Oh my. This cafe is joining the list of my must-visit recommendations for Tokyo. Hidden in the back of the Minami Aoyama branch of Aoyama Flower Market, the Tea House is definitely worth the queue (we waited around 45 mins). Full of live plants and the flower of the week (peonies, when we visited), the cafe offers brunch/lunch and dessert plus tea. I ordered the Flower Parfait (¥918) and the Kimono green tea with apricot, peach and rose (¥756). The tea came out in a beautiful clear pot, and was surprisingly strong (and a little bitter) for a green tea. I would have liked to be able to add some more hot water to dilute it a bit. But then came the parfait. Layered beautifully with rose jelly (not overpowering), cherry mousse (also nice and subtle but with a great texture), vanilla icecream (mmm, creamy) and cereal (yes, the perfect way to add crunch) it was tasty, pretty and quite filling. Oh and there were rose petals scattered on top too. Swoon. Just being in this space was a pleasure – it’s the perfect escape from the city bustle and a chance to be surrounded by beauty. Highly recommended.
Aoyama Flower Market Tea House, Minamiaoyama 5-1-2, Minato, Tokyo http://www.afm-teahouse.com/
I spent a lot more time exploring Ginza on this trip, and I’m glad I did, because in the basement of the Mitsukoshi department store I discovered the new Tokyo branch of New York’s Dominique Ansel Bakery. I arrived late in the day so there were no cronuts left, but I did snare this little guy – a strawberry and sake daruma cake (¥756), which was so Japanese I couldn’t resist. The cake was a reasonable size, and (being in Japan) packaged carefully to avoid any damage while being transported (no dine-in at this location). The daruma is traditionally designed to help with wishes – one eye is filled in when you make the wish, the other once it is fulfilled. Luckily I could just eat both. They were white chocolate discs, and a perfect start to the flavour festival of this cake. The majority of the inside is made up of a strawberry gel, plus sake lees and lime zest mousse, which was creamy, tangy and with a subtle sake flavour. The textures were soft and springy, and when I wanted something firmer, I could slice into the almond financier cake at the bottom for balance. Yum, yum, yum.
Dominique Ansel Bakery, Mitsukoshi, B2F, 4-6-16, Ginza, Chuo-ku, Tokyo, http://dominiqueanseljapan.com/en
I have been crushing on the Dumbo Instagram account for a while, so made a point of visiting when in Tokyo. The little store (seats about 6 people along the window) also offers takeaway, and is clearly a popular spot. I ordered a raspberry doughnut, (¥350), although there were a great range of flavours on offer, including passionfruit, almond caramel, maple vanilla and plain glazed (there were 11 options when I visted). The doughnut itself is huge! It was approximately the size of my hand, and there was plenty of glaze to ensure enough raspberry flavour to cover it (plus two raspberries on top). The doughnut was really soft and springy, the kind of treat you sink your teeth into and it just crumples into compressed layers of deliciousness. Mmm. This actually made it possible to eat a whole one by myself, given how light the texture was. The raspberry glaze was incredibly tasty, with just the right balance between the sugary glaze and the sharp, tart raspberry taste. There was literally nothing about this experience I didn’t love, including the cozy atmosphere and friendly staff. Highly recommended – I can’t wait to go back.
Dumbo Doughnuts and Coffee, 2-17-6 Azabujuban, Tokyo, Japan, http://www.dumbodc.com/
I’d never been to the Torrens shops before, but my friend booked us in for their first high tea and I will certainly be back. We were greeted with a glass of sparkling on arrival, and then the food began to flow. One of the highlights of this high tea was the fresh serving of each savoury piece, rather than all being lumped together to go stale/cold on a tray. Classy. First up were two mini sausage rolls, pork and lamb, served with a tomato relish. The pastry was crisp and buttery, and both had great flavour. This was followed up by the ‘Caesar salad in a pastry shell’ (refreshing) and finger sandwiches, which were perfectly fresh (no stale bread here!). The savoury highlight was a haloumi, preserved lemon and mint pastry roll – I could have eaten fifty of them! So good. There was a nice break between servings, and then came dessert. The tiered tray held 3 different goodies – scones with jam and cream already applied, mini raspberry and Oreo cheesecakes and mini chocolate brownies. Small portions turned out to be essential, as both mini desserts were super tasty and rich! The scones were also lovely, and went nicely with the tea, coffee or hot chocolates we picked. For $40, this is certainly one of the best value, high quality (although casual) high teas in town.
