Monday, February 29, 2016

Four amazing pâtisserie / dessert / pastry cafes in Tokyo that you totally must try!

Tokyo is undeniably the gourmet champion heavyweight of the world. The Michelin guide rates 217 restaurants in the city worthy of having at least one star; in contrast, Paris 'only' has 79. It's not only the restaurants, though: Over on the desserts side of the table there's a dizzying array of desserts, cakes and pastry chefs, each trying to stamp his or her own culinary mark on the sweet tooth of dessert lovers everywhere.

Today we'll touch on just four of them though - focusing on French-influenced pâtissiers. As casual visitors to Japan we can't possibly claim that these four are the best; but we can claim that you won't be disappointed if you pay any of these shops a visit!

Pierre Hermé Paris
Location (click for Google Maps link): La Porte Aoyama near Shibuya


The first shop we visited was Pierre Hermé's Chocolate Bar near Shibuya. As its name suggests, this Pierre Hermé's chocolate-centric outlet, serving up a commendable array of chocolate bars of different origins and intensities, and some amazing original chocolate creations. If you'd like some variety, the Fetish Mogador (An assortment of pineapple and citrus themed chocolate-based pastries) is interesting, but our vote goes to the Coupe Glacee Infiniment Chocolat: A super delicious blend of various chocolate ice creams, brownie bits, chocolates and chocolate mousse.

The elegant cafe is on the upper level of the shop; expect to spend around ¥2,000 and up per person. On the ground level you can buy Pierre Hermé's other pastries, chocolates, macarons and other cakes.


Sadaharu Aoki Paris
Location (click for Google Maps link): Yurakucho near Tokyo station


Sadaharu Aoki is a master of the éclair, and marrying Japanese ingredients with other classical French pastries. If you're dining in and would like to sample as wide a variety as possible, make sure to order the degustation - a sampling of six cakes of varying flavours and textures. All delicious, of course. Don't leave out the éclair, though - choose whichever flavour sounds the most interesting, they're all delicious. ¥1,500 and up per person


Hidemi Sugino
Location (click for Google Maps link): Ginza


Of all the pâtissiers in Japan, Hidemi Sugino is perhaps the most accomplished, having won the La Coupe du Monde (World Cup of of Pastry) in 1991. His cafe in Ginza also possibly has the longest queue: We arrived at 10:30am on a Saturday morning (he only opens at 11:00) and there were already two dozen people waiting.

Hidemi Sugino seems to focus on mousse cakes - of all the four creations we tried, mousse was the common denominator. If you're a fan of chocolate (and even if you aren't), make sure to order the Ambroisi: A sublime chocolate-and-raspberry mousse cake so complicated to make that just reading the recipe can tire you out.

Expect to pay ¥1,500 and up per person. Oh, and Hidemi Sugino officially doesn't allow photographs (at all), although the wait staff seem to turn a blind eye when you're seated in the eat-in area.


Echire Maison du Beurre
Location (click for Google Maps link): Chiyoda; in between Tokyo station and the Imperial Gardens


OK, this one isn't really a cafe - it's more accurately a bakery that serves up staples such as croissants and madelines. All made with Echire - the queen of butters, of course. Somewhat annoyingly there isn't any actual seating available, but there's a pleasant open area with trees, plants, benches and a water fountain nearby.

So grab a croissant, some madelines, and some vending machine coffee and have yourself a little picnic!


That concludes our post for today - as always, we hope this was useful for you. If you're interested, check out our itinerary and write-ups of all our previous Japan trips here, and don't hesitate to leave us any questions you might have in the comments below!

Homemade Gift Idea : Chocolate Bark Recipe (with different varieties of flavors and shaping ideas)

Been seeing western folks posting chocolate barks. How lovely and beautiful they look! Last Christmas we decided to have some fun making some for our colleagues.

Basic Ingredient
250g Chocolate of your liking (we'll mention our varieties of ingredients used below)

Basic Step By Step
1. Line 1 pan with parchment paper or grease with butter.
2. Melt Chocolate over stove by bring about an inch of water to a simmer in a small pot. Set a stainless steel bowl on the mouth of the pot, making sure the water doesn't touch the bottom of the bowl. Remember to stir chocolate occasionally as it softens. or Microwave chocolate in a large bowl at HIGH 1 to 2 minutes or until melted and smooth, stirring at 45-second intervals.
3. Gently stir in 3/4 of the ingredients you selected from our varieties below.
4. Pour the chocolate on to the prepared pan and spread it evenly.
5. Sprinkle the balance 1/4 of the ingredients.
6. Let stand in the fridge until firm, about 6 hours or overnight.
7. Break or cut into pieces.
8. Store in a cool place up to 3 days or in the fridge up to 2 weeks.

