 pieces) and a large salad. The salad had grilled bartlett pears, pumpkin, mushrooms and lots of almonds. It was really delicious and hit the spot. The breads were mostly hard type, some had nuts, some had veggies in it, some had cheese...chewy and delicious. On top of that, they wrapped up the leftover bread for me to take home. (Not many stores do this for you in Japan)
Since Satoshi had a party with the baseball alumni of the Tokyo Big 6 (the Ivy League schools in the Tokyo area), he didn't need dinner.

Since he didn't need dinner, I didn't want to cook for myself, so I went to SOGO and wandered their food floor. I noticed they were having a food fair on the events floor so I went up to the 9th floor. They had my favorite chicken wings, Furaibo. The line was long as they were frying them up to order...I could have eaten them right then and there, the aroma was so tempting.

Dessert was a chocolate guimauve--light and chocolatey. A hazelnut chocolate--loved all those whole hazelnuts. And a taste of the Mariage Frères chocolates...OMG (goodness) this was worth the price. The Earl Grey fragrance jumps out as soon as you open the box. The dark chocolate around the ganache matches perfectly and the earl grey tea shines...

You know how we say in English "my feet are screaming" when they are sore? Well, the Japanese say "ashi ga waratte iru" or their feet are laughing...mine aren't, they are definitely screaming.

Still, it was a great day and I was lucky, the rain came down as soon as I walked in the door.

Oh, one of Satoshi's baseball team mates came in from Gifu (or was it Gunma?) for the party, so he will spend the night with us. It is our first time having him over, I wonder what I should feed him for breakfast...

Also, my cousin is here for work, but will visit us for a few days next week.

Then, we are off to somewhere warm.

Hope you have a great week.

Port Island
Open 10:00-22:00
Phone: 078.304.7000

3-7-29 Yamamoto
Phone: 078.262.7850
Closed Wednesdays

Mariage Frères-BAL
3-6-1 Sannomiya-cho, 2F
Phone: 078.391.6969

40 Akashi-machi, 1F
Phone: 078.331.8121

Comme Chinois
7-1-15 Goko-dori, Sannomiya Building South Building B1
Phone: 078.242.1502
Open 9:00-21:00, Closed on Wednesdays
Lunch from 11:30-14:00


Dave said...


You always seem to have so much fun, these pictures are lovely and the food adventures are something I never fathomed to try in Japan if I ever visited.


I'm going to learn how to say that properly, that tickling feet thing.


Anonymous said...

Yipeee Kat went to Ikea :)

Me love Ikea !

K and S said...

He he, I want to go back again Shar, maybe to eat the 99 yen breakfast :)

Dave, I hope you get a chance to visit Japan soon :)

Take care you two.

Rowena said...

Kat you shopaholic! (I should talk...I've been a fiend on Amazon lately....)

Anonymous said...

Hi Kat,

Lovely post! It's very interesting to know that people from Singapore and Japan pronounces 'IKEA' the same way!


K and S said...

May as well buy up, at least you know it will be delivered where you are Rowena :)

Thanks Anon :)

Take care you two.

Anonymous said...

How fun that you got to visit so many places today! But I can imagine how your feet must've been feeling after all those places! I hope you got to put your feet up for a while after you got home. :)

Phoebe said...

Breakfast is so cheap!! 99 YEN!! Was it good though??

I am quite surprised that they don't provide takeaways. Perhaps they want to keep you for longer since there are so many food stalls.

Glad you had such a nice time!! Wish I can go shopping too! After exams though

Lindsay-Jean said...

Ooh fun! I had no interest in visiting Kobe while we're here (I'm a vegetarian), but I've just bargained with my husband that I'll get to make a purchase at Ikea if we go on a beef-eating outing for him!

And btw, in America, we pronounce it eye-key-ah

Thanks for the tip!

Martin J Frid said...

ee-kay-ah sounds like the way we say it in Swedish, but don't worry!

Their original store is in Älmhult, just half an hour away from my 100 year old wooden house, that I got from my grandfather. If you and S ever need to go and relax and visit Sweden... But we don't have a microwave oven ;)

K and S said...