Smogue, 2/24 Torrens Pl, Torrens ACT
Those who know me know I’m partial to a G&T, so when I heard icecream genius Mr Frugii was doing a G&T sorbet, I put it on my Canberra foodie ‘must-try’ list. That was more than 12 months ago, and I FINALLY managed to visit when it was on offer! Unlike the usual Frugii fare, this sorbet is more like a jelly version and comes in a tube kind of like an icypole for grown ups. Firstly, let me say, the flavour is excellent. Made with local The Canberra Distillery Gin, the rich juniper flavour leaves you in no doubt this is a G&T. Secondly, the texture is an absolute delight. Because it’s hand-held, it does melt a little quicker than the usual icecream or sorbet, but the slightly jelly-like smoothness keeps the sorbet together to be eaten from the tube. The portion is smaller than a standard flavour serve, but given the alcohol content, maybe that’s a good thing! I also found that by the end it was a little tricky to get out of the tube, but other than that, it exceeded my (high) expectations. Go team Frugii! Champagne sorbet is my next boozy bucket-list flavour goal!
Frugii Dessert Laboratory, 30 Lonsdale Street, Braddon ACT, http://www.frugii.com/
I hadn’t really noticed the lack of Greek food in Canberra until my friend and I were perusing the menu at Zeus. Newly opened, Zeus offers classic pita and souvla, plus a selection of sweets. I ordered the Spartan Box with lamb ($16.5 + $2 for lamb), which is essentially 140g of lamb served on top of a delicate mixed rice pilaf, with sides of tzatziki and coleslaw. We also ordered a side of fetta & oregano chips to share ($9.5) – these weren’t strictly necessary, but they were tasty! The fetta fell off easily, so we learned to skewer them with our forks, and I thought the chips could have used a tad longer in the frier, but I’d happily chow on these again. The lamb in the Spartan Box was tender and tasty, with a reasonable amount of fat and a fairly magical rub on the outer pieces (give me more of those bits please, especially drizzled with fresh lemon!). The ‘slaw had beautifully fresh walnuts inside, and the tzatziki matched the lamb well. We were also offered a complimentary plate of loukoumades (usually $8) for dessert. I’d eaten way too much already, but these Greek doughnuts are drizzled in a super tasty cinnamon-dusted honey and walnuts, so I forced myself to have one. Yum, yum, yum. Can’t wait to come back and try the pitas!
Zeus Street Greek, Shop 7/21 Genge Street, Canberra City, ACT, http://zeusstreetgreek.com.au/
Eggless is another one of Adelaide’s awesome dessert cafes (Canberra, please take note), and they shake things up with a new menu every month! I can’t even imagine the creativity that the team has to keep this happening year after year. So I dived right in and picked one of the January specials – the Banana, Passionfruit and Anzac Tart ($12). The tart was beautifully presented, with fresh banana piled on top, abig scoop of soy icecream (yes, that’s right, this dessert is vegan so lactose free!), drizzles of passionfruit syrup and a healthy dusting of icing sugar over the lot. Mmm. The tart shell was made of anzac biscuit-flavoured pastry, with that lovely sweetness of golden syrup and oats, and the luscious passionfruit curd inside the shell was blissfully good. The flavours all worked so well together, and of course the textures were balanced too – dense, not-too-crumbly pastry plus creamy curd and soft banana. My friends waxed lyrical about the Mango Float, and the Rose Sago looked beautiful too. The service here was fabulous, with friendly staff and table service. I’d recommend arriving early – by 9pm people were putting their names down on the door!
Eggless, 162 Goodwood Rd, Goodwood SA, no website