Wednesday, September 28, 2011

Tokyo Eats: Whoopi Goldburger

Yes, it's the actual name of a small and delicious burger joint in Shibuya. My friend Sophia and I had a real feast there, and well, she is the food expert, so click here to look at her wonderful pictures and read more about it.

I highly recommend having a burger at Whoopi Goldburger in Shibuya, not only for the burgers named after celebrities (Kevin Bacon, anyone?), but for the quality of the food. I could barely finish my plate, which never happens in Japan...

Tokyo A Go-Go

My best friend Isabel came to visit a few weeks ago. Isabel, with whom I shared the loneliness and rice fields of Shikoku... the loneliness and rice fields we managed to turn into the most memorable time of our lives. This time around, there were no rice fields, only the Tokyo skyscrapers and crowds of people. It had been over a year since we had exchange tearful goodbyes at Marugame station, and yet, we kept in touch almost daily.

(Un)surprisingly, everything was exactly the same- we stayed up all night talking and catching up, and we were back to our old antics, otherwise known as getting ourselves in trouble for various aforementioned antics. I was so happy and ecstatic to see her, and I love the fact that we explored my new neighbourhood together. She became a temporary resident of the Shimo House (this is what I call the house where I live), and we did everything ranging from riding swans, eating Jamaican food in Harajuku, drinking more green tea lattes than anyone can handle, causing a commotion at the local sushi bar, dancing the night away, browsing the vintage shops, to eating bentos while lounging around and catching up in my room.

... and we were never being boring.

{Isabel, at a hammock café in Kichijoji}

{We got a tad too excited for those hammocks... cho tanoshii!!}

{Lost in Translation... in Shimokitazawa}

{Sipping of one of too many green tea concoctions}

{The aforementioned local sushi place, yum}


{Isabel and my roommate Kazu, lost in Shinjuku}

{Isabel, myself and Kazu having bubble tea in Kichijoji}

{Fun times at Trump Room}

{Riding a swan in Kichijoji, Inokashira Koen}

{Of course we had to ride a swan! Thanks Kazu for the photos}

{Shibuya, 3:00 am}

{Self portraits in Shibuya}

{Can you see us?}

{My two favourite people in the world}

{Isabel and her treasures}

Isabel, I miss you so much already.

Monday, September 26, 2011

Hello Sandwich

I have been reading Hello Sandwich for a little while now, a beautiful collection of photography, crafts and cafés. The writer also resides in Shimokitazawa, and she posts the most gorgeous photos of our neighbourhood- please check out her latest post, Little Kitazawa Details. It's where I live, and she managed to capture all those little details so perfectly!

Have a browse through her blog to see more wonderful shots of Shimokitazawa, and also for her lovely stationery, gift wrapping paper, and Tokyo Guide.

Thanks Hello Sandwich for all the Shimokita love!

Sunday, September 25, 2011

Summer skin.

End of summer.

My second summer in Japan. It was a very, very fun summer, perhaps bringing back those feelings of euphoria I used to have as a kid.

I was lucky to spend summer in two different cities, Osaka and Tokyo. Many significant changes took place, and although I was a bit sad to say farewell to Osaka, I really adore my new Tokyo home. Between packing boxes, shipping my stuff and securing a house in Tokyo, I managed to squeeze in so much fun and leave Osaka with great memories: late nights at Utsubo Koen with Nick (and an armful of drinks), late night bikes rides all over the city, visits from friends.

{Summer in Osaka}

{My favourite person in Osaka and Utsubo drinking partner}

{Daily trips at Osaka Castle}

{Jaclyn from Seoul + cute Nara deer}

{Temporary roommate and um, dog magazine}

{Michiko on Mido-suji}


And summer continued in Tokyo, with this insane heat and humidity that is finally taming down. It was good to be reunited with close friends, exploring Shimokitazawa with Isabel, partaking in the nighttime madness that is Shibuya, walking home at sunrise, meeting new and interesting people, and making myself at home in Tokyo.

{Summer in Tokyo}

{The day I moved to Tokyo}

{I am still fascinated with Shibuya crossing}

{... and we were never being boring}

{My bestie}


{The Shimo House}

{Shibuya nights}


{Shimokitazawa, my new neighbourhood}

{Fun times at Echo}

{Late nights at Trump and new friends}

I am equally excited for autumn, which should be a beautiful season in Tokyo, my very first here.

Shimokitazawa cafés: Mixture

Another (new) favourite café of mine, perfect for a Sunday brunch, Mixture is located right in the heart of Shimokitazawa (north side). My friend had pointed it out to me when I first moved here, saying she had gotten addicted to it. Unfortunately she left Japan, but I had promised her I'd try it, and this slow Sunday afternoon seemed ideal for it.

The café has morning sets and lunch sets, but I doubt I'll ever be up early enough to catch the morning set. They mostly serve sandwiches and pizza, and it comes with a nice salad and drink. I tried the recommended avocado and tuna salad, with apple juice, and it was scrumptious and filling.

Mixture also doubles as a bakery, and they sell their famous espresso bread, made with coffee beans from neighbour shop Bear Pond Espresso.

I was also lucky to run into one of my friends there, so I joined him at his table and we had a long lunch, it was really nice and random. I think I'll definitely become addicted to Mixture, as they really have the best sandwiches around- believe me, good sandwiches are rare commodity in Japan.

Mixture is a few steps away from Bear Pond Espresso, going north on that same road.

Mixture ミクスチャ
Kitazawa 3-31-5

Closed on Thursdays.

Friday, September 23, 2011

Red tights, and hello autumn.