Below are my creations hopefully it'll inspire you. You may split the base into 2 parts and half the portion as per suggested below for more varieties. Hope you all will love this recipe.

White Chocolate Peppermint Bark
50g of crushed Candy Cane

Dark Chocolate and White Chocolate Peppermint Bark
50g of crushed Candy Cane

Dark Chocolate M&Ms Bark
100g of M&Ms
10g of Snowflakes

Coming Soon~
Brainstorming in progress...

Click here for our blog page Desserts & Drinks for more recipes. Hope you will be inspired~

Sunday, February 28, 2016

Melty Pineapple Tarts / Balls / Golf Balls Recipe

This year we tried another version of Pineapple Tart. The Melty Pineapple Tart!

Ingredients for approx 100 balls
1kg Pineapple Paste
360g Salted Butter
110g Condensed Milk
510g All Purpose Flour
80g Full Cream Milk Powder
2 Egg Yolks

Egg Wash : 1 egg yolk

Step 1 For convenience on the assemble part. Shape the Pineapple Jam and layer them with plastic for easier removal. (10g each)
Step 2 Cream Butter and Condensed Milk until fluffy, add in the Egg Yolks one by one and whisk until smooth.
Step 3 Sift the All Purpose Flour. Add in to the fluffed mixture part by part. Slowly a not sticky dough will form.
Step 4 Roll Dough into ball (10g each)
Step 5 Use both palms to flatten a dough. Place a rolled pineapple paste in the middle. Gently bring the edges of the dough together and seal at the end leaving no sight of any Pineapple Paste. To ensure the shape is round, roll it in between your palms to shape it nicely into a ball. Repeat until all done.
Step 6 Pre-heat the oven to 165°C.
Step 7 Apply egg wash with a brush.
Step 8 Bake for approx 23 to 25 mins. Until slightly golden brown then remove from oven.
Step 9 Lastly, ensure that it is totally cool before storing it in a air tight container.


Click here for our blog page Baking Classes for more recipes. Hope you will be inspired~

Sunday, February 21, 2016

Four days in Tokyo - a summer Japan trip itinerary!

Today we'd just like to share a short & quick #throwback post to the summer of 2011 - our very first trip to Tokyo in Japan! Okay, to be frank we're really just jotting down the itinerary as a diary for ourselves. But hey, hopefully this post helps you even a little bit, and if you're interested, do check out our other Japan trip blog posts below!

Spring 2013 (Cherry Blossoms): Kyoto, Osaka, Nara, Tokyo
Autumn 2014 (Fall Foliage): Tokyo, Hokkaido
Winter 2015 (Ski'ing & Snow): Nagano, Nozawa Onsen, Jigokudani, Tokyo

Day One:
- Arrived in Tokyo and checked in to the Sunshine City Prince Hotel
- Harajuku: Meiji Shrine and lunch (tonkatsu) at Takeshita Dori
- Chanced across the 'Super Yosakoi' dance festival along Omotesando (it's amazing)
- At night: Kabukicho, and ramen dinner at Omoide Yokocho (Piss Alley)

Tokyo Super Yosakoi
Tokyo Omoide Yokocho

Day Two:
- Tsukiji Fish Market for おまかせ set at Sushi Dai (寿司大)
- Megaweb (Toyota show room) and shopping at Odaiba
- Ogling Maid Cafe waitresses and adult doujinshi manga at Akihabara
- Public Bathing in LaQua Spa
- Oh, we had dinner at KFC (yes, really)

Tokyo Tsukiji Fish Market
Tokyo Akihabara Maid Cafe

Day Three:
- Paid for a rickshaw tourist ride at Sensojii temple
- Had some super melon-pan and shopping at Ameyoko
- Namjatown: Gyoza stadium and Ice cream museum (weird-ass flavors like soy sauce and chicken wing)

Tokyo Sensojii Temple
Tokyo Weird Cup Ice Museum

Day Four:
- Tokyo DisneySea

Tokyo DisneySea
Tokyo DisneySea

Day Five:
- Breakfast at Tsukiji (again): Daiwa Sushi (大和寿司) this time
- Checked out and headed back home

Tokyo Tsukiji Daiwa Sushi

Yeah, it really was a short trip. Let us know in the comments if there's anything you want more information on!