Thanks Martin, if ever I'm in Sweden, I'll definitely stay at your place, it is okay you don't have a microwave oven, I know how to heat up food without it :)

I hope you like the IKEA here, LJ :)

I didn't try the breakfast, Phoebe, but really want to go back to try :) Good luck on your exams.

Thanks Lori, yup the feet were in pain. I sat in the furo for awhile :)

Take care everyone.

KirkK said...

My Goodness, you really did a bunch in a short time. I always marvel at IKEA......always thinking that more people walk in than walk's so easy to get lost, I always think that there are people eternally lost, wandering in circles in IKEA.

Anonymous said...

Yep! Ee-kay-yah is the right way, closest to the original Swedish pronunciation. I suppose many North Americans pronounce it the same way they pronounce Iraq/Iran.

First time posting, nice blog!

K and S said...

Thanks Kirkk, the Kobe store has it where there is a path to follow throughout the store to the cashier :)

Thanks Anon!

Take care you two.

Deb in Hawaii said...

IKEA is a lot of fun. They have great cheap kitchen gadgets and things. I have two frosted plastic salad bowl/mini bowl sets I got for super-cheap, years ago that I still have and use. Do they have the Swedish Meatballs in the cafeteria? Those are actually pretty good.

Sounds like a great day, sore feet and all and you know I am coveting all that wonderful chocolate!

Parisbreakfasts said...

what a great foodie adventure!
Better than Paris!
I couldn't keep up...
My feet are screaming to your feet over there...
My feet want to go home and we are today! :)
Arigoto Kat
I used to LOVE Cafferel...
In the US we say Eye-Key-Ya
But my Finnish friend says it's:

K and S said...

Yes Deb, they do have the meatballs :)

Thanks Carol, sad you are coming home from Paris, will miss those posts!!

Take care you two.

Jenster said...

We love IKEA and much of our home is furnished with their items. They're sturdy, attractive and reasonably priced, which is a winning combination when you have active kids and a dog (and a husband).

In the U.S. it's pronounced eye-kee-ah. But when a friend first moved to the mainland from Hawaii, he pronounced it the Hawaiian way, ee-kay-ah.

My husband is of Swedish descent and a lot of his relatives still live in Sweden. A relative's husband designs furniture for IKEA. We've seen his photo hanging in the stores and in the catalogs, along with the photos of other designers. It's very exciting, kind of like being related to a rock star, LOL.

Anonymous said...

Mariage Freres RULES!

The one in Kyoto is the only place in town where you can sink your teeth into some real Western sweets.

As a Valentine's Day gift, the chocolates seem to melt a woman's will to say no thank you. Marco Polo and Earl Grey are my personal favs.

The Marco Polo tea is great, but my all time favorite is Earl Grey Oolong. Their Lapsang Suchon is also my all time favorite.

When I was in grad school, I think that I wondered into the 'honten' when I was in Paris. It was pretty incredible!

Generally, I would say that their Japanese teas disappoint. The Sakura Green Tea was particularly dreadful.

The 'nouveau' teas (shincha) from India are great.

Oh! Ya'll looking for insightful answers to your burning questions regarding how to live it up in Kyoto, you just click on over to Kyoto Support Forum, [OK]?

K and S said...

That is so cool that you know someone who designs for IKEA, Jenster :)

Will have to keep those teas in mind, Peko-P :)

Take care you two.

Anonymous said...

We seem to hang at the same places, and have the same taste in food! (Except for Patisserie Kanae's macarons--I'll never buy them again.)

I like Mont Plus' caramel apple cake (loaf cake, not one of the cakes in the display cases) and their hot chocolate is pretty good, too (they only have it Jan-Mar.). It's not as good as Ek Chuah's, but they give you a little tiny truffle to boost the chocolatiness (is that a word?).

My favourite Mariage Freres flavoured tea is Bolero. It's really great iced. Their coconut tea goes really well with any kind of chocolate dessert, too.

I'll have to try to find Caffarel one day. I never head up to Kitano--the closest I ever get is Kobe Grocers or that weird Indian restaurant in the apartment building (the one with the best samosas in town).

K and S said...

Thanks for your opinion Rona :) Will check out Bolero the next time I get a chance and google around for the Indian restaurant with the samosas :)

Take care.