{Friday night}

{Red tights}

I dug out those red tights out of my closet (rather, suitcase), circa my days in Korea. I forgot about how many pairs of coloured tights I picked up while living in Seoul, and never wore them much back then. I think red tights brighten up my otherwise very black and neutral outfits. Oh, and to the mix I added an oversized velour bow, the texture reminds me of fall and those back-to-school times.

{Red velour bow. Yes, velour.}

Autumn has been peeking in Tokyo in those past few days- the mornings are crisp, the light is different, and there is just that fall smell I love. I am so thankful Japanese summer is over, or at least pretty much over.

Last night, while attending an event at the gorgeous Trump Room, I was lucky to meet lovely Janina, who came up to me and excitedly told me she reads my blog and recognized me from it. I was surprised to say the least, as I had no idea people actually read this page (let alone in Tokyo), and mostly very flattered. I think it's amazing she actually told me about it, as it made me so happy. Janina, I hope you enjoy your last bit in Tokyo, and let's meet up before you leave!

And well, if you are in Tokyo and read this, I would love to hear from you and meet new people, as I actually met some of my closest friends through blogging and such while living abroad.

My favourite part of the night (or rather, early morning) is the walk back to Shimokitazawa. I'm thankful I can walk home from Shibuya in 30 minutes, something I would never, ever do back home- but in Japan, it feels so safe.

Monday, September 19, 2011

Shimokitazawa cafés: Hara Donuts

Last Sunday, while melting over my delectable cup of coffee at Bear Pond, I was staring out of the window and noticed a cute doughnut shop right across the street. I made a beeline for it as soon as I polished my macchiato, eager to try one of those little treats I had heard so much about.

Hara Donuts hail from the city of Kobe (in my beloved Kansai), and they are combining tofu and soy milk in the batter. I know this may sound like an odd mix, but it really is scrumptious, and not to mention 'healthy'. When is the last time you had a healthy doughnut??

They have an assortment of flavours, ranging from mocha to tomato, but I picked the regular one, as I was too excited to look through the different kinds. I enjoyed my doughnut while walking back to my house on a coffee buzz, and it was the end of a perfect Shimokitazawa afternoon.

Shimokitazawa cafés: Bear Pond Espresso

I had read tons of raving reviews about Bear Pond Espresso, ranking high on lists about the best coffee shops in the world.

There is so much buzz about it that I had to go check it out. It's right in my neighbourhood, and I have no idea why it took me a full month to get there... because... oh my god, oh my god. It is as delightful as its reputation. It was easily the best cup of coffee I have ever had in my life. I ordered Macchiato, and sipped it while sitting by the window, and slowly melting into some kind of coffee dreamland- yes, it was THAT good.

Bear Pond Espresso is owned by Katsu Tanaka, who lived abroad in New York City and decided to open his own shop upon returning to Japan. The shop is tiny and simply decorated with wooden accents, which I really love. Bear Pond also sells a book of gorgeous photography, which you can pick up at the Shimokitazawa shop. The shop is very tiny but it's always bustling with people coming from all corners of Tokyo- or Japan, for that matter.

Bear Pond also has another shop in Shibuya, which also is a diner: On The Corner. Check out my friend Sophia's wonderful Fashimi for some pictures of our little Wednesday night adventure.

I seriously think about that cup of coffee several times per day, longing for my next visit. It's seriously amazing.

Bear Pond Espresso
2-36-12 Kitazawa

Open 10:00 - 18:30, closed on Tuesday

Photo credits:

Life in Tokyo

{I still Photo Booth it}

{Oh Deborah do you recall...}

I have been living in Tokyo for a month now- oh, it flew by. Between moving into a new house, settling in, discovering a new neighbourhood, starting a completely different type of work, Isabel's visit, too many events to remember- Tokyo has been a riot. In fact, it has been a little wild... but in a very good way.

I think easing myself into life here has been such a smooth transition: I already have so many friends here, and sharing a house with roommates is a great way to keep things interesting on a social level. Despite the fact that I've been sick (and quite broke), I am the happiest I have ever been, a feeling very similar to the one I experienced when I first moved to Japan- it's quite wonderful, after a pretty rough and lonely year in Osaka.

Tokyo is like a big playground, and it's filled with interesting people, creative souls, and artistic and cultural events. It's easy to get lost in the nightlife madness because let's be honest, Tokyo never sleeps and the party never ends. However, I think I've done a pretty great job at balancing life here, between work and play and keeping a healthy lifestyle. As much as I love big nights out and walking home at sunrise, I equally love hanging out at my friends' apartments and cooking.

Sometimes I wonder what life would be like if I were still in Montreal- I think it would be completely different, maybe just as fun, too. I already know it will be hard to leave Tokyo.

Domestic Tokyo

One grey Monday afternoon + two French Canadian girls + one kitchen with oven = LASAGNA!

Another perk of living in Tokyo now is having Valerie around, a fellow French Canadian hailing from Montreal (we literally grew up minutes away from each other, unknowingly until Japan). Valerie is like my little sister, although she is much better at being an older sister to me, which I really enjoy.

I think we made quite an impression (read: terrified) her Japanese roommates, as two Québécoises franctically cooking a massive lasagna and animatedly conversing in French. I have been in Japan for so long now, and mostly living in English (and Japanese)- it's easy to forget about my roots sometimes. I love hanging out with Valerie, as it's the most familiar feeling in the world, to speak in our mother tongue and to know the same cultural references.

Thankfully her house has an oven, so it might become my favourite place to hang out now- next time, cupcakes and poutine?