Thursday, February 18, 2016

Raspberry Compote / Jam Recipe

Awesome recipe to brighten up ice cream, angel food cake, toast, pancake. On top of that adding this can bring your bakes to the next level.

170g Raspberries
3 tablespoons of Sugar
1 tablespoon of Citrus Juice / Balsamic Vinegar
1 tablespoon of Brandy / Whiskey
1/4 teaspoon of Cornstarch (Optional)

1. Place all ingredients in a small saucepan and stir to combine.

2. Simmer for 10 minutes over medium-low heat, stirring occasionally.

3. The Compote is ready once the raspberries fall apart and the sauce is thickened, remove from heat.

4. Allow to cool for at least 15 minutes before serving

This can be store up to 1 week.

Below are my creations hopefully it'll inspire you. Below are the recipes we've used this delicious blueberry compote with. Hope you all will love this recipe.

Recipe coming soon.

Click here for our blog page Baking Classes for more recipes. Hope you will be inspired~

Monday, February 15, 2016

Nozawa Onsen, Jigokudani Monkey Park, Odawara Plum Festival: 8 Days Winter Japan Itinerary!

We're back from our fourth trip to Japan (and our first trip in the Winter)! It was a relatively short 1-week visit this time, just to ski for a couple of days, bother some monkeys, and then cafe hop our way all around Tokyo. Oh, and with some plum tree blossom viewing added in. Before we go into the details of the trip, check out our highlights video reel below:

So without further ado, here's our itinerary. Hope it helps you and don't hesitate to ask any questions you may have in the comments section below!

Day 1 (Fly to Tokyo and travel to Nozawa Onsen):
- Touched down at Narita Airport at around 2:30pm (¥35,500)
- Cleared Customs & Immigration, picked up our JR East Pass* for ¥22,000.
- Caught the N-EX to Tokyo, followed by Shinkansen to Iiyama, followed by Nozawa Onsen Liner Bus (¥600) to Nozawa Onsen.
- Checked in to Mominoki (¥14,000/night for two with breakfast). It's located 20-30 steps from the Shinden (新田) bus stop.
- For the night we just walked around the Nozawa Onsen town and the public baths, and a ramen dinner at Wanryu-Hanten (王龍飯店, ¥1,000).

* From April 1, 2016, the JR East Pass will be split into two: the JR East Pass (Tohoku area) and the JR East Pass (Nagano, Niigata area)

Japan Winter Itinerary Wanryu Hanten Nozawa Onsen Ramen

Day 2 (Ski'ing in Nozawa Onsen):
- Ski'ing! Skis, boots, poles, and clothing (jacket + pants) rental cost ¥8,550 for two days; Ski Lift ticket cost ¥9,500 for two days.
- There are many rental shops around town; we chose Sports Thanx because of its' proximity to the Nagasaka gondola. Plus they have lockers for you to store your non-ski gear.
- Lunch was just a random cafe on the slopes; Dinner was okonomiyaki, yakisoba and grilled fatty pork at Osaka Tonkichi (大阪とんきち, ¥1,000).

Japan Winter Itinerary Nozawa Onsen

Day 3 (Ski'ing in Nozawa Onsen):
- Another day of ski'ing and soaking in the hot tub!
- Dinner was delightful hot and cold soba at Yoshimi Soba (良味そば, ¥1,000)

Japan Winter Itinerary Nozawa Onsen Ski

Day 4 (Jigokudani Monkey Park & Tokyo):
- We checked out really early to catch the 7:20am Nozawa Onsen Liner bus back to Iiyama (¥600)
- From Iiyama: Shinkansen to Nagano (covered by JR East Pass), where we deposited our luggage in a huge coin locker (¥800) and bought the "Snow Monkey 1-Day Pass" (¥2,900). This pass includes the return journey Nagano Dentetsu ("Nagaden") bus to the Snow Monkey Park and the entrance fee.
- From the Snow Monkey Park bus stop, we had to hike/walk 30-40 minutes to the park itself.
- At around noon we took the return bus back to Nagano, and the Shinkansen back to Tokyo (JR East Pass), where we checked into an AirBNB near Tsukiji Market (¥10,500 for two, no meals).
- In the evening we visited Pierre Herme Chocolate Bar (¥2,000), Scramble Crossing and Hachiko in Shibuya, and finally Ichiran Ramen (¥1,000) for a late dinner.

