Mister Donut

While staying in Kyoto, we did a quickie side trip to neighboring Nara. There was a lot of walking involved. And temples. Not a lot of eating, however.

But we did end up at a Mister Donut, which are pretty ubiquitous in Japan. This was my first foray into this establishment. I think there was a doughnut craze here a few years back, with crazy two hour lines when they opened Krispy Kremes in Tokyo. I’m not sure if they’re particularly superior to the home-grown Misdo chain, but I guess a trend is a trend …

The seasonal flavor of ‘sakura’ was all over the place, including the doughnut shop.

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Starbucks: Shinagawa Station

I feel like there were a lot more Starbucks in Japan than the last time I was here. The menu is pretty much the same except pricier. I got a tall cappuccino for 380 yen, or about $3.82. But unlike the cappuccinos I’ve been getting at the Starbucks in DC, it actually tasted more espresso-like. In the US, don’t usually get Starbucks espresso drinks without ordering an extra shot because it otherwise tastes like milk, not coffee.

You can supposedly get free Wifi service at Starbucks stores in Japan, but I wasn’t about to connect to it, myself. The Starbucks in Shinagawa also had some food items like this quiche – which I didn’t try – and a baum cake, which is pretty ubiquitous in Japan.

More after the cut:

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Bogart’s Café

Aloha!! You’ll have to excuse my long absence, as I’ve been living it up on the beaches of Hawaii for the last week and a half! I reluctantly left the sunny shores behind a few days ago, and I’m back at my computer ready to report on my foodie adventures in Oahu and Kauai. I tried quite a range of things during my trip, from local fare and classic Hawaiian comfort food to sushi and high tea. There were a few unfortunate low lights, but for the most part the food was excellent, and a delicious time was had by all.

I begin with Bogart’s Café, a cute little coffee shop not far from my friend’s apartment. We stopped in here on the morning after my arrival to get a pick-me-up before hitting the road to tour around Oahu.

My friends got a breakfast quesadilla to share, pictured above. You could pick the ingredients for the quesadilla, and I think my friends chose wisely with the mushroom and spinach combo. I had a bite, and it was quite tasty! A side of toast came with it.

I just got a coffee:

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19 Oct 2010, 8:00am
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Point Chaud

I dropped in to Point Chaud Café & Crêpes (website under construction) on 14th Street a few weeks ago. Places like this make me wonder why there aren’t more crêperies in this area! The crêpe is the perfect café food. It’s fast, it’s sweet, it’s savory…and it can be eaten on the go or savored slowly over a hot cup of your favorite beverage.

The menu at Point Chaud is just a long list of suggested combinations. Customers are welcome to pick and choose whatever ingredients they want. I would take forever if left to my devices, so on my visit here, I went ahead and picked something straight off the menu – the honey and almond powder crêpe.

It was absolutely lovely. The crêpe was airy and light, the honey was just sweet enough, and bits of crushed almonds added a nice bite. I had a frothy cup of cappuccino with it. My only wish is that there was more, but the “to stay” portion of cappuccino only came in one size.

Le Pain Quotidien

My first encounter with Le Pain Quotidien was in Bryant Park, New York, a couple years ago. I loved it! Even the pesto sauce in my sandwich, which was unusual for me, since I had an inexplicable aversion to pesto. I was pretty excited when the chain finally made its way to the D.C. area, and I believe the first of their local branches was the Bethesda store. I’ve popped over there several times since it opened, but this would be my first time blogging them. (^__^)v This post combines a couple visits that I made there in the last few weeks.

The decor: I like the interior quite a bit. There are high ceilings throughout and a shiny counter filled with delicious looking pastries in the front. And of course, there has to be the signature communal table, a colossal slab of reclaimed wood that dominates the center of the room. The Bethesda store has two dining areas, each one with its own communal table. I like sitting at the communal table, as it’s more spacious and comfortable.

And now for the food: Pictured above is the grilled chicken and smoked mozzarella tartine “with arugula and basil pesto.” I’m not sure that I got any arugula, and I would know because I love arugula. There was definitely some kind of green leaf, but it might have been something else. Very tasty indeed, even the pesto. XD Although, I do feel like it’s a bit pricey for what you get.

More after the jump:

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Onboard the Hakone Romance Car

coffee and ice cream

About a 1~2 hour train ride outside of Tokyo, there’s a famous area of hot springs called Hakone. The private Odakyu line for Hakone departs from Shinjuku station, which was pretty convenient for me, since my hotel was in Shinjuku. It’s feasible to do a day trip, but I stayed overnight at a Japanese style ryokan to partake in the full experience. The room I stayed in had a private indoor bath, which is definitely the way to go for utmost pampering!

Speaking of pampering… There are two ways to get to Hakone from Tokyo via train – the commuter line or the “Romance Car.” You can take the commuter line using the Hakone Free Pass, but for the Romance Car, you’ll need to pay an additional ~700 yen each way. Do it. Trust me, the comfort is worth the extra money, and you’ll get there faster because it doesn’t stop at every station.

Plus you get decent in-transit food service for a reasonable price! I got a coffee and a strawberry “daifuku” (mochi) ice cream. So delicious! It had chunks of soft, chewy mochi that went very well indeed with the strawberry ice cream. Pic under the cut.

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14 Jun 2009, 9:48am
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Daibo Coffee

daibo

This will be the first of several posts on my Japan trip from May ’09. I was there for a week and a half, staying mostly in Tokyo, but with a brief side trip to the Hakone hotsprings. Japan’s got some of the best food to be had in the world, and this trip certainly did not disappoint on that front!

Today’s post is on Daibo Coffee shop, a place in Aoyama that my Tokyo Time Out guide highly recommended. My brother and I had been wandering around Harajuku/Aoyama that day and after a long day of walking, we desperately needed a place to sit down and cool off.

Daibo is located on the second floor of a rather nondescript building near Omotesando station. It’s a real hole in the wall, a tiny little space covered in wood and (on the day we went) smoke. I’ll never really get used to the public smoking in Japan, but I would say that this place is well worth sucking up that second hand smoke…and the price! I had the iced cafe au lait, pictured here with the handy syrup (sugar water) for easy sweetening. This bowl of icy goodness set me back a whopping 700 yen, but it was probably the best cafe au lait I’d ever had in my life.

This coffee shop also offers liquor…and desserts. An odd combination, but no complaints here! The menu was filled with funny Engrishy wording. Pics under the cut.

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