Chatei Hatou, Shibuya

Ever since the Blue Bottle folks wrote about it, I was intrigued.

The beautiful storefront stands out against its surrounding cement urban jungle.

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Walking in is like going back in time.

I’m glad that the smokers sat at the opposite end lol. I didn’t realize there was indoor smoking at this place. Fortunately, it only affected me briefly when I went to the restroom in the same corner as the smokers.

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Unique assortment of cups, and not a uniform collection.

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The ritual selection of a cup for each customer, and cleaning with boiling / steaming water.

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Home made cakes indeed!

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The chiffon cake was good but nothing particularly special.

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I think what many like about this place is its charming ambiance, thoughtful rituals with attention to detail, and old school feel.

Coffee-wise, the two cups were both very sour, which I think a lot of coffee snobs enjoy. But, I don’t like sour. So, not my cup of coffee.  Now that I’ve experienced it I don’t plan on coming back. I’ll stick to my SF hipster coffees.

Chatei Hatou
1 Chome-15-19 Shibuya
渋谷区 Tokyo 150-0002
Japan

random Starbucks, Tokyo

Being disappointed with various coffee houses in Tokyo, I decided to see what Starbucks was like there. Yes, Starbucks. I didn’t even pay particular attention to which one it was… but does that matter?

Actually, what caught my eye was that they had a flavor not available at other Starbucks, nor at any I’ve come across in the states: hojicha latte.

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It was actually good! Probably because, Japan.

Definitely getting it again, and wish it was available here. Get it with no / minimal sugar if possible.

Yokohama Royal Park Hotel’s Tea Room, Yokohama

Our friends treated us to a tea ceremony with an awesome view on the 65th floor of the Royal Park Hotel in the Yokohama Landmark Tower.

The entrance was an experience altogether! Coming from an elevator to a seemingly normal hallway, one steps into the tea room and the entire atmosphere changes. The stepping stones even had some fake wetness that looked convincing… or maybe it was real lol.

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Inside the tea room was delightfully minimalist.

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This is where the action took place.

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Matcha tea made traditionally. As an ignorant American, I had no idea that there is a specific way one accepts, then holds the bowl, then drinks from it.

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The wagashi, traditional sweets served with the Matcha, included a soft red-bean filled mochi with a serving stick and some hard confections.

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It was an excellent experience at a reasonable price. Would do this again, but first I’d figure out how not to make a fool of myself.

Yokohama Royal Park Hotel, Tea Room
Yokohama Landmark Tower, 65F
2 Chome-2-1-3 Minatomirai, Nishi
Yokohama, Kanagawa 220-8173, Japan
http://www.yrph.com/facilities/tea/index.html

Fukusaya, Daimaru, Tokyo Station

Before going to Japan, castella cakes from Fukusaya were on the list of things to bring home as gifts for friends and loved ones (including myself lol). I read these were originally foreign (Portuguese?) but pretty much became a staple (Nagasaki?), and are rather simple cakes.

I stopped by a Fukusaya store but I went so early they were not yet open for the day. Fortunately, the department store attached to Tokyo Station has them conveniently pre-packaged.

When I was in line to buy Fukusaya castella cakes, there was a man at the front of the line with an empty suitcase. He bought enough cakes to completely fill his suitcase lol. This helped me realize I was in the right place.

The packaging!

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Underneath the outer wrapping is a box.

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This is the logo to look for.

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Inside the box is more wrapping paper. This one helps keep it fresh.

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Inside the inner wrapping paper there is cardboard and more paper lol.

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Finally, this is what it looked like. It comes pre-cut.

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In particular, this cake had sweet crunchy bits on the bottom.

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I’ve tried castella cakes from a few other places, but none are particularly good. I only like the Fukusaya ones. They don’t always have crunchy bits, but when they do they are particularly tasty!

Fukusaya
Daimaru 1F
1−9−1 Marunouchi
Chiyoda, Tokyo 100-6701

Tonkatsu Saboten, Shinjuku

While staying at the Park Hyatt, I found out there was tonkatsu available in a lower floor. Had to check it out!

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I didn’t understand why I was given a stick in a tray, so I asked the staff. Turns out you use it to mix the sauce into the bowl with seeds.

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Lots of cabbage.

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Curry pork tonkatsu.

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Combination pork tonkatsu and shrimp

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It was ok. After Tonkatsu Maisen it’s hard to eat any other tonkatsu.

Tonkatsu Saboten
Shinjuku Park Tower B1F
3-7-1-2 Nishi Shinjuku, Shinjuku-Ku
Tokyo, Japan, 163-1055
http://www.shinjukuparktower.com/en/shops.shtml