Japan Winter Itinerary Jigokudani Monkey Park

Day 5 (Hama Rikyu Tea Gardens & Kappabashi Dori):
- In the morning we walked to Tsukiji Market to have some delicious, hearty battered & fried prawn and sea eel at Tenfusa (天房, ¥1,300), followed by buying groceries (scallops, sashimi, fruits, ¥3,000) from both the inner and outer markets.
- We then visited the Hama Rikyu Tea Gardens (very nice Japanese-style garden), followed by a Tokyo Sumida river cruise (¥740) up to the Asakusa area.
- Having previously visited Sensojii temple twice, this time we skip, and go instead to Kappabashi Dori i.e. the Tokyo Chef/Kitchen street.
- We spent the evening window shopping at the various department stores on the way back, and we cooked up rice, soup and flame-grilled scallops for dinner in the apartment.

Japan Winter Itinerary Hama Rikyu Gardens

Day 6 (Hidemi Sugino & Ikefukurou Owl Cafe):
- It's a Saturday today! First order of business - join the queue at Hidemi Sugino at 10.30am (it opens only at 11.00) for Tokyo's best mousse-based desserts (¥1,500)!
- With our tummies suitably stuffed, we browsed the Ginza shopping area (it's closed to traffic on weekend afternoons)
- We then journey'ed to Ikebukuro to have some play time with the owls at Ikefukurou Owl "cafe" (¥1,400).
- The evening was again spent window shopping - and scored a nicely marbled sirloin steak for dinner in the apartment (¥2,000)!

Japan Winter Itinerary Ikefukurou Owl Cafe

Day 7 (Odawara Plum Festival):
- Day trip to Odawara!! We start the day with a bowl of tuna on rice - akami (lean meat), chutoro, ohtoro and ikura. Yums!
- Although it's a lot quicker to take the Shinkansen, we decide instead to take the much longer JR Tokaido Line, because only the latter is covered by the JR East Pass.
- We explored the plum trees on the Odawara castle grounds (sadly, the castle itself was closed for renovations), and then took a ¥500 bus to the plum tree orchard area.
- The plum orchards were pleasant and surprisingly many of the trees were already in quite an advanced blooming stage!
- After another 1-and-a-half hour train ride, we do some window shopping at Isetan Shinjuku and have some superb tempura at Ginza Ten-Ichi (銀座天一, ¥2,500) for dinner.

Japan Winter Itinerary Odawara Plum Festival

Day 8 (Imperial East Gardens & Fly back home):
- Is it already the end of our trip? We head back to the Tsukiji Market to buy some great plates & bowls at Ueda's (うえだ) shop (inner market).
- For breakfast we try out Sushi Zanmai (すしざんまい, ¥2,000)) to see if there's truth to the saying "Any sushi in Tsukiji is delicious." Conclusion: Compared to Sushi Dai (寿司大) and Daiwa Sushi (大和寿司) it totally isn't.
- We check out of our AirBNB apartment, lug all our luggage to the Tokyo station and hunt down some coin lockers to store them for the rest of the day (¥2,000 - we needed 3 lockers).
- We walk over to the Imperial East Gardens only to find out that it's closed to the public on Mondays (zzzz). So we walk instead to the Echire Bakery, which serves up croissants and other aromatic pastries made exclusively with the Queen of butter (roughly ¥1,500).
- This marks the end of our trip: We go back to Tokyo station to pick up our luggage and catch the Narita Express back to the airport (JR East Pass).

Japan Winter Itinerary Sushi Zanmai

Rough / Estimate Expenditure (¥309k for two people):
- Flight Tickets ¥71,000
- Train & Other Transport ¥56,000
- Hotels / AirBNB ¥84,000
- Ski Costs ¥36,000
- Food & Groceries ¥50,000
- Attractions & Misc ¥12,000

Sunday, February 14, 2016

Japan must buy Snacks and Souvenirs for yourself or as Gifts!

It's always a treasure hunt to find the loots we want to get around Japan. These is what we would like to introduce you to look out for! Interesting enough, most of the items below have limited edition seasonal flavors and some of them we love them so much that every time we go back Japan we'll hunt them down at the airport and bring it home to savor. Gifts for ourselves and friends are purchased by quality, design and price.

Some of our friends & Look See Eat followers have been questioning us what to buy from there. This is where we decided to provide short & sweet list of what we love or like.

Glico Pocky
Flavors : Matcha, Azuki, Strawberry, Blueberry, Chocolate, Tiramisu, Cookie & Cream, Coffee Cookie & Cream
Where to hunt : Japan’s convenience stores (7-Eleven, Lawson, Family Mart) or Airport

Kit Kat
Flavors : Matcha, Azuki, Strawberry, Tiramisu, Sake, Sweet Potato, Citrus, Apple, Strawberry Cheesecake, Rum & Raisins, Sakura, Grape, Coffee, Orange, White Peach, Mango, Cookie & Milk, Caramel, Salt, Wasabi, Melon, Pumpkin, Cookies, Pineapple and many more.
Where to hunt : Japan’s convenience stores (7-Eleven, Lawson, Family Mart) or Airport

Yuku Muku
Delicate flavor and elegant outlook which is suitable for gifts. It's bulky and fragile. Each piece is a butter-rich cookie is rolled into the shape of a beautiful cigar. It has a crispy and delicate sweetness which makes them popular even among the local Japanese.
Where to hunt : Department stores or Airport

Hiyoko Manjuu
This is one of the must It's has a cute chic appearance and delicious fine white bean filling, which makes it’s perfect as a souvenir.
Where to hunt : Department stores or Airport

Yawaraka Ume Plums
This dried japanese plums aka Ume-boshi is known to be effective for recovery from exhaustion. The seed of the ume is removed and is prepared in sweet and sour flavor. It's sold in small packs in covinient stores.
Where to hunt (500g packaging) : Inner Market of Tsukiji Market
Where to hunt (small snack size packaging) : Japan’s convenience stores (7-Eleven, Lawson, Family Mart)

Pottery Kitchenware
上田陶器店 Ueda Pottery are mostly made in Japan Pottery. It's become my favorite place to buy plates, bowls, etc.. Our 1st time visit, I was charmed by the quality, design & price.
Where to hunt : Inner Market of Tokyo Tsukiji Market 東京築地市場!

Kitchen and Baking Accessories
Head down there and you will find specialized stores selling cookie cutters, baking boxes, dishes, pots, pans, cooking utensils, stoves, tables, chairs, signs, lanterns and more. There are also a few stores which sell plastic and wax food samples, used by many restaurants in their show windows which are cool for souvenirs.
Where to hunt : Kappabashi Kitchen Town

Shiroi Koibito 白い恋人
This White Lover is one of the most famous and well know snack to buy from Japan. Some bakers says it is vanilla cat tongue white biscuit sandwich with chocolate. Some bakers says it is a thin vanilla butter cookie sandwich with soft chocolate that melts in the mouth like clouds.
Flavors : White Chocolate, Milk Chocolate
Where to hunt : Department stores or Airport

Pure Gummy
Flavors : Strawberry, Apple Ginger, Blood Orange, Shine Moscot Grape, Melon, Sparkle Graps, Momo aka White Peach, Sparkle Apple, Grape, Lemon, Orange
Where to hunt : Japan’s convenience stores (7-Eleven, Lawson, Family Mart) or Airport

Corn Chocolate
Flavors : White Chocolate, Melon Chocolate
Where to hunt : Department stores or Airport

Nagano Shinshu Ringo
This is similar to Hiyoko Manjuu, it has white bean filling with apple cubes. The cute apple appearance makes it’s perfect as a souvenir.
Where to hunt : Souvenir Shops around Nagano

Flavors : Ume (Sour Plum), Seaweed, Wasabi, Ebi (Prawn), Wakame, Jaga Butter (Potato Butter), Shikuwasa (Citrus), Garlic, Soba, Yakisoba, Hitsumabushi (Grilled Unagi), Kaki no tane (Mochi Chips), Sake (Salmon), Tarako (Cod Roe), Okaka (Bonito), Noritama (Seaweed & Egg), Yakiniku (Grilled Beef), Sukiyaki (Simmered Meat)
Where to hunt : Department stores, Japan’s convenience stores (7-Eleven, Lawson, Family Mart) or Airport

Caramel Candy
Flavors : Milk, Melon
Where to hunt : Japan’s convenience stores (7-Eleven, Lawson, Family Mart) or Airport

Umeboshi Plums
Japanese pickled plums has zesty palate-cleansing flavor and fast-acting medicinal effects.
Where to hunt : Tsukiji Market, Department stores or Airport
Read more about Umeboshi and also recipes shared in this website.

Click here for our blog page Our Travels, bits & pieces of our life... come along! for holidays blog post. Hope you will be inspired to travel where we have